LIFF27 Day Summary - 17th November - Bugs, Burgers and Boring Anime

My third and final day in Leeds saw me fall victim to having never visited the city before and being taken in by claims of a “world famous” burger at Northern Monkey, a pub across the road between The Light and the Town Hall. Called the Monkey Burger (only now, rereading that name, am I suddenly concerned it may have contained actual monkey), it looked impressive enough on the plate. Sadly, King Kong turned out to actually be Abu from Aladdin in disguise, as the burger - whilst not terrible - was somewhat flavourless and not nearly as filling as this busy film reviewer had hoped. As for the venue, the lone bar lady was perfectly friendly, but the fact that there were no more than two other customers in Northern Monkey at any time whilst I was there (coupled with the sticky carpet on the stairs down to the gents, which had also seen better days) served as a final indicator that I had, in fact, not stumbled across one of Leeds’ finest eateries. I’m also calling shenanigans on the Monkey Burger being “world famous”. Ah well, live and learn.

Before monkeys, it was ants at Hyde Park Picture House as I experienced the joys of Antboy during one of LIFF’s specially scheduled weekend morning screenings aimed at children. Whilst the Picture House was considerably less than half full, it’s a shame to say there were woefully few minors in attendance. Perhaps some road closures for the Leeds Abbey Dash charity bicycle ride were a factor; but with quality foreign cinema made for youngsters as enjoyable and well-crafted as Antboy on offer, it’s a crime that more parents aren’t taking advantage of a rare and valuable opportunity. As for the film, despite being a little slight and occasionally forgetting to put its tongue in its cheek, it was a highly entertaining and worthwhile way to spend a Sunday morning. Sam reviewed Antboy last week, and I’m largely in agreement with his views.

Antboy watched and Monkey Burger crestfallenly consumed, my second film of the day was Steins;Gate The Movie: Loading Area Of Déjà Vu, showing as part of LIFF’s Fanomenon Anime Day. I went in with very little experience of anime films, and unfortunately Steins;Gate made me unlikely to return to the genre any time soon. Admittedly I was unaware that the film had an entire TV series preceding it, which may have helped me understand and appreciate it a little more, but to be frank it came across as convoluted, pretentious and obstinately esoteric. I couldn’t even tell you what the title actually means. Despite determinedly sticking with it until about the halfway point, Steins;Gate failed to hold my interest, making it the only film of the festival I would choose not to see if I could go back and change my decision.

Wavemakers ended up being my final film of the day, and indeed the festival. After Steins;Gate, I was hoping for anything that could pique my interest, and initially Wavemakers did just that. A documentary focusing on the Ondes Martenot, an electronic musical instrument once touted as the future of music making but now a rarity, the film was at its strongest when focused upon the instrument’s history and its inventor, Maurice Martenot. However, I gradually found Wavemakers lost focus, leaving its audience behind to concentrate on various passionate Martenot enthusiasts waxing lyrical about the device and their love for it.

A mixed movie to finish on therefore, and arguably my least successful day at LIFF. But I will take with me fond memories of my first time in Leeds, and I’m already looking forward to hopefully returning for the Film Festival again next year.

The 27th Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) takes place from the 6th-21st November at cinemas around the city, including Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall. Tickets and more information are available via the official LIFF website.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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