Thursday, 27 October 2011

LFF Day 16: Men in skirts

Tom Hiddleston and Terence Davies led the charge on closing night at the London Film Festival with the red carpet premiere of their film The Deep Blue Sea, starring Rachel Weisz, who of course also starred in the opening night film. I'll have a wrap-up tomorrow, but here are some more highlights...

The Deep Blue Sea
dir Terence Davies; with Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston 11/UK ****
Based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, this exquisitely made British drama moves at its own slow pace, pitting repressed emotions against reckless passion. It's also rather gloomy and downbeat, almost reluctant to let us see glimmers of hope in the story... FULL REVIEW >

This Must Be the Place
dir Paolo Sorrentino; with Sean Penn, Frances McDormand 11/Ire ***
Italian filmmaker Sorrentino creates a Jim Jarmusch-style odyssey from Ireland to America and back. Witty filmmaking and Penn's quirky performance keep it watchable, even though the story and themes are vague and elusive... FULL REVIEW >

We Have a Pope
dir Nanni Moretti; with Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Stuhr 11/It ***
Cleverly filmed to look like the real thing, this papal drama is infused with such a lively sense of humour that we often start it think it's a comedy. So when something serious happens, it feels a bit jarring. And in the end, unsatisfying. When the Pope dies, the cardinals meet to select his successor, but when the decision is made, the new Pope (Piccoli) has a crisis of conscience. Until he sorts this out, the cardinals must remain sequestered in the Vatican. And so must a shrink (played by director Moretti) brought in to help the new Holy Father, who meanwhile takes a secret pilgrimage into the streets of Rome. The film is a rather odd mix of slapstick (as if anything the priests do is funny) and religious exploration. And the two don't blend very easily, leaving the film feeling a bit fragmented and ultimately unconvincing. While the film is often very entertaining and engaging, it's ultimately a bit frustrating.

dir-scr Joseph Cedar; with Lior Ashkenazi, Shlomo Bar-Aba 11/Isr **** 
Essentially a father-son drama, this extremely clever Israeli film expands to explore huge issues from religion to politics with a strikingly ethical slant. It also maintains a comical tone even when things get very serious indeed. It centres on a Talmud expert (Ashkenazu) who can't quite cope with the fact that his father (Bar-Aba) has never been acknowledged for his contributions to the field. So when Dad wins the prestigious Israel Prize, the son couldn't be prouder. Until he finds out that there was an error and actually he won it, not his father. Personal vendettas, long histories and some ongoing feuds feed into the events that follow. And filmmaker Cedar injects the film with more humour than theological pondering. The result is a smart, involving film that keeps us on our toes.

No comments: