BAFTA 2012 live-action shorts
The second day of the 2012 ID Fest kicked off with the five live-action shorts that competed for the 2012 BAFTA, including the winner Pitch Black Heist. The aforementioned slightly stilts the competition, with a production far exceeding any of the others on show. It stars Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham as two safe-robbers who get hired to perform a particularly tricky job – the challenge; get into the building and retrieve the safe’s contents without setting off the alarm, which is triggered by even the slightest amount of sunlight. Thus, they must conduct the entire burglary in the pitch black. It’s sharply written, nicely filmed in an almost complete absence of colour, and well performed, as you’d expect. The funniest moments arrive when Fassbender and Cunningham decide to get drunk and stoned following a no-show from their client, both pull off the two intoxications in a more than convincing fashion. I did, however, feel a little let down by the ending, which is overcooked and unnecessary, doing a disservice to the rest of the piece.
In my opinion, the strongest of the group was Mwansa The Great, a short set in Zambia following a young child who has aspirations of greatness, encouraged by his nickname ‘The Great’, that his dad, now deceased, bestowed upon him from an early age. The dialogue is witty, the performances terrific from young actors and adults alike, and it’s got a fun, experimental filmmaking ethos – this really is everything you’d want from a short film. It’ll make you chuckle a couple of times, and by the end you may even shed a tear. Mwansa was robbed.
Mike Hodges Masterclass
Mike Hodges was again in conversation today (after the Q&A that preceded Get Carter yesterday), this time delivering a solo directing masterclass to a room of eager listeners. He talked about two of his films – Rumour and Black Rainbow – drawing comparisons between them as well as making general observations about the directorial craft.
As he said, “Insanity operates constantly in the film industry,” and this is apparent from his stories. Yesterday he talked about a producer waving a gun around and today he had more tales about his time filming in the likes of Dallas, Detroit and Vietnam; talking to G.I. Joes, ingrained in their hatred of Communism, fighting a war he knew they couldn’t win.
If you read my report from yesterday, you’ll know that Hodges is an excellent speaker. His forte is anecdotes, and he once again rattled a variety of these off with aplomb, often tangentially moving around without anyone steering the ship. He rambles, but it’s a good kind of ramble, and it’s fun to listen to. Serious filmmakers may have preferred the talk to be a little more direct and succinct, but as a writer and a fan of Hodges, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his tales of bygone times in the film industry.
In a Lonely Place
The festival took a step back in time with this screening, a film noir classic from director Nicholas Ray starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. As per the genre, this is a dark, black & white film with a mystery plot line. However, in all genres of film, even noir, you expect an element of redemption, some kind of heroism that means you come away with at least a soupcon of satisfaction. In a Lonely Place has none – it’s unremittingly bleak. The plot is cleverly constructed, leaving the door open for Bogart’s character to become a reformed personality, cleaning up and getting the girl, but when the end hits you realise that no such event will occur.
In a way, that’s the film’s strongest point. This absence of morality from its protagonist flies in the face of what you expect from this kind of movie. I’m used to admiring Bogart’s characters in the likes of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, if perhaps not particularly liking them. Here there can be no admiration, no respect. You’ll try your hardest to find him cool, to look up to his tough nature and dab hand with women, but there’s no hope of doing so.
In David Leicester’s introduction he talked about how this role unmasked Bogart, revealing his real self to the public. In this sense, it’s a fascinating watch, and while it’s not my favourite of the noirs, I recommend it highly.
ID Fest Welcomes: Mayhem Horror Double Bill
As we approached the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning, nothing seemed more appropriate than a double bill of two horror movies filled with utter insanity. The first is a 1994 Italian horror from Michele Soavi, who was mentored by Dario Argento. The second is from Argento himself, and is one of his more overlooked features.
Starring Rupert Everett as a cemetery keeper who, along with his pal Gnaghi, has to re-kill the dead after they continually reanimate from their graves usually seven days after being buried, this is a totally bonkers zombie/horror/comedy that I’m almost certain makes no sense whatsoever but is regardless, a lot of fun. The performances are brilliantly funny, particularly Everett, the music is fantastic, and some of the camerawork is very, very beautiful. Whether it ends up being poignant, or even having a point, is hard to say, but it’s entertaining and baffling in equal measure, and is surely one of the best horror films of the 90s.
Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Dario Argento’s third feature is a relative disappointment, but still contains some exceptional camerawork and numerous other flashes of inspiration. The core problem is that the mystery plot-line is unengaging and stupid, with the ending managing to be irrational and deflating in equal measure. Argento fans will get their fill, but it’s certainly not a patch on Dellamorte.
Check back tomorrow for another dispatch from ID Fest 2012!