London Film Festical guide

Diggedy Derek

Stray Dog
London Film Festival guide

Itchy-fingered but not knowing quite what to post, I guess I may as well talk about some of the decent films that UK posters could see at the London Film Festival this year.

Highly recommended-

Garden State is written and directed by one of the guys from Scrubs, a twisted romantic comedy in the vein of Ghost World . Nicking the plot of Six Feet Under, it has a guy coming home for a funeral (and coming off anti-depressants). His friends spend time robbing graves and amusing themselves with William Tell type danger-dares. It's certainly quirky, with both Method Man and Ian Holm making cameos, but a great character study too.

Holy Girl is a study of Catholic guilt co-produced by Almodovar (although the film is Argentinian) where a girl at a hotel is sexually harrassed by a Doctor attending a conference there. She views it as her Mission From God to save him, and tries to befriend- or is it seduce?- him. Although it's about under age sex, there's no shock tactics- a kind of Kieslowski type understanding and empathy extends to all the protagonists.

Wild Side sees female cinematographer Agnes Godard bring a bruised sensuality to Sébastien Lifshitz's tale of a tough love. A menage a trois between two men and a transexual, there's no sensationalism, it's just a a sparse, plain taste of real life in the vein of Ozu- and very moving.

Dig!, the documentary about the Dandy Warhols and (mostly) The Brian Jonestown Massacre is a standard but extremely compelling rockumentary- looking at the music biz with the ruthless scrutiny of a balance sheet breakdown. Seems music is just another business- the hard working Dandys get paid, whereas the relentless infighting of BJM means noone touches them with a barge pole.

Avoid at all costs-

Palindromes, a new Todd Solondz film. If the controversial Happiness was his Brass Eye- a slick, seductive satire that subverts and challenges taboos (notably paedophilia), this is his Jamm. It's chaotic, meandering, occasionally stunningly weird, but mostly an unprofitable 2 hours spent in someone else's unconscious.

Stander , a South African film about a bad cop turned Robin Hood style bank robber. Imagine heist thriller Heat starring ludicrous 70s stereotypes in the vein of the Beastie Boys' Sabotage video and you're half way there.
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Some more recommendations

I’m nowhere nearby, but I can strongly recommend the following to London film fans.

“Aaltra” – Hilarious, ultra-deadpan road movie about two misanthropes crippled by a faulty piece of farm machinery, they exploit their disability for all it is worth. Very much in the style of Aki Kaurismäki, who makes a cameo to deliver the punchline.

“Dealer” – Drowsy, spacey film composed of very long takes about a day in the life of a drug dealer. Sound design on this film is fantastic many scenes are haunted by strange rhythmic background noises: gibbersish chanting, backwards tv babble, a cat’s purr. Plus it is filled with many odd occult-ish references.

“Los Angeles Plays Itself” – Documentary essay filled with clandestine footage of Los Angeles hijacked from various films. Very refreshing to see a film that discusses the medium so intelligently. One to see at the LFF since the clearance minefield of its hundreds of clips means it would be unlikely to ever come out on general release or video.

“Tropical Malady” – First half is composed of fracture vignettes portraying a tentative gay romance which suddenly gives way to a story about a soldier hunting a tiger spirit in the jungle. I took the two halves to be allegorical connected somehow, but the film really is one of a kind. Contains a completely amazing fist-licking scene.

“Nobody Knows” – Compelling and ultimately tearful realist film about a clan of children abandoned by their mother, who is really rather childlike herself. Admirably the kids hold it together surprising well but start turning feral once the money runs out. Perhaps was a little overlong but I think it may have been trimmed since.

“Woman Is the Future of Man” – Another great film from Hong Sangsoo. Like his other films it is built around hard drinking, cowardly men and submissive women in that order. Two friends, a teacher and a filmmaker, visit an ex-girlfriend of them both. Very raw, very honest.