Tuesday, 16 October 2012

56th BFI London Film Festival: Half-Time Report

Image: Disney

What a week it’s been! The 56th BFI London Film Festival officially kicked off last Wednesday, but due to the array of films we’ve watched, it has been impossible to write a review for every film we’ve seen so far (although we eventually will), so, for now, you can enjoy our ‘wanderful’ half-time report.

In previous years, we’ve only been able to catch a few films showing during the festival period, so this time around, armed with the all-important press pass, we’re doing our damnedest to right that wrong.

Our first day on the circuit saw us enter the political sphere with Stephen Gyllenhaal’s latest feature, Grassroots, as well as discover what has become of legendary British drummer Ginger Baker in the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker.

Grassroots, starring American Pie actor Jason Biggs, tells the story of a young man whose passion for the local monorail drives him to run for city council… against a black man! This Seattle tale was pleasant enough, but it was a bit disconcerting to see that governing, nowadays, ultimately comes down to the colour of a man's skin.

On the other, Beware of Mr. Baker was a revelation. The legendary drummer, who I wasn’t so in tune with before the screening, invites us into his world, gets us to groove to his rhythm, and shows us that he’s actually pretty fly (for a white guy).

Next up was the charming Robot and Frank, in which an ex-con (Frank Langella) with health issues is bought a robot by his son to keep him company and help out around the house. This, obviously, signifies the start of a beautiful friendship! Robot and Frank has a simply concept, but it’s well-crafted, and rather amusing.

Staying within the theme of love, we moved on to Rufus Norris’s Broken. We tried to catch this film in Cannes way back in May but weren’t able to, so we were particularly excited about this one, and weren’t disappointed. Dealing with themes of abuse, death and childhood, Broken is a powerful tale and impressive first feature film from the British director.

While we weren’t so enamoured with Grassroots, Gyllenhaal junior (Jake) and his compadre, Michael Peña, did manage to thrill us with their latest offering, End of Watch. It will be released in the UK in a few weeks so you won’t have to wait long to witness all the bloody action. The handheld, documentary style of shooting doesn't always work, but what it occasionally lacks in the technical department it makes up for with energy, good storytelling and great performances.

The rest of our week continued in a similar fashion: watching good movie after good movie, some of which we’ve talked about already (De Rouille et d’Os and Love, Marilyn), so needless to say, we’re excited about what’s to come. On the agenda for the coming week is Argo, Ben Affleck’s third feature, Seven Psychopaths, Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges, and some afternoon tea at The May Fair hotel. See you on the other side!

FG

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