Archive for the ‘2014 London Film Festival’ Category

1001 Grams2014 has been a very good year for Norwegian cinema on the international festival circuit. In February, a pair of exports from this Scandinavian nation attracted favorable attention at the Berlinale, where Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance) appeared in the Competition division and Blind played in the Panorama program. This fall has seen 1001 Grams garner comparable praise after showings in Toronto and London. The three films share an engaging sense of quirkiness in the writing, ultra-professional and understated acting, clean, crisp cinematography, and terrifically paced and assured directing. (more…)

BlindHow can you trust if you cannot see?

If you lose your sight, how can you be sure that your husband is not sneaking into the room to stare at you? How would you know if your hair is graying? How could you read the results of a home pregnancy test?

Sightlessness is not a mere disability in Eskil Vogt’s sublime debut feature, Blind. It is solitary confinement, isolation on a strange, new planet fashioned by one’s imagination with indeterminate physical laws and a time-space relationship unique to a particular universe. Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) has a rare condition that robbed her of her sight as an adult. Her visual memory is fading, and even though she exercises it daily, her doctor informs her that she will lose it all together one day. (more…)

vie-sauvageThe French drama Vie sauvage (Wild Life) starts at full tilt. A father is headed out for the day to run errands, leaving his wife and three children behind in less than bucolic splendor at the rural site where their camper is parked, their chickens are roosted, and their goats are roped. No sooner is Dad’s car pushed through the mud by the three boys than Mom begins to move frantically through the checklist of an obviously well planned and rehearsed escape. She gathers a few belongings, corrals the boys, and meets a friend by the side of the road who will take them to the train station and a start to their new life. The boys have other ideas, and she must keep control over them and make the train, while the threat of her husband returning looms. (more…)

self-madeIf you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Self Made – a pleasure limited to attendees at a number of film festivals, including the London Film Festival, since the movie’s premiere at Cannes earlier this year – do not be mislead by the one-sentence teaser description that often accompanies a showing. Self Made is not a mere comedy of mixed identities between an Israeli and a Palestinian. This is no Freaky Friday for the Middle East, where two women develop a mutual appreciation by walking a mile, or standing in line at a checkpoint for half a day, in the other’s shoes. Self Made is not a fairy tale, nor does it offer a magic wand solution for peace in this most troubled of regions. (more…)

Shrew's NestFestival program writers and film reviewers have been rather free in comparing the new Spanish horror movie Musarañas (Shrew’s Nest) with Misery, the 1990 feature that presented Kathy Bates as an obsessed fan tormenting her favorite novelist, James Caan. Yes, there is a man held captive through much of Shrew’s Nest, but the best point of comparison is not the excellent Stephen King adaptation directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by William Goldman that focused on celebrity obsession and fan expectations that straightjacket artists who try to break from type. There was zero sexual tension in Misery between Bates and Caan, except for those who consider ankle breaking a form of foreplay. Shrew’s Nest, by contrast, is heavy with sexuality, even if unfulfilled or absolutely forbidden. (more…)

springSpring weaves together familiar cinematic strands to fashion a strangely beautiful and original tapestry. The sophomore effort by the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the duo responsible for the well received 2012 horror thriller Resolution, is a hybrid of genres, with elements of horror, science fiction, and romance in a near-perfect ratio. The film invites a mash-up movie pitch, i.e.; it’s (movie A) meets (movie B), as do the filmmakers – literally. During the Q&A session after a screening of the film at the London Film Festival, Benson and Moorhead encouraged the audience to come up with their own, like Spring is Say Anything meets Species or EuroTrip meets Lifeforce or An American Werewolf in London meets An American Werewolf in Paris. The game is almost as much as fun as the movie. (more…)

serena1You know that a movie is bad when an appearance by Jennifer Lawrence can’t save it – and not simply an appearance in the film, but an honest-to-God, in-the-flesh (and quite a bit of flesh was showing) physical presence at a screening. Such was the case at the world premiere of Serena at the London Film Festival. Director Susanne Bier, in her introductory remarks, announced a huge surprise and then brought Lawrence out before a delighted audience at the sold-out Vue West End Cinema. Looking like Hollywood royalty in a perfectly fitted tuxedo jacket, high heels, and very little else, Lawrence smiled, waved, and warmed the crowd on a chilly, rainy London evening. She then wisely departed – not just the theater, but the country as well. Lawrence was nowhere to be found when the houselights came back up after the showing of a film that could charitably be described as disappointing.


monstersMonsters: Dark Continent is a glorious failure, a spectacular technical achievement that is completely undone by the absence of a compelling narrative. The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a beautiful girl without a thought in her head – eventually you grow bored with just staring at her.

The original Monsters won a fair amount of critical acclaim for its nuanced and convincing look at aliens on earth that were more of an invasive species than hostile invaders. Done on the cheap, the film boasted modest special effects and small-scale ambitions that made for a pleasant diversion with an ending that suggested a universal language of love (and reproduction). (more…)

Kung-Fu-Jungle-Still-3Immediately after the conclusion of Kung Fu Jungle and just prior to the rolling of the credits, a dedication to all those who have worked in front of and behind the cameras to make Hong Kong action cinema the uniquely entertaining genre it has become is shown on the screen. Brief clips of these pioneers are presented with identifying graphics. Many have cameo appearances in the film; some have passed away. Director Teddy Chan explained in a Q&A session after the world premiere of Kung Fu Jungle at the London Film Festival that he wished to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of the industry, many of whom began in the business before green screens and CGI, when the stunts were real and dangerous.