BFI London Film Festival Diary – Part Two

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TomHardyPuppyOnto the second of our London Film Festival diaries, including reviews of Rosewater, The Drop, The Possibilities Are Endless and A Second Chance.

Day 3 – Friday 10th October

This morning I made the controversial choice to skip gala screening Mr Turner to see Desiree Akhavan’s first feature Appropriate Behavior and wasn’t disappointed.

Yes, yet another young female comedy voice based in Brooklyn (see Girls, Broad City, Fort Tilden et al), however Appropriate Behavior stands up amongst the best of them as the conflict between the characters’ Persian upbringing and bisexuality gives another angle to the ever growing genre.

The film follow’s Shirin (Desiree Akhavan) getting past the break up of her relationship with girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), with the story told through flashbacks of the arc of the relationship alongside her Shirin getting through the aftermath, supported by best friend Crystal (Halley Feiffer).

I had strong hopes for this film and in many ways it stands up. However I felt the character development of the film falls a bit short, at the end of the film she’s still roughly in the same place she was at the end of it. However I really enjoyed being in Shirin’s life for the film’s duration and found the depiction of Persian family traditions really interesting.  There’s no trailer for the film yet, but see below for one of the best scenes of the film.

In brief: If smart female-centric comedy is your thing, then give it a go!
UK release date: None yet, but demand a screening in your city here.
Appropriate Behavior website

The Possibilities Are Endless
Edwyn Collins is famous for fronting 80’s indie band Orange Juice and his 90’s solo hit ‘A Girl Like You’. In the early 00’s Collins suffered a heamorragic stroke and this film tells the story of him piecing his life back together.  Watching the film you wont learn much more Collins’ musical history, this is not a film about a musician or Edwyn’s legacy, this is a film about rehabilitation and reconnecting with yourself and your relationships.

Collins’ story is told through a voice-over from himself and wife Grace Maxwell, alongside dreamscape images that become more coherent as his state improves. There are scene of his hometown Helmsdale in Scotland, his studio and home in London and Collins’ own son Willam along with Yasmin Paige (Submarine) play a young Edwyn and Grace.

In brief: Not your typical musician documentary, this captures the emotions of Collins’ recovery well. Compelling.
UK release date: Select screenings happening now and out on general release on 7th November. More info
The Possibilities Are Endless website

The Drop
What is cuter than Tom Hardy? Tom Hardy with a puppy of course! Hardy (Locke, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) stars alongside James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) in this petty crime drama set in deepest darkest Brooklyn. The film is highly anticipated as it’s the last film to be released featuring the late Gandolfini, and his performance does not let us down, and is another reminder that we lost a great actor too early.

Highly entertaining with great performances from Hardy and Gandofini, and an even better performance from Rocco the pit bull! This film achieves what it sets out to be, a gritty crime drama with enough humour so it doesn’t get too bleak.

In brief: A good date night movie, enough crime drama for the men and Tom Hardy and a puppy for the ladies. Recommended.
UK release date: 14th November

Day 4 – Saturday 11th October

A Second Chance
This is the second film at the festival for Oscar Award winning director Susanne Bier, this time set in her native Denmark. Andreas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a policeman, when undertaking a visit to local drug dealer Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) he discovers a baby locked in a cupboard. He goes back to his beautiful house, his wife Anne (Marie Bonnevie) and baby of their own Alexander. They wake up in the middle of the night to discover Alexander is dead. Andreas decides to take matters into his own hands and does the unthinkable, only to have to suffer extreme consequences for his actions.

Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) puts in a great performance in what is a challenging role for him and there is also a commendable performance from Ulrich Thomsen (In A Better World) as Andreas’ drunkard colleague Simon. The film, as with Serena is beautifully shot, and you can tell Susanne Bier’s house style.  The story is very over the top, but it’s pretty entertaining and consistent, with an unexpected twist near the end.

In brief: An entertaining thriller if a rather far-fetched tale.
UK release date: 2015

The Keeping Room
This is a rather gruelling thriller set towards the end of the American Civil War, the second film from British director Daniel Barber after 2009’s Harry Brown. Sisters Augusta (Brit Marling) and Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) are living alone with maid Mad(Muna Otaru) in their large house as their menfolk have departed for the battlefield. After Augusta ventures to a nearby bar to get medicine, she catches the eye of Yankee scouts (Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller) who go on a vicious cat and mouse chase. Thankfully the girls are pretty bad-ass with a shotgun and are able to hold their own against the scouts.

In brief: Gruelling and gritty with commendable performances from Brit Marling and Muna Otaru.
UK release date: None set

This is a fine directorial debut from The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. The film is based on the true story of London-based journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) who was incarcerated in an Iranian Prison for 118 days after covering the Tehran riots after the re-election of Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Despite his predicament, Bahari doesn’t lose his sense of character throughout the film, and as you would hope with Jon Stewart at the helm, he is smart, astute and comedic. Bahari is accused of being a spy and his jailors are unconvinced that the reason for his lifestyle is because of his journalist profession. Therefore Bahari fabricates an addiction to massages to give reason to travelling a lot, the scene of which is hilarious in an understated way.

Gael Garcia Bernal is of course fantastic, and there are notable supporting roles from Dimitri Leonidas, Haluk Bilginer and Nasser Faris.

In brief: Maziar Bahari’s story is compelling and is told intelligently and sensitively. Highly recommended
UK release date: TBC

Look out for part three where we will review X+Y, Wild and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night amongst more