Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Victim's Useless Guide To The London Film Festival

Now, as your resident favourite Brit-of-the-blogosphere (because I am, aren't I?!), I'd love to be your guide to this country's biggest film festival, which starts today and runs until October 30th all over London. Unfortunately, contrary to the old American maxim that every Brit lives in London, I live about 200 miles from the capital and it takes me two hours (by train) to get there. Add this to my waning bank balance and a university that unfortunately insists I show up for things, and you get me unhappily only taking one trip down to the West End. (That's this Sunday, folks, for Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, which I am very excited about.) But I can't fail you completely, and, so, instead of the detailed diaries I'm sure those who get paid for this sort of thing will be doing, I'm going to get this out of the way now and tell you what I would be seeing if I were a rich layabout cinefile who lived in a mansion in Kent. (I've restricted myself to one per day because otherwise we'll be here all night and you're probably bored already. Hurrah.)

Wednesday, 15th: Frost/Nixon
The opening gala. Can't say the film itself holds a great deal of interest personally (though naturally I'll see it on release), but it's a gala and I've always wanted to go to one of those. I'd probably actually scrub myself in preparation.

Thursday, 16th: La Belle personne
I actually thought about going to this because there ARE STILL TICKETS (a rare thing to come by) but monetary and time issues made me sigh in defeat. This is from Christophe Honore, whose delightful Les chansons d'amour was released this year on both sides of the Atlantic. La Belle personne is similarly musical, similarly Louis Garrel-starring (always a good thing), and strangely enough based on La princesse de Cleves.

Friday, 17th: Love Live Long
The latest experimental thingamabob from Mike Figgis, who's always worth giving a chance to impress, disgust or bore you completely. It's about the Gumball 3000 Rally, whatever that is. More importantly, it's digital, it sounds unnervingly raw and it appears to be in black-and-white, which the pretentious snob in me always loves.

Saturday, 18th: Virtue + Shopworn
Now I would have gone to this but 'twas already sold out. Bastards. Anyway, this is a double-bill of rare Pre-Code films, the first with Carole Lombard (love) and the second with Barbara Stanwyck (love more). But I guess I'll never see them, then. Oh well.

Sunday, 19th: Hunger
This comes out soon anyway, but I can't wait to be stunned and horrified (apparently I'm a masochist then) by this tale of Bobby Sands, the IRA prisoner who led a hunger strike in the 1980s.

Monday, 20th: Rachel Getting Married
You know this one. I can't wait for it. It doesn't have a release date. Boo. Let's move on.

Tuesday, 21st: Of Time and the City
Terence Davies' very personal documentary about his childhood and hometown of Liverpool. Described as a 'visual poem', it's narrated by Davies' himself, whose voice is bound to switch as many people off as it does on.

Wednesday, 22nd: Genova
Michael Winterbottom is often amazing. And this story of a grieving father taking his daughters to Venice and hanging around with Catherine Keener becomes even more exciting when you remember which previous British art-director went to Venice with psychological traumas. Got there? Oh yes... (Again, this was sold out already. Grr.)

Thursday, 23rd: Of Parents and Children
Every fantasy film festival diary needs a Czech film in it (that's what they tell me, anyway). So this is mine. A grandfather meets his 40-year-old son at a zoo every week and they walk around Prague reflecting on how shit their lives are. Probably. For film buffs there's the pleasure of knowing the grandfather is played by the lead of Czech-classic Closely Observed Trains (which I didn't like but oh well).

Friday, 24th: Benicio del Toro
Not a film, but a talk! How thrilling. But seriously, I'm sure the man would be fascinating. Of course he's around these parts because of Che (a simultaneously exciting and exhausting prospect), but a look back into his filmography demonstrates he has a lot of interesting stuff to be asked. (Of course, you can book for this, but it's on far too late and I'd be stranded in London for the night. Scary.)

Saturday, 25th: Hansel and Gretel
This South Korean flick sounds deliciously creepy. What's more disturbing than children? (Apologies to any children who may be reading.) Happy children, that's what. Hopefully I'll get a chance to this one at some point.

Sunday, 26th: Surprise Film
They have one every year. You don't know what it is until you turn up. This year, according to festival director Sandra Hebron, it's a return to the usual situation where they still aren't sure what they're going to be showing. How thrilling. Or it would be if I was going.

Monday, 27th: The Brothers Bloom

I don't like Adrien Brody though.

Tuesday, 28th: The Beaches of Agnes
Cleo from 5 to 7 is superb. And this "auto-documentary" is a self-portrait of its director Agnes Varda. Apparently her last film, too, and you can bet your bottom dollar such a film will be fascinating and completely vanity-free.

Wednesday, 29th: Easy Virtue
I'm sorry. But whenever anyone mentions Jessica Biel in the same breath as her namesakes Alba and Simpson, my blood boils ever so slightly. What did she do to deserve such an indignity? She looks smashing in this period comedy alongside Colin Firth (boring) and Kristin Scott Thomas (amazing). The trailer instantly reminded me of Stephen Fry's Evelyn Waugh adaptation Bright Young Things, and as anyone who has seen that can attest, this is only a good thing. (Thankfully this is released very soon. Hurrah!)

Thursday, 30th: The Sky, The Earth and the Rain
And so we reach the end. You could go and see the closing gala Slumdog Millionaire, but I'm not big on Danny Boyle and so instead in my fantasy world I'll be seeing this "ravishing" Chilean peek at two solitary souls where the landscape stands for the characters' inner moods. Susan Sontag would storm out in disgust.

And that, good people, is two weeks that I WON'T be enjoying. Good night.


J.D. said...

Ugh, I wanna see La Belle Personne sooooo much. Honoré is already one of my favorite filmmakers, and Louis Garrel is just... ugh.

Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, too, for that matter. I really loved him in Love Songs.

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