Hundreds of eager journalists and bloggers crammed into Leicester Square’s Odeon cinema this morning to enjoy pastries, chocolate and each others’ company, as the full programme was released for this year’s BFI London Film Festival – the esteemed event’s 55th instalment. This year is notable for being the last that long-serving artistic director Sandra Hebron will be in charge of. Following a speech by BFI director Amanda Nevill, Hebron introduced a tantalising clip reel comprising some upcoming festival highlights.
The festival, which runs from 12-27 October, and will be hosted in selected cinemas across London, opens with Fernando Meirelles’ multi-character opus 360 and concludes with a veritable Terence-fest: Davies’ much-anticipated adaptation of Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea. (Watch out for cameos from Stamp, Howard and Venables).
A more considered LFF preview will appear on PPH in the coming weeks, but for now, here’s a hastily cobbled together list of some films I’m particularly looking forward to.
- Shame – Steve McQueen’s long-awaited follow up to his debut Hunger, starring the not unpleasantly ubiquitous Michael Fassbender as a New York-based sex addict. The clip we saw featured Fassbender giving his best shark eyes across a crowded dancefloor to the strains of Blondie’s ‘Rapture’.
- The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius black-and-white homage to silent cinema, which went down a storm at Cannes, and has a rapidly growing reputation as a serious crowdpleaser.
- A Dangerous Method – David Cronenberg’s latest – a tortured tale of the relationship between famed psychologists Freud and Jung, starring Viggo Mortensen and that man Fassbender again. I’ve been a bit worried about Cronenberg recently – I think he’s been on the slide since roughly an hour into A History of Violence – but this looks as though it could be a rum, camp treat.
- The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 – a fascinating looking Swedish documentary featuring a mountain of eclectic testimony and archive footage relating to the American Black Power movement. Director Göran Olsson has form with the excellent, underseen Billy Paul documentary Am I Black Enough For You
- Surprise Film – Each year, the Festival has a secret film in the programme, and it’s always an exciting occasion. I live in hope that this year’s fare is better than the one-two punch boondoggle of the last two years (the woeful Brighton Rock and the uninspiring Capitalism: A Love Story)
- W.E. – Madonna’s latest directorial effort; an account of Wallis Simpson starring Andrea Riseborough. Intriguing, if only to see if it’s quite as dreadful as indicated by the likes of estimable critics Guy Lodge and Xan Brooks.