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56th BFI London Film Festival
The London Film Festival (LFF) returns this year in a shortened format. Now running for 11 days, and venturing away from its traditional central London home, the festival is set to be accessible to more people than ever before.
This year, under the stewardship of new festival director Clare Stewart, the titles are divided into several strands which should give the audience more of a choice in terms of attending the films that might be of particular interest to them.
Here are our picks of what to catch, from the big names to the more obscure titles that might just prove to be the gems of the festival.
Two films we already knew were going to be headlining the festival are the opening and closing acts. Tim Burton's 'Frankenweenie' kicks things of in traditional Burton style, quirky stop-motion puppets and dollops of gothic humour. Its 3D presentation might raise a few eyebrows, but Burton is a director who has now become an institution and as such represents a relatively safe choice.
The same can be said of British filmmaker Mike Newell. Having ventured into Hollywood, he now gives us the closing film 'Great Expectations'. It looks an authentic enough adaptation with Helena Bonham-Carter taking a leading role that she was born to play.
One of the films we predict will have everyone talking, probably around about the time of the Oscars as well, is Ben Afflecks' politically charged thriller 'Argo'. The actor is now just as well known for his directing credentials, and in this film he gives them both a full work-out in this true story of a CIA mission into Iran at the height of the 197 revolution. This is Affleck's third film, and he's got a lot to live up to given the success of 'Gone Baby Gone' and 'The Town'.
Dustin Hoffman makes his debut behind the camera in the entirely safe-looking 'Quartet'. A cast of British veterans star as four ageing opera stars. There is also 'Hyde Park on Hudson', for those looking to recapture the vibe of 'The King's Speech'. Bill Murray and Laura Linney star.
The increasingly popular Chris O'Dowd stars in 'The Sapphires', a comedy/musical about three Aboriginal sisters trying to make their name in the bigoted backwaters of rural Australia. They stumble across a down-on-his-luck 'soul brother' (O'Dowd), who agrees to lead them on a potentially lucrative tour playing to American troops in war-torn Vietnam.
Two very different films that wowed at Cannes also screen at the LFF. 'Amour' is Michael Haneke's heart-breaking ode to love and loss. It's said to be the opening montage of Pixar's 'Up' played out for two hours. It's going to be tough.
'Sightseers' on the other hand tells the amusing story of two love-struck caravaners who travel across the country causing bloody mayhem everywhere they go. It's the latest film from Ben Wheatley, who hit the big time last year with the unsettling hitman horror 'The Kill List'.
Bollywood is represented this year with the inclusion of action epic 'Chakravyuh'. It's said to be a crown-pleaser, and there is nothing wrong with that! Another film featuring cops and lawbreakers is 'End of Watch' starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick. Another potential commercial hit is 'Seven Psychopaths' with Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. We saw a great clip from this one, and it looks to be set up as a smart, entertaining slice of swear-laden excitement.
Other notable titles are 'Rust and Bone', 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' and one that looks to be my personal unexpected treat, 'Painless'.
Info: The London Film Festival will run from 10 – 21 October.