A still from Mute photographed by Peter Marley.
Post-production has begun on Mute, a short film directed by Conan McIvor and produced by Lisa Keogh. From an original screenplay written by Keogh, the film is about a traumatised young woman who returns home to confront events from a past relationship that have literally left her speechless. Filmed around the city centre and south Belfast, the film uses pensive imagery to convey its message. ‘It’s hard to address issues in a non-cliché way,’ said Keogh. ‘When writing the film I wanted to use tone and emotion rather than over-done dialogue.’ It’s clear from speaking to McIvor and Keogh that the film is a natural collaboration that brings their seperate talents together. More visually minded, McIvor was confident about how to film his friend’s script: ‘It was important to both of us because it’s an unconventional love story, so I wanted to push that visually and approach the themes in an unconventional way; in a more avant garde way.’ The two shared films they felt were important to the project to gain common ground in terms of structure and visual influence: ‘We watched films like Before Sunrise  and Before Sunset  by Richard Linklater,’ said Keogh who was also influenced by Jane Campion’s In The Cut (2003). ‘It’s such a strong, pulpy and beautifully visual film,’ she said. With so much heart and thought put into the making of this film, Mute looks set to be a quietly provocative film debut that tackles personal issues with beautiful images. Belfastfilmblog is delighted to feature stills from the film which was shot by photographer Peter Marley and will be following the film’s progress in the future. Hopefully there is much more to come from this talented group.
Collette Lennon as Paige and Nick Lee as Felix in Mute.
Mute was filmed on location in south Belfast.
A little boy sits on a beach beside a little girl. ‘Hold my hand,’ he says. ‘No, you’re too ugly,’ she replies and gets up and runs away. The small solitary figure left on the sand picks up a cigarette butt and smokes it. His name is Lucien Ginsburg, but we know him as his adult persona, Serge Gainsbourg: French singer, songwriter, lover of beautiful women and alcoholic provocateur. Lucien already has many of his adult counterpart’s traits – smoking, flirting, drawing naked women and thinking about his gawky features – so the audience watches to see at what point in the film Lucien becomes Serge. That development doesn’t come, however, because Lucien doesn’t change his personality, he just changes his name. The film is affectionate and unapologetic and amusingly blends truth and myth to illustrate the life of a pop culture legend. Knowingly, music permeates the film showing Gainsbourg’s adept range of styles and his masterpieces are surreally alluded to – Melody Nelson appears as Gainsbourg’s baby daughter Charlotte, referencing Histoire De Melody Nelson, Gainsbourg’s revered album about a man’s relationship with a young girl. Gainsbourg’s features are made prominent throughout the film, not only in the mind of the star (he did record an album called Cabbage-Head Man), but also in the depiction of Gainsbarre – Gainsbourg’s alter-ego – with his over-sized papier maché nose and ears and long, spindly fingers. Eric Elmosnino as Gainsbourg languidly embodies a mix of insecurity and aggressive ego, avoiding the caricature that surrounds him.
Cartoonish images and models appear again and again – including an imagined propaganda Jew that resembles Sacha Baron Cohen’s Jews from Borat (2006) – and are undoubtedly due to the fact that director, Joann Sfar based the film on his own graphic novel portraits of Gainsbourg. In fact, sketches and drawings are a recurring motif – from risqué pictures Lucien draws as a child after sitting in on a life-drawing class to Gainsbourg sketching Jane Birkin on their first meeting. Gainsbourg continuously objectifies the women around him, eventually telling his last lover, Bambou, ‘You meet my aesthetic criteria,’ but it seems it is the similarly iconic women who shape the events in his life. Laetitia Casta casts a flirty figure as Brigitte Bardot (a woman you can’t help feel enjoys being Brigitte Bardot more than anything else), and Lucy Gordon’s Jane Birkin is tinged with tragedy not just because of the tormented relationship with Serge, but because of Gordon’s suicide shortly after making the film. Death and sex were favourite subjects of Gainsbourg, and it’s disappointing the film doesn’t confront those themes head-on as the man himself certainly would. His sexual and behavioural complexities are not fully explored, but alluded to, (if you don’t know about the film he made with his daughter Charlotte entitled, Lemon Incest, the film won’t tell you) ultimately leaving Gainsbourg as a flawed but much-loved and unchallenged artistic genius, and philosophical gaps the audience are free to fill in themselves.
The release of Toy Story 3 seemed to come from nowhere. It quickly and quietly sneaked up on us while we were distracted by riots over the Twelfth, the ever increasing number of weddings and thoughts of whether or not to go to Glasgowbury again this year. To be honest, the film is as emotionally tumultuous as the July weather we’ve been having (if not the riots). Toy Story 3 runs at about three times the pace of the original 1995 film, but then we all know the routine by now and it’s clear from the lack of exposition that this film has the original Toy Story fans in mind. Every follower of Pixar, the computer animation studio that along with Disney made all three Toy Story movies and other hugely successful films like Wall-E, Up and Finding Nemo, will know that they never dumb down for the audience and despite the familiar themes of these films; heartbreak, abandonment, adventure, friendship and happy endings, they continue to keep us distracted from the formula with fast, thrilling action and wonderful characterisations – old: Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Rex and Hamm, and new: Lotso, Ken and Chuckles. It’s intelligent and emotive film-making, genuinely funny and exciting and full of clever movie culture references – for instance Totoro; the lovely fat and furry forest spirit from Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro makes an appearance in toy form to reference the great Japanese animators, Studio Ghibli. In fact, Toy Story 3 alludes to and blends genres so seamlessly that Quentin Tarantino must feel like there’s a snake in his boot. It goes from sci-fi space adventure to prison drama to western and even to bleak apocalyptic tragedy before wrapping up nicely in rom-com heaven… sort of. You see, the toys’ owner Andy is grown up now and going off to college, so Toy Story 3 has an underlying feeling of uncertainty that’s hard to shake, and as you hand your steamed up 3D glasses back, you might wonder what kind of film you’ve really seen.
Hello all. This is a brand new blog about films made or viewed in Belfast. It will be a mixture of news, reviews and other comments and bits and pieces. If anyone wants to contribute a review, or has any interesting news, story or opinion they would like to appear on the blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’ll be good. It’ll be nice.