London Film Festival Film reviews by Alan Jay Copyright 1990 Alan Jay
Below are a number of short reviews/comments of movies I have seen in the first week of the London Film Festival. I have no idea what the distribution of any of these films is likely to be -- last year I saw Icicle Thief in the festival and it has just appeared both in the US and UK. I have tried to give a rating on the -4 to +4 scale as used elsewhere. Anyway here goes in the order I saw them last week:
TEXASVILLE Dir: Peter Bogdanovich
The sequel to THE LAST PICTURE SHOW opened the London Film Festival. The movie picks up 30 years on and shows the state that the characters have got themselves into. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and thought that the small town farce that was played out was exquisite. (+3)
EL ANONIMO Dir: Alfonso Arandia
This is the first feature by Alfonso Arandia and is the story of a failed exam and a not-so-anonymous letter, stolen mail boxes (like the large red ones we have in London but yellow), and an underworld sub-plot. An enjoyable if rather silly movie that reminds me of my youth -- though I never lugged a letter box up 5 flights of stairs! (+1)
ALL THE VERMEERS IN NY Dir: Jon Jost
A fascinating and beautifully crafted film that intertwines the lust for money and the serenity of the Vermeers in the Met. The movie is remarkably well-paced especially considering that Jon Jost told us after the screening that the entire film was improvised -- though well rehearsed. This is Jon's fist film in 35mm and looks excellent it shows what can be done filming entirely on location with no additional lights. (+2.5).
JU DOU (SECRET LOVE, HIDDEN FACES) Dir: Zhang Yi-Mou and Yeng Feng-Liang
Chinese-Japanese collaboration that is set in China in the 1920s around a dye factory and its owner, wife and nephew. The young wife falls for the nephew and we are taken through his seduction and the consequences over 10 years. Beautifully shot and very colourful. (+1.5)
TIALAI (THE LAW) Dir: Idrissa Ouedraogo
The poignant tale of a young man returning to his village, after two years away, to discover that his promised bride is married to his father. The ensuing problems with their love and its fulfillment make enjoyable watching even if the culture that we are seeing is completely alien to the western view of things. (+1.5)
DON'T MOVE DIE AND RESUSCITATE Dir: Vitali Kaneveski
This Russian tale of two youngsters growing up in a remote mining town near Vladivostock in 1947 was an unexpected delight. As such the tale doesn't sound promising but the resulting movie is a touching and beautiful tale of young innocence in a harsh world. (+3)
SHOOTING GALLERY Dir: Arpad Sopsits
This true Hungarian tale about a young boy who shoots his father while his mother is in hospital and continues life as before. The story of this true incident is well told and cinematically very interestingly portrayed with a variety of B&W film qualities used to signify different time frames. Unfortunately it comes across as someone trying very hard to tell a story in visual terms and not quite succeeding. (0)
NASTY GIRL Dir: Michael Verhoeven
This brilliant movie tells a fictionalised account of a your German girl in Bavaria who tries to write an essay on "My home town during the third Reich." The story is well told combining pseudo documentary style; recreations of the past and stylized scenes from the story. The film is based on a true story and is fascinating to realise the level of cover-up that took place after the last war and realise that we should never forget what happened. Usually movies portray people larger than life in this case and the real "Nasty Girl," who was at the screening, came across as even larger than the fictional character portrayed in the movie. (+3.5)
HENRY & JUNE Dir: Philip Kaufman
Well, this has been reviewed to extinction on the net so my very short comment would be that I enjoyed the film but can understand why it might be thought a pretentious load of drivel it is not main stream cinema in many ways and its tarring with the NC-17 certificate has given Universal a chance to hype the film into something it isn't (a sexually charged, erotic movie). (+2)
A TERRA COTTA WARRIOR Dir: Ching Sui-Tung
This Hong Kong movie takes a splash of Indiana Jones and mixes with a dash of Chinese history and creates a delightful movie with some very nice touches. Without giving too much away the movie tells a delightful love story through the turmoil of the plot and some spectacular sword fights (that make the, should have been, legendary sword fight from Raiders seem tame [well I can't imagine Harrison Ford doing the balletic dancing technique that the Chinese go in for]) (+2)
I THE WORST OF ALL Dir: Maria Luisa Bemberg
Based on the life of Juana Ines de la Cruz (a 17th Century Nun in Mexico) this film tells of her persecution by the church and her friendship with the Viceroy of Mexico and his wife. A marvelously constructed world is created in the movie through a limited selection of sets that a reworked but highly minimal. This movie is quite hard work and relatively slow but I now want to know more about Juana Ines de la Cruz (now considered one of the great Spanish poets of the 17th century) so the evening was not wasted. (+0.5)
CYRANO DE BERGERAC Dir: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
This excellent adaptation of Rostand's classic play is completely enchanting. Gerard Depardieu was born to play Cyrano and he is brilliant in the part and yet still believable in the more romantic moments. Anne Brochet, Roxanne, is also excellent and the whole production is well worth seeing. The French dialogue is said without sounding too silly and the English translation has been done by Antony Burgess. All together excellent. (+3.5)
If anyone would like more information on any of the movies listed then I email me and I will see what I can do. More films next week.
Alan Jay Email: alanj@ibmpcug.CO.UK Path: ..!ukc!ibmpcug!alanj
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