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55th LONDON FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW
For film fans, the London Film Festival has firmly established itself as one of the highlights on the film calendar. The combination of high profile crowd-pleasers, awards contenders and undiscovered gems make for a thrilling, if busy, October feast.
We've trawled through the brochure, sat through the launch event and had our fingers on the pulse to pick out some of the titles you should be checking out when it all kicks off on 12 October.
The opening and closing night films had been announced a while ago, and to be entirely honest aren't really the sort of titles we'd rush out to recommend. 'The Deep Blue Sea' could well be the better of the two but we're more interested in some of the other films.
'The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975' focuses on a pivotal period in the civil rights movement in the US. Using archive footage as well as interviews and music from contemporary artists this is one of the documentaries we are most looking forward to at the festival. We'll also be checking out'I'm Carolyn Parker', a look at the effects of Hurricane Katrina on one brave woman.
Michael Winterbottom isn't one to settle for one genre, with a diverse filmography that has seemingly covered it all. His latest, 'Trishna', is a re-imagining of Tess of the D'Urbervilles set in India. Freida Pinto takes the lead with 'Four Lions' star Riz Ahmed joining her for the challenging adaptation.
Someone who seems to be an ever-present at the festival is George Clooney. The blip of missing out last year is made up for with two films this time around. 'The Descendants', directed by Alexander Payne, is a comedy-drama that will have viewers hoping for more of the same from the man behind 'Sideways' whereas 'The Ides of March' will see Clooney both star in and direct once more. Joining the old heartthrob is the new kid on the block, the ubiquitous Ryan Gosling on hand to follow up last years stand out hit 'Blue Valentine'.
Another man on the rise, and someone giving it both barrels is Michael Fassbender. We get to see two very different offerings with 'A Dangerous Method' and 'Shame'. The latter sees the actor team up with director Steve McQueen following their startling debut at the LFF a few years ago with 'Hunger'.
We're not entirely sure what to expect with 'W.E.', directed by none other than Madonna. No seriously, Madonna has made a film and it's at the London Film Festival... We just won't mention the reaction the movie has had at other festivals here.
Something that has had a far more favourable reaction on the festival circuit is the brutal 'We need to talk about Kevin'. British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay adapts the popular 2003 novel of the same name and has created something truly original. Hilary Swinton is the clear favourite at the moment for the Oscars, and we doubt we'll see anything else to match her turn here.
In terms of male performances, we're hearing nothing but good things about Michael Shannon in 'Take Shelter'. He's another actor to keep an eye on as he takes on the iconic role of General Zod in the new superman film.
Fans of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' should keep an eye out for Norwegian thriller 'Headhunters' whilst those looking for something a bit more adrenaline-fuelled (I'm holding my hand up here) will have to join the scramble for 'Let the Bullets Fly'.
There is also the surprise film to keep us guessing all the way until the curtains rise. Last year saw the disappointing 'Brighton Rock', so here's hoping for something more exciting this time around. Personally I’d jump for joy if Soderbergh's 'Haywire' was screened or even the insane looking Indonesian action flick 'The Raid'.