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The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview

Posted on Wednesday September 10, 2008, 18:54 by Damon Wise in Under The Radar
The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview

The LFF unveiled its line-up today, and as I suspected it was very solid. Pretty much all the buzz titles from Cannes were in there, with a few late-year heavyweights like Oliver Stone's W, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire and even the new Bond, Quantum Of Solace, which has its public premiere the same night that Craig and co gather across the other side of Leicester Square. As I'd sort of intuited, too, The Brothers Bloom will be on the square as well, enjoying a gala screening courtesy of American Airlines. As I'm writing, Bloom just had its North American premiere in Toronto. Director Rian Johnson tells me, with some relief, that it went “OK”*, and I think the Odeon West End is the perfect place to see his conman love story. As you may have seen from the trade papers, notably Variety and Screen, Bloom isn't proving to be to all tastes. But the trades aren't exactly to all tastes either, and the fansites that took to Johnson's previous film Brick are digging it.

(* This, of course, is comic understatement. In Johnsonspeak, I found out properly the day after, this actually means, "Goddamn fantastic, great reactions and lots of love from the crowd." Which is what I thought! If you don't believe me, have a look HERE.)

While I'm plugging films by directors I like, I was pleased to see that Bronson by Nicolas Winding Refn is also in the mix. I must admit that I wasn't too sure about this project when Nicolas first mentioned it, but the more I hear of it, the more I'm intrigued by it. Tom Hardy, RockNRolla's Handsome Bob, transformed incredibly to play the psycho convict who has spent an amazing 34 years in prison, 28 of them in solitary. At first I thought this was going to be a British gangster movie but I now see the appeal. If you haven't seen any of Refn's terrific previous films – notably the Pusher trilogy – this might be a good place to start. But if the violence here reaches anything like the quotient employed in Pusher 3: I'm The Angel Of Death, the squeamish may prefer to stay away.

There were a few disappointments – no sightings of The Hurt Locker, The Road, Reservation Revolutionary Road, Milk, Changeling (just thought of this!) or, aaaaaaargh, The Wrestler – but this is a pretty good selection nonetheless. But rather than rattle on any more, though, I've picked out 20 as a guide...


The Brothers Bloom
Mon 27 Oct 8.30pm
Tues 28 Oct 4pm
It's finally here, and I'll be lining up again for this baroque adventure romance, with Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as two artisan conmen taking a mad millionairess (Rachel Weisz) for a ride.

Waltz With Bashir
Fri 24 Oct 8.30pm
Mon 27 Oct 6.30pm
A great but disturbing animated documentary, of all things, in which filmmaker Ari Folman investigates his inability to recall anything about his role as a soldier during the 1982 Lebanon War.

Sun 19 Oct 9pm
Mon 20 Oct 4pm
It's a tough one, this, but thoughtful and gripping, detailing the plight of Bobby Sands and other IRA prisoners in the hands of Margaret Thatcher's government during the 1981 hunger strike.

The Class
Sat 18 Oct 8.30pm
Mon 20 Oct 1.30pm
Take your reading glasses for this one; the subtitles are endless in this lively, low-key but surprisingly engrossing study of a French school teacher who underestimates his charges.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Tue 21 Oct 8.30pm
Sat 25 Oct 1.15pm
Yes, Cassandra's Dream was a stinker, but this is terrific, a warm, not especially funny but very human and entertaining romantic comedy, in which Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz excel.

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil
Tue 21 Oct 9pm
Thurs 23 Oct 3.30pm
As post-DiG! rock docs go, this is just great; no great sparks or meltdowns, just a lovely Spinal Tap-style portrait of a failed Canadian poodle-rock outfit determined to keep rocking at all costs.

Synecdoche, New York
Tue 28 Oct 9pm
Wed 29 Oct 3.15pm
I want to see this again to see if my theory holds true about what happens to the depressed playwright (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Charlie Kaufman's twisted but oddly moving mindwarp.

Sat 18 Oct 11pm
Tues 21 Oct 1pm
Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho contribute to a three-part portmanteau about life in the Japanese capital; Carax's sewer man is my favourite, but Gondry's is sweet too.

Il Divo
Tue 21 Oct 6pm
Thurs 23 Oct 4pm
Certainly one of my favourite films of this year, this Italian political thriller is fantastic, playing like Nixon meets Reservoir Dogs as it deals with the career of seven-time PM Giulio Andreaotti.

Fri 17 Oct 6.30pm
Tues 21 Oct 3.30pm
If you think you know heavyweight boxing champion Iron Mike, think again: James Toback's excellent doc proves he's more than just a blunt instrument with a lisp, pulling the curtain back on a very tortured psyche.


Slumdog Millionaire
Thurs 30 Oct 7pm
Danny Boyle's Millions was a great little Britflick, and I prefer him when he's not working in genre, so I'm very much up for this story of a slum kid who enters India's Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.

Wed 22 Oct 8.30pm
Sun 26 Oct 4pm
I really don't know much about this other than it may or may not be a ghost story, with shades of Don't Look Now, but with Michael Winterbottom directing, I can't wait to see it for myself.

Thur 23 Oct 7.30pm
Fri 24 Oct 1pm
Oliver Stone versus the Bush dynasty: what could possibly go wrong? Even if it's terrible, Stone's petulant final stone at Dubya's administration already has its place in the history books.

The Baader Meinhof Complex
Sun 26 Oct 9pm
Tues 28 Oct 12.30pm
Again, another film I know little about, but 70s German terrorists the Baader Meinhof Gang continue to fascinate me, and with Christiane F's Uli Edel at the helm, I'm pretty much sold.

The Good, The Bad And The Weird
Thurs 30 Oct 12.45pm
Thurs 30 Oct 8.45pm
I heard great things about this in Cannes, a wacky, action-packed South Korean tribute to the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone from the director of bizarro horror story A Tale Of Two Sisters.

Thurs 16 Oct 6pm
Sun 19 Oct 1.30pm
To be honest, I hadn't heard a word about this offbeat fairytale until the LFF launch and a freaky clip showing a man with a hooded face going into a bar. Could be the drinking man's Stardust...

Fri 17 Oct 11pm
Fri 24 Oct 9pm (Brixton Ritzy)
Tom Hardy plays one of Britain's most notorious but paradoxically least-known criminals, in a violent crime drama that could well be the Anglo-Danish answer to Australia's Chopper.

The Possibility Of An Island
Sun 19 Oct 4.15pm
Wed 22 Oct 1.30pm
To be honest, I want to see this for all the wrong reasons – novelist Michel Houellebecq's directing debut has a bad rep you wouldn't believe, and if it's as bad as they say... I'm in!

Not Quite Hollywood
Sat 25 Oct 3.15pm
Tues 28 Oct 1.30pm
I've heard a lot about this documentary on Australia's hidden B-movie heritage, which includes contributions from Dennis Hopper, Jamie Lee Curtis and, wouldn't you know, a Mr Q Tarantino.

Tony Manero
Sat 18 Oct 8.45pm
Mon 28 Oct 8.45pm (Greenwich Picturehouse)
There were raves in Cannes too for this tale of a Brazilian serial killer obsessed with Saturday Night Fever in a black-comic thriller set during Pinochet's reign in late-70s Chile. Again, I'm sold!

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1 Acho
Posted on Thursday September 11, 2008, 00:46
I think it's a pretty solid line up, some sweet choices. I'm just going to copy and paste from my comment on the news thread for my would-like-to-see list: Waltz with Bashir (really looking forward to this), Synecdoche, New York, Frozen River, Hunger, Il Divo, Rachel Getting Married, Frost/Nixon, The Brothers Bloom, W, Vicky Christina Barcelona and (because a few friends of mine worked on it!) Kisses.

Watched the trailer for Bronson the other day - Tom Hardy is almost unrecognisable. Chopper comparisons ahoy, I'm sure, which is no bad thing if it lives up to them.

2 Glass3005
Posted on Friday September 12, 2008, 13:28
I assume you have a damn good reason for not having Quantum of Solace on that list. Signed, James Bond fanboy.

3 dctuck
Posted on Friday September 12, 2008, 19:32
Is it just me, or does Josh Brolin look like Philip Scofield in that picture on the main page?

4 khac6876
Posted on Monday September 15, 2008, 14:17
There were lots of films I wanted to see at the LFF this year.....until they put the price of the tickets for Films on the Screen up to £25. So no Religulous, Surprise Film or Synecdoche for me.

5 sfaltern8
Posted on Monday September 15, 2008, 16:32
I'm fairly sure Reservation Road played at last year's festival. And to khac6876 - Only the Quantum of Solace is the "Film on the Square Gala" at £25 a ticket. It's due to a portion of the ticket price going to charity. The non-opening/closing Galas are still £15 each and the surprise film will still be £11.

6 Gator
Posted on Monday September 15, 2008, 16:35
I think he means Revolutionary Road...

7 khac6876
Posted on Monday September 15, 2008, 20:14
Thanks a lot sfaltern8. Christ I need to change my login name.
The website makes it look like all Films on the Square must be 25. But if not, I'm in.
Any guesses on the Surprise Film? I'd go for Milk (hopefully), The Wrestler, or maybe they'll pull a coup and get Benjamin Button. Or Changeling. Or Australia. Oh I don't know.

8 sfaltern8
Posted on Wednesday September 17, 2008, 13:16
Yeah, it's sorta misleading, but £11 for sure.

I'd really like the Surprise Film to be a total surprise this year, especially in genre. I've loved seeing No Country, Far From Heaven and The Prestige in past years, but one of my favorite SF's was School of Rock. It came totally from left-field. So, how about Zach and Miri Make a Porno, or Bolt, or even Twilight.

9 chadfear
Posted on Wednesday September 17, 2008, 17:49
I think everyone should see Hunger, as my mate is in it and he gets beaten up a lot; god bless him.
Go and see it, tell everyone else to go and see it and hopefully he'll get more work getting beaten up.

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