To check out the rest of my London Film Festival coverage, click here.
When I first planned this blog post, it was originally going to cover days 10 and 11 of the London Film Festival. However, I hit a bit of a burnout after watching two films on day 11, and with both of the feature films I did watch being reviewed for InSession Film, the focus is solely on day 10. I did watch three feature-length films on Tuesday, and I simply cannot wait any longer to talk to you about them.
Here are my reviews of Another Round (Druk), Rose: A Love Story and One Man and His Shoes.
Another Round (Druk)
IMDB Link: Another Round (Druk) (2020)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang
Synopsis: Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in their blood.
I had no idea that waking myself up for an 8:45am screening of a film about alcohol would lead to me giving this film a perfect score and being my top film of the festival. This may be about four guys testing the ability to thrive on alcohol, but it is much more than just a fun experiment. We are there following their every step not only in their experiment, but their personal and professional lives. We see the positive – and most importantly, negative – impact that alcohol has on them and what all of the side effects are.
Mads Mikkelsen is such a delight, and he gives an incredible performance here. This is a very complicated role, not only due to the alcohol sequences but also what happens with his marriage. In fact, all four of the leading men are given roles which are complex and human, which I appreciated. This is a film that deals with tough topics, but done in a very mature manner and in a way that emotionally left me invested in the story and in near tears by the final act.
This could have been a tough watch, but scenes are broken up with humour and the build-up to the heavy stuff is gradually done. The humour is usually fitted with the scenes in the school, particularly the classes that Mikkelsen’s character teaches. Those scenes are cleverly structured and help show the progression of his confidence throughout. The end sequence, which I won’t hint at, is the best sequence I have seen all year easily. This gets the highest of recommends, and I cannot wait to get a chance to watch this again and again.
Rose: A Love Story
IMDB Link: Rose (2020)
Director: Jennifer Sheridan
Writer: Matt Stokoe
Stars: Sophie Rundle, Matt Stokoe, Olive Gray
Synopsis: Gripped by a violent, terrifying illness, Rose lives in seclusion with her husband, but the arrival of a stranger shatters the fragile refuge they have built.
This film is one that has divided many people that I have spoken to, and I find myself struggling to form my own thoughts on it. It is very slow-going and rewards you for being patient, but it is a struggle to get there. The beginning is very much setting up exposition and highlighting the isolation in the area that the couple made a home, but that leads to not much happening and struggling to connect to the leading characters.
The film has moments of brilliance in it, and that is when the horror aspects are in full focus. About halfway through the film, the film introduces a young girl, played by Olive Gray, into the plot. Not only is her performance in this first scene incredible, but it gives the film some movement and that is when the film starts to gain momentum.
There are some great technical elements to this film. The visual effects are well done for a small-budget horror like this, the production design is gorgeous and perfectly fits the genre, and the performances are good across the board. The main issue with this film ended up being the script, from the unlikable characters to the incredibly slow pace. There are great scenes that are worthy watching, but you will have to be patient to get to the good part.
One Man and His Shoes
IMDB Link: One Man and His Shoes (2020)
Director: Yemi Bamiro
Stars: David Falk, Jemele Hill, Scoop Jackson
Synopsis: The story of the phenomenon of Air Jordan sneakers showing their social, cultural and racial significance and how ground-breaking marketing strategies created a multi-billion dollar business.
Whilst I have heard of the Air Jordan sneakers, I was not too familiar with their history and production. I was expecting this film to focus specifically on Michael Jordan and his journey to being the face of Nike’s sneakers in the 1980s, but it is so much more than that. This film manages to cover every aspect of the Air Jordan’s existence, from creation to marketing and their cultural impact.
When I say every aspect, I mean the good and the bad. This film was not afraid to call out the errors that Nike made with this product and what they should have done. They made errors when putting Michael Jordan’s contract together. They made errors in how they released the sneakers, something they are still doing today. This documentary became about more than just shoes, but about people’s lives. This documentary was not afraid to go to the darker topics and talk about shootings and murders that were caused by people owning a pair of Air Jordan sneakers, and I admire the documentary for featuring those tougher storylines.
What really surprised me was the editing style. I wish the format was a little less repetitive with interviews and showed more footage and coverage from the past, but there was so much style with the editing style. There was a clear use of colour palette with Jordan’s basketball team colours, fun montage style of transitions, clear use of subtitles to state who people were and their role in the making of the Air Jordan sneakers. It ended up being a major surprise for me and one that I feel should be watched, whether you are interested in sneakers or not. It comes down to way more than a pair of shoes.