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BFI: London Film Festival 2020...Our coverage

BFI London Film Festival 2020by David Anderson Cutler

It's our favourite time of the year...LONDON!!!

Bugger...we're not going to be in London [physically]...but, we will be....in spirit, with Gin.

Our watch-list has been finalised...[don't be so silly] of course, there will be a few minor tweaks, changes, additions and subtractions...but, these are [some of] the films that will occupy our multiple senses for the next 12 days...

Let the festival begin... 


Day 1...

The DiscipleThe Disciple
by Chaitanya Tamhane

Knowing absolutely nothing about Indian classical music, The Disciple - on paper - presents itself [for an non-aficionado] as a rather 120-minute daunting task. But, yet...it has something rather alluring. So, with open mind and heart...hoping to be educated...perhaps, [even] enlightened...the ticket bought, the embarkation began.

There is an awful lot of 'singing' - had no idea if it was good or bad, heard many a flat note and many a weird run...in truth, it all sounded discordantly similar. But...that is the point of the film, to the untrained ear...this music cannot be appreciated. Even, to those trained ears, some [people] cannot differentiate between the sublime and the mediocre! Critics...they really are monsters!

This disciple is mediocre...who has sacrifices a sizable chunk of his life to the dedication of this ancient art-form. To become a cause célèbre means little notoriety, less renown and the financial dividends are meagre. The is an art-form for the worthy...success and appreciation are modest. Quick fame and fortune are not an option...and, this is where the film switches up a gear...this ancient art-form [actually] can be modernised, can create fame and fortune. Like everything...evolution is in command, those who don't embrace it are left behind and, eventually, become extinct.

One of the most surprising elements to Chaitanya Tamhane's film is...this disciple is a rather unpleasant chap...single-minded, dedicated...and, talentless. A scathing statement is made without any subtlety whatsoever. This is an in-your-face message...evolve, adapt...or die. Hey, it happened with Latin!

A finely directed film...with performances to match. It's not exactly pleasant...but, it certainly makes a stoic point...against elitism...and, for evolution. 

Kajillionaire

Kajillionaire
by Miranda July

Off-beat, down-beat...call it what you will. Kajillonaire will certainly divide opinion...we absolutely loved it.

Basically, this is a lesbian love story that takes its time [it has the same kind of vibe as Little Miss Sunshine]...and, that time is taken up by the ludicrous and the inspired. Bubbles [aka the leak]...would you live in a place that leaked bubbles?!? Lots [and lots] of bubbles!?! Miranda July was certainly thinking [way] outside the box when she came up with that one...hey, filmmakers, that's what gets you noticed...thinking outside of that box! Surprise the critics, energize their flummoxed asses...we all want fresh...this is deadpan fresh.

The comedy is sleight...it's more visual than visceral...that [in itself] is how clever this film is...this is not about feelings. This is about learning to feel, about wanting to feel...about wanting to be wanted...to be felt. Evan Rachel Wood goes way beyond what you would expect...the thrice Oscar nominated Debra Winger...well, she delivers a downplaying, deadpan masterclass.

In truth, you'll either get Kajillionare or not...those lucky enough to get it...will understand. 

Mangrove1Mangrove
by Steve McQueen

The question is: Why has it taken so long to bring this story to the big screen? Institutional embarrassment perhaps!?! Probably...that is, until someone had the balls to tell it to a new generation. Steve McQueen not only has the balls, he has the talent to do this story the justice it deserves.

The role of the 'beat' police officer has changed [rather radically] throughout the years. Once admired, latterly feared...now, if you can find one, tolerated [wholly dependent upon the neighbourhood]. Mangrove is set during the nadir of public opinion regarding their not-so-friendly beating Bobbies. The main culprit being the contemptible and corrupt PC Frank Pulley - a foul officer who couldn't progress further in the Force - because he couldn't pass the Police examination. So, with his limited intelligence...he bullied, intimidated and terrorised the Black community of Notting Hill. How he avoided dismissal from the force is a prime example of institutional cronyism...that still exists today. Will we [as in 'they'] ever learn!?! 

After the essential background, Mangrove becomes a riveting courtroom battle. Heralding that well-used phrase: The law is an ass. Indeed, to some, it may be...usually those who lose. Rather than the law being an ass, the writers has shown the beauty of the law when intelligence is applied to it. The 'ass' here is the procedure and the pomposity of those who practice and malpractice it! Some of the monologues - courtesy of the transcript - are, truly, inspiring and deeply emotional.

'Truth and Reconciliation' was Nelson Mandela's [noble] mantra...reconciliation will always be difficult without justice. There are many who have evaded justice - here, most notably, PC Frank Pulley...isn't about time we named, shamed and blamed these people publicly...for the continuing sorry state of affairs that was then and, is, ashamedly...still now.

Of course Black Live Matter. Black histories matter. Mangrove matters.


Day 2...

DaysDays [Rizi]
by Ming-liang Tsai

An example of slow cinema. In this instance...excruciatingly slow.

The film is book-ended by two immensely static shots...first, the opening, an older man stares out of a window [accompanied by an indescribable cacophony]...it's motionless and goes on for far too long. You would be forgiven in thinking that the film is stuck, buffering...but, there is no little buffering sign. Second, the ending, a younger man waits at a bus stop...for an absolute eternity, for a bus that never arrives. The end.

What goes in-between...domestic doldrums. It all leads to the highlight of the film...a same-sex, inter-generational, possibly gay4pay [possibly not] 20 minute, erotic massage...replete with the happy ending, Well, he did pay for it. The only problem is...it's not, in the slightest, erotic. Neither is it pornographic...for that we can be thankful, but it might have spiced things up a bit! There is minimal dialogue...and, the little there is...is deliberately un-subtitled. Oooh...it's that filmmakers' pretension reigning [redundantly] supreme.

Days is 2 very long hours of relentless tedium. 

HerselfHerself
by Phyllida Lloyd

Possibly inspiring...but, to be truly...inspiring, innovation and invention need to be two vital ingredients, not just luck!

A self-build story that is built against a backdrop of domestic violence and socio-economic disparities. The socio-economic strand is a little difficult to accept...Herself is a cleaner for a wealthy doctor who gives her a chunk of her garden and a loan to build a house. The domestic violence is difficult to watch...but is, by far, the film's power...especially the long-term effects it has on children.

The Law gets a bit of a bashing...surrounding custody issues. But...Family Law is [and will always be] an unpredictable minefield of trip-wires. A child's safety is first and foremost...all avenues, all sides of the story have to be investigated to ensure that safety. This is where the film falters a little...he is an absolute swine of a man...but, does he have a legitimate cause for concern? Of course he does...but, the writers simply paint him as a spiteful, vengeful thug. However...they do deliver a line that every lawyer should heed: Ask better questions!

Herself is competent...in all departments. It just needed that special moment...when you just want to stand up, punch the air and cheer. A story that really did deserve a more satisfying [visual] ending.

Honeymood

Honeymood
by Talya Lavie

On paper...this sounded like a bland, newly-wed rom-com. On screen...it's works like a charm. 

She, the newly-wed bride, is the Crème brûlée of high maintenance. He, the regretful groom, is the Brighton rock of indecisive dependence. Together, they are a mis-match...separately, they may [or may not] be pining for their respective exes...who met at their wedding and - seemingly - hit it off! She's as jealous as Hell...he, not so much [or, is he?].

Everything takes place over the course of one unimaginable night...a night that is crammed and stuffed with both the plausible and the wildly implausible. Talya Lavie drives her story straight down the daft street, round the roundabout leading to dark, murky alleyways...and, back again. Her imagination went into overdrive...and, without Avigail Harari, it all could have gone horribly wrong. She delivers a relentless force comique - a dizzying delight.

A surprising film...for all the right reasons!

The Painter And The Thief

The Painter and the Thief
by Benjamin Ree

There's nothing stranger than fact...especially when you manipulate the situation to your advantage! Ever heard the Francis Bacon and George Dyer myth? No? Watch Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon - or, watch this! They are remarkably similar!

Restorative justice is contentious at the best of times, even more so in the worst of times. Where - on that spectrum - does The Painter and the Thief lie? This is not about finding forgiveness for murder or violence...2 paintings were stolen by a relatively unknown artist. They meet...obviously, the artist wants to know where the paintings are...and, the thief hasn't a clue - due to his drug addled state! But...in his drug addled state, had the ability to meticulously remove each [rather large] painting from their frames...nail-by-nail, rather than by cutting! A few warning bells do ring throughout the film - why is she [the artist] being so kind? Why is she so gullible?

Look...if this thief had been a podgy wee man with no teeth, no hair and no personality...it is highly unlikely that she would be asking him to model for her! Karl [the thief] is a bad boy, a cheeky chappy, a lovable rogue...and, not too unpleasant on the eye! It's a relationship that is equally fascinating and bamboozling to watch. And that's the warning bell that really chimes...this is all being filmed. Is this a grandiose publicity stunt? The cynics may think so.

Whatever you may think...the final shot will make your jaw drop to the floor. The answer...is a little chilling, a touch creepy...wholly sad and painfully truthful.


Day 3...

Shirley

Shirley
by Josephine Decker

Eeew...what utterly ghastly people! Academics playing mind-games...it's both unpleasant and compelling.

The only question that has to be asked: What would Shirley Jackson have to say about this fictional account of herself and her life? A helluva lot...if this depiction is anything to go by. Her venom would be spewed - quite rightly - into the faces of those responsible.

By all accounts, she was neither bisexual nor lesbian - why portray her as such? This whole project - book and film - has that shabby stink of slash/fan-fiction about it - the writer of the book, Susan Scarf Merrell never met Ms Jackson...so, she created her own version of her! Why? Not only is this plagiarising someone's life...which is pretty bad form...but, to create such falsehood is downright disrespectful, irresponsible...even criminal. 

It really is difficult to say anything complimentary about this film...yes, it is well-acted...but, with such erratic direction [and the concept as a whole]...not even the acting can save poor Shirley's reputation. 

RelicRelic
by Natalie Erika James

Indeed...a metaphorical horror that needed less metaphor and more story.

3 generations, 3 states of mind...and too much mother/daughter rivalry. Just get on with the horror! Patience...this is akin to waiting for the kettle to boil [powered] by candle-light. Does the patience pay off? It does...if you want to be unsubtly smacked repeatedly across the face by a great big giant metaphor...then, this is terrifying.

Dementia is terrifying...alas, this film is not. It is a debut feature by writer/director who directed better than she wrote...surprising when you see the litany of producers...none of whom employed their right to a re-write!

An above average film...in terms of where it is destined to be seen...The Horror Channel.


Day 4...

Mogul Mowgli

Mogul Mowgli
by Bassam Tariq

Perhaps...the performance of the festival. Riz Ahmed gives it absolutely everything...as a rapper cut down.

The film itself, perhaps, gives too much...in that, so many [way too many] issues are addressed, none [alas] fully. There's a finely-drawn line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange...Mogul Mowgli doesn't tackle this fiery and fertile debate head-on. It does, however, have a head-on collision with the whole modernity vs tradition - always a hot topic - especially when archaic [and torturous] medical procedures are used over [and not as a compliment to] modern [read that as 'modern' not as Western] practice. Like all alternative medicines, cupping is contentious...in this instance, it comes across as downright barbaric and redundant. Again, big issues dealt with [somewhat] inadequately.

Stripped down, this is a fairly straightforward tale of fame and fortune...with culture and illness getting in the way. The film really shines when Mr Ahmed is strutting his stuff on stage...unfortunately, he is so much better than the film itself...which is a shame. As a debut feature, not at all bad...just a little too cluttered. As they say, less is more.

I Am SamuelI am Samuel
by Peter Murimi

The most weirdly framed documentary seen in recent times! 

The film opens with graphic, gut-wrenching and horrific footage...of a public, ultra-violent, homophobic attack. Seemingly, these kind of attacks are a common occurrence in Nigeria. Peter Murimi certainly sets the tone of his film, from the off...this is not going to be pleasant. However, it ends with two, gay, grown men [joyfully] playing Hide & Seek...

What lies in between the harrowing start and the happy ending is...more bizarre than uninteresting. This is NOT about that poor man so brutally attacked and humiliated. This is not about that poor man's recovery. This is about Samuel...who was not brutally attacked...but, as he says himself, it could have been him! But...it wasn't.

Samuel's story is nothing surprising, it's the same-old same-old...tradition and religion doing their very best to screw up people's lives. Only, they actually don't screw up his life...after a bumpy moment, when his parents 'see the light' and cast him out...a couple of weeks later, after a phone-call, they are reunited and all is hunk dory. He even takes his partner to meet them and they end up playing hide and seek. The end.

Mr Murimi missed the boat with this one. Why he chose Samuel's story to tell is a question only he can answer. There was a roomful of young gay men, living in Lagos, living in fear...their stories sounded far more interesting than the one told. It really was a case of: Choose your [main] subject more wisely!

Siberia

Siberia
by Abel Ferrara

Laden with symbolism and mysticism...the result is a cryptic, incomprehensible mindf&*k!

Not got much to say about this...simply because, had no idea, not even an iota of what was going on. It's a dream, Abel Ferrara's dream...and, just like every other dream, it's personal and really doesn't need to be shared. 

Yes...the cinematography is fantastic. Some of the imagery is inspired and controversial, well, it wouldn't be a Ferrara film without the obligatory controversy...and, alas, it all amounts to a monumental anti-climax. Make what you will of it...many have slapped their own interpretations down on paper...as futile as buying a cheap paperback entitled: Understand Your Dreams!

Only Abel Ferrara understands what the Dickens is going on. 

Sound For The FutureSound for the Future
by Matt Hulse

A toe-curling vanity project...bamboozling as to how and why this even got funded by both Creative Scotland & England...

Reading the blurb, you would be forgiven in thinking that The Hippies were indeed a force to be reckoned with...they were not. They were three kids [2 brothers and a sister] playing. Matt Hulse, definitely suffering from [imagined] middle kid syndrome, has made them out to be so much more than they were. Even his older brother refused to take part in the film, everyone else should have followed suit.

A few things that will surely enrage most...the desecration of Malcolm McLaren's grave [shameful and criminal] and the pointless, money-squandering trip to Beijing...to get his old toy Snoopy a bespoke tailored suit! And a bizarre, inappropriate and incongruous conversation about homosexuality!

It really is too easy to rip this 'film' apart...the parents of the kids who took part must be pretty disgruntled at the result...this is what happens when a self-entitled narcissist is given public funds.


Day 5...

Never Gonna Snow Again

Never Gonna Snow Again
by Malgorzata Szumowska & Michal Englert

Is he the second coming or just a masseur with gifted fingers? You decide!

Because...the writer/directors don't give too much away...which is a good thing. Ambiguity reigns supreme in this subtle but punishing attack on the discrepancies of modern-day Poland...with its re-elected homophobic leaders and its bare-faced, shameless [and shameful] flouting of European treatise - expunge this country with its disgusting LGBT-free zones! But that's too vitriolic for this film...this is a far more genteel and gentle approach at vilification - so much so, that many of the jabs will be missed entirely...with the first viewing!

Within this gated community of good and bad tastes lies an unrelenting subtext...everyone is compromised...until they come under the influence of Zenia [a perfectly pitched performance by Alec Utgoff]. An immigrant with a gift...is his 'gift' real...or, is he a conman getting by, trying to survive in a hostile world? Throughout the film, you are bound to change your mind several times.

Nothing is as it seems...it's all just a little bit of magic!

SupernovaSupernova
by Harry Macqueen

Be still my broken heart...two seasoned pros, doing what they do best: Act.

Forget about that nonsensical argument on how [is there a why?] gay actors should [always] play gay characters [who came up with that anyway?]...it doesn't even make economical sense, if gay plays only gay...then, straight should play only straight. There goes a few careers! Anyway, I digress...but, I just had to get that off of my chest.

Back to the film...basically, a two-hander with searing emotion. This is a mannered road-trip as opposed to an eventful road movie. This is about time and togetherness...the dynamics of any relationship [not only a gay one] change over time, the passion [even the romance] is replaced with an absolute comfort...when that comfort is served notice, rather than being unexpectedly ripped away, time becomes precious and terrifying as it ticks away. That's dementia...the terror of not being while still being.

These characters know what's going to happen...Messieurs Firth and Tucci play to the inevitable..with all that familiarity that couples have. This is the discussion that none of us ever want to have...but, sadly, many of us have to have. This about choice and acceptance, about love and respect.

This is dignified and consummate filmmaking.

IndustryIndustry
by Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan & Ed Lilly

It's fair to say that this is not a recruitment drive for a career in the City.

And...if it does whet your appetite for such a career, think long and hard before doing anything rash...because, if this is anything to go by, you really have to be a psychopathic, hedonistic narcissist to even make a ripple in this egocentric jungle!

Not only are all the characters utterly reprehensible...it's the shed-load of box-ticking producers who have made this series so box-tickingly obvious. 

Every race, every sexuality...it's all here...accompanied by some eye-popping nudity and some excessive, brain-damaging snorting. Think: Billions...with more depravity!

Weirdly enough...it is utterly addictive...for all the wrong reasons! You just want to see them all beheaded...vive la [financial] revolution!


Day 6...

Cicada

Cicada
by Matt Fifer & Kieran Mulcare

Troubled and damaged...a bisexual hypochondriac bares and shares his soul in this semi-autobiographical attempt at catharsis.

With something so personal...and, with Mr Fifer being so personally involved [writer, director, producer, editor and star]...the inherent dangers [of self-indulgence] are hazardous waters to navigate.

At times, it's akin to overhearing an uncomfortable confession. But, thankfully, melodrama and that dreaded indulgence are avoided...although there are a few close shaves [with both]!

Considering this is the debut feature from both directors, it is admirable in the way they side-stepped the glaring potholes...however, the plot-holes are a different issue entirely. In truth, there really is not much of a plot to speak of...the force that drives this film is dialogue. A little more 'show-than-tell' would have earned this film a great deal more purchase. A few more peaks to combat those impending troughs...and, those troughs are particularly deep!

Quite possibly, the film's power lies in its gentility when unearthing and addressing the individual traumas that these two men have endured...and, still endure. It is cathartic...the problem being...catharsis only resonates with some audiences. 

UndineUndine
by Christian Petzold

A modern take on an old myth...it's quietly potent! 

It has the same air of the supernatural as another film in the festival - Never Gonna Snow Again - a little knowledge goes a long way, especially when the directors of both films have presumed a prior knowledge. With this, a little mythology would have been useful as a comparative...though not essential to appreciate the film.

And...there is much to appreciate. Not only do you get a chemically-charged romance...but, also, a fascinating history lesson on old Berlin! There are some glorious underwater scenes with a giant catfish...and, an exploding aquarium. There's just enough punctuation to keep you guessing, to keep you shifting in your seat. It really is emotional on so many different levels...let it sweep you away!

As a modern take on an old mythology, Christian Petzold does a mighty fine job.


Day 7...

Bloody Nose Empty Pockets

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
by Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross

Not pretty...nor, unfortunately, is it very interesting, unless you enjoy watching people get absolutely plastered!

The whole premise - the closing night of a local bar, home to the lost and lonely - is totally negated when you read the production notes - how I wish I had read those notes before I watched it. The bar never existed...sure, there are and have been bars like it...but, The Roaring 20s in Las Vegas never existed, there was no closing night, there were no regulars. The 'characters' gleaned from a casting process of 'real' people...in other words non-actors playing caricatures of themselves [or however the directors wanted them to play themselves]...for a few free drinks and a presumed stipend.

So, pray tell filmmakers, when authenticity goes flying out of the window...what's the point?

This is neither documentary nor mockumentary, you'd be hard-pressed to call it even a docu-drama - it's mere manufacture...a total waste of 98 minutes.

RoseRose
by Jennifer Sheridan

This certainly keeps you guessing...although it could have benefited from a little more backstory, just a few holes that needed plugging...before the cameras started to roll.

It's a fresh approach to an old, familiar [and very popular] theme...don't want to say too much, don't want to give too much away. As a horror, it could have done with a bit more horror...but, it does manage to instill and sustain the essential menace and threat. But...the odd jump scare would have been the perfect punctuation.

Not bad for a first feature...spend less time in getting where you're going to and more time when you get there. Everything seems to happen - very quickly - in the last 5 minutes. Pretty good though.


Day 8...

If It Were Love

If It Were Love
by Patric Chiha

Oooh...dear hearts, be patient. The opening scene is a challenge...simply because, it's bamboozingly boring and goes on for far too long. Be patient, dear hearts...for what you are about to see should stun.

This is contemporary dance...at its very best. This is quite unlike any documentary [about dance] you are ever likely to see. In fact, to call it a documentary seems to do it an injustice...it's much, much more than mere document.

Everyone has danced at least once in their lives...but, what makes an actual dancer? The 3 D's of dance, that's what!

Dancers are, perhaps, the most vulnerable and strongest of all performance artists. They bare their souls and bodies. They, willingly and knowingly, step into the limelight...until their aged and racked bodies flick the switch. But...at least they can say that they danced with everyone watching.

Have you ever really danced? Really, really danced? When nothing matters, when nothing can touch you, when your body takes over and your soul is freed. The deepest of joys - 'deep joy' as the late Andy Weatherall and I used to describe it - RIP Andy x.

Where dance has truth, performance is a lie...Patric Chiha has taken liberties with facts and fictions, blending them together...perfecting the portrait of the dance...and, that of the dancer.

We're all a bit of a mess, dancers [a little bit] more than most. Think about it: To free your soul and feel that deep joy [in and out of character] on a regular basis...well, as they say, too much of a good thing...

Crowd is a piece that gives dance back to the people...still, performed by dancers. This film is a conundrum, it's a hybrid...it's a lie, it's the truth...but, however you want to describe it...it remains a scintillating piece of work about a scintillating piece of work! 

Bad TalesBad Tales
by Fratelli D'Innocenzo

Life in the suburbs...painted with cruel brushstrokes and incredible bad taste.

You're either going to love it or loathe it - we 'loved' it for all its darkness and [extreme] bad parenting. If ever there was a case for kids needing positive role models in their young lives...then, here it is! Bad parenting is not the same as bad parents...it's subjective in that some parenting skills are viewed - usually, by the most liberal - as progressive and essential. On the other hand, bad parent are just that...bad parents. This tale has a healthy mixture of both...the one thing that unties these two 'bads' is that they are inherited, passed down through the generations...well, perhaps, there is a way to buck that trend - well, these fraternal directors certainly think so. And...it's not pretty!

This is brash, visceral and divisive. The horror is...there are parents like these characters...and, the tragedy is...there are kids like these. Heaven help us all!

Shadow CountryShadow Country
by Bohdan Sláma

Last year, London Film Festival presented the harrowing The Painted Bird...this is an equally tortuous companion piece. This is Czech history...with shifting borders and loyalties. This is horror.

This is humanity at its most desperate, degenerate and deranged. Politics, religion, nationalism...these are the things that divide us. Can someone please explain that nauseating lie: What unites us is far greater than what divides us!?! Take a look at the world we live in...! We have learnt nothing from history.

Just watch this film. It is traumatic...because, it is still happening. A deeply affecting film - I can write no more.


Day 9...

Another Round

Another Round
by Thomas Vinterberg

This is not just an emotional rollercoaster ride...but, one very special film indeed.

Well...let's just say that the international Temperance movement will not be best pleased! Nor will many other anti-alcohol organisations [and religions]! Distillers, brewers and vintners will absolutely love it! So...that's the controversy dealt with...but, really, is this a celebration of alcohol? Surely not! But, hey, why not? 

Let's get personal...open up a bit. I love my booze. I'm middle-aged. And, I loved this film. It's not going to make me into an alcoholic...what it did do was to remind the dangers and the joys that alcohol possesses.

Its message is clear: moderation is the best libation! Skål!

David Byrne's American UtopiaDavid Byrnes American Utopia
by Spike Lee

He may be a little older...but, David Byrne has lost none of his energy...nor has he lost his relevance.

It's not a 'gay' film per se...but, it is a camp fiesta of light and shade. Punctuated with moments of [political] thought and [deep] reflection...it sounds dour...well, it's not. Because...the whole show is held together with what can only be described as a joyous joie-de-vivre.

You wanna see diversity on stage? Well, this is how you do it. It's not about gender, colour, sexuality, nationality...it's about the best person for the job...and, Mr Byrne picked the best. Playing live, playing fluid...playing and dancing and singing as if their hearts were about to explode with pride and pleasure. The dedication is obvious. The timing is immaculate. The result is a spectacle...like you wouldn't imagine. Thankfully, Mr Byrne did...this, really, is once in a lifetime.

For those who were lucky enough to have enjoyed Talking Heads, this is an orgasm. For those, the youngsters...this is what you have been waiting for...this is musicality, sensuality and theatricality all rolled into one. This is what we call showmanship extraordinaire.

Evocative, thrilling and it will have you up on your feet, dancing like you didn't care...and, smiling...until the tears run down your cheeks. Utter joy.


Day 10...

New OrderNew Order
by Michel Franco

Well...it all depends on which side of the fence you see yourself on! But, one thing is true...this is one brutal film.

This the revolution of the have-nots against the haves...this is a political statement without reserve. When the exploited become the exploiters, when the whole ideology of revolution dissolves into a power-grab...and, with it, a money-grab. When the revolutionaries become the terrorists of their cause. When all morality simply disappears.

This is Michel Franco's bleak vision...of his native Mexico. Made all the more terrifying because it is not beyond the realm of reality - this has happened, this is happening...and, this could happen to Mexico. And, as disparity between the haves and the have-nots grows, the likelihood of this happening becomes ever nearer.

Divisive, it most certainly is...not an easy watch. Those fine lines between all disparities of good and evil, wealth and poverty, indigenous and expatriate...have been drawn with bold, clear and terrifying strokes!

PossessorPossessor
by Brandon Cronenberg

Well...as they say: The apple does not fall far from the tree! Brandon Cronenberg is a young chip off of an old block...continuing in the family tradition.

Possessor is one of those: You are either going to love it or despise kind of films. Most definitely...not for the faint of heart. This all gore and mindf&*ks...unrelentingly so!

Not exactly a trans film per se...this is body swapping, the whole caboodle! Imagine experiencing sex with a new body and gender...well, if you need a little help with imagining that 'odd' experience...look no further! It's all here and more.

Brutal...it most certainly is. Predictable...it most certainly is not. Just when you think you've worked it all out...bam! WTFs are audible!

Low on budget...but, what a wealth of imagination...and, blood. 


Day 11...

Friendships Death 1987Friendship's Death
by Peter Wollen

One from the vaults and Tilda's 3rd film.

And what an odd little film this is. Basically, it's a very verbose two-hander between a journalist and an android...set against the backdrop of war.

Don't expect any sci-fi SFX, there are none. This is Artificial Intelligence pitted against human philosophy...but, it's not confrontational, if anything, it's the evolution of an unlikely friendship.

Due to its age, it is dated and really is not as forward-thinking as great Sci-Fi stories ought to be. Think of all those fictional technological advancements that were written about decades before they became a reality...this has a conversation on how a typewriter 'hurts' when you bash the keys...not exactly ground-breaking stuff either intellectually or visually. A curious film that will remain a curiosity.

The Human VoiceThe Human Voice
by Pedro Almodóvar

Quite possibly, one of the most anticipated short films ever!

Why? You may wonder. Well, there's Tilda. And...this wee film does mark Señor Almodóvar's English language debut!

Worth all that anticipation? Erm...difficult to say! It all depends on...how much product placement can you take!?! The set is crammed full of luxury. Tilda has more costume changes in a short film than you would see in a 3-hour epic! 

No doubt much will be written about this film due to its incredible history...this version will - no doubt - split opinion, comparative reviews will most surely abound...but, is it all style over substance? Discuss.


Day 12...

Ammonite

Ammonite
by Francis Lee

It's cold. It's wet. It's intense...and, it is rather steamy [in two places]! Oh...and, it is ever so muddy. And...grim.

First off, let's address that great big elephant standing in the room, dressed in dungarees, playing an acoustic guitar, singing: You Make Me Feel [is that a stereotypical lesbian elephant?]. There is absolutely no evidence that Mary Anning was a lesbian. So...why portray her as such?

This seems to be a bit of a trend of recent...Shirley [Jackson], an other festival film, is portrayed as a voracious bisexual...yet, no evidence! What's going on? You can't just daub the sexuality-of-your-choice onto someone because you want to, because a of falsely perceived and erroneous artistic licence! Liberace won a lawsuit against a newspaper because they branded him gay! And he was as gay as a herd of pink buffaloes wearing pink tutus!

This is Francis Lee's sophomore film after the [truly] exceptional God's Own Country - with a [much] bigger budget and [Hollywood] A-listers...what a leap! And not entirely successful...in truth, the film goes nowhere. Yes, there's no faulting the performances, there's no faulting the cinematography, the score etc...but, it is beige and entirely fictional...when it needn't have been. No, this amount of artistic licence has gone too far. Here's what every filmmaker should ask themselves before and during the making of a biography...would their subject approve?

It would seem that Mary Anning has been done an injustice.


Thank you to all @BFI London Film Festival 2020 - missed Leicester Square...but, didn't miss the films!