London Film Festival reviews

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The good, the bad and the ugly at this year's London Film Festival

Three star reviews

  • Canned Dreams

    Rating: 3/5

    This is a rather dreamy, lyrical doc that doesn’t strike the campaigning, righteous note we’ve come to expect from films about mass-produced food.

  • Kinshasa Kids

    Rating: 3/5

    This is an eyes-wide-open portrait of one of the world’s most poor and dangerous cities. Daily life in Kinshasa is a battle and the street kids have it worst.

  • Horses of God

    Rating: 3/5

    Though tragically plausible, the brothers’ transformation into ‘martyrs’ has an inevitability that robs it of tension. Yet the depictions of these characters’ bleak circumstances possess an authenticity that cannot be ignored.

  • Material

    Rating: 3/5

    Both the credible, dignified and often funny performance of real-life stand-up comedian Moosa and the film’s overall generous-heartedness and sense of self-belief see it through.

  • The Samurai that Night

    Rating: 3/5

    Gripping, grimly depressing, sometimes bold, often frustrating, and just a touch shallow. But it’s worth seeing for a handful of assured moments of cruel drama.

  • Beware of Mr Baker

    Rating: 3/5

    Bulger never asks us to like Baker – a frankly impossible task, given the trail of destruction he’s left in his wake – but he does ask us to admire and understand him, a request which is aided immensely by this enjoyable, eye-opening doc.

  • Grassroots

    Rating: 3/5

    The film never quite achieves the same momentum, content to trundle through the main events in the story, offering comic asides and emotional beats where necessary.

  • 10+10

    Rating: 3/5

    The pick of the bunch has to be Chung Mong-Hong’s punch-to-the-throat ‘Reverberation’, a tale of high school bullying and revenge which does more in five minutes than some features manage in their entire running time.

  • Francine

    Rating: 3/5

    A spare, haunting, occasionally distressing realist drama in that near-wordless Kelly Reichardt style. It may be true to life, but the meandering narrative can be frustrating.

  • Happy New Year, Grandma!

    Rating: 3/5

    This humorous Basque melodrama clumsily attempts to reconcile two genres: the smart, sprightly comedy of family manners and the broad, Hitchcockian thriller.

  • Helter Skelter

    Rating: 3/5

    Sawajiri is satisfyingly OTT as the insecure dominatrix mourning her inevitable decline, but the obvious point that good looks can conceal a withered core is made long before the finish line.

  • Here and There

    Rating: 3/5

    Antonio Méndez Esparza’s début feature, which is shaped around believable performances from non-professionals, offers a lucid, unsentimental analysis, but the material is perhaps too saddeningly familiar to strike real sparks.

  • In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire

    Rating: 3/5

    This film is an intoxicating, sometimes challenging blend of humdrum domestic routine and resonant personal insight. There are longeurs, and the ruminative tone requires patience, but ‘In April…’ undoubtedly marks the arrival of a distinctive new voice.

  • Robot and Frank

    Rating: 3/5

    The film feels slight and never gains much momentum, trundling towards a morose but largely unmoving climax. Ultimately, it feels as though the filmmakers have settled for the soft option one too many times, and the result is a pleasant but unmemorable watch.

  • Sister

    Rating: 3/5

    ‘Sister’ is worth seeing for two astonishing scenes: an act of horrifying familial ‘prostitution’ and a devastatingly cold, bitter climax.

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