Saturday, 15 October 2016

LFF 9: No sudden movements

The 60th London Film Festival heads into its final day with a flurry of starry red carpets, interview events and rather a lot of challenging movies (that's Dog Eat Dog above). The festival awards were handed out tonight to films I was unable to see, simply because of the sheer number of movies showing (it's been impossible to see about a third of my want-to-see list). Certain Women took the competition award, Julia Ducournau won the Sutherland Award (first feature) for her film Raw, the Grierson Award (documentary) went to Starless Dreams, and Steve McQueen was awarded the BFI Fellowship. Some highlights from Saturday...

Dog Eat Dog
dir Paul Schrader; with Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe 16/US ***
Paul Schrader goes all John Waters on us with this super-trashy crime comedy populated by a bunch of trigger-happy knuckleheads. It's violent and utterly absurd, and yet every scene is quietly saying something important about America's badly dysfunctional justice system. Still, the message isn't particularly easy to hear over the gunfire.

dir Oliver Stone; with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley 16/US ****
Oliver Stone tackles another iconic figure in this urgent, robust biopic, which skilfully maintains an even keel while digging into a touchy political subject. Was Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor? That's the question that haunts every frame of this film, and Stone does his best to let the audience make up its own mind.

Staying Vertical [Rester Vertical]
dir-scr Alain Guiraudie; with Damien Bonnard, India Hair 16/Fr ***.
Bold and full-on, this parable from Alain Giraudie has a wilfully absurd story that gets increasingly symbolic as it goes along. This is a provocative exploration of the creative process, likening it to giving birth and nurturing a particularly fussy infant while threatened from various sides. And it's underscored with a jaded sense of humour that keeps things lively, plus a central character who is oddly sympathetic.

La Noche 
dir-scr Edgardo Castro; with Edgardo Castro, Dolores Guadalupe Olivares  16/Arg ***.
An experimental drama set on the dark side of Buenos Aires, Edgardo Castro's debut film is audacious and challenging in just about every way. But while the lack of a proper narrative structure will leave many viewers lost, there's a raw honesty to the movie that carries an unexpected emotional punch. And he also has some important things to say about a generation of people whose lives have been derailed by a new economic and political reality.

And another film I saw in Venice that's part of the LFF programme is Emir Kusturica's nutty Bosnian War comedy-drama On the Milky Road, costarring Monica Bellucci.

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