Saturday, 17 October 2015

LFF 11: Surprise us

The surprise film at this year's London Film Festival was Anomalisa, and directors Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, plus actor David Thewlis, were on hand to present their film to the audience. Alas, I wasn't able to attend this year, so I'll have to wait until the film is screened to the press prior to its UK release. Meanwhile, the parade on the red carpet is continuing with tonight's awards ceremony, at which Cate Blanchett will be presented the BFI Fellowship. The last day of the festival is tomorrow, and it will be all about Michael Fassbender. Here are a few more highlights...

dir James Vanderbilt; with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford 15/US ****
Cate Blanchett's gives yet another storming performance in this smart, enlightening backstage drama about the 2004 scandal at CBS News, which ended the career of iconic newscaster Dan Rather. Like a populist blending of The Newsroom with Good Night and Good Luck, the film is talky and a bit too obvious in the points it makes, but it's also important...  MORE >

Ruben Guthrie
dir Brendan Cowell; with Patrick Brammall, Alex Dimitriades 15/Aus ****
It seems obvious that an Australian filmmaker would make a movie about alcoholism into a blackly hilarious comedy. What's surprising here is that the serious undercurrents are just as pungent, and that the film never slips into the usual simplistic approach to the topic. As a result, it's both entertaining and thought provoking.

dir Sebastian Schipper; with Laia Costa, Frederick Lau 15/Ger ****.
German filmmaker Sebastian Schipper took a big risk shooting this epic romantic thriller in a single unbroken take, and the resulting film not only wows the audience with its technical audacity but also fully engages the emotions. This story of a young expat's two-hour odyssey is genuinely terrifying, darkly touching and thumping entertainment.

From A to B
dir Ali Mostafa; with Fadi Rifaai, Fahad Albutairi 14/UAE ****
This is a lively road movie with an unusually sharp script that combines character-based humour, introspective drama and a sharp sense of the political scene as three 25-year-olds drive from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, recreating a trip they were supposed to take five years earlier. It's also cleverly timely, connecting with political realities while keeping the audience laughing, then hitting us with an emotional whammy.

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