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London Film Festival 2021 reviews 1 – ‘Titane’, ‘Memory Box’, ‘The Alleys’

London Film Festival 2021 reviews 1 – ‘Titane’, ‘Memory Box’, ‘The Alleys’

Raw, powerful, unforgettable

Director: Julia Ducournau
1 hour 48 minutes

WHEN this film had its world premiere in Cannes earlier this year, it caused quite the stir – mostly for its violence.
It is gratuitous and comical in places, and that shouldn’t detract from what is a powerful and challenging examination of modern society. It certainly isn’t for everyone.
You simply shouldn’t take this film as a slice of social realism – it isn’t and its slightly absurd storyline is surely enough indication of that.
It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for a reason and acv can see why – this is unbridled filmmaking – courageous, bold, incendiary and provocative. Director Julia Ducournau lets her imagination go where most of us would just stop. It has an unrelenting grip and that is what you want – there are no flabby bits in this. Well. It is a film a lot about the body and how we perceive it.
The lead played – with incredible presence – is Agathe Rousselle. She is Alexia and then Adrien. Essentially, she is on the run having murdered several people; she changes her gender identity and manages to be ‘adopted’ by a gay fireman chief. Those are the bare bones of this tale – the flesh is what makes it and even a week later you’ll be thinking about it. It all starts with a car accident and the little Alice getting a titanium plate in her head. Ducournau has announced herself and shows she is an uncompromising auteur. Bravo! (SR)
Acv rating: **** (out of five)

Both screenings sold out – check
Saturday October 9 9.30pm – Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall
Tuesday October 12 11:30am – Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall

Warm, creative and relevant

Memory Box
Directors: Khalil Joreige, Joana Hadjithomas
1hr 42

An AUDIO and visual treat from beginning to end, ‘Memory Box’ beautifully captures the nostalgia of youth in the 1980s where pre-social media, hand-written notes and audiocassettes provided an outlet for teenage angst.
Alex (Paloma Vauthier) discovers her mum’s past by secretly reading letters and diaries she kept over this decade set against the backdrop of war-torn Lebanon. The story flips back and forth-between these memories and present-day Canada where they live, and it’s accompanied by a lively 1980s soundtrack.
The shifting dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship between Alex and Maia (Rim Turki) are core to the film, but it’s the reminiscing of teenage dreams that makes this an appealing watch. Warm, creative and relevant, it challenges our perception of memory and why confronting the most delicate moments of our past may turn out to be our favourite if we have the courage to confront them. (MBH)
ACV rating: **** ½

Wednesday 06 October 8.40pm – BFI Southbank, NFT3
Thursday 07 October 9pm-9pm Friday, October 8 BFI player
Friday 08 October 2021 6pm – ICA, Screen 1
Tickets: here

Thriller with heart and soul

The Alleys
Dir: Bassel Ghandour
1hr 56m

A CLOSE-KNIT community in Amman, Jordan begins to unravel at the seams as the darkest secrets of its residents are leaked by a mysterious blackmailer who threatens to share their misdemeanors. Meanwhile, two young lovers embark on an unknown adventure, while the local gangster boss faces his own demons.
A thriller with heart and soul, ‘The Alleys’ is a captivating tale of city life where opposites attract: fear is juxtaposed with humour and selfishness is balanced with love. Monzer Reyahnah shines as Abbas, the likeable and comical goon who rules the neighbourhood, while local boy Ali (Emad Azmi) steps into the role of his nemesis.
Ghandour’s depiction of the alleyways of Amman is packed with surprises and generous twists. Look out for the barber; there’s more to him than meets the eye and his contribution to the plot is life-affirming.
ACV rating: ****

Both screenings sold out – check
Monday, October 11 8.40pm – BFI Southbank NFT3
Wednesday, October 12 3.10pm BFI Southbank NFT2

Contributors: SR – Sailesh Ram; and MBH – Momtaz Begum-Hossain

More reviews will appear on as the festival commences October 6-17

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture