Friday, 25 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - round up pt2

Part two of the Cine-City coverage is up now on Little White Lies' website. I review Nick Broomfield's disappointing Sarah Palin: You Betcha!, Ben Rivers' Two Years at Sea and Karl Marcovics' impressive Austrian rites of passage drama Atmen (Breathing).

Click on the link to check out my thoughts on these diverse films -

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - round up pt1

My blogging partner and Duke of Yorks staff member Sophie Brown has kicked off our joint coverage of the festival for Little White Lies -
Click on the link below to read her reviews of opening night film Shame, Steve McQueen's critically acclaimed sex addiction drama and The Turin Horse, Bela Tarr's latest extraordinary release.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival - free app

The 9th Brighton Cine-City Film Festival kicks off today with a sold out screening of Steve McQueen's Shame followed by 18 days of movies, events and exhibitions across various locations in the city. A Cine-City app has launched to accompany the festival. It's free to download to your Iphone or Ipad to keep you up to date with all the daily festival news as well as enabling you to watch short films throughout the 18 days.

Download the app here -

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Brighton Cine-City Film Festival

The 9th Cine-City Film Festival begins in Brighton on Thursday the17th of November with Steve McQqueen's Shame, and runs until Roman Polanski's Carnage brings the festival to a close on Sunday the 4th of December. If you follow the link below you can read the preview piece I've written for Little White Lies.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Watched - no 26 - The Interrupters (Steve James, 2011)

Steve James, the director responsible for the highly acclaimed Hoop Dreams in 1994, has delivered one of the year's finest documentaries with The Interrupters. Due for release on DVD courtesy of the always interesting, and increasingly vital, Dogwoof label, James' latest non-fiction film follows Chicago's violence interrupters programme over the course of one year, beginning in summer and ending the following spring. Largely culled from ex-gang members, erstwhile drug dealers and former prison inmates the violence interrupters intervene, as you'd imagine, in situations between the city's warring gang members and troubled, vulnerable citizens with one goal in mind - to stop the moments of high tension spilling over into outright violence. With the city's police force and government officials seemingly making little headway in reducing the crime, murder and assault figures, and the media portrayals of the city as a war zone becoming ever more trenchant, the violence interrupters face, on paper at least, a nigh on impossible task in cleaning up their streets and changing the reputation of the city's poverty stricken areas.

James's non-interventionist technique (he is never seen nor heard) allows for the violence interrupters and the people they come into contact with to remain as the central focus of the film, developing as it does into a portrait of inner city life that stands as a richly detailed microcosm of world-wide urban problems. Poverty, lack of education, diminishing life prospects, crumbling social structures and territorial pride dominate the everyday lives of The Interrupters' subjects. Ameena Matthews, daughter of one of the city's most infamous gang leaders, and one time gang member herself, Cobe Williams, whose relative youth provides an important link to the city's youths,and Eddie Bocanegra, who killed a rival gang member during his life as a one time prolific car thief, are just three of the interrupters followed as they try to keep tensions between the gangs and the locals at bay. These alternately fearsomely straight talking, rueful, experienced and reformed characters are the eyes and ears of the audience on these sadly embattled streets. Moments of tenderness, humour and humanity counter-balance the grimly depressing surrounding environment, senseless violence and inter-family divides.

What could have been a worthy, 'educational' documentary is, in the hands of James, a thoughtful, enlightening and ultimately hopeful insight into the ongoing attempts of largely neglected communities to bring an end, or at least a noticeable reduction, to the crime, drug abuse and sense of despair that threatens to engulf their neighbourhoods. Inspirational and unmissable.

Around the World in Eighty Movies - number 5

Country: Philippines
Title: Himpapawid (Manila Skies)
Director: Raymond Red
Cast: Raul Arellano, John Arcilla, Ronnie Lazaro, Soliman Cruz
Year: 2009
Running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Thriller
Notable for: Being inspired by a real life incident

One of the pioneers of contemporary, independent cinema in the Philippines, Raymond Red, whose 12 minute Anino (Shadows) claimed the Palme D'or for short films at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, has used his background in Fine Arts and photography to make a number of striking films. 2009's Himpapawid, known internationally as Manila Skies, is a powerful thriller, drawn from a real life plane hi-jacking case, that sees Red combining poetic, social and magical realism to portray the bureaucratic and economic struggles, not to mention the official corruption, widespread criminality and social isolation facing the average citizen trying to survive in the modern day bedlam that is Manila. Called a 'terrific film' by Paul Schrader, Manila Skies follows Raul (Raul Arellano), a simple man from the countryside drawn to the city in the hope of earning a living wage. His daily struggles, descent into criminal activity and final desperate attempt to get back home to his ailing ,aged father provides a visually startling, politically charged vision of a life dominated by poverty, class and familial bonds.

Red, one of the first Filipino's to be awarded a Rotterdam Hubert Bals Memorial grant, is lauded in his native country for his socially conscious film-making and Manila Skies, his first feature length film for over a decade, is a vital slice of contemporary world cinema.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Rogue Cinema review - November

My latest review for is now up. Click on the link below to be taken into the world of Lucky McKee's horror movie The Woman. Some have called it 'a masterpiece' and 'the horror movie of the year'. I'm not one of them, I say it's 'a run of the mill exploitation flick with delusions of grandeur'.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Big Picture - new issue - Growing Pains

I recently guest edited the new issue of The Big Picture magazine. If you follow the link below you can download the issue for free from -

Thursday, 3 November 2011

To Die For... - Hardeep Singh Kohli

The Godfather is an incredible film. While this may seem like a predictable choice for my favourite film, I'm afraid I've never let that stand in the way of my passion! From the very opening scene the film sucks you in to a world you ought not to have any interest in. The sweep, the ambition of the narrative delivers at every turn. I suppose I relate to the travails of an immigrant family, albeit my family were less interested in murder. It's a testament to the excellence of film-making that a story, that on the face of it, shouldn't have a such a wide appeal manages to engage viewers in the inexorable storyline and brilliant characters. The success of the film is about the coming together of three key elements: a compelling and believable story; an excellent cast; and the directors ability to work both these into a flawless film. Is there a single criticism that can be made about the movie? I've watched it scores of times and I'm yet to find it.
Hardeep Singh Kohli

Hardeep Singh Kohli is a writer and radio and television presenter. He has previously been seen and heard in the Channel 4 show £50.00 Says You'll Watch This, Celebrity Masterchef and his one man show The Nearly Naked Chef. He is currently on a mission to sign up a 1000 potential stem cell donors -