Monday, 14 October 2013

LFF 5: Ready for labour

Kate Winslet and her rather large baby bump braved the chilly red carpet tonight in Leicester Square for the UK premiere of her film Labor Day at the 57th London Film Festival. She was joined by costar Josh Brolin and writer-director Jason Reitman. And yes, the city is crawling with cinema celebrities at the moment. In addition to the Labor Day junket, I also attended a small press conference today for The Family (not showing at LFF) with Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron. But then, everyone seems to be in London at the moment. More festival highlights...

Labor Day 
dir Jason Reitman; with Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin 13/US ***
While this drama starts off well, with another remarkably layered performance from Winslet and a growing sense of uneasy tension, it slowly transforms itself into a Nicholas Sparks-style sappy romance along the way. To say this is frustrating is an understatement, and by the time we make it to a series of deeply schmalzy epilogues, we wonder what happened to the Reitman of Up in the Air or Young Adult... [review coming soon]

Like Father, Like Son 
dir Hirokazu Kore-eda; with Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono 13/Jpn ****. 
Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda is an expert at telling sentimental stories in a way that's genuinely involving but never remotely sappy. By catching tiny details in characters who are cleverly underplayed by the cast, he draws us into the events in an uncanny way that's utterly disarming. And wonderful... FULL REVIEW >

dir Pawel Pawlikowski; with Agata Trzebuchowska, Agata Kulesza 13/Pol **** 
With pristine black and white photography and beautifully textured performances, this simple story overflows with big ideas about history and faith. And since the two central characters are so beautifully written and played, they are able to engage us on layers that go much deeper than we expect... [review coming soon]

The Double
dir Richard Ayoade; with Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska 13/UK *** 
Dostoevsky's novella is adapted into a Gilliamesque black comedy that's packed with visual invention but never quite grabs hold narratively. Still, the cast is so good that we willingly go along with them on a surreal odyssey about a young man struggling to make sense of his own identity. And the surprise-packed cast is a lot of fun... [review coming soon]

The Selfish Giant
dir-scr Clio Barnard; with Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas 13/UK **** 
After the brilliantly inventive drama-doc The Arbor, it's unsurprising to find that Barnard takes an original approach to a kids' story. This film was inspired by the Oscar Wilde tale, and the connections are askance at best. But there's such an intense blast of realism that it's utterly gripping, right to the shattering conclusion... FULL REVIEW >

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