The Clash Film Column: Serious As Prankster

Don’t overthink it – we know it makes no sense…

Brad Pitt, he’s alright, right? World War Z wasn’t much to write home about, but c’mon: the man’s been in some good things. Doesn’t deserve your shit, mister…

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That was the week in which...

Brad Pitt was attacked by ‘celebrity prankster’ Vitalii Sediuk at the Los Angeles premiere of Maleficent

I wouldn’t punch Brad Pitt. He’s bigger than me. Tom Cruise is more my size, but he might repeatedly call me a “jerk” just as he did when the crew from Balls Of Steel squirted him with water at the War Of The Worlds premiere. And that would really hurt my feelings. Mostly, though, I wouldn’t do it for fear of publically revealing myself to be a complete prick.

Admittedly, neither case resulted in any real harm done. You could argue that a high-profile event of this nature will inevitably draw unsavoury attention from coattail riders and oddballs. I recall witnessing a scuffle between two fans at the London Film Festival in Leicester Square: their bizarre beef being a debate over who had the right to park their deckchair in the most opportune place to potentially catch sight of Sienna Miller later that evening.

Being a mature type, I found the whole darned shooting match absolutely hilarious, until one of them told me the tragic story of how he came to spend his weekdays hoping to spot a celeb.

But should a film star be considered fair game for such shenanigans given their demands for fame and, in some cases, their apparent pomposity? I’d argue not. They’re still human and, just like anyone, receiving an unpleasant surprise isn’t a desirable part of any day. Of course, some appear to be so maniacally egotistical that punctuating their psyche sounds appealing.

But hold your schadenfreude, for every actor is potentially just a step away from comedy self-sabotage: be it an embarrassing talk show appearance, a truly terrible film or an unwise tweet. And that long game, inevitably, will be much more amusing than the efforts of Sediuk.

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Out Now: Jimmy’s Hall

Ken Loach’s previous film, The Spirit Of ’45, is a rousing piece of filmmaking. Documenting the pivotal post-war period in Britain, it’s a film that everyone should see. Watching it makes you want to actively do something to safeguard the National Health Service. Jimmy’s Hall also documents a specific period in history, but its ability to galvanise its audience is far weaker.

A drama based on the true story of social activist James Gralton’s struggle to establish and run a community hall in 1930s Ireland in the face of opposition from the Church and authorities, Loach’s film could have told a charming, touching, human story. But underdeveloped, two-dimensional characters and personal politics that overshadow any heart make it a detached overview instead of a penetrating, stirring insight. There is a distinct lack of real people with whom to identify despite attempts to create them.

A champion of the working classes, Loach has made a film that plays less naturalistically than some of his back catalogue – to its detriment. The period setting and scale of the project is arguably its undoing. However, cultivating resonance with the current social and political climate, Jimmy’s Hall does encourage us to question the way things are. Words: Kim Francis

Jimmy’s Hall, trailer

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New Talent: Ellar Coltrane

Who? A 19-year-old actor from Austin who’s about to make a huge impression.

What’s he been in? His handful of credits so far have been in tiny roles or obscure films, but he’s been kinda busy...

What’s coming up? He’s been busy because he spent 12 years working on his debut role in Richard Linklater’s upcoming Boyhood. Could there possibly be a tougher way to land a breakthrough movie role than featuring in almost every scene of an almost three-hour epic? Coltrane starts the film as a child fascinated by every tiny thing and ends as an independently spirited late teen.

They say: “My goal was for it to be a fun, expressive part of his life that would be something to look forward to. And Ellar never wavered, there was never a year where he said, ‘Nah, I don’t want to do it.’” Richard Linklater

He says: [On watching himself grow up on screen] “It’s indescribable. It’s so surreal and very painful a lot of times. It was really emotional the first few times I watched it. It’s like nothing else.” Austin Monthly

Boyhood, trailer

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Shorts

The Edinburgh International Film Festival announced its full schedule this week. London underworld crime drama Hyena opens proceedings, while We’ll Never Have Paris – co-directed by and starring The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg – closes the festival. Rammed between those bookends are potential highlights including Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as well as new films from Michel Gondry and Noel Clarke, plus national focuses on movies from America, Germany and Iran.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (review) took a whopping £9 million at last weekend’s UK box office. Demand wasn’t quite so high for Postman Pat due to increased stamp prices and more competition in the world of postal services, so he trundled in at #4. Blended’s Adam Sandler / Drew Barrymore dream team would’ve been huge in 1999. As it is, it’s 2014 so it entered at #5. Fading Gigolo debuted at #11.

Finally, a Bananaman teaser poster hit the internet. Questions such as “Who these days wants or needs a Bananaman film?“ have so far yielded no real answers.

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Words: Ben Hopkins, except where indicated

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