Monday 10 September 2012

London Film Festival 2012: Top 5 Not To Be Missed

I have been spending the last few days furiously flicking through the pages of the London Film Festival programme trying to decide on my schedule. The increasing number of venues and the distances involved have been adding to the headache of films clashes, to the point where I would need the sort of 3D space hologram map as displayed in Prometheus to be able to make a clear schedule. (Navigation by Fassbenger's magic flute optional).

There is little point me doing an extensive coverage of the line up, other film sites with more time and ressources can do it better than me. I would rather put the spotlight on a handful of films I have uncovered which fits our blog's focus of alternative, cult and Asian cinema. I have taken more and more of an anti-trailer stance recently, and especially with films like those below that I have seen little about, I want to keep them as fresh and intact as I can. Here they are:

For Love's Sake by Takashi Miike

To say that the Japanese director is prolific and varied would be an understatement. Still better known in the West for his ultra violent films such as Ichi The Killer and Audition, his status certainly got raised with the recent wonderful 13 Assassins, a period drama/gory actioner. While we are still waiting for the release of Zebraman 2 (about a superhero who is 50% man, 50% zebra, 100% stripes) and his adaptation of Nintendo DS well known game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, his latest, For Love's Sake, is shown at the festival.

It was actually in Cannes and I even got an invitation for its midnight screening but we were unable to go and I knew little about it. Having read the blurb on the programme, it does sound exciting. It is the adaptation of a manga set in high school that is said to be a musical/action/comedy/love story, featuring violent fights and OTT musical numbers. The director often plays loose, which is almost understandable given the frequency of his output, but you can be sure this will not be boring!

Helter Skelter by Mika Ninagawa

I am going to be watching this straight after For Love's Sake, so I truly hope I won't suffer a J-Pop/Kawai OD! One I knew nothing about, this is a trashy tale set in the world of fashion/teen-idol industry, with the Japanese Kate Moss taking the lead. It is said to be reminiscent of Ken Russell with a mix of hysteria and visual flair and I was told that the footage of Helter Skelter shown at the festival press launch elicited the biggest response. I'm sold!

Blancanieves by Pablo Berger

My favourite thing about flicking through the LFF programme is to come across films I had not heard about, yet whose picture and short summary are enough to get me excited. This Spanish film is a modern day gothic black & white silent (phew!) adapation of Snow White, described a sensory journey  into a mythical and cinematic past with a somptuous design, I absolutely cannot wait for this!

A Fish 3D by Park Hong-Min

There are always at least a couple of South Korean films in my LFF's line up, often proving the festival's highlights (as with Mother in 2012 and The Day He Arrives in 2011), and this year is no exception. A Fish is being described as a mystery thriller about a professor on the hunt for her missing wife, who may have become a shaman in a strange island. There are echoes of Twin Peaks apparently, especially thanks to the very odd characters the lead encounters) which may be a lazy way to describe anything slightly unusual, or it may prove to be accurate, we shall see.

This is actually in 3D, a home-made 3D, in fact the whole film has been produced on a shoe-string budget, by a director who is still at university! Now I have a slight caveat, two years ago, the LFF got itself all excited about a similar student made South Korean film called End Of Animal about the apocalypse, and while not without its moments, the film was a crushing bore (I have even forgotten the title!). Director Sung-Hee Jo, present for a Q&A, almost implied he could not believe his film had been selected and he was very eager to point out the numerous problems in it, one of the LFF's most surreal moments!

Kiss of the Damned by Xan Cassavetes

Two vampire sisters! A rebellious succubus! A vision of the afterlife steeped in atmosphere and broody contemplation! Directed by the daughter of Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes! Starring Roxane Mesquida! Honestly, I don't think I need to say more to sell it to you. This kind of half trashy/half existentialist reminds me of Abel Ferrara's The Addiction with Lily Taylor (which you must watch at once if you have not already) and is right down my street! It has been compared to the work of Jean Rollin, and I am not sure how much of a compliment this is supposed to be!

There are several films being shown at the LFF which I was lucky to see in Cannes and that I would also recommend, they are:

In Another Country by Hang Sang Soo with Isabelle Huppert
Post Tenebras Lux by Carlos Reygadas
Like Someone In Love by Abbas Kiarostami

The London Film Festival will take place between the 10th and the 21st of October 2012, you can find a full listing here.

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