London Film Festival: Critics picks

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Before you max out the credit card on LFF tickets this year, take a look at our handy critics picks first...

Dave Calhoun recommends…

Jim Jarmusch’s new film, ‘The Limits of Control’, is a noir head-scratcher that’s as cool as they come: Isaach de Bankolé plays a sharp-suited criminal travelling through Spain and having mysterious meetings with eccentric characters played by Tilda Swinton, Gael García Bernal, Bill Murray and others. You get the feeling that Jarmusch wanted to go back to the monastery with this puzzling riff on Melville and ‘Point Blank’ after the lighter ‘Broken Flowers’. Equally headstrong is Gaspar Noé’s mind-bending ‘Enter the Void’, which I suspect has been trimmed since a Cannes outing that approached three hours. Noé follows ‘Irréversible’ with this Tokyo-set, neon-drenched story of an American expat who is shot dead while on a DMT trip soon after his sister comes to visit. The film adopts the perspective of his soul floating above the city – or is it just one long, bad trip? It’s nothing if not daring – although one critic has called it ‘the world’s most expensive screensaver’. More straightforward in the telling is Jacques Audiard’s bruising ‘A Prophet’, a compelling prison movie that smartly bullies you into believing its increasingly ludicrous plot. He’s looking forward to seeing: Claire Denis’s ‘White Material’.

 

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Yorgos Lanthimos’s eerie ‘Dogtooth

David Jenkins recommends…

Yorgos Lanthimos’s stunning ‘Dogtooth’ was a prizewinner at this year’s Cannes and is about a man who wants to protect his kids from the world. So he locks them in his mansion, tends to their sexual urges and invents words to satisfy their curiosity (‘telephone’ becomes ‘salt-shaker’ etc). It’s challenging, funny and rich ‘what if?’ cinema that fashions its own strange little world. Elsewhere, Todd Solondz’s ‘Life During Wartime’ sees the US provocateur back on blistering form. Returning to the characters of 1998 hit ‘Happiness’, he weaves an arch, insightful yarn of depression, degradation and hypocrisy as three sisters try to get their lives back on track. Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy and Paul ‘Pee Wee Herman’ Reubens all star.He’s looking forward to seeing: Harmony Korine’s ‘Trash Humpers’.

 

Tom Huddleston recommends…

For his follow-up to global smash ‘The Host’, Korean master Bong Joon-Ho has fashioned ‘Mother’, an intimate Hitchcockian melodrama packed with dazzling directorial flourishes. Following Hye-Ja Kim’s battered and increasingly desperate matriarch

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Bong Joon-Ho's 'Mother'

as she attempts to prove the innocence of her semi-autistic son in the run-up to his murder trial, this is a breathlessly paced, perfectly plotted and emotionally overwhelming thriller.

In the Cinema Europa strand is first-timer Roberto Castón’s ‘Ander’, a warm study of a lonely man’s struggle for self-acceptance. Meanwhile, among the documentaries, ‘Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno’ attempts to piece together the fragments of a filmmaking legend’s unfinished project. The story is fascinating, but the main attraction is Clouzot’s sensuous, bizarre footage: the sight of Romy Schneider on water-skis is well worth the price of admission alone.
He’s looking forward to seeing: Atom Egoyan’s ‘Chloe’.

Author: Dave Calhoun, David Jenkins & Tom Huddleston



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