Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

The Best Films You’ve Never Seen #3: Afterschool

In this semi-regular feature, I discuss some of the best films which had low box office earnings, found little audience, or have otherwise been forgotten about over time.

Despite dominating the lives of teenagers for over a decade, very few films have focused on ‘the youtube generation’. Apart from a few teen comedies that show the funny side of public humiliation, or BBC-lite teen dramas that show the dark side of public humiliation, cinema has lacked genuine insight into how the world has changed, and is changing, in the face of anybody being able to access every known video available, from cute kittens and vlogs to execution footage and hardcore pornography.

Antonio Campos’ 2008 debut Afterschool attempts to confront the issue head on. The film is a troubling character study focusing on a lonely teenage boy at a boarding school, and the disturbing event he witnesses. Trying to find honesty in a world of pretence, Afterschool examines the psychological and sociological effects of having cameras constantly ready to invade your personal life.

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Twin Peaks is back – was it worth the wait?

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Laura Palmer’s promise came true. Twenty-five years since coffee loving FBI agent Dale Cooper was trapped in the Black Lodge by evil spirit BOB, David Lynch’s beloved cult mystery Twin Peaks has returned to television screens. With Lynch directing all eighteen episodes and much of the original cast returning to their most iconic roles, Twin Peaks: The Return certainly isn’t a nostalgic cash-in. Four episodes have been released so far – were they worth the wait?

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Modern Masterpieces #7: Mulholland Drive

Some films demand to be scrutinised; intricate films with difficult plots, hidden details, and perception-altering twists are often watched and re-watched constantly by fans desperate to discover the film’s real meaning. On the surface, David Lynch’s 2001 magnum opus Mulholland Drive is such a film. Its dreamlike structure is disorientating, asking audiences to notice subtle hints and clues to uncover the true meaning of the film’s non-linear plot. However, despite the film growing more meaningful with every watch, viewers don’t need to take notes to feel the atmosphere of Mulholland Drive. Like a beautiful drug trip, the film works best when you simply allow it to wash over you, taking you on a journey into the unknown.

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The Handmaiden is a twisting, turning revival of the erotic thriller

Sensual isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook. After all, this is the director behind such brutal films as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Stoker. It’s surprising, then, to see his latest film The Handmaiden, the story of an orphan sent to work for a mysterious heiress, is a romantic period drama, focusing on forbidden love, restrained emotions, and genuinely erotic moments of intimacy. At least, it is for the first ten minutes.

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A Ghost Story’s trailer is the most beautifully haunting thing you’ll see all year

Three months after wowing audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, David Lowery’s utterly bizarre-sounding A Ghost Story has released its first trailer. Distributed by A24 (Moonlight, Ex Machina), A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck as the titular apparition in a white sheet, and Rooney Mara as the lover he pines for.  

Shot in the beautiful Academy Ratio and presumably spanning hundreds of years (the trailer has at least a few shots that seem to take place in the 19th century), the film looks a true original, and the early buzz from Sundance suggests a slow, moving film inspired less by Lowery’s previous influence Terrence Malick (Lowery’s debut was the Badlands-homaging Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) than Palme d’Or winning oddball Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Whether the film turns out to be as utterly fascinating as its first trailer or not, I still can’t wait for the film to be released in the UK.


By Harry J. Ford

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Rebecca Hall should have dominated awards season for her performance in Christine

Should a biopic about Christine Chubbuck exist? Many believe the story of the young news anchor who shot herself live on air in 1974 should never be made, out of respect for the dead. A recent documentary, Kate Plays Christine, focused on the very topic, concluding that making a film about Chubbuck could only be exploitative. However, in Antonio Campos’ hands, Christine is a moving, troubling story that never feels at all exploitative, mostly due to the career best work of Rebecca Hall in the title role.

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Edgar Wright is back with the trailer for Baby Driver

It’s been nearly four years since Edgar Wright’s last film, the brilliant Cornetto Trilogy-closer The World’s End, and in that time, it feels like there’s been a serious lack of genuinely cool, genuinely thrilling action films. Until now.

That’s Wright, Edgar’s back with his long-awaited passion project Baby Driver. The story of a getaway driver who lives to the beat of his own personal playlist, early reviews are promising a mixure of Fast and Furious car mayhem with the rhythm and energy of a Busby Berkeley musical. With evil Kevin Spacey, deranged Jamie Foxx, and slick Jon Hamm in supporting roles, and charismatic leading roles from Ansel Elgort and Lily James, Baby Driver looks as fantastically stylish as Wright’s previous filmography. Is Baby Driver going to be your new favourite film?

I hope so.

By Harry J. Ford

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La La Land wins-no, Moonlight wins Best Picture (and other Oscar thoughts)

In what might be the most stunningly embarrassing gaffe in Oscar history, La La Land was announced as Best Picture, but once Damien Chazelle and his team made it onstage, presenter Warren Beatty had to announce that the actual winner was Moonlight. It was a cringeworthy moment for all involved, but I’m just too happy to say that Moonlight won Best Picture. With a tiny budget, unusual narrative and visual style, and focus on race and sexuality, Moonlight is one of the most unique Best Picture winners in history, and Barry Jenkins deserves all of his success.


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The 2017 Oscars: Will win, Should win, Should have been nominated

It’s that time of year again when Hollywood’s elite gathers to hand out awards for the best in film. That’s right, it’s Oscar night, and this year is looking as unpredictable as any year in the ceremony’s 89-year history. Though certain films are guaranteed to walk away with a prize, many of the evening’s biggest awards are still up for debate. Just like every sensible person overseas, I’m unlikely to stay up all night watching the event, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out just how accurate my predictions are. Along with my picks for the night’s winners, I’ll also say who deserves to win, and who should have been nominated.

Best Picture

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Will Win: La La Land 

Who knew a musical about Hollywood would be so popular with voters? Like Birdman, Argo, and The Artist before it, La La Land is looking like this year’s fun, frivolous, but somewhat obvious winner. Having swept every other major awards show, it’s all but guaranteed to win.

Should Win: Moonlight

Though Manchester by the Sea was my favourite of this year’s nominees, I’m secretly rooting for Moonlight, a small-but-powerful underdog, to take the win. Focusing on the types of people rarely seen in films, let alone in a Best Picture nominee, Moonlight is one of the year’s most unique, interesting stories, and deserves to be rewarded.

Should Have Been Nominated: Paterson

Jim Jarmusch’s most beautiful film to date, Paterson was a stunning, lovable film featuring career-best work from its cast. It’s not a likely Oscar-nominee, but very few films made in the last year come close.

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La La Land wins big, but it doesn’t quite sweep the BAFTAS

The BAFTAs 2017 have come and gone, and looking at the results shows a mostly unsurprising line up of winners with a few unexpected prizes. The BAFTAs are never guaranteed to go the same way of the upcoming Oscars, and while the major winners of the night will be almost identical to the Academy Awards, a few British films managed to sneak in and achieve glory on the night. Let’s break down the major awards of the evening:

Best Picture – La La Land

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No surprises here. Just a few months ago, bookies were torn between this and Moonlight as the big contender come Oscar night. Unfortunately, Moonlight‘s chances of winning are looking slim in the wake of La La Land‘s runaway success; it came away empty-handed at the BAFTAs. As enjoyable and well-crafted as La La Land is, I can’t help but feel it will be looked at like Argo and Birdman in years to come – A fun film that went further than it probably should have.

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