LFF 2017 Highlights Part 1

It is just about half way through the BFI London Film Festival, and there have been some great films shown. Here are some LFF 2017 highlights from the first week of screenings…

LFF 2017 Highlights – Unmissable

Call Me By Your Name

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is undoubtedly one of the most romantic films of the year. Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chamalet, the film offers wonderful storytelling, beautiful imagery, and great performances. READ MORE

Mudbound

Dee Rees’ Mudbound is a film with heart. The screenplay has a poetic quality, and is ably backed up by Rees’ directing and performances from the talented cast. READ MORE

Brigsby Bear

Dave McCary’s feature debut perfectly balances comedy with a sweet and sincere tale. Brigsby Bear is very, very funny without diminishing its dark premise. Co-writer and star Kyle Mooney stands out in particular. READ MORE

LFF 2017 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Spoor

Agnieszka Holland’s wonderful Spoor blends mystery and comedy with a thriller to create a rather memorable film. With a great central performance from Agnieszka Mandat, Spoor is a very enjoyable film. READ MORE

Wonderstruck

Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Brian Selznick’s novel is the right kind of whimsy. Transporting the audience to the New York of the 1920s and 1970s, Wonderstruck features some great performances. READ MORE

Ingrid Goes West

Aubrey Plaza shines as a social media-obsessed young woman in Ingrid Goes West. Matt Spicer’s debut is achingly contemporary and a lot of fun. READ MORE

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent blends technical achievement with an engaging narrative. Marvel at the hand drawn animation in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, whilst learning about his final days. READ MORE

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Noah Baumbach delivers yet again, with the brilliantly The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). The film features an enviable cast, and includes Adam Sandler’s best performance for years. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 4th-15th October 2017. See the full programme here.

Film Review: Wonderstruck

Director Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck is whimsical and enchanting. The film is captivating at times.

Ben is a young boy living in the 1970s who wants to know who is father is. Rose is a girl in the 1920s obsessed with a silent movie star. Both Ben and Rose’s obsessions lead them to New York City…

Based on Brian Selznick’s novel, with a screenplay written by Selznick himself, Wonderstruck is a charming tale of friendship and discovery. The film focuses on two strands which eventually become entwined. Each of these strands are depicted in a distinct way.

The film blends mystery with drama, and a little bit of comedy. Haynes’ protagonists are children, and he positions viewers to see things through their eyes. There is a sense of wonder which is unshakeable. The astonishment at being in Manhattan will be familiar to anyone who has been to the city as a visitor.

Given that the protagonists are deaf, it is no surprise that there is not an abundance of dialogue. This does not hinder Haynes from conveying emotions, or nuance. The burgeoning friendship between Ben and Jamie is lovely to watch. Rose, meanwhile, comes into her own in the second half of the film.

Cinematography in the film is great. New York is beautifully photographed in both eras the film is set. Haynes draws a distinction between periods with the use of colour and black and white. This is further emphasised by Carter Burwell’s brilliant score, and the soundtrack overall. Performances in the film are great, especially from the young cast. Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simmonds and Jaden Michael are all great, and Julianne Moore is as reliable as ever.

Wonderstruck is an ode to curiosity. It is sometimes sentimental but ever so charming.

Wonderstruck is screening at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Film Review: Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is likely to beguile audiences with its tale of wonderment. The director’s love of the moving image and his gift for filmmaking shine as brightly as ever.

A young boy who lives in the walls for a Paris train station, Hugo spends his days trying to fix the automaton his father found, whilst hiding from the station inspector. When a shopkeeper confiscates his notebook, Hugo is determined to get it back. Enlisting the help of a new found friend, Hugo attempts to find out more about the automaton…

Based on Brian Selznick’s book The Adventures of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese’s film works on multiple levels. At first glance, it is an enchanting family adventure. The comedy in Hugo is also a highlight, giving the film a suitably light touch. Finally, it is Scorsese’s paean to early cinema and its mechanics.

The film offers viewers unfamiliar with early cinema an enchanting journey through cinema. Those more acquainted  should enjoy the various references and allusions to film in the early twentieth century. The message of restoration is laid on a little thick for those aware of the director’s interest and contribution to this field. Nonetheless, it is a message as good as any.

The narrative is weaved to create a sense of mystery. The reveals in Hugo are finely executed. It is ambiguous as to what type of adventure will unfold, and whether any type of fantasy will manifest itself. This sense of uknown works well to retain the viewer’s attention.

Scorsese’s direction is at times sublime. This is particularly true of the camerwork in Hugo‘s opening sequences. The art direction in the film is superb. The Paris train station looks authentic for the its 1930s setting, yet retains a fantastic aura. Howard Shore’s score is also a treat, suiting the tone and the look of the film incredibly well.

Performances in Hugo are good overall. Asa Butterfield does a great job as the title character, bringing a certain charm to the role. Ben Kingsley offers the necessary presence, while Chloe Moretz has good chemistry with Butterfield. Sasha Baron Cohen brings much of the film’s humour as the station inspector, a role seemingly made for the actor.

Hugo is a rare live action film well worth viewing in 3D. Scorsese has proven he is just as adept in the family film genre as he is in his earlier, adult-orientated work.

Hugo Trailer

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is the director’s first ever 3D film. Based on Brian Selznick’s The Adventures of Hugo Cabaret, the film marks a departure from the adult-orientated fare we have become accustomed to from Scorsese. An interesting but tenuously related fact: several months ago I was at post-production studio De Lane Lea for a screening. As I was getting a drink at the bar, I was told Christopher Lee had just walked through to leave, but I didn’t him as I was facing the opposite way. Lee was recording voice work for Hugo, apparently. It is perhaps a good thing I was not aware, as I probably would have shouted “There’s Dracula!”, or something equally inappropriate. We can see how Christopher Lee’s performance turns out when Hugo is released in cinemas on 2nd December 2011.