Final round-up: Leeds International Film Festival

Finisterrae

A SECOND week of films from the vast selection at Leeds International Film Festival threw up some oddball additions, not least of all Open Wings competitor, Finisterrae.

In what is undoubtedly one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen, two ghosts who have tired of their other-worldly existence go on the road to Finisterre to seek advice on returning to the human world.

This debut work from Spain’s Sergio Caballero – co-director of the famous Sonar music festival – features snippets of an eclectic soundtrack, though its brilliance does not distract nearly enough from the heavy-handed manner in which the film desperately tries to push existential boundaries.

There are moments of humour to break up the obtrusive weirdness – the deadpan narrative between the ghosts’ dialogue does tickle on occasion, particularly when it transpires one of the two is depressed and there’s debate over the usefulness of keeping an appointment with a psychiatrist.

But rather than laughing at the film’s content I was rather more amused by the thought of its production, with camera crews sneaking out on night time jaunts to industrial estates to film two men covered in bed sheets standing in a ring of fire.

I also couldn’t help but wonder if animals – like children – are subject to the same rules and regulations of shorter working hours, and was the third main role of the steed in fact a job share with a second horse?

Having said that there was an erroneous scene where a fake horse with a rotating head replaced the real deal, for reasons largely unknown…

Together

Lukas Moodysson’s Together was a largely more comical affair than I anticipated as it followed the lives of those living in a hippy commune forced to make room for a housewife and a pair of precocious brats.

It’s the adults who live in this supposedly harmonious home who are exposed for their hypocrisies – flouting social norms for no real reason other than it was radical to do so – and the children who remark on their stupidity.

Marxists, nudists and vegans all get in a look-in as their 70s pad implodes with the frankly mundane: unrequited love, divorce, family spats, etc, but the film does strike a nice balance between funny and touching.

Shut Up Little Man

Music documentary Shut Up Little Man introduces us to an audio phenomenon that captured an underground music movement way before the internet reared its head.

Mid-west punks Eddie and Mitch have noisy neighbours and paper-thin walls to thank for their creativity as they set about recording.

Going viral before it was cool to do so, the pair recorded snippets of rows and recorded them to mix-tapes for friends,  which in turn sparked the interest of movie producers.


Sure, the dream was shortlived, but director Matthew Bates’ interviews with the protagonists provides a bittersweet ode to one of the earliest musical subcultures.
Advertisements

Preview: Leeds International Film Festival

Carey Mulligan in Shame

FILM: a breathtaking exercise in bringing the fantastic to life, a notion so wonderful it has captured the minds of film-makers for more than a century. For Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF), this year marks the city’s 25th celebration of the cinematic world.

The three-week event – which runs from November 3-20 – boasts a sparkling schedule of screenings, split over six categories bulging with new discoveries, exclusive previews and cherry-picked selections.

At the heart of the festival is its Official Selection category, showcasing emerging directors, fresh talent and classics from the archives.

The cream of the cinematic crop bookends LIFF’s special events with Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold kicking off the opening gala with her bold adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights on November 3.

Closing the gala on November 18 will be Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed Shame starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in what preview reviews promise is his finest performance to date.

Sandwiched inbetween on November 9 is an exclusive presentation of Silent Clowns – a homage to some of the finest pre-talkie actors in film history – hosted by one of Britain’s best-loved comedians, Paul Merton.

Irish murder tale, The Other Side of Sleep

Across the calendar, potential screen stealers include psychological drama Take Shelter which has Hollywood disaster-movie appeal, and Irish murder story, The Other Side of Sleep, which battles alongside 11 other UK premieres in the Golden Owl Competition.

Quirky selection entries include oddball fantasy, Finisterrae, hippy comedy, Together, and Romanian new-wave gem, Best Intentions.

Those who love their cinema served with a side of gore will rejoice that the much-loved Fano

Brit-pop beats: Pulp is the law

menon duo of events, Night and Day of the Dead, return to satiate the appetite for aliens (November 5 and 12 respectively).

For fans who love music and film in equal measure, this year’s home to documentary comes under Cinema Versa: a series of special events based on the festival aesthetic.

Tipped for success is The Beat is the Law – Fanfare for the Common People, which traces Sheffield’s musical history, with a large chunk dedicated to Brit-poppers, Pulp.

On an underground note, Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure tells the tale of a viral phenomenan borne of paper thin walls and noisy neighbours.

Finally, and further proof audiences will be spoiled for choice this year, LIFF also boasts the world’s largest comic celebration, Thought Bubble, a selection of world animation and short film, and experiemntal showcase, Cherry Kino.

Visit http://www.leedsfilm.com/ for ticket prices, venues, and screening information.