Friday, 16 October 2009

LFF3: Serious men

Viggo Mortensen was on press conference duty on day 3 of the London Film Festival, out promoting his new film The Road with director John Hillcoat and writer Joe Penhall. It was a much more serious press conference than the previous two days, as the thoughtful, articulate Mortensen led an intense and thoroughly engaging discussion of the themes in the film. Later in the evening I walked past him as he was patiently signing autographs in the crowd outside the Vue Cinema on Leicester Square, chatting with fans and clearly in no rush to leave. I also spotted Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley on the red carpet tonight. Firth was there for his film, Tom Ford's A Single Man, for which Firth recently won the best actor award in Venice...

The Road
dir John Hillcoat; with Viggo Mortenson, Kodi Smit-McPhee 09/US *****
Another Cormac McCarthy novel becomes one of the best films of the year. This startling post-apocalyptic adventure is almost relentlessly grim as it follows a father and son across an American landscape totally bereft of humanity or civilisation. But in each encounter, we discover things about these characters, and we see a very tiny glimmer of hope for the future. A stunning allegory, the film boasts spectacular cinematography and some truly unforgettable performances.

A Single Man
dir Tom Ford; with Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult 09/US ****
It's no surprise that this film is exquisite to look at; Ford knows how to capture an image, and we want to fall into every frame of the almost too-perfect 1962 Los Angeles setting, with its modern lines, gleaming cars and form-enhancing clothes. The story centres on one pretty terrible day in the life of a university professor (Firth) as he tries to quietly come to grips with the death of his boyfriend in a society in which he's not allowed to even have a boyfriend. Firth captures something untouchable in his performance, making us feel this man's despair and also his wry understanding that his life might not be over. And Moore shines in a showy role that she turns into something quietly profound.

Paper Heart
dir Nicholas Jasenovec; with Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera 09/US ****
An ingenious blending of rom-com and doc, this charming film worms its way under our skin from the start, keeping us laughing as it explores love and relationships from a strikingly original angle ... FULL REVIEW >

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