This year's London Film Festival hosted gala premières of several titles playing in the coming weeks at The Roses. The Roses' Film Programmer, Patrick Bliss, was there and here gives his verdict on each...
The Party - a 21st century Abigail's Party?
This was a hoot! Kristen Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall head an impressive cast in what could loosely be described as a 21st century Abigail’s Party (there’s even a spoken about but unseen character), with conversations about Demis Roussos and make up tips replaced with gay marriage, IVF and new age healing. Unfolding in real time, writer/director Sally Potter provides some hilarious dialogue for her cast to chew on as a series of mishaps and shock revelations build towards a very satisfying climax. Being set entirely within one house and garden, I was expecting this to be a bit stagey, but though it could be adapted for the stage, this still felt like a film, with interesting use of camera angles, close ups and editing.
Book tickets to The Party here
Loving Vincent - The world's first fully painted feature film
The meeting of subject and style have never been as harmoniously linked as in this exquisitely animated story of the final days of Vincent Van Gogh. This is a must see on the big screen, filmed as a live action film, with each frame then lovingly painted in the Dutch master's instantly recognisable style. It’s mesmerising to watch, but also has a compelling plot as the son of a local postmaster (and former Van Gogh subject) sets out to find the truth behind the artist's mysterious death. Scenes and characters were based on many of Van Gogh’s paintings, and it’s as the credits roll and the original paintings and the live action recreations are placed side by side, that you get a real sense of the achievement here. This should surely win the Best Animation Oscar next year.
Book tickets to Loving Vincent here
Call Me By Your Name - An Italian Brokeback Mountain?
If God’s Own Country was the British Brokeback Mountain, then Call Me By Your Name is the Italian God’s Own Country, with the wild and windy Yorkshire Moors and graphic sheep husbandry being replaced with lush Italian Riviera and conversations about linguistics, classical music and Greco-Roman sculpture. It’s the perfect backdrop to this languid slow burn story of first love that builds up through small intimate moments to one of the most moving endings in recent years. Adapted by James Ivory from the novel by André Aciman, the script is wonderfully literate and nuanced, and there’s a monologue towards the end from Michael Stuhlbarg’s character that was so profoundly beautiful there were audible gasps from the audience. The performances are all spot on (even the flies look like they know exactly what role they are playing), director Luca Guadagnino talked a lot in the Q&A about how he works with actors, he doesn’t audition or rehearse but instead allows himself and the cast to spend time with each other. It works.
Book tickets to Call Me By Your Name here
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool - Annette Bennng is perfect casting as 40’s Femme Fatal Gloria Graham
The only person who could play a middle aged Gloria Graham better than Annette Bening is Gloria Graham herself, this is dream casting. Graham, a somewhat forgotten actress who turned in some superb performances in film noirs in the 40’s and 50’s and won a supporting actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful, spent her final days in the 1980’s living with the working class family of Pete Turner, a much young actor she had a fling with a few years earlier. There’s much to enjoy here, a Saturday Night Fever dance with co-star Jamie Bell (showing he still has the moves from his Billy Elliot days), Billy Elliot co-star Julie Walters as Pete’s mum and a poodle permed Stephen Graham looking like he’s just stepped out of one of Harry Enfield’s Scouser sketches. Bell, Bening, director Paul McGuigan, producer Barbara Broccoli (of James Bond fame), Elvis Costello (who wrote the end credit song) and Pete Turner himself were all present at the screening, but did not take questions from the audience, which would have almost certainly moved the focus from the film to Harvey Weinstein, who Bening had denounced earlier that day.
Book tickets to Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool here
More London Film Festival titles are coming to The Roses next year - watch this space for the next set of reviews coming in November!