BFI London Film Festival 2021

https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/Online/default.asp

Programme is up.

Not bothered with LFF for the past couple of years (Pricey, my aversion to Q&As) but may get back in the saddle this year to make up for lost time.

Interestingly it looks like they’re using the Royal Festival Hall over the big Odeon this time round.

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Anyone know what Royal Festival Hall is like for film screenings?

I saw Under the Skin there with an orchestra and it was fine though the projection didn’t look perfect, assume they would sort that out for something of this scale though.

Only two screening times for Titane, one of which is 11am on a Tuesday…

No idea they’d made Catlings Earwig into a film

Worse than Glasotnbury eesh

What a fucking ball ache that was!
Got everything in the end, but sheesh!

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Booked 10 films today (8 feature films, 1 doc, 1 shorts programme)

Keep forgetting to do the discovery pass stuff so pay more for two films than I would 3.

The Crossing
Memory Box
Titane
A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces
Shepherd
A Banquet
Earwig
She Will
Neptune Frost

Missed out on Lamb

Was logged out twice with tickets in my basket, so ended up missing out on Worst Person in the World, but I’m spending a day with Flee, Earwig and Memoria, plus booked Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy on BFI Player.

Hoping a fair few come to Cinecity in Brighton, but still tempted to find a way to do Il Buco. Cinema!

I’m doing

Bergman Island
Red Rocket
Compartment No 6
Cow
Drive My Car
Titane
The Power of the Dog
Nitram
Il Buco

plus The Feast, The Story of Film, Hit the Road and Petrov’s Flu on the BFI Player

El Buen Patrón (The Good Boss)
Dir: Fernando León de Aranoa

More or less entirely centered around Javier Bardem in the leading role, a dark, funny and disturbing tale of a factory owner who likes to think of his staff as his family but treats them as his property, using coercion, intimidation and even blackmail to get his way.

Although Bardem’s character runs a legitimate business, there are clear references to mafia bosses, reminiscent of Marlon Brando’s role in The Godfather or James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. His performance should give the film the success it deserves.

This film will be the Spanish entry for best international feature film at the upcoming Oscars. No UK general release date yet.

Anyone want a free ticket to Brother’s Keeper 5:45 tomorrow @NFT2?

All My Friends Hate Me
Dir: Andrew Gaynord

Cancelled due to technical difficulties.

Screenwriter/lead actor Tom Stourton and screenwriter Tom Palmer (together they form comedy duo Totally Tom) had the thankless task to get up in front of a packed, star-studded* audience and apologise for the no show. They looked and sounded very distraught. The LFF person present put the blame for tonight’s failure fully on the cinema.

The film has been picked up in the US but does not have a UK distribution deal yet.

*) Comedian Phil Wang and his girlfriend

Today I saw Last Night in Soho and it was a load of bollocks (then again I am an Edgar Wright hater)

Große Freiheit (Great Freedom)
Dir: Sebastian Meise

This film tells the story of Holocaust survivor Hans who is immediately thrown in jail after being freed from a concentration camp under Germany’s extremely harsh sexual deviancy laws (the so called Paragraph 175). The non-chronological timeline documents what happens to him until 1969, when the law is reformed, focusing on his friendship with convicted murderer Viktor. The film is almost entirely set in a prison environment and it’s up to the viewer to join the dots what happens in the outside world.

With outstanding performances from lead Franz Rogowski and main supporting actor Georg Friedrich, director Meise captures the mundane and claustrophobic prison life perfectly, while at the same time making a very powerful political statement.

This film won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival and best feature film at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Bought by MUBI, it should appear on the streaming service in the not too distant future.

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Verdens Verste Menneske (The Worst Person in the World)
Dir: Joachim Trier

A close examination of four years in the life of Julie, a woman on the cusp of hitting her 30s, who is struggling to adapt to the life of the grown-ups around her. At times funny without being hilarious and at other times sad without turning into a tearjerker, this works on multiple levels.

Exquisitely filmed, magically sound-tracked and perfectly directed, lead actress Renate Reinsve is the real star of the film, although the supporting cast gives her stiff competition (pun intended). It also makes you realise that everyone in Oslo lives in stunning, light-filled apartments.

Reinsve won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance. The film is a likely submission from Norway for the Best International Feature at the Oscars. Another one that has been picked up by MUBI, who apparently plan to release the feature theatrically in the UK and Ireland ‘soon’.

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Cop Secret
Dir: Hannes Thór Halldórsson

Set in and around Reykjavík, this Icelandic cop buddy spoof comedy is extremely silly. It has all the cliches: non-stop bank heists, car chases, shoot outs, hard as nails police chiefs, evil baddies and a paper thin plot, but everything is intended as a satire of the genre.

Director Halldórsson is also the recently retired goalkeeper of Iceland’s national football team, which probably explains why a spurious football match has been crow-barred into the story line. And while the jokes are (mostly) extremely funny, as a feature film it doesn’t really work, every plot twist can be seen coming for miles ahead and the sending up of cop movie tropes is just too obvious and gets tired pretty quickly.

No awards won, no date known for a UK general release.

It’s been a busy few days:

Bergman Island Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps go on a writing retreat to Faro, the Swedish community where Ingmar Bergman filmed a lot of his stuff. It gradually emerges that this is a meta-narrative and that there could be anything up to three or four layers of fact and fiction in play. Pretty decent.

Red Rocket Sean Baker’s follow up to The Florida Project is another tale of impoverished outsiders, this time in Texas. Simon Rex is fantastic as a washed up porn star who has turned up to mooch off his estranged wife. He’s virtually never off camera and is just exhausting in his constant wheedling and self-delusion. Very funny, although the eventual story line might have some folk clutching their pearls.

The Feast Welsh-language horror film as an unlikeable family put on a business dinner in a modernised farmhouse. Every camera shot is exquisitely framed and the whole thing looks nice, but it’s very thin stuff.

Compartment No 6 A Finnish girl and a Russian guy meet not very cute on a sleeper train from St Petersburg to Murmansk. Very likeable leads. Good fun.

Cow Andrea Arnold’s documentary on the life and times of a dairy cow. Arnold turned up for the screening and was in roaring good humour, but the film itself is a little ‘so what?’

Drive My Car Adaptation of three Murakami short stories, in this case centred around a widowed playwright putting on a multi-language production of Uncle Vanya. It’s extremely well done and acted, but I’d be lying if I said that I particularly enjoyed it. It’s three hours long and feels every minute of it.

The Story of Film: A New Generation Mark Cousins’ follow up to his previous epic series, this time concentrating on 21st century cinema. Some incredible films that I’d never previously heard of.

I’ve another three films tomorrow and three more before the end of the festival. Pretty decent so far.

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Really looking forward to this one, I’m a big Franz Rogowski fan. Also very jealous you got to see ‘Worst Person in the World’, it sold out so quickly. I’ve read a lot of very positive comments, so hoping to see it in a cinema before it hits Mubi.

So far I’ve seen both Ryusuke Hamaguchi films. I absolutely loved ‘Drive My Car’ (wonderful exploration of love, loss and communication) and admired ‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’. Mark Cousins ‘The Story of Film: A New Generation’ is exactly what you’d expect, full of passion and love, but lacked the magic of discovery that An Odyssey provided.

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