Thursday, 13 October 2016

LFF 7: Can't take it anymore

The 60th London Film Festival is charging into its final weekend with a flurry of events and premieres. The red carpets outside the various venues are getting a workout, while the press screenings at Picturehouse Central are packed to overflowing. Here are some highlights from Wednesday and Thursday...

The Rehearsal
dir Alison Maclean; with James Rolleston, Kerry Fox 16/NZ ***.
A clever riff on acting, this drama from New Zealand is packed with terrific actors in complex roles. So even if the bare-boned plot gets a little pushy at times, at least the interaction has a raw honesty to it, exploring some enormous themes through the prism of art. Filmmaker Alison Maclean also injects plenty of jagged humour and understated emotion into the story, which makes it hugely engaging even if the pacing is a little slack.

The Ghoul
dir-scr Gareth Tunley; with Tom Meeten, Dan Skinner 16/UK ****
Moody and riveting, this dark British thriller takes the audience on a surreal journey into the human psyche. It's playful and surprising, with a style clearly inspired by David Lynch as it taps into emotions that the audience might not fully grasp. But we feel it all.

There were also a few films I saw at other festivals. From Venice, three female led dramas: Dakota Fanning and Kit Harington (pictured) in the edgy Western Brimstone, Alice Lowe in the fiendishly clever serial killer comedy Prevenge (pictured at the top), Natalie Portman in the offbeat period drama Planetarium. And from BFI Flare: Russell Tovey in the complex, intriguing football drama The Pass.

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C R I T I C A L   W E E K
Along with LFF movies, I've also had to keep up with the regular releases in cinemas. This week's screenings included a double dose of Tom Hanks: the lacklustre second Da Vinci Code sequel Inferno and the strikingly edgy, well-made Sully, about the amazing real-life landing of a passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009. And then there was Tom Cruise in the thriller sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Plus a couple of punchy British dramas: Ken Loach's Palme d'Or winner I, Daniel Blake, a powerful, uplifting drama about taking on bureaucracy; and Starfish, the dark but moving true story of a man who survived sepsis then struggled to rebuild his life.

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