35 features, 45 shorts, 17 days
“Five days in I don’t know if I’m looking at a masterpiece or a piece of shit.”
Martin Scorsese , Head Jury, Cannes
So Leeds International Film Festival has come to a close for another year and I’ve had a great time. It seems like such a long time ago when we were all packed in the Town Hall foyer waiting to see Rust & Bone but it was only 17 days ago. I liked Rush & Bone a lot mostly because I had no idea what the film was about, something I don’t think would have happened after all the spoiler filled reviews surfaced for the general release. I thought Rust & Bone was let down by the ending which according to Twitter was most people’s problem with Argo, the second film on the opening night. I preferred Argo and the ending didn’t bother me, it’s true that there is a better subtler final shot before the film finishes but I’m not sure if people’s issues were with the “Hollywood” action ending or the overly sentimental one that followed it.
I had no issues with the ending of In The House, the final shot is exactly how I wanted and, more significantly, didn’t expect the film to end. My biggest problem with most films is that they don’t get the ending right and as with Argo there is often a better ending before the film draws to a close. In The House was the new highlight of the festival and further cemented François Ozon as one of my favourite directors. The other film on the second night was In Another Country, this was a strange and enchanting film and exactly the kind of thing I’ve come to expect to see at festivals and then disappear which is a shame because it whilst not great it is worth seeing.
Saturday was my first full days at the festival and I had tickets for five very different films. I wondered if anybody else was coming to see Ernest & Celestine, King Kong vs Godzilla, Mantango, Citadel and John Dies At The End. Even stranger would have been if anyone was then staying on for the all night horror Night Of The Dead event. Individual tickets were available for the first two films in the marathon and I was tempted but I made the sensible option of calling it a day after the five films I’d seen. Ernest & Celestine continued the streak of amazingly good films, a largely adult audience laughed a long with this beautiful animated film and it jumped to the top of the audience award voting so I can’t have been alone in giving it five stars. I’m glad I saw the Godzilla film in a cinema but it really wasn’t very good, I think I’d prefer the original version rather than this weird American version. Mantango was much better film from the same director a year later. I’d forgotten about Citadel which is one of the problems of a film festival, I gave it four stars which was perhaps generous but I did enjoy it and there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it just obviously nothing that memorable either. The last film of the day was John Dies At The End which I absolutely loved, I heard somebody else describe it as “Joss Whedon on speed” and it’s hard to find a better description than that. Destined to become a cult favourite it’s a hugely entertaining film I’m likely to want to watch over and over and that isn’t something I do a lot.
I had planned on just writing a quick overview of my festival experience but I’ve only covered the first three days so I’ll be back with more. All the films I’ve seen are on my Letterboxd list which is my new favourite website and discovered just in time for the festival.
To be continued…