Cinema City Diaries - Week Three

Norman Bates.
Norman Bates.

Sunday Journal reporter and Derry Journal film critic, Andrew Quinn, spent the last few days taking in the Foyle Film Festival, went to ‘Psycho: Live’ in the Venue on Friday and looks ahead to this evening’s grand finale screening and Northern Ireland premiere of ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ at the Brunswick Moviebowl.

Wednesday November 20, 7.23pm - ‘Big Bad Wolves’ at the Brunswick Moviebowl

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in 'Saving Mr. Banks'.

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in 'Saving Mr. Banks'.

Derry’s 26th Foyle Film Festival opened with the Irish première of Israeli movie ‘Big Bad Wolves’ in the Brunswick Moviebowl last night.

Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, ‘Big Bad Wolves’ is about a police officer who decides to take the law into his own hands, an out for blood and oh so very vengeful father and a social pariah suspected of the inconceivable torture, murder and decapitation of several children.

With the aforementioned subject matter in mind it’s easy to understand why some might find ‘Big Bad Wolves’ as a difficult watch but the 110 minutes are made utterly enthralling by the most absurd black humour.

The opening scene sees two young girls and a young boy playing hide and go seek. The music is so loud that I could almost feel my chair shake and the fact the sequence is depicted in slow motion just heightens the sense of dread even more.

When one of the girls and the young boy try to find the other girl they discover a solitary red shoe, the girl has vanished.

It’s a tremendous opening few frames. It promises so much but alas ‘Big Bad Wolves’ doesn’t deliver on this early experienced glee.

The grief experienced after the death of a child must be a pain like no other but when a child is tortured and murdered, well, I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like.

It’s macabre and discomforting to say the least but the fact that so much of what happens is ‘Big Bad Wolves’ is hilariously funny just goes to show just how interesting and alluring a film it is.

Interesting and alluring are good qualities but sometimes the film felt too derivative, predictable and unfortunately plot holes were plentiful.

Religious Studies teacher, Dror (played brilliantly by Rotem Keinan) is the prime suspect in the murders of the children but it’s never explained why.

A mysterious Arab on horseback appears twice in the film. For what reason? God only knows.

The plot development was at times so utterly obvious that after 10 minutes you could predict what was going to happen half way through.

Keshales and Papushado are quite at ease with their movie and this shines through when the opt to reference everything from ‘The Goonies’ to ‘Reservoir Dogs’.

There’s a scene towards the end of the film where Miki is left with no choice but to ride a child’s bicycle, this is reminiscent of a similar scene in ‘The Goonies’ involving Josh Brolin’s Brand.

Keinan performance as suspected paedophile Dror is fantastic and the movie also boasts strong displays from Lior Ashkenazi as loose canon police officer, Miki and Tzahi Grad as the vengeful father of one of the murderer’s victims.

Most of ‘Big Bad Wolves’ is shot in a basement and it’s at this point that the film goes from being a thriller with a perfect pinch of black comedy to something much more interesting.

The scenes in the basement function almost like a play and the exchanges between the police officer, the suspected child murderer and the vengeful father are toe curling and laugh out loud funny at the same time.

The film’s music is terrific and the sound is superb.

November 21, 9.02pm - ‘The Wicker Man’ at the Brunswick Moviebowl

The ending of Robin Hardy’s film is filled with dread yet we still watch it over and over and over again.

‘The Wicker Man - The Final Cut’, no not the horrifically bad Nicholas Cage re-make, the 1973 British horror, was screened in the Brunswick Moviebowl on Thursday evening.

It’s a fabulous film and despite the fact there ain’t no happy ending everyone at the movie left feeling like they’d seen something special.

November 22, 7.46pm - ‘Psycho’ Live with music from the Ulster Orchestra at the Venue in Ebrington

Friday presented me with the most difficult cinematic choice I have ever had to make in my life. ‘Psycho’ with music from the Ulster Orchestra in the Venue or ‘Paris, Texas’ with a Q&A session with Hollywood star Sam Shepard in the Brunswick Moviebowl. It was anything but an easy choice.

My father had never been to the Venue before so I thought, let’s go for ‘Psycho’.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Guest conductor Richard Kaufmann introduced Hitchcock’s classic perfectly. Then the lights went off, the room went silent and all I could hear was Bernard Hermann’s unmistakable score, played flawlessly by the Ulster Orchestra.

I’ve perhaps two or three lifetimes worth of movie watching under my belt but never had I seen anything like ‘Psycho’ with an orchestra providing the music.

It was gripping to say the least and testament adoration for the script, the script, the script, I totally forgot the orchestra was in front of me - it really was that good.

If you haven’t seen ‘Psycho’ before then stop reading now.

Everyone thinks the famous Janet Leigh shower scene is the most terrifying the film has to offer but the reaction of the people inside the Venue on Friday proved that opinion wrong.

The scene on the stairs where Norman Bates’ mother kills private investigator, Milton Arbogast is still as chilling today as it was 53 years ago when the movie was first released.

I’ve watched ‘Psycho’ more times than I care to remember so I knew what was coming but what Friday’s viewing of the film special was the reaction of those in the Venue who clearly didn’t know what was about to happen.

Shrieks and gasps could be heard - it was amazing.

Friday’s event was top class and hopefully it will not be the last of its kind to be seen in Derry.

Still to come

The Foyle Film Festival finishes tonight with the Northern Ireland premiere of ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ at the Brunswick Moviebowl at 9pm.

‘Milius’, a documentary about the greatest movie director you never knew, John Milius is also showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl later today at 3.30pm.

Cinema City doesn’t finish until next week.

‘Blackthorn’, starring Sam Shepard is on at the Nerve Centre on Tuesday at 8pm; Derry man, Stephen Cavanagh’s ‘Hamlet’ will be screened at the Nerve Centre on Thursday at 8pm and don’t miss Danny Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later’ in the Nerve Centre at 10pm on Friday.