UK Cinema Releases: Friday 11th November 2011


Arthur Christmas (Sony Pictures): Animated film from Aardman Features and Sony Pictures Imageworks which imagines what the inside of Santa’s workshop looks like and explores how Santa delivers all his presents in one night. Directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook, it features the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen. [Nationwide / U]

Immortals (Universal Pictures): A mythological tale set in war-torn ancient Greece where the young warrior prince Theseus (Henry Cavill) leads his men in a battle against evil that will see the Gods and Men fighting against the Titans and Barbarians. Directed by Tarsem Singh, it co-stars Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, Joseph Morgan and Freida Pinto. [Nationwide / 15]

The Rum Diary (Entertainment Films): Adapted from the Hunter S. Thompson book about a freelance journalist (Johnny Depp) who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life. While writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean, he finds himself challenged on many levels as he tries to carve out a more secure niche for himself amidst a group of lost souls all bent on self-destruction. Directed by Bruce Robinson, it stars co-stars Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart and Giovanni Ribisi. [UK wide / 15]

Trespass (Lionsgate UK): Thriller about a couple (Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman) who are held for ransom in their own home by a gang of extortionists. Directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Ben Mendelsohn and Cam Gigandet. [Nationwide / 15]

The Awakening (Studiocanal): Ghost story set during 1921 in England, just after the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she knew in unravels as the ‘missing’ begin to show themselves. Directed by Nick Murphy, it stars Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, and Imelda Staunton [Nationwide / 15]


Tabloid (Dogwoof): Documentary about a bizarre scandal in 1977 involving a former beauty queen and a Mormon missionary. Directed by Errol Morris, it has already played to acclaim on the festival circuit and is finally opening in the country where much of the story took place. [Key Cities / 15] [Read our full review here]

Wuthering Heights (Artificial Eye): Adaptation of the Emily Bronte novel about a poor young boy (James Howson) who is taken in by the wealthy Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister (Kaya Scodelario ). Directed by Andrea Arnold, it co-stars Steve Evets, Nichola Burley, Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer. [Nationwide / 15]

Black Pond (15): Black comedy about a family recounting the tale of how they came to be accused of murder when a stranger died at their dinner table. Directed by Will Sharpe and Tom Kingsley, it stars Chris Langham and Simon Amstell. [Key Cities / 15]

The British Guide To Showing Off (Verve Pictures): Documetary about British artist and ‘living legend’ Andrew Logan. Directed by Jes Benstock, it features Ruby Wax, Zandra Rhodes and Brian Eno. [Selected cinemas / 15]

> Get local cinema showtimes at Google Movies or FindAnyFilm
Recent UK DVD & Blu-ray releases

Directors Documentaries Interesting

Errol Morris at BAFTA

Famed documentarian Errol Morris was at BAFTA this week where he gave the annual David Lean lecture and a Q&A with Adam Curtis.

He has been in London this week promoting Tabloid, his new film about a bizarre scandal involving a beauty queen and a mormon, and the event was live streamed over the web on BAFTA Guru.

To watch the full 30 minute speech head on over to the BAFTA site, but here is a clip:

Afterwards he engaged in an interesting Q&A session with fellow director Adam Curtis which can be seen here:

I first saw Tabloid at the London Film Festival last year and it is going to be a strong contender for the inaugural BAFTA documentary award.

Interestingly, the film hit the headlines this week when Joyce McKinney (the main subject) announced she was suing Morris for her portrayal in the film, which has echoes of Randall Adams suing Morris, despite the fact that (or maybe because?) his 1988 film The Thin Blue Line got him off death row.

Perhaps there is a follow up film to be made?

> Tabloid review from LFF 2010
> BAFTA Guru
> Adam Curtis’ essential BBC blog which regularly culls interesting material from the archives
> More on Errol Morris at Wikipedia

Cinema Lists

The Best Films of 2010

As usual these are my favourite films of the year in alphabetical order (just click on each title for more information).


Animal Kingdom (Dir. David Michôd): The outstanding debut feature from director David Michôd is a riveting depiction of a Melbourne crime family headed by a sinister matriarch.

Another Year (Dir. Mike Leigh): A moving, bitter-sweet drama about relationships, filled with great acting, is arguably the peak of Mike Leigh’s career.

Biutiful (Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu): Searing exploration of life and death in a modern European city, featuring a tremendous central performance from Javier Bardem.

Black Swan (Dir. Darren Aronofsky): Swan Lake is retold with glorious intensity, channelling Polanski and Cronenberg whilst giving Natalie Portman the role of a lifetime.

Carlos (Dir. Olivier Assayas): Scintillating and immersive depiction of a 1970s terrorist with a tremendous performance by Edgar Ramirez.

Enter the Void (Dir. Gaspar Noé): Technically dazzling depiction of a dead drug dealer that also features what is possibly the greatest opening title sequence of all time.

Exit Through The Gift Shop (Dir. Banksy): An ingenious and hilarious hall of mirrors which is brilliantly executed and so much more than a ‘Banksy documentary’.

Inception (Dir. Christopher Nolan): The ingenious puzzles of Christopher Nolan’s early films were given the scale of his blockbusters in this hugely ambitious sci-fi actioner.

Inside Job (Dir. Charles Ferguson): Devastating documentary about the financial crisis which plays like a heist movie, only this time it is the banks robbing the people.

Tabloid (Dir. Errol Morris): The media feeding frenzy surrounding a bizarre 1970s sex scandal provided Errol Morris with the raw material for one of the most entertaining documentaries in years.

The Fighter (Dir. David O’Russell): A boxing story which follows a familiar path but remains energetic, inspirational and funny, with Christian Bale on career-best form.

The Kids Are Alright (Dir. Lisa Cholodenko): A perfectly pitched comedy-drama that explores modern family life with genuine heart and humour.

The King’s Speech (Dir. Tom Hooper): Wonderfully crafted period drama with two brilliant lead performances and a moving story filled with hilarious one liners.

The Social Network (Dir. David Fincher): The inside story of Facebook is a riveting tale of ambition and betrayal, which sees Fincher, Sorkin and a young cast firing on all cylinders.

Toy Story 3 (Dir. Lee Unkrich): The ground breaking animated series gets a worthy final chapter whilst maintaining Pixar’s impeccable standards of story and animation.


127 Hours (Dir. Danny Boyle)
Blue Valentine (Dir. Derek Cianfrance)
Catfish (Dir. Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost)
Four Lions (Dir. Chris Morris)
Let Me In (Dir. Matt Reeves)
Restrepo (Dir. Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
Somewhere (Dir. Sofia Coppola)
The American (Dir. Anton Corbijn)
The Ghost Writer (Dir. Roman Polanski)
The Illusionist (Dir. Sylvain Chomet)
Winter’s Bone (Dir. Debra Granik)

> Find out more about the films of 2010 at Wikipedia
> End of year lists at Metacritic
> The Best DVD and Blu-ray Releases of 2010

Amusing Festivals Interviews

Errol Morris and Joyce McKinney at DOC NY 2010

Tabloid recently screened at the New York Documentary Film Festival and its subject Joyce McKinney joined director Errol Morris on stage.

One of the best documentaries of the year, it tells the story of McKinney and the tabloid feeding frenzy she was involved in back in the 1970s.

When it screened at this year’s London Film Festival the producer Mark Lipson hinted to the audience that Joyce was more than a little upset with how the film portrayed her.

It seemed there would be an ongoing rift until someone had the brilliant idea of reuniting Joyce and Morris on stage at the New York Documentary Festival last night.

The following video of their post-screening Q&A is priceless:

Notice how Joyce can’t stop talking, the look of bemused delight on Morris’ face and a hilarious climax provided by her dog.

There is also this video of McKinney after the screening:

I suspect that both with be included on the DVD extras.

As an aside, this website was one of many that received a comment threatening legal action against the London Film Festival, the filmmakers and anyone who didn’t take a basic description of the film down from their site.

Was Joyce doing blog searches and trying to ‘correct’ the image presented of her in the film?

[via The DailyMUBI]

> New York Documentary Film Festival
> Follow DOC NY on Twitter
> Errol Morris
> My review of Tabloid at the London Film Festival
Reviews of Tabloid via MUBi

Cinema Festivals London Film Festival

LFF 2010: Tabloid

A former beauty queen, a Mormon missionary, British tabloid newspapers and cloned dogs all provide Errol Morris with some riotous material for his latest documentary, which ranks alongside his finest work.

After two serious documentaries about figures involved in US military conflicts – The Fog of War (2003) and Standard Operating Procedure (2008) – Morris has returned to the quirkier territory of earlier work like Gates of Heaven (1978) and Vernon, Florida (1981).

In the late 1970s when a former Miss Wyoming named Joyce McKinney, caused a tabloid scandal in England by allegedly kidnapping a Mormon missionary in Surrey and ‘enslaving’ him in an episode which was soon dubbed the ‘Mormon sex in chains case’.

The resulting media feeding frenzy increased when she was arrested and imprisoned only to later escape to the US, where she surfaced many years later in a very different story.

Morris explores this bizarre tale through extended interviews with McKinney herself; Peter Tory, a journalist for the Daily Express close to the story; Kent Gavin, a photographer for the rival Daily Mirror who had a different take on McKinney; Troy Williams, a Mormon activist who provides religious context; and a Korean scientist who clones dogs.

Using his trademark Interrotron camera, which creates the effect of the subject talking at the audience, Morris elicits revealing testimonies which relay events like a compulsive, page-turning novel.

He certainly struck gold in finding McKinney: energetic, talkative and at times seemingly delusional, she has a turn of phrase which is infectious, ridiculous and hilarious.

Providing a nice counterbalance is Tory, who gives a more sober account but also has an intriguing part in the story he reported on.

Not only was he MacKinney’s unofficial ‘minder’ for the Express, accompanying her to a film premiere for publicity, but his recollections are not always what they seem.

Another perspective is provided by Gavin, who as a deadly rival to Tory, embodies the tenacity of old-school Fleet Street veterans. His relish and glee at uncovering certain photos is as revealing as McKinney’s delusions.

But tabloid is more than just the hilarious recollections of a juicy story: it is a shrewd dissection of tabloid culture itself through its use of inventive graphics and judicious editing.

One dazzling technique used throughout is the accentuation of the interviewee’s words with on screen graphics, highlighting the way in which tabloids interpret language for effect.

Morris also uses graphics to visualize the story, as archive tabloid coverage comes alive with headlines, pull-quotes and cartoons cleverly synced with the words we hear from the people on screen.

Seeing the fonts of various English newspapers flash up on screen conveys the hysterical, funny and often cruel nature of how tabloids present information to the world.

It nails the peculiarities of the British tabloid press: the screaming headlines, bitter rivalries, fascination with smut and the overblown, self-important nature of their coverage are all deftly conveyed.

The editing by Grant Surmi is also outstanding and the film flows with consummate ease between the different interviews, often punctuating them with marvellous audio and visual flourishes.

On a deeper level Tabloid is about how stories and events are remembered.

There are different points of view on MacKinney’s story and the film is fascinating precisely because it leaves room for our own conclusions.

Ironically, this is the polar opposite of tabloid coverage which seeks to paint things in black and white, and provide a definitive viewpoint on even the most contentious of matters.

Morris takes quite the opposite approach and by probing the details of this odd case, appears to suggest that the attention seeking subject reflects the very culture that showcased her.

But Tabloid is by no means a cerebral, academic exercise.

One of the most purely entertaining documentaries in years, it makes you think whilst you laugh and is another reminder of why Errol Morris remains one of the best filmmakers working today.

Tabloid played at the London Film Festival over the weekend but a UK release date is TBC

> Tabloid at the IMDb
> Official website of Errol Morris
> Reviews of Tabloid via MUBi
> Tabloid at the LFF