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PREVIEW: London Film Festival 2013

This year’s London Film Festival has over 300 features, shorts and events, topics include: a Disney adaptation; a space mission; a penniless 60s musician; Lance Armstrong; the Norwegian Sea; a dark adult fairytale; Charles Dickens’ affair; a mountain climb; an environmental thriller; a hijacking; a lonely divorcé; an obsession with porn; a radical commune; a pair of centuries old vampires; a sentimental journey; a legendary dog; a band formation; a racially tense thriller; a woman with dyed blue hair; a Lunchbox delivery service; an ambulance driver with a personality disorder; and a whole lot more. Phew! The London Film Festival runs from 9th -20th Oct.  Check out LFF Listings for when and where screenings are happening.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of what’s on offer.

Aatsinki: the Story of Arctic Cowboys, Finland-USA 2013 | 85mins

Dir. Jessica Oreck

Aatsinki: the Story of Arctic Cowboys is a cleverly shot documentary following the lives of reindeer herding brothers Lasse and Arne Aatsinki.  The filmmaker is all but invisible in this beautiful tale; as if she simply left her camera turned on and let it film everything and anything occurring in the brother’s daily lives.  The tale the camera does tell is one of strength, tradition and male bonding, set against the stunning backdrop of arctic Finland.  Theirs is a world of masculinity; guns, helicopters, barbed wire and quad bikes act as the props in the story of their lives. The traditional methods of reindeer farming may have modernised, but the passion that the herders have for their work remains. Carefully placed subtitled dialogue guides the viewer along; subjects often talk in their native tongue and the viewer is left to just flow along with the story as if they are part of it.  But along with the beauty of it’s setting and the passionate determination of it’s subject to keep their trade alive, this documentary also features some stomach churning moments, when we see at first hand, the sometimes brutal tasks presented to the brothers which they deal with effortlessly and without a blink of an eye. Certainly a film full of heart, but not for the faint of heart.

The Bounceback, USA 2013 | 91mins

Dir. Bryan Poyser | Starring Michael Stahl-David, Ashley Bell, Zach Cregger, Sara Paxton

A film about love.  Lost love, potential love and re-kindled love. A film about love, set amidst the Air Sex World Championships!! (this is an actual real life event…) But that remarkable fact aside, The Bounceback is an easy going comedy about Stan, a screenwriter trying to make it big in LA, his ex girlfriend, Cathy, who has moved to New York to attend medical school and the possibility of them reconnecting when Stan decides to intercept Cathy during a weekend visit to their home town of Austin, Texas that coming weekend.  The plan seems simple enough, except that on arrival in Austin, the two find that their former double date partners have also broken up and are hell bent on keeping Stan and Cathy apart, as well as inflicting misery on each other, often with the help of the aforementioned Air Sex World Championships. Although the end to this film may seem predictable from the start, it throws in enough twists and turns to keep you guessing along the way and might just surprise you with its eventual conclusion. The Bounceback has enough laughs and cringe worthy moments to make it an enjoyable film worth seeing.

Afternoon Delight, USA 2013 | 99mins

Dir. Jill Soloway | Starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch

Bored LA housewife Rachel (Kathryn Hahn, Parks and Recreation) spends her days doing the school run, volunteering at community events and generally wishing there was something more to her life, but feels like she shouldn’t complain.  After all, these are first world problems, even if she hasn’t had sex with her husband for six months, it could be worse.

On the advice of a friend, Rachel and Jeff visit a local strip club where Rachel meets young dancer McKenna (Juno Temple). Intrigued by McKenna and her lifestyle, Rachel carefully engineers to run into the dancer and soon invites her to stay in the family home.  From this point the film seems almost predictable; there are of course problems with hosting a stripper in your family home!

There are sadly moments when this film loses its way, scenes designed to be shocking often fall flat when they are revealed not to be as they first seem, but at its heart the film retains an equal sense of comedy and drama, though sometimes switching between them too bluntly.  It’s an enjoyable film with a very likeable cast, but it may perhaps leave you wanting something more.

Kill Your Darlings, USA 2013 | 104mins

Dir. John Krokidas | Starring Michael C. Hall, Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan

This debut feature from director John Krokidas has created quite a buzz on the festival circuit so far, not least for it’s casting of Daniel Radcliffe (better known to most of us as Harry Potter), but also due to the originality of the films scenes, which draw you in so completely, you almost feel part of the story.

Based on a true story, following the life of a young Allen Ginsberg (founding member of the Beat Generation and famous for writing the poem Howl), seeing him leave his parents home, where he has cared for his mentally ill mother (superbly played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) for his freshman year at Columbia University in 1944.  It’s here that Ginsberg meets Lucien Carr (along with Beat writers; William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac) and is quickly led into an anti-establishment world in which the young men seek to revolutionise the written word in their own style. But while Ginsberg falls headlong in love with Carr, Carr already has a suitor in older man, David Kammerer, a former Professor turned Janitor who answers to Carr’s every wish and command.  Sadly, it is Kammerer’s death that provides the true story element to this film; he is stabbed by Carr and dumped into the Hudson River, with the aforementioned Beats being dragged in as accomplices after the fact.

At times this is not an easy film to watch, it’s depiction of mental illness is handled starkly and without sympathy, but certainly honestly for the time in which the film is set.  Radcliffe is a revelation as Ginsberg, as is DeHaan as Carr, and though unsettling at times, this is certainly one to see.

Full London Film Festival listings here: LFF Listings

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