Monday, 20 October 2008

LFF5: Talking Italian

It was Italian day at the London Film Festival yesterday, with several filmmakers presenting their new work, including Ferzan Ozpetek (pictured with his lead actress Isabelle Ferrari from A Perfect Day, see below, and their translator, left); Antonello Grimaldi and Nanni Moretti (for Quiet Chaos); and Dino and Filippo Gentili with actors Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Massimo de Sanits (for I Am Alive). Also at the festival wereFrance's Arnaud Desplechin (A Christmas Tale), Mexico's Fernando Eimbcke (Lake Tahoe), and the cast and crew of Steve McQueen's award-winning Hunger.

Here are some highlights from yesterday and today...

A Perfect Day ****
Italian filmmaker Ferzan Ozpetek is back with his seventh film at the LFF, and this is a shift in tone for him: a darkly emotional drama that centres on an unthinkable tragedy as it examines several strained relationships. Lyrically filmed and acted with boldness and skill, this is a haunting, moving film.

The Warlords ****
This epic retelling of a true story from the Qing dynasty has serious star power in its three lead actors (Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro), who play three waring leaders who form an uneasy alliance. This is then tested to the breaking point by a series of events, and this moral struggle is the best thing about the film. This is big, raw moviemaking, and also slightly rambling.

Adoration ****
Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan continues his ongoing examination of human communication and community with this internalised drama about a teen who writes a harrowing story about his parents, touching a nerve in everyone around him. Strong acting from Scott Speedman (as his guardian uncle) and Arsinee Khanjian (as his teacher) add to the film's dramatic kick.

Rachel Getting Married ****
Jonathan Demme takes a down-to-earth look at a dysfunctional family by returning the straight-talking black sheep (Anne Hathaway) for her sister's wedding. Hathaway is excellent as a woman fighting against her family's perceptions of her, and Debra Winger is absolutely radiant as her distant mother. And the film's tough, raw honesty make it well worth a look.

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