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A Letter from London, part 2 – Philip Wyn Jones at LLGFF

Posted on: 27 Mar 2013 by Philip Wyn Jones

Day 5

 On a film-less day I took a pleasant stroll to Tate Modern via St Paul’s, specifically to view the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective. In 1961 he produced a painting based on an illustration in one of his sons’ comic books. It features Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse on a fishing expedition, with the speech bubble ‘ LOOK Mickey, I’ve hooked a BIG one!!’ He also painted copies or affectionate parodies of other artists’ work and even copied himself. One painting shows a large room and there, hanging on the wall, is ‘LOOK Mickey…’! The evening brought Telemann’s delightful opera, Orpheus performed at the London Handel Festival. Composed in 1726 in an intriguing mixture of German, French and Italian styles, and using all three languages, it disappeared completely ten years later and was not rediscovered until 1970.Tonight’s was the first ever UK performance and it was a worthwhile venture. Day 6 – Back to the films The Comedian (Tom Shkolnik, UK, 80 mins). This totally convincing film has at its centre a young man who fails in his call-centre day job, his personal relationships and as a stand-up comic. It is not, however, a depressing film. Its real London settings, natural-sounding dialogue and superb acting make it a very special film indeed and one to treasure. Out in the Dark (Michael Mayer, Israel & USA, 96 mins). What a disappointing film this was! It had a promising story about a relationship developing across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, an attractive and effective cast and authentic settings.  Unfortunately, as it developed it became excessively plot-driven and melodramatic and ultimately it was just another Hollywood movie. Day 7 Four (Joshua Sanchez, USA, 76 mins). This drama is a snapshot of one evening in the lives of four people; a young would-be couple in which one partner is more enthusiastic than the other and a one-off liaison originating in an online contact. The latter, which brings together a middle-aged man and a youth who is either uncertain of his sexuality or, perhaps, in total denial, is the more interesting. Day 8 – One exhibition, three films My day began at the V&A for a preview of their new David Bowie exhibition. In typical V&A style it was lavishly presented over several rooms and used a pioneering sound system, whereby floor-installed sensors ensured that each individual headset carried appropriate words and music as the visitor moved around. His early references to his sexuality were noted and I was amused to see that some of his posters and album sleeves had been censored, particularly in the USA. Bwakaw (Jun Robles Lana, Philippines, 110 mins). Bwakaw is a stray dog who has been adopted by elderly recluse, Rene. This lonely and embittered man has never come to terms with his own sexuality. A chance encounter may change that. This beautifully acted, photographed and directed film, which also has several moments of great humour, was the Philippines’ nomination for the foreign-language film Oscar and understandably so. Going South & Suddenly Last Summer (Leesong Hee-il, South Korea, 45 mins/37 mins). These two short features, which follow White Night, conclude this talented director’s excellent trio of films about troubled or unfulfilled relationships. In the first, two former army buddies argue about the significance of their earlier relationship. The film begins quietly but builds up to a violent and emotionally powerful conclusion. In the second, a 35 year old teacher is, in effect, stalked by an 18 year old pupil who is convinced that the teacher is attracted to him. As in the first film, the opening is subdued but the climax is shattering. Day 9 – One reception and two films My final day began at BFI Southbank’s homely, book-lined Drawing Room where Cardiff’s Iris Prize Festival was hosting a very well attended reception. Up-beat speeches, amiable company and tasty wine made for a pleasant hour or so. I Do (pictured, Glenn Gaylord, USA, 91 mins) This superb film’s central theme was the limitation of gay marriage laws, at least in the USA, but this was no dry-as-dust issue movie. Scripted and co-produced by David W. Ross who also took the central role, it was a richly plotted, beautifully acted and handsomely staged film which gripped the audience from beginning to end. Beyond the Walls (David Lambert, Belgium, 98 mins). This powerful film takes the audience on a memorable and disturbing journey. When a fresh-faced young cinema pianist meets a more streetwise barman a rather magical future seems likely, but the young man’s needs and his friend’s irresponsibility turn their relationship upside down and a sad ending appears to be inevitable. The two leading actors work brilliantly together and the director concentrates on their faces, with devastating results. Philip Wyn Jones. Editor and reviewer e: philip@philipwyn.wanadoo.co.ukw: http://whatson.bfi.org.uk/llgff 

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