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My 12 for ’12: Jeff Who Lives at Home & Living in Hope

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #9

The eponymous Jeff, from Jeff Who Lives at Home, feels like something of a cousin to the Judd Atapow “manchild” that we’ve seen popularised in films like Knocked Up of The 40 Year Old Virgin. He’s unreliable, lazy and smokes a not inconsiderable amount of pot. His mother can’t even count on him to fix a shutter door on her birthday, although he is quick to offer seemingly vacuous philosophical insights garnered from Star Wars and Signs. His brother Pat is hardly a run-away success, trapped in a failing marriage and prone to sit around Hooters all day, but at least he has thrived when compared to Jeff. Jeff is, by all accounts, a fool whose own naivety leads him to get beaten and mugged within the first half-hour of the film.

However, at the heart of Jeff Who Lives at Home, is a surprisingly romantic idea. There’s the notion that the universe is somehow a far more compassionate and understanding place than we might suspect. Jeff’s logic and reasoning might be far from convincing, and it’s easy to be cynical. However, Jay and Mark Duplass craft a story that suggests sometimes things work out just right.


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Watch! Mama Trailer…

Universal just set over the new trailer for Mama, the new supernatural thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro. Del Toror is producing, and writer-director Andres Muschietti is making his theatrical début, having worked on a number of short films before this (including one called Mamá). It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain and follows the mysterious recovery of two missing girls years after their initial disappearance. It looks nice and atmospheric, and del Toro’s name is enough to make the film worth a look to me.

Give the trailer a watch and let me know what you think.

Done in 60 Seconds: An Interview with Andrew Norton

We might not be the best team in the world at soccer, we might not be the favourites to take home a record-shattering amount of gold medals in London, but the Irish have always had a bit of a cultural charm. This year, we were lucky enough to be represented at the final of the Jameson Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition, with Andrew Norton’s condensed spoof of the iconic District 9 landing a place among 29 international contenders on a shortlist including entries from Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Israel, Sweden and the Ukraine, among others. I had the pleasure of chatting very briefly about putting the sixty-second clip together, breaking into short-film making and the perils of looking like a security guard on the red carpet.

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Short Stories 2011: Dagdraumer

Ronan from Relentless Short Films competition sent on another finalist in 2011 competition (so The Pit was not the last one). I’ve enjoyed the other entries so far, so I thought I’d share this one with you.

For more details of the Relentless Short Films competition, click here.

Short Stories 2011: The Pit

Ronan from Swear I’m Not Paul (he’s not) sent on the final instalment in the Relentless Short Films competition, and I’ve enjoyed the other entries so far, so I thought I’d share this last video with you. It’s an interesting look at the world of crowd surfing, and you can see it below.

For more details of the Relentless Short Films competition, click here.

Short Stories 2011: All In

Last month, Ronan from Swear I’m Not Paul (he’s not) asked me to share a short film about Frank Turner with you. This month, he’s back with another little gem, All In, looking at the world of urban skateboarding. Check it out here or embedded below.

Short Stories 2011: Frank Turner

Ronan from Swear I’m Not Paul asked me to pass this on. It’s a short film documenting life on The Road with Frank Turner, as the songwriter shares his own thoughts on his life’s journey, as filmed by James Henry. It’s an understated yet powerful little piece and well worth a look just for the honesty of Turner and the wonderfully sparse black-and-white photography from Henry.

Non-Review Review: Insomnia (2002)

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “a brighter shade of noir” – neo-noir that eschews the dark aesthetic for which the genre is famous.

How do you make a film noir set in a community where the sun never sets? You get the Swedes to do it, and then you ask Christopher Nolan to remake it.

I love a good mist-erie...

Note: Unlike most of my noir-related posts, this review will include spoilers for the film. In fairness, you could argue that these are the type of spoilers included in a run-of-the-mill synopsis – but better safe than sorry. If you’re looking for a recommendation, go see this film.

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Non-Review: Lover’s Jump

I had the pleasure of checking out Lover’s Jump, a short film directed by Mark McCombe. It’s a short piece, clocking in at under four minutes – the writing is efficient, but perhaps a little busy (if only it seems that there’s quite a lot going on to fit into four minutes). I won’t spoil it for you by discussing the plot – only to suggest that it is well worth your time. The film distinguishes itself on the technical front, featuring a superbly haunting soundtrack from Rich Keyworth underscoring McCombe’s atmospheric direction. Despite the limited runtime, McCombe efficiently establishes mood – he creates a wonderful impression through a series of carefully chosen shots complimented by the eerie music in the background.

McCombe is undoubtedly aided by his lead actor, Laurence Fuller, who conveys a lot through controlled and restrained body language. There’s a lot of ways to read the scene when it opens, and Fuller manages to keep it open-ended without seeming indecisive. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the short’s ending – it seems so much about mood and emotion that it seems counter-intuitive to stick a twist in (given that there’s really only about a dozen lines of dialogue in total). I suppose that’s probably an unfair criticism to make, given the time constraints – but it still struck me on watching it.

Setting the bar...

Still, it’s the intensity of the short which really makes it work – it conveys a sense of foreboding and dread effectively within four minutes, to the point where the actual dialogue and plot seem almost perfunctory. I can see great things on the horizon for McCombe. He’s certainly skilled. His approach is relatively minimalist, but he gets a lot of impact for that. It’s well worth your time if you can get a look at it. I suspect it will be appearing as a special feature on the DVD of McCombe’s directorial debut soon enough.