Friday, 31 October 2008

WatchLookViewSee - London Film Festival Version

It's one of those things that you always mean to get around to. Every year, I see the blurb for it and think, "Oh yeah, I should go and see some of those" then promptly forget about it and go down the pub instead. Well, no more! I trawled through the lists, took a chance on some stuff that sounded odd and different and booked myself a selection of tickets for the London Film Festival. It's a risky business, booking for a festival, as everything I booked for was an unknown quantity, having never seen any of the filmmakers other work 9particularly if they were a first time filmmaker - always difficult to watch their previous work). So did the gamble pay off? Were they good, bad or indifferent? Read on, faithful reader, read on...

I'm Alive (Sono Viva) - In a nutshell:- Interesting premise but uninterestingly executed. First off the blocks was this Italian film. It tells the story of two men hired by a grieving father to sit vigil over his dead daughter until the next morning. However, one of the men disappears off to a party, leaving the other to deal with the selection of people who begin to turn up at the house... It's sounded intriguing and was billed as a black comedy but, to be perfectly, it just seemed a bit dull. It was very slow - for an 80-odd minute film, I looked at my watch an inordinate number of times - and wasn't particularly funny. I did feel a little sorry for the filmmakers as they were there to introduce it and it was obvious that not many people had particularly enjoyed by the polite handclap at the end and the fact that most people were pegging it out of the door as soon as the credits started (myself included). I don;t think that we misunderstood any potential comedy due to language barriers, though, as the next two films will attest...

Home - In a nutshell - Quirky, dark and charming, all at the same time. Next up was this French film about an odd family who live alone in a house on the side of an abandoned motorway. It's an idyllic life - until the reopening of the motorway, that is... I enjoyed this film a lot more. It's got a nicely defined set of characters, all ably played by the cast. The humour arises naturally out of the odd living situation and the characters reactions themselves. It takes a turn for the darker as the film progresses and my only criticism would be that it feels a little like it's running out of steam towards the end but it's still an enjoyable film. I recommend it.

Louise-Michel - In a nutshell - Sick, twisted and about as un-PC as it gets. Very funny, too. Over to the Belgians for this next effort and it's a corker. Louise-Michel tells the story of Louise, a factory worker made redundant, who clubs together the redundancy money from the other workers to hire a hitman, the inept and bumbling Michel, to kill their former boss. A combination of sill slapstick-y humour and surreal, dark and twisted stuff, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. If you get a chance to see it, do so - this is my top recommendation of the fest.

Hamlet 2 - In a nutshell:- Funny in places and mildly amusing throughout but just not quite funny enough. The only English language film I went to see, Hamlet 2 stars Steve Coogan as a has-been actor teaching drama at a high school whose last chance to save the drama dept is a self-penned sequel to Shakespeare's classic... This is definitely one that had the potential to be something extremely funny but is more miss than hit with its jokes, I'd say. Coogan puts in some good moments but a lot of the time, his schtick feels a bit tired and embarrassing - it's the same sort of performance he's been turning in for years. The show itself at the end of the film, featuring a time-travelling Hamlet and musical numbers such as "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" and "Raped In The Face", offers the film's funniest moments. It's likeable enough and quite fun - one for DVD maybe, rather than the cinema.

So there you have it - my first selection of London Film Festival films. I think next year, I'd actually like to a couple of days to just do nothing but go to the cinema,. I feel that I only dipped my toe into the festival this year and definitely would like to dive in for the full swim next time.

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