Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Memoirs of a film critic:

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to review several new films for WOW247 at this year's Glasgow Film Festival.  I'd never been to the festival before, so it was a rare and exciting experience for a film lover like me!

The film screenings were split between the lovely Glasgow Film Theatre and the top floor of the local Cineworld.  I now have no issues whatsoever with going to see a movie on my own, and there were actually quite a few solo cinemagoers at every screening I attended, which made me feel less self conscious.  I quickly learned that taking notes in a dark cinema is NOT easy.  At one point I considered writing my notes down in shorthand, but they would have been absolutely illegible if I had done that, so it's probably for the best!  For future reviews, I might consider investing in a pen with a built in light...

All in all, I saw five films over three days in February, starting with Wes Anderson's latest comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel.  This screening wasn't for a review, I just didn't want to miss the opportunity to see the film two weeks before it came out in UK cinemas!  I wasn't disappointed either.  As with most Wes Anderson films, the star studded cast was hilarious (particularly Ralph Fiennes), the script full of witty one liners and the set, costumes and cinematography painstakingly beautiful. 

The first film I officially reviewed was called A Long Way Down, starring Pierce Brosnan and Aaron Paul (Jesse from Breaking Bad) among others.  Based on a Nick Hornby novel (a fact I didn't know until I overheard someone else in the cinema mention it before the film started - on the ball!) it's a fairly entertaining (if unrealistic) story that delves into a great deal of complex human emotions.  You can read my full write up here and, if you're interested, A Long Way Down comes out on the 21st of March.

Next up (a couple of days later) was the Indian production The Lunchbox, which I really enjoyed and may even be the highlight of the movies I reviewed.  My parents love India and Indian culture and around Christmas time they introduced me to an adorable film called English Vinglish.  After reading a little about The Lunchbox in the film festival programme, I decided that it sounded in a similar vein to English Vinglish, and I was right.  I actually think The Lunchbox is the better film, and you can read why here.  See it if you get the chance!

Then came the day of three films in one go, which (sadly) turned out to be only two when my screening of French documentary On The Edge of the World was abruptly cancelled.  This was also the day where I treated myself to a gin and tonic and some sweeties in the afternoon screening (see above photo for proof).  Very professional.  Don't tell my editor...

In the morning I saw Terry Gilliam's latest sci-fi offering, The Zero Theorem.  Although Gilliam is famous for directing cult classics like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Brazil, I mostly chose to see the film because it stars Christoph Waltz (who was amazing in Inglourious Basterds and pretty damn good in Django Unchained) without knowing anything else about the story.  While it isn't my usual cup of tea, it kept me entertained, and there were some aspects of The Zero Theorem that impressed me.  Have a look at my review here, and catch it in cinemas this Friday (14th March).

After a quick lunch break, I headed in to see my last GFF movie, Workers.  Unfortunately, this brilliant Mexican comedy doesn't seem to have a UK release date, which is hugely disappointing because I loved it.  Read all about what made it so watchable here.  

For some reason, the foreign films I saw at the festival far outshone the English speaking movies, with the exception of The Grand Budapest Hotel.  The cinematography in both The Lunchbox and Workers was so flawless that there was almost no need for dialogue to explain the story unfolding onscreen.  In some ways, A Long Way Down and The Zero Theorem seemed to dumb things down for their audiences, rather than letting powerful images speak for themselves.

My fellow reviewer and partner in crime, Nicola, was my bus buddy on a few trips to and from Glasgow during the festival.  We did attempt to be super productive and write up our reviews on the bus home most nights, but it turns out that typing on the bus makes me feel travel sick.  Who knew?

I absolutely loved my Glasgow Film Festival experience, and felt so honoured to see these films before the majority of the public, and have the chance to review them.  I can definitely see how regular film critics might become jaded after sitting through one too many flops, but there are surely worse jobs out there.  Most importantly, seeing such a wide variety of movies in such a short space of time reminded me that I am seriously passionate about film!


  1. What a great opportunity! I'd love to go to a film festival but never had the chance. The Lunchbox film you mentioned sounds really interesting so I'm away to read that review!
    Lauren | OhHay Blogs!

    1. It was great fun! You should check out The Lunchbox, it's great :) xxx