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.