#LFF2018 Recommended: Too Late To Die Young and Happy Birthday, Colin Burstead

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The theme of New Year’s Eve celebrations is instrumental in two of this year’s official competition films. Diametrically opposed in tone, location and intention, they both explore the dramatic possibilities the traditional annual gatherings offer. The first one is Chilean filmmaker Dominga Sotomayor’s evocative coming of age memoir, Too Late To Die Young, in the midst of the summer holidays as it is set in the southern hemisphere. The second, Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, is a BBC commission to be aired as one of the specials in the channels’ festive programming. It gives Ben Wheatley a new chance to flaunt his corrosive sense of humour by putting together a dramedy about a rather traumatic extended family’s gathering. Read the rest of this entry »

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#LFF2018 Recommended: The Plan That Came From The Bottom Up and Wildlife.

After Steve McQueen’s Widows kick-started the London Film Festival in style, here’s our reviews of two of the best films we have watched from this year’s programme so far. Two very different works dealing with personal and financial struggles: a socio-political essay offering proof about the ravages caused by modern capitalism and its neoliberal doctrines (The Plan) and a faithful literary adaptation of one of Richard Ford’s short stories about family hardship (Wildlife). Read the rest of this entry »

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#LLF2018 Recommended: Two Debuts Boasting Strong Political Satires

Among the most thought-provoking and boundary pushing films that we have seen this year, two completely different works: the debut feature of a young Scottish multimedia artist Rachel McLean, Make Me Up, exploring through a hyper-real, technology-ridden fantasy world the ways our society imposes ideals of beauty and perfection on women and their damaging consequences. The second is by former African-American rapper Boots Riley who uses a peculiar blend of comedy, social commentary and science-fiction to criticise the corporate-inducing precarization of the job market in Sorry To Bother You. Read the rest of this entry »

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Widows: Steve McQueen’s Triumphant Venture Into Genre

L-R: Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis, and Elizabeth Debicki star in Twentieth Century Fox’s WIDOWS. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

The Opening Gala for this year’s London Film Festival will be remembered as one of the best in recent memory. There were enormous expectations about the follow up to Steve McQueen’s Oscar winning ’12 Years A Slave,’ which the iconoclast British filmmaker have defied by venturing into genre with a slick heist movie adapting Lynda La Plante’s 1983 page-turner ‘Widows.’ La Plante’s bestseller was promptly made into a six-part ITV series the director was impressed by in his youth.

Another best selling writer, Gillian Flynn, was recruited to update the story to our times. Since Flynn’s successful adaptation of her own novel, ‘Gone Girl,’ earned an Oscar nomination, the American author’s body of work has been in great demand – this year we also saw ‘Sharp Objects’ made into an HBO miniseries. And she does not disappoint, with a compact screenplay that brilliantly transplants the many pulp charms, characters and situations of the original novel to contemporary Chicago, being faithful the storyline’s surprising twists and thrills. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Sounds Of #LFF2018 Mixtape

Joan Jett

One more year the London Film Festival’s arrival marks a peak in the calendar of every London cinephile. 2018 is being a vintage year for cinema as the diversity and quality of the programme amply proves. Roberawards will be covering the event, so do check our blog daily for the latest news, reviews and chronicles of everything that happens from the 10th to the 21st of October.

As it is our custom, we begin our coverage previewing the offerings for those who love both music and films. We have put together a Spotify playlist featuring the tracks from the soundtracks (when available) or the artistic subjects on these pictures. This is a particularly rich year for music related films, with a wealth of rock documentaries; pop stars jumping into acting and stunning soundtracks. With a couple of exceptions we couldn’t find tracks for (namely Vs., a drama set in Southend’s rap scene, and the Netflix musical about Camden, Been So Long, which also count among the highlights for music lovers) here’s our track by track preview of the Sounds of the LFF 2018. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Rider: Extraordinary Drama Set in the World of Rodeo

Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, Chloé Zhao won the best picture prize at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight last year with ‘The Rider,’ a hard-hitting look at the world of rodeo exploring its tough realities free of stereotypes. The Chinese born, California based filmmaker has crafted one of the films of the year mirroring the real life experience of young cowboy Brady Jandreau in a work which boast both moving intimacy and stunning beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cold War: The Classic Taste of an Impossible Romance

Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up to his Academy Award winner Ida is a masterful, impossible love story, inspired by the relationship of the director’s own parents, which blends the tropes of film noir, romance and musical in an astonishingly well crafted work that leaves the genuine aftertaste of classic cinema. Cold War took Cannes by storm earning the Polish auteur the best director prize and, judging by the record numbers it has already earned in a series of preview screenings, is ready to become one of the year’s biggest arthouse successes.
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The Guardians: Women During Wartime

After becoming the toast of the art house world with his 2010 feature ‘Of Gods And Men,’ and his not so acclaimed follow-up ‘The Price Of Fame’, Xavier Beauvois returns in peak form with this elegant, leisurely paced drama set over five years during World War I, telling the story of the women in a family forced to take over the running of their farm, while their sons and husbands have departed to the battle front. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apostasy: The Human Cost Of Dogma

In one of the most powerful British debuts in recent memory, Daniel Kokotajlo delivers with ‘Apostasy’ a hard-hitting, rare look at Jehovah’s witnesses dogma, as well as the cruel sacrifices their organization can demand from its fellows.

Filmed in Greater Manchester, ‘Apostasy’ takes the viewer right into the everyday life of a family of devoted followers, a mother and her two young daughters, contrasting the individual stories of the teenagers, which represent the virtuous and the reprehensible sides in the witnesses’ beliefs, both leading to their respective, harrowing personal dramas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Path of Blood: Gripping Assemblage of Al Qaeda’s Own Footage

Based on his book of the same title, BBC veteran filmmaker Jonathan Hacker rebuilds the timeline of Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks in Saudi territory in this documentary made from 500 hours of their own footage seized by the Arab government, completed with some other recordings provided by their security services; shaping up a gripping piece of work that impresses for its craft, but less so for its intentions.
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The End Of Independence? Millennials and the Arthouse

As another summer began among blockbuster flops, a growing number of voices raised the alarm blaming Millennials’ fading interest in movies for disappointing box-office returns. Derek Thompson in his article “Hollywood has a huge millennial problem” maintains the movie industry has over-learned the lesson that sequels perform well and trying to made a sequel of every single movie it has lost its grip on young people. However, recent studies in the States confirm Millennials remain Tinseltown’s biggest customers. Arthouse theatres and small independent films are the ones they have deserted instead. As Thompson puts it, the problem for Hollywood isn’t that Millennials are ignoring sequels, it is that they ignore everything that isn’t a sequel, adaptation, or reboot. These sort of stories exist but young consumers are looking for them outside the theatres. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zama: Lucrecia Martel Screen Talk

Lucrecia Martel’s ‘Zama’ was named as one of our 10 essential films of 2017. To celebrate its UK release, we revisit the revealing masterclass the acclaimed Argentinean filmmaker gave during last year’s London Film Festival, where ‘Zama’ also had its UK premiere. Her long-awaited fourth feature, which took almost a decade to get made, is the first literary adaptation in Martel’s career, based on the 1956 Antonio Di Benedetto’s novel, which is set In the late 18th century and tells the story of Spanish official Don Diego De Zama, whom after years of dedicated service to the Spanish crown in a remote position somewhere in the South American, he believes he’s entitled to a promotion for a place in a better destination. His increasingly delusional longings serve as a reflection on the trappings of personal and social identity as well as taking an incisive, critical look at the ways of colonialism.

Interviewed by professor Maria Delgado and boasting both a healthily sarcastic sense of humour and an endless capability for amazing digression, among other things, Martel talked about her career, the themes and preoccupations’ on her body of work, some of her philosophical theories and what kept her so long from making another film after her masterpiece ‘The Headless Woman’. Read the rest of this entry »

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Frames Of Representation 2018: Our Preview

BLACK MOTHER Khalik Allah

The Frames Of Representation Film Festival is ready to raise its curtains featuring once again an unique selection of films which push aesthetic and political boundaries. In only three editions, FoR has consolidated itself as an unmissable forum for those who like cinema at its most ground-breaking, challenging in both form and content. The annual event celebrated at London’s ICA is described by its curator, Nico Marzano, as “a laboratory conceived to engage with new visions of cinema through supporting the presentation, production and distribution of innovative and politically challenging cinematic languages”.

Last year it was dedicated to ideas about “Working” and boasted the UK premieres of two of our favourite films of 2017, Jorge Thielen Armand’s ‘La Soledad’ and Eduardo Williams’ ‘The Human Surge.’ This year’s main concept is “Landscape.” and standout works from the programme such as Salomé Lamas’ ‘Extinction’ or Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias’ Cocote’ are also likely to be among 2018’s most thought-provoking and best.

Frames Of Representation will take place from April the 20th until the 28th and will showcase thirteen features and six short films from 16 countries linked together by a strong sense of place, instrumental in the depiction of the issues they reflect upon, blending the poetic with the factual; documentary with fiction and the personal essay with their wider social and political contexts. All of them are UK or European premieres for which the ICA will host Q&As with their respective directors, presented alongside a diverse series of workshops, symposiums and other related activities. Here’s a small preview featuring our picks from this year’s edition: Read the rest of this entry »

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A Gente Creature: Journey to the centre of a dehumanised society.

Based in the Dostoevsky’s short story of the same title, Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa portraits contemporary Russia as a corrupted and dehumanised society on his third feature, ‘A Gentle Creature,’ telling the ordeal of an ordinary woman living in a small village whom, after a parcel sent to her jailed husband gets returned for no apparent reason and failing to gather any further information, embarks on a journey to the prison where her partner is held.

Her allegorical journey, a labyrinthine descent into social and bureaucratic hell in which she will experience a cycle of abuse and degradation from the shady characters she encounters in her way, paint a grim picture of the moral decay of the country. Lead star Vasilina Mokovtseva gives a remarkably restrained performance focused on the stoicism of her character, who impassibly endures the humiliations thrown at every step of her search for the whereabouts of her husband, passively letting herself being pushed around. Read the rest of this entry »

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