Based on the play Reigen (La Ronde) by Arthur Schnitzler, 360 - or Love Actually for grown-ups as it could aptly be taglined - sees a fairly impressive ensemble cast including Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins (all of whom pretty much play themselves) in various connected stories - some strongly, some vaguely - dotted around the globe. Though there is a certain charm to 360, both geographically and plot wise the film is all over the place, and whilst some story strands end rather limply, others remain unresolved altogether. You get the feeling that the counter to this from the film's makers, and indeed the crux of what they were aiming to put across, would be that life can be like that. That may be so, but it's the job of filmmakers to ensure that films aren't.
Once more partnering omnipresent Michael Fassbender with his Hunger director Steve McQueen, Shame tells the particularly torrid story of a man with a serious sex addiction. This affliction affects every relationship in his life, including that with his sister, played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan in a turn which should silence critics who see her as one-dimensional. Atmospheric, hard-hitting and extremely dark, Shame cements McQueen's reputation as one of the most exciting young directors to have emerged over the last decade.
Based on the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, Carnage sees Roman Polanski doing Woody Allen, much better than Woody Allen has done Woody Allen for quite some time. After two couples - Jodie Foster and John C Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz - come together to discuss a violent argument between their young sons, the conversation gradually slides from pinched civility to unbridled free-for-all as brandy, coffee and a questionable apple and pear cobbler result in the loosening of tongues (and stomachs). It's almost unfair that a man renowned for some of the most powerful dramas of modern cinema should be able to turn his hand to comedy with such equally brilliant results. 125's film of the festival.
THE IDES OF MARCH
Directed and starring LFF favourite George Clooney, The Ides of March is a political drama which could have so easily drifted towards earnest commentary. Clooney's increasingly deft touch as a director however means that the film maintains a winning balance between the personal and the political, helped along by some strong performances from a heavyweight cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood and Clooney-in-waiting Ryan Gosling. Directorially, George Clooney looks to be two or three films away from a real masterpiece, and once Gosling has relieved Clooney of his on-screen alpha male duties, Clooney can in turn focus on relieving Clint Eastwood of his screen idol turned master film-maker mantle.
With his wife in a coma and two daughters who he could be closer to, Matt King (Clooney) is struggling to cope, a struggle compounded when he finds out a thing or two about his wife. Hilarious and touching in equal measure, The Descendants showcases Alexander Payne's unerring ability for character creation, with some brilliantly original characters emerging fully formed after just one or two lines of dialogue. Definitely one of 125's highlights of the festival.
A DANGEROUS METHOD
Chronicling the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, directing legend David Cronenburg takes a slight diversion from his usual fair with a stylish and enjoyable offering about the birth of psycho analysis, adapted for the screen by Christopher Hampton from his own play, The Talking Cure. With good performances from Michael Fassbender and Cronenburg favourite Viggo Mortenson, and a particular brave performance from Kiera Knightley, A Dangerous Method will no doubt feature in various categories come awards season.
Based around the controversial premise that the man known to the world as William Shakespeare didn't actually write any of the much-loved work accredited to him over the centuries, any real enjoyment that could be derived from Roland Emmerich's film hangs on whether or not you buy into that premise. Despite slick production, some fairly enjoyable action and a great performance from Rhys Ifans, Anonymous falls some way short in selling what it's proposing, and in turn fails to convince as either a theory or a film.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Directed by Terence Davies, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddlestone, and based on Terence Rattigan's woefully dated play of the same name about a doomed wartime affair, The Deep Blue Sea is perfectly and unwittingly summarised by the following quote from nineties comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth: '"What's up with you then? What's up with me then? Yeah, what's up with you then? I'll tell you what's up with me, I'm right browned off, that's what. Right browned off? Yeah, right browned off." GET ON WITH IT!!!' Get on with it indeed.