Friday, 14 October 2011

LFF Day 3: Full steam ahead

Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen ran the gauntlet of press and fans today at the London Film Festival as they presented Shame to the UK for the first time. And the reaction after the press screening was stunned silence - mostly of the positive kind - due to the film's bold honesty. And the press conference afterwards was remarkably lively, with a sharp sense of humour. Yes, the festival is fully underway, which means that most public screenings are introduced by cast members and/or filmmakers, which is great fun. Here are a few highlights...

dir Steve McQueen; with Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan 11/UK ****
After Hunger, McQueen continues his inventive approach to cinema with this New York drama about sex addiction. He refuses to play by Hollywood rules, facing up to the issue head-on, which includes using unusual directing choices to show the characters in remarkable detail. Fassbender and Mulligan are transparent and raw as brother and sister, both fragile, damaged people presenting an unexpected face to the world. And while the film's plot feels a little over-constructed, it's also powerfully involving and ultimately moving. But the most intriguing thing is that way it manages to get us into the skin of the central character, forcing us to think about our own addictions, whatever they may be.

dir Andrew Haigh; with Tom Cullen, Chris New 11/UK *****
It's clear to see why this gentle gay romantic drama has been compared to Before Sunrise and Once, as it follows two men over the course of two days. But it's also an extremely well-made film packed with its own sharp observations... FULL REVIEW >

dir Gus Van Sant; with Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska 11/US ****
Van Sant returns to his earthy-airy style for this story of a young man coming to terms with the concept of mortality. It's effortlessly honest, with edgy humour balancing the dark themes. Although it's also diluted by commercial sensibilities. FULL REVIEW >

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