Saturday, 11 October 2014

LFF 3: That voice! That dress!

Among the premieres at the 58th London Film Festival was Bjork's concert movie Biophilia Live, presented by directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland (whose The Duke of Burgundy is also in the festival). Shot in North London a year ago, it's about as close to being at a concert as you can get on film. Meanwhile, the red carpet was packed today with such actor-filmmaker duos as Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams and Carol Morley (with the world premiere of The Falling), Mia Wasikowska and Sophie Barthes (for Madame Bovary), Noomi Rapace and Michael Roskam (with The Drop), and George MacKay and Duane Hopkins (for Bypass).

Meanwhile, I have hit the festival wall today - three weeks of press screenings and three days of the festival itself have left me feeling like a zombie. But we persevere! I had three films today plus my only party of the festival thanks to distributor Peccadillo and their film Appropriate Behavior. Meanwhile, here are some more highlights (full reviews are on the way)...

Bjork: Biophilia Live
dir Nick Fenton, Peter Stricklandwith Bjork, Manu Delago 14/UK ***
Recorded on the last night of Bjork's Biophilia world tour in London, this film makes very few concessions for non-fans, mainly due to her atonal music. But the Icelandic singer's followers will love every moment, rendered with swirling care by filmmakers Fenton and Strickland to capture the imagery and sounds of her performance in remarkable detail. There's no denying that her voice is magnificent, but it might be nice to have a song you could hum along with.

dir Duane Hopkins; with George MacKay, Benjamin Dilloway 14/UK ****
With a dark, moody tone and an extremely internalised perspective, this film gets under the skin simply because it's so tightly focussed on one character, beautifully played by young British actor MacKay. Even so, the narrative sometimes lets him down, leaving key details unexplained while earnest writer-director Hopkins never quite catches the offhanded humour that would ground the film in real life.

Charlie's Country
dir Rolf de Heer; with David Gulpilil, Peter Djigirr 13/Aus ****
Slow and observant, this drama might test the patience of viewers who need a driving narrative to hold their interest, but this film is bursting with pungent issues that have resonance far beyond the aboriginal history of Australia. And it's anchored by yet another fine performance by David Gulpilil.

El NiƱo
dir Daniel Monzon; with Luis Tosar, Jesus Castro 14/Sp ***.
While the film is shot and edited like a cheesy TV cop show, the twisty plot is far more involving than expected, focussing on the human element to make the story of drug trafficking between Spain and Morocco startlingly involving. By getting under the skin of the characters, the film is not only more entertaining, but it finds some important things to say.

Free Fall 
dir Gyorgy Palfi; with Piroska Molnar, Miklos Benedek 14/Hun ***.
Essentially seven short films linked together by proximity, the humour in this wildly surreal romp is as pitch-black as it can be. But filmmaker Palfi is touching on some key elements of human interaction that manage to strike a chord despite the wacky variations in style and subject matter. And even though most of these themes are deeply grim, there's also a strong glimmer of hope.

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