Friday, 10 October 2014

LFF 2: It's a woman's world

Another day of movies at the 58th BFI London Film Festival. I had a superb interview with Brazilian filmmaker Daniel Ribeiro in the morning about his film The Way He Looks (see below), and then ended the day with a Q&A after a screening of The Cut with filmmaker Fatih Akin and actor Tahar Rahim. Meanwhile, festival highlights on Day 2 included Peter Strickland's astonishing The Duke of Burgundy (above). Here are some short comments on that and other films - full reviews will be on the website soon...

The Duke of Burgundy
dir Peter Strickland; with Sidse Babett Knudsen, Chiara D'Anna 14/UK ****
After Katalin Varga and Berberian Sound Studio, no one expects British filmmaker to make a straightforward movie, and this is far from the mainstream. Yet despite its superficially shocking premise the film is actually about the core elements in any relationship, and the vivid filmmaking and raw performances bring this out as the story develops.

Queen & Country
dir John Boorman; with Callum Turner, Caleb Landry Jones 14/UK ***
Essentially a meandering collection of nostalgic anecdotes, this gentle military comedy-drama is somewhat undermined by its uneven performances and unfocused plot. But it's full of likeable characters and enjoyable moments. And it nicely continues the tradition of irreverent war movies.

dir Abel Ferrara; with Willem Dafoe, Riccardo Scamarcio 14/It **
Swirling with ambition, this odd collage of a movie never quite connects its disparate parts together to communicate anything very meaningful to the audience. Shot in a murky, uneven style, director Ferrara has made it difficult to make out what writer Braucci intended with this Fellini-esque dip into the mind of an iconic filmmaker. 

The Way He Looks
dir Daniel Ribeiro; with Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi 14/Br ****
Brazilian filmmaker Ribeiro expands his award-winning short I Don't Want to Go Back Alone in to a feature, the title of which translates, cheekily, Today I Want to Go Back Alone. Yes, he's taking a different approach this time, not just by expanding the cast and the themes, but also in his relaxed approach to what is a startlingly warm and effective coming-of-age drama.

Wild Life
dir Cedric Kahn; with Mathieu Kassovitz, Celine Sallette 14/Fr ****
Based in an astonishing true story, this free-spirited French drama can't help but get under the skin with its pungent premise and sharp characters. It's also directed with earthy honesty by Kahn to bring out the rougher edges of the people and places. And it quietly builds to a powerful emotional kick.

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