French filmmaker Laurent Cantet faced the media last night at the gala premiere of his acclaimed film The Class, which has already won acres of awards - with more to come. I'm sure there were a few parties on the festival's first Saturday night, but the London Film Festival doesn't invite mere journalists to these things. Frankly, a few parties would make the festival feel a lot more festive - and it would be nice to stop working for an hour or two. I'm already shattered and it's only day 4.
Anyway, here are some highlights from today's line-up...
Lake Tahoe ****
This quirky and charming Mexican film blends the simplicity of Italian neorealism with the wit and emotion of new Mexican cinema as it follows a young guy on an odyssey to fix his car. And his soul. Beautifully understated, very funny and ultimately very moving.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist ***
This wilfully offbeat rom-com tries far too hard to be this year's Juno, right up to borrowing that film's leading man, the engaging Michael Cera, for this all-night romp through the back streets of New York. There are some genuinely hilarious characters and extremely well-written dialog, but it's so constructed that it never feels remotely real.
Easily my best film of the festival (and of the year so far), this harrowing drama about the 1981 Belfast hunger strike is directed by Turner Prize-winner Steve McQueen with a distinct cinematic language that constantly surprises us with its astute observations. And at the centre, the performance by Michael Fassbender (as Bobby Sands) is truly unforgettable.
I Am Alive ****
From Italy, this riveting and wrenchingly black comedy is another all-night odyssey, this time following a guy who's been hired to watch over a dead woman in her father's house, but is distracted beyond reason. As it progresses, the filmmakers create an intriguing relationship between our hero and the corpse - and let him discover his own inner strength. A gem of a film.