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The London Film Festival is over and I have to say I’m sort of suffering from film fatigue.  I did enjoy pretty much everything I watched, but I kind of like my time to reflect on each film I see before I delve into the next one and at festivals that’s kind of hard to do – the next screening is always only a few hours away.

I haven’t quite managed to get myself into a review-mode either, although I do have notes on all of the films. Unlike some people I know I don’t take notes while watching (except mental ones 🙂 ), but I do pull out my computer right after a screening is over to jot down first impressions. It’s too easy to forget about certain reactions and feelings otherwise, even more so if I don’t have a chance to rewatch the film soon after (which I often don’t).

Awards

The BFI announced the award winners for the 56th London Film Festival on Saturday. They are as follows:

BEST FILM: De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone, France/Belgium, 2012), directed by Jacques Audiard.
BEST BRITISH NEWCOMER: Sally El Hosaini – director/screenwriter My Brother the Devil.
SUTHERLAND AWARD (for the director for the most original and imaginative feature debut): Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild.
THE GRIERSON AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY: Alex Gibney, director and screenwriter of Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.
BFI FELLOWSHIPS: Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter (announced previously).

Of course I didn’t watch any of those films, though Beasts of the Southern Wild has been on my to-watch list since May. The festival screenings were sold out, however, the film was released in UK cinemas this past Friday, so I’m hoping to see it some time soon. Given that it has received a number of awards on the festival circuit already, I think we can also expect a DVD release in the future.

What I Saw & Thought

  • 「夢売るふたり」 (Yume Uru Futari/Dreams for Sale, 2012) – Probably the film I enjoyed the least because there were too many things that made no sense to me, in particular the fact that the loser-husband would be able to convincingly pull off the loverboy act in the marriage scam set up by his wife. Given that this is the central premise of the story told, it all didn’t quite work for me.
  • 「愛と誠 」(Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake, 2012) – This Miike Takashi adaptation of a manga will either sweep you up in its whacky awesomeness or leave you shaking your head in total bewilderment about those weird films that the Japanese make. Me? I have lots of love love love for Ai to Makoto. Can’t wait to see it again. And if someone releases a DVD, rest assured I will rewatch it a gazillion times, if only to see Tsumabuki beat up twenty guys single-handledly while singing. REVIEW – 9/10.
  • 「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku samuwan in rabu/Like Someone in Love, Japan/France, 2012) – When Raiku samuwan in rabu screened in Cannes viewers were greatly divided, in particular about the abrupt ending. I thought Abbas Kiarostami’s Japanese film was a superbly made and acutely observed commentary on the façades that we build up in society. Harsh and uncomfortable – you can’t really feel sympathy for anyone in this film except dear old obāchan – but Kiarostami does hit the nail on the head. REVIEW – 8/10.
  • 「おおかみこどもの雨と雪」 (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/Wolf Children, 2012) – An intrinsically sad and surprisingly reflective story that really isn’t for kids. Gorgeous. Yes, it’s as good as Hosoda Mamoru’s「時をかける少女」 (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo/The Girl Who Leapt through Time, 2006) – it’s just good in a different way.

  • 물고기 (Mulgogi/A Fish, 2011) – My favourite of the three Korean films I watched. It wasn’t perfect by any means but wonderfully Borgesian, operating very much on metaphorical and symbolic levels – though I will have to rewatch this film before I attempt a detailed interpretation. Park Hong-min is certainly a director I will be watching.
  • 화차 (Hwacha/Helpless, 2012) – My least favourite Korean offering. I enjoyed the cinematography and there was some wonderful acting, but I wanted to feel more conflicted about the characters. To sum it up: a very pretty version of CSI Seoul with the usual twists, particularly at the end.
  • 로맨스 조 (Romaenseu Jo/Romance Joe, 2012) – A sweet little delight of a story that comes in carefully constructed meta-layers. Yet it’s daring enough not to give you a perfect resolution of an ending – which I rather loved, though I know some people walked out of the screening confused.
  • De jueves a domingo (Thursday Till Sunday, Chile, 2012) – Similar to the Uruguayan Las acacias last year, De jueves a domingo a film that take place on the road in the confined space of a car. It’s also equally quiet. There is little action or story. If you don’t mind that kind of slowness, it’s wonderful film in which you may find moments evocative of your own childhood.
  • O Som ao Redor (Neighbouring Sounds, Brazil, 2012) – Let’s just say that after watching this São Paulo is definitely not on my list of places to live one day. The sense of foreboding was fantastically ever-present in this film, which closely observes life on a single street. However, I’m still in two minds about the suggested twist at the end.

Full reviews to follow!

Things I Missed

  • חיותה וברל (Hayuta And Berl/Epilogue, Israel, 2012) – I actually had a ticket for this film, but baka me went to the wrong Curzon cinema and in the end I decided that racing to the correct location and watching Hayuta and Berl minus the first half hour wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’ll have to try again some other time.
  • 「鍵泥棒のメソッド」 (Kagi Dorobo no Mesotdo/Key of Life, 2012) – Probably the film I regret missing the most, but I just couldn’t fit it in. Fingers crossed for screenings elsewhere, or a DVD release.
  • 「ジャパン イン ア デイ」(Japan in a Dei/Japan in a Day, UK/Japan, 2012) – I would have rather liked to attend this special screening, but unfortunately had to work that Saturday morning.

…and a whole lot more! It was inevitable of course, but I did feel that the shorter duration of the festival compared to last year wasn’t the best decision. I didn’t mind the wide range of all-over-London screening locations as much – although I would never bother going to see anything in Brixton, I rather appreciated the 12-min cycle ride to Hackney Picturehouse for Mulgogi, compared to the 40 minutes it usually takes me to Leicester Square or the BFI Southbank.

Overall: Rather intense film-watching days, but I was pleased with what I got to see.