Wednesday, 19 October 2011

LFF 2011 Reviewdump #2:
Carnage / Strawberry Fields / Headhunters / Take Shelter

If you've still got your fingers crossed from yesterday, you can uncross them now: LFF 2011 is getting better already.

Based on a French play, Roman Polanski's bite-sized film adaptation makes no attempt to hide its theatrical origins. On a single set over just 79 minutes, four actors exaggeratedly gurn and yell like they're projecting to the cheap seats in a real-time story of the anger, misery, bitterness and disappointment that lurk beneath the surface of middle-class politeness. It's immensely watchable, surprisingly funny (it's got one of the year's best vomit scenes) and doesn't even come close to outstaying its welcome.

A 75% excellent cast make it worthwhile: only Kate Winslet's embarrassing drunk act lets the side down, but watching Jodie Foster screwing her face into a ball of rage in close up (the most obvious benefit of a film version) makes up for it. Unfortunately we never find out much about the characters we don't already know after the first five minutes: their collective arcs just seem to involve going from sober and restrained to drunk and shouty. It's hard to complain about something with such a zippy running time though, and if you can make peace with the stagey feel then Carnage is classy but throwaway entertainment. Wed 19, Sat 22

Strawberry Fields
Sadly not the spin-off about Gemma Arterton's character from Quantum Of Solace (hilarious Bond in-joke) but rather a tedious bit of whiffle about an annoying girl, her annoying sister and the annoying man they fight over while picking annoying strawberries. Recommended for people who like to be annoyed. Wed 19, Fri 21

When you take a step back from a film for a second and look at what you're watching out of context, a shot of a man covered head to toe in human shit escaping from a killer in a tractor with a skewered dog swinging off the front of it is fairly high on the bonkersometer. And while Headhunters doesn't maintain that level of crazy for its entire running time (that would be exhausting), it does repeatedly come up with crowd-pleasingly hellish situations through which to put its hapless protagonist, and it's this that raises it above the standard of most Euro-thrillers.

While the plot isn't watertight and the dull, flat cinematography lets the side down a bit, Headhunters' tale of a semi-professional art thief in over his head (at one point literally, hence the faeces overcoat) barely stops for breath while delivering gruesome thrills and blackly comic LOLzaplenty. I was going to make a joke here about expecting a US remake to have been announced by the time you read this, but in between me writing and you reading it's already happened. Wed 19, Sat 22

Take Shelter
Shit-hot boggle-eyed character actor Michael Shannon gets another chance to headline a film after Werner Herzog's limply-received My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, and he's immensely watchable. When he pops up as General Zod in 2013's Man Of Steel, he'll "steel" that film from under the nose of everyone else in it. STEEL! Ah, dearie me. *wipes eye*

Take Shelter is as weirdly gripping as Shannon's fizzog, despite not much actually going on. His character's apocalyptic visions of an approaching cataclysm are fairly terrifying, and his apparent mounting insanity, which leads him to build a giant metaphor in his back garden, is convincingly portrayed. But while it's definitely About Something, Take Shelter is more interested in building atmosphere and tension than delivering anything as straightforward as an explanation of what's going on. Not that it has to - I'm all for ambiguity, me - but it is likely to cause a lot of head-scratching when it hits multiplexes next month. Fri 21, Sun 23

1 comment :

  1. Cross Carnage off your viewing list. It is like 'Abigail's Party on film without good characters or script. Do not make any move to see this movie.