Wednesday, 21 October 2009

LFF8: Boys' night out

The London Film Festival tonight featured the premiere of the Australian drama The Boys Are Back - that's director Scott Hicks between actors George MacKay and Clive Owen. All three spent the day doing press for the film in advance of the big party tonight. Other red carpet entrances were on hand for Michael Haneke (his Cannes-winning The White Ribbon); Thomas Turgoose, Susan Lynch and director Tom Harper (The Scouting Book for Boys); and the lively ensemble cast of 1 Day, including director Penny Woolcock. And here are some of the day's highlights...

Bright Star
dir-scr Jane Campion; with Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw 09/UK *****
With a sumptuous attention to detail, lush photography and beautifully understated performances, Campion turns real events from the life of a poet into cinematic poetry. It may be too mopey for some audiences, but for others it's pure bliss ... REVIEW >

The Boys Are Back
dir Scott Hicks; with Clive Owen, George MacKay 09/Aus ***
Based on a true story, this emotional drama doesn't have much of a plot, at least not cinematically speaking, as it examines the shifting relationships of a widower (Owen) trying to learn how to connect with his two sons. What makes the film well worth seeing is the fine acting work from the entire cast. Owen has never done anything this raw and open, and his chemistry with the child actors is terrific. It's also nice to see such an honest look at parenting on film for a change, even if the film doesn't seem to have that much to say.

An Education
dir Lone Scherfig; with Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard 09/UK ***
A lively tone and very funny dialog kind of throw us off the scent of this film's starkly serious themes. Beneath the charm and humour is an intriguing story about a time when being a strong-willed young woman just wasn't allowed ... REVIEW >

dir Scandar Copti, Yaron Shan; with Fouad Habash, Shahir Kabaha 09/Isr ****
A searing story of the collision of three religious communities in Israel, this provocative street-level drama feels thoroughly realistic, with vivid characters that cut through the fragmented story structure ... REVIEW >

1 Day
dir Penny Woolcock; with Dylan Duffus, Orhan Whyte 09/UK ***
British director Woolcock takes an especially clever approach to this innercity drama about gang warfare, turning it into a full-on rap musical that really conveys the energy and passion of the characters. So it's a shame that the story is rather contrived, and the filmmaking rather rough around the edges. It's also so thoroughly urban that it might lose viewers who struggle to understand the slang-infused dialog. But you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen, especially when three colourful baby mamas corner the lead character for a "chat".

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