BFI London Film Festival 2017 - UPDATE #4
On Chesil Beach
Directed by Dominic Cooke
UK/105 MINUTES/STRAND GALAS
Though technically proficient -- it's well made, and it's certainly very well acted -- On Chesil Beach
just never particularly connects. Between the fractured narrative (the film plays out as a series of flashbacks on a couple's wedding night to how they met and fell in love) and the oddly flat characters, you always feel like you're at arm's length from the film; it's impossible to ever get fully invested. There's a scene towards the end that has all of the life and the energy that had been lacking up to that point, and it actually improves quite a bit after that -- but it's too late by then (not to mention that this stretch is almost derailed by some of the worst old age make-up I've ever seen. It's hilariously bad).
Directed by Michael Haneke
FRANCE/AUSTRIA/GERMANY/107 MINUTES/SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS
About the various goings on in a wealthy French family, Happy End is the latest film from sometimes abrasive auteur Michael Haneke. It features the typically languid pacing you expect from a Haneke film, but like most of the man's work, there's something oddly hypnotic about it. Nothing quite unfolds as you'd expect -- huge plot points are resolved with a throwaway line of dialogue, character motivations often remain fuzzy, and parts of the story are told via on-screen social media posts (Periscope videos, Facebook chat windows, etc.). It's an interesting film, and one you can't quite take your eyes off of, even when not all that much is happening. Haneke's entrancing visual style remains as compelling as ever, which certainly goes a long way towards making the odd film as eminently watchable as it is.
Memoir of a Murderer
Directed by Won Shin-yun
SOUTH KOREA/118 MINUTES/THRILL
Memoir of a Murderer
is one of those movies that sounds so irresistible, you pretty much have no choice but to watch it: it's about a former serial killer, who suffers from dementia and has a hard time forming short-term memories, who finds himself crossing paths with a younger murderer, which eventually puts his daughter in danger. It's basically serial killer versus serial killer, which is about as close to a foolproof premise as you can get. And while there's nothing about the filmmaking here that particularly stands out (it's a fairly typical Korean thriller), it moves at a fast pace, and it's got enough nifty twists to keep it compelling throughout (not to mention a really fun third act that kicks things into overdrive, and features a surprisingly exciting action set-piece).
The Drummer & The Keeper
Directed by Nick Kelly
After realizing that he needs help, a drummer diagnosed with bipolar disorder begins playing doctor-ordered soccer, where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young man with autism. Dramas about unlikely friendships are pretty much their own genre at this point, and The Drummer & The Keeper
is a prototypical entry in it. You can imagine the type of movie you're going to get when you read the film's description, and that's exactly what it delivers: nothing more, nothing less. So it's hard not to feel like you've seen it before, but certainly, it's well made and it has its charms. It's the type of mildly diverting feel-good movie that you could imagine doing a decent job of passing the time on a plane.