Tag Archives: Watershed

Watershed: Wildscreen Festival

The Watershed will be host to the Wildscreen Festival from Saturday 09 to  Sunday 17 October. While others are sitting in the same room as Simon Pegg, Derren Brown, Guillermo del Toro and Michael Caine in Cheltenham, you could be admiring little creatures and environmental delights in central Bristol.

The festival provides the chance to see a selection of award-winning films from around the globe. Screenings are free and tickets are available from the Box Office on the day.

Note that due to Wildscreen’s huge popularity Watershed’s first floor (including the Café/Bar) will be a delegates only area from Monday 11 – Thursday 14 Oct until 17:00hrs each day.

Wildscreen 2010: Monkey Thieves: Searching for Sanctuary Sat 09 Oct
Even Jaipur’s temple monkeys are affected by the global credit crunch. Monkey Thieves follows their lives as troops are forced to divide, friendships are challenged and hard times come to all. Further Information

Wildscreen 2010: Clash: Encounters of Bears and Wolves

Wildscreen 2010: Clash: Encounters of Bears and Wolves Sat 09 Oct
Size and power square off against speed and teamwork, as mighty grizzly bears contend with powerful packs of wolves for control of the food supply in Yellowstone National Park. Further Information

Wildscreen 2010: Drain the Ocean

Wildscreen 2010: Drain the Ocean Sat 09 Oct
Imagine if we could drain the water from the ocean. Using the latest scientific data and state-of-the-art graphics, Drain the Ocean reveals the strange and bizarre landscapes that lie beneath the waves. Further Information

Wildscreen 2010: Deadly 60: South Africa

Wildscreen 2010: Deadly 60: South Africa Sat 09 Oct
Presenter Steve Backshall and his team are on a fun-filled, adrenalin-fuelled journey to find the 60 deadliest creatures on the planet – creatures most people spend their lifetime avoiding. Further Information

Watershed, Work1 Canon’s Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX, +44 (0)117 927 5100, info@watershed.co.uk,

Bad Lieutenant, a reflection

New Orleans, Louisiana: post-Katrina.

Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, played by Nicholas Cage, walks in to a house already occupied by policemen and sheet covered bodies on the ground. He passes his colleague, Stevie Pruit, played by Val Kilmer, who updates him on the situation. Five murders, execution style. Pruit says don’t look. Terence lifts up the sheet to glance at the bodies and so do we.

But wait right there. Don’t look?

Dead bodies can’t be much of a surprise for these hardened police officers anymore. The bodies didn’t even look that shocking. How bad would a body need to look to affect someone like Lieutenant McDonagh. Whatever the shocking scene was meant to look like didn’t work. He seemed unphased and so were we, the audience, who consume mutilated bodies as our daily news consumption. A dead body was on the front page of the Guardian last Friday and that was real life.

The moment when Val Kilmer said “don’t look” is the moment I stopped worrying about the story and sat back and enjoyed the performance.

I’m talking about Nicholas Cage of course who took over every inch of interest I had available. He swayed, he swaggered, he mostly limped and carried his tall lanky frame, in its cheap police officer suit, across the screen in order to take more drugs.

I read an interview of his, in the Guardian last week, which mentioned how he learnt about suitable reactions to different drugs. The slower lethargic heroin induced motions as compared to the frenetic actions that accompany the paranoid illusions of the crack cocaine and other amphetamine consumption. I am happy to accept that his version was about right.

The movie was pleasant and the laughter in the cinema indicated that others also found it quite fun. There was a brilliant scene where a dead alligator in the middle of the road waves goodbye to her offspring as he/she sheds a tear and walks away.

Peter Zeitlinger, nominated for Best Cinematography at the Independent Spirit Awards, was head of photography and did pretty well in making us feel that we were the woozy ones. There were a couple of off-moments when the scene would slowly elevate until we were watching the goings on underneath us. The contrast may have been a bit too sharp as the next moment we are Nicholas Cage again and everything is a little too close up and overcrowded. Maybe that’s why the best Cinematographer prize was won by Roger Deakins for A Serious Man.

The film looked good though and I don’t mean nice. There are scenes of New Orleans that look incredibly grim, but are translated to impressive, under Zeitlinger’s touch. The Nicholas Cage show took over however and it wouldn’t have been the same without his touch of surrealism. Were we meant to be the iguanas that only Cage could see? The green, still reptiles, with the glint of a rainbow sparkling off their eyes. His casual glances down towards them, towards us, as he and fellow police officers staked out the house opposite. It still makes me smile.

The movie was pleasant. It left me with a happy feeling of having been to see something quite nice but I would be amazed if that’s what Werner Herzog intended. Werner, who was shot by an insignificant bullet during an interview with Mark Kermode and who was happy to keep going, could not have meant to make a pleasant movie.

If I was so tempted, and I’m not because I think the storyline was weak, I could give better examples of how it all fits together. The balance of good for bad. The life sacrificed today accompanies the one which gets saved tomorrow. The solitary red-finned fish swimming in a glass of water is our remnant of the massacre of the family of five. The balance is found later on but Nicholas Cage is still struggling to get through it all. I’m not sure what it’s all about. It might be about maintaining that thin blue line which is a little more jagged in some places. At times it was a little too Hollywood to feel real but it was still pretty good and had a great soundtrack.

Bad Lieutenant is showing at the Watershed in Bristol until 03 June.

Kings of Pastry, a reflection

The Kings of Pastry was part of the Exquisite Cuisine season shown on BBC Four “which served up a mouth-watering menu of programmes in search of perfection in food”.

As a joint venture between the BBC and VPRO (part of the Dutch Broadcasting System) the two directors follow chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, as he journeys back to his childhood home of Alsace to practice for the contest. Two other chefs, Regis Lazard, who was competing for the second time (he dropped his sugar sculpture the first time), and chef Philippe Rigollot, also feature through their preparation and during the three day gruelling examination. This is the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France). The winners of the M.O.F. have the privilege of wearing a blue, white and red striped collar on their jackets. Wearing the stripes if you are not an M.O.F leaves the person liable to face a term in prison, according to one of the contestants.

This film is more than just an exploration of delicious cakes, sweets, and creations that astound. It provides an intimate look of the struggle and hard work that goes into such a difficult challenge. While the subject matter provides a distracting and beautiful past time, it is the determination and hard work of the contestants that is gripping.

The film screened at the Watershed on Sunday, 2 May and the staff handed out tasty pastries bought from the Breadstore on Gloucester Rd as we walked out. A lovely touch, a gripping film.

For more information about Kings of Pastry, do explore the following sites: Twitter @KingsofPastry, the official website www.kingsofpastry.com, and the BBC Four page for the movie.

Dogtooth, a reflection

A couple of warnings about Dogtooth, stay until the end and don’t get lost in the content. The synopsis describes it as a film about a dysfunctional family where the parents keep the children away from outside influence in a utopian setting. A slow breakdown of this reality ensues when the father brings in someone to satisfy his son’s sexual needs.

This Greek movie is a powerful examination (and I do mean slammed against the wall and then struggle to catch your breath kind of powerful) of relationships and what holds people together.

This blog has moved. Read the rest of the review at this link.

Dogtooth is screening at the Watershed in Bristol until May 6.

All the lunches I never had, Bristol

After coffee with the lovely Eleanor today, I wandered around Bristol to run some errands and find something delicious for lunch. We both had Americanos at Bordeaux Quay and then I headed off to Broadmead while she went off on her own way.

I could have had pasta at Bottelino’s but walked on to not have a rocket and crayfish sandwich at Chando’s Deli. No lunch special of two courses and a glass of wine at Brasserie Blanc and no arancini ball at Carluccio’s. No lasagne at £9 at Piccolino’s although the most beautiful green colour of the seating was extremely enticing. I didn’t have a mushroom and cheese panini at Starbucks accompanied by a vanilla soy latte, no rough and ready sandwiches made with home made bread at Sourdough, the new sandwich shop at St Nick’s. No jerk chicken at Caribbean wrap and no Kofta kebab with babaganoush at the Real Olive Company. No lamb sweetbreads or pork, chorizo and clam stew at Source just past Trethowan’s cheese stall. No mezze platter at Big Chill Bristol followed by warmed up pecan pie and no coffee and no panini with haloumi and roast vegetables at Gusto. No smoked salmon and cream cheese sauce on spaghetti at the Watershed (pasta of the day) and no chips at £2.25 from @Bristol cafe. No La Reine pizza at Pizza Express and no king prawns and aromatic crispy duck at Zen. No curly fries at Las Iguanas and no food and non-alcoholic fruit cocktail at the Living Room.

I didn’t even venture up Park St so no soy latte and no bean burger with potato wedges from Boston Tea Party. No amai udon at Wagamamas and definitely no tamarind and chilli pavlova for dessert. No lunch time buffet at Cosmo for £12.50 and no charcuterie platter at Browns. After wandering from a quarter to 12 until almost one thirty to try to find some lunch, I started to get fed up (no ironic pun intended). I couldn’t decide on what, but I wanted something amazing and it occurred to me that whatever I ate it would probably not be as wonderful as the next thing along. Nothing to do but let someone else decide.

So I took home a Caribbean pasty and a feta and spinach triangle from Royce Rolls and I shared them with my housemate who had his lunch at home. Lunch was his choice and accompanied by crisps and four Oreo cookies it all worked beautifully. There is so much from which to choose in Bristol that it can get very tiring. Was a great wander around town though.

1234, a reflection

So much to say about 1234, but where to start? The soundtrack was immense and guitar led as fitting for an Indie tribute of a movie. Giles Borg’s first feature film is a veritable trove of indie music with each short scene preceded by a title track of a classic song such as ‘c is the heavenly option‘.

Short little fragments of scenes followed each other in the exploration of a band’s aspiration, union and evolution. The story was sweet and character based, the pauses were a fitting accompaniment to the sound filled-gigs and I mostly enjoyed watching Stevie, the main character, and his expressive appearance. He was the loveliest thing about the movie and was also there at the Q&A afterwards (sans the glasses unfortunately). The sound was basic on purpose, as the cast members Ian Bonar (Atonement, Starter for Ten) and Mathew Baynton (Gavin & Stacey) told the audience at the Watershed.

1234 is about the musical aspirations of Stevie and his pursuit to form a band. With a demo in hand the band go through the process of trying to find a record deal and getting out into the music scene. Jobs at a call centre are endured and play out with a familiarity that is not unlike the BBC show The Office and probably real life as well.

There was such a music-infused feel to the movie that at times I was in gig-mode, sinking back into the seat and just enjoying the sound. One audience member was so convinced that it was a real band, that he commended the actors for their musical abilities and suggested they try X-Factor and Fame Academy.

The Watershed screening was part of New British Cinema Quarterly which is a brand new programme of distinctive and original films from British filmmakers. Selected from the UK’s major film festivals, a new film will be screened each quarter and accompanied by a Q&A from the filmmakers involved.

1234 was the first film and there will be another screening in April with a similar format of presentation.

Watershed, Work1 Canon’s Road,Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX United Kingdom, info@watershed.co.uk, +44 (0)117 927 5100

MicMacs, a reflection

Half-way through MicMacs I wanted to walk out of the cinema and by the time the credits rolled, I wished I had. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The movie was pretty and was beautifully done, the characters were probably interesting but there was no overarching theme to keep them all together.

Danny Boon plays Bazil, our hero for the duration of the film. A land mine killed his father and a stray bullet, lodged in his brain, could cause him sudden death. No surprise perhaps that the protagonist feels much animosity towards the two responsible ammunition companies although I would have been angrier at the people that caused the situation. Bazil is out for revenge and after being rendered homeless by the errant bullet he is adopted by a fun filled motley crew. The second-hand dealers have diverse talents and motivations as exemplified by their names: Remington, Calculator, Buster, Slammer, Elastic Girl, Tiny Pete and Mama Chow.

I found it hard to engage with the movie or the characters’ pursuit. I had little invested in the outcome of their journey and the storyline appeared to provide a weak pretense of a purpose but ultimately was just a weak excuse for getting the people on stage to perform various antics. Few of the antics added to the storyline and little of it was enough to engage me with cliché following cliché and much stolen from other movies.

There’s a scene where a police officer in the airport imitates Robert De Niro’s ‘you talking to me’ moment from Taxi Driver and the reference to American humour is swiftly followed by a caricatured performance, by the ethnographer, that mimicked Eddie Murphy’s scene from Trading Places.

Ethnographers try to get ‘inside’ social worlds and see them ‘through the eyes’ of research subjects in order to understand and explain them in all their richness, complexity and specificity. It’s a fascinating research role to take on but in this movie the ethnographer had no purpose other than to say funny lines and even those were a laughable caricature. Some of the jokes were phonetic ones ‘Rambo’ not Rimbaud’ etc. which may have failed to work well because of the subtitles and I didn’t find them funny.

The film itself looked beautiful and there was one scene where Danny goes foraging for neglected items that was filmed at road level. The next shot is filmed from high above and looking down at him in a dumpster. The scene looked good although I wonder how it aided the story if I was detached enough to notice it rather than be carried away by what it was meant to convey.

Being made to look upwards in a movie is supposed to inspire amazement, a sense of grandness, awe. You watch and feel amazement – you don’t watch and notice that you’re looking up.

The two empires reign, facing each other in opposition (literally – one building on each side of the road), is a theme that runs all the way from Romeo and Juliet’s feuding families to the tedious Lucky Number Slevin. MicMacs had more in common with the latter. There was none of the purpose, the striving, the attachment that I felt with Amelie. I just couldn’t identify with the main character and it may well have been due to the actor who failed to engage me in his journey.

The biggest remnant of the movie was a sense of a stolen hi-jinks from American comedies and sitcoms. I’d give it 3 out of 5.

I saw MicMacs at the Watershed on its last screening 11 March 2010. +44 (0)117 927 5100, Watershed, Work1 Canon’s Road,Harbourside,
Bristol, BS1 5TX United Kingdom, info@watershed.co.uk