Something for the Weekend (5 to 7 June)

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Image: Sarah Maldoror. (Copyright Henrich Vöckel)

Looking for some film inspiration? Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director, has all the latest news from the world of film festivals, as well as some choice picks you can watch this weekend and beyond.

Running a film festival requires some tough decisions right now. It cannot be business as usual. Do you deploy all your ingenuity and resources to make something happen this year, or just throw in the towel, admit defeat and hope to return in better times? Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Frémaux announced his 2020 selections on Wednesday evening, putting the international reputation of the Festival behind 56 films that had been chosen for a Cannes that never was. Some 2,067 features had been submitted for consideration and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch was just the cherry on the cake. 

This year’s Glasgow Short Film Festival will now take place exclusively on-line from 17-23 August with a programme announced in early July. Our good friends at FrightFest have announced the postponement of their August shindig but promise to return for an epic October event that will extend the traditional FrightFest Halloween across multiple days in London.

Every festival has a challenge to meet. Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the highlights of the UK film calendar. They have made a big move online announcing films, events, speakers and a retrospective. We wish them a huge success this month. And what of Glasgow I hear you cry?  We are currently hoping for the best and planning for every possibility. There will be a 2021 Glasgow Film Festival running from 24 February to 7 March because we know how much it means for film lovers and filmmakers. Put the dates in your diary. Until then, here are some recommendations to carry you through another lockdown weekend.

Guest of Honour

Curzon releasing
Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema exclusive

Much admired for Exotica (1994) and The Sweet Hereafter (1997), writer/director Atom Egoyan has struggled to match the impact of those early works. Guest Of Honour received its world premiere at the 2019 Venice Film Festival and is a muddled melodrama with a fair share of unconvincing contrivance. The saving grace is an excellent performance from David Thewlis as a health inspector with the power to close any restaurant that fails to meet his exacting standards of hygiene. The film begins as his daughter Veronica (Laysia De Oliveira) visits a priest (Luke Wilson) in preparation for her father’s funeral. Their conversation is the starting point for an examination of the guilty secrets and mistrust that marked this father/daughter relationship. Thewlis wins our sympathy for a lonely, melancholy figure. Egoyan and David Thewlis will participate in a Q and A on Curzon Living Room this Monday at 8.30pm

The Cohen Film Collection

Available to watch on: Curzon Home Cinema

Raiding the vaults of The Cohen Film Collection has brought some enticing titles to Curzon Home Cinema. You can now catch the entertaining, Oscar-nominated thriller Sudden Fear (1952) in which playwright Joan Crawford is at the mercy of scheming Jack Palance, and the eerily prescient British science-fiction title The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961) which we screened at GFF this year. Highlight for me has been the discovery of the jaunty 18th century romp A Scandal In Paris (1946) featuring a silky smooth George Sanders as a seductive Casanova-style rascal on a rocky road to redemption. Directed by Douglas Sirk it has some of the style and wit of a Max Ophuls or a Lubitsch. 

The most recent additions from the Collection are three digitally-restored Buster Keaton features that show the 'Great Stone Face' at his most inspired. How to choose between Sherlock Jr (1924), The General (1926) and Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)? Probably best to watch them all.

Dating Amber

Altitude releasing
Available to watch on: Amazon Prime 

You may recall that actor Fionn O’Shea joined us at Glasgow for the GFF Opening Gala of Handsome Devil in 2017. He has been doing rather well since then. He recently appeared in TV sensation Normal People and has filmed the Russo brothers thriller Cherry (2020) with Tom Holland and Jack Reynor, another GFF guest. Dating Amber is a lightweight venture from writer/director David Freyne who made The Cured (2017). There is a John Hughes vibe to a broad brushstrokes comedy set in 1990s Ireland. At the mercy of relentless speculation on their sexuality, gay teenager Eddie (O’Shea) and fellow gay teenager Amber (Lola Petticrew) start dating to silence the school bullies.

Sheffield Doc/Fest

Available to watch: Online programme available from 10 June via Sheffield Doc/Fest Selects platform.

Sheffield Doc/Fest has become one of the most significant documentary film festivals in the world. Faced with the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have responded by curating what promises to be an impressive online event. The full programme is released on Monday 8 June, but early highlights were announced this week including a tribute to the late French West Indies film pioneer Sarah Maldoror, a focus on American artist Lynne Sachs, and a salute to the work of Burkina Faso filmmaker Simplice Ganou. This year’s retrospective is entitled Reimagining The Land and includes screenings of Mother India (1957) and A Japanese Village (1984).

Also Showing...

The wonderful thing about movies is that they provide a great escape from reality. There is so much suffering and injustice right now that who wouldn’t want to take temporary refuge in a world where romance conquers all impediments, the good guys triumph and justice is delivered? Recommended television treats this weekend include An Inspector Calls (1954) on Talking Pictures TV, Saturday 6 June at 2.55pm, with Alastair Sim; the all-star D-Day landings epic The Longest Day (1962) on Film 4, Saturday 6 June at 2pm; and the big screen version of the cherished Broadway musical Guys And Dolls (1955) on BBC2, Sunday 7 June at 3.50pm, starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and the divine Jean Simmons. 

If you enjoyed the recent Greta Gerwig adaptation of Little Women ( and I know you did) then try an earlier MGM version of the story. June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Astor are among the cast in Little Women (1949) on TCM, Thursday 11 June at 5.15pm, which features some of the most gorgeous Technicolor cinematography you will ever see.

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