Sonja Phillips’ The Knickerman is a bit of a bonkers 1970s fest but hugely entertaining with it. Featuring some of the most epic denim flares you’ll ever see, the women of a sleepy village in Lincolnshire have their life changed when a handsome knicker salesman arrives on the market. Told through the eyes of a little girl who is transfixed by the “miracle” he claims to give women through their knickers, it’s a relaxed film , almost with the feel of an Instagram filter in its 70s glaze and from Jamie Sives’ charismatic lothario to the likes of Saskia Reeves and Annette Badland as the women who make regular visits to his stall, it’s a charmingly lovely piece of storytelling.
Shotgun Wedding made the list as it featured as one of Kirsty Bushell’s debut filmed performances (and also has the mildly delicious Kieran Bew in the cast) but in all honesty, I found it quite disappointing. From 2001 and directed by Claudia Solti, it feels incredibly dated already, more like a relic of the 90s, as it cycles around both the forthcoming nuptials of a couple and the antics of a would-be Bonnie and Clyde duo. It’s not particularly funny or scary or insightful, it lacks finesse in its acting and I wouldn’t bother it, even if you’re a fan of the Bushell.
I loved Hugh O’Conor’s film Corduroy (reviewed here) and having looked through his other works, alighted on this little gem, Spacemen Three. An American, a Russian and an Irishman head out to space on a rock-collecting mission but the Irishman is a last minute addition after the withdrawal of one of the team and as simple as it sounds, this comic film is mainly about how he rubs up the other two something rotten with his lack of experience and annoying habits. The casting is deliciously done too as all three actors are Irish, but Peter McDonald plays the American and Michael McElhatton takes on the Russian part as Pat Shortt mugs and grimaces as the troublemaking Irishman. Lots of fun.
A lo-fi indie flick of a short film, Rob and Valentyna in Scotland made waves at Sundance in 2010 and you can kinda see why, it wears its hipster credentials proudly and chugs merrily along its too cool for school way. But at over 20 minutes, it is a little bloated and IMHO is never quite as good as it seems to think it is. Eric Lynne and Robert Chester Smith’s story sees an American guy, Rob, travel to Europe to meet his Ukrainian cousin, Valentyna, and after attending a wedding in London where she is his plus one, they take a road trip to the Scottish highlands where they continue to get to know each other. Inexplicably though, it is filmed in a mockumentary style, with narration intruding at random points, and the film never really hits any genuine emotional notes in the manner of say Before Sunset/Sunrise/Midnight which it feels like it is trying to ape. A brief highlight is a cameo from the lovely Laura Main though.
Based on Magnus Mills’ story of the same name, Alan Westaway and James Allen’s The Good Cop is 10 minutes of great fun, led by the inimitable Simon Kunz’s hilarious interviewer. Interrogating a suspect, Kunz’s ‘Cop’ struggles to make much impact on Allen’s ‘Man’ as his focus seems to be on the good side, bringing warm towels and chocolate on his various visits to the room. Why he keeps leaving slowly becomes obvious, building to a gently amusing finale and it’s all rather good fun.