11 items from 2013
Director Clio Barnard's first feature, The Arbor, was an extraordinary account of the hard life and times of the playwright Andrea Dunbar which pushed at the boundaries of documentary film-making. A "verbatim drama" which included extracts from Dunbar's work performed on Bradford's Buttershaw estate, the film used audio interviews with the late playwright's friends and family to which actors performed note-perfect lip-synched "readings", creating a haunting and disorienting fusion of fact and fiction. On the surface, Barnard's latest feature is more formally conventional, drawing on the neorealist tradition of Ken Loach (the ghost of Kes hovers overhead) to tell the story of two young boys from Bradford who turn to the scrap metal trade to support their struggling families. Yet scratch the surface and those same cross-generic fluidities are still present, »
- Mark Kermode
The Selfish Giant (15)
In the tradition of Kes, or Fish Tank, this offers a child's-eye view of poverty that's too strong for real-life kids of the same age. Despite the fairytale origins, miracles are in short supply in this Bradford suburb, where two drop-out mates scavenge for opportunities. But the balance between harsh realism and mythical lyricism is beautifully struck, and the two leads really are miraculous.
Old-suited Knoxville and his "grandson" take to the road for Borat-style pranks.
Food/fauna surrealism part »
- Steve Rose
Catch the acclaimed British drama The Selfish Giant the same day as it appears in cinemas - on demand in Sky Store. Outcast Bradford 13-year-olds Arbor and Swifty (newcomers Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas) find themselves scouring the city for any old iron after falling in with ruthlessly controlling scrap metal boss Kitten (Sean Gilder). Excluded from school and eschewing their broken families, the boys naively think they can make it in this grim netherworld, a vain hope that is dashed by tragedy. »
• On the set of The Selfish Giant
• Interview: Clio Barnard
Crusading social realism may have long since ceased to be fashionable in Britain's theatre and television drama, but in the cinema the flame stubbornly continues to burn. In recent years, these films have often come visually supercharged with a new painterly grandeur – a kind of Loach 2.0.
Directors like Amma Asante, Sally El Hosaini and Tina Gharavi have contributed to this continuing British movie tradition; Andrea Arnold has had sensational successes with her movies Red Road, Fish Tank and a brilliant and much-misunderstood version of Wuthering Heights. Now Clio Barnard has shown her own mastery of the form with an outstanding new film, a contemporary reworking of the story by Oscar Wilde. Having watched it again, »
- Peter Bradshaw
Outcast Bradford 13-year-olds Arbor and Swifty (newcomers Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas) find themselves scouring the city for any old iron after falling in with ruthlessly controlling scrap metal boss Kitten (Sean Gilder). Excluded from school and eschewing their broken families, the boys naively think they can make it in this grim netherworld, a vain hope that is dashed by tragedy. Yorkshire director Clio Barnard crafts the sort of heart-wrenching British drama that Ken Loach would be proud to call his own. »
There is an astonishing amount of raw young talent that is deliciously unearthed occasionally with the right eye and direction. The Arbor writer-director Clio Barnard brings this to a purely fictional piece to this year’s BFI London Film Festival, executed with all the social realism as her intriguing 2010, non-linear pseudo-documentary. The Selfish Giant, winner of the Label Europa Cinemas at Cannes this year, comments on deprivation and loss of childhood in a robust fashion, aided by two standout performances from fresh, young newcomers Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas.
With nods to Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, two schoolboys, confident Arbor (Chapman) and softie Swifty (Thomas) are growing up in an underprivileged Yorkshire town, struggling to fit in at school and desperate to make ends meet and help their families. After witnessing a cable theft on a nearby rail track and making off with the loot, the »
- Lisa Giles-Keddie
Clio Barnard's The Arbor charted the troubled life of working-class playwright Andrea Dunbar. Her new film, The Selfish Giant, about two boys who scavenge to survive on a Bradford estate, has been called 'a Kes for the 21st century'. Here she talks about the appeal of the margins
Back in 2010, when Clio Barnard was shooting her first feature film, The Arbor, on the Buttershaw estate in Bradford, a young local lad caught her eye. "I first saw him when he was just 14, when I went to Buttershaw to do a workshop at a school," she recalls. "There was just something about him that was different from the other lads I met. He was a bit volatile, but enigmatic too and he really made his presence felt. When I went to Brafferton Arbor [the street on which The Arbor is set] for the first time, there he was, wearing his rigger boots and really dirty clothes. It was pure attitude, »
- Sean O'Hagan
It’s the fourth Cannes buy for Sundance Selects, which has also bought a pair of competition titles — “Young & Beautiful” and “Blue Is the Warmest Color” — along with the upcoming “Two Days, One Night.”
The film centers on a 13-year-old boy and his best friend who begin collecting scrap metal for a local scrap dealer — which drives a wedge between the boys.
Guy Lodge wrote in his review for Variety: “Oscar Wilde is uncharacteristically muffled in ‘The Selfish Giant,’ an abstruse contempo interpretation of Wilde’s Christian fairy tale, but writer-helmer Clio Barnard’s voice comes through loud and clear. »
- Dave McNary
Sundance Selects continued its Cannes buying streak by acquiring North American rights to Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant. The film, written and directed by Barnard (The Arbor), stars Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas and Sean Gilder. Described as a contemporary fable, the story centers on a 13-year-old boy named Arbor (Chapman) and his best friend, Swifty (Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Gilder), a local scrap dealer. They begin collecting scrap metal for him, using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses, while Arbor emulates Kitten --
- Tatiana Siegel
Oscar Wilde is uncharacteristically muffled in “The Selfish Giant,” an abstruse contempo interpretation of Wilde’s Christian fairy tale, but writer-helmer Clio Barnard’s voice comes through loud and clear. A jaggedly moving study of a feral adolescent (astonishing newcomer Conner Chapman) on a rough journey to grace, the pic is ostensibly more conventional than Barnard’s acclaimed hybrid-doc debut, “The Arbor,” but exhibits stunning formal progress nonetheless. Though her tender-tough worldview arguably hews closer to that of Shane Meadows, this demanding but eminently distributable art film should elevate Barnard to the bracket of streetwise femme compatriots Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay.
Fans of the barely classifiable “The Arbor,” a biopic of working-class Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar that inventively fused firsthand testimony with lipsynched performance, may be initially disappointed that Barnard has chosen a more straightforward narrative path for her sophomore effort. However, after a few opening scenes that suggest »
- Guy Lodge
British film-maker Clio Barnard made a sensational debut with The Arbor in 2010, about the troubled dramatist Andrea Dunbar: a brilliant and eerily dreamlike film which won the passionate admiration of David Hare and David Thomson among many others. Actors recreated scenes from Dunbar's life and lip-synched into camera using tape-recorded testimony from Dunbar's friends and family. Now Barnard's intensely anticipated follow-up has arrived at Cannes, showing in the Director's Fortnight strand. It is a variation on a theme by Oscar Wilde, a new secular version of Wilde's children's tale The Selfish Giant, which challenges the audience to rethink how redemption is achieved in a world without Christ and which of its characters the title actually refers to.
This film may not exactly have the sophistication of The Arbor, »
- Peter Bradshaw
11 items from 2013
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