Out Now – 9th November 2012

We have actually seen three of the films out this week!

Somehow Ben Affleck has managed to make a film about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis into a funny Hollywood satire that doesn’t make light of the serious drama of a real-life international incident. It’s a strange beast but good.

The Sapphires
Three country song-singing Aboriginal sisters and their cousin get turned into a soul group by a bar worker, before travelling to Vietnam to entertain the troops. It might not be Stephen Colbert getting a buzzcut in Iraq on Obama’s orders but it is a joyful watch.

People Like Us
After his estranged father dies, a salesman discovers he has a half-sister he knew nothing about. It possibly gets a tiny bit incestuous. Now is that a story that’s going to make it into the Christmas newsletter?

Here Comes the Boom
To make money for extra curricular activities at his school, a biology teacher becomes a mixed martial arts fighter. Hang on, isn’t this a sillier version of Warrior?

Love Bite
In fictional Rainmouth, a werewolf is eating virgins. This may be the one time an orgy is declared as a public service.

Alps (limited release)
To help people with the grieving process, a business offers a service where people impersonate recently deceased loved ones and recreate classic scenes from their past life. Tim says that if Charlie Kaufman were to make a Greek film, it would look a lot like this.

Grassroots (limited release)
This is the perfect time to release a film about a grassroots campaign to get someone elected to the Seattle City Council. It’s not like anyone’s got American politics fatigue and is relieved the Presidential election circus is over or anything. Hello Cobie Smulders!

The Joy of Six (limited release)
A set of half a dozen (see what they did there?) short films out of Soda’s New British Cinema programme. Some bright new directors, including Romola Garai, and some established acting talent. Hello Judi Dench!

Mother’s Milk (limited release)
The combined power of Jack Davenport and Tom Hollander star in this drama about the troubled relationships within an English family. Stiff upper lips at the ready please.

My Brother The Devil (limited release)
Yet more gritty drama from the East End – this time British Egyptian teenage brothers have to survive the streets of “gangland London”. It sounds familiar but this might be the one to see: at the time of writing, 16 critics have given it a 100% fresh rating.

East End Babylon (limited release)
A “rockumentary” that tells the history of London’s East End over the past 100 years, leading to the formation of local band The Cockney Rejects, which seems more than a little self-important. They apparently united their joint passions for music and West Ham and released a punk cover of West Ham’s song “I’m forever blowing bubbles”, one of the more unlikely choices for a football terrace chant.

Aurora (limited release)
A 42 year old man, “troubled by obscure thoughts, drives across the city to a destination known only to him”. I am no more enlightened by this than you.

Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (limited release)
Documentary about stop-motion king Ray Harryhausen, who is now 92 years old.

Alps – LFF Review

Giorgos Lanthimos created a lot of buzz with his previous film Dogtooth, in which someone tries to break free from a fictitious environment and break into the real world. In Alps similar fictitious worlds are created and the lead, played by Aggeliki Papoulia, tries to escape into them rather than away from them. The Alps are a bizarre group of individuals offering a very unique service, members of the team can be hired out to fill the place of a deceased loved one for a few hours a week, re-enacting classic scenes from their life.

With such a bizarre concept it is all too easy for a film to feel inauthentic and too odd to settle into. Lanthimos combats this by not burdening the audiences with too much exposition. The theory of the Alps is never really explained, it is up to the audience to figure out what is happening at their own pace. Naturally this meant I spent a lot of time confused and bewildered but I got there in the end.

The Hollywood version of Alps is not hard to imagine, with a new rookie recruit being taken through the process so that we’re all clear on the themes of the film. It is a relief that Lanthimos shies away from this. By not explaining the concept it somehow comes across as more natural and not out of place in the world we live in. As soon as you understand what is happening, you accept it and move on.

On the whole Alps has a wonderfully natural feel that draws you in and the tight running time means the film never lets you go. An unusual beast, Alps is intriguing, comic, moving and brutal. If Charlie Kaufman were to make a Greek film, it would look a lot like this but would be half an hour too long.

Alps has no UK release yet but surely will do soon.

55th BFI London Film Festival

For the next week or so this post will be our hub for coverage of the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Any films we’ve seen have a thumbnail below linking to their review and the video player below will update itself to show the latest video from the BFI about the festival.

We’re trying to break the 20 film barrier this year, though it may well kill us.

Films reviewed:

Latest video coverage:

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