LFF: Bernie & Take Shelter

You may have noticed that although the London Film Festival starts in a few weeks, press screenings started on Monday, so apologies to those stuck in an office while we watch a load of great films. As watching three films a day for a month is a bit too much for my puny brain to compute, I'm going to start reviewing things now in the vain hope of telling you about each film I watch during the city's biggest film fest. Here goes:


I had big hopes for Bernie since I like Richard Linklater and I like Jack Black and I really like Matthew McConaughey, for some odd reason. Each time these respective people have collaborated it's been absolute gold from Dazed & Confused to School Of Rock, and I thought re-teaming with Linklater would give McConaughey something decent to do for the first time since he decided to ruin his career with crappy rom-com after crappy rom-com.

But I digress, Bernie is the true story of a stupidly nice gay man who unexpectedly snaps and murders a nasty old bint who chews her food too much. This may seem like an interesting story but it isn't really; it's a film that takes far too long to get going and doesn't have much of a point. Sure, it's fun to point and laugh at the backward ways of the townsfolk who live in the small Texas town, and there are some genuine LOLs, but I didn't see why they had to turn the story into a film. It's a solid but not spectacular film with entertaining turns from Black, McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine. Still, at least we got to see McConaughey's glamorous mother.

Take Shelter

Michael Shannon is brilliant at everything he does so fuck knows why this hasn't sold out, but if you get a chance, you should definitely see it. A small community is confused by a man slowly losing his grip on life thanks to apocalyptic apparitions and fears of his own mental illness in what has to be one of the most intriguing films I've seen in a long time. It starts quietly but Shannon's slow-burning performance mixed with strong support, deft direction and a very effective plinky-plonky score makes it one to watch for anyone bored with everything in the cinema these days. ALSO, you'll never guess which glamourpuss shows up...

And you thought Sandra Hebron's boots were the sexiest things at the fest.