Thursday 6 October 2011

David Mackenzie - Perfect Sense interview (audio)

David Mackenzie on the set of Perfect Sense
Perfect Sense tells the story of a chef (Ewan McGregor) and a scientist (Eva Green) who begin to fall in love as the world begins to fall apart, when a series of inexplicable epidemics strike across the globe. Listen to my interview with the film's director David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Hallam Foe) from June this year at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It's a fairly in-depth discussion of some of the film's themes, so probably best listened to after you've seen the film.

David Mackenzie - Perfect Sense interview by paulcgallagher

As I wrote on The List blog during the Film Festival, Perfect Sense is a uniquely ambitious work in which Mackenzie picks up some fascinating ideas and uncompromisingly follows them through, with the help of a solid cast, and a great lead performance from McGregor. It's a demanding film, but also thought-provoking and quietly moving. As Mackenzie says in the interview, ‘what I saw in the script was a poetic attempt to tell the story of a possible end [of humanity], and that felt interesting to me. It felt like a subtle and rather magical way of looking at these things as opposed to a bombastic and genre-led thing.’

And if you want more Perfect Sense goodies, check out the exclusive content in the player below from Sigma films:

The film features a haunting score by Max Richter (Waltz with Bashir, Shutter Island), and you can hit the green button to watch a featurette with Mackenzie and Richter discussing their motivations with the score.

Perfect Sense is released on October 7th.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Red State review (The List, Issue 688)

Outspoken filmmaker Kevin Smith hit a creative and commercial low with his last studio-backed production, the Bruce Willis-starring flop Cop Out, but before that film was even released Smith had shifted focus to this long-gestating personal project. Red State defies categorisation, but could, for some of its lean running time, be described as a political horror movie. Having independently raised funds, Smith shot the film entirely on digital cameras to allow for the quickest possible turnaround. The result is an uneven and often unpleasant film that leaves a bitter aftertaste, but despite its flaws suggests Smith has rediscovered his creative mojo, and is not beyond challenging himself yet.

The film begins with a class teacher in the unspecified titular state decrying the homophobic protests of a local fundamentalist Christian church. We soon see first-hand the horrific practices of this church, led by charismatic pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks, giving a creepily authentic performance), as three teenage boys get more than they bargained for after responding to an internet post seemingly offering no-strings attached sex. Smith refashions the traditional backwoods horror movie with Christian fundamentalists as the monsters, and while subtlety is clearly not on his agenda, this is an effective and scary first half hour, expertly put together and shorn of any of Smith’s usual wisecracking comedy. But the introduction of FBI agent Joe Keenan (John Goodman) signals a distinct change in tone, and Smith abandons horror in favour of an attempt at more nuanced political drama. While his ambition is admirable, Smith’s characters – with the notable exception of Keenan – are unsympathetic caricatures, and feel too much like convenient mouthpieces for the issues he wants to tackle. An inspired and bizarre final twist almost works, until Smith pulls the rug and backtracks for a West Wing-lite philosophising conclusion.

Red State was released on September 30th. This review originally published in The List magazine.