Three films by French directors turned this year’s L’Étrange Festival into something even richer and stranger than usual.
Every year L’Étrange Festival delights us with oddest and weirdest productions from all over the world. What is quite unusual, though very heart-warming, is that the three films that stood out this year (at least in the eyes of your humble reviewer) were the work of French directors. Three films permeated with literature. Three treasure islands. Three voyages celebrating the mysteries of the sea, but in ways that could not be more dissimilar. Xavier Gens’ Cold Skin is a Hollywood-ish adaptation of a novel by Sanchez Piñol; Bertrand Mandico’s Wild Boys is a neo-feminist tale that gives free rein to the director’s wildest fantasies; and F.J. Ossang’s 9 Fingers is a 21st century reassertion of the surrealist manifesto.
Seen at Fantasia International Film Festival 2017, Montreal (Canada) Format: Cinema Release date: 27 September 2017 (France) Distributor: Océan Films Distribution Director: Géla Babluani Writers: Géla Babluani Cast: George Babluani, Vincent Rottiers, Charlotte Van Bervesseles, Benoît Magimel
On the release of his tense new thriller, the French-Georgian director best known for 13 (Tzameti) talks about unlikely bungled burglaries, fragile criminals and the prisons we build for ourselves.
Over 10 years ago, French-Georgian director Géla Babluani made a memorable directorial debut with 13 (Tzameti), a stylised black and white tale of greed, desperation and dangerous games. He is back with a taut crime thriller that recombines the main ingredients of his debut, namely money and suicide, into a mature, tense study of human nature punctuated by flashes of absurdist dark humour. Set in the grim port city of Le Havre, the story revolves around three friends who break into a politician’s mansion to steal a suitcase full of money. But from the moment they enter the house, things go wildly off plan. As the characters are faced with a situation they could not have foreseen, each decision they make leads them inexorably down an increasingly perilous path.
Format: Cinema Director: Ryan Prows Writers: Ryan Prows, Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, Shaye Ogbonna, Maxwell Michael Towson Cast: Nicki Micheaux, Ricardo Adam Zarate, Jon Oswald, Mark Burnham, Santana Dempsey
A highlight at this year’s Fantasia Festival, this fun, warm and brutal chronicle of LA’s underbelly comes to Horror Channel FrightFest on 28 August 2017.
The 2017 edition of the Fantasia Festival was rich in beautifully crafted, unusual gems, and Lowlife ranked high among them, deservedly drawing a warmly enthusiastic response from the Montreal crowd. Category-defying, genre-mixing and cliché-blasting, its intricate narrative follows the interconnected stories of a luchador, a pregnant drug addict, a motel owner with a past, an ex-con with an unfortunate facial tattoo, and a chicken shack organ-trafficker in the midst of LA. Fresh, funny, violent, sordid, unsentimental and heart-breaking, it tells about the brutality of life on the margins and redefines heroism with a light touch and a lot of soul.
We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale
Edited by Neil Snowdon PS Publishing 491pp.
Publishing date: June 2017
The Gremlins director talks about the ground-breaking British screenwriter best known for the Quatermass serials and films. This is an edited version of Neil Snowdon’s interview with Joe Dante on Nigel Kneale, which is published in the newly released book We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale.
Joe Dante is one of the great heroes of American cinema. His highly subversive, wildly entertaining movies are unique in the landscape of Hollywood cinema. Cine-literate, politically aware and scathingly satirical, his extraordinary filmography from The Howling and Gremlins to The Burbs and The Hole will make you laugh, feel and think. Dante is also one of Hollywood’s great advocates for cinema history. His encyclopaedic knowledge is on display in all his movies, and at his website, trailersfromhell.com.
Format: DVD + Blu-ray Release date: 5 June 2017 Distributor: Kaleidoscope Entertainment Director: Alice Lowe Writer: Alice Lowe Cast: Alice Lowe, Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie, Tom Davis
The multi-talented British writer-director-performer talks about exploring disturbing territory, filming while pregnant and catching the magic of the moment.
Known for her work in Sightseers and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Alice Lowe made her widely acclaimed directorial debut with the warped, hilarious and bloody black comedy Prevenge, which she also wrote and starred in while heavily pregnant. Filmed in 11 days, the story focuses on an expecting mother who goes on a vengeful killing spree, spurred on by her unborn baby. Although it is a dark, uncomfortable and surreal tale, Lowe has managed to create a character that audiences find themselves rooting for. A film that confuses the moral compass, it stays on the mind long after it ends.
The writer, editor, film critic and leading expert on Jean Rollin talks about his fascination with the unique French director.
Writer, editor and film critic Jeremy Richey – founder and editor of the quarterly print journal Art Decades and writer of numerous well-known film blogs, such as Moon in the Gutter among others – is a leading expert on Jean Rollin. With his comprehensive blog Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience, Richey has devoted many years to researching and writing about Rollin’s filmography.
John Bleasdale looks at the role of sociologists in modern horror cinema.
Who are the go-to baddies in horror movies today? Dead Korean girls who don’t own hairclips? Nah. Zombies? Per-lease. Paedophile killers with blades for fingers? Nope. So who? And I don’t even necessarily mean the villains you see. I mean the evil that lurks behind the monster, the way the real villain of The Exorcist is not the demonically possessed girl but the Catholic church, which foists such an evil universe on us that makes demonically possessed little girls possible.
So who is it? Who are they? The millennial equivalent of vampires and werewolves.
Before Essie Fox turned her hand to writing, she worked as an illustrator, designing cards, wrapping paper and decorative ceramics. Always keen on the quirks of the past, her first three novels were Victorian Gothic, but her fourth, The Last Days of Leda Grey, steps into the Edwardian era and the world of silent film. She also explores the ‘facts, fancies and fabrications’ of history on her blogs The Virtual Victorian and The Eclectic Edwardian. The research for her latest novel has informed her choice of a filmic alter ego. Eithne Farry
Having just come up for air after writing my latest novel set during the dawn of cinema, I know at once who I would choose as my flickering alter ego on screen – and that is Theda Bara.
California-based DTCV (pronounced Detective) features French singer Lola G and ex-Guided by Voices guitarist James Greer, who met at a party in the Hollywood hills and bonded over Super-Fuzz pedals. They have just released their latest album Confusion Moderne via Dead Meadow’s Xemu Records, and describe their sound as ‘Françoise Hardy fronting Buzzcocks’, mixing classic French pop, garage, 60s yé-yé and post-punk. Below, Lola G chooses her 10 favourite films directed by women.
1. Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi, Agnès Varda, 1985)
I love everything Agnès Varda has done but this one especially. It’s raw, visceral and Sandrine Bonnaire is incredible in it. Some of the scenes in our ‘Bourgeois Pop’ video were a reference to this film.
John Bleasdale turns to cinema in an attempt to understand the outcome of the American election.
About five months ago I wrote a piece for Electric Sheep about ‘Watching Tarkovsky in a Time of Terror’. The first line was ‘2016 has been one rolling piece of shit’. Well, the shit has rolled on. The scything of musical legends has continued; hospitals have been bombed with nary a word of protest and the human tragedy of the refugees was apparently solved by picking a handful of children and then destroying what was unironically termed the Jungle. Add to this the American election concluding in what can only be thought of as the biggest prat-fall in world history and we have one of those years that would be best described in Latin but with a heavy emphasis on the Anus.