Monday, 12 October 2015

LFF 6: Charm the fans

More glamour on the red carpet last night at the 59th BFI London Film Festival, with the premiere of Black Mass, attended by filmmaker Scott Cooper and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp - who got the crowds cheering. On the red carpet tonight: Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen for Brooklyn; top filmmakers Hirokazu Kore-eda and Hany Abu-Assad; and writer-director Robert Eggers and his entire cast from The Witch. A few more highlights...

dir John Crowley; with Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson 15/Ire ***.
Constantly surging emotions become a little overwhelming very soon after this film opens, never letting up until the very end. Most of this is genuinely resonant, thanks to a sensitive script and transparent performances from the entire cast. But even a slight hint of loose energy wouldn't have gone amiss, and might have helped balance the romantic suds with earthy realism.

From Afar [Desde Allá]
dir Lorenzo Vigas; with Alfredo Castro, Luis Silva 15/Ven ****
Twisty and unexpected, this Venezuelan drama stars acclaimed Chilean actor Alfredo Castro as a lonely man who strikes up a tentative relationship with a young street thug. It's a remarkably involving film, because the characters have so many sides that they lead the audience on a quest for understanding. Equally impressive is how first-time filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas never sensationalises the subject matter.

The Witch 
dir Robert Eggers; with Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson ****
Taking elements from historical accounts that would go on to become classic fairy tales, filmmaker Eggers creates a period movie that plays on our culture's deepest fears. It's also a strikingly well-made horror film, offering eerily realistic settings that are filled with character subtlety, unnerving details and plenty of big jolts. Although genre fans might find its arthouse pacing a bit dull.

My Skinny Sister [Min Lilla Syster]
dir Sanna Lenken; with Rebecka Josephson, Amy Deasismont 15/Swe ***.
Essentially an issue movie, this Swedish drama is effective because it sticks closely to an unusual perspective, drawing out resonant themes in a variety of relationships. The topic is eating disorders, and seeing it through a little sister's  gradually dawning understanding adds unusual angles to the film. Which makes it more involving than expected.

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