Radders

Random Ramblings; books, music, films, other stuff…

Films of LIFF28: Week One

FILM 1
Testament of Youth (UK, 2014)
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They say: A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I.

I say: Here’s where I embarrass myself…I’ve never heard of Vera Brittain. Sorry. This film did make me want to go away and read some of her memoirs though so that has to be a good thing. This does what it says on the tin. It’s a good film. A very well acted film and it looks fantastic, more so since it’s set in Yorkshire, obviously. I enjoyed it, it was a good portrayal of a horrible time. It made me cry in public, not many things achieve that. I saw a lot of tweets raving about how good it was. I don’t think I can go that far. It’s a good watch and you should watch but I don’t think there was anything groundbreaking here and it won’t turn into a classic of war movies.

In a Nutshell: Well-acted war weepy. All a bit “nice”.

My Rating 7 out of 10

FILM 2
Bjork: Biophilia Live (UK,2013)
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They say: Icelandic artist, Björk, performs songs from her eighth album with evocative visuals provided by designers from around the world.

I say:I think Bjork is one of those things you grow into; like red wine or mouldy cheese. As a youngster I’d automatically flick the radio over at the opening note of her annoying vocals. Now I can quite happily listen to her. I probably wouldn’t choose to but the nails down a blackboard thing has gone. I chose to see this off the back of seeing her interview with David Attenborough on the TV. As tour documentaries go this is good and if you love Bjork, you love this film. It fell short for me though, with all the Attenborough links and glowing reviews I was expecting more visually than I got. There were a few “wow” moments but that was all for me. And what is that dress about? Every review I’ve read since likens it to jellyfish…am I the only person that thought it looked like it was made out of boobs?!?

In a Nutshell: Good music documentary, failed to blow me away. For the die-hard fans

My Rating 5 out of 10

FILM 3
Brasil, Bam Bam Bam (UK/USA/Brazil, 2014)
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They say: At a time when corruption and football are top of everyone’s minds, Brazil Bam Bam Bam; The story of Sonzeira will take you on a journey to the heart of what really made Brazil famous. From Bossa to Samba to Batucada to Baile Funk, Rio’s sounds have enchanted audiences worldwide since the 1950s. This year, Gilles Peterson, BBC Broadcaster, Record Collector, DJ and supporter of Brazilian music for the last 25 years, has realised a lifetime ambition, traveling to Rio to create the Super-group Sonzeira and record the seminal album ‘Brasil Bam Bam Bam’. This film tells the story of that journey

I say: This was top of my to-see list when the programme was released; I adore Peterson’s passion and authenticity and this showing had the extra pull of a Q&A session with him and director Charlie Inman…except Gilles was ill. Boo. Adored this documentary though; fantastic music, some great characters, just enough of non-musical Brazil to be interesting but not dominate the film. Peterson’s knowledge, passion and standing in the music industry shine through. Left me wanting to buy a plane ticket. And the album.

In a Nutshell: Good stuff. This years Sugar Man.

My Rating 8 out of 10

FILM 4
Point and Shoot (USA, 2014)
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They say: An American sets out with his motorbike to find both adventure and his sense of manhood, leading him on an extraordinary journey he could not have imagined, including fighting in the Libyan Revolution.

I say: I’m starting to think this may be the year of the documentary for me. Loved this. Serious stuff provided by the Libyan Revolution, the more light-hearted provided by OCD sufferer Vandyke’s mission to find his manhood. This film had a bit of everything; drama, thriller, emotion, friendship, war, love, humour and some nifty animations to play out the bits of the story where the camera couldn’t reach. Heart-warming with an unsettling undercurrent.

In a Nutshell: Solid documentary, watch it!

My Rating 8 out of 10

FILM 5
The Imitation Game (UK, 2014)
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They say: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

I say: As a film-loving, Mathematician, Cumberbitch this was a total no-brainer when putting together my schedule. So off I shuffled to the lovely Hyde Park to join the queue for the sell-out screening. Telling the story of Alan Turing this focuses mostly on his life during the war and it did feel a little like his sentence for homosexuality and ensuing enforced hormone therapy was tagged on the end for good measure. I’m not sure this mattered to me as much as it seems to have done to other reviewers. It was a true and complete documentation of his life. So here’s the key thing: Cumberbatch can ACT. Extremely well. (I’m not just saying that as a fan). This is a great film and should appeal to a wider audience than the Maths geeks I usually spend my days with. One negative: Turing would never have pronounced Euler “you-ler”. Tut tut.

In a Nutshell: Great movie depicting such an important life in the story of WWII with added Maths.

My Rating 9 out of 10.

FILM 6
Final Cut, Ladies and Gentlemen (Hungary, 2012)
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They say: A film where anything can happen – the hero and the heroine changes their faces, age, look, names, and so on. The only same thing: the LOVE between man and woman… in an archetypical love story cut from 500 classics from all around the world

I say: What a perfect weekend afternoon film! So glad LIFF screened this again this year as I was gutted to miss it last year. Wasn’t sure if 500 films edited together could hold my attention but this is so well done; well cut together and frequently laugh-out-loud funny this is not only an enjoyable film to watch in its own right but an extended game of I spy for film buffs. The down side? Not released on DVD and only gets rare screenings…something to do with permissions to use the clips I think. Or lack of.

In a Nutshell: Some cinematic classics cut and edited together to make a love story that’s an enjoyable watch in its own right.

My Rating 8 out of 10

FILM 8
Giovanni’s Island (Japan, 2014)
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They say: In the aftermath of the most devastating conflict mankind had ever experienced, the tiny island of Shikotan became part of the Sakhalin Oblast… and on the unhealed border in this remote corner of the world, friendship among children from two different countries timidly blossomed, striving to overcome language barriers and the waves of history. Inspired by true events.

I say: This Japanese animation has been lavished with awards and maybe it’s about to suffer a little due to my high expectations but here it goes … This was a good film. A lovely watch. A story of friendship crossing politics, language and culture but… I saw people welling up as they left the screening. Had I missed something? It was OK. Pleasant. Certainly not a dud but it wasn’t a giant among animations. Also. Annoying speech. Screechy and blunt; really grated after a while.

In a Nutshell: Nice.

My Rating 6 out of 10

FILM 9
Is the Man who is Tall Happy? (France, 2013)

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They say: A series of interviews featuring linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky done in hand-drawn animation.

I say: First thing this thing taught me; Chomsky never answers the question he’s been asked. Can’t work out if it was genuinely a case of “lost in translation” or just wanting to say what he wanted to say. This was heavy going for a Sunday evening but I’m glad I saw it. The conversation was more philosophical and language based than the political slant I was expecting but this is by no means a detraction from what is a great documentary with some fantastic animations. Only retraction for me was that it did feel a little like hero worship from Gondry rather than a serious interview, although this in itself was endearing.

In a Nutshell: 7 out of 10

My Rating

FILM 10
Cat Soup to Space Dandy (Japan, various)

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They say: A recent guest animator for Adventure Time, Masaaki Yuasa is one of the most original, creative and playful minds in Japanese animation. The selection includes: cult anime short Cat Soup, for which Yuasa was animation director, about a young feline who goes on a psychedelic journey with his sister in order to save her soul; Yuasa’s award-winning short film Kick-Heart, from Production I.G.; and one episode each from his own series The Tatami Galaxy and the great Space Dandy.

I say: This jumped out of the programme instantly. As a huge Murakami fan this read like it would be his level of Japanese surrealism on film. I wasn’t disappointed. Taking each in turn; Cat Soup felt like a weird drug trip and I still haven’t a clue what it was actually about (at this point I was thinking it might all be a little too bonkers even for me). Kick Heart won me round more on the normal side of bonkers but laugh-out loud funny. Tatami Galaxy and Space Dandy confirmed for me that this was someone I had to research and look into more. This little set of shorts absolutely epitomised what the Film Festival is about for me; finding something or someone whose work you’ll keep coming back to and probably wouldn’t have encountered without this opportunity. Turns out the Space Dandy TV series is on Netflix. Guess what I’m doing after LIFF finishes?

In a Nutshell: Murakami on screen. Cannot wait to watch more. Speechless.

My Rating 9 out of 10

FILM 11
The Drop (USA, 2014)

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They say: A Brooklyn bartender finds himself caught between the cops and a crew of Chechen mobsters, in this gritty crime drama starring Tom Hardy, Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust & Bone), Noomi Rapace and the late, great James Gandolfini. Tom Hardy delivers his most accomplished performance to date in the English-language debut from acclaimed Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead). Using grey, misty hues and a foreboding atmosphere, Roskam sets a nuanced character study in a world of moral ambiguity. Hardy comprises its centre in a typically heavyweight – if deceptively slow-building – turn..

I say: Was expecting good things from this just from the blurb (I never read reviews or watch trailers whilst picking LIFF films – maybe a dangerous strategy). If you like a good thriller/ crime drama this is the film for you. Gandolfini and particularly Hardy for me, shine with some incredibly strong acting but this is a run of the mill underground crime story and there were no surprises in the plot for me. A good film if you want run-of-the-mill Hollywood fare

My Rating 6 out of 10

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2014 by in Film, LIFF28 and tagged , , , .
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