LFF 2018 Day 4 – Last Child | Roma | Non-Fiction

Day 4 will mark the day I lost my patience with my fellow delegates as a handful, worried they wouldn’t get into the super popular Roma, ran (literally) from the back of the queue to secure themselves seats. As a result I ended up sat at the foot of the screen with subtitles looming above me. But who am I to complain? An over privileged blogger is who!

Last Child

Myself and five other critics who weren’t thinking tactically enough about what time they needed to start queueing for Roma braved the early morning screening of Last Child; a South Korean drama about two parents (Chi Moo-seong and Kim Yeo-jin) who recently lost their son when he drowned while saving one of his classmates.

The couple are going through the motions; conflicted about how to best move on from their tragedy and struggling for closure. A small spark starts to reignite their lives when the husband offers an apprenticeship at their interior decorating company to the boy whose life their son died saving. Kihyun (Seong Yu-bin) is wary of the couple at first but slowly he looks to them as surrogate parents in the same way that they seek to fill the hole their son has left behind. Slowly, subtly, their lives start to improve. Until the inevitable turn in Act III that is…

Last Child is deeply authentic and affecting. You feel the couple’s sadness and loss and understand their need to find someone to fill the open role in their lives. While the overall synopsis could lead to an over the top melodrama instead director Dong-seok Shin opts for a bubbling under the surface mellow drama.

Last Child screens at the festival on 13th, and 14th October.


Alfonso Cuarón’s two most recent films were a Harry Potter and 2013’s most talked about(?) film Gravity. After five years away he has returned to his roots with a black and white period drama set in Mexico City. Rather than another effects laden blockbuster he has gone for a properly cinematic portrait of a middle-class family in the 1970s and the maid who takes care of them. And while the film screams art-house cinema release, Cuarón has sold it to Netflix so there are no limits to who can add it to their queue.

The real star of Roma is the maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) who we cling to during our time on the bustling streets of Mexico City. We follow Cleo as she takes care of three generations of her employer’s family, as she indulges in romance, and as she experiences trauma and has to sweep it aside knowing that her own needs come second.

Cuarón has made a deeply personal film that sees him turn his back on what he has been praised for in recent films. He has stripped away the special effects, the star names, and even the colour to leave just his characters without distractions. Roma is a refreshingly old-fashioned film that is likely made more remarkable for who made it than what it contains.

Roma screens at the festival on 13th, 14th, and 15th October before being released on Netflix on 14th December.


Writer-director Olivier Assayas has been on a great run in recent years with the industry-satirising Clouds of Sils Maria and the ghostly/sexy Personal Shopper. This year he reunites with Juliette Binoche and turns his attention to the publishing industry.

Using a handful of characters as his mouthpieces Assayas debates with himself about the future of publishing, the relative benefits of digital vs. pysical media, and who has a right to access art. Giving the characters something to do when they aren’t debating are a few affairs here and there but these scenes have the screen fade to black only to return us, post-coitus, to yet more debate.

The film has its charms and the endless dialogue is interesting and amusing but I couldn’t see if there were characters behind the theorising or if they were just props holding up Assayas’ argument. There is genuinely only one topic of conversation on these characters lips so your enjoyment of the film is directly correlated with how compelling you find this discussion.

Non-Fiction screens at the festival on 13th, 14th, and 21st October.

The 3.142 Ridiculous Scientific Mistakes in Gravity and Why They Completely Ruin All Films Ever Made Both Past & Future


Gravity FINALLY came out at the weekend and this film fan was particularly pleased to finally have his eyeballs treated to the visual spectacle that Alfonso Cuarón has concocted. Reaction on the internet, and in old-fashioned “we’ve inked words onto dead trees” newspapers, has mostly fallen into one of two camps:

1. OMFG! That is the best film I have ever seen! It has made me reconsider not just my stance on 3D but reaffirmed my belief in cinema as an art form and life itself as a worthwhile pastime.
2. WTF! This film is not scientifically accurate at all. All Sci-Fi films must 100% accurate! You can’t spell Science Fiction without “peer-reviewed facts”! You Hollywood bastards!

Some reactions fall a little into both camps and presumably there are even some people out there less keen on spouting their opinions online who simply found the film to be “alright” and don’t get too worried about whether the science holds up or not. These people are a strange breed I’m going to label as “normals”.

Personally I think I fall into the first category, though possibly with less gushing and more conservative head-nodding. Gravity is a visually stunning film with a nice simple plot that is executed in groundbreaking fashion. Sure the dialogue isn’t up to much and certain liberties have been taken with science and logistics but that isn’t what Gravity is about. This is a straightforward thriller about being stranded in space and one that wants you to believe what you are seeing. The live action and CGI imagery are blended so well by London’s own Framestore that the film was totally authentic and believable. I have never been up in space but I reckon it looks a whole lot like it does in Gravity and if you popped George Clooney and Sandra Bullock up there they would closely resemble what we see onscreen.

The film is so well crafted and gorgeously shot I couldn’t care less about the science. This is storytelling, not a science lesson.

Gravity Still

Using what little I can remember from my Physics degree (they don’t call me Tim Brandon BSc for nothing often enough) the science in Gravity isn’t actually too bad. One major point of contention for angry nerds is the scene pictured above. Not wanting to spoil the film for anyone all I will say is that I don’t think **** could have pulled #### in as **** was still decelerating themselves. Lets not forget Newton’s three laws of motion… To slow down #### they need a force applied to them and if **** applies that force then the same force will act on them in the opposite direction. As **** is still slowing down and their foot is slowly coming loose any act of pulling #### could move them further from safety.

For more detail see this article in the Washington Post or buy me a mulled wine. A lot of the internet disagrees with me but then that’s nothing new is it?

That debate aside I can only really see three problems you can have with the inaccuracies in Gravity:

1. Debris would not behave in the way it does in the film
2. Satellites would not line up and allow astronauts to travel between them so easily
3. The shuttles were not precise replicas of the real things and the astronauts did not behave as their genuine counterparts should

If you were to try to fix (1) you would have no set-up to the film, if you fix (2) you would have nowhere for the film (or its characters) to go after the initial disaster, and (3) is only going to bother real astronauts or someone hoping to use this film as an instructional video.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone use Gravity to revise for a Physics test or for NASA to include in their training programme but none of that matters. All you need to ask is whether Gravity is a beautifully shot and innovative film that is incredibly tense and deeply engrossing. The answer to that question is yes. Everything else is just noise and as any good physicist will tell you; there’s no noise in space*.

*Picture me very pleased with myself

The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Films

You may remember that last month we spent two nights at the BFI IMAX watching all seven Harry Potter films over the course of two nights. (Thanks BFI IMAX!) We finished our journey through the franchise on Monday night as we watched and scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. What follows is a run down of all eight films, written using the increasingly brief and incoherent notes we made at the time. Spoilers lie ahead.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
philosophers stone

In which Harry Potter learns he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and defeats a teacher harbouring the evil wizard Voldemort at the back of his head.

We start the franchise with an over-long film with terrible acting, odd prosthetics and scenes bordering on pantomime. From the initial scenes with the Dursleys playing out as a knockabout comedy to the final showdown in which a man completely disintegrates, Christopher Columbus produced a completely uneven film which relies mostly on reaction shots for laughs. Horrible acting from the kids is made up for by sheer cuteness and ultimately the film is a bit better than you remember. 6/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
chamber of secrets

The series continues with Harry hearing voices and writing in a diary which writes back. Turns out that pesky diary was Voldemort again.

As the kids seem to have experienced a growth spurt since the previous film they are less cute and their acting has improved slightly to compensate. Early scenes at the Burrows with the Weasley parents are great but even Julie Walters can’t make exposition work properly. Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are pretty awesome but Christopher Columbus again fails to make anything remarkable happen. With students being attacked (but surviving) the series begins its journey into becoming “dark”. 6.5/10
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