2015 London Film Festival Capsule Reviews


The London Film Festival runs until Sunday 18th October. For film and ticket information click here.

With the 59th London Film Festival boasting so many movies, there is not time to provide full reviews for everything.

Here are some of the smaller films we have been watching at this year’s LFF.

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Writer: Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast: Richard Dormer, Paulina Chapko
Cert: TBC
Running time: 81mins
Year: 2015

Ironically, it takes far fewer than 11 minutes to realise the prolific Jerzy Skolimowski’s twenty-fifth movie is a clunker. Employing the “same time, different viewpoint” structure of Vantage Point, Go, Pulp Fiction and dozens of other movies, Skolimowski seems to believe he has invented the form. This is the only explanation for the insipid storylines (including casting couch audition, medical emergency, afternoon nooky) and a climax where the disparate plot threads converge in the most farcical way imaginable for a film striving for profundity. Skolimowski’s Essential Killing proved he can make a decent picture, but he cannot juggle the threads here. A low flying plane heard throughout seems to be making some 9/11 statement 14 years after the event.

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Director: Choi Dong-hoon
Writers: Choi Dong-hoon, Lee Ki-cheol
Cast: Gianna Jun, Lee Jung-jae
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 139mins
Year: 2015

A riotous mix of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Inglorious Basterds and Eastern action, Assassination is an adventure-caper movie set against the 1930s Japanese occupation of Korea. The Korean government, exiled in Shanghai, sends two men and a woman on a mission to assassinate a high ranking Japanese general and a Korean collaborator. Director Choi Dong-hoon stages both action and comedy with flamboyant verve, the set-pieces are first rate and Gianna Jun makes a captivating assassin. With more twists than a Chubby Checker convention, this is hugely enjoyable, but doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the Japanese occupation. Shame the twenty-seven endings prove Choi does not know when to call it quits.

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Director: AKIZ
Writer: AKIZ
Cast: Carolyn Genzkow
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 88mins
Year: 2015

Lost Highway meets ET best describes this inventive, outre teen drama/horror/something debut from painter/sculptor AKIZ. Carolyn Genzkow is arresting as Tina, a late teenage girl on the end of one narcotic fueled night too many. Haunted by a car accident that may or may not have happened and teetering on a psychological crack, matters grow far worse when she becomes convinced a malevolent creature is stalking her. Impressively shot, often frightening and totally unpredictable, Der Nachtmahr (inspired by Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting of the same name) may never resolve exactly what is real and what is fantasy, but you’ll have fun pondering it for yourself.

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Director: Bao Nguyen
Cast: Chevy Chase, Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, Chris Rock
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 82mins
Year: 2015

Saturday Night Live is an American institution (and a New York one), so this 82 minute skim over its 40 years is something of a disappointment. Surely the series originally billed as “a cross between 60 Minutes and Monty Python warranted a four-part special, an hour per decade? Creator Lorne Michaels and a who’s who of interviewees dutifully provide soundbites (noticeable absentees are Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray), but there is insufficient time to drill into the details. Standout moments remain – the ongoing debate over gender and racial inequality on the show is addressed, plus the numerous controversies (including Sinead O’Connor ripping up a picture of the Pope) and the moving first show after 9/11 are all discussed. The archive material is great, but something is wrong when SNL’s impact on the big screen as well the small is ignored.

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Director: Roar Uthaug
Writer: John Kare Raake
Cast: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 105mins
Year: 2015

Nordic noir gets wet in this disaster movie of two halves. Based on the scientific theory that Norway is long overdue a mountain rockslide that could trigger a massive tsunami, this has Kristoffer Joner (soon to be seen in Di Caprio’s The Revenant) as a geologist who senses catastrophe is imminent in a small fjord town. A glossy, engrossing first hour of suspense unfortunately dissolves into soggy disaster movie cliché when the wave hits. That sequence is impressive, but what follows as Joner must find his wife and son amidst the flooded wreckage is tin-eared stuff. And The Wave suffers from Dante’s Peak syndrome where people have to keep being stupid to maintain jeopardy levels.

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Rob Daniel
Twitter: rob_a_Daniel

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