Sunday 21 October 2018

London Film Festival 2018: Long Day's Journey Into Night by Bi Gan

While the name of Bi Gan does not mean much to many cinephiles, the young Chinese director made a big impact in France with his first film Kaili Blues so there was a certain trepidation when his second film, Long Day's Journey Into Night was announced especially since the film was said to be in 3D, always an intriguing prospect for arthouse cinema.

Rather confusingly, the first half of the film is actually in 2D. In it, Luo Hongwu returns to his hometown Kaili to search for the woman he loved and was never able to forget.

The first half of Long Day's Journey Into Night plays like an oblique, arthouse neo-noir. There are mobsters, mysterious woman and a labyrinthine plot from which most of the narrative clue seems to have been withdrawn from the audience. Sumptuously shot, it is a mystery that it one enjoy getting lost in, free from the shackles of storytelling conventions. So far so good if not particularly new and even Wong Car Wai-esque.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

London Film Festival 2018: Duplicate by Bill Oliver

Genre cinema used to be underrepresented at mainstream film festivals not so long ago, so it is refreshing that is finally being embraced. Here at the London Film Festival, it is mostly (but not exclusively) in the Cult Strand, where Duplicate was presented.

In Duplicate, Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is a career-minded young man with a regimented life, working in an architectural firm and without any sign of any love life or even friends. We see him communicate via recorded video-tapes with a man called John (also Ansel Elgort), who looks just like him but with a very different and more fun outlook on life. They share a bond on top of their very obvious resemblance, but we do not know what it is at first, and there are no signs of any other interactions between them apart from those messages. That bond is about to be jeopardised however as a series of events threaten their carefully planned daily routine.

Friday 12 October 2018

London Film Festival 2018: Ash Is Purest White by Jia Zhangke

Chinese director Jia Zhangke is a familiar names for cinephiles. His previous film, Mountains May Depart (2015) divided critics however. He is back with Ash Is Purest White, the tale of a doomed love spanning decades.

The Chinese director is able to depict contemporary China like no other, in great details and offering a less than flattering portrayal in the process. He is particularly interested in the way the country has changed so dramatically over the last two decades. In Mountains May Depart he was looking into the future, here he turns back to to the turn of the century, a pivotal moment in which China embraced capitalism and saw its economy grow exponentially.