55th BFI London Film Festival programme revealed

From the British Film Institute:

We’re excited to announce the line-up for this year’s BFI London Film Festival, which will showcase 204 feature films and 110 shorts over 16 days.

In addition to our previously announced opening and closing night films, Fernando Meirelles’ 360 and Terence Davies’  The Deep Blue Sea [pictured above, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston], Gala highlights include George Clooney’s The Ides of March, Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method. This year’s Archive Gala title is the BFI National Archive’s restoration of Miles Mander’s The First Born with a new score by Stephen Horne.

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LFF Preview: Nowhere Boy

From Netribution

The London Film Festival will close tonight with the world premiere of the feature debut from artist Sam Taylor-Wood, Nowhere Boy. It takes a look at the early years of John Lennon, when he was being brought up by his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas in a fantastic performance), getting into music, and taking guitar lessons from a young squirt called Paul McCartney. Suchandrika Chakrabarti reviews.

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LFF Preview: Starsuckers

From Netribution

Starsuckers is the second feature-length documentary from writer/director Chris Atkins, who made the BAFTA-nominated Taking Liberties in 2007. The film takes an in-depth look into celebrity culture – and sleb journalism – and the results are both laugh-out-loud funny and worrying.

The issue of made-up stories making their way into showbiz gossip columns was discussed by George Clooney and Kevin Spacey at the press conference for Men Who Stare At Goats last week (after the London Film Festival press screening).

Of course, there was nothing new about the debate, but it was intriguing, hearing two celebrities, who have been hounded by the media, describing how it feels, right in front of us. In fact, we got to watch it happen – in each of the two press conferences I saw Clooney in (Goats and Fantastic Mr Fox), he was besieged by a number of questions about his private life, namely when the hell he was going to get married and have kids. Some of the non-tabloid journalists later complained about this hijacking of precious press conference time. Who really cares? Well, as Starsuckers shows, we’re all meant to, because caring about slebs makes us buy stuff…

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So, Slumdog Millionaire’s quite good…

As ever, a multitude of spoilers lie within, read on at your peril…

When I went to the launch of the London Film Festival, waaay back in September last year, I mentioned Slumdog Millionaire on this blog as it was the closing night film. It’s been getting a ton of hits lately, thanks to all the awards, so I thought I’d better write a little review…

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LFF: W. has its European premiere tonight

w.film

From Netribution

It seems as though there are two films in Oliver Stone‘s W., fighting to separate themselves from each other. There is the story of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin), the president who took his country to war in 2003. Then there is Dubya, the son in awe of his father, George H. W. Bush (James Cromwell); who feels rivalry with his little brother Jeb (Jason Ritter); and who sees politics as the family business. The present of the film is seen through meetings surrounding the 2003 Iraq invasion, with Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) et al. Through flashbacks, a light is shone on Bush’s character and family.

In the production notes from this morning’s press screening, Stone goes to great lengths to avoid saying that this film is about Bush being a bad, bad president. An example: “We set out to show his reasoning for the Iraq war as a function of who he is, his personal history.” Stone goes on to say,

I can’t say I liked Oedipus when I walked out of ‘Oedipus’, I can’t say I liked Agamemnon, I can’t say I like many of the Greek heroes. Some of them are outright assholes, but you watch them, you follow their story. That’s drama.

Well, poor Oedipus was the victim of a fate foretold before his birth, and Agamemnon came from a supposedly cursed family – you’ve got to feel a little sorry for them. Ultimately, though, they were never real; Dubya very much is. Mr Stone, it’s a bit more than just “drama” when you suggest your incumbent president belongs in the same category as these possible “outright assholes.”

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Frost/Nixon world premiere opens London Film Festival tonight

From Netribution

frostnixonfilmThe LFF has chosen well for its opening night. Ahead of the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain in New York tonight, Frost/Nixon, the tale of a president undone in a television interview, has its world premiere in London tonight.

Surely you know the story? The 37th president of the United States was involved in some bad stuff called Watergate (let’s ignore the wars and other things for now) in 1972. After this came to light, Richard Milhous Nixon (Frank Langella) duly resigned in 1974 and went a bit quiet in Florida until 1977. Then, cheesy light-entertainment TV personality David Frost (Michael Sheen) asks for an interview, and is granted one, for the easy money and questions. Frost’s researchers find some good evidence for him to annihilate Nixon with. Nixon confesses to wrongdoing on TV. Frost goes on to greater things, Nixon gets to be remembered for that “I’m not a crook,” line, and through the naming of Milhouse van Houten in The Simpsons.

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London Film Festival preview: Religulous

Fundamentalist atheism is as old as religion, and possibly time. Back in a less liberal era, the 16th century, the playwright Christopher Marlowe got into trouble for trashing religion as a translator of the classical author Ovid (“God is a name, no substance, feared in vain“), as well as in his own stuff (“I count religion but a childish toy“).

US comedian Bill Maher shares a lot of Marlowe’s sentiments; he believes “faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.” Religulous is the result of taking that idea to some very religious people and basically bashing them over the head with it.

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LFF press launch

The London Film Festival‘s programme was announced by the BFI’s Artistic Director, Sandra Hebron, at the press launch today. Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, with Michael Sheen and Frank Langella (pictured) in the starring roles, will be premiering in the opening night slot on 15th October. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, set in India, will close the festival.

Although Ms Hebron said that 2008 was “not a vintage year for cinema,” judging from other festivals this year, she feels that her team have picked out some gems for us lucky Londoners. The keywords for this year’s festival are “politics, history and memory,” she added. Sounds promising.

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First bit of news from the London Film Festival

slumdog millioaire

Click for Slumdog Millionaire review

From the official LFF press release:

London – Wednesday 3 September: The Closing Night Gala of The Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival will be the European Premiere of Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is the story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who finds himself  just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Arrested on suspicion of cheating, Jamal tells the police the incredible story of his life on the streets, and of the girl he loved and lost. But what is a kid with no interest in money doing on the show? And how does he know all the answers? When the new day dawns and Jamal returns to answer the final question, the police and sixty million viewers are about to find out … Dev Patel (Skins) stars alongside an all-Indian cast including Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal and Freida Pinto in this uplifting drama set and shot in India.

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