Film Film festivals LFF

55th London Film Festival 2011 – LFF Picks

OK here’s the long and short list, long as it’s quite a lot of films, short in that I expect it will get added to as this years festival approaches.

I have only listed the films I am seeing at LFF 2011 and have excluded any films that I have already seen at at other festivals this year, which include the Very Good: Steve McQueen’s Shame, Lynn Ramsey’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Black, White and Silent crowd pleaser The Artist and The Dardenne Brother’s The Kid with a Bike. The Bad: Takishi Miike’s Hara-Kiri Death of a Samurai and Gus Van Sants’s Restless and the OK: Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place, Markus Schleinzer’s Cannes competition entry Michael, Miranda July’s The Future. On the whole I’m also skipping on any films that are on general release in October.

Surprise film

The Iron Lady (UK release, 6th Jan 2012) would seem to be an obvious choice for the Surprise film but may not be ready in time. So the safe, even money favourite this year is probably Moneyball (25th Nov) staring Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, although it’s baseball theme might not be the obvious choice for a London festival it otherwise ticks all the other boxes. Also high in the running I expect is The Rum Diary (4th Nov) staring Johnny Depp (both the Rum Diary and Moneyball already have a BBFC cert unlike most of the other films on this shortlist, although as far as I am aware a cert isn’t a requirement for any film showing at the festival). Given it’s numerous British connections My Week with Marilyn probably can’t be ruled out, although given the damp squids of the last two years (Michael Moore’s capitalism and Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock) you would all but hope that Sandron Hebron’s is going to pull something special out of the bag for her final year at the festival…

Martha Marcy May Marlene

One of the big hits from both Sundance and Cannes this year. An “atmospheric story of a young woman recently escaped from a cult-like commune” as the programme blurb describes it. Been looking forward to this since missing it in Cannes, despite everyone telling me to go see it, I will listen next time.

Reviews: IMDBScreen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety

Take Shelter

Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain star in another of this years big Sundance hits.

Reviews: IMDBScreen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety


This years Animal Kingdom? By all accounts an excellent, yet very dark and hard to watch dramatisation of Australia’s ‘Bodies in the Barrels‘ murders (it may be best not to read the Wikipedia page first).

Reviews: IMDBScreen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety


Roman Polanski’s Brooklyn set comedy of manners staring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C Reilly.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety | The Guardian | Indie Wire


Woody Harrelson’s plays a rogue LA cop with a performance that has been described as career defining.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety


Indie Cancer Comedy [if such a genre exists] staring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall.

Reviews: IMDB |  Screen | Hollywood Reporter | Variety The Guardian

The Descendants

Alexander Payne’s first feature since Sideways.

Reviews: IMDB |  Screen | Variety |  The Guardian | Hollywood Reporter

A Dangerous Method 

David Cronenburg’s latest based on Christopher Hampton 2002 stage play ,The Talking Cure. Vigo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender respectively play Freud and Jung.

Miss Bala

“A young woman clinging on to her dream to become a beauty contest queen in a Mexico dominated by organized crime”. Miss Bala has been widely regarded as one of the highlights of this years Un Certain Regard.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen |  Hollywood Reporter | Variety

Like Crazy

Transatlantic indie romance flick, another of the big buzz film from this years Sundance.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

There is only one screening of this at LFF. Which clashes with my already booked ticket for Snowtown. So will have to catch the press screening of it instead. The latest film from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which charts the investigation of murder over 24hrs. Although like Ceylan’s previous films this isn’t going to be your standard detective on a murder case movie.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Time Out | Hollywood Reporter | Variety

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life

Werner Herzog’s new doc, a “powerful exploration of violence and its consequences, told through Death Row inmates and others close to their crimes” according to the LFF synopsis.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Variety

Crazy Horse

Veteran verité documentary maker Fredrick Wiseman (now in his 81st year) takes his camera into Paris’ Crazy Horse cabaret club.

Reviews: IMDB | Guardian | Variety | Twitch

Dreams of a Life

Director Carol Morley’s investigative documentary on the story of a young woman discovered in a London flat three years after her death.


Yet another “Dark Norwegian Thriller”

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Variety | Hollywood Reporter

Walking too fast

From Variety: “Set in 1982 Czechoslovakia, Radim Spacek’s “Walking Too Fast” is a slow-burn political thriller about a secret police lieutenant bucking the system. Comparisons to “The Lives of Others” are apt, although “Walking’s” thoroughly unsympathetic protagonist makes the film more admirable than likable.”

Reviews: IMDB | Variety

The Student

From Pablo Trapero’s (Carancho, Lions Den) screenwriter comes this political allegory set in the wheeler-dealing world of Argentine student politics.

Reviews: IMDB | Variety | Hollywood Reporter


From the LFF programme “Philippe Torreton gives a superb performance in Vincent Garenq’s no-holds-barred docu-drama about a man unjustly accused in a notorious paedophilia trial.”. With Variety describing it as “Devastating drama about the greatest French judicial scandal in recent history.”

Reviews: IMDB | Hollywood Reporter

Restless City

From Variety “Camera-scoured Manhattan wouldn’t seem to have many secrets left, but the extraordinarily beautiful “Restless City” achieves revelation on two tiers — in the kinetic landscape of the city itself and in the world of Senegalese immigrants, whose struggle evolves just beneath the sightlines of the average New Yorker.”. Hollywoood reporter calls  ‘Restless City’ a Stunning Look at New York’s West African Immigrant Community.

Reviews: IMDB | Variety | Hollywood Reporter



Fernando Meirelles’ multi stranded festival opener, has been panned by The Guardian and received less than enthusiastic reviews elsewhere. Still I quite enjoyed Babel by fellow Mexican, Alejandro González Iñárritu, which has a similar theme and was dismissed by critics, so hoping for an enjoyable if not particular deep start to this years festival with this one. Update: The commenters describing 360 as “Love Actually without the jokes” aren’t far off, a pretty poor opening night film.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Hollywood | Reporter | Variety | The Guardian | Indie Wire

…the book nearer the time

Below are the films that I haven’t yet booked, but will probably get tickets to nearer to festival depending on my schedule.


One of the nominees for this year’s Sutherland Award, Mark Jackson directorial debut is described in the catalogue as a haunting, claustrophobic drama

Reviews: Time Out


The new film from Greek Director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Attenberg)

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Variety | Hollywood Reporter


The winner of best European film in the Cannes Directors Fortnight sidebar. The directorial debut of Austrian actor Karl Markovics, Breathing is described in the LFF programe an ‘assured, intelligent work’. The film follows Roman, an institutionalised young offender in Vienna, serving time for a violent crime with a surly, uncommunicative attitude, blankly accepting of the solitary conditions.

Reviews: IMDB | Variety | Indie Wire | Hollywood Reporter


From the LFF blurb “Andrei Zvyagintsev’s award-winning account of a struggle over inheritance is accompanied by an effective score by Philip Glass.”. Screen comment’s “A late addition to Un Certain Regard, for which it is the closing night film, one can only wonder, why is this extraordinary film not in the main competition?

Reviews: IMDB | Screen | Telegraph

This is not a film

Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s (who is awaiting a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media as well as leaving the country) new film which according to the Guardian “was smuggled into the country on a USB stick buried inside a cake posted from Iran to Paris”.

Reviews: IMDB | The Guardian | Twitch | Mubi

…the (relative) Unknowns

Not the Tod Browning movie about an armless knife thrower, but a few of the largely unseen and distributor-less films picked out from the vast selection of European and World films in the LFF lineup.

The Forgiveness Of Blood

Maria Full of Grace director, Joshua Marston returns with an Albanian-set story of family caught up in a blood feud

Reviews: IMDB | ScreenVariety | Hollywood Reporter

Stopped on Track

From Variety A German postal worker’s precious few months between diagnosis and death are chronicled with an acute and raw sense of honesty in “Stopped on Track.”

Reviews: IMDB | Variety | Telegraph

17 Girls

From Variety “Based on a true story that happened in the U.S., “Girls” relates how the accidental pregnancy of an attractive teen leads to an epidemic of knocked-up peers.”

Reviews: IMDB | Variety | Screen

The Monk

Vincent Cassel is The Monk.

A Bitter Taste of Freedom

Documentry on Russian journalist Anna Politkovskay.

Reviews: IMDB | Variety


Mathieu Kassovitz directs and stars in this political thriller come war movie.

Reviews: IMDB | Screen

The Screen Illusion

Mathieu Amalric’s latest “gives classic French theatre a twist by wittily updating Corneille’s play as a modern intrigue set in the CCTV present” according to the LFF synopsis.

Reviews: IMDB | Variety

Corpo Celeste

“A rebellious teenager reacts against strictures of her local church and ends up on a bizarre errand to collect something out of town with the parish priest.”

Early One Morning

From the LFF synopsis “Jean-Pierre Darroussin plays a banking executive driven off the rails in Jean-Marc Moutout’s incisive and angry indictment of the financial world.”. The main still instantly reminded me of Laurent Cantet’s Time Out whether that was an intentional decision I’m not sure but it’s certainly piqued my interest.

My Back Page

From the programme synopsis “A rookie journalist in 1969 falls under the spell of a charismatic student radical (Kenichi Matsuyama), only to realise that he’s capable of murder. Nobuhiro Yamashita and his cast recreate the political turmoil of the period with awesome credibility.”

Reviews:  IMDB | Japan Times



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