This morning we attended a very special preview to mark the beginning of the London Film Festival. After a brief introduction from Creative Director Sandra Hebron we were treated to a special trailer which showcased excerpts from 42 of the films in this year’s line up. Here’s a quick run down of the highlights – with so many films to choose from it was a hell of a call.
Stay tuned in the next coming weeks as we bring you the latest news from the Festival and up to date reviews once the Festival kicks off in October.
1. Never Let Me Go
Opening the Festival this year is director Mark Romanek’s (One Hour Photo) adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s best selling novel. Never Let Me Go stars Carey Mulligan (An Education, Wall Street 2), Keira Knightley (Atonement) and Andrew Garfield (Red Riding) as 30-somethings looking back at their supposed idyllic lives at an English boarding school. Love, jealousy and betrayal are explored in Alex Garland’s screenplay which looks like it’ll provide a cracking opening to this year’s proceedings.
2. 127 Hours
As we previously reported, closing the Festival will be 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a Utah rock climber forced to make a terrible decision when his arm gets pinned against the rock face by a huge boulder. As he sits there, he begins to examine his life – his friends, family and lovers and records his thoughts on a small video camera. It’s hotly anticipated as Danny Boyle’s follow up to Slumdog Millionaire which closed the Festival in 2008.
3. The King’s Speech
There’s no trailer available yet for the King’s Speech, which tells the story of King George VI’s difficulties in overcoming a speech impediment in the aftermath of his brother Edward VII’s abdication but it looks wonderful. Colin Firth proved his acting chops in last year’s A Single Man and The King’s Speech looks to capitalise of the actor’s great ability. It looks like the days of easy romantic comedies are behind him. With an all-star cast that includes Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Jennifer Ehle, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon this will be an assured LFF highlight.
4. Black Swan
We talked a bit about this trailer on the podcast the other day. Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a ballerina who dreams of playing the lead in Swan Lake. When the dance company decides to put on a new version of the ballet classic, the artistic director (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace the prima ballerina. It looks like her dream has come true but it’s quickly in jeopardy when Lily (Mila Kunis), a new dancer who exudes confidence and sexuality is also in contention for the role. As the competition heats up, Nina’s psychological state starts to unravel in Darren Aronofsky’s fifth feature.
The second James Franco film in this year’s line up is a biography of Allen Ginsberg, a revolutionary poet and writer who upset the establishment with his poem Howl. Gatherings in smoky bars and careful attention to detail as well as an appearance by John Hamm (Don Draper from Mad Men) make this one to keep an eye on.
6. Let Me In
The English adaptation of last year’s acclaimed Swedish Horror Let The Right One In, Let Me In stars Chloe Moretz (Kick Ass, (500) Days Of Summer) as a 12 year old girl who moves to a new town. She strikes up a friendship with Owen (Kodi Smit-Mcphee – The Road), a constantly bullied and troubled child from next door. When a series of murders rocks their small town, Owen starts to believe that Abby might be responsible but not everything is what it seems… Many people were appalled to hear of the English adaptation, but whatever you think, Let Me In is sure to one of the most talked about films of the Festival.
7. It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
After a failed attempt to throw himself off the Brooklyn Bridge, 16 year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into a hospital only to find that the youth wing is closed and he has to spend five days minimum in the adult psyche ward. There he meets Bobby (Zach Galifianakis hopefully atoning for his awful stint in Dinner For Schmucks), a worldly-wise patient who takes it upon himself to teach Craig about life and love. Sharp and funny, this could be the LFF’s comedy highlight.
Conviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters (the original title), a woman who spent her entire life fighting for what she believed was her brother’s false imprisonment for first degree murder on the testimony of two former girlfriends. It stars Hilary Swank as Betty, a former high school drop out who puts herself through school, college and finally law school in order in an 18-year quest to prove her brother’s innocence. Could this be the film that nets Hilary Swank her record third Oscar? It’s got the emotional punch that the Academy loves, so watch this space.
That’s just a small sample of what’s going on at this year’s LFF. Other highlights featured in the trailer reel include Mike Leigh’s Another Year – a meditation about family, friendship and aging, The Kids Are Alright – a sharp comedy starring Annette Benning and Julianne Moore, West Is West – the comedy sequel to the hit comedy East Is East, Neds – a vicious and dysfunctional tale aobut 1970’s Glasgow Youth and a remastering of 1924’s The Great White Silence – a film which captures actual footage from Captain Scott’s ill-fated trip to the South Pole, Lemmy – a biographical film about the legendary Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead and Rare Exploits: A Christmas Tale, the story of a group of men who capture Santa Claus. There’s something for everyone – we’ll keep you updated on the latest news, reviews and features as they come in.