Tuesday, 18 October 2011

LFF 2011: 50/50, 360, and Rampart

50/50
What a cracking opening to my 2011 London Film Festival: 50/50 made me laugh and cry – and both at the same time more than once.
This could so easily have a disease of the week melodrama, but instead it reaches unexpected heights of poignancy and reality without ever being grim and depressing nor falling between stools the way Love And Other Drugs does.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on top form as the anal do-goody 33-year-old who suddenly finds himself diagnosed with an unpronounceable cancer. The comedy and the drama then unfold as he, his best friend (Seth Rogen), his mother (Anjelica Huston), his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and his counsellor (the wonderful Anna Kendrick channelling some her schtick from Up In The Air) come to grips with the reality of his condition.
Directed with a commendably light touch by Jonathan Levine, the film may seem too American indie twee at the start, but as it gets under the skin of its main characters, so something greater emerges.
The relationship between the two friends is the underscore of the movie – so much is left unsaid by the pair, even at the death, but a chance discovery reveals the true depth of their bond.
A Golden Globe nom awaits Gordon-Levitt, and possibly Kendrick and Rogen.
Quite simply, this is great entertainment.
Score: 9/10

360
Is Fernando ‘City of God’ Meirelles’ the new Minghella or even worse the new Inarritu?
This is a self-indulgent, self-obsessed, meaningless work – just like the later output of Minghella and Innaritu.
Technically the film is great, with one or two good performances – most notably Anthony Hopkins who steals the movie and will probably garner some awards heat.
But otherwise it is a hollow exercise not deserving of your pennies. The more I think about, the more disappointed I am.
Score: 3/10

Meal break: after a beer at the Blue Posts, it was time to hit Ganton Street and The Diner - arguably the best burger bar in town. Wolf down a bacon cheeseburger with Diner fries (love those spices), aided by a bottle or two of Coopers ale and some great music, and I'm ready for the third film of the day...

Rampart
Woody Harrelson is on fire, full of rage and loathing, in this take on late 90s LAPD corruption. Some major awards recognition is likely.
Harrelson’s Officer Brown is a career cop after surviving Vietnam and is king of all he surveys – local bums and LAPD raw recruits quake in his wake.
The film charts his descent in paranoia and yet more rage as he is caught on film beating a man, Rodney King-style.
Unhappy at work, unhappy at home, and unable to score the blood money he needs to get by on, Brown is very much an Abel Ferrara character as the pressure on him mounts, although there is no redemption for him at all.
The entire production is well-thought out, and the high contrast cinematography presents us with an LA we rarely see on screen.
Gripping throughout, but no joyride.
Score: 7/10

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