Tuesday, 13 October 2015

LFF 8: Own the moment

It's was the dame's turn to hit the red carpet at the London Film Festival last night: Maggie Smith out for the European premiere of The Lady in the Van. I've kind of hit the wall today - there hasn't been enough time to see all the films and write about them, perhaps because I'm seeing four movies every day! But tomorrow I only have two in the diary, so that should help restore a sense of balance. Here are some more highlights...

dir Todd Haynes; with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara 15/US *****
With delicate precision, this story unfolds in a way that's both true to its period and fully relevant now. A beautiful companion piece to director Todd Haynes' own Far From Heaven, this is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel about two women trying to live their lives the best they can, but finding themselves against the grain of society. And it carries a powerful kick.

Take Me to the River 
dir Matt Sobel; with Logan Miller, Robin Weigert 15/US ***. 
After starting as a gently witty drama, this film turns dark quickly, sending its central character on an unexpected odyssey. The themes it's exploring are so intense that the film feels creepiest when everyone is smiling broadly. And even though the film is flooded with a sense of foreboding, where it goes is utterly unpredictable.

The Ones Below 
dir David Farr; with Clemence Poesy, Stephen Campbell Moore 15/UK ****
As it puts an infant child in jeopardy, this fiercely clever psychological thriller draws easy comparisons with the iconic The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. But this is no schlock horror movie; it's a much more subtle exploration of parental paranoia and urban angst in which every moment is soaked in echoes of impending doom. And screenwriter-turned-director David Farr keeps his wits about him, while scaring us out of ours.

Our Little Sister 
dir Hirokazu Kore-eda; with Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa 15/Jpn ****
Exquisitely observed, this warm and gentle drama prowls around generational relationships without too much plot but plenty of resonant impact. Filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda continues his astute depiction of family interaction with characters are remarkably authentic. And the situations are lively and witty without ever tipping over into melodrama.

dir Jonas Cuaron; with Gael Garcia Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan 15/Mex **. 
While this strikingly well-made thriller touches on big issues regarding migration, it ultimately settles for being merely violent, almost wallowing in the hideous immorality of right-wing Americans who believe they should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. This lack of complexity leaves the film superficial and pointless. So forget the subject matter - the filmmakers did - and enjoy this as a ghastly horror thriller.

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