Leiden International Film Festival – Day 1

It’s one in the morning, I’ve had a few drinks and I’ve seen five films in a row today, so don’t expect too much, just going to hammer these out. It’s that time of year again though: Leiden’s International Film Festival. I understand this is its tenth year actually. Last year my friends and I (same group) saw about twenty films in the space of a week and with twenty-six reservations for this year, we’re on track to set a new record. First, here’s the crew and then some thoughts on the five films we saw today:

From left to right: Lester, Roelf and Flemming

King of Devil’s Island (2010)

To start things off, we went with this Norwegian film starring Stellan Skarsgard. His name featuring prominently ‘on the box’ is probably why we picked it, but the actual main attraction turned out to be Benjamin Helstad who played the role of ‘C19′, a fresh arrival at an extremely nasty, snow-ridden, heavy-on-the-corporal-punishment boys home somewhere way out in the middle of nowhere Norway. Absolutely beautiful scenery though. Usually, the new kid is subjected to all kinds of hazing rituals before they earn their spot, but C19 didn’t take shit from anyone. It was great. Former top dog Oystein did make an attempt in the washroom, but he never stood a chance really. The rivalry does have a nicely bromantic pay off when they join forces for their many escape attempts, much like Nicholas Cage (Sean Archer) and Chris Bauer (Dubov) in Face/Off. 4 stars.

600 miles (2015)

Coming from the good looking wide-angle sweeping scenery shots of the last film, 600 Miles was a bit of a change of pace. It reminded me a lot of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises (both Cronenberg films) in that this film told a very small scale and intimate kind of crime story. This was reflected in the way the camera stayed close to its characters. Just close-up and medium shots combined with a handheld style. At the heart of the film we find Kristyan Ferrer (as wimpy Mexican arms dealer Arnulfo) and the venerable Tim Roth (as ATF agent Hank Harris – whose wife is actually not dead – well played, Hank). 600 miles takes it sweet time to build to a climax, but it’s very effective. Much like in the mentioned Cronenberg films, the eruption of violence feels personal. Also: this will probably have the best title card of the festival. Think I gave this one 5 stars.

Un moment d’égarement (2015)

I swear, the French have this type of film down to a science. It’s a romantic comedy about two dads (age somewhere around 50) and their two daughters (17 and 18 I think?) who go to Corsica (which is my favorite place in the world by the way) to enjoy a couple of weeks in the sun. There’s just one problem: both Vincent Cassel (dad number one) and Lola Le Lann (his best friend’s daughter) are absolutely insanely fucking good looking. At one point, Lola decides to take notice of Cassel’s incredible hotness and sets out to use hers to ruin the guy’s life, which takes her all of five minutes probably. But seriously, he should get a medal for even holding out that long. Good job, Cassel. Count your lucky stars you’re in a light hearted French comedy instead of real life. Had an absolute blast with this. 5 stars.

London Road (2015)

This, on the other hand, was garbage. Avoid (and don’t let that awesome still fool you into seeing this film). 1 star.

Cop Car (2015)

Bringing things to a close this evening was Cop Car, a fairly middle of the road, though high concept, thriller about two runaway kids who come across an abandoned, you’ve guessed it, cop car. After they find the keys Edward Furlong style, it is decided they’re taking the car, and its contents, for a joyride. As soon as they start to tire of driving the car around they decide to liven things up a little by pointing assault rifles at each other saying ‘aim at the vest’ (kid, I’m not sure the vest is going to stop a 5.56 round). So yeah, sufficiently stupid kid-like behavior. Other than that, there’s really not much to say about this film other than the fact it does have Kevin Bacon (always a good thing), who’s sporting a really nasty mustache and looking rather fit for his 57 years. Couldn’t have hurt for Bacon to have been just a little more menacing in this film. 3 stars.

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