Tuesday, 27 October 2009

LFF14: Glorious evening

Stephen Polikoff attended the red-carpet premiere of his pre-war drama Glorious 39, accompanied by cast members including (left to right) Bill Nighy, Juno Temple, Jenny Agutter, Romola Garai and David Tennant. Also out in Leicester Square on this unusually warm evening were Joel and Ethan Coen (below right) with actor Michael Stuhlbarg (for A Serious Man), and Jane Birkin (for Around a Small Mountain).

Only two days left and a handful of films for me to see. I missed another one this morning due to a breakdown on the transport system (sitting in a Tube tunnel for 30 minutes was not part of my plan for today). Here are some highlights from Day 14...

dir-scr Samuel Maoz; with Yoav Donat, Itay Tiran 09/Isr ***
Set entirely within the confines of a tank, it would have been pretty hard for this war drama to avoid an almost unbearable sense of claustrophobia. It may feel somewhat over-constructed, but it's a gripping, harrowing ride ... REVIEW >

dir Roberto Caston; with Joxean Bengoetxea, Christian Esquivel 09/Sp *****
With remarkable insight, this unhurried drama beautifully captures the pace of life in an isolated Basque community in the Spanish Pyrenees. And even more than that, it has some potent things to say about culture and sexuality ... REVIEW >

Glorious 39
dir Stephen Poliakoff; with Romola Garai, Bill Nighy 09/UK ****
Telling a story from a rarely examined period of British history, this pre-war drama is a bundle of suspense, mystery and personal emotion that's beautifully filmed and sharply played by a first-rate cast ... REVIEW >

Sweet Rush
dir Andrzej Wajda 09/Pol ***
Shot with Wajda's usual expert skill, this somewhat difficult film centres on grief and blurs the edges by telling a multi-plane story about a middle-aged actress who delivers oddly disconnected monologues about the death of her husband. Meanwhile, we see the film she is now making, in which she's the one who contracts a fatal disease, and then befriends a 20-year-old boy. And we also get several behind the scenes glimpses of the film crew, all connected by the sweet rushes growing along the river, which smell like life on one side and death on the other. It sounds pretentious, but it's not. It is, however, not an easy film to get a grip on, and is pretty relentlessly sad, as you'd expect from the theme.

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