Tag Archives: 360

BFI London Film Festival – Day 3 – Conquering your sexual hunger in Shame…

15 Oct

Its cold, its 9am and I’m in a queue outside the Vue Cinema in London with a large amount of other keen journalists anxiously waiting to see Steve McQueen’s second offering to the film world and (as jokingly said to me in the stalls) Michael Fassbender having lots of great sex for breakfast with Shame. The cinema was packed, far more than the opening nights film 360 as the lights dimmed ready for the opening scene.

Michael Fassbender sprawled on a bed in the opening shot looks troubled yet calm at the same time, you immediately get the sense that his life and lifestyle is cyclical and although from the outlook is pleasing – his inner secret is far more desperate and destroying. The film is beautifully shot capturing a semi documentary feel – and considering the explicit content contained throughout, it’s handled expertly bar one or two scenes. You get a true sense of addiction from the talented Fassbender, but can’t help think that if they had got an actor who was less pleasing to the eye, you would get even more of a feel for the sense of frustration this character feels. The fact of the matter is however that Brandon (Fassbender) is the New York borderline yuppie, beautifully turned out with an apartment which fits any sort of wall street/high end New York job office type. I’m not sure how many of today’s sexual addicts would have the ability, not once but twice, to make a married woman on the tube instantly start gushing with sexual attraction through just one look – but somehow he manages it – as an audience member, you understand and feel this intensity also by the classical and haunting music throughout, which makes you feel tense in the skin.

This could be a very boring film if we just watched a non stop re-run of Brandon’s life, however the inclusion of his wayward sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is a welcome relief. She provides the catalyst for change, being the typically outrageous sister forcing Brandon to alter his built in habits. It’s an interesting role for Mulligan, clearly wanting to break out of her An Education and Pride and Prejudice persona, she attempts something a little more gritty and bar a couple of accent issues does a pretty good job. She acts as an interesting disruption to Fassbender’s understated, calm, collected shell of a man and forces him to break out in moments which really demonstrate Fassbender’s ability as an actor.

Overall, I was happy that a film I couldn’t wait to see didn’t disappoint, it was only after that I felt deflated. Having looked back at the press conference and meeting Steve McQueen himself, his persona and personal appointment as an ‘art luvvie’ / genius leaves some people reeling at his approach to answering questions. When promoting a film, there is an element of justification needed, particularly when it is approaching a taboo subject. However there is a slight air of dismissal from McQueen – you can see it in his face when he listens to some questions and you almost get the feeling of him thinking ‘this is a stupid question – I’m far to good for this.’ The way I view is it, is that yes he may have won the Turner prize years ago, however he is still relatively new to the film scene with only two feature films made; and the two sectors (in attitude) should be treated in very different ways. If he wants a wide audience to watch this film which covers a niche, hard to watch subject he should speak passionately about the projects and answer the questions the viewing public would want to hear before they make their decision to fill his pocket with profit – a lesson he could learn from his producer Iain Canning and writer Abi Morgan very well. These aren’t the pages of Vogue darling, so please don’t act frosty like fashionista Anna Wintour… in the film world you’re not there yet!

Day 1 – BFI London Film Festival – Review 360 – Opening Night Film

12 Oct

So here we are, the start of the 55th London Film Festival and boy was it an early start. Queuing from 8:45 this morning were bloggers, journos and film buffs posing as accredited members of the press. What were we all waiting for? Well, its billed as a headliner film featuring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins and captained by City of God director Fernando Meirelles.

So apart from being one of the most difficult films to find the trailer for, what is it all about? Well, to me, as the opening film of the Festival, I was expecting it to be somewhat explosive, however was a little bit de-flated as the movie progressed. In a nutshell, its a story of worldwide interconnectivity and a story of temptation, romance and friendship, demonstrating how one persons actions can interlink and affect another persons life. I know, heavy for 9am on a Wednesday morning. For the opening of a film festival as large as the London one, I would have expected something demonstrating the cream of the crop of what the UK had to offer, quite like they did last year with Never Let Me Go, however here it seems more like they chose to go with a more diverse international picking which perhaps honours a collection of talent from our European brothers and sisters (actors and actresses).

Dont get me wrong, the performances were good, well timed, and engaging, however it may be the structure and Peter Morgan’s script which was slightly lacking in parts. The length of the film overall was that little bit too long and sadly the climactic ending was not as dramatic as I had hoped, however the cinematography and whirlwind tour of various different destinations were well represented. The biggest problem I had however, was that it was one of those films that just plodded along rather than captivate its audience. I personally am not a huge fan of ensemble pieces which don’t have lead characters to help carry the film, and this film didn’t change my mind. Sadly, there wasn’t enough in-depth character understanding and I yearned for more information as I was walking out of the screening. The heavyweight names – Hopkins, Weisz, Law are not something to sell the film on, they are small parts in a larger machine, plus none of them are due to turn up tonight so if you’re camping out to see the big, well known stars, you’d be better off holding on for the George Clooney films next week. So for those who are fans of a slow moving, uneventful film this might be just the choice for you, but unfortunately it really wasn’t for me.

So my advice would be, not to avoid it completely – its not bad, its just not for everyone – but don’t rush and give up a good evening for this film if its sunny. If you’re a Fernando Merielles fan, stick to City of God and The Constant Gardener – and if you’re fans of the well known Russian and Slovakian actors in the film – you may just enjoy it.

However I don’t want to leave this all doom and gloom, it really is personal preference on this one, however the rest of the festival is hosting some very exciting talent on the big screen – next week looks like the big week for more highly anticipated films and tomorrow we’ve got a couple of indie successes premiering (Like Crazy, 50/50) so stay tuned for this and again, not all films are to everyone’s taste but there are so many coming up over the next couple of weeks that its definitely worth a train fare and cinema ticket to be part of this wonderful event.

Until tomorrow….