And the film festival is done! Unlike some previous years where I’ve tried to review every single film in detail, this year I’ve decided to keep it light. So here are my Tweet-like short reviews of everything I watched. Let’s go!

  1. All of us Strangers

  2. /films/liff2023/all-of-us-strangers/

    Ooh this was bleak.


  3. Anatomy of a Fall

  4. /films/liff2023/anatomy-of-a-fall/

    I think I had too high expectations of this one (Palme d’or!). It’s a well paced courtroom drama with fabulous acting. I came out of it feeling disappointed that I wasn’t blown away by it - but perhaps that’s ok: this is back to basics excellent filmmaking.


  5. The Animal Kingdom

  6. /films/liff2023/animal-kingdom/

    Decent French people-turning-into-animals film. Some fairly heavy handed allegories about tolerance, growing up etc but also… lots of half-animal people. Fun.


  7. The Becomers

  8. /films/liff2023/becomers/

    absolutely unhinged alien invasion story. Gloriously low budget with shonky acting and enthusiastic vfx. Bodysnatchers, biblical sex cults, and glowing eyes


  9. The Bikeriders

  10. /films/liff2023/the-bikeriders/

    I enjoyed this a lot. Tom Hardy on fine form and Jodie Comer was fab. It’s not really so much about the story (bike gang, power struggle, etc) so much as the mood. It looked and sounded incredible.


  11. The Breaking Ice

  12. /films/liff2023/the-breaking-ice/

    A very low key slice of three briefly connected lives in the frozen north of china. It’s simple and sad and full of small moments but doesn’t really go anywhere. But I enjoyed it.


  13. Celluloid Underground

  14. /films/liff2023/celluloid-underground/

    A fabulous personal voyage through Iranian cinephilia. Merging video diaries, archive footage and snippets of classic cinema this tells a beautiful tale of cinema as memory, resistance and community


  15. Chronicles of a Wandering Saint

  16. /films/liff2023/chronicles-of-a-wandering-saint/

    Oh this felt like a short that had been stretched out to feature length. Some very neat ideas and lovely moments but it felt like it needed a little more. The visual effects and the lead actor are fab.


  17. Conann

  18. /films/liff2023/conann/

    I thought I was going to hate this but absolutely loved it. It’s insane - a retelling of Conan, something something, female cast, lots of gore - makes almost no sense and is lavishly over the top. A lot of unforgettable scenes!


  19. Daaaaaali!

  20. /films/liff2023/daaaaaali!/

    Such a joy. Concentric and eccentric in equal measure. An attempt to interview a proud, self important Dalí escalates wildly - it’s relentlessly absurd, with a cascade of actors, times, realities. My sort of thing.


  21. Fallen Leaves

  22. /films/liff2023/fallen-leaves/

    A very small Finnish tale of two lonely people. Working insecure jobs, drinking dangerously, and hanging about in odd bars, this is an awkward, mumbled romance but it was quite compelling

  23. Fanfare

  24. /films/liff2023/fanfare/

    Gloriously bonkers Dutch film about a village falling out and forming two rival factions, each with their own brass bands. Cue people getting pushed into lakes, cows rampaging through a cafe and lots of elaborate schemes to hide a band’s worth of instruments from the local policeman. Lovely


  25. Goodbye to the Dragon Inn

  26. /films/liff2023/goodbye-to-the-dragon-inn/

    Oh. No. I do love a bit of slow cinema but this wasn’t for me. I quite liked the shots of the cinema but the sort of humorous, sort of spooky half narrative of the guy wandering around the cinema was tiresome


  27. High Noon

  28. /films/liff2023/high-noon/

    An almost perfect Western. Told in near real time (and screened to match the time in the film, nice touch!) and full of all the elements you’d expect. Bonus points for decent female characters, a banging theme tune and Lee Van Cleef


  29. The Holdovers

  30. /films/liff2023/the-holdovers/

    Quite lovely. Utterly predictable but it’s a love letter to 70s filmmaking that is a joy to watch. An unlovable teacher and student find common ground when forced to spend Christmas together


  31. Humanist vampire…

  32. /films/liff2023/humanist-vampire/

    A lovely fresh take on vampires. Doesn’t stick too closely to standard rules and makes up some nice new stuff. The vampire family all rooting for the young one to get her fangs and start killing is rather lovely


  33. Hundreds of Beavers

  34. /films/liff2023/hundreds-of-beavers/

    Gloriously silly fun. Part animation, part people running about dressed as beavers, rabbits and horses, all completely bonkers slapstick fun.


  35. The Hypnosis

  36. /films/liff2023/the-hypnosis/

    At last, some Scandinavian black comedy! Lots of awkward and cringe inducing moments as well as some genuine hilarity. Watch it.


  37. Kiddo

  38. /films/liff2023/kiddo/

    Took a punt on this one: don’t always enjoy the child-and-unconventional-parent subgenre but this was a lovely watch. Steers clear of heavy social commentary, leaning towards road movies and lovers on the run classic tropes instead. Thoroughly enjoyable.


  39. Killing Romance

  40. /films/liff2023/killing-romance/

    This could have been very dark - it’s essentially about an abusive relationship - but it was loud and weird enough that it mostly avoided it. There was a bit of a lull somewhere in the middle but it was great fun


  41. Kim’s video

  42. /films/liff2023/kims-video/

    Vaguely gonzo documentary about a guy’s obsession with the missing vhs collection of an East Village video store. I spent a while being irritated by the style but it got better and better as it went on. And definitely appealed to the nerdy collector in me


  43. The Lady Vanishes

  44. /films/liff2023/the-lady-vanishes/

    It’s a classic Hitchcock thriller. Always lovely to see this sort of thing on a great big screen.


  45. Manhole

  46. /films/liff2023/manhole/

    A man gets stuck in a hole. How will he get out? This takes a dumb idea and turns it into a suitably taught little thriller. Quite fun.


  47. Metal and Melancholy

  48. /films/liff2023/metal-and-melancholy/

    I’m a sucker for this sort of film. Filmed in taxis in 90s Peru, this is a stream of little snippets of drivers lives - their families, opinions, cars and dreams. The takeaway is clearly that 90s Lima was Not Much Fun. Loved the guy whose car was literally falling to pieces


  49. Le Million

  50. /films/liff2023/le-million/

    Fun 30s froth. A hard up artist wins the jackpot but loses his ticket. Hijinks ensue. Lots of very familiar slapstick scenarios, locking each other in rooms, mistaken identity and so on, but this is old so a lot of this was much newer at the time.


  51. The Monk and the Gun

  52. /films/liff2023/the-monk-and-the-gun/

    Set against the backdrop of rural Bhutan gearing up for its first ever elections, this is a warm-hearted caper that with an eye on some serious issues. A gentle one.


  53. Monster

  54. /films/liff2023/monster/

    I enjoyed this a lot. Part way through I was worried that the story was a bit simple and it was missing a lot of the warmth of other Kore-eda. But then it shifted gear. Much like his previous, this is so much more than the sum of its parts. An absolute must watch director.


  55. Queen of My Dreams

  56. /films/liff2023/queen-of-my-dreams/

    An absolute joy. This didn’t do anything very unexpected but it was just a pleasure to watch. A film that’s largely about children falling out with their parents and dealing with loss shouldn’t be this fun! But it is.


  57. River

  58. /films/liff2023/river/

    Cheerful Japanese time travel tale. A perfect Sunday morning film. Nothing massively novel here but it’s a neat little story with a good bunch of funny scenes and characters. Lovely.


  59. Runaway Train

  60. /films/liff2023/runaway-train/

    I think I’ve got stupider just by watching this one. It’s just so dumb. Far too much macho posturing and shouting, but also some fun bits and a decent soundtrack. A mixed bag. #LIFF2023


  61. Shadow of the Vampire

  62. /films/liff2023/shadow-of-the-vampire/

    A clever little piece mythologising the filming of Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe is fabulous as a gurning vampire, playing a vampire acting as an actor acting as a vampire. It’s a bit predictable - director’s q&a said he toned down the campiness of the original script. Shame.


  63. Slow

  64. /films/liff2023/slow/

    This started out as a quite a sweet, sad drama but I just found the guy a bit too tiresome. I think I was supposed to be sad about their relationship but honestly I just wanted her to move on.


  65. The Spider Tattoo

  66. /films/liff2023/the-spider-tattoo/

    Outrageously silly revenge drama. Runaway daughter is sold as a geisha, forcibly given a massive tattoo and exacts revenge upon all involved. Lots of melodramatic arguing and chaotic fights.


  67. Sultana’s Dream

  68. /films/liff2023/sultanas-dream/

    I wanted to love this. I almost did. Possibly the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. Couple that with a solid feminist angle and what’s not to love? I would’ve liked a little more structure - more about her parents, the places, Begum Rokeya. But it was still lovely.


  69. Sweet Dreams

  70. /films/liff2023/sweet-dreams/

    Underwhelmed by this one. The trailer had made it out to be deeply weird but it was mostly straight faced and gloomy. An interesting setup - Dutch East Indies in decay, inheritance and illegitimate children - but it didn’t really do very much with it.


  71. The Taste of Things

  72. /films/liff2023/the-taste-of-things/

    Utterly spellbinding. A menu designing gourmet and his cook and sort of partner potter through their lives. It’s beautiful, it’s sad and it’s full of stunning food prep and eating. Ortolans! Turbot! Baked Alaska!


  73. The Train Robbers

  74. /films/liff2023/the-train-robbers/

    An old Brazilian one. Interesting concept - a heist movie set post-heist, everyone trying not to spend their stolen cash too fast in the favelas - but the story was mostly just running around and shouting. Underwhelming.


  75. White Plastic Sky

  76. /films/liff2023/white-plastic-sky/

    It feels like a while since I’ve seen a feature length animation. This was a bit too long but it was beautiful and a cool concept. Think Logan’s Run but where you turn into plants. Neat.