Sunday, September 13, 2009

London Film Festival 2008 (08.11.08)

Another festival has been and gone and it has been a little less enjoyable than last year though this may be distance lending enchantment.
A delayed start as the cast were paraded for no good reason as only the director spoke. Early parts of the film seemed to be rather overlaid with tricksy camera angles which added nothing but a tour de force by Sam Neill and the usual charismatic performance from Peter O'toole which more than matched that in 'Venus' made this a delightful film to watch. Solid support from Jeremy Northm and Bryan Brown and a nice cameo from Judy Parfitt rounded things out.
A Chinese epic which does not have spectacularly brilliant costumes like 'The Curse of the Golden Flower' but has a more solidly based character driven plot from the opening sequence where Jet Li, a general who has been thoroughly defeated, pulls himself from under dead bodies of his troops to the final few moments. Based, apparently on a manga, it tells the story of Li and two bandits who become blood brothers and then defeat the enemies of the Emperor but have a falling out. The battle scenes are very well handled with a cast of thousands (not CGI) in contrast to the very human interaction between the three and others. Overall, a very good film.
The latest Takeshi Kitano effort is a distinct improvement on his previous two which were more than a little self-indulgent. A strange story about an obsessive artist who shows great talent as a rich child but then, following his father's ruin and death becomes impoverished while supported by a loving wife. The adult artist is played by Kitano and the art shown is his - some of it more acceptable than others - with the film being a satire on the art world of today, the indluence of dealers and their control of both the market and 'taste' and the ever-present search for the next big idea.
A finctionalised documentary with one very great advantage - Bach's music. Starting in an ampty set of rooms with a player-piano moving around while playing the Goldberg Variations, it then takes scenes from the life of Bach and, later on, Mendelssohn, as well as a number of contemporary scenes though what a lingering sequence of a well-rounded young violinist taking a shower has to do with the rest is not clear - at least she had the figure for it.
A short silent shown in Trafalgar Square before the main feature which I did not see as it had started to rain- sitting on cold steps is just about acceptable but cold, WET steps is not. The film purported to show a future London though a machine which showed the Thames covered over by a roadway amongst other fancies (and the winner of a future horse race) with the finale being the inventore being taken back to the asylum! Enjoyable.
This possibly claims the tital for the biggest load of pretentious rubbish I have set through (only because I had a dinner reservation at the end of the tilm). There are bad films cheaply made by beginners and others like some of the Frightfest offerings and many of those which go straight to DVD but this was supposedly made with serious intent and greeted with near reverence as the latest masterpiece from Kervern and Delepine whose previous offering 'Aaltra' had some merit. The best part of this mess was the fact that it ran only 90 minutes though this felt like several hours.
A scary fairy tale for adults when a young man crashes his car and wanders into the forest looking for help. He is found by a sweet young girl who takes him to her home. His phone does not work and there is no phone in the house where the parents and three children make him welcome for the night - but the next day he finds no way back to the road and rescue. An interesting Korean film, well made and conceived with a charming and unexpected ending.
A 1929 German-Russian co-production which has been restored complete with orchestral accompaniment, a change from piano onl;y which can be a little wearing. The gret Russian director, Vsevolod Pudovkin, takes the lade role of a husbadn who wants his wife to be happy by marrying her lover but finds that is not possible as there are no grounds. He refuses to compromise by arranging a false adultery and then fakes his own murder which allows his wife to marry after a year's mourning. Some years pas but he is recognised by the man who was setting up the fake adultery who then tries to blackmail him. He refuses and there is a trial for bigamy (!) during which he commits suicide to allow his wife to continue her life. The two things that puzzle me and why he went back to a restaurant where he was bound to be recognised and why he appeared to be the one on trial. The film was long but well mad with some very noce shots and interesting montage sequences.
A great romp set in the 1930s - Indiana Jones meets the Good, the Bad and the Ugly! The plot which involves a treasure map, a bandit, a bounty hunter and a patty criminal and the Japanese army is almost irrelevant, providing the basis for a series of splendid set pieces - a train robbery, a running battle through the thieves' quarter of the city and an extended chase in the semi-deserts of Manchuria which is where the Japanese army gets involved. Very well done with the main characters all demonstrating great panache in their roles.
Yop... that about covers it. By and large we agree with each other (so what else is new/) with perhaps more tolerance on your part for historical 'epics' than on mine. The one thins we can agree 100% upon is that 'Louise-Michel' was a complete, but complete waste of our time (and I didn't reack 'Aaltra' either)

No comments: