Monday, 26 October 2009

LFF13: Independents day

Tonight's London Film Festival premiere was for the comedy-drama Taking Woodstock, and on-hand for red carpet duties were director Ang Lee - pictured with writer James Schamus and actors Henry Goodman and Imelda Staunton. There's definitely a sense that the festival is winding down now, as with three days to go the critics are staggering around with dazed looks on their faces (one colleague told me today that he has seen 79 films so far, which beats my 55 by about two full days of movie-watching). I already have one casualty of the system here - I haven't been able to see the acclaimed film Precious, as they made no allocation for press at the screenings I could get to. So I'll have to wait and see it in the coming months instead. Anyway, here are some indie highlights from today...

We Live in Public
dir Ondi Timoner; with Josh Harris, Tom Harris 09/US ****
In documenting the story of one of the internet's chief innovators, filmmaker Timoner explores the profound way online communities have changed Western society. It's a fast-paced, entertaining movie, and it really makes us think ... REVIEW >

Alexander the Last
dir Joe Swanberg; with Jess Weixler, Justin Rice 09/US **
Largely improvised by its gifted cast, this story of relationships stretched to the limits is intriguing enough to keep our attention, even though the characters never really connect with us. At the centre is Alex, an actress rehearsing a role in a stage play that requires considerable intimacy with her costar, which has implications on her relationship with her musician husband and her slightly too-close sister. Fantasy and reality blur intriguingly, but it's not easy to care about these whinging, self-obsessed people.

Trash Humpers
dir Harmony Korine; with Rachel Korine, Brian Kotzur 09/US **
Filmmaker Harmony Korine continues to push viewer's buttons with this deliberately abrasive mock-doc. He says he intends it to be a modern horror movie, but it's more like a geriatric version of Jackass ... REVIEW >

dir Ezequiel Acuna; with Alberto Rojas Apel, Matias Castelli 09/Arg ***
From Argentina, this somewhat vague low-budget film really catches the American indie vibe with its story of 20-somethings told in black and white with extremely dry wit. It's about two school friends who reunite a few years in the future to collaborate on a stage project, and as the film progresses we start to realise why they haven't been in touch for so long (although there are some other revelations in store as well). Filmmaker Acuna acutely captures that experience of growing up and growing apart, and then trying to find new common ground. The humour is very low-key, mainly in meandering, off-topic conversations, but it makes these characters thoroughly endearing.

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