Monday, 19 October 2009

LFF6: Another bright night

Ben Whishaw and Jane Campion led the charge tonight up the red carpet in Leicester Square for the gala screening of their exquisite John Keats biopic Bright Star, which happens to be my favourite film of the festival so far. They were joined for the screening by a slightly random array of London celebrities, including Mayor Boris Johnson.

I had another busy day at the London Film Festival running from screening to screening, and managed to take a long enough break between two films to have a hot lunch (badly needed as the weather has turned very chilly). Here are three films that were on today...

The Limits of Control
dir Jim Jarmusch; with Isaac De Bankole, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt 09/Spain ****
While it's probably too meandering and vague for mainstream cinemagoers, this offbeat thriller is a terrific example of Jarmusch's subtly cheeky tone, plus gorgeous Christopher Doyle cinematography and a terrific cast ... REVIEW >

Life During Wartime
dir Todd Solondz; with Allison Janney, Shirley Henderson 09/US ****
Typical of Solondz, this film is a surreal spin on his 1998 hit Happiness, with the same characters portrayed by a very different cast several years later. Blackly hilarious, the film features superb performances by an eclectic cast that includes Ally Sheedy, Paul Reubens and Ciaran Hinds, and dialog that's both laugh-out-loud funny and sharply observant. The central idea is forgiveness, and whether we ever really get over our upbringing, past sins and deep prejudices. Pretty amazing, but much more edgy and anarchic than it looks.

Blue Beard
dir Catherine Breillat; with Dominique Thomas, Lola Creton 09/France ***
Taking her typically girl-power view and applying it to a fairy tale, Breillat creates a deeply undettling period tale about two sisters who are obsessed with the story about the resident of the nearby castle - and expecially the way his wives have all gone missing. When they get a chance to meet him, they play it as an audition, and sure enough, one is chosen as the next wife. But things don't go as expected - or maybe they do - as tables are turned and promises are broken. It's a tricky, difficult film to unpack, but there's some fascinating stuff inside.

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