LIFF 2012 Day 18

Robot & Frank (US) (wiki)

Curmudgeonly Frank (a part for Frank Langella that fits like a glove) lives alone, as tidily as means he can still access all the rooms of the house.  His daughter Madison is off being all caring in the middle east, and son Hunter is doing well in the city.  He comes over and tidies up every week, and just as well.

Frank's health is fine but his mind is failing.  He can't recall conversations, and he thinks Hunter is still at university.  This has become such a problem that his own personal side hobby - cat burglary - is being affected.  When we meet Frank, he's just tried to rob himself.

Compelled by a need to keep pilfering, Frank is frustrated by his own limitations and is becoming increasingly confused by the changing world around him.  Things get worse when his son decides that he needs some help around the house.  This being the near future, that help comes in the form of a robotic butler.  Frank's initial hostility softens when he realises that the new robot is quite okay with stealing things if it thinks Frank's mind is being kept active, and so, eyeing a bunch of rich yuppies rejuvenating the local library, sets out to do an assisted heist.

It's a pretty solid film.  Langella is excellent in the role, with Susan Sarandon getting a good supporting role as his quiet librarian on-off girlfriend.  It rattles along as quickly and with as much action as you could expect with an elderly man at the focus of it, and it has a solid enough storyline with a few unexpected twists along the way to keep things interesting. 7.5/10

John Dies at the End (US) (site)

Dave's life has become complicated since his accidental contact with the drug, 'soy sauce'.  It makes him able to see everything about everything, allow him to switch universes, and travel backwards through time.  Recounting his incredible escapades after the fact to Arnie, a sceptical novelist looking for story ideas,  Dave tells him and us of his adventures with fellow taker John, and the many people (and other things) that have since tried to have them killed.

Leeds has become the showcase venue for low budget and/or indie comedy/sci-fi/horror films over the past few years.  Some of them have been utterly forgettable, and some have been genuinely pretty cool.  I already had the solid The History of Future Folk under my belt, and this is of a similar grade, if a little more random and with much more swearing.  The script is a bit loose; things happen in quite a comic-book way (it was based on a comic of the same name) and plot elements tend to be thrown at you quite aggressively, but overall it hangs together well enough to get the purpose of the film across, while having a bit of fun with the usual 3-act standard format at the same time.  It'll probably benefit from a second viewing. 7.5/10

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