LFF Write-up

I managed to fit in 14 films at the 63rd annual London Film Festival. Here’s an overview of what I saw – in chronological order – accompanied with some mini reviews. Links to full length reviews will be added as/when I actually manage to write them…

The Personal History Of David Copperfield (UK release – 10/01/20)

Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, this is a really uplifting and modern adaptation. The ensemble cast, made up of some of the finest actors the UK has to offer, are phenomenal. But this is totally Dev Patel’s film – he’s immensely charismatic and charming. Funny, warm and a treat for any period drama fans. [4/5 stars]

Jojo Rabbit (UK release – 03/01/2020)

Whilst not as good as Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Taika Waititi is on fine form with this bittersweet comedy/drama about a young boy in Hitler’s army who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. And his imaginary best friend is Adolf Hitler himself (played by Waititi). As mad yet brilliant as it sounds, with a mighty fine needle drop in the form of this….[4/5 stars] Review here.

Our Ladies (UK release – TBC)

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There’s a solid chance that a handful of reviews will soundbite describing this film as Derry Girls but in Scotland. Whilst it’s highly likely that fans of Derry Girls will enjoy this, it’s so much more than that mere description. It’s a brilliant and dazzling reflection of female adolescence and the importance of teen friendship. [4/5 stars] 

The Report (UK release – 15/11/19)

Arriving on Amazon Prime two weeks later, this isn’t a film that requires being seen on a big screen – although it may benefit from it. For the audience as well as the exceptionally claustrophobic cinematography. This is an immensely unsettling docudrama about torture used in the aftermath of 9/11, centred on a brilliant performance from Adam Driver… [4/5 stars]

Marriage Story (UK release – 06/12/19)

…although it’s likely that it will get forgotten due to his powerhouse performance in this. This time for Netflix, this may be writer-director Noah Baumbach’s career finest. A compassionate and bittersweet examination of the fallout of a marriage. Funny, heartbreaking and featuring one of the most iconic karaoke scenes ever. [5/5 stars]

Abominable (UK release – 11/10/19)

The third yeti movie to hit cinemas in the past 12 months. It’s a sweetly rendered if pretty memorable story of three friends helping return a magical yeti to his home, Mount Everest. Most notable for it’s odd, to the point of feeling vaguely anachronistic use of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’. [3/5 stars] Review here.

The Friend (UK release – TBC)

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It does feel bad to say it,  but this film was the epitome of the ‘meh’ emoji. The film, based on the true story of a family friend moving in when his best friend is diagnosed with cancer, is fine enough. The performances are good, but the narrative is too jumpy and the script too melodramatic. Totally by numbers. [3/5 stars]

Bad Education (UK release – TBC)

bad-education

An immensely entertaining romp, also based on a true story. This time round it’s about a beloved principal of an American high school who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his school. Hugh Jackman is astonishingly good in the role, dazzlingly brilliant in a role than is stranger than fiction. [4/5 stars]

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood (UK release – 06/12/19)

Just superbly heart-warming. This is the role Tom Hanks was made to play. My eyeballs leaked throughout watching, such was the extent of the joyous kindness on display. Another based on a true story, in this case this article. Watch this documentary, then watch the film then read the article. A holy trinity of uplifting brilliance. [5/5 stars]

Ema (UK release – TBC)

Few films will pull the rug out from under your feet as this film does. Weird, mad and deliriously odd. It looks spectacular and the film holds it’s own for the entirety of it’s running time. Whilst on the surface level it’s about an adoption gone wrong, what it’s really about it up for you to decide… [4/5 stars]

Rocks (UK release – 20/04/20)

Another film that has some of the best big screen representation of young people that we’ve had in years. This time we’re in East London, where year 9 girl Rocks finds herself struggling to look after herself and her younger brother. Extraordinary performances from the young cast, the embodiment of why representation matters. [5/5 stars]

Ordinary Love (UK release – 06/12/19)

There’s something classic and rather elegant about this film. Simply yet carefully told, this is a wonderfully rendered capturing of a love story in which the wife (Lesley Maville) gets cancer. It is not a cancer movie. It’s about the ordinary extraordinary love between her and her husband (Liam Neeson). [4/5 stars]

Rare Beasts (UK release – TBC)

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Billie Piper’s director debut is far, far weirder than expected. Comparison’s with Fleabag will be made, but they will only highlight where this film doesn’t really work. It’s style and mania without the substance, there’s little necessity for the meta-ness and it tries that bit to hard to be different. Can’t fault its ambition though. [3/5 stars]

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