LFF Day 2 – Good Time | Ghost Stories | The Meyerowitz Stories | Word of God

Good Time

Robert Pattinson is unrecognisable as a grungy New York criminal who robs a bank with his brother (Benny Safdie) and then proceeds to have the worst day ever as he finds himself dealing with paint bombs, escaped criminals, a lovesick teenager, and a bottle of LSD hidden in a fun fair.

Good Time is delightfully unpredictable as Pattinson’s day goes from bad to worse via the farcical without ever breaking away from its frankly unpleasant, and often ugly, realism. This is a film without any Hollywood glamour and while its plot reminded me of Victoria its camerawork lacks any smooth grace preferring instead to shove your face in the grime of violence and crime.

With a pulsing synth soundtrack Good Time provides a relentlessly gripping adventure through the scummier parts of New York. It is a lot of fun but you might occasional want to look away.

Good Time screens again at the festival on 8th October and is in UK cinemas from 27th November.

Ghost Stories

Adapted from their play of the same name Ghost Stories comes from the man behind Derren Brown (Andy Nyman) and the man behind The League of Gentlemen (Jeremy Dyson). With these combined powers you would expect something dark, witty, and deeply unsettling and that is precisely what you get here.

Nyman plays a supernatural sceptic investigating three stories of a paranormal nature as told by Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, and Martin Freeman. Each tells their story in turn before the film takes a delightful turn that I had thankfully forgotten since seeing the stage show all those years ago.

Nyman and Dyson deftly mix the comical with the terrifying, often letting subtle gags in to give the audience a moment to laugh and release some of the tension that has been tightening their stomachs. I laughed, I jumped, I gasped with realisation, I clenched my buttocks in fear and relaxed them in laughter.

Ghost Stories has no UK release yet but screens again at the festival on 6th and 14th October.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Noah Baumbach returns with his special blend of character driven comedic drama that never lacks a cinematic sheen. Dustin Hoffman plays an aging sculptor whose children from various marriages (Adam Sandler, Elizabeth Marvel, and Ben Stiller) struggle to gain his approval and clash over their different upbringings.

Baumbach is the master of creating characters with clashing personalities and simply letting them loose in a room together for our amusement. The plot of The Meyerowitz Storie is tangential to the real pleasure of watching great actors get stuck into their craft. Stiller and Sandler again reminded me that when they let it happen they both can properly act with depth, though Sandler in particular normally tries to hide this from us.

If you like Baumbach then this film is like slipping on a comfortable baggy cardigan and falling asleep in a sunny spot by the window. For everyone else there’s always Sandy Wexler.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) screens at the festival on 6th, 7th, and 12th October and then is available on Netflix from 13th October.

Word of God

The omnipresent Søren Malling stars as a patriarch of an atheist family who refer to their father as “God”. God is a failed writer and semi-successful psychologist who prides himself on making onion soup for his wife and three sons from a secret family recipe and refers to beers as “vegetables”.

God finds out he has cancer and decides he can cure himself not with medicine but by writing his autobiography. Meanwhile his youngest son tries to write poetry to woo a classmate, his middle son becomes an agoraphobic chronic masturbator, and the eldest finds love and religion. As for his wife, well she reached the end of her tether years ago.

As you can probably sense this Danish comedy throws a lot of ideas, and onions, into the pot and the result is amusing but unfulfilling and left me distracted. I definitely enjoyed myself but not as much as some of the other people in the room. Film fatigue perhaps?

Word of God screens again at the festival on 7th October.

Men and Chicken – Film Review

Men and Chicken

Mads Mikkelsen is a fine figure of a man and I am sure his cheekbones have been praised on these pages before now. As Hannibal he is the ultimate in suave as the serial killer who never dresses down or has a hair out of place. Let this film be a testament to his skills then as he takes on a role as a decidedly non-suave, crumpled, socially awkward, and just plain odd man.

Mikkelsen and David Dencik play a pair of half-brothers who discover upon their father’s death that he was not their real father. On a mission to find their real father and information about their respective mothers the pair travel to a remote Danish island and find far more than they bargained for. With their father confined to his bed the brothers have to instead spend time with a surprise new trio of half-brothers, each more bizarre than the last, and sleep in a house filled with chickens, pigs, sheep, a bull, and a lot of cheese.

During their stay the now five brother struggle for dominance and our original duo fight to discover just what is going on; what happened to their mothers and what secrets their father is keeping in the locked basement.

Men and Chicken 2

Men & Chicken is a deliciously dark comedy surrounding five disturbed individuals trying to get along. Fans of Danish television will be delighted to see Mikkelsen alongside the likes of Søren Malling, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Nicholas Bro, and Ole Thestrup in a feature far less serious than their usual fare. There are plenty of laughs to be had as the film is filled with slapstick violence alongside surprisingly dry humour. Eventually though certain strands of comedy wear a little thin and you fear what you might be forced to witness. Suffice it to say that the big reveal was actually more grim than I had anticipated.

This is my first experience of the work of writer and director Anders Thomas Jensen so I can’t compare it to his previous work but viewed in isolation this was a fun comedy, just not one I am likely to return to.

I admire the film’s tenacity but ultimately can’t fully get behind it. I feel like I should like it more that I did but there is a point at which bestiality and masturbation stops making me laugh. Spoilsport I know.

Men and Chicken screens again on the 10th and 18th and tickets are still available online.