Friday, 24 October 2008

LFF9: Press the flesh

Josh Brolin braved the gloomy weather last night to attend the London premiere of W, taking time to sign autographs along with Oliver Stone, Elizabeth Banks, Toby Jones and Thandie Newton. Also out last night were Paul Bettany (again) with Sophie Okonedo and director Gina Prince-Blythewood for The Secret Life of Bees, and Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with their new star Algenis Perez Soto for Sugar. Meanwhile, around the corner in Trafalgar Square, pianist Neil Band performed live accompaniment for the film High Treason on a large public screen.

Here are notes on films from yesterday and today...

W ***
Oliver Stone's biopic is thoroughly entertaining, but doesn't seem to go quite far enough as a portrait of the man who has shaped our world more than anyone else at the moment. Parts are played as an almost circus-like comedy, while the film's through-line is a fairly standard father-son movie dynamic. That said, the acting is first-rate - most notably from John Brolin, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell and Toby Jones.

Waltz With Bashir ****
Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman has made perhaps the world's first animated documentary, using his and his friends' recollections of their military service in the 1980s to reconstruct a powerful and thoughful examination of the pointless of war. And the animation is utterly magical, allowing him to go much further that he would have be able to do with historical footage. A real achievement.

Sex Positive ***
This straightforward documentary is fascinating on two levels: as a chronicle of the early days of Aids/HIV in America and as an examination of a man who went against the system to face a serious issue head-on. This is a story that has rarely been told, and while there are still some holes in this account, it gets much further under the surface than anything we've seen before, especially in the way it looks at the notorious Richard Berkowitz's life and work.

The Other Man **
An odd misstep from filmmaker Richard Eyre, this slick drama stars Liam Neeson as a man obsessed with learning more about the man (Antonio Banderas) he has discovered was having an affair with his wife (Laura Linney) before she left him. The problem is that the film can't decide whether it's an obsessive thriller, a family melodrama or an ode to lost love. And the script manipulates us so badly by withholding key plot information (for no discernible reason) that it leaves us seriously annoyed.

1 comment:

Patrick Roberts said...

Josh Brolin did a convincing Dubya, though he reminded me a lot of his cowboy character from No Country for Old Men... over all, i don't doubt that 'W.' will have the effect Oliver Stone desired