Monday, 9 October 2017
LFF: See the wonder on Day 6
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
dir-scr Angela Robinson; with Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall 17/US ****
If you've never read about how the Wonder Woman comics were created, you might need to brace yourself for this film. Because in exploring the lives of the Harvard brainiacs behind the first and most popular female superhero, the filmmakers dip into a counterculture lifestyle that would probably have tongues wagging now, let alone in the 1940s. It's also a sharply well written and directed film, with a solid cast that brings depth to the characters.
dir-scr Cory Finley; with Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke 17/US ***.
Brittle and very bleak, this black comedy takes a rather unnecessary swipe at the vacuous life of privileged teens, as if there's anything else to say on the topic. Even so, it's strikingly written and directed by newcomer Corey Finley, while rising stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke make the most of the twisted dialog. It also explores an aspect of Millennial culture that's rarely depicted on-screen.
Call Me By Your Name
dir Luca Guadagnino; with Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet 17/It ****.
With a sunny dose of nostalgia, this drama traces a pivotal summer in a young man's life. Characters and situations are complex, challenging the viewer to share the experience. And while this may seem to be a film about sexuality, it's actually more potently an exploration of how important it is to embrace our emotions, even the ones that hurt.
dir Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman; with Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan 17/UK ***.
Like Richard Linklater's Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, this film was hand animated frame-by-frame from live-action footage, although in this case it was done by some 100 artists working with oil paints. A look into the final days of Vincent van Gogh, the exquisitely rendered imagery is a swirling odyssey through his work, echoing characters and settings while exploring his tragic and mysterious death at age 37 in 1890.
dir Adrian Shergold; with Maxine Peake, Paddy Considine 17/UK ***
This is a sharply well-made drama about a woman going against the current in her culture. It's beautifully filmed and performed with energy and attitude. On the other hand, for a movie about a stand-up comic, it's relentlessly dour. There are some riotous moments along the way, and the acting is riveting enough to hold the interest all the way through, but the overall tone is seriously grim.
A Prayer Before Dawn
dir Jean-Stephane Sauvaire; with Joe Cole, Pornchanok Mabklang 17/UK ****
Based on Billy Moore's memoir, this is a harrowing true account of a young British man's experience in a Thai prison. There isn't much context, actually no background at all, and therefore no real sense of any of the characters. Still, the film is utterly riveting, as director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire takes the audience on a jarring, unforgettable odyssey that leaves us with some big themes to chew on.