As the 54th BFI London Film Festival draws to a close, we had the pleasure of escaping into the Californian sunshine for two hours of a dreary Monday morning – only to discover that there’s just as much heartache sloshing around LA as there is here at Best For Film Towers. We might, in fact, even have less, because none of us were conceived through sperm donation and brought up by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Relatively unexperienced directrice Lisa Cholodenko presents a well-balanced and decidedly grownup drama which also manages to be deliciously funny.
A dark, ambitious re-imagining of Swan Lake, with the classic ballet itself handily packed inside like an instructional Russian doll, Black Swan is visually and psychologically mesmerising. A master of suspense, Aronofsky’s sumptuous direction ensures that we never lose concentration for a moment – which, actually, may be just as well. For all its beauty, upon closer inspection it may be that there’s less originality present in Black Swan than the reviews would have us believe. But does it matter? Probably not.
In 1999, the award-winning East is East provided an extraordinary snapshot into the trials and tribulations of growing up as a mixed race teenager in the 1970s. Eleven years on, and time has only moved on by five years for George Khan and his brood; now cheeky ten-year-old Sajid is a truculent teenager. George takes Sajid to Pakistan in an attempt to recover his roots, but finds far more there than he expected.
Another Year, the latest devised-piece-cum-film from Vera Drake director Mike Leigh, has been widely acclaimed at Cannes and the London Film Festival. At the risk of turning Best For Film into some sort of underground band of critical mavericks, I really don’t see why. It may be a far cry from Leigh’s best work, but its extraordinarily realised characters do a reasonable job of balancing out a plot which ends up being more hollow than touching.
A purposely torturous experience, you don’t so much watch Winter Vacation as experience its time-bending nothingness as one of the characters yourself. A unique film that drenches you with the lethargy of youth, it thrusts you back into your most nail-crunchingly paralysed teenage years with a pace that makes Napoleon Dynamite look like Apocalypse Now. I’m glad such a film exists. And I never want to watch it again.
We know, we know. You loved Let The Right One In, and you’re sick of Hollywood rehashing every good Swedish film ever made, so you’re not going to bother seeing Let Me In even though you liked Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass. STOP RIGHT THERE. A faithful remake enlivened by sensitive direction and some truly extraordinary performances, this is a film which stands squarely on its own two blood-spattered feet.
George Clooney finally backs away from cool, calm and collected in the strangely compelling tale of The American; a thriller that questions the humanity of a life without trust. Though occasionally frustrating and just a little pleased with itself, its nevertheless an absorbing account of one man’s descent into darkness, and Clooney – thankfully – is more than capable of taking us on the journey.
Over the next couple of months, cinema-going Londoners won’t be able to move for all the exciting events and festivals cropping up on their doorstep. We’ve sifted through the bad, the ugly and that odd Japanese thing in Brick Lane to bring you the very best of what’s happening over the next month and a bit. These are the filmtastic treats we’re most looking forward to…
Last year the 53rd London Film Festival kicked off with the massively successful caper Fantastic Mr Fox. We’re pleased to announce that the selectors are staying savvy this year, choosing Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go to open the proceedings.
You know what we enjoy doing? Going to the future. We also enjoy going back to the future, but we’ve had copyright problems with that before. The point is, we’ve risked life and limb to discover what films are hitting our screens in upcoming weeks. Don’t ask us how we’ve done it. All we’ll say is that the Wikipedia Towers of the future are a terrifying and overly bear-guarded place. So, should you save our pennies for an upcoming epic, or splurge like there’s no tomorrow on the flicks out now? We’ve got the answers right here.