THE Prince Charles Cinema was filled with laughter and well-earned applause as two provocative films helped kick off the BFI London Film Festival in grand style.
Have a Nice Day –
JIAN Liu’s animated feature, Have a Nice Day, was served up first. A dark comedy, set in a decaying Chinese town, it is based around a number of intersecting stories with a stolen bag of money the common meeting point. As with Tiger Girl, it seems best not to get too deep into the plot. These are two films that will slap you across the face – and you will be grateful for the experience.
Liu’s script has sublime wit. We drop in on conversations that, however mundane or insignificant they may seem, are effortlessly entertaining. An analogy equating shopping to levels of freedom had the audience howling, as did casual references to Trump and Brexit.
There is a strong hint of the Quentin Tarantino to the conversational dialogue – as well as the more violent elements of the film. Liu also throws in absurdity inspired by the Coen Brothers. These Western influences on Have a Nice Day are underlined by pop-culture posters and mentions of The Godfather.
In keeping with this, Have a Nice Day does not rely on the pretty aesthetics of Hollywood. With rudimentarily drawn animation, the story is populated by balding, middle-aged and over-weight figures who are deteriorating just as fast as their surroundings.
If Have a Nice Day can find its audience, Liu will have a cult favourite on his hands.
Who would have thought the next Tarantino might come from China? But then who thought 20 years ago that China would become an economic powerhouse?
Tiger Girl –
FEW films, if any, at the BFI London Film Festival will be as rebellious and riotously funny as Jakob Lass’ Tiger Girl. This is the kind of film that grabs the rulebook and, with a gleeful grin and baseball bat in hand, smashes it to pieces.
The German director revealed, in a Q&A after the film, that the script for the film was only a few pages – amounting to 36 scenes with a couple of lines written for each. Instead of rigid filmmaking, Lass emphasised his belief in ‘flow’, allowing his lead actresses to improvise and work in a 360-degree shooting setting.
It pays off spectacularly. Lass’ laissez-faire script gives full rein for emerging talents Maria Dragus (The Graduate) and Ella Rumpf (Raw, read our interview here) to fill the screen with a captivating off-the-cuff energy and fun that radiates through to the viewer.
Rumpf (who plays dissident figure Tiger) gives a delightful star-making performance. She has a punkish presence and striking charisma that combined with the film’s electropunk soundtrack and jump cut style makes for the one of the most boisterous film experiences of 2017.
Even in the swagger of her walk or gliding on a supermarket trolley, Rumpf had the chuckling audience in her the palm of her hands.
Dragus, who admitted in the Q&A that Rumpf had helped bring her onto the project, also excelled in this setting. The two real-life friends have a comradeship that transitions so naturally onto the big-screen. At 91 minutes of unpredictable entertainment, I was left baying for more.
Following Maren Ade’s Oscar-winning Toni Erdmann, Tiger Girl is another example of imaginative German comedy, loaded with genuine emotion, that puts most American and British efforts to shame.
Two BFI London Film Festival screenings that both shock and entertain. They have set a high bar for the next 10 days. But then high bars are there to be hurdled.
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