Thursday, 10 October 2013

LFF 1: Aye aye, captain!

The 57th London Film Festival kicked off last night with the Leicester Square premiere of Captain Phillips, and star Tom Hanks braved the suddenly chilly evening with his wife Rita Wilson as well as director Paul Greengrass and a range of celebrities, from Tom Ford to Terry Gilliam. Tonight it was Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuaron's turn to present Gravity. Here are some highlights from the first day...

Captain Phillips
dir Paul Greengrass; with Tom Hanks, Barkhi Abdi 13/US *****
Coming straight from the headlines and adapted with a documentary-style attention to detail, this fiercely well-crafted thriller would be impossible to believe if it weren't true. And even though we know the end of the story, this film generates so much nerve-shredding suspense that we feel like we need to be debriefed afterwards... FULL REVIEW >

dir Alfonso Cuaron; with Sandra Bullock, George Clooney 13/US ****
Cuaron takes us on a 91-minute thrill ride deploying cutting-edge cinema technology and a harrowing performance from Sandra Bullock to root us in our seats. So even if the plot is rather contrived, the film looks so amazing that we barely breathe as we're hurled here and there just on the cusp of Earth's atmosphere... [full review coming soon]

As I Lay Dying
dir James Franco; with James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson 13/US ***
For his first narrative feature as a director, Franco ambitiously adapts William Faulkner's notoriously grim novel. And what a surprise: the film is relentlessly downbeat, and pretty dull too. Franco may prove that he has a fresh visual eye, but the highly emotive story is oddly uninvolving... FULL REVIEW >

Jeune & Jolie
dir Francois Ozon; with Marine Vacth, Geraldine Pailhas 13/Fr ****
Ozon explores a transgressive side of sexuality in this internalised drama about a teen prostitute. But this isn't the usual trip to the seedy low-life: these are well-off people who seem balanced and intelligent. And it's tricky for us to admit that this is just as realistic as the grimier depictions we see in preachier films... FULL REVIEW >

The Congress
dir Ari Folman; with Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel 13/Isr ***.
A film of two halves, this brain-bending drama/thriller is either a provocative exploration of identity in an increasingly digital age or an indulgent visual kaleidoscope that only the filmmaker can understand. Either way, it's bracingly original and often thrilling to watch... FULL REVIEW >

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