LAST year’s London Film Festival failed to live up to the high standard set by the previous year. But if this year’s early previews are anything to go by it could be another vintage year.
Lets kick off with Bernie. Jack Black, back to something like his lovable best, plays Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director who charms and mesmerizes a small town in Texas. Black is in superb form as the devilishly good natured and tireless community member who might just not be all that he seems. Directed by Richard Linklater, the movie has a wonderful subversive quality as it riffs on small town America mores, utilitarianism and religious views in a playful and highly amusing way. The film is punctuated by documentary interviews with the town’s inhabitants which are good value. The later part of the film sees Mathew McConaughey brilliantly steal the limelight as local district attorney, Danny Buck Davison. The movie has a certain Coens-esque feel to it in parts, in what is a hugely enjoyable, dark comedy.
Bernie is showing on the 22 and 23 October at the London Film Festival
Next up is the gritty British drama Junkhearts. It tells the story of ex-soldier Frank (Eddie Marsan), a man who seems to survive on fags and miniature bottles of booze, who comes into the path of Lynette (Candese Reid), a teenager sleeping rough around London’s famous Brick Lane. In portraying the flashbacks and horrors that Frank experiences from his time serving in northern Ireland it highlights the very real and tragic circumstances that many ex-servicemen and women face when returning to civilian life. Another strand of the story finds high-flying, coke-loving, city girl Christine (Romola Garai) trying to cope with work, bringing up a baby and having a relationship with a married man. When Lynette’s conniving and menacing boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge) enters the fray it affects the growing friendship between Frank and Lynette. It’s a pretty decent first feature for director Tinge Krishnan. Junkhearts has touches of the fine work of Andree Arnold in the excellent Fish Tank. An unrelenting film that exposes the chaotic and fragile world in the fringes and dark underbelly of London life.
Junkhearts is showing on the 21 and 23 October at the London Film Festival
London Film Festival tickets are available from BFI.org.uk/lff
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