55th BFI London Film Festival (12th-27th Oct '11) // Words: Saam Das
The 55th BFI London Film Festival comes to its 2011 end today. It's been an odyssey. I've seen over 25 films at the festival. I've reviewed many fewer. Well, I say that - I've actually been reviewing almost all of them on Twitter in handy, bite-sized form. For all of those tweeted reviews, including my particular picks, as well as the winners of last night's LFF Awards 2011, read on.
Just over a month ago, we looked at 8 must-see films at the Festival. Out of those I only managed to see two films. And of my other four recommendations which I mentioned at the press launch, I only managed to see 'Terri'. Which was about as good as I'd hoped it could be.
Nonetheless, I did see the winner of the Best Film/one of the top 8 recommendations - 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' and the winner of the Best British Newcomer (Candese Reid) in 'Junkhearts'. Unfortunately, I missed the winner of the Sutherland Award - 'Las Acacias' - as well as the Grierson Documentary award winner which went to the new Werner Herzog doc 'Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life'.
Of the many films I've seen in the past few weeks, two have stood out by far. 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' (UK release: Feb 2012) and 'Snowtown' (UK release: 18 Nov) have been absolutely incredible, unsettling films. I strongly urge you to seek these films out upon their respective releases. Please avoid 'The Kid With The Bike' at all costs. As for the rest, you can decide for yourselves.
Many thanks to the Premier PR team for accommodating all us journos, as well as everyone else involved in the festival. It's had its ups and downs but for the most part, you've been amazing. See you next year.
'360' // Full Review
'Anonymous' - somewhat ludicrous counterfactual period drama on the true identity of Will Shakespeare. Takes itself too seriously.
'Asshole' - aka 'Gandu', a Bengali bizarro comedy which is absolutely insane. Includes very graphic sex scenes.
'The Awakening' - "old school" British haunted house tale which sadly succumbs to the supernatural much like Rebecca Hall's lead character.
'Beauty' - little beauty in this South African double-life drama, more Anguish and Struggle. As well as Boredom, at times.
'Bernie' - Richard Linklater's mostly amusing mockumentary, which loses some of its charm as the tone changes // Full Review
'Breathing' - ponderous yet immersive Austrian character piece exploring the past and present of a juvenile offender.
'The Dish And The Spoon' - middling quirky romantic drama, with indie darling Greta Gerwig and English newcomer Olly Alexander
'Dreams Of A Life' // Full Review
'Headhunters' - pretty much a visceral, Norwegian version of The Fugitive, with a comic undertone. Perhaps unintentionally.
'Hunky Dory' - charming Welsh (high school) musical, based in the 70s, featuring renditions of the period's popular music.
'The Ides Of March' - intriguing US drama on the inherent compromise of the dirty political world // Full Review by Raman Kamboh
'Junkhearts' - started off very well but descended completely on the introduction of one character. Pity.
'The Kid With A Bike' - someone's going to have to sit down with me and explain the appeal of following such a horrible child. An unintentional French remake of 'The Omen'.
'Lawrence Of Belgravia' // Full Review
'Martha Marcy May Marlene' - quietly sinister reflection on the indoctrination of cult life. Elizabeth Olsen is superb.
'Medianeras' - as much a tribute to Buenos Aires as it is an oddball romantic comedy. At its best during the frequent moments of humour.
'Michael' - somewhat frustrating Austrian exploration of a kidnapped boy and his abusive captor, who lives an outwardly normal life.
'Nobody Else But You' - pulpy French comedic drama. Shame it was so obsessed with Marilyn Monroe // Full Review
'Oslo August 31st' - Depressing Norwegian fare about a former drug addict on day release.
'Shock Head Soul' - Even though I studied a bit of history of medicine at university, I found this psychiatric documentary a bit of a struggle.
'Snowtown' - an astonishing installment of sinister Australian cinema, reminiscent of Animal Kingdom. Unpleasantly brilliant.
'Take Shelter' - something of a frustrating, simmering take on mental illness.
'Target' - beautifully shot but overwrought Russian sci-fi epic, philosophising the nature of humanity.
'Terri' - an ode of sorts to 'The Breakfast Club', but with a nicer authority figure in the excellent John C Reilly. Oddly charming.
'We Have A Pope' // Full Review
'We Need To Talk About Kevin' - I always knew archers were sociopaths.
For more details on the 55th BFI London Film Festival, head to bfi.org.uk/lff. Find all our London Film Festival reviews here.