Monday, 21 August 2017

filmbore picks Wild Tales

Wild Tales

Director: Damián Szifron

Screenplay: Damián Szifron
Starring: Erica Rivas, Ricardo Darin, Leonardo Sbaraglia
Year: 2014
Language: Spanish
UK rental release: June 2015

IMDb
Rotten Tomatoes


The hiatus is over!

It's time for filmbore to reemerge from hibernation and return to the fold. It's been a crazy year and a half, with many events and goings-on, the finale of which was marrying the most beautiful, intelligent and hilarious person in the world...Mrs.filmbore!

Therefore, it's relevant that I talk about a wedding movie, such as the Oscar nominated Wild Tales. And who knows...maybe I'll experience a few things I missed in my own adventure into wedlock...

Welcomed by a low shot of a rushing airline passenger, we're invited to join them on an exciting journey. Famous model, Isabel (Maria Marull, Before Opening Night, Primavera), is unaware of the flirting charm about to be bestowed on her by her neighbouring passenger, classic music critic Salgado (Dario Grandinetti, Talk To Her, The Dark Side Of The Heart).

After some coquettish chat, something peculiar happens; another passenger overhears the mention of a mutual acquaintance. When the three of them discuss this, another traveller realises that they have the same connection. This continues, starting a chain reaction through the whole plane. How can they all be connected by just one man? Is the flight a ruse, with a deeper meaning at hand?

But this is just the first story in this compendium of revenge, as further tales of tension await us.  Like the waitress, startled by appearance of a demon from her past. The pain he has caused her family beyond humane, he now sits in her restaurant, unaware of her vengeful presence.

Or Diego (Leonardo Sbaraglia, Intacto, Burnt Money), cursing a reckless driver intentionally setting out to annoy him. He speeds ahead to leave the scoundrel in his wake, only to suffer the bad luck of a flat tire shortly after, fearful for the reappearance of his antagonist. Inevitably turning up shortly after, this tarmac tyrant proceeds to attack Diego's vehicle. Will he attack him next? Does Diego escape or does he retaliate?

Then we have Simón (Ricardo Darin, The Secret In Their Eyes, Nine Queens), an explosion specialist on his way to pick up his daughter's birthday cake. Alarmed at the price of the cake, he's even more startled that to find his car has towed away. Now running late for his kid's party, met with obstacle upon obstacle, he becomes convinced that the 'system' is against him as events escalate; his own inner explosions to a self generating conspiracy.

Or even our unforgettable finale, which opens with jubilation at the entrance of our bride and groom. Romina (Erica Rivas, Incident Light, Lock Charmer) sees her new husband chatting to a mystery lady. They seem a little too close. She begins to suspect unfair play. How should she deal with this on her special day?

As our six protagonists are left to deal with their circumstances, we lay waiting to see how wild they should truly go.


Before watching a film, I try to avoid any plot lines, like the ones you see on the back of DVD covers. They can implant preconceptions that can affect viewing. After reading the above synopsis you may have realised that this is not solely about a wedding. Only one of the stories is. It dawned on me at about 20 minutes that the wedding shown on the front cover of the DVD was just a small part of this entire story. So much for my plan on avoiding the plot here then!

The marriage-factor may be the reason I chose this feature but, even though this isn't the focus, I'm not disappointed at all. The entire picture is a constant stream of canapés, subtly satisfying your appetite through it's well balanced journey. It's no wonder it picked up the gongs that it did (including BAFTA's and Goya's). It was optioned for the Palme d'Or at Cannes too, where it debuted, helping the feature garner some well deserved attention.

The beginning of this adventure, 'Pasternak', demonstrates a different kind of attention. After a young gentleman ogles over our model, Isobel, much to her discomfort, it is in fact the older gentleman she meets next who flirts with more success. By showing here that it's not age that's attractive but charm and sophistication, this creative picture immediately grounds itself in reality. It's a smart move that few films manage to do so delicately and simply.

Such wit and allure can only be carried by a cast that has the talent to bear it, and it's in these performances that Wild Tales really shines. All players involved are truly superb. In fact, it's quite difficult to pinpoint specific performances with so many involved. They are all truly outstanding. You're likely draw out your own favourites, dependant on your taste. If I had to select my standouts: Oscar Martinez (Empty NestThe Distinguished Citizen) in 'The Deal' really moved me, as did Julieta Zylberberg (The Tenth ManThe Invisible Eye) in 'The Rats'. The most exciting performers, however, have to be both Ricardo Darin in 'Bombita', and the unforgettable Erica Rivas in 'Til Death Do Us Part'.

This latter chapter is welcomed and much needed after some of the gloom, deftly delivered in the previous acts. There are small nuggets of humour and lightness strewn throughout the whole picture, even if these morsels struggle to hold ground amongst all of the drama. This is a movie that knows when to take itself seriously and it doesn't falter in getting your attention while doing so. Yet, this wedding based finale re-balances the gravitas of the previous vignettes while still retaining the level of darkness required to justify it's existence in this compendium.

To be honest though, this is not a true portmanteau movie. Each vignette could stand alone as a short, and maybe this was purposeful. Nevertheless, while fantastic, all the tales don't operate as a whole. They seem a little disconnected. Disjointed, even. You may be wondering what the link between the segments is. You may start out, as I did, thinking there's a connection about travelling, until you realise that it's not.

It's just as difficult to pin down it's thematic approach. There's a chance that I just missed it. I played with a number of ideas, including unpredictability, antagonism fuelling revenge (too obvious!), even the detrimental outcomes of making the darker choice. None really fit though. If the core themes were more recognisable, I feel they would help solve the issue of the picture's connectivity and making it a proper portmanteau flick instead of a fortunate compilation.

A benefit of taking this approach does allows for a plethora of different filming styles though. We're presented with a noir, a thriller, a car chase and many more. It brings a wonderment of variety and floods of creative filming and editing techniques; you'll forget that this was made by one director. 

Cinematographer, Javier Julia, takes advantage of this, dressing the picture with all manner of angles, while allowing hints of the unconventional. Take the opening cowboy shot of Isabel running through the airport, or the claustrophobic shots in the car chase of the third tale, 'Road To Hell' to marry up with your usual collection of POV's and low angle shots. With experimental shooting and some delicious framing, it's a visually brave film.

All of these methods deliver some delicious imagery; a hand clasped across a lady's face, gripped for abuse, slowly withers as her attacker perishes, embracing the victim in his own blood. The camera pans up to an aerial shot of our two victims, lying in the wake of their battle, fixed in posture like silhouetted dancers. It's a strangely pretty film, finding beauty even within its more darker edges.

It doesn't hold its punches either. Take the in-car fight scene in 'The Road To Hell': it may not have the level of choreography but it's got enough gusto to challenge the now infamous car scene most will have seen last year in Deadpool (2016). It's nowhere near as clipped as it's Marvel counterpart, but it's just as funny, end even more claustrophobic and brutal! 

Not afraid to show some 'claret'  and ferocity when necessary, Wild Tales is full of surprises, and heavy ones too. It drags you through its rough-and-ready journey but not reluctantly. It teases your intrigue, enticing you to join the ride. Just be prepared...this road's a little bumpy!


So, did I find anything new that could have improved my wedding? Did it garner any life lessons to take on my own adventure of marriage? Absolutely not. The wedding in this is an absolute shambles!

Thankfully though, the film isn't. Yes, the tales do feel a little disparate to each other but they certainly live up to the garb of 'Wild'. Each story is eloquently crafted, deserving award and praise in their own right. We're just fortunate enough to get to see all of these wonderful pieces in one gloriously delivered whole.



Don't forget to leave comments below, tweet me @filmbore or post on my Facebook page here. 

Alternatively, you could contact me directly about this film or my other reviews on picks@filmbore.co.uk

Monday, 12 June 2017

filmbore reflects - the filmbore manifesto

It's been a long hiatus. A lot has happened. 

Now the blogging recommences. Filmbore returns!

For any of you that have followed my 'filmbore reflects' posts on Facebook over the last few months, you'll be aware of the little journey I've been on. When I originally set out to do these reflections, they were meant as warm ups to a new wave of articles. I've neglected my previous pieces, so I felt a re-visit to them may reignite my 'inner-critic'. 

What's been surprising is that they've been quintessential into exploring my way of writing, where I have come out of the other side with some lessons learnt...the biggest lesson of which is how much I've missed doing this!

For example, on my last 'filmbore reflects', where I talked about my review of Paprika, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed writing these. It really shone through in the text. Revisiting my Top Ten Scary Rabbits post, I could see how I had fun being more playful with the article and it reads so much better because of it. These are important factors that will keep me invested in filmbore

I used to spend a lot more time on the articles too. My earlier postings were shorter, so easier to manage but, as the reviews got bigger, my time got squeezed. In future, it would be prudent to show patience, making sure I spend enough time fine tuning each piece.

Overall, I'm just aware of overlooking the site entirely. There are many justifiable reasons for this: 

  • an over-saturation of independent and foreign cinema, leading me to watch a lot more commercial films
  • catching up with lots of anime series
  • playing too many computer games
  • experiencing major changes in my work life
  • experiencing even bigger ones in my love life
  • plenty of much needed chilling

...but the biggest impact was my social life! 

Meeting and getting to know my incredible wife (that's right...there's a Mrs.filmbore now!) and spending a lot of time with my friends, I've spent the last year and half catching up with my world. Being sociable is a massive part of my life and that's not going to change, but certain elements can...

Hence the following manuscript. With a recent peak in interest in British politics, I felt the best way of presenting my new-found approach to filmbore would be through a manifesto of my own.  The following items are a list of policies, in tune with the above lessons, that I will adhere to meet in order to allow filmbore to flourish once again:

    1. Reinvigorate my passion for independent and world cinema, including involvement in local projects and artists.
    2. Don't let this become a chore or job. I do this because I love it. Too regimented dampens the enjoyment.
    3. Actively allocate writing time for both filmbore posts and to sate my cravings for writing my own stories.
    4. Less social media interaction. Great for promoting my work and getting in touch with all you lovely, dedicated followers.  However, constant checking of Facebook , for example, holds little value.
    5. Ensure my focus on filmbore doesn’t impact on my social life. There's room in my life for both. Keep momentum in my social life while embedding filmbore into it. Writing-Life balance is vital!
    6. Less time on games, random TV shows and anime. I love them all but I've had my fill. Less of these and more filmbore-centric stuff needed (some anime films count though!)
    7. Spend more time on editing my work. Take my time. Exercise patience. Post when perfect.
    8. Have a little more fun with some articles. No need to be so formal with some of these. Be creative and silly.
    9. Ensure I discuss thematics of films. Not all critics do and this is something I like to explore. May not always be relevant but where it is...delve deeper!
    10. Write shorter reviews sometimes. They are punchier and easier to digest. Not every article needs to be an essay.
    11. Keep writing. Keep posting. Keep challenging. This is supposed to be enjoyable but there's a purpose here.
                            filmbore started with:
                            "I take pride in recommending lesser known films to my friends and colleagues. I'd like to use this knowledge to help promote indie and foreign films as much as possible. These will always be decent movies from the past and present, so please re-post this wherever you can and tell your friends on all your networks.
                            Let's give these films a better platform!" 
                            And I will continue to help give lesser known films a better platform.

                            Thursday, 5 November 2015

                            filmbore picks Two Days, One Night

                            Two Days, One Night

                            Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
                            Screenplay: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
                            Starring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée, Christelle Cornil
                            Year: 2014
                            Language: French, Arabic
                            UK rental release: October 2014

                            IMDb
                            Rotten Tomatoes

                            This time around, we're paying a visit to the Dardenne brothers once again. For years, they've continued to deliver stunning, intimate dramas (for their beautiful pastiche of childhood rebellion, check out my review of The Kid With A Bike).  Yet, with Two Days, One Night, they're taking a slightly different approach...

                            While resting, Sandra (Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose, Rust And Bone) is awoken by an alarming phone call. She finds out that her job is on the line due to a secret ballot taken up by each of her colleagues at her place of work: either they all take a bonus of €1000 with Sandra being laid off, or they choose to keep Sandra on but loose that tempting cash prize in doing so.

                            Sandra has been off sick for a while with depression and anxiety. Her absence has put her in the firing line and allowed the ballot to occur. Immediately, she is worried that she'll begin to suffer again as a product of this surprising election.

                            She tries to stay strong with help from her partner, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione, Rosetta, L'enfant), who strives to support her, reminding her that she has a right to fight for her position. She goes to see her boss, M. Dumont with one of her colleagues, Juliette (Catherine Salée, Keeper, Blue Is The Warmest Colour). As one of her only workmates who voted for her to stay, Juliette wants to do everything she can to help.

                            From speaking to M. Dumont, they learn that their foreman, Jean-Marc, has been leveraging the votes. Scaring staff members into electing for bonuses, he's been telling them that they could lose their job soon anyway so may as well take their bonuses. His effort makes the election sway 14 out of 16, in favour of Sandra losing her job. In light of this, and the knowledge that Sandra wasn't present at the ballot, M. Dumont agrees to a re-election.

                            Having only till Monday to succeed, Sandra must use her weekend to convince her work colleagues that her worth is more vital than their wallets.



                            Naturally lit through most of it, with lovely handheld lens work, Two Days, One Night is pleasant on the eye. Unusually for the Dardennes, there's very little on scenery and more focus on close-ups, making the picture feel a little claustrophobic. However, if you can see past this, appreciating the intimacy of the people as opposed to the environment that surrounds them, you'll sense how this emphasises the core plot and drive of the film. 

                            For example, during a brief reprieve from their many visits our two leads sit in a park, enjoying an ice cream, discussing whether to continue on this saga. Hearing a bird's song, Sandra says "I wish that was me". In previous Dardenne movies, the camera would have mainly shot the bird, with Cotillard's dialogue off camera, sun shining through the tree, illuminating the leaves, illustrating an artistic eye. 

                            Instead, the lens stays fixed on the pair, as Sandra longingly glares off camera at the easier life. Simplistic. Direct. Gently impactful. It's a template for the entire piece and the effect is gentle yet stunning.

                            Her reaction during this scene is a product of Sandra's evolution through the story so far, learning more and more each time she's faced with confronting a fellow employee, as she both strengthens and crumbles through the experience. This is beautifully encompassed by Marion Cotillard, as she proves yet again that she is one of the finest actresses of our generation (read about her stunning performance in Rust And Bone here).

                            Little-or-no make-up, vest tops, tied back hair - still with such a simple costume, Cotillard proves her talent by delivering a performance with colour, turmoil, panache and vibrancy. Once more, she elevates a film with her subtle and dexterous approach to a role of a troubled, interesting soul. Such a character would have been saturated with cliché by many others, heavily handled with little regard for realism, where Cotillard handles Sandra with careful finger tips from a thoughtful veranda.

                            And, with confident execution from the array of actors to bolster her delicate portrayal, it allows us to peer into the world that suffocates Sandra. What this piece manages brilliantly is bring new insight into how somebody under sever pressure, with familial responsibilities, has to manage the feud between their pride and their integrity.


                            At first, Sandra is both loathed and embarrassed to beg a colleague for their vote. Yet, how she handles this plight, struggling through the experience, is a tenderly presented view into the emotional strengthening someone goes through while battling the remnants of mental illness. Her anxiety and depression is represented tastefully, respectfully; so pleasing considering such subject matter is generally misunderstood in most cinematic sittings.

                            It has the desired effect, raising questions as to whether she is fit enough to return to work. It also makes you question what it is that Jean-Marc is up to. The mystery of her foreman's "treachery" (although not entirely revealed) is a nice MacGuffin, yet it's not that which drives the film...


                            How do you ask somebody to give up their gift of €1000? It's an intriguing prospect for a movie and, as you see Sandra's journey unfold through each moment, the alternate reactions from each of her colleagues will take you in all different emotional directions.

                            For example, if someone desperately needs their bonus through their own despair, they're left to feel uncomfortable when learning that others are siding with Sandra. Their sympathy is empty as, if the vote goes in her favour, they lose the cash that they so rightfully need, in some cases. Out of respect they feel that they cannot show their disdain. Some even happily give the address for the next person on her list, even though this gives her the opportunity to canvass more voters.

                            Even if they raise the chance of swaying the votes back, how can they not help someone else who has needs like themselves. Such confliction between what's right to survive and what's humane is what illuminates the picture. Watching each meeting is so gripping, purely in the underlying complexity of the conversation. It's a fantastically simple mechanism for each actor to play with on screen. 

                            Wondering whether she'll plant enough seeds to keep her job fuels your desire to see each outcome, enhancing the calm pace of the film to one of intrigue and allure. It proves the genius of the overall concept and of the Dardennes. 

                            The brothers strike again!



                            A wonderful portrayal of family and friends clubbing together to support one of their tribe, Two Days, One Night does wonders at handling the struggle of overcoming anxiety and depression. It's such an incredibly tense and moving tale set over a relatively short period of time. Yet, it's the originality of the concept that thrives in this touching and reinforcing tale.



                            Don't forget to leave comments below, tweet me @filmbore or post on my Facebook page here. 

                            Alternatively, you could contact me directly about this film or my other reviews on picks@filmbore.co.uk

                            Wednesday, 19 August 2015

                            filmbore picks Leviathan

                            Leviathan

                            Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
                            Screenplay: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev
                            Starring: Aleksey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Aleksey Rozin, Sergey Pokhodaev
                            Year: 2014
                            Language: Russian
                            UK rental release: March 2015

                            IMDb
                            Rotten Tomatoes

                            Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 87th Academy Awards, Leviathan just lost out to Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida. Before this, however, this didn't stop the movie picking up gongs at the London Film Festival Awards, the Golden Globes and getting Best Screenplay at Cannes Film Festival. It turned up at the Oscars as some pretty tough competition. Let's find out why...

                            Nikolay (Aleksey Serebryakov, Cargo 200, PiraMMMida) is a self made man, living off the land and running his own car repair shop. A tumultuous, if hard-working father, he's currently in the middle of a huge turning point in his life. At the tail end of some of this turmoil is Nikolay's temperamental son, Romka (Sergey Pokhodaev, Six Degrees of Celebration). 

                            Nikolay and Romka are clearly close, which maybe how some of the father's angst has rubbed off on the son, yet something else is affecting the boy. Nikolay's patient, strong wife Lilya (Elena Lyadova, The Geographer Drank His Globe AwayElena) is not Romka's natural mother, a fact that the young man wears openly. Their relationship is very strained. All of this is having huge impact on Lilya, clearly making her feel remote. 

                            There is small respite through her mild friendship with fellow workmate Anzhela (Anna Ukolova, The Edge) yet this isn't enough to sate the remoteness she is starting to feel.

                            Nikolay picks up his brother, Dmitriy (Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Paragraph 78, Reketir) from the train station. A lawyer, Dmitriy is visiting to help Nikolay with his recent plight. Nikolay has a court hearing following his involvement with the local council. They want to seize some of his land for mysterious reasons. Appeals made, following loss of business income and more, fall by the wayside and are declined. His hearing does not go well.

                            The town mayor, Vadim (Roman Madyanov, Hopelessly Lost, Wild Field), is the man pushing for the seizure of the land. There's definitely something underhand going on, with visits by the city's priest a regular occurrence. On the evening after the hearing, Vadim has the bright idea, through his drunken state, to pay Nikolay a visit and remind him of his claim.  

                            Vadim's tense visit could be his undoing, as it gives Dmitriy extra ammunition to use in his fight through the courts. Our lawyer has more than just a statement on Vadim's tempestuous, intrusive manner, however... he has a book full of nasty deeds on the manipulative mayor! Will it be enough to get Nikolay and his family what they deserve?


                            Even before it's release, Leviathan was already causing some upset. Not only has it caused controversy from a religious perspective, both in its jaunted view of the Russian Orthodox Church and similarities to the story of Job, but it has caused even further upset through the suggestion that it is purposefully attempting to undermine the country's leader, Vladimir Putin. Being at a delicate time in Russia's current climate, this has led to much online berating and articles extensively digging through the intention of the story to incite political uproar, judging the tale's moral connotations and stereotypes of drunk Russians. 

                            In response to these outcries, director Andrey Zvyaginstev stated...
                            “The story is completely universal, not just in a special geographical context but in the sense of time. It’s not about a concrete era...It just so happens that the era in which we filmed it bears a little bit too much resemblance to [current events].”
                            ...and there it is. So, with that in mind, I'm not going to entertain any furore over the supposed negative impact that a fictional tale has during its unfortunately timed release. Instead, I'm going to try and focus on the film, its story, characters, performances and quality, with maybe a little bit of metaphoric thematic analysis thrown in along the way.

                            A dulled beauty is apparent as soon as the piece emerges, with opening shots of the stark coastal landscape setting the tone; a voice we are reminded of when the opening orchestral score stops abruptly during images of shipwrecks. It really doesn't take long to notice that this is a moody looking picture, with plenty of shots of barren, yet beautiful, landscapes, strewn with derelict buildings doused with damp and frescoes.  

                            Shot at all times of day, it's the scenes filmed at dawn and dusk that carry the most weight, accenting the beautifully bleak look that the film delivers. Even though such lens work doesn't get to take much advantage of the high definition shooting, which further highlights the tone and sense the story is trying to portray, this doesn't deter from the feel of the picture overall.

                            Shots are held for plenty of time for each actor to elicit responses to their counterparts; lingering long enough to catch a facial twitch, or a gentle double-take. It's a confident angle to take in such a delicately paced drama, yet it works so well. This approach helps to emphasise the strain and earthiness that brews within the performances, each character subtly playing off each other for required absolution and refutes.

                            The biggest victim of these manipulations is the man amidst the hurricane, Nikolay. His journey is quite tough to absorb, as he is pulled in all directions by those that need him, those that repel him and his own inner-self's need for nostalgic legacy and justified stubbornness. 

                            It's heart-wrenching seeing a man being pushed to his limits, even if necessary to ensure that the story pertains to what it beholds. Be prepared for some heavy themes and startling outcomes. It's quite ominous in parts, but it has to be; a weight that feels fundamental in this piece's invite through the window of a small, if powerful, town, burgeoning with hunger from its turbulent mentality and egocentric inhabitants.

                            Besides the depth in the plot, it's the performances of these driven characters that hold the entire piece together. The late night confrontation between Nikolay, Dmitriy and Vadim is a showcase for some of the best drunken-acting I've ever seen. It's not too over-the-top or cliche, but subtle enough to seem genuine, while volatile enough to garner tension slowly, all the while seeing how their behaviour is wholly inappropriate; their reaction unnecessarily accentuated. Unusually, there are also minor touch-points of humour. Clearly intentional, if substantially light, they are mere flashes amongst the stirring drama, yet as just as important an ingredient in forming the personality of the piece.

                            All our actors handle this unconventional blend comfortably, each running away with each scene with little care of the viewer, gracing the piece with a natural tone. One performer who manages this well is Anna Ukolova. She's not starred in many films but she has a great acting presence. I feel she deserves more exposure in the film industry, as she has natural talent in front of the lens. She could be real rising star out of this film.  

                            Of all the actors though, the one who towers above them all is Madyanov as the poisonous mayor, Vadim. One part classic villain, on part modern pawn, all wrapped up in the saturated skin of a drunken control freak, he's the outlaw that needs ousting by the hot-shot lawyer. Madyanov embodies this charismatic power-monger with sincerity and aplomb.

                            Drunk from power and vodka, the mayor cuts a demanding presence and it's truly a shame that there wasn't more screen time for him. I could quite happily watch a film purely on Vadim.  

                            It's the strength in these characters, along with their complex chemistry, which tear me away from the obvious 'Book of Job' comparisons (impending house demolition equals Job's hurricane;  peering up to circular images equals questioning God for the perpetual despair, etc.), instead propelling me to liken it to a different type of movie altogether...


                            Picture the scene: Dmitriy is the loner in an old, familiar town. He's been invited to save the town by Nikolay, the drunk saloon owner, who is struggling to overcome the megalomaniac sheriff, Vadim. Wanting to own the the last piece of the pie, this regularly inebriated abuser of the law will stop at anything to overthrow Nikolay and take the bar as his own. Can the wandering hero Dmitriy stop this crazed marshall before it's too late?

                            Leviathan has wrongly been accused as a portrayal of stereotypes in the need for political-grooming. Yet, it is clearly more a literal 'Western' than trying to just cater for western palates, which is a far more international genre anyway, especially with its heritage in Japan's 'Chanbara' movies. That's a far romantic comparison, don't you think?


                            Admittedly, there is a bit of a dip in pace throughout the third quarter of the film, which says a lot when considering that it is actually fairly slow-paced. Stick with it though, as it is still a brilliantly rewarding piece. It may been seen as brave in its subject material, especially in the face of all of the controversy, however nothing can prepare for startling climax. A great example of ignoring the negative and listening to the real!


                            Don't forget to leave comments below, tweet me @filmbore or post on my Facebook page here. 

                            Alternatively, you could contact me directly about this film or my other reviews on picks@filmbore.co.uk

                            Thursday, 9 July 2015

                            filmbore chats with Liam Rodgers

                            An interview with Liam Rodgers
                            Author of 'Dogknife'

                            Like many cities, Nottingham is full of creatives. What's wonderful about this bustling town though is it's underbelly of interest in independent artists of all walks of life, whatever the inventive output. It's a great platform for up-and-coming writers, creators and performers, one of which is my good friend, Liam Rodgers. 

                            On 31st May 2014, Liam independently released his self-penned novel, 'Dogknife', joyfully accompanied with great support and positive responses. It's a local story with strong characters and real-life experiences. Reading it was an intimate experience and thought-provoking. Pick up a copy now at Amazon in Kindle form or Paperback and find out more at www.facebook.com/dogknife.

                            Currently residing in Sheffield, we conducted it as an email interview. Read further to find out how it went...


                            Liam, for those not aware of your book’s plot, can you summarise the premise of Dogknife in a few sentences for us?

                            Essentially, it's a tale of three girls growing up in Radford and when one of them is raped by a bloke cruising for sex, the other two find him and stab him, which leads to the main character getting banged up in a young offenders institute. The story is then told from her point-of-view, how she ended up in jail.

                            Being from around Nottingham yourself, I understand that the story was influenced by your own experiences growing up. How much of the book is based on true facts? Were some of the experiences your own? How much of the story is influenced by your experiences?

                            Loads of the prison stuff is based on reality of my own time in a young offenders centre and all of the prison slang, some of the violence and other scenes are based on real events, that happened around me or involved me. The rape-revenge stuff is for the plot and is based loosely on stories I heard in jail and also when I was filming a documentary about prostitution in Nottingham in 2005. The book is very real in that way, even though it is a fiction novel.

                            Your lead character has an awesome nickname: ‘Gizmo’. Tell us a little bit about her and why you chose this name for her.

                            Well apart from it being, of course, the name of the main furry fella in the film Gremlins, it was also the nickname of a girl who hung about with some of the older lads in an area I grew up in and I always thought it was a cool nickname, although I don't know who that girl was or where she is now or anything. I wonder if she will ever know there is a character in a novel named after her? In the book, Gizmo is given the name because of her fluffy hair, which is a direct nod to the film which, when I was a lad, was a funny film to watch, highly entertaining, along with other classics like Back To The Future and The Breakfast Club. When I watch them now, I can't help cringe at certain points, but for our generation they are classics and invoke childhood memories and gooey feelings in our stomachs for everything to be nice and cosy, like it was when we were kids - or something. Haha. I watch Back To The Future once a year at Xmas, without fail, simply to marvel at how timeless it is.

                            Funnily enough, I watch 'Gremlins' every Christmas. Without fail. Best Xmas film ever! Staying with Gizmo, you mentioned about the story being from her perspective. Was it always your intention to write the story in the first person? And why did you choose this method?

                            I chose to write from a girl's point-of-view because I could not get some of the stories I heard, while making the doc, out of my head; girls being punched out cold on the streets for simply being a working girl or being dragged into cars and raped. It's all fucking bad stuff to be doing to women, to anyone, and so I thought I owed it to those people, to girls everywhere, to try and represent their story. I have had my own issues on life, from crazy relationships, to now I have a daughter who is 11, and so women's rights and the glass ceiling and feminism and all that, is close to my heart. It had to be from a girl's point-of-view, I think, as well because it was about what happens to a rapist...

                            In terms of method, I was on the run in 2006/2007 for my involvement in a silly fight that got out of hand and decided to write a book so that when I was eventually captured (which is inevitable, really, for any modern n'er do well), I would have something positive to show the court on top of all the amazing youth work and charity work I had been doing. To prepare myself for the book I read dozens and dozens (and I mean dozens and dozens) of autobiographies and other biographies, mostly of former convicts and gangsters and also a few other celebs and that really gave me the feel of that type of voice. I immersed myself in those books, often laying low in the library for hours at  time, sometimes all day, and then wandering back to my sofa or spare bed or wherever I was, to get my head down and think about Dogknife as a story. Gizmo's speech and mannerisms and her ideas came out of that intensely lonely time of being on the run, when I hardly ever went out socially except to trusted friends houses, etc. And so, I was not really working, or spending time doing one job. I had lots of time to kill. Dogknife came out of that. But, I have to say, I wasn't like Jesse James on the run. I was not a hero. I was a dick who made mistakes and I did still do some cash in hand work, and once MC'd a night in front of the lord mayor of Nottingham, which I found ironic...

                            Now, I'm just picturing you, on the mic, spitting some lines at the Mayor...brilliant! Speaking of our city, this tale is full to the brim with Nottingham dialect. It must be hard to keep this up? Did you ever slip out of the local colloquial?

                            Because I'm a Notts lad through and through, and not quite gone full hipster just yet, I can never get rid of that council estate, ruffian side of me that got me in so much trouble as I grew up, but who saved me when I was writing the book! Haha, you can take me out of the street, but you cant take the street out of me, I guess! I love the Notts dialect and had to make the book as real as possible so that other Notts people, either born and bred or migrants, such as your good Welsh self who have lived here for years and know the vibe, would understand it is authentic.

                            Only part-Welsh. I'm still a Herefordian (I'll never shift that will I?! Haha). As a honorary 'Nottinghamite', I really enjoyed its authenticity. Personally, from reading the book I picked up on two other key strengths: strong characters and it being very plot driven. This is just my view as the reader, and others may disagree. Would you say these are two factors of story writing that are important to you? What are elements are at the forefront of your writing process?

                            Liam Rodgers (right) gives filmbore his Dogknife
                            I think they are important as fuck because I love scenes, and scenes help to drive plot: I love watching scenes in films and TV and also imagining them in my mind when I read. So writers, I think, have to give their readers scenes, so that they can really immerse themselves in it and get those scenes imprinted on their minds. For example, in Farewell to Arms by Hemmingway, the scene of (spoiler alert) the bomb hitting the ambulance station and blowing him up is etched on my mind, but I can't at all recall how he describes the mountains and rivers and stuff. The scenes drive it for me. I literally have people messaging me, or chatting to me, and going "That scene where they 'x/y/z" and they pull a face, and I know that scene is etched in their minds. I have to write like that, because it's what I like to watch and read. You'll see there is not too much description in Dogknife, and it's because with writing, I think, it is not necessary to fill two pages with tree-lined streets and clouds and birds singing, and then have your scene at the end, the action. I think going "It was sunny, there were kids playing kerby by the road and a man shouting at his missis nearby, and then the cops pulled up to me..." is easier to set a scene and you can add description as the scene unfolds, if you like.

                            With characters, they have to be based on real people or amalgamations of real people, even if it's three or four people coming through one character. For example, Gizmo's name is based on the girl from my area when I was a kid, her looks are based on another girl I had a little fling with when I was 16 and her mannerisms and speech is based on me, and a few others I grew up with. So that's one character made up of multiple personalities. For me, it's normal to make my characters this way. However,  Crawley is based on one character though, a guy called Corley, from Lincolnshire who was shot and killed a few years back. I based Crawley on him out of respect for the friendship we made in jail. His shooting effected me, as I knew he was a good guy and the low down pieces of shit that killed him got away with it as well, so that also hurts. 

                            So characters can be a mix of others or one strong person. I think by doing that you create characters readers really relate to.

                            That's a great method for building characters... blending them, like our minds do with dreams. Methods of creativity is one thing but, for all the budding writers out there, what advise can you give to keep the writing spirit going?

                            Read a shit load of books to get a feel and then don't read anything the entire time while you write, as it will fuck with your voice. For example, if I listen to Nirvana all day (which I often have done) and then sit down to write what I think will be an original song, it will be a Grunge song by default. Or, if I listen to Wu-Tang Clan (which I often have done) and then sit down and write, what I think is gonna be original Hip-Hop, it wont be...it will sound like the 'Wu'. So, I'd say read the genre you want to write in, to learn the craft and how those stories are told, then chuck them all away and get them out of your mind as stories, and wait a while, like a month or two. Then, get your pad out and start writing your original story. I didn't read fiction for 5 years during and after I wrote Dogknife so that my voice would not get screwed up by other work. I finally broke that by reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath in 2011 when I stayed at a mates house. I love that book, and I am glad I didn't read it while I was writing as it would have leaked into the voice, I reckon.

                            And another thing...don't write for the publishers and the agents, because they don't know dick! They are out to make money, not write stories. So write and get it out there yourself, self-publish and if you do a good enough job, they will come- a-knocking.

                            Sometimes, only the indie-way will do. One approach which seems to keep the fire stoking for all "creatives" these days is the “kick-starter” method. With a multitude of sites available these days, what’s your view on this new avenue?

                            Go for it. Gofundme. Indiegogo. Kickstarter. All of those sites are amazing and should be used absolutely 100% if you wanna raise cash to make a film, or publish a book, or do whatever. Go for it, but just make sure you have a decent video [see Liam's awesome campaign video here] explaining in a cool way what it is you're doing and people will figure out the rest. I gave £1 to the cause to re-master and edit Orson Welles's unfinished film because the video for the cause was cool and, well, it's fucking Orson Welles, but still, that £1 counts all the same. I rate Indiegogo personally as that's how I funded Dogknife's first print run, but there are others.

                            It's true, these sites provide an opportunity for so many. Promotion for lesser known is why I started filmbore. The more exposure the better, especially if it's raising funds. Let’s talk about the future for Liam Rodgers. You’ve mentioned to me previously that you’d like Dogknife to be considered for a film adaptation...

                            I would love to raise the money to make it into a film. A proper, gritty, UK film, punching above its weight, touring film festivals and film markets, slugging it out with all the other films trying to get distribution deals, etc, and I will one day for sure. I will probably do a massive crowd-funding campaign, as previously mentioned, but not until I have cleared a couple of thousand copies of the book off my own back. I am at about 600 copies so far, so a little bit more to go, but I'll get there. When I do, it will be a proper grass-roots film, filmed in Notts, on location, using local actors and amateurs and local crew and stuff. It will be a blinder, I'm sure. I sent it to Shane Meadows and his assistant politely emailed saying he is not reading anything new for a while as he is tied up for a couple of years. But I will get in front of Shane one day, I hope! But seriously, I can do the whole low-budget thing if it comes to it, I reckon for a about 50k I could get it done and edited. When you think Once, the Irish film, was made for 100k Euros and did 7 million in gross....It's doable.

                            Actually adapting it is another thing completely, a whole new marathon of writing and editing, lets not go there for now...hahaha. :)

                            Sounds like a lot of work. And hey, maybe Mr Meadows will cast his eyes across this interview and take notice. Have you had any involvement in film before?

                            As I mentioned, I filmed the documentary on prostitution in Nottingham in 2005, and have made a few little things here and there. I have recently submitted a short film to a competition in Leeds. It's about old people playing snooker in Sheffield; a mini-doc about 4 minutes long. I shot that on a Canon 600D with a H4N Zoom audio recorder and a Rode shotgun mic on a boom pole. It's all about indie stuff for me, I love doing it that way. I had to ask someone else to edit it though, but in my current job I am using Premiere Pro so I am learning about that now which will stand me in good stead for my own films. I love films: making them, thinking about them, watching them, day-dreaming about making them, reading about others making them. I fucking love film! Probably more than most things actually...

                            You're in good company here then, Liam! And finally, what can we see next from you? What new projects are you working on?

                            I am running a small publishing project working with vulnerable adults and young people getting their work into published books, and 'Dogknife Book Two' is currently at page 30-something. I am also working on a script for a mate who is producing a Notts-based film which is being [shot] in August. I just had a script dropped by an indie theatre company after a month or so of development and I think it's because it was too realistic and not theatre-y enough...like I said, you can take me out of the streets, but you can't...etc. haha. :) 

                            Or...maybe I just cant write plays??


                            'Dogknife' is available on Amazon on Paperbook or as Kindle. Grab a copy now!
                            http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dogknife-Liam-Rodgers-ebook/dp/B00KQ7EXZU


                            If what Liam has said has moved you and you have any comments, please do so below, or tweet me @filmbore