More star power descended on Leicester Square last night. Spike Lee was in town to present his new film Miracle at St Anna (right), wearing a rather unsubtle hoodie - no surprise. Meanwhile, at the premiere screening of the British thriller Franklyn, the film's cast members Ryan Phillippe and Eva Green (pictured) plus Sam Riley made a very different statement as they strolled down the red carpet: namely that a bit of youthful global movie glamour was in town.
My day was a bit removed from all of this though - I had my brain stretched in the morning by Charlie Kaufman's bewildering but rather wonderful Synechdoche, New York, then took a witty and enjoyable journey from Turkey to Azerbaijan in The Market, then escaped the festival briefly for a regular press screening of Samuel L Jackson's underwhelming thriller Lakeview Terrace. In between, I interviewed Kiwi director Toa Fraser and actor Jeremy Northam about their work with Peter O'Toole on Dean Spanley, and then talked with James Toback about his frankly gobsmacking bio-doc Tyson. Which brings us to today's festival highlights...
Rather than take an objective, documentary approach to the life of perhaps the most notorious sportsman ever, filmmaker James Toback takes us on a trip into Miky Tyson's mind. And the result is strikingly cinematic - as well as revealing and even emotional. On seeing the film, Tyson himself said it was like watching a Greek tragedy.
Better Things ****
British filmmaker Duane Hopkins creates a new cinematic language for this unusual drama about teens in an English village. The result is absolutely stunning - but it's not an easy film to watch.
Dean Spanley ****
This quirky period film centres on the idea that a local priest (Sam Neill) just might be the reincarnation of a dog. But this is actually just a distraction from the central plot, which is a moving and insightful look at the brittle relationship between a son (Jeremy Northam) and his father (Peter O'Toole). Brilliant performances and a light touch make this worth seeing.
1 2 3 4 ***
This shaggy British comedy-drama is about a geeky singer-guitarist who puts together a band and then struggles to make it. The characters are vividly spiky, and their interaction is both hilarious and a bit scary. Sadly, the plot kind of drifts away in the final act.