The London Film Festival is coming, 9-20 October 2013. It is a wonderful celebration of films in which filmmakers, stars and film lovers mingle, have fun and watch a hell of a lot of films. While there is a competition, it is less present than the Cannes, Berlin and Venice festivals that precedes The London Film Festival and the general feeling is that people come to enjoy cinema rather than judge it. The BFI London Film Festival also puts an emphasis on education and offers several educational events and Masterclasses
The programme for the 57th BFI London Film Festival has been announced and a preview of the upcoming films was shown to BFI members, which I am happy to be one. So many films, so little money. Of the many fantastic films worth seeing in this year's festival here are my top ten highlights.
Opening Night Gala: Captain Phillips
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Billy Ray (screenplay), based the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea by: Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi
Running Time: 134mins
This year Tom Hanks is the Festival's favourite and he stars in both opening gala film and the closing gala film. He’s expected to be at the Festival. Well, with this kind of attention, he better be.
From British director, Paul Greengrass, United 93 and two of the Bourne films, come this true story of the hijacking of US container ship and its captain (Tom Hanks) by Somali pirates.
Personally I prefer Tom Hanks in comedies, where his truly superb yet less appreciated talent lies. Therefore, though Captain Phillips looks like it might be a good action film with tension and thrills, I would probably like Hanks’ closing night gala film better.
Closing Night Gala: Saving Mr. Banks
Closing Night Gala: Saving Mr. Banks
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writers: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Ferrell, Paul Giamatti.
Running Time: 126mins
After resisting Walt Disney for twenty years, PL Travers (Emma Thompson), writer of Mary Poppins, comes to Hollywood to take part in the adaptation of her book to what would become the magical classic musical.
Tom Hanks looks like an excellent choice to play the eternal child that Walt Disney seems to have been. It is in this kind of roles that Hanks shines in. And who else, but Emma Thompson can stand her ground, resist Hollywood and be amazing? The cast list, which include the excellent Ruth Wilson (Luther, Anna Karenina) and Paul Giamatti, seems promising and visually it looks quite beautiful and full of Disney magic. Saving Mr. Banks is definitely on my festival wish list this year.
The red carpet for the closing night gala and the film will be shown around the UK via live satellite.
American Express Gala: Philomena
Director: Stephan Frears
Writers: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. Based on the book: The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by: Martin Sixsmith
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley.
Running Time: 98mins
After the hilarious Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Coogan turned to the adaptation of this book, based on a true story. Anyone who has seen Coogan in The Trip knows that he can do drama as excellent as he does comedy. Directed by Stephan Frears, The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons, My Beautiful Launderette and many more, this story is about an odd relationship between a washed up journalist (Coogan), forced to find a story with a “human interest”, and an Irish Catholic mother (Dench) who decides to find her son fifty years after she was forced to give him up, because she wasn’t married. With Frears’ sensitive touch, together with Coogan and Dench this looks like it is going to be a beautiful film.
American Airline Gala: Gravity
Thu Oct 10, Fri Oct 11
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writers: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonas Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney.
Running Time: 90mins
I have now seen three trailers for Gravity and each one has had me gasping and holding my seat for dear life. The trailer, at least, is definitely one of the best trailers that I have seen in a long time. It gives very little if any away and keeps you desperate to watch it and find out what the hell happened. How trailers should be, but haven't been for a long time.
Writer and Diretor Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men and the best of the Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has already become a name to look out for in the film world and now he’s back with what looks like an exhilarating adventure in space. Like the magnificent Moon, Gravity, looks real, like it could be happening right now.
I can’t wait to see it.
I can’t wait to see it.
Centrepiece Gala: Inside Llewyn Davis
Writers and Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman
Running Time: 105mins
A new Coen Brother film is always something I want to see. Set in the sixties and telling the story of early 60s folk music, Inside Llewyn Davis looks deliciously funny and musically rich. I wish the Coen Brothers would make a musical one day, their films often look like they could be musicals and that is something I would love to see.
Laugh Gala: Don Jon
Rated: 18 (woooooo….)
Writer and Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and, can you believe it? Tony Danza (Yes!!!)
Running Time: 90mins
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has not only grown up to be one hell of an actor since his TV days as Tommy Solomon, the frustrated genus alien stuck on earth in Third Rock from The Sun, but he has also become a pretty amazing and talented guy with brilliant initiative and genuine love for the field. His pioneering collaborative production company, hitRECord is a brilliant creative network that has produced music video, short films, a book and currently working on the first TV series.
Between his successful acting career and the flourishing and constantly growing of hitRECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt found time to write and direct his début feature film, what looks like a clever and confident comedy with porn!
Cult Gala: Only Lovers Left Alive
Writer and Director: Jim Jarmusch.
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt
Running Time: 123mins
While the idea of Hiddleston, Swinton and Jarmusch doing vampires sounds amazing on paper, I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed with the trailer. Hiddleston in a wig looks like a terrible imitation of Gene Simmons/Alice Cooper and nothing in the trailer made me want to see it.
Part of the cult section at the London Film Festival and fitting with the BFI Gothics theme this year, Only Lovers Left Alive looks like Jarmusch’s musings on gothic mythology. While this sounds promising and very interesting there’s something about this film that antagonises me. Maybe it's because I am not as in love with Tom Hiddleston as the rest of the internet seems to be, maybe it’s the feel of pompousness that the trailer gives and the decision to call the two lead vampires Adam and Eve (really? I think I vomited in my mouth a little), or maybe because it looks humourless, for whatever reason Only Lovers Left Alive doesn’t excite me as a new Jim Jarmusch film usually would. I'd still like to see it though. Therefore I’m left with mixed feelings and hope that the good ones would win.
Sonic Gala: We Are the Best!
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Writers: Coco Moodysson (comic book), Lukas Moodysson.
Starring: David Dencik, Mira Barkhammar, Live LeMoyne
Running Time: 102mins
Based on his daughter’s graphic novel of the same name, We Are the Best! seems to be Moodysson’s return to his triumphant earlier, full of anarchistic idealism and optimism, style that characterised his excellent films Together and Show Me Love (Seriously??? Fucking Ǻmǻl” was translated to Show me Love?? OK).
We Are the Best! Is set in the 80s and tells the story of two girls who refuse to accept that Punk is dead. They decide to start a band and since none of them know how to play an instrument they turned to their classic trained friend for help. It looks lovely, and if it is indeed a return to what Moodysson does best, I expect this film also have everything needed to restore faith in humanity.
The Journey Gala: Nebraska
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Bon Nelson
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb.
Running Time: 114mins
Alexander Payne, Sideways and The Descendants, brings us another journey film, this time father, who is convinced he won a million dollar prize and must travel to collect it, and his son, who claims the contrary. In beautiful black and white widescreen, Payne sensitively portrays, not only a father and son relationship, but also a picture of Midwest America. Judging by his previous film I expect sadness mixed with humour and affection.
Director: Richard Ayoade
Writers: Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine, based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn.
Running Time: 93mins
Ayoade adapts Dostoevsky, wow! That sounds very good indeed. IT Crowd geek star Ayoade’s first film Submarine was a beautiful and sensitive coming of age story. This time Ayoade turns to the classic Russian writer to tell the story of an insecure office clerk who has a double, who is better than him. I am looking forward to this film from Ayoade, who seem to grow into a fine filmmaker.
In addition The London Film Festival programme also presents more galas, films and events including: gala of The Invisible Woman directed by Ralph Fiennes, the gala of new animation film Foosball, Steve McQueen’s new film 12 Years a Slave. The Official Competition, the First Feature Competition, Documentary Competition bring many more films. Like last years the programme is divided into the categories of Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult Journey, Sonic, Family, Experimentia and Treasures, which include some magnificent BFI restorations featuring the extraordinary documentary The Epic of Mount Everest. There are excellent events, film talks, Masterclasses and unique performances.
And on Thurs Oct 17th. The suspense moments before and the thrill of discovering as the first shot appears on screen, the Surprise Film has always been an exciting highlight at the London Film Festival. A few years back it was the owe inspiring The Prestige, which was a HUGE and wonderful surprise. Last year it was the lovely Silver Lining Playbook, what will it be this year? The Fifth Estate is one guess, could be Ender’s Game, or maybe the new Hunger Games film? It could be anything really. One can only hope it would be a surprise that will wow us indeed.