Tuesday, 26 October 2010

LFF14: Glamour puss

Julianne Moore seems to have worn two dresses at once as she took to the Leicester Square red carpet for the UK premiere of her new film The Kids Are All Right at the London Film Festival last night. Of course, she gets away with it because she's so obscenely talented. And her film is currently my favourite from the festival.

And at the Abel screening this afternoon there was a terrific post-film Q&A with director Diego Luna and his young star Christopher Ruiz-Esparza - it was a lively, very funny session in which Luna was open about his interest in making such a personal film about family relationships. We all left just a little in love with both of them. Here are some comments about Abel and two other films today...

dir Diego Luna; with Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Karina Gidi 10/Mex ****
For his first narrative feature as director, Luna takes an offbeat look at parenthood through the eyes of an unusual child. Abel (the remarkable Ruiz-Esparza) has been in hospital for the past two years and returns home not quite healed: he thinks he's his own missing father and starts parenting his big sister and little brother. His mother (Gidi) goes along with it out of concern for Abel's mental health, but things start getting out of hand. The film stirs together a warm sense of humour with a growing sense of unease about what might happen. It's a constantly surprising story that reveals truths about family interaction in ways that are both endearing and thoughtful.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
dir Jalmari Helander; with Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, 10/Fin *****
Leave it to Finland, "the land of the original Santa Claus", to come up with a fiendishly clever way to twist the holiday legend into something that's both dryly hilarious and more than a little deranged. When a multinational corporation drills into a mountain in Lapland, they make a rather freaky discovery: the original Father Christmas is encased in a buried block of ice. And it will be up to a trio of local farmers and two of their sons to set things right. The problem is that they've all been a bit naughty, and Santa knows it. Endlessly inventive, darkly amusing and startlingly scary, this film has cult hit written all over it. See it before the inevitable half-baked American remake.

The Taqwacores
dir Eyad Zahra; with Bobby Naderi, Noureen DeWulf 10/US ****
Set in a subculture most people would never guess even exists, this important film shatters stereotypes in every scene. It's centred on good Muslim boy Yusef (Naderi) who heads to university in Buffalo, where his Islamic home isn't quite what he expects: his flatmates are a collection of skaters, rockers and anarchists who faithfully attend a mosque in their living room. Their views on sex and drugs are also far from orthodox, but Yusef finds a way to fit in, and they begin planning a party of Taqwacore bands - a musical movement of Muslim punks (think stars of David instead of swastikas). The film has a loose, scruffy tone and lively, likeable characters who continually challenge media portrayals of Islam.

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