Sunday, 18 October 2009

LFF5: Flying high

Anna Kendrick, Jason Reitman and Vera Farmiga hit the red carpet tonight for the premiere of their film Up in the Air. Alas, George Clooney couldn't stick around for this one - after two appearances at the London Film Festival last week (for Fantastic Mr Fox on Wednesday and The Men Who Stare at Goats on Thursday), he jetted off to Rome for the festival there. Also walking the red carpet on Sunday were the child stars of Julian Fellowes' British drama From Time to Time, Cold Souls star Emily Watson, French filmmaker Jean Pierre-Jeunet and Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu. Here are some film highlights...

Up in the Air
dir Jason Reitman; with George Clooney, Vera Farmiga 09/US *****
Clooney is perfectly cast in this terrific downsizing comedy-drama, which manages to keep us laughing even as it examines the darker underside of both the recession and a corporate lifestyle in which you fly high and travel as light as you can. Reitman's direction is bright and edgy, while Farmiga and Anna Kendrick develop strong female counterpoints that bring surprising depth to a film that refuses to become sentimental.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
dir Grant Heslov; with George Clooney, Ewan McGregor 09/US ****
Based on true events as recounted in the Jon Ronson book, this freewheeling war comedy is deeply entertaining due to the crazy-but-believable premise and wonderfully outrageous characters. ... REVIEW >

dir Brillante Mendoza; with Coco Martin, Maria Isabel Lopez 09/Philippines ***
Surprise winner of the directing prize at Cannes, this restless and grim drama explores endemic police corruption through the harrowing personal odyssey of a young cop-trainee who is dragged along with several off-duty officers on a night of unspeakable brutality. The loss of innocence is palpable, and the film is thoroughly, effectively unnerving with its skilful camerawork and sharp editing. But it also feels just a little simplistic.

Cold Souls
dir Sophie Barthes; with Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson 09/US ****
Like a collision of Charlie Kaufman and Woody Allen, this dark comedy is a surreal gem, astutely examining the issue of identity. And it gives the cast, especially Giamatti, terrific characters to sink their teeth into. ... REVIEW >

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