Film Film festivals LFF

54th London Film Festival – LFF Picks 2010


It’s that’s time of year again and this is the list of screenings I have tickets for next month. A few, including Never Let me Go (excellent, but opening the week after the festival anyway) and Carlos I have already seen and so probably won’t be re-watching.

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman.

Reviews: ScreenIndie Wire


A late addition to the programme, Sofia Coppola’s Golden Lion winner.

The Kings Speech

Picked up the audience award at Toronto complete with a slew of good reviews and Oscar buzz.

Reviews: Indie Wire | Screen | Guardian

Never Let Me Go

Mark Romanek’s drama based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel.

Reviews: ScreenIndie Wire

Surprise FIlm

(update: obviously not Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere as it’s just been added to the main lineup). So maybe the more homegrown Brighton Rock (odds: even money) which screened at TIFF but which was missing the LFF programme, the excellent Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom (odds:6/1) although I hope not, given that I have already seen it, or if we’re really lucky the Coens with True Grit (odds:50/1) but given that it’s not been screened publicly yet it’s a bit of a long shot. Another outside contender, if it’s ready in time, is the Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp film The Tourist (odds:20/1) from Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.


Peter Mullan’s new film “tips a hat to the 1970s tales of Ken Loach and Alan Clarke” according to Time Out’s Dave Calhoun.

Reviews: Screen | Mubi

The American

Probable could / should have waited for the general release on this one in November, otherwise what will I have left to watch come Christmas. But couldn’t wait..interested to see what Anton Corbijn has come up with given a bigger budget.

Reviews: Metacritic


Really looking forward to this, Richard Ayoade’s (the IT Crowd) debut film, staring Paddy Considine.

Reviews: Indie Wire | Screen

Meeks Cutoff

Having seen and loved both of Kelly Reichardt’s previous features, really looking forward to this one. Once again Jon Raymond has written the script and Michelle Williams stars.

Reviews: Screen | Indie Wire

Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams again and Ryan Gosling star in this years Sundance favourite.

Reviews: Indie Wire | Screen

Essential Killing

Vincent Gallo on the run, in Jerzy Skolimowski’s (Deep End, The Shout and w/ Polanski, Knife in the Water) new film. Mixed reviews from Venice, with some praising it and others hating it. (update: now rather annoyingly clashing on the schedule with Somewhere and Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip).

Reviews: Screen | Mubi | Time Out


When I looked at the press stills I thought Secret in Their Eyes, Nine Queens, maybe that’s lumping all Argentine thrillers together. But hey they were both good and this is from the director of Lions Den so guessed it was worth a shot.

Reviews: Time Out | Mubi | Screen

Treacle Jr.

British drama from Jamie Thraves.

Review: Time Out


I think you can probably watch an Errol Morris doc on reputation alone, so that’s what I’m doing.

Reviews: Indie Wire | Screen | Mubi

The Arbor

Experimental documentary on playwright Andrea Dunbar.

Reviews: Time Out | Eye for FilmVariety

A Working Class Hero Is Something to Be (Shorts)

You don’t often get to watch shorts on a proper cinema screen outside of festivals, so going to check out this selection of films programmed by Philip Ilson.

Possibly, maybe….

This is the ever growing list of films which I haven’t booked for yet but may take another look at closer to the festival, time allowing. My LFF accreditation has also just been confirmed, which means I might be able to catch a few of these at their press screenings over the coming fortnight (update: 29th September, have just watched Tom Hall’s Irish enjoyable and well acted wry comedy Sensation at a LFF press screening, short review coming soon).

Boxing Gym

Not only do we get a new Errol Morris doc, we get a new Fredrick Wiseman doc, sometimes have mixed feelings about Wisemans observational docs, if it’s not a subject your particularly interested in (although to be fair interesting people are innately interesting) they can seem to run a bit long. That said I’m not an huge boxing fan, but this doc set in an Austin, TX gym looks like it might be well worth a watch

Reviews: Indie Wire | Time Out


Well received documentary about Danish soldiers on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Indie WireScreen

Inside Job

Documentary tracing the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown. The problem with these kind of docs is often in their attempt to oversimplify the causes, with lots of talking heads giving their personal opinions but with no real depth. On the other hand I’m pretty sure I don’t want to sit though an economics lecture for an hour an a half. Reviews seem good though ,so may well be worth a look.

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

Documentary on Ceausescu, created entirely from archive TV footage.

Reviews: Indie WireScreen


Part animated slacker sci-fi staraing Mark Duplass (Duplass Brothers) and featuring Kinky Friedman as the President of the USA.

13 Assassin

Takashi Miike’s new fim.

Film Socialisme

The latest film from Jean-Luc Godard

Reviews: Time Out | Indie Wire

Outside the Law

The rise of three brothers who end running the Algerian independence movement in Paris.

Reviews: MubiScreen

Cold Weather

Aaron Katz’s (Quiet City, Dance Party, USA) mumblecore thriller, if such a genre can really exist.

Le Quattro Volte

Reviews: Time Out

Film Film festivals LFF

London film festival round-up

Here is my LFF round-up in (a vaguely) descending order.

Un Prophète (imdb) ***** (seen prior to LFF)
The White Ribbon (imdb) **** (seen prior to LFF)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (imdb) ****
A Serious Man (imdb) ****
A Single Man (imdb) ****
Lebanon (imdb) ****
Precious (imdb) *** (seen prior to LFF)
Ajami (imdb) ***
Life During Wartime (imdb) ***
Father of My Children (imdb) ***
The Road (imdb) ***
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (imdb) ***
Tales from the Golden Age (imdb) *** (seen prior to LFF)
Polytechnique (imdb) *** (seen prior to LFF)
Double Hour (imdb) ** [need to revisit]
Micmacs à tire-larigot (imdb) **
Bunny and the Bull (imdb) ** (seen prior to LFF)
Disapearance of Alice Creed (imdb) **
Applause (imdb) **

Despite a few two stars I don’t think I saw a truly bad film this year. Listing them like this it’s obvious how useless a star rating system is. I really liked aspects of Applause, The Double Hour, Bunny and the Bull, Micmacs and Alice Creed but because as a whole, for me, they fell below say The Road or Ajami they got relegated to two stars each, but that’s not to say they we’re bad films, in fact they could probably all easily be moved up to three stars. A star rating will also never explain why Bad Lieutenant ended up where it did on the above list (in many ways it’s a two star film at best) and obviously it’s fairly broad stroke to group Haneke’s latest with Mr. Fox based on something as simplistic as a 1 to 5 rating system.

Film Film festivals LFF

53rd London Film Festival – LFF Picks 2009

Sent off my booking form for this years LFF tickets at the weekend, so far have only booked tickets for films that are likely to sell out early, will leave the smaller films to later to see how my schedule is nearer to the dates. (update: got everything I wanted with the exception of the Up in the Air and Surprise film, probably pay back for me trying to guess it. Will try again when the next tranche of tickets is released)

So what am I going to see next month..


A Serious Man

A Serious Man

New Coen brothers, great reviews from TIFF. I’m excited. Trailer here.

The Road


John Hillcoat bleak adapatation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak (but brilliant) novel.

Up in the Air


New movie from Juno director Jason Reitman about the world of business travel.

Father of My Children


Mia Hansen Løve’s film loosely based on producer Humbert Balsan. Been wanting to see this since missing it in Cannes

Micmacs à tire-larigot


New film from Amile director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, looks fun.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

fantastic mr fox

I caved in and got tickets to see it at LFF even though it’s on general release the following week.

Films on the Square

Life During Wartime


New Todd Solondz, Loved Happiness (and Welcome to the Dollhouse) hoping I’m going to love this as much.

A Single Man

A Single man

Fashion director Tom Ford’s directorial debut is getting great reviews and looks like a work of art, plus Julianne Moore sealed the deal for me. Trailer can be found here.



This years Golden Lion winner, set almost completely in the confines a tank.

Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

Grab your lucky crack pipe, the LFF have just (23rd Sept) added Werner Herzog’s re-imaging of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film to the programme. This also puts pay to my initial second guess at the Surprise film.

Surprise Film

Surprise film

My guess is Where the Wild Things Are, but that is based purely on guesswork, no inside knowledge or anything, failing that my moneys on Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant. (update: 25 Sept – Bad Lieutenant just added to main programme, wondering if was the backup film and has now been shifted to the main program with the confirmation of LFF’s first choice of film).

Possibly, maybe..

The films on the ‘book nearer to the date’ list, mainly compiled from films I want to watch but need to see how my schedule goes and a couple of complete unknowns that sound interesting for one reason or another.

Will also try and collate some existing reviews for these films in the run up to LFF mainly so I can quickly see what on this list really worth catching and which just have a good sounding synopsis and can probably be given a miss. Although based on previous years this list could equally grow as it could shrink. (update 23rd Sept – I gave in and booked half of them)

The Disappearance of Alice Creed (booked)


Twisty debut from British director J Blakeson. A three hander staring Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston. Been hearing good things about this movie and want to see if it lives up the the hype.

Ajami (booked)


Crime drama set on the streets of the occupied territories. Looks good. (Update: Ajami has been selected as Israel’s 2010 Oscar entry)

Trash Humpers

Trash humpers

Harmony Korine latest project looks totally out there crazy, kind of John Walters’ Pink Flamingos meets Lars von Trier’s The Idiots. It’s actually getting some positive reviews. The trailers 80’s analogue VHS video effects are great and the squealing laughter is just so wrong.


Euro thriller from Denmark; yet to hear anything about it but from the synopsis it looks like it might be worth a look.

The Double Hour (booked)


Another Euro thriller (I’m a bit of a sucker for them) from the production team behind Il Divo. Screen give this one the thumbs up as do Variety.

Applause (booked)


Danish film about a recovering alcoholic making her return to the stage as Martha in a production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Sounds a bit like a Danish version of Cassavetes’ Opening Night.

44 Inch Chest

44 inch chest

New British film staring Ray Winstone

Burning Down The House: The Story of CBGB


Documentary on the legendary Bowery venue. Review from Variety here.

We live in Public

we live in public

Another documentary, this time a Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, which focuses on the (little known to me anyway) story of internet pioneer John Harris and his turn of the millennium ‘art experiment’ which involved cramming hundreds of artists into a New York bunker, and filming the results.



This year Un Certain Regard winner, from Greece. Sounds fairly experimental but interesting at the same time.



Would like to try and catch some of the shorts programmes if I can.

Already seen..

There are also a few films screening at LFF that I have already seen, but which I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t.

A Prophet


Gritty French prison drama from Beat That My Heart Skipped director Jacques Audiard. This years Gomorrah if not better, go see it.

The White Ribbon

White Ribbon

Haneke at his most austere, but brilliant at the same time

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire


Given how much I though I was going to love this film. I did end up having slight issues with it in terms of the ‘middle class teacher attempts to get girl out of the gutter’ central story, the dream sequences that just seemed to sit at odd with the rest of the film and at times it felt like the director just didn’t know when to hold back on ramping up the drama to a such point that any realism the film had constructed was instantly lost. All that said it’s extremely well acted and certainly worth a watch.

Tales from the Golden Age

Tales from the golden age

Very dry humoured set of shorts from Cristian Mungiu (Four Months, Three weeks) and friends set in Ceausescu’s Communist Romania.

Bunny and the Bull

Bunny and the bull

A let down if your expecting “Mighty Boosh the Movie” but still contains enough imagination, quirkiness and inventiveness to make it well worth a watch.


Wondering why Corneliu Porumboiu’s, highly praised at both Cannes and TIFF, Police, Adjective didn’t make it into the London Film Festival?

Politist adjectiv

Vue and splitting screenings over two screens

I was going to save my full rant about Gala and Film on the Square screenings being split over two separate 400 seat multiplex screens till another post (but it slipped out here). I know the LFF is hard pressed for cash (although as my credit card statement for tickets to this years festival shows I am doing my bit to help). I know the Vue deal was signed before they knew the OWE was still going to be around and I know the LFF team are a bunch of cinema lovers who must have tried hard to avoid this situation. So my criticism is less directed at the LFF/BFI rather than the wider powers that be in this country for letting this happen. It may sound cliché to say but “Can you imagine this happening in France or Italy?” the truth is I couldn’t; of course the French already have a nice architectural eyesore meets concrete bunker to hold theirs in.

But really if your going to split a screening over two mid sized screens at a multiplex can you still call it a Gala screening? Could not all the Gala’s have be held at the Odeon Leicester Square? Realise that’s not LFF decision and that the Odeon is a commercial organisation with shareholders, but given the profits the Odeon chain make from cinema in the UK per year it wouldn’t have seemed too much to ask that they offer up their flagship screen for more than the opening, closing night and two other additional nights. It just seems embarrassing that the flagship film festival in the UK is reduced to using a couple of multiplex screens for it’s Gala screenings. Not that I was holding my breath that Boris was going to step in to help the situation, although I’m sure he’ll turn up at the start of Bright Star and ramble on about how fantastic it is to be standing here (in a 400 seat multiplex cinema) and how he wants to support the festival and help UK filmmakers by introducing some token scheme. I hope I’m proved wrong and he actually turns up to announce that his awarding the BFI funds to build their long awaited new home on the Southbank. (Update: I eat my words BFI National Film Centre gets the green light : Congratulations to the BFI)

In terms of the Q&A’s at the Films on the Square and Special screenings, let face it, for all the talk about attempting to have multiple Q&A, it’s going to end up with a quick introduction before the film in both screens and a bit of pot luck as to which screen gets a proper Q&A or are we just going to end up with a couple of questions per screen. I know at many festivals you don’t get a Q&A at all but LFF always did so well here and it just seems such a shame to reduce them to simple introductions. The festival is a month away so I may be proved wrong, lets wait and see. On the plus side at least Vue has decent sight lines of the screen.

Sorry that was meant to be a brief footnote, you can tell I’m already peeved.