Thursday, 15 October 2009

LFF2: Staring at the stars

Howdy from Day 2 of the London Film Fest. Another long day featuring three movies and a press conference. I started out with more of George Clooney, who appeared with Kevin Spacey (above), director Grant Heslov and author Jon Ronson for their film The Men Who Stare at Goats, which also had its starry premiere in Leicester Square tonight. Here are some other films that screened today...

Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
dir Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea; with Romy Schneider, Serge Reggiani 09/France ****
Intriguingly combining footage of Clouzot's unfinished film L'Enfer with re-enacted scenes and documentary interviews, this artistic doc pieces together the story of a masterpiece that never was. It's perhaps a little overworked, but cinephiles will love every glorious frame ... FULL REVIEW >

Around a Small Mountain
dir Jacques Rivette; with Jane Birkin, Sergio Castellitto 09/France ***
Quirky and warm, this gently surreal comedy drama shows that the iconic director still has a playful side, as he orchestrates a momentous encounter between a travelling Italian businessman (Castellitto) and a French circus at precisely the moment an ex-highwire walker (Birkin) returns after 15 years in exile. Lots of lives are sorted out along the way, with plenty of gentle humour and a bit of offbeat romance. The cast are natural and funny, even if the film itself is enigmatic and elusive on all fronts.

From Time to Time
dir Julian Fellowes; with Maggie Smith, Alex Etel 09/UK ****
Obviously based on a children's book, this gentle period drama tells its story on two fronts, as a teen (Etel, all grown-up since Millions) goes to stay with his grandmother (the fabulous Smith) in 1944 and stumbles into old family secrets in the form of ghosts from 1809 wandering around the family manor. It's an involving story, a fun mystery and a very nicely observed look at Britain. It also has an ace supporting cast that includes Timothy Spall, Hugh Bonneville, Dominic West and Pauline Collins.

Enter the Void
dir Gaspar Noe; with Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta 09/France ***
Notorious filmmaker Noe finally followed up his controversial hit Irreversible - and it's another slightly gimmicky approach: using only subjective point of view to tell the story of a nice-guy American drug user (Brown) in Tokyo who is caught in the crossfire of a police raid, dies and haunts his friends and sister (de la Huerta) in the days and months that follow. As expected, Noe's filmmaking is astoundingly skilful, packing the movie with telling details, wry humour and vivid characters. It's also extremely indulgent; at least 30 minutes could easily be cut out of the meandering narrative. Noe was on hand to introduce the film tonight and then held a long and hugely informative Q&A afterwards.

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