RT-UK at the 15th Raindance Film Festival
We give you our recommendations for the films to see at the UK's best celebration of indie cinema.
Between our jury duties, our time elsewhere at Raindance and our general festival going, these are the film's we've seen that we've loved so far.
Allan Moyle's Weirdsville imagines a scenario that defines the term, "bad day." When Royce and Dexter find the latter's dead girlfriend following an overdose, it's a simple trip to a seedy basement to bury the evidence. Only a group of satan-worshipping ne'er-do-wells happen to be doing their own ill deeds at the same time. And when the girlfriend can't stay dead it seems like nothing is going to go their way.
What follows is nothing short of riotous as the pair of hapless losers beg, steal and borrow their way to morning. Moyle, whose last big hit was 1995's Empire Records serves up a devilishly intriguing black comedy that keeps you on tenterhooks 'til the end. Weirdsville may well be another cult classic in the making.
Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman are brilliant as Royce and Dexter, while support from some cultists, a dead girlfriend, a bunch of drug dealers and a midget security guard keep them on their toes throughout.
Timur Bekmambetov's follow-up to his masterful Night Watch - a film which came out of left field from Russia and gave Hollywood a run for its money - is possibly even less accessible than its predecessor. Day Watch cuts straight into the universe, grabbing its audience by the lapels and forcing us to remind ourselves of the story so far.
It's also decidedly more heartfelt than Night Watch; Khabensky's Anton wrestling with a son who's deserted him for the Day Watch and his responsibilities to his unit. The line Anton walks is blurrier than anything to come out of the big American studios, and it's refreshing to see a little ambiguity.
Jeannette Catsoulis says it best in the New York Times. Day Watch "dazzles and confuses with equal determination."
Director Charles Henri Belleville's previous credits, which curiously include duties as the making-of documentarian on the set of WAZ, which is another Raindance film, give him away as a newcomer to the world of film, but if The Inheritance is anything to go by, we can fully expect a long and interesting career from him. Written in two months and shot over 11 days on a budget of just £5000, The Inheritance has clearly succeeded through the passion and persistence of its cast, writer and director.
The story of a pair of brothers and their quest to find their inheritance after the death of their father, it's guerilla filmmaking at its most exciting, shot in glorious HD against some of the most beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer. And it's as beautiful to journey with as it is to look at, its leads finding real emotion while dealing with real familial troubles we can all relate to. Indeed, it's a wonder the brothers in the film aren't related in real life.
This is independent filmmaking at its most exciting. A project that exemplifies what can be accomplished if wannabe filmmakers just take the plunge and go for it.
A film about Mark David Chapman, John Lennon's assassin, is bound to provoke controversy. So perhaps it's just as well Lindsay Lohan and Jared Leto's big-budget version of this tale is soaking all that up, because The Killing of John Lennon, the indie version, is a fine film despite its subject matter.
We follow Chapman as his mind begins to convince him that killing Lennon is the way to go and then all the way through to the act itself and his arrest and trial. At times the film becomes a little too abstract, and the story could do with losing a few minutes from the end, but this isn't an exploitative shock-film. Rather it's a meditation on what it takes to do something as heinous as this and an attempt to understand, without necessarily empathising with, Chapman.