Today: February 22, 2024

London Film Festival Part 3

Good offerings from across the globe

While a festival can provide some unexpectedly good offerings from across the globe, the highlights remain the big hitters that have been buzzed about at other festivals and on internet forums for months. It’d be hard to have a more illustrious title to live up than ‘Palme D’Or winner’ and unfortunately for the unpronounceable Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives is not going to be for everyone.

Boonme is a middle-aged man awaiting a kidney dialysis and he’s come to the forest where he believes his former personas live. It’s a mysterious, quiet and dreamlike film which is basically a nice way of saying that it’s quite long and quite dull. The froufrou festival goers will love it while everyone else secretly wishes that they were at home watching Transformers.

Similarly frustrating was the much-hyped Black Swan, the new film from Darren Aronofsky featuring a near faultless cast. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) dreams of taking the lead in a New York ballet company’s new production of Swan Lake after the prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) is acrimoniously dumped by the director of the company, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). While Nina effortlessly embodies the fragile purity of the white swan, she lacks the sensual sensibilities in order to play the black swan. After a confrontation with Leroy in which her behaviour surprises him, he casts her in the part hoping that she’ll nail it before the curtain rises.

Under the immense pressure Nina begins to crack and while it’s supposed to be an intense psychological thriller, Black Swan becomes rather ludicrous, relentlessly throwing everything imaginable at the audience in the most over-wrought and over the top fashion. The direction, score, ballet sequences and Portman, in particularly, are all excellent and Black Swan is a beautiful work of art to look at but it’s weighed down by everything else that makes it a bit silly and strangely ineffective. Portman will, deservedly, win everything going and although it is destined to land into the ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ category, Black Swan is still a film that should to be seen.

Another film that’s weighed down by too many bells and whistles is Howl, an experimental film that delves into Allen Ginsberg’s (James Franco) most noted work and the 1957 obscenity trial it caused. Blending animation, poetry reading, recalling of his life story and several courtroom scenes, Howl fails to mix them well and leave anyone satisfied whether you were after a simple biopic or a courtroom drama. It tries to do both and fails but again, if the critic reaction is anything to go by, it may work for some.

The King’s Speech however should, and will be loved by anyone with taste. Based on the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth) lifelong struggle with a stutter, Tom Hooper’s film focuses on the relationship with his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The chemistry between the stiff upper lipped Firth and the wise-cracking Aussie Rush is effortless and bristling. The costume design is appropriately stunning and the finale may be the tensest 10 minutes to hit the cinema all year. And considering that it’s just a man speaking into a microphone, that shows how brilliantly executed The King’s Speech truly is.

Coming soon: NEDs, Archipelago, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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