Wednesday, 10 October 2018

LFF: Start the party without me

The 62nd London Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday evening with Steve McQueen's Widows. Unfortunately, I was halfway around the world at the time, in the tiny town of Kavieng on New Ireland island in Papua New Guinea. A family event (more on that in another post) took me away from the London Film Festival for 10 days this year - my 22nd year covering the event. I've seen several films beforehand, and will be back to binge on movies over the final five days. So my coverage won't be quite as deep as usual. But here we go with some highlights from the first three days, starting with something bracingly original (pictured above)...

Border [Gräns]
dir Ali Abbasi; with Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff 18/Swe ****
This Swedish film is such a genre mash-up that it's relentlessly surprising, with an engaging through-line that also makes it darkly satisfying. Mixing comedy, romance, mystery, horror and Norse mythology, each scene provides a thrill of the unexpected as secrets are revealed and the interconnections between the rather oddball characters continually shift... FULL REVIEW >

dir Wash Westmoreland; with Keira Knightley, Dominic West 18/UK *****
Much more than a period biopic, this inventive film digs beneath the surface of its people and situations to offer both a refreshing angle on history and a bold comment on the world today. Finally, it ends up feeling bracingly current, exploring both gender issues in ways that are both honest and understated. And it's beautifully written, directed and performed... FULL REVIEW >

dir Craig William Macneill; with Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart 18/US ***.
The sensational true story of Lizzie Borden is told in an intriguingly naturalistic style by filmmaker Craig William Macneill. It's a remarkably thoughtful film, packed with insinuating plot points and earthy performances. And Macneill uses deliberately choppy editing to drop hints and reveal the chain of events out of sequence. It's rather chilly, and very cleverly made... FULL REVIEW >

dir Panos Cosmatos; with Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough 18/Bel ***.
Set in 1983, this film has a strong period vibe, echoing the era's horror thrillers everything from the themes to the typeface. Benjamin Loeb's grainy widescreen cinematography and Johann Johannsson's haunting score further add to the tone. Filmmaker Panos Cosmatos creates a deliciously deranged mix of grisly violence and witty characters, although the inevitable climactic carnage is at least 30 minutes too long... FULL REVIEW >

The Breaker Upperers
dir-scr Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek; with Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek 18/NZ ****
With this engaging comedy, the Kiwi duo Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami keep up a steady stream of hilarious gags from beginning to end in each of their roles: as writers, directors and actors. Much of the film has the awkward, absurd tone of Taika Waititi's work (he's a producer), creating riotously sloppy characters who are deeply likeable even when they're doing something painfully stupid.

Papi Chulo
dir-scr John Butler; with Matt Bomer, Alejandro Patino 18/Ire ***.
Irish filmmaker John Butler traces an offbeat friendship in this engaging comedy-drama, which takes a turn that adds a complex exploration of a deep theme. It's a charming story with intriguing characters who interact in honest, messy ways. So while the events in the movie sometimes tip over the top, the story and characters remain easy to identify with.

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I haven't had time to check out what films are showing in Port Moresby - it's rather nice not to think about it, frankly! Meanwhile, First Man is hitting US and UK cinemas this week...

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