Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:59 am 
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London Film Festival 2018 - a quick glance


MY FRIEND HUGH AND I attended four of the LFF films this year:

László Nemes: Sunset (2018)
Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra: Birds of Passage/Pájaros de verano (2018)
Yorgos Lanthimos: The Favourite (2018)
A.B.Shawky: Yomeddine (2018)

All are worth knowing about though they sadly did not live up to expectations. Némes of course is the director of the extraordinary Son Of Saul. It is interesting to observe the similarities of narrative and technique this one has with his first film - and one could enjoy the sheer beauty of this film shot and projected in 35mm. Birds of Passage is also by the makers of a celebrated film, the Colombian Embrace of the Serpent, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Oscar. This one also makes use of indigenous people, but in color and to tell a contemporary drug story. It was chosen to open Directors Fortnight at Cannes this year, but seemed to leave out key elements of the drug culture of the period. The Favourite is Lanthimos' second English-language film and in it he tries to play a satirical, comic game with 17th-century English history but with too little sense of the political complexities. My friend Hugh Coleridge, with whom I watched this and the other three LFF films, wrote of The Favourite, "The rigour required to place in front of such real backdrops something that hints properly at the behaviour of the times is beyond most of us. Therefore, it was, from the very first frame and utterance, that I sensed a lack of any serious attempt to get under the skin of the times. We were presented with something that fell horribly between a 'Carry On' farce and a BBC TV historical drama. It shows how relatively good the adaption of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall was (starring Mark Rylance as Cromwell)." Yomeddine made it into Competition at Cannes, perhaps prematurely. It is a quirky road picture by an Egyptian first-time director. I'm interested in anything Egyptian because I lived there and love the sound of the Egyptian dialect. The Favourite was the NYFF's Opening Night Film. Embrace of the Serpent was a remarkable film and Son of Saul (in my view) even more so. But follow-ups as much as stabs in new directions aren't always a success. As for Yomeddine, it wound up in too feel-good a way, but the use of non-actors was very successful and it is as satisfyingly Egyptian as I could have hoped. Of the four, it was the only one that moved me, and inspired me and my friend to get into an argument.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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