Friday, July 8th, 6.45pm, Monday July 11th, 6.45pm, and Saturday July 16th, 8.45pm
First things first; you have not seen a movie like this ever before, and are unlikely to see anything quite like it again. Yet, there is much going on that will remind you of things you’ve experienced. It’s both comforting in its familiarity, yet frightening in its strangeness. It is, most definitely, an acquired taste. But if you’re keen for the mustard, then pass the ketchup, let’s all grunt and screech, beat our chests, and fling food together. Steve Oram (from the brilliant black comedy, Sightseers, directed by Ben Wheatley, who is also the executive producer on this) wrote, directed, edited, co-produced, and performs in this extraordinary “study”. Have you ever imagined what daily domestic and social life would look and sound like if humans acted like apes? Yup. Consider yourself warned.
Oram plays Smith. He and his mate, Keith (Tom Meeten), step out of the “jungle” and gatecrash a small party in a suburban terrace home that belongs to Barabara (ex-pop star Toyah Willcox), her young adult daughter Denise (Lucy Honigman), young adult son Og (Sean Reynard), and new father figure Ryan (Julian Rhind-Tutt), who was previously their washing machine repair man. Original patriarch, Jupiter (Julian Barratt), has been banished to the backyard. What ensues is the usual power games and inter-relationship shenanigans, only with a lot more crude, vulgar, and violent displays of emotion. This is, quite possibly, the most brilliant expression of human savagery ever depicted on film. It’s also funny as all hell. Think Shane Meadows’ Small Time meets Lars Von Trier’s Dogville meets Mike Leigh’s Naked meets Monty Python, and you might get an inkling of the inspired social satire masquerading as low-brow hi-jinks that Oram put together in just two weeks, and shot in medium format. Forget Trash Humpers, this is the real shit, and one of my faves for the year.
Friday July 8th, 10.30pm, Saturday July 9th, 12.45pm, and Sunday July 17th, 6.30pm
I’m a big fan of writer/director Zach Clark’s White Reindeer, and while his new family melodrama is not as subversive or quite as black in the humour stakes it’s still a very enjoyable left-field romp through domestic dysfunction and familial foibles. This time round Clark wants things a little rosier for Christmas. It's a yuletide family reunion, albeit with a few casualties and edgy hilarity along the way, otherwise it just wouldn’t be a Zach Clark slap. It's definitely his most accessible movie. But take that with the parson’s nose. If you get my turkey drift.
Colleen (the lovely Addison Timlin from The Town That Dreaded Sundown remake) is heading home for festivities with her damaged family, after learning her older brother, Jacob (Keith Poulson), has returned from his Iraq tour of duty. Colleen used to be a goth, but now she’s a nun. Her brother is hiding out in the family guest house. Which makes sense, since his entire head is one big lump of burn scar tissue. Mom (Ally Sheedy) is borderline. She pops pills and smokes pot to self-medicate. Colleen has the good news work cut out for her. Clark gets wonderful performances from his entire cast, especially Timlin and Sheedy, both who shine in delightful contrast.
The Other Side
Saturday July 9th, 3.20pm and Sunday July 17th, 3pm
There is a sense of the forbidden, of danger, that simmers below the surface of this Louisiana docudrama, like the spicy flavours of a Southern gumbo, just waiting to hit your tastebuds. It’s a curious perspective, drifting along the everglades, wandering through the trailer park, meandering like a snake, hitting to bite. This is where the lost souls survive and the quiet rages on. This is a carefully composed observation on a part of America so entrenched, you can almost smell the desolation and fear exuding from the screen. It’s darkly fascinating, and utterly compelling.
It’s an Italian production, and director Roberto Minervini is keen to simply observe, but with a very precise eye, both in the coverage and the editing. The subjects themselves are so relaxed in front of the camera that the result almost feels like it’s more of a slow-burn thriller than an actual documentary. There’s the trailer park lovers who are meth addicts rolling from one hit to the next. He knows they need to get clean, and the only way for him is for another stint in jail. She’s more concerned about the effect his mother’s passing will have on him. The narrative shifts to a group of cocky, anti-government militia, self styled as the New America Infidels, who are preparing for when the freedom goes to ground and martial law is enforced. The swamp on the other side is thick with dysfunction and discontent, and it makes for a beautiful wound.
Wednesday July 13th, 9pm and Sunday July 17th, 12.45pm
The small township of Bridgend, Wales, on the edge of a forest, has become infamous for a bizarre and seemingly inexplicable phenomenon. Since 2007 there have been almost eighty suicides, with nearly all of the victims being teenagers and hanging being the choice of death. The adults and parents of the community have been left heartbroken and confounded. Danish director Jeppe Rønde has fashioned a gripping and very disquieting drama about the youth culture that exists in Bridgend, and focuses on the relationship between impressionable teen Sara (Hannah Murray) and her father Dave (Steven Waddington), who arrive in town. Dave is the town’s new police inspector. Hannah is immediately the “new kid in town”. She becomes involved with Jamie (Josh O’Connor), and soon enough is pulled deeper into the murky world of the suicide cluster.
Excellent cinematography by Magnus Nordenhof Jønk and a brooding score from Karsten Dundal add much weight to the movie, which sits like a cross between River’s Edge and Twin Peaks. It doesn’t offer any real answers to the mystery of the teenager’s morbid motivation, suffice to say, there is very strong peer pressure, and an online chat room presence that provides a psychological wedge. Combining the age-old “they just don’t understand us” chestnut, and the whole “truth is stranger than fiction” flag, Bridgend slides on down the proverbial dark railway track of elusive nightmare fabric into the pool of fire. Solid performances all-round from a cast of mostly unknowns.