Three to see today: Thursday 12 October
Three unmissable films with tickets still available at today's BFI London Film Festival.
An enthralling account of the life of a blind pianist whose partially restored sight witnessed a loss in her musicality.
Barbara Albert’s resplendent drama is based on the true story of Maria Theresia ‘Resi’ von Paradis a gifted blind musician and contemporary of Mozart, paraded through Vienna’s courts to perform. Resi, played by Maria-Victoria Dragus in an impressively visceral performance, is being dragged to another experimental doctor in hope of a cure for her blindness. This one, Dr Mesmer (Devid Striesow) is different. Forming an intense bond with Resi, his unusual methods actually start to work. But as her sight returns, her musical talent seems to diminish. Albert (The Dead and The Living) crafts a sumptuous film with her mostly female crew – notable are exquisite lighting from cinematographer Christine Maier and costumes from Albert’s sister, Veronika. Reflecting on what is required of artists in pursuit of their gifts, probing oblique links between hysteria, sexuality and health, and laying bare grotesque attitudes to disability and female achievement, this is captivating and complex study of a forgotten female artist.
A singular take on masculinity defines this strange and innovative comedy.
For lovers of experimental and irreverent cinema, this Dutch debut is an invigorating exposé of male arrested development across five wildly diverse episodes. The man-child comedy has arguably defined a whole generation of movie humour, from Judd Apatow to Will Ferrell and beyond. But few, if any, have tackled this theme with as much originality as Dutch filmmaker Daan Bakker. His portmanteau feature debut pinballs from onscreen dots with computerised voices, to deadpan live-action tales focused on time travel and alien abduction. Yet the theme of how disparate, desperate young men grapple with insecurity, self-esteem and familial expectation remains comically consistent throughout. While Bakker evidently delights in documenting his protagonists’ plight, he crucially bestows on them a vulnerability that cuts through his various distancing effects – stills, subtitles – and brings their tragicomic attempts into razor-sharp focus in all-too human ways. Even the troubles experienced by those robotic-voiced dots.
Agnès Varda teams up with artist JR for a road-trip across France, in this moving meditation on friendship, cinema and the power of art on people’s lives.
Arriving in town in a van that doubles up as a giant camera, Agnès Varda and JR make quite an impression. For all the initial odd-couple thrills of seeing the revered French filmmaker rolling her eyes at the younger artist’s exuberance, a deep connection is quickly forged between two creative souls, who are fuelled by the desire to see their imaginations realised on a grand scale. Photographing people at home or work and pasting the huge images in public spaces, the pair use this art practice as a pretext to listen to working class French people reflect upon their lives. Deceptively simple in structure, the film’s socialist feminist politics are expertly folded into a moving humanism, exemplified in a moment where JR recreates the world as viewed through Varda’s blurring vision. And the film’s final act? A pilgrimage to visit old friend and notorious recluse – Jean-Luc Godard.