Friday, November 11, 2016

London Film Festival 2016

A Journey Through French Cinema: Bertrand Tavernier
A lengthy but very interesting personal recall of Tavernier's experiences in film from his childhood film-going in the 1930s to his involvement in the Nouvelle Vague of the late 1950s and 1960s.   With
an obvious enthusiasm and delight, he recalls not only the earlier days but also his experiences with
such luminaries as Godard and Becker,   Some of the pre-war directors were unknown to me but this
documentary will encourage me to look out for them.   The closing credits indicate that there will be
a sequel bringing Tavernier's thoughts closer to the present day.
La La Land: Damien Chazelle
Emme Stone plays an aspiring actress whose first encounter with Ryan Gosling who wants to play
jazz while working in his family restaurant is a brief bad-tempered exchange in a traffic jam   The
jam provides the backdrop for a musical item reminiscent of the street scene in 'Fame' though the
programme notes claim 'West Side Story' as the inspiration.   Eventually they meet again, fall in love
with musical accompaniment.   She achieves success while he is still on the verge of it: they break
up when he goes on tour as she becomes a big star, marries and has a child.   They meet again some
years leter and there is a sweet 'what might have been sequence' before the film ends with their going
separate ways.   Very highly hyped and one of the big Festival films which I thought was pleasant
enough and quite well made but nothing special.
Mascots: Christopher Guest.
With the same approach as his other films, this is an affectionate look at the world of live mascots -
the human representations of team mascots who come together in the 8th World Mascot Association
Champio nships.   With short background introductions to many of the competitors, Guest takes them
through their performances mainly with hilarity but occasional melancholy.   Not up to his best but
a pleasant hour and a half.
Interchange: Dain Iskander
A Malaysian/Indonesian supernatural thriller takes a cursed tribe in Borneo photographed some 100
years eralier placing the working out of the curse in the present day.   A forensic photographer is asked to investigate but he becomes involved with a very attratcive neighbour who truns out to be a
descendant of the tribe.   There are two inter-changeable policemen involved but their frenetic efforts
are all but laughable.   The film finally leaves our reality behind - while lovingly photographed, it
just did not appeal all that much.
The Wailing: Na Hong Jin.
Another supernatural thriller, this time Korean.   A series of killings appear to be linked to a mysterious Japanese man living in the woods outside the town.   The local policeman investigates but
is out of his depth and he calls in a shaman to exorcise his daughter who seems to be under the spell
of the Japanese man.   The ritual is slightly comical and is anything but successful since it unleashes
the demonic forces at work.   The ending seems very confused but the overall impression was a
positive one.
Lost In Paris: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon.
While not quite up to 'La Fee', the duo again display their eccentric and physical humour in the tale of
a naive librarian (Gordon) who comes to Paris to rescue her long last aunt (Emmanuelle Riva!).   She
loses her rucksack which Dom (Abel) finds and the comedy builds delightfully on this.   Their comic
timing is brilliant and has been compared to that of Jacques Tati but this is Tati on speed!
A Woman of the World: Malcom St Clair
This 1925 silent stars Pola Negri as a European aristocrat whose fiance is unfaithful to her.   She decides to go to the USA to visit her cousin who resides in Maple Valley, Iowa.   Needless to say,
her behavious does not go down well with the locals but, this being a comedy, all is well in the end.
A restored print of a rather minor film with mild humour and what, to present day eyes, is a rather
plump leading lady.
On the Milky Road: Emir Kusturica
The director appears in all three parts of the film which starts with him collecting and delivering milk
during, presumably, the Yugoslav civil war.  He then has a passionate affair with Monica Bellucci
which does not end well before, in the final sequence, playing a priest collecting and laying out stones
in the middle of a minefield.   Elements of fantasy contrast with the brutality of war in a film which
can only be described by one word - Kusturican - such is the singularity of his story-telling.
Summing up our experience of the Festival I found it better than in some years while not outstanding
though the first and last reviews are of, for me, the stand-out films

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