VOD; available from May 24
Billie Piper has proven her acting ability on lots of occasions. She does so again in Rare Beasts, but this time she is also making her writing and directing debut. It doesn’t totally work – this is in part because there are too many ideas and not enough action – but it has potential, and I hope she writes and directs again.
A kind of alternative rom-com, Rare Beasts starts as it means to go on. An incompatible couple, Mandy (Piper) and Pete (Leo Bill) discuss oral sex on a combative date. Mandy is a career-driven mother to a young son (Toby Woolf). Her chain-smoking mother (Kerry Fox) came to stay and never left, her father (David Thewlis) floats in and out.
Mandy and Pete’s relationship forms the backbone of the film, but it is not a strong backbone because their relationship is hard to understand. Pete is horrible; indeed, most of the characters are hard to like.
The movie is styled to be edgy and offbeat, both visually and in terms of content, but the emphasis on style makes it feel shallower than it is.
There are some clever, funny observations about womanhood, romance and feminism –this is a film with brains, but not enough heart.
VOD; available from May 24
I had it in my head that Drunk Bus would be a film relative of American Pie, full of bawdy frat-house humour. I was wrong. It’s a much sweeter comedy, “inspired by real shit” and set in Kent, Ohio, in 2006. No major event happens, it’s a slice-of-life movie, more about personal growth than drama. It’s sweary and often stoned, but also cute and funny.
Michael (Charlie Tahan) drives the early morning bus on a college campus. He has been doing this for years, the bus route loop a symbol of his own stagnation. He is a nice guy, pining since the end of a relationship.
When he is assaulted by a passenger the bus company hire security in the form of a giant Samoan called Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa). The two men, both outsiders, strike up a friendship from which each learns something valuable.
Chris Molinaro’s script has a lovely tone and pace. It’s about uplifting stuff like not judging, being yourself and being true to yourself. Tahan, best known for his role in Ozark, and Pineapple are great, so is the supporting cast. The film is full of laughs and exactly what it sets out to be.
The Human Factor
ifi@home; available now on
The Middle East conflict “is a history of missed opportunities”. In a tragically timely piece of scheduling, ifi@home is running the documentary in which this description is uttered. Dror Moreh’s film focuses mainly on attempts by the US to broker peace in that region in the 1990s. However, it remains relevant today.
Moreh is Israeli and best known for his 2012 doc The Gatekeepers, about the Israeli secret service. This new film is based on interviews with American negotiators in the Middle East. One says that for decades every US president has thought they could “re-invent the wheel” and solve a conflict that no one else could.
The film gives good insights as to why those efforts have failed. It cites the changing politics and personalities of the negotiating leaders; it mentions cultural interpretations of words like ‘future’, and that all but two of the US negotiating team were Jewish.
Bill Clinton felt like a failure because he didn’t solve the conflict in the Middle East. Although there is no mention of his successful intervention in the Irish peace process, we know it.
It feels as if, at this delicate time, we need to pay special heed to the lessons of other conflicts.