Helmed by the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, The Armstrong Lie appears to be the last chapter in Lance Armstrong’s tumultuous career. Supplementing his hugely controversial and surprisingly unsurprising admission of drug use on the Oprah Winfrey show in January of this year, Gibney’s documentary provides the final statement from the seven time Tour de France victor. In many ways, the documentary is an ironic reflection of the man himself; Lance Armstrong always did like to get the last word.
Author Zoe De Pasquale
Rachel McAdams is undoubtedly the queen of the Rom-Com, having appeared in more Rom-Coms than Johnny Depp in Tim Burton films. About Time (or The Time Traveller’s Wife 2 as I like to call it) is no exception to this formula, as she finds herself in yet another Rom-Com predicament; but for once, she isn’t the star. That title is indisputably embezzled by the Irish thespian Domhnall Gleeson in his first major leading role in this Richard Curtis-helmed Sci-Fi Rom-Com. About Time is a surprising delight, managing to be an intelligently witty, endlessly charming and painfully poignant British comedy, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 2003’s Love, Actually.
With a title that alludes to the spelling of a certain profane expletive, See You Next Tuesday is the modern Juno of reality. Laced with uncomfortable scenes and unpleasant storylines, Drew Tobia’s scriptural and directorial offering doesn’t shy away from the ugly truth of teen pregnancy without the veil of middle class privilege to encase it. Despite being in the ‘laugh’ category of this year’s London Film Festival, the film is for the most part devoid of any remotely amusing moments, opting instead for a somewhat depressing and detailed study of the damage of dysfunctional relationships and the utter depravity faced by the main characters of the film. Suffering from severe genre confusion, See You Next Tuesday is difficult if impossible to laugh at and makes for a slightly unfulfilling and unpleasant cinematic experience that has little entertainment value or clear direction.
The Bounceback, helmed by Bryan Polser (Dear Pillow, Lovers of Hate) is an attempted antithesis of the Hollywood Rom-Com that, in its futile efforts to be liberatingly and sexually fearless, ends up a crude and forgettable pile of messy storylines and dirty quips. As open-minded as a cinemagoer can be, The Bounceback puts such character traits to the ultimate test; the lack of engaging narrative arcs only magnify this difficulty. The film holds the rare achievement of being difficult to watch, not because it’s visually assaulting or gorily gruesome; it’s simply just a badly made film. It has its (few) strengths, sorely outweighed by its mound of poorly miscalculated endeavours.
Diana isn’t anymore a biopic than Harry Potter is a documentary; although it concerns the life of what the film describes as ‘the most famous woman in the world’, what entails is far from the regular biographical formula. Despite the misleading title Diana is, in simple terms, a tragic love story about a love that could never be: Hasnat Khan and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Having tackled one literary legend in his directorial debut Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes takes on the equally renowned novelist Charles Dickens in his adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book of the same name. Once again balancing the difficult responsibilities behind and in front of the camera, he portrays Dickens himself in The Invisible Woman in an exploration of the character’s relatively unknown affair with Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones). Lavished with extravagant set pieces and highly detailed period attire, The Invisible Woman makes up for in appearance and tone what it sorely lacks in story and depth.
Inspired by Joyce Maynard’s novel of the same name, Labor Day is Jason Reitman’s latest cinematic offering starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and the rising new talent, Gattlin Griffith. Reitman embarks on a new voyage into the realm of sweeping love stories in Labor Day, a film that bears no resemblance his previous accomplishments (Young Adult, Up In The Air, Juno) aside from the obvious choice of the lead character’s gender. This is a somewhat unexpected direction for Reitman, a filmmaker that characteristically nuances his films with a tinge of romantic comedy. Despite this U-turn in artistic style, the film remains an entertaining and fulfilling watch, sealed by the subtly heart-wrenching performances contributed by Winslet and Griffith supplementary to the touching dynamic of their onscreen relationship.
11.6 is a film of many great qualities: the screenplay is sharply written and to the point, the performance of the lead actor is satisfyingly entertaining and the direction is precise and in complement with the gloomy tone of the film. However, these commendable aspects never quite gel. In what should be a harmonious conjoining of great cinematic techniques, what results is a disjointed and frequently monotonous depiction of one of the greatest robberies of modern times: Toni Musulin’s single-handed attempt to steal €11.6 million in 2009 just across the English channel. Based on Alice Geraud-Arfi’s book of the affair, the film is helmed and adapted by Philippe Godeau who ensnares the premise within his own distinct vision for the film. Occasionally thrilling and resoundingly disappointing, 11.6 should have ticked all the boxes of a compelling and riveting thriller; unfortunately, the film stumbles in its first race and never quite manages to pick itself up.
Ari Folman’s mind-bending Congress, loosely based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem, is nothing if not a downright challenge to watch. Attempting to follow and comprehend its sporadic and ever changing narrative is the film’s largest flaw and greatest merit; although it is a palpably demanding script, it’s never once boring. The Congress is an utterly immersive and captivating cinematic experience that keeps the audience on their toes consistently, thanks to its boldly daring nature; the film is a daring undertaking, make no mistake. Its subtleties will not be immediately appreciated, perhaps not at all by some, but either way; it’s a film that stays with you.
Helmed by Rick Rosenthal, Drones had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival 2013, categorized under ‘Thrill’, although the film wouldn’t look out of place under ‘Debate’ due to its controversial subject matter and the ethical implications that the film entails. Drones is a modest but quietly ambitious feat from Rosenthal, who manages to weave an implicit morality tale from a very sincere and simple premise. Despite containing only two primary characters, Rosenthal demonstrates that a decent thriller doesn’t have to depend on colossal events in a film’s timeline or a substantial cast to make for an entertaining and informative watch.