Saturday, 7 October 2017

LFF: Challenge the system on Day 4

At one point today, between screenings at the 61st BFI London Film Festival, I walked through a very crowded Leicester Square and spotted Billie Jean King signing autographs for fans before the gala screening of Battle of the Sexes. Sometimes it's fun to see how this festival changes the landscape of the city. Otherwise it was another day of press screenings for me. Need to watch some terrible television tonight to cleanse the pallet I think. Here are more highlights...

Battle of the Sexes
dir Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris; with Emma Stone, Steve Carell 17/US ****
Emma Stone and Steve Carroll are simply terrific in this dramatisation of the events leading up to the eponymous epic showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973. Much more than a re-enactment of the match, this is a biopic exploring what drives someone at this level of sport and fame. And it's assembled with a steady stream of knowing wit that keeps the audience engaged... FULL REVIEW >

Ingrid Goes West
dir Matt Spicer; with Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen 17/US ***.
This black comedy pulls very few punches as it follows a social media stalker into her latest obsession. With a fiendishly witty script and a committed lead performance from Aubrey Plaza, director Matt Spicer creates a jaggedly hilarious tone that gets very nasty indeed. Although it dips a little too far into one contrived plot point, the film is both entertaining and a bit freaky... FULL REVIEW >

Dark River
dir-scr Clio Barnard; with Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley 17/UK ****
This is another moody Yorkshire drama from British filmmaker Clio Barnard, and it's also one more beautifully devastating gem. Gorgeously shot and edited, and featuring raw performances from the actors, the film has an almost primal quality to it that never lets the audience relax. There may be the odd plot point (it's inspired by Rose Tremain's novel Tresspass), but the power exists in the connections between the characters and the land. Watching it is darkly moving.

120 Beats Per Minute [120 Battements par Minute]
dir Robin Campillo; with Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois 17/Fr ****.
There's a striking realism to this epic drama about Aids activists in early 1990s Paris. Filmmaker Robin Campillo sometimes seems too ambitious for his own good, indulging in the intense debates between protesters, but the film's core is a tender love story that's powerfully moving. And it highlights the struggle these men and women went through to gain attention for their cause, saving millions of lives in the process... FULL REVIEW >

Redoubtable [Le Redoutable]
dir-scr Michel Hazanavicius; with Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin 17/Fr ***
Michel Hazanavicius gets a little too clever for his own good with this biopic about Jean-Luc Godard's decade-long relationship with second wife Anne Wiazemsky. It's smart and playful, packed with hilariously inventive touches both in the dialog and visuals that will especially please Godard fans. And it's brightly played by the cast. But its characters are enigmatic and belligerent, wannabe revolutionaries who can't escape their own neuroses.

My Generation
dir David Batty; with Michael Caine, Paul McCartney 17/UK ***.
A groovy trip through swinging 1960s London, this colourful documentary explores the seismic shift in British society as working class artists teamed up to break the rules and become global stars in music, film, art and fashion. Narrated by Michael Caine, its full of enjoyable personal anecdotes, terrific songs and lots of clips edited together into a swirling concoction. It may feel rather gimmicky, but it's packed with entertaining surprises... FULL REVIEW >

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