Glasgow Film Festival Part 2: The Tales of Hoffmann, Tale of the Grim Sleeper and Still Alice

I was really, really excited about the films on Saturday. I’d found a mix of categories: CineMasters, Stranger Than Fiction and a GALA film. It was set up to be a pretty exciting day…

This is the follow up to Glasgow Film Festival Part 1: Marshland, Catch Me Daddy and Wild Tales.

The Tales of Hoffmann was one of the films I saw at Glasgow Film Festival in 2015
© Rialto Pictures / Studiocanal

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)

A remastering of one of Powell and Pressburger’s less well-known films, the BFI National Archive spearheaded a 4k restoration of the visual masterpiece including the addition of previously unseen, erm, scenes. This film for Opera was supposed to do what The Red Shoes (1948) did for ballet. And while the last thing you can call the film is “gripping” you cannot fault it’s visual prowess. It cements P&P as auteurs. It’s also well loved by Scorcese. So, you know, you can’t fault it too much if it’s got the big guy’s approval…

Hoffmann is a man who has very much been unlucky in love. The film documents Hoffmann recounting the tales of his lost loves in a tavern one night whilst his latest squeeze is finishing up a ballet performance. Amazingly sung and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the directors were able to focus on the visuals with the audio pre-recorded. It’s no where near my favourite P&P film, and I probably won’t be watching it again in a hurry. But you can’t knock the attention to detail and the spectacle of the film, certainly nothing was done by halves.

Tales of The Grim Sleeper was one of the films I saw at Glasgow Film Festival in 2015
© HBO / Sky Atlantic

Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)

I have to be honest and say I don’t tend to watch too many documentaries. Barely any, really. Though I am very aware there are some excellent ones out there. Ones I would really, very much enjoy. So coming to a film festival with the aim of watching a variety of films, I had to put a doc in my schedule. And I’m really glad it was this one.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper focuses on a serial killer who murdered black women in a particular LA neighbourhood. They were nearly always prostitutes, or at least they were all addicted to crack. This was  from the 1980s right up until his arrest in 2010. He was never suspected nor was anyone else ever arrested in connection to these crimes. I think around 12 murders are confirmed as being by the same person, but it’s estimated that there’s about 100 murders in connection.

Documentary storytelling at the deepest level

It seems strange now, that the media dubbed the murderer “the grim sleeper” because it was originally thought that there was a 4 year gap in the murders. But now it’s thought not to be the case at all. I know. Shocking, right? How can someone, who actually seems to have been quite sloppy in his murders and barely covered his tracks, manage to get away with this for so long? I think you know the answer.

The film makers go right into the heart of this community. Risking their lives, but all the while committed to finding out more from the people who knew the man in question, Lonnie Franklin, to ensure that all sides of the story were told. This is a smart documentary with a loose plot line. While the documentary concentrates on one particular horrific story, the real horror is that something exactly like this could happen again and again. Police corruption and extreme prejudice, poverty and prostitution in black communities in the States is rife. And it’s not going to get any better any time soon.

Still Alice was one of the films I saw at Glasgow Film Festival in 2015
© 2014 – Sony Pictures Classics

Still Alice (2014)

A GALA entry, this was the most high profile film I saw at the festival. I couldn’t wait to see it. I chose this over a Q&A with Alan Rickman and his new film A Little Chaos (2015). Sorry Al, I know you’re not supposed to judge a film too much by it’s trailer but, well, your trailer looked shit. Julianne Moore’s Oscar winning turn (finally, as we found out on Sunday!) as a Linguistics Professor with early onset Alzheimer’s was astounding and deeply upsetting. It’s not often I cry in films anymore, but I just couldn’t help but be drawn into the deep sadness and frustration that Alice was going through.

Her decline was very visual, the cinematography shifting to be behind Alice as we slowly lose the person she was. She’s supported with a great supporting cast, none of whom can match the heavy weight of Moore’s performance of course, but that’s to be expected. Overall I was thoroughly entertained and my eyes substantially awakened.

Did Glasgow live up to the hype?

I had an amazing time in Glasgow! I actually can’t believe I enjoyed it as much as I did. But then why should I be surprised that two days straight watching films should be any less enjoyable than it sounds?! I think at my next festival I’ll attend more Q&As and events I wouldn’t be able to participate in at any other time. Because realistically I would be able to see some of these films another time, though film festivals are paramount in offering the cinema goer countless experiences that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Were you are Glasgow Film Festival? Have you seen any of these films?

Want MORE?

Glasgow Film Festival Part 1: Marshland, Catch Me Daddy and Wild Tales

Berlin Film Festival 2016

BFI Flare Film Festival 2016

Leeds International Film Festival Highlights

Sheffield Doc Fest 2016: Not Make Believe

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Glasgow Film Festival Part 2 featuring mini reviews of The Tales of Hoffmann, Tale of the Grim Sleeper and Still Alice


I'm the human and hair behind Almost Ginger. I'm a cinephile travel obsessive vegetarian currently residing in Manchester.

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