London Film Festival 2016: 5 Days, 7 Cinemas, 12 films

Posted on: 10 Oct 2016 by Philip Wyn Jones

After a busy day in Paris it was time to attend this year’s London Film Festival.

Day 1

THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (Otto Bell, USA, 87min). This handsome documentary takes us to a corner of Mongolia where eagles are captured and then trained to be the hunters and killers of other animals. The leading character is a 13 year old girl who has been trained by her father to excel in this traditional craft. She is entered in a kind of eagle hunters’ eisteddfod. The winner will be the best-dressed, the best horse-rider and, of course, the best eagle-trainer. The film is exciting, packed with emotion and lovely to look at. It has one tiny flaw; the people in it appear to have been over-rehearsed by the director and the action is sometimes rather stilted.

THE BACCHUS LADY (pictured. E J-yong, South Kores, 110min). This is a much better film than a synopsis might suggest. An elderly prostitute propositions elderly men with the offer of a bottle of the energy drink, Bacchus. Later, she provides an unexpected service and also attempts to look after a young boy she has rescued from a family crisis. The film takes us through a whole gamut of emotions, from comedy, through pathos, to tragedy and it is superbly acted by all concerned.

KILLS ON WHEELS (Atilla Till, Hungary, 105min). The setting is a clinic for patients who are variously disabled. Three of the men become friends. One of them is an out-and-out gangster. The others are persuaded to aid him in his campaign of vengeance. Meanwhile, as a group within the clinic, they are obliged to undertake and submit a project devised by them.  They decide to produce a comic they entitle ‘Kills on Wheels ’ in which they are the main characters. In this case the synopsis is better than the film. This would-be comedy is excessively violent, quite shapeless and, frankly, tedious.

Day 2

KING COBRA (Justin Kello, USA, 92min). Cobra is a company that specialises in producing gay porn DVDs. Its owner -writer- director is superbly portrayed by Christian Slater. The owner of a rival set-up is acted by the equally excellent James Franco. They both exploit their teenage ‘discoveries’ until one of the lads rebels and tries to change camps. The solution to this problem is extreme. This film is definitely sexy but never pornographic. There’s a brief spell of extreme violence and then a closing scene which is up-beat and hilarious.

CHRISTINE (Antonio Campos, USA, 119min). Christine Chubbuck was a TV journalist. In 1974, while reading the morning news bulletin on air, she made a brief statement and then took out a pistol from her hand-bag and shot herself.  This is not a documentary and some aspects of her life have been changed but it attempts to understand why she committed suicide. We experience the daily pressures she faced at work including a rather unsympathetic boss and her difficult relationship with her mother.  Rebecca Hall’s portrayal of Christine is of undoubted award-winning stature.

To be continued...

Philip Wyn Jones

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