Thursday, 5 October 2017

LFF: Heading out on Day 2

Today was the first full day of films at the 61st BFI London Film Festival, and I'm beginning to feel the strain. But then I've been watching movies for three weeks already, and it's merely getting more intense now! Here are some more festival highlights, with additional twitter updates during the day...

dir Dee Rees; with Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund 17/US ***
There's an epic scope to this Deep South drama that demands attention, although the script hews perhaps too closely to the source novel for its own good. Nonstop voiceover from a variety of characters adds soul but is distracting, as is a surplus of plot detail. But even though it's set in the 1940s, the themes are still vivid, carrying a powerful kick that resonates in uncomfortable ways.

dir David Gordon Green; with Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany 17/US ****
A strikingly earthy approach to this true story eliminates any hint of sentimentality from what easily could have become a swellingly sudsy story of hope and inspiration. Instead, director David Gordon Green has crafted a gritty, honest look at a young man who is forced by a shocking event to grapple with elements of his personality he has long ignored. And by refusing to push the themes, the film is genuinely hopeful and inspirational... FULL REVIEW >

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
dir-scr Noah Baumbach; with Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller17/US ****
Like a Woody Allen movie, this episodic film chronicles the collisions between members of a lively Jewish family in New York, blending sharp-edged humour with several much darker themes. Much of the film is downright hilarious, as these people rarely listen to what anyone is saying, talking over each other and obsessing over their personal issues. But there's also a lovely sense of what holds them together... FULL REVIEW >

Good Time
dir Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie; with Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie 17/US ***.
With a grimy B-movie vibe, this film propels the audience into a twisted odyssey with a loser who simply can't get a break over the course of one long, nasty night. It's shot and edited with lurid style, accompanied by a pulsing electronic score that makes it feel like it belongs in the 1980s. As events spiral further out of control, it begins to feel rather scripted and contrived. But it's still fascinating... FULL REVIEW >

dir-scr Andrey Zvyagintsev; with Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin 17/Rus ****.
As he did in 2014's Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev tells a provocative personal story that reveals layers of painful truth about both Russian society and the whole world. Among other things, it explores how compassion is evaporating from "polite" society, with people more concerned about posting Instagrams of their food than paying attention to where their children are. Beautifully shot and acted, the story and themes get deep under the skin... FULL REVIEW >

dir-scr Erlingur Thoroddsen; with Bjorn Stefansson, Sigurdur Thor Oskarsson 17/Ice ****
Sleek and dark, this Icelandic thriller gets under the skin quickly with filmmaking that's enticingly mysterious. Writer-director Erlingur Thoroddsen skilfully shoots the film to catch deep colours while positioning characters against stunning landscapes, giving everything a powerfully visual kick while the story develops beneath the surfaces. It's overlong but beautifully made, and packed with fiendishly clever touches... FULL REVIEW >

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