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Category: Festivals

LFF 2017: Grain

In Grain, cinematographer Giles Nuttgens provides a stunning visualisation of director Kaplanoglu’s dystopian vision, using black and white film shot on three continents, blended seamlessly into bold, harsh landscapes which immediately suggest an odyssey. The City is also a composite of Detroit, industrial German (e.g. Essen), and Konya, Anatolia (This is a Turkish production). These are perfectly assembled into an urban version of a colony ship. The city is now the only civilisation, with the individual nation-states long since abandoned in order to deal with a much bigger crisis – a total lack of food.

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LFF 2017: Call Me By Your Name

Attempting to identify what makes certain films into instant classics is never easy, and no matter how hard one tries, it is near impossible to second-guess how people would react to a movie, especially in these days of instant social media gratification and throwaway commentary. In the case of Call Me By Your Name, it is frankly hard to see how anyone could possibly find fault with this genuinely stunning production. Adapted by Luca Guadagnino from Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, the film offers one of the most beautifully told stories of the last decade. With a masterful score and some genuinely impressive direction techniques, Call Me By Your Name manages to immerse its audience in its gently melancholic world from the get go, and when it’s over you’ll find wishing you could go back and watch to all over again. 

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LFF 2017 Film Review: Life Guidance

This film is about choosing a direction in life and how much help you really want or need; and Life Guidance certainly needs some help choosing a direction. The beginning of the film is essentially an update of Fahrenheit 451, with Alexander Dworsky (Fritz Karl) providing a Montag somewhat less flighty than Truffaut’s version, and his career choice is also a great deal more mundane – he is a futures trader at a faceless finance corporation. So very faceless that they all dress exactly the same way – which is an excellent excuse for Mader to deploy her strong and subtle use of palette to really control the tone of this film.

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LFF 2017: Loving Vincent Review

Biography is difficult. It’s tough to fit a life history and useful insight into the subject’s character into 90-odd minutes, and too often films about creatives are simply too long. Loving Vincent neatly solves this problem by wrapping the storytelling around van Gogh’s work itself, capturing both very neatly, and then turning the whole result into a living, breathing painting, put together by a hundred artists working over two years to create 65,000 frames. It took directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman four years of development just to figure out how to make that work, but it really paid off.

Van Gogh is famous for his character flaws, and the film uses and deals with them all to great effect. It cleverly dispenses with the ear thing REALLY early, and gets a few laughs out of it too, neatly avoiding the potential distraction. Aside from the utterly unconventional presentation, the film is essentially neo-Noir, framing the storytelling through the eyes of a close friend’s son, Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth).

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LFF 2017: David Stratton: A Cinematic Life

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life is a simple idea superbly executed: tell the history of Australian cinema through eyes of a man who is arguably its most famous critic. Sally Aitken’s film is a fascinating portrait of one man’s passion for film, a love letter to his adopted country (Stratton was born into a conservative middle-class family in Trowbridge, Wiltshire).and how a national cinema gained maturity and global acclaim.

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LFF 2017: My Generation

My Generation is Michael Caine’s personal take on the swinging sixties; the decade that brought fame and success for many working-class upstarts in the world of film, music, fashion and the visual arts. As one of the film’s producers, Caine works with documentarian David Batty and screenwriters Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement to weave a portrait of a decade for which the term “unreliable narrator” seems to have been invented.

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LFF 2017: Cargo

Cargo is the remarkably confident and moving debut of Belgian writer/director Gilles Coulier. With a natural gift for dramatic realism, Coulier puts the viewer in the centre of a battered, but not beaten family of 3 brothers trying to keep their trawling business alive off the Northern European coast. When their father has a stroke during a particularly rough voyage, the brothers are confronted with the harsh reality that the business is overwhelmed by debt. The oldest brother puts the trawler up for sale and starts to drive a freight truck. The younger brother is barely staying ahead of some loan sharks who want their money back and the middle brother is a closeted gay man in love with a refugee seeking a better life in England.

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Pickups – LFF 2017 Review

Pickups is the third collaboration between actor Aiden Gillen and writer/director Jamie Thraves. Back in 2000, Thraves give Gillen one of his first big roles in the indie Low Down and the two have kept in touch between the former’s work in commercials and music videos and the latter’s perfor-mances in TV series like The Wire and Peaky Blinders.

Pickups is a frustrating mix of meta-fiction and character study where Gillen plays a variation on himself – Aiden, a famous actor preparing for his next challenging role as a serial killer. The film is keen to de-glamorise the world of the jobbing thespian by showing Aiden shuttling between a dreary flat in Dublin, a home in London he hasn’t been able to sell and a cottage where he clumsily tries to be the cool dad with his teenage son from a failed marriage.

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Gemini – LFF 2017 Review

Gemini makes the most of its low budget and largely unknown cast thanks to its Los Angeles setting and neo-noir storyline. This is Aaron Katz’s fifth feature and it deserves to be the film that breaks him out of the film festival ghetto his work has largely circulated in.

Lola Kirk is Jill, the wise, long suffering assistant to Zoe Kravitz’ Heather Anderson, a young star whose mercurial temperament makes the life of her agent, lawyers and directors hell. She needs some “Me” time with her secret girlfriend, Tracy, played by Greta Lee and has turned down a juicy film role. Something goes horribly wrong during this critical moment and Jill finds Heather gunned down in her cooler than thou Riad-style house in the Hollywood hills. Jill is now the prime suspect of the investigating detective, portrayed with urbane calm by John Cho.

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