Monday, 17 October 2011

LFF Day 6: The warzone

Recent red carpet stars at the London Film Festival have included the cast of Coriolanus (Vanessa Redgrave, Jon Snow, Brian Cox and Ralph Fiennes, left) and Rampart (Ben Foster, Oren Moverman and Woody Harrelson, right). Although for members of the press, this festival can be more of a scrum, trying to get tickets to public screenings of films that weren't shown to the press. Forget about the parties, we have four or five movies to watch every day. It's a bit exhausting, but there are only 10 days to go. Here are some highlights today...

dir Ralph Fiennes; with Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler 11/UK ***
Actor-director Fiennes sets Shakespeare's military tragedy in a modern-day war setting, which gives it a meaty kick of recognition. But it's such a bombastic film that it's difficult to find much emotional resonance in it... FULL REVIEW >

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai
dir Takashi Miike; with Ebizo Ichikawa, Eita 11/Jpn ****
Miike takes a remarkably restrained approach to this remake of the 1962 samurai classic about a man who asks for permission to commit ritual suicide in the courtyard of a great house, then unravels a twisty story that sharply explores the issue of honour in Japanese society. This version is strikingly still, gorgeously shot in muted colours to concentrate on the dark emotions that fill the story. It's also shot in 3D, which gives the sets an intriguing depth. As the drama progresses mainly through conversations and flashbacks, there's very little action until the final scenes, which are a shocking collision of tragedy and violence. And as an aching story of love and revenge, it's deeply moving.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
dir Nuri Bilge Ceylan; with Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan 11/Tur ****
Patiently following a police procedure over about 18 hours, this Turkish drama is startlingly involving, mainly because it quietly deepens our interest through character detail. It's also stunningly well shot and edited... FULL REVIEW >

Meanwhile, I have still been watching non-festival films and reviewing them for their normal release dates. Over the past week, London critics have seen the Brad Pitt baseball drama Moneyball, the Chinese drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and the girly ensemble movie Monte Carlo. Coming up we have the Greek gods extravaganza Immortals, the remake-prequel The Thing Marca Gay Harden in If I Were You, the now unbanned sequel The Human Centipede 2 and Jan Svankmejer's Surviving Life.

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