Kelly Reichardt meets Richard Linklater in Harry Macqueen’s blessed debut ‘Hinterland’

Hinterland film stillDirector: Harry Macqueen
Original Title: Hinterland
Country of Production: United Kingdom

British ultra-low budget independent film is firmly back on the map with a stroke of the near impossible landing itself on big screens across the country. The stroke of this impossibility is achieving what Harry Macqueen has just shown by producing, writing, directing and starring in his own work: a mature and heart capturing piece of drama. Forgetting the thorny logistics of low-budget film production and inevitable few blemishes that struggle to hide themselves, the film stands alone as an incredibly well thought out and paced exploration of friendship and undiscovered love. It is lyrical and enchanting every step of the way. The few imperfections only serve to bolster the quality of this tender portrait that inherently blurs the cinematic boundaries and makes for a truly singular indie outing.

Harvey (Harry Macqueen) picks up his old friend Lola (Lori Campbell) from a pals burnt out apartment and sets forth on a road trip in the old reg. handed down from the parents. Cornwall is the destination and warm Dartmoor ponies, cliff-top panoramas, and melodies around the fire are just some of the delights that await the couple. However, a couple they are not to be even if such thoughts riddle under the surface. What plays out is a wonderful exposition of a beautiful friendship occurring between two members of the opposite sex.

Harvey and Lola enjoy each others company and are visibly in need of one another, but their agendas, and means of searching for something in life that seems to be missing, emerge as slightly quailed. The truth might be that even if they were so fortunate as to open their arms in love, the complications of being in your twenties and finding one’s grounding in a strange world would quickly offset things. It creates a complex of existential angst that can be felt in the running commentary of what feels like a critique of the new generation, the ennui and complexity that we have been left to face. However, such ideas are never forced in the film and given ample space for reflection.

Nostalgia beams from nearly every interaction in this film. In particular, Harvey looks to spend a great deal of time in a state of intense reflection. Scenes will fall off and be carried in a different direction by dialogue that arguably is too well intended for its own good. It’s as if we are overhearing a real conversation, yet cinema has a spell of rendering such realism superficial. Drama needs some drama, to speak in too simpler terms. I can’t articulate an answer for this explanation, as it would need to involve a dissertation on the art of the actor in some way or another! As evidence from this writing, one can take this film any which way. The beauty of such effortless moments is that there can be no definite answer to what a character believes or is thinking at any given time. We don’t all possess the skillset of a wizard like Darren Brown. In a film like Hinterland, you decide how to imagine.

 4/5

 

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Love – joyous, playful, tearful, fearful and deeply melancholic filmmaking

LOVEDirector: Gaspar Noé
Original Title: Love
Country of Production: France

The first thing to note about this film is its 3D format. I hate 3D. However, I am biased towards my distaste due to 3D’s primary association with blockbuster spectacles, but after witnessing a burning love story on the 3D plane, I can only succumb to complete fascination.

A love story for Gaspar Noé is a story of overflowing passions, plenty of sex and affinities of addiction. It is also a story about Noé, filled with his philosophies on life and the special ingredient of love – love is clearly the meaning behind many of life’s prospects. Not to mention, for a bit of riotous dramatic irony, the newly born baby of Murphy carefully named Gaspar and the ex-lover of Electra also named Noé, the owner of a famed art gallery.

The film plays like a masterclass in the thought of its auteur. Electra replies to Murphy’s question, “what is the meaning of life?” with the simple answer, “love”. The film is a treatise of love and perhaps a nostalgic love that not all of us are familiar with. Love is different in every circumstance, an attribute that makes love the complex sensation that it seeks to be. Love is the foundation of our desires and heartaches as emotional human beings; no one learns these lessons harder than the character of Murphy.

There is rarely a brighter side to the films of Noé. His films swelter under a lantern of scorched memories, split grief and sunken yearnings of the human soul. On this dark side is arguably where we can find life’s most beautiful moments, at least that is what Noé’s Love attempts to achieve. Watching this film you may cry and lust over the images before being held in a state of far-reaching intoxication, unsure of all predispositions in the mediation of the cinematic image. Those magical moments of first love and the first night with a new partner are overwhelmed by the futilities of life’s needs and complications. The expression is bountiful and sticks to one like the pain of an ingrown ulcer.

noe_love

The first criticism of this film will be without fail the sexual content. This is unfortunate, as previously articulated, the film is far more than a sexual meeting. Why is the sex important? Sex is natural and so very natural to any loving encounter. Noé clearly sees no reason not to indulge in the fantasies of a young couple, in what is an honest attempt at the intricacies of the sexual relationship amidst the hunger of love. These scenes can be explicit on the eye, but they are without doubt the most thoughtfully and breathtakingly crafted sex scenes I have ever had the pleasure to face.

Murphy himself is an aspiring film director and has his own philosophy on the medium that he wishes to share with Electra. Why has no one made a film of partners in love having explicit sex? Of course, the twofold irony of this is such that we are witness to Murphy’s own desires through Murphy himself. He also believes that blood, sperm and tears formulate the essence of life and can’t understand why movies don’t reflect this. These facets of the human certainly stand true to many manifestations, notably the tears pair with one’s outward suffering, the sperm with an essential private pleasure, and the blood as the component fuelling the interior toxins of life. We can expect an explosion of such fluids pumping across Love.

When a film has such a strong vision and an abundance of things to say, it is challenging to confine the art to a film review. It is no wonder the critics have had to dismiss the film as some form of talky soft porn; they won’t find the time to invest the thought that the film deserves. It’s as if the film spreads like a book and reads like Nietzsche or Kafka, perhaps Noé should write a novel or thesis on love instead. Yet, such lines are insults, the written word cannot reveal every frame a painting and expose moving actions stapled with the intelligence of a provocateur.

On a final note, do not be dispositional to images of a natural cause. There is no gratuitous violence in this film. Is the sex gratuitous? One could argue that sex cannot be so; it is a different category to violence and should be accepted as justified for a story that focuses on the trials of young love. Either way, I like to consider any well-dressed image that creates a memorable or thought-provoking experience as a worthwhile one. Our lives are made up of these memorable experiences; our memories stipulate what makes up a large part of our reality. This is where cinema excels again at proving to be such a powerful medium.

5/5

International sales by Wild Bunch. UK Premiere TBA by Artificial Eye distribution.

Enough Said – It is quietly brilliant

enough-said

MOVIE REVIEW

Enough Said
Likely Story, Fox Searchlight, US
93 Min
1.85:1
Release UK: 18th October 2013

DIR Nicole Holofcener
EXEC Chrisann Verges
PROD Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman
SCR Nicole Holofcener
DP Xavier Pérez Grobet
CAST Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone

This movie falls under the widely insufferable romantic comedy genre, yet it is so much more than that (otherwise this review simply would not exist). This film is a touching and wonderfully composed love story of a newly found middle-aged couple. Of course, there are various complications, but they are largely unforeseen. The writing is intelligent and the humour is pleasantly subtle and entertaining. Likewise, the social commentary is thoroughly engaging whilst being highly perceptive; this film almost becomes fascinating to watch.

The director, Nicole Holofcener, explores relationships in a mature and authentic manner providing a territory in a world that we wholly recognize. Enough Said is no exception, and may be her best work to date. This is held together by the two brilliant and fresh performances from James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Gandolfini retires from playing a hit man or a mobster and delivers a delicate performance of a middle-aged man (Albert) falling in love. Meanwhile, Louis-Dreyfus is utterly compelling as a middle-aged woman (Eva) who is unsure of a lot of things, including love. Albert and Eva are funny, smart and weary of the world around them. Therefore, they discover unexpected pleasure when they find themselves merging in a world where romance seems dead.

The scenes in which Albert and Eva get to know each other are delightful miniatures of emotional familiarity. They strike a cord; a cord that has clearly been twisted and bruised in the past, but has now sprung to life. They are on the same wavelength. It is joyful to watch.

Ultimately, this movie simmers down to a message of love: it shows us how rare love is and that we need to grab it and not let go.

4/5 stars

Watch the trailer below: