Three to see today: Thursday 5 October
Three unmissable films with tickets still available at today’s BFI London Film Festival.
Director Dee Rees (Pariah) delivers a searing racial drama about two families – one white, one black – set in the Deep South in the 1940s.
The friendship of two Second World War veterans ignites racial tension in Dee Rees’ majestic epic about two families in the Deep South. Pariah marked Rees as a filmmaker of uncompromising originality and vision; Mudbound retains that distinct voice within a complex narrative about what sets us apart, and perhaps more so, what we all share. Adapting Hillary Jordan’s novel, Rees weaves together multiple threads of two family histories: white farmers the McAllans and the Jacksons, black sharecroppers who lease a plot on the McAllans’ land. Though a genuine ensemble of consistently impressive performances, Laura’s (Carey Mulligan) story spurs the plot. With spinsterhood looming, despite being attracted to his debonair brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), Laura agrees to marry Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), and he soon moves the family to the mud-caked Mississippi Delta. Meanwhile, Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (a transformed Mary J Blige) struggle to make small gains sharecropping when the McAllans take their lease. As a post-war comradeship develops between Jamie and the Jacksons’ eldest son, distinguished war hero Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), tensions with bitterly racist McAllan patriarch, Pappy erupt into violence. Rees skilfully draws these stories together, reflecting on how bigotry and intolerance serves no one – a message with fresh relevance given the rise of an emboldened far right in America.
Wrath of Silence
Bao lie wu sheng
A Touch of Sin meets Spaghetti Western in this contemporary Chinese arthouse thriller following a mute man’s search for his missing son.
Martial arts maestro Song Yang plays a mute bruiser who returns to his home, a remote farming village, following the disappearance of his son. A lack of tongue is no handicap to picking fights for this man and he soon finds himself in some thrillingly choreographed brawls with local heavies. They’re henchmen in the service of a meat-obsessed gangster kingpin (A Touch of Sin’s Jiang Wu clearly relishing his baddy role). In a landscape scarred by rapacious mining and with quarry explosions pounding ominously in the distance, the human cost of the theft of the village’s mineral resources is gradually revealed. Channeling the narrative arc of a Spaghetti Western, this sophisticated arthouse thriller features stunning choreographed violence and compelling social commentary. With tight plotting, memorable characters and an unforgettable climax, director Xin Yukun establishes himself as a new international filmmaker you need to know. Make Wrath of Silence your festival discovery.
Restored by the BFI from the original camera negative, Terry Gilliam’s first film as a solo director is a beautifully crazed landmark in British cinema.
Terry Gilliam’s first feature as a solo director, here gloriously restored, is a riotous tale of monsters, true love and medieval manners. Sometimes seen as a companion to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Jabberwocky is pure, undiluted Gilliam. The most Python touch is the presence of Michael Palin – playing put-upon medieval peasant Dennis Cooper, who is forced to seek his fortune in a land of mud, gore and historically authentic junk food, whilst he is menaced by the hideous dragon ‘Jabberwock’. Riotously funny, the film is also a fascinating signpost to its director’s future – Dennis a definitive Gilliam hero, the little man terrorised by bureaucracy. For Gilliam, the road to Brazil well and truly began here. This screening gives the LFF audience the first chance to see a new 4k restoration of the film, overseen by Terry Gilliam. Delight in the rich colours of Medieval life. Particularly the mud.
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