Just a week after Moonlight graced UK cinema screens in all its feverish beauty, we’re treated to another hard-hitting US indie release that places black characters front and centre. However, though there are certainly parallels to be drawn between Barry Jenkins’ Oscar hopeful and Anna Rose Holmer’s narrative debut The Fits, neither should be defined by the race of their respective casts. Each feature questions universal issues of consciousness and sexuality, and tackles the hardships of growing up, peer pressure and belonging.
Documentary filmmaker Niall McCann’s Lost in France is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for a group of mid-1990s bands and musicians borne from the influential Glasgow record label Chemikal Underground. Both an ode to the industrial Scottish city from which they hail and a lament on the changing face and decline of musical creation in its purest form, the rather rambling journey on which we are taken is back to the Brittany countryside and tiny village of Mauron where the burgeoning groups assembled for a festival of sorts in 1997.
We are taught from a young age never to judge a book by its cover. An idiom passed down from one generation to the next to encourage acceptance and a search for meaning below surface appearance, its essence is too often lost by ignorance, misunderstanding or sheer mean-spiritedness. Jane Gull’s debut feature My Feral Heart – premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival – is led by an extraordinary young actor who, in his lifetime, is likely to have been subjected to such mistreatment. It revolves around Luke (Stephen Brandon), a young man with Down Syndrome.
Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri are future stars. The titular protagonists of Ira Sachs’ Little Men give extraordinarily mature performances that belie their tender age. They feature in a perceptive, affecting family drama that channels the director’s characteristically graceful, understated and emotionally enrapturing style through a subtly crafted story of class and gentrification in contemporary Brooklyn. As in Love Is Strange – in which a gay couple were forced to vacate their residence – the threat of an eviction is paramount here.
‘Magestical’ isn’t necessarily a real word but it perfectly sums up Kiwi director Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Invented by Sam Neill’s gruff, illiterate grouch of an old codger, Hector, to describe a breathtaking mountain-top vista above New Zealand’s wilderness, in the company of hip-hop loving, fast-talking and lovable troublemaker Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison, who is a revelation), one can’t argue against it. With something for the big kid in all of us, Hunt for the Wilderpeople pours a dose of the mystery and wonderment of Beasts of the Southern Wild, the sense of loss and troubled childhoods of Son of Rambow and the reckless, carefree abandonment of outlaws on the run in Thelma & Louise.
The now infamous Brussels municipality of Molenbeek provides the polemical backdrop to Black, a brutal modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet by directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. A place name tragically familiar, the urban area has become synonymous with ISIS and Europe’s struggle with terrorism. There is no allusion to fundamentalism here but from its opening frames the headline-grabbing setting bears witness to virulent, violent conflicts that are no less pertinent: immigration, integration, the denigration of women, and gang violence.
This British-Hungarian co-production may herald as its protagonist an ailing man unsteady on his feet, but The Carer is a rather twee romp that purposefully treads familiar ground with a predictability that will disinterest as many as it comforts. Set in a middle England county bearing a striking resemblance to Midsomer, the low production values, an overly contrived script and by-the-numbers plot mean that János Edelényi’s sophomore feature feels much like a made for Sunday evening TV movie.
Twin sisters do it for themselves in Euros Lyn’s outstanding feature debut The Library Suicides. The Welsh filmmaker’s wealth of TV directorial experience from the likes of Broadchurch and Happy Valley are evident in a dark, sordid tale of memory, legacy and grief in which present revelations lurch forward in violent fits and starts as past truths surface with painstaking patience.
The good folks at Pixar have done it again. Extraordinarily, twelve years have passed since Finding Nemo won hearts and minds all over the world and long-awaited sequel Finding Dory is another sure-fire hit for the peerless production studio. Writer-director Andrew Stanton – who was part of the team to get the Toy Story train rolling, helmed the former film as well as 2008’s magical robotic tale Wall-E – and producer Lindsey Collins sat down with CineVue’s Matthew Anderson for a chat about Pixar’s continued successes.
Taking a swim down memory lane is a tricky business when you forget things and repeat yourself every few seconds. Finding Dory is as entertaining, soul enriching and bittersweet as any Pixar production to date. Once again striking just the right balance of visual gags, crystalline clear animation, plenty of riotous hijinks both above and below water, and cracking tongue in cheek jokes for older audience members, the peerless animation studio has another success on its hands, or rather its fins.