Paterson (2016)

Very little happens in a Jim Jarmusch film, but that ‘very little’ is always gently captivating.

At this UK premiere, we watched a week in the life of a bus driver called Paterson, his girlfriend Laura and their English bulldog Marvin. Their daily routine and habits, incidents and observations. Small details that you only notice if you take your time.

His last film, Only Lovers Left Alive was a return to form, even though it was self-consciously cool. This film, Paterson, is perfect. Effortless, the poetry of life’s little pleasures. Oh, apparently Marvin won the Palm Dog award at Cannes for best canine – he deserved it.

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

I was looking forward to this the most out of all the London Film Festival titles. It turned out to be wonderful.

I loved director Kenneth Lonergan’s previous film, Margaret, but it wasn’t easy to see. The studio buried it by delaying its release by four years, cut it ruthlessly, gave it no publicity and only a cursory cinema release. But despite its inevitable financial failure it had its champions, particularly amongst those (like me) who had seen the longer directors cut.  One of these champions was Matt Damon who arranged funding and studio interest for Manchester on the Sea.

It stars Casey Affleck as a solitary , awkward but kind man forced to become reacquainted with his wider family after a tragedy. It’s human, compassionate, exquisitely observed and, like life, a little messy. A film that is not afraid to take its time, its characters are all completely 3-dimensional with frailties, faults and foibles.

This is a sad, painful, funny, uplifting and masterful film.

Elle (2016)

I was privileged to attend the UK premiere of Paul Verhoeven’s new film Elle with the amazing Isabelle Huppert.

161008 ElleA world away from Total Recall, Showgirls or Robocop, this is a complicated and nuanced character study about a woman who is violently raped by a masked assailant in her own home. How she responds to the attack, to her son, her lover, her parents, her work and friends gradually reveals a troubled yet strong and bold woman.

Huppert’s character is unpredictable and complete and the film is by turns tense, uncomfortable, and even in places funny. Apparently no US actress would touch the provocative and controversial role. It has just been picked up for a UK release in February 2017.