Sunday, 19 October 2014

LFF 10: At the end of the war

Brad Pitt invaded London to wrap up the 58th London Film Festival tonight with his World War II batttle epic Fury. He was accompanied by his entire tank team (around Pitt above: Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal) as well as filmmaker David Ayer, and their press conference following the morning screening was a combination of reverence for veterans and brotherly camaraderie developed over the shooting process.

Meanwhile, journalists feel like we've been through a war since press screenings started in mid-September - averaging three or four movies a day since - but it's all over now, and hopefully we can get back to full nights of sleep. Although on Wednesday, I'm heading to Abu Dhabi to serve on the jury of their film festival 23-31 October. But that will feel like a holiday compared to London! Until then, here are some final highlights....

dir David Ayer; with Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf 14/UK ***
Writer-director Ayer makes no attempt to update the rah-rah bombast of the WWII genre, indulging in big action, the usual plot points, faux heroism and "war is hell" rhetoric. The film is sharply assembled and very nicely acted by a terrific cast, but it ultimately feels oddly pointless.

3 Hearts
dir Benoit Jacquot; with Benoit Poelvoorde, Charlotte Gainsbourg 14/Fr 1h46 ***.
A twisty love story shot and edited as if it's a dark thriller, this odd film is utterly riveting mainly because it's impossible to predict what the characters are going to do next. At its core, this is a love triangle. But the film is assembled with attention to the most insinuating, creepy detail, confident enough to allow the characters to slip in and out of sympathy along the way.

Second Coming
dir Debbie Tucker Green; with Nadine Marshall, Idris Elba 14/UK **
Beautifully shot with an attention to internal intensity, this low-budget British drama should carry an emotional wallop. But filmmaker Tucker Green infuriatingly refuses to fill in any details, leaving dialog incomplete, the plot blurry and the characters' feelings as mere hints of something bigger. The acting feels raw and very personal, but without having a clue what's happening the film remains maddeningly elusive.

dir Mohsen Makhmalbaf; with Misha Gomiashvili, Dachi Orvelashvili 14/Geo 1h45 ****
Now based in London, exiled Iranian filmmaker Makhmalbaf pulls no punches in this blackly comical political adventure. Set in an "unnamed country" (it was filmed in Georgia), it's a story of political oppression told from perspectives that are rarely represented on screen with this much honesty and warm humour, forcing the audience to consider the themes from unthinkable angles.

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