Limara Salt Gves The Lowdown
As the festival begins to wind down and film fatigue inevitably kicks in it becomes easier to separate the amazing from the horrific letdowns. Along with the best films from around the world, a major part of LFF is to showcase Britain’s home grown talents and this year did not disappoint.
Joanna Hogg’s Unrelated was an acclaimed debut film and hopes for her follow-up were sky high. Archipelago is about a family who take a holiday in the idyllic Sicilian countryside before the son goes on a charity trip to Africa. With only his sister Cynthia (Lydia Leonard) and mother Patricia (Kate Fahy) there for company, Edward (Tom Hiddleston) bonds with the cook who is awkwardly sandwiched between the family issues. It’s quiet and when the issues begin to start bubbling under the surface and cracks begin to show, Archipelago becomes a brilliantly subtle film filled with realistically restrained performances.
Actor and director Peter Mullan has become a bit of a Scottish hero and his new film NEDS (Non-Educated Delinquents) takes him back to the 1970s Glasgow of his youth. John McGill (Conor McCarron) is a studious and intelligent young man who’s determined not to follow in his older brother’s infamous footsteps but with his drunken father and detached mother he soon capitalises on his brother’s reputation by becoming embroiled with a local gang of youths. This sounds like the world’s most clichéd film but it’s so gripping, tense and somewhat graphically violent that once you submit to it and the characters indecipherable Scottish accents, you’re faced with one of the best films of the fest.
Filmmaking team Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden are slight veterans of LFF as all of their films have been shown here but unfortunately, the general consensus is that their latest, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, is not their best. Adapted from Ned Vizzini’s New York Times bestseller of the same name, it follows teen Craig (Keir Gilchrist) who accidentally admits himself to a psych ward for a 5-day minimum stay. Taken under the wing of Bobby (Zach Galifinakis), he slowly adjusts to life inside and eventually deals with the two women he’s split between amid some fantasy sequences. Fleck & Boden have tackled a teen film in a totally different way but the influence of John Hughes mixed with their indie style doesn’t entirely fly. Although it should be noted that Galifinakis gives a career best performance.
Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere hit the headlines recently for nabbing the Golden Lion at The Venice Film Festival where her ex-boyfriend Quentin Tarantino was the festival’s president. Despite the cries of favouritism, Somewhere was a welcomed late addition to the LFF line-up. It follows a very successful but bored Hollywood star Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) who simply exists from day to day in a flurry of parties, sex and friendly pole-dancing twins. His life is shaken up when he spends some time with his distant but loving daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota) after her mother decides that she “needs a break”. Somewhere is very much a typical Sofia Coppola film that has more than a few similarities to her most successful film, Lost In Translation. Stephen Dorff is fantastic and clearly relates to this character while Fanning may soon give her big sis a run for her money. In short, if you like Coppola’s previous films than you will like this and if you don’t, then this won’t do much to change your mind.
The same could be said about 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire and the closing film of the festival. Based on the true story of mountaineer Aron Ralston’s ordeal in 2003, James Franco plays the lead role as the adventurous and somewhat cocky Ralston, who heads out to the Blue John Canyon without informing anyone and is left to fend for himself when his right arm becomes trapped. Unlike a recent ‘claustrocore’ film Buried, Boyle wastes no time in throwing in flashbacks and dream sequences which unfortunately ruins the dramatic tension and is only made worse by his frantic direction and camera style. Similarly the score is annoyingly off-putting but when it’s just Franco, it soars and the scene in which he removes his arm is just as grizzly and hard to watch as you’ve heard. Unfortunately, that’s the most memorable bit of the entire film.
And that’s it! Yet another brilliant London Film Festival has come to a close. Until next year.