Editor, U.S.; Los Angeles, California (@filmbenjamin)
Doing some capsule reviews here for the start of the week. Not because these films are less deserving of a full review than others, it is more for time constraints... and also all four flicks already have distribution in multiple territories so they will get some exposure.

In the coming days I'll have a review for Dorothee van den Berghe's MY QUEEN KARO, probably one for Thomas Ikimi's LEGACY starring Idris Elba, and further down the line (most likely after the actual fest is over) interviews with ZONAD star and directors, Simon Delaney, and Kieran and John Carney, plus a quick one with ALICE CREED helmer J Blakeson.

So to start things off...


If there is any film on this list that deserves a full review based on sheer awesomeness, it'd be this one from J Blakeson, a first time feature director (but no stranger to the biz) that our Todd is calling the next Danny Boyle. He ain't far off.

Blakeson has crafted a lean, fit, ferocious beast of a crime thriller, virtually turning the whole kidnapping angle on its head. While the film loses some of its initial pop, it impresses all the way through, due to the triple smack-down of performances. 

As the kidnappers, Martin Compston gives a beautifully veiled and tiered performance, and Eddie Marsan knocks it out of the park with spit and verve as usual. In the title role, Gemma Arterton lands a performance that is gonna get her some international street cred outside of her Bond Girl and Prince of Persia visage.

But it all goes back to director and writer, Blakeson. The first twenty minutes are some of the best I've seen in years and that is pretty much why this film doesn't get a full review... I can't spoil it in anyway. The narrative structure Blakeson lays out must be experienced from frame one with little to no knowledge of the film's set-up. Go in cold, freezing cold, and just soak it all up.


Future woes, crises, a world depressed and resigned to their televisions and menial jobs ala any number of future dystopian stories wound up by Kafka-esque weirdness. You don't need to see this one for the story - you've seen it before, and done much better - see it for the outstanding design work and animation. 

A process using advanced cut out animation in Adobe After Effects, characters are designed from actual photo models with typically 80 layers that can be animated. The gray underground gloom of this Europe these bobble head like figures traverse is always interesting to look at; a montage of familiar places and possible future industrial nightmares, a lot of love and care went into this one. The off handed, not quite photo-realistic look is perfectly unsettling but never distracting or out of place. It is like looking at a hall of mirrors with only your peripheral vision. While it may not wow on some fronts, METROPIA will on others.


Neil Jordan made a family film? Well yeah, kinda.., as close as Neil Jordan is gonna get to making a family film. ONDINE is also probably his best film since 1997's THE BUTCHER BOY, but it isn't anything really great to crow about, just nicely done all around.

Colin Farrel plays a recovering alcoholic fisherman who finds what appears to be a drowned woman in his nets. Turns out she is alive, very beautiful and very well may be a fabled sea creature called a Selkie... this according to Farrel's precocious, wheel chair bound daughter.

The modern turn on the fairy tale is something Jordan is adept at, and there are no bumps here. In a lot of ways it feels like he's taking a page from Danny Boyle's MILLIONS, in balancing that sinister and heartfelt, although Jordan's got dark wonders all his own. I'm gonna get booed for this one, but I am not a huge fan of cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and I thought this was one of his more interesting efforts. The mossy, misty gloom of the Irish coast he captures helps accent the emotional arc of Farrel's fisherman and Alicja Bacjleda's Ondine... the woman who may or may not be a Selkie.


Okay, on the off chance that any of you out there know Nicole Holofcener's films (FRIENDS WITH MONEY) then I am sure you're wondering why I am talking about PLEASE GIVE, not really a Twitchy film if there ever was one. But hey, I saw it, and I liked it, so I feel obliged to mention it.
I've walked by a lot of antiquey furniture boutiques in this town of New York, always wondering where the hell they get their goods. Well apparently a lot of this stuff comes from the apartments of really old, recently dead folks. At least that is where business and married couple, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt get their goods.

There is upper class guilt, gilded sweetly, embarrassingly so by Keener and her clan, as they court their elderly neighbor and her granddaughters, waiting till the day the old bag croaks and they can get her apartment renovated. People are mean here, and then they feel shitty, and things usually end up in that tricky gray area. It is a funny, generally humane film. And the real reason I saw it is because of Rebecca Hall.

By golly, I love Rebecca Hall.

She's one of the granddaughters, the kinda awkward younger sister who takes care of her nana. She gets a lot of shit from her elder, and while it might sound silly, it is a rather wonderfully nuanced performance of a young woman trapping herself in the only routine she knows. Keener is a nice parallel, and the film is ultimately about letting go, though it ain't preachy and always enduring. And there is always, always the lovely Rebecca Hall.

METROPIA is currently playing on video on demand services across North America from Tribeca's own distribution wing. PLEASE GIVE opens this week, April 30th, in limited release in the states, with expansion to follow. ONDINE releases limited in the states in June from Magnolia. It was released in March in Ireland, few European dates seem set. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED opens in UK cinemas April 30th, and in the US August 6th. For NYCers Tribeca links follow.    

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

  • J Blakeson
  • J Blakeson
  • Martin Compston
  • Eddie Marsan
  • Gemma Arterton
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ALICE CREED at Tribeca
ONDINE at Tribeca
METROPIA at Tribeca
PLEASE GIVE at Tribeca

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