BFI London Film Festival 2018

I have just booked:

Papi Chulo
Amra and the Second Marriage
Rajma Chawal
Lust to Love and In Between
Sticks and Stones
El Angel
Of Love & Law

Sorry to Bother You has been added

Universal picked it up in the end then. Will probably be out sooner than later.

December 7 apparently

Papi Chulo

European premiere of the third full length feature by Irish director John Butler (The Stag, Handsome Devil).

Unlike Butler’s previous work, this film is set in sunny LA. The film title is Spanish slang for “pimp” or “sugar daddy” and explores the complicated relationship between the working class Latino population and the white middle classes in California. The main narrative straddles the dual themes of loneliness and male friendship, and equally divides its time between drama and comedy. And an unexpected twist halfway through the film. What could have turned out as an incoherent mess is held together by outstanding performances by the two leads, Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patino. If there’s anything to complain about it might be that none of the additional characters have any depth whatsoever.

Sadly, the film does not have a UK distribution deal yet.

Amra and the second marriage

World premiere for the second feature film by director Mahmoud Sabbagh. Filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia and set in an imaginary city somewhere in the oil production region, it deals with the rapidly changing position of women in Saudi society. Billed as a black comedy it contains only a smattering of funny moments, although it’s entirely possible that a Western audience misses some of the more obscure send-ups of Saudi culture. Despite a few wobbles in the script the film can be billed as a success, not in the least because of the excellent ensemble of mostly first-time actors.

Sadly, the film does not have a UK distribution deal yet.

Some look really good. I haven’t got my shit together due to work. Hopefully, I’ll catch one film on at The BFI or The ICA.

Rajma Chawal

World premiere for the latest film by Indian director Leena Yadav and starring Bollywood veteran Rishi Kapoor. It explores the relationship between father and son following a series of upheavals in the family. But with an uneven script and truly terrible musical interludes it is difficult to find many highlights despite the 2 hour plus duration. Its saving grace is the stunning cinematography by Donald McAlpine (too many films to mention, from Mrs Doubtfire to Moulin Rouge) who manages to capture the vibrancy of Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi) in splendid multi-colour.

The film will be released worldwide by Netflix on 30 November.

I downloaded the PDF version of the programme and it has sat there unread for ages. Find it all a bit overwhelming. Book a ticket for Lords of Chaos, and then just added a load of things to my Letterboxd watchlist. A couple of things I want to see are getting released pretty soon, some on digital (like Dogman).

Sorry to Bother You

Made the fatal mistake of having a liquid lunch with a friend before seeing this and er, it was a mistake. There’s so much going on and packed with ideas that I struggled to keep up. I think it was great though? Will definitely be rewatching in December.


Really gripping take on the refugee crisis including an incredible performance from Susanne Wolff as the lone woman at sea. LFF fucked up and showed a print that didn’t have the subtitles and couldn’t fix it so ended up showing a dubbed version. Which was a pity.


Brazilian horror about an undertaker who can talk to the dead starts off fun but soon descended into cliched paranormal tropes, I got bored half way through. Highlight was the passionate speech the director did before the film about the current political climate in Brazil.


Interesting French drama about gay sex workers struggle to fit into a subsection of society that continually wants to reject them. Some clunky dialogue and eye rolley plot developments but it goes places in the last third that I wasn’t expecting so impressive overall.


Fantasy from a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of Let the Right One In. A chromosonally challenged Customs official has an incredible sense of smell, which never lets her down. Until she stops a weird looking stranger… Violence, nudity, unclassifiable. Good fun.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Latest from the Coen brothers, due to be released on Netflix in December. Compendium of exquisitely shot Western stories, all of which touch on death in some way. It looks ravishing, but the overall effect is rather depressing. Takes much more inspiration from dime-store cowboy novels rather than movies. Best sequence features an unrecognisable Tom Waits as a gold prospector.

Utoya 22 July

A technical marvel but a gruelling watch, this is a 72 minute recreation of the attack on students at Utoya by a right wing extremist (deliberately not named). The camera follows a girl as she tries to contact her sister as everything descends into unimaginable horror. The brief moment when the perpetrator appears in the trees in the background is terrifying - because his is the only figure that is not running and screaming. The director and main actress turned up afterwards with some of the actual survivors. All very adamant that the focus should be on the victims and not the attacker. I’ve had bad dreams for the last two nights.

Lust to love and in between

A selection of shorts loosely based around the pursuit of love. It would go too far to discuss every film but the fiction highlights were Emily Ann Hoffman’s delightful quirky stop motion short Nevada and Sandhya Suri’s beautiful The Field. In the non-fiction category, both Charlie Lyne’s Lasting Marks (about the Operation Spanner case) and Thais Fernandes’ A Female Body (about the definition of the female body) get top marks for handling sensitive topics in an original and inventive way.

And as a side note, like Dennison Ramalho above, Thai Fernandes mentioned the terror that many in Brazil will face if Bolonaro wins the presidency. Ele Não.

Sticks and Stones (Brakland)

Debut for Danish director Martin Skovbjerg. It’s a coming of age film set up in a fairly conventional way using the ‘film in a film’ device and a familiar story line. It all meanders a bit until the final third, when it suddenly turns all pretty bleak. The strongest point of the film is the inventive sound design and music (by Danish band Av Av Av), especially if you’re into glitchy doom electronica.

The film does not have a UK release date yet.

Didn’t go to the actual film but saw this fella arriving on the red carpet


I went to this! It’s a wonderful documentary, made with love and a real and often uncomfortable insight into Chris’ life. Getting a proper release next year.

Had no idea what happened to his son last year, though. How awful. :frowning_face:


Alfonso Cuaron’s magnificently shot evocation of the life of a family and particularly one of their live in maids, set in Mexico City in 1971. Black and white, both epic in sweep and heartbreakingly intimate. It doesn’t put a foot wrong. It’s going to be on Netflix but really needs the biggest screen possible. The term ‘masterpiece’ is thrown about loosely, but this really is. Just ‘wow’.

Lazlo Nemes’ follow up to Son of Saul is a turgid, impenetrable two and a half hour slog in which a young woman returns to the milliner’s business established by her parents but now run by a sinister business man. It’s dream like in that there is no logic, no resolution and endless trudging about. The whole plot repeats itself at least twice. It’s shot in Nemes’ trademark extreme close up, but the problem is the script and story, which are both terrible. It’s in the official competition at the Festival, I can only think they booked it before they saw it.
Nemes turned up beforehand and essentially said “This is the best it’s going to get”, which gave the impression that even he is not happy with it.


Have had to miss Sunset this morning so this has improved my mood!

Whatever you are doing, it is better than that film. And that includes attending a funeral.

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El Angel

Argentinean director Luis Ortega recreates the crimes of notorious baby-faced serial killer Carlos Robledo Puch, with backing from Pedro Almodovar. Despite its 2 hour length, time flies by in this rollercoaster of a story. The filming is lush, the script is full of humour and the violence is gruesome. The use of music throughout is superb. The perfectly cast lead actor Lorenzo Ferro pulls of a stunning performance, despite this being his debut role. Probably the best thing I’ve seen so far at the LFF.

Sadly, the film does not have a UK distribution deal yet.


Really like the look of that.