The Irishman To Close BFI London Film Festival 2019

It’s been announced that The Irishman will be closing the 63rd BFI London Film Festival. The International Premiere for Martin Scorsese’s latest takes place on October 13th and reunites the director with his screenwriter from Gangs of New York, Steven Zaillian.

Martin Scorsese, comments “I’m extremely honoured to be having the International Premiere of The Irishman at the closing night of the BFI London Film Festival. This picture was many years in the making. It’s a project that Robert De Niro and I started talking about a long time ago, and we wanted to make it the way it needed to be made. It’s also a picture that all of us could only have made at this point in our lives. We’re all very excited to be bringing The Irishman to London.”

The film, which takes place in post-war America, focuses on the rise of organised crime across the country and delves deep into the unsolved mystery of the disappearance of Union President Jimmy Hoffa. It stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel. Told through the eyes of Frank Sheeran, DeNiro plays the World War II veteran, who is a hustler and hitman, working alongside the most nortorious figures in the 20th century as the film journeys through the history of organised crime and shows its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

Of the announcement, Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director says, “What an immense cinephile thrill it is to close the 63rd BFI London Film Festival with the International Premiere of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. British Film Institute Fellow Scorsese is one of the true greats of cinema – as both a creator and a tireless champion of preservation and film history – and here he and his creative team have delivered an epic of breathtakingly audacious scale and complexity, exploring relationships of trust and betrayal, regret and remorselessness, which dominated a period of American history. This is a major occasion for film lovers and I cannot wait to share this film with UK audiences.”

The BFI London Film Festival takes place from Wednesday 2nd October to Sunday 13th October 2019, with the full programme being announced on August 29th.

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What To See At 2018’s BFI London Film Festival

So, it’s been an exciting time recently hasn’t it?! With the release of the full BFI London Film Festival schedule, we now know what we have to look forward to. Last week the Members tickets went on sale and tomorrow the general public will also be able to buy tickets (you know, whatever is left once the Members have had at them!)

With this I thought I’d roundup what I’m most looking forward to 13 days after it’s been announced BUT 1 days before the public booking is released. There’s a staggering amount of films on offer for the 62nd year of the festival. Here’s what I think you should be watching.

Beautiful Boy

Starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet as father and son in this brutally heartbreaking film about a lifelong struggle with addiction. Directed by Felix van Groeningen and based on the novel of the real life father and son, the film is one of the festival’s main attractions this year. If you didn’t cry at the trailer WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

Widows

Steve McQueen returns with his first feature film in 5 years which he has co-written with Gillian Flynn. His previous film was the Oscar winning 12 years a Slave and this time with Widows, he’s gone for a character driven action movie. Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Carrie Coon, the quartet become widows to their criminal husbands after they are ambushed in shootout with the police. Wanting to finish what they started, the four find unexpected solidarity and empowerment as they work together.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The latest in the Cohen brother’s plethora of films, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Netflix film which has also received a small distribution into cinemas. Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck star in this western comedy drama, centred on the title character. The anthology western follow multiple storylines including a bank robber who gets his due and a gothic tale about a couple of travelling performers.

Happy New Year, Colin Burstead

As you can see from the image below, at one point this film, by Ben Wheatley, was called Colin You Anus which is a much catchier title I’m sure you’ll agree. However I assume for marketing purposes they had to change it. Oh well! Starring Joe Cole, Charles Dance, Neil Maskell and Alexandra Maria Lara, the story centres around a new years celebration in which Colin feels under threat to his position of power within his own family after the arrival of his estranged brother David.

The Elephant Queen

Shot over eight years, The Elephant Queen is a documentary about a herd of elephants. One of the mothers, Athena wants to do everything to protect them as they are forced to leave their watering hole. Narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, the narrative takes place across the African savannah as it tells the tale of loss, love and family.

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

Alice Guy-Blaché is the first ever female director, creating her debut film in 1896 at the age of 23. She then went on to write, direct or produce more than 1,000 films. This is her story.

The Favourite

The latest from director Yorgos Lanthimos, the man behind Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Lobster returns with his latest oddball movie which is part comedy, part drama, part wincing at something on screen. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, it tells the story of early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne (Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) governs the country in her stead. When a new servant Abigail (Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Sometimes Always Never

Starring Bill Nighy, Alice Lowe and Sam Riley, Sometimes Always Never is director Carl Hunter’s first ever feature film. He works with screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce to bring this drama to the big screen. Nighy plays Alan whose eldest son storms out of the house never to return. Years later, he and his other son (Riley) a still searching for him.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Being in production hell since the 80s with multiple attempts to get this project going, it’s finally been filmed and and is ready to be released by Terry Gilliam. Telling the story of Toby (Adam Driver), an advertising executive who is pulled into a fantasy world of of time jumping and a Spanish cobbler. Jonathan Pryce and Stellan Skarsgård join Driver on this psychedelic sounding break from the norm.

The Vice of Hope

A gritty and gripping depiction of someone who is striving to escape her life of vice and crime. Here, Maria (Pina Turco) a tough and determined young woman lives in a bleak neighborhood with horrible memories of childhood trauma as she deals with being a prostitute and child trafficking. Becoming used to this way of life, she find that everything changes when she falls pregnant.

Tehran: City of Love

Director and co-writer Ali Jaberansari creates a relateable trio of stories surrounding the subject of love, seen from the point of view of different people in different way. One is a woman who is unhappy with her weight but addicted to ice cream. she catfishes men she encounters at work. Another who is a funeral singer is urged to perform at weddings instead after his long-term girlfriend leaves him. Meanwhile a retired bodybuilder is cast in a film with an actor he has never heard of but who the producer claims is actually very famous. An interesting collection of stories coming from a Persian storyteller, who second feature film comes with a Q&A on the 14th October.

Wildlife

Starring Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ed Oxenbould, Wildlife is Paul Dano’s feature directorial debut which he co-wrote with Zoey Kazan. That’s a lot of pretty well-known names and going by the trailer, it’s going to be an emotional ride. Joe (Oxenbould) and his parents (Mulligan and Gyllenhaal) move to the suburbs in Montana after needing a change. However the teenager soon witnesses the disintegration of his parents marriage as his mother find another man.

Soni 

As an Indian female police officer, Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan) has seen her fare share of abusive treatment, especially when she is used as live bait in order to trap sexual predators and violent men. This calls for her to be well-equipt when it comes to self-defense, however one incident in which she is particularly hot-headed causes he to be charged with misconduct and threatens her career. An interesting sounding film in which male and female roles will be looked at and possibly defined. In a country where women are seen as second class citizens, this will be a very interesting character study.

Peterloo

A first for the London Film Festival, Peterloo will premiere in Manchester due to the historical importance linked with the city. Retelling the story of a peaceful protest which British forces attacked, Mike Leigh serves as writer and director. Starring Maxine Peake and Rory Kinnear, the tale of a protest of wanting reform due to the rising living costs and the hard working being ripped off which cause the government to become increasingly nervous. One for the history books me thinks.

The Little Drummer Girl (First two episodes)

A first (as far as I know) for the festival in that a couple of episodes of a TV show are going to be shown before it’s general release later this year on BBC1. Starring Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgård, Florence Pugh, Clare Holman and Kate Sumpter, the plot revolves around an English actor who is asked to infiltrate a group as an Israeli in order to bring an end to the series of bombings.

So there you have it! My choices for this years London Film Festival, whether I get to see any of them, well I suppose I’ll have to see. I have my eighth and final wedding (no, that’s not me getting married eight times!) of the year which is during the festival. Oh well!

Keep. It. Reel.

Weekly Round-Up: 15th July, 2018

So, this is a bit later than normal. To be fair I was relaxing on Sunday and time just got away from me. Yes I was being lazy… I was going to mention the World Cup and England but it seems redundant now after France won it yesterday. Congratulations by the way.

Anyway, this has been a great week for creepy posters (hello Winnie you weirdo), getting our first look at Glass, an exciting BFI London Film Festival announcement and yours truly received a history lesson. Apparently I don’t know everything.

Trailers and Posters

The Favourite

Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz star in The Favourite, the latest offering from Yorgos Lanthimos. An unstable Queen Anne (Colman) sits on the throne whilst her friend Lady Sarah (Weisz) starts to bond with a new servant Abigail (Stone). It looks as odd as you’d expect from Lanthimos.

 

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black isn’t just the current President, it’s also a damn good TV show. Although I’m a few seasons behind, I’d love to catch up! Here’s a new poster and trailer for the upcoming sixth season

 

Christopher Robin

Creepy in the trailer and creepy in the posters. Say what you want, these characters look freaking weird! Check out the new trailer and character posters for Christopher Robin.

Life Itself

Life Itself tells the story of a couple who after meeting at college, get married and have a baby. Their life and relationship creates events which echo across the world. Starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Cooke, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening.

 

Castle Rock

More of Stephen King’s writing is getting it’s own adaptation. This time it’s Castle Rock, a fictional town in which strange things start to happen after a young man shows up at Shawshank prison

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

The (potentially pointless) reboot of Sabrina aka Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, has an eerie new poster in which Salem takes centre stage. Why? Not a clue! Coming to Netflix in 2018 and a trailer is landing at this year’s SDCC.

 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Coming from it’s success at Sundance The Miseducation of Cameron Post has an official trailer. Showing an oppressed young girl who is forced in gay conversion therapy

 

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots has a couple of character posters which have a grainy painted effect. Nice! Starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan it tells the story of how Mary Stuart attempts to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I and is condemned to prison. (My knowledge of history is terrible normally but I nicked this from IMDB ) There’s also a trailer which looks pretty good but I’m feeling a bit meh about this film…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Meg

The Meg is about to have a furry snack, not the dog you bastard! Why would you do that?! 🐶🦈

News

Captain Marvel

It was confirmed this week by none other than Brie Larson that they have wrapped on Captain Marvel. Exciting times for the 21st MCU movie which is out on March next year, JUST before Avengers 4. This will be the first MCU movie which has been fronted by a female lead character and after 10 years it’s about time.

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The Predator

A couple of new images of the upcoming new Predator film, showing off some new hardcore armour. Starring Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Sterling K Brown, this rebooted version will be out in September

 

Lando Calrissian Returns In Episode IX

It seems the unanswered question of where the hell is Lando is finally being answered after it was announced that Billie Dean Williams is returning as the charismatic character in 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX. More on it here.

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

A new image from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has been released. Here’s Newt Scamander in all his glory, I hope this is better than the last one which, let’s be honest, was pretty average…

 

Birds of Prey

I must have missed this but there’s yet another Harley Quinn movie in production, this one is called Birds of Prey and will be directed by Cathy Yan. To sum up there’s this, Gotham City Sirens, Suicide Squad 2 and a Joker/Harley Quinn movie (plus other non Harley Quinn films) all in the works. Seems a bit much DC!

 

Robocop Returns

Neill Blomkamp is making a return to the big screen after 2015’s Chappie with Robocop Returns, a sequel to the 1987 original. *sigh* how about we do something original instead?? 

 

Shazam

The first official image of the utterly ridiculous looking Shazam . I mean, really?? 😂

 

Glass

A few brightly coloured images have been released for Glass, the sequel by M. Night Shyamalan which merges Unbreakable and Split into one. A bizarre concept which feels like it could just work. Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Sarah Paulson

 

Black Widow

Cate Shortland has been picked from a long list of directors (apparently it was about 70 ) to helm the solo Black Widow movie. Traditionally an indie filmmaker, it’s great to see a big budget film go to her. Looking forward to see what they will do with this

 

Godzilla: King of Monsters.

The first images for Godzilla: King of Monsters have been released and it looks like he’s got a bit of bad breathe… Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler and Charles Dance, the next in the monster franchise is out in 2019

 

Widows

After being announced as the opening film of BFI London Film Festival, here’s a new image from Widows. Directed by Steve McQueen the film is out in November.

 

A Downton Abbey

A Downton Abbey movie has been confirmed by Hugh Boneville’s Instagram account. The script has been written by Julian Fellowes and will be directed by Brian Percival who helmed the Downton Abbey pilot. Out in 2019, this should class the cinemas up a bit 

 

Industry News

DreamWorks Animation Launches New Programme

A new animation which has been designed to be more inclusive and focus on short animated films has been launched DreamWorks Animation. For more on this story, please click here.

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BFI London Film Festival

The opening film of the 62nd BFI London Film Festival has been announced as Steve McQueen’s Widows which is the directors return to the big screen after 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Read more about this exciting announcement here.

Reviews

Mini Review: Skyscraper 

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Noah Taylor

A man is framed for causing a life threatening fire in the world’s tallest building. He must battle against the odds in order to clear his name and save his family.

Thanks to Dwayne Johnson and the outrageous stunts he pulls off during the film, Skyscraper is exactly what you expect it to be. It has a pretty thin plot with characters who are never fully fleshed out but it’s so much mindless fun, you won’t care about that. With action sequences that’ll make you feel and wince, Skyscraper is the dumb summer film we’ve been waiting for.

3 out of 5.

Keep It. Reel.

A United Kingdom, review

When Amma Asante returned after a 9 year absence to direct Belle in 2013, she told a story which combines politics, art and history. Telling the story of Belle who, despite her inherited wealth and status, was treated differently due to the colour of her skin. With A United Kingdom, the tables have been turned and it’s a white woman who suffers at the hands of those who she is different to. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike take on the lead roles of Seretse and Ruth in a tale which begins in London in the 1940s. The two meet, fall in love and marry before they have to leave for Botswana due to Seretse’s obligation to take over the throne from his uncle. Their marriage causes an international stir due to the fact that he has married a white woman.

Rosamund Pike (Ruth) and David Oyelowo (Seretse) in A UNITED KINGDOM

Rosamund Pike (Ruth) and David Oyelowo (Seretse) in A UNITED KINGDOM

Oyelowo has had experience of playing a character who goes through an ordeal due to racial diversity and politics. In 2014’s Selma, he brilliantly portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who had to battle and fight his way through to equality. The experience of playing someone as revered in history as this has clearly helped his performance. There are several similarities in his role in Selma and that of Seretse. They each have a real passion for succeeding in their cause, no matter how much it upsets the establishment; both do it out of love whether it’s for their fellow man or of that of a woman; both give empowered and life-changing speeches; both are desperate to see attitudes and society change. However it is the story of a Prince from Botswana which is the lesser known one but which has equal worth when it comes to stories that need to be told.

The primary issue of this film is racism, which is still rampant in our world today. It takes a look at it in an intriguing way, from the beating Seretse receives to the shunning of his culture to someone being pushed aside because of how they look. It’s harsh and brutal at times but a stark reality in today’s world despite how far we have come. Oyelowo gives a sterling performance as Seretse. His time has come to be recognized as a brilliant actor and one of the best the UK has to offer. His take on someone who should be more iconic than he is comes across as not only effortless, but masterful, poignant and heartbreaking. He brings a warmth and familiarity to Seretse that will remind you to fight for what you believe in. His speeches whilst well-delivered are very on the nose as is the soundtrack, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for the type of movie it is, it seems that it works well.

Rosamund Pike as Ruth Williams and David Oyelowo as Seretse Khama in A UNITED KINGDOM

Rosamund Pike as Ruth Williams and David Oyelowo as Seretse Khama in A UNITED KINGDOM

The film only falls flat when it comes to Rosamund Pike, whose performance is less than believable. She forceably makes her way thorough this film, holding an almost expressionless expression across her face and speaking in a monotone voice. Whilst the love they share is borderline believable, Pike is worse when Oyelowo is not sharing the screen with her. His mere presence actually makes Pike’s performance watchable and makes his scenes without her even better. There’s a particularly moving moment with Oyelowo speaking to the people of Botswana without a single piece of music to accompany him. Unlike other films, this one keeps the score to itself for certain moments. It’s a brilliant move by the director to keep this scene as just a long and moving piece of dialogue.

So many components work extremely well in this film, including the scenery which has been beautifully shot by Cinematographer Sam McCurdy, previously of TV shows such as Games of Thrones and Merlin. He’s got a keen eye for perfecting the look of each shot, down to the greyness of London and the harsh but warm Botswana. Another thing that works well is the director and screenwriter. It’s the first time that Asante and Guy Hibbert have collaborated and it appears to be a winning combination. The story moves along at a well-thought out pace with the dialogue between the characters appearing to feel natural.

With a supporting cast which includes Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Oyelowo, plus the ever-popular Nicholas Lyndhurst, the film works on pretty much every level to be something that’s entertaining, thought-provoking and heartfelt.

4 out of 5

Keep. It. Reel

Interview with director, Pablo Larraín

During the London Film Festival 2015, I had the fantastic opportunity to interview director Pablo Larraín about his new film The Club, a story about a house in which priests and a nun live, all of whom are suspected of crimes ranging from child abuse to baby snatching. Following an incident at the house, a crisis counsellor is sent to assess what has happened and find out more about those who live there.

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Neel’s Reel Deel: Where did you come up with the idea for the film?

Pablo Larraín: A couple of years ago, I saw a picture in the newspaper of a house in Germany, just like this (The house in the film) There was this Chilean priest living there. I couldn’t believe there was a guy who was accused of sexual abuse and it started from there really. It’s about how they created something so dangerous.

NRD: Was it difficult to film or hard to watch after considering the content?

PL: No, not really

NRD: As this was co-written with yourself an others, how did you find the writing process?

PL: It was very strange because we wrote for the movie and also wrote whilst we were shooting, so we kept writing it all the way. It was very interesting because I collaborated with Guillermo Calderón and Daniel Villalobos and we are all Chileans but we were raised in different places so we had a different relationship with the characters. So I guess that really helped, it brought different perspectives to the issue.

NRD: That sounds really good, lots of ideas being brought to the table.

PL: Yeah it really was

NRD: How long did it take to shoot? You’ve had short shoots in the past, was this similar?

PL: Very short shooting time, two and a half weeks

NRD: Wow, very quick! How about the actors you brought on to play these roles?

PL: Well the actors are people I have been working with for many years and they are so articulate, people that I really trust and they trust me. So I never gave them a script at all, they didn’t know about their characters or the others, I would just give them a scene before we shot it so it was very interesting, we would end up doing some kind of process where the actors didn’t know what was going on and this was also kept the actors present for their acting. It gives an intriguing and mysterious performance.

NRD: To work with the same people must be an interesting experience, how long have you been working with these same people for?

PL: For five or six movies, it’s not always the exact same people but it’s people that I know, they are friends. So when I said to them “let’s make a movie”, I don’t going to tell them what it’s about! We’d go to the set, they have their make-up done and get in front of the camera, then I tell them what we’re doing so it creates an interesting moment, when you see someone who isn’t in control with what’s going on and helps.

NRD: They must have a lot of faith and trust in you.

PL: Yeah but also it creates an interesting affect and illusion, in the result in the film. You see a performance that looks controlled but it’s not.

NRD: When it comes to the religious aspects of the film, what’s your view on that? Are you a religious man yourself?

PL: No. not now. I think it’s always interesting to deal with religious aspects when you’re thinking about things like compassion, guilt, forgiveness.

NRD: It is a hard subject to approach, how did you approach it exactly? You say you’re not religious, so did you do quite a bit of research?

PL:  I did research but I went to Catholic school so I knew things from there. So what I had been studying and the tone in the school, they are things that I understand and know, I digested them and I wanted to bring this to the screen.

NRD: When it comes to the reality of abuse claims within the Catholic church, what do you think of that?

PL: Well, what’s going on today is that we’re facing a new kind of victim, someone who is not scared to talk about it. Back in the day, you wouldn’t do it, you wouldn’t be respected, people would look at you weird after you admit you had been abused, today you respect those people, we want them to have their space, we appreciate that someone is able to accuse somebody of this so they never do it again. Today is a better environment to do that. What’s also interesting is the relationship that the church has with the media.

NRD: Is there anyone else you’d like to work with? As you always work with the same actors. who else would you want on your set?

PL: It always depends on the movie and if you can find the right people then I would want to work with them.

NRD: The right person for the right role

PL: Yeah I think so

NRD: Did you discover anything new about yourself with regards of directing when you made this film?

PL: Oh, I don’t know, that’s a good question! Probably, but it’s hard to understand

NRD: Well you might become a religious man, you never know!

PL: Who knows, man! Anything is possible.

The Club directed by Pablo Larraín is out in UK cinemas now and is also available to stream on BFI Player.

Keep. It. Reel.

London Film Festival: Brooklyn, review

Saoirse Ronan’s career has been filled with varied roles, one of her most notable was her turn as Hanna as the title character. She played an assassin, trained by her father in the wild. No two roles could be more different than that and her turn as Eilis Lacey in the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s Novel, Brooklyn. It’s with diverse roles such as these that Ronan is proving herself to be a talented actress at such a young age.

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In Brooklyn we see her leave Ireland to move to New York for a new life, for a better life. She starts working at an upmarket department store and studies accounting in the evening. Things start off quite difficult as she has a hard time fitting in but slowly she gets used to her new life. On a night out with the girls she lives with, she meets Tony, played by Emory Cohen and they soon begin a relationship together. It’s all going well up until the moment that she has to return home suddenly when there is a death in the family.

During the film it cuts from New York to Ireland, clearly showing the differences between the two places, how the streets look, the landscapes and the way lives can be affected by such a great distance. Whilst she is back in Ireland, she meets Jim Farrell (Domhnal Gleeson) and they begin spending time together, in a simple Irish town, enjoying what she would normally do if she were home. It starts to paint a large predicament for her: two men and two countries, who to choose and where to stay?

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The love triangle is a difficult thing to get right. Who gets the most screen time? Is there a favourite of the two choices? How will the newcomer woo the person of their affection? However, director John Crowley has done an exceptional job at keeping the three characters in it, whilst also keeping the audience guessing who she will pick. Her feelings are conflicted over her new and exciting life, or her roots. What to do?

When Eilis first moves to New York, she struggles with her life, she cries when she receives a letter from home and things only start to get better when she meets someone who can make her happy. This is something everyone who has moved away from home can relate to. Whether you’re going to university, finding your own place to live or leaving your home town for another country, it’s a hard transitional phase of life that’s depicted beautifully in Crowley’s period drama, mostly thanks to the raw emotion Ronan is able to convey. This is a film about leaving home and finding a new life for yourself, no matter how far away you are. Those feelings you had when you first left home will be with you long after you leave the cinema.

London Film Festival: The Lobster, review

How far would you be willing to go to be happy? To find the person you are meant to be with? This is what The Lobster explores, it shows what people feel they need to do in order to find their significant other. Yorgos Lanthimos has a way of telling a story with unusual yet blisteringly sharp humour, all the while working with a script that tells an ordinary story in an unconventional way. This can be seen in his previous film Alps and Dogtooth.

Dogtooth is arguably his best work but he comes close with his latest about a hotel in which single people go in order to find a life partner in the confines of a rule-bound mini-society. For those who find “the one” they are given a holiday on a boat to test their relationship, assuming all works out they are set free into the city. For those who do not make it after their time is up, they are turned into an animal of their choice. They can earn extra days by hunting rogue guests who live in the woods.

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Quirky would be an understatement when it comes to describing Lanthimos’ work, he has a way of using deadpan acting and almost robotic performances from his cast. Colin Farrell plays David, a lonely guest at the hotel and reveals that he would like to become a lobster, assuming his stay in unsuccessful: he loves being by the sea and they live for a long time. He is immediately congratulated on his choice by the hotel manager as most people opt for dog. “That is why the world is full of dogs.” The story initially plays out within the confines of the hotel, here he meets Ben Whishaw and John C. Reilly, two equally lonely bachelors and after an incident involving another guest David flees and joins the hunted rebels in the forest. The hotel has its own house rules, one of which includes no masturbating anywhere, and for those who break any rule, they receive a swift and cruel punishment. The same goes for those in the forest. Whilst he’s on the run David meets another lonely soul played by Rachel Weisz and the tough but fair leader played by Léa Seydoux. Here the rules are equally unconventional including the fact that no romantic relationships can be formed. A rule broken by Farrell and Weisz, as the being a relationship in secret.

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Lanthimos’ story of finding love is his way of yet again holding a mirror up to society and asking is this acceptable? What extremes some people would go to in order to be happy with themselves. What people are willing to do to find that one person who will put up with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a brilliantly funny and touching alternative romantic comedy , which works mostly whilst within the hotel, but loses its way whilst in the forest. The moments between several characters are kooky, humorous, heartfelt and curious and it will leave you wondering what animal would you want to be?

London Film Festival: Burn Burn Burn, review

To create a comedy about death is a difficult thing to do. You always need the right amount of comedy mixed with heartfelt moments and occasionally have these themes combined into a single scene. It’s a mammoth task for even the most talented writer and I’m sure the creators of Burn Burn Burn knew what they were up against.

Director Chanya Button and writer Charlie Covell have made a comedy drama about the death of a friend who requested that his two best mates take his ashes on a road trip around Britain, scattering him in key places that meant the most to him. Almost like Thelma and Louise, just without their deaths at the end. The film opens with a joke about the deceased Dan (Jack Farthing), with the end of the scene cutting just after the words “Too soon?” are said by Alex. It’s a perfect way to set up the rest of the film and begs the question how soon after someone has died can you joke about them?

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The two girls, Alex (Chloe Pirrie) and Seph (Laura Carmichael), embark upon a road trip that takes them away from their comforts and comfort zones, all to please one of their best friends and to honour his memory. They both have something major happening in their lives during this time; Alex walked in on her girlfriend cheating and Seph hates her job and her boyfriend. It begins from there, instead of face up to their problems, they avoid them on a well-timed road trip. Dan joins them via Tupperware container and videos he’s created for each stop in their journey. These videos start off as a light-hearted way to keep Dan in touch with his best friends, it’s a very modern and very smart technique. But his messages to them take a turn for the brutally honest, which he points out that they have to listen to, they can’t argue back, he’s dead.

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There are several bit parts, whose screen time is short which you will be thankful for. Not because these are written badly, but they are just wonderfully annoying. Julian Rhind-Tutt’s Adam is a charming, strange hippy who invites the girls to a party and after a night of drinking, they agree to drive him and his equally frustrating friends to Wales. Then there’s Matthew Kelly’s Doug, who, whilst lovely in small doses, you can imagine this Am-Dram actor grating on you a bit. But both bring a charm and quality to this film which matches the comedy duo of Seph and Alex.

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The film explores friendships at the most excruciating time, tests people bonds with one another and pushes the comedy theme to its limit in a film about death. It’s full of witty lines, visual gags and heartfelt moments between the two main girls. They have also used Britain to its best, having some incredible landscape shots thanks to Cinematographer Carlos De Carvalho. Button and Covell’s experience is very limited but you would never know it with this comedy about death. They have created what is a great film about being alive.

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London Film Festival: Black Mass, review

For the past few years, Johnny Depp hasn’t exactly taken himself seriously. Ever since playing John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, he’s gone from playing a hardcore criminal to a comical character in several films. It felt like he was becoming a parody of himself, but then came along Black Mass. A film where he really gets to flex his muscles, literally and figuratively. Within the first 10 minutes we see Depp’s James Whitey Bulger beating someone mercilessly and then take care of his son. It’s a heavy handed start to Black Mass, but it’s giving Depp an opportunity to prove that he is more three dimensional than we may have previously thought.

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Black Mass is the story of the James Bulger and his rise in the crime world in the 70s. His main goal is to irradiate a mafia family who are invading his turf. To do this, he becomes an FBI informant, working with Detective John Connolly. The story is told through police questioning  key members of Bulger’s crew in the almost present day, telling the tale of all of his actions during his rise and battle with the mafia. Bulger has a lot to contend with on a day to day basis, his brother Billy is a state senator and his childhood friend, John Connolly, is the man from the FBI who wants to help.

In this image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Johnny Depp portrays Whitey Bulger in the Boston-set film, "Black Mass." (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

It has the potential for a rich story, a criminal who has those close to him in positions of power within the government, both of which are trying to help him. But what we are left with is a fairly lacklustre telling of a notoriously violent and vicious criminal. The word generic feels like a fair way to describe this only okay movie. We have seen this all before: the criminal who is from a place like Boston, corruption within the police force, violence to prove a point, a main character who has both a life underhanded misdeeds whilst taking care of his family. What we do see is some stellar performances from the entire cast, Depp has certainly proved his acting chops are still just as solid as they have always been, and I like Joel Edgerton even more than I did when he appeared in Warrior and I can’t think of anyone who isn’t a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch.

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It’s not all bad when it comes to the story. The politically corrupt are shown in their true colours as is the violence of this time and what you would need to do to get ahead in this sort of world, but there is some originality lacking from this true story. We have a more in-depth Depp, something we’ve not seen in years, but that’s as deep as this goes.

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London Film Festival: Steve Jobs, review

Every now and then, we see two movies that are being made at roughly the same time which are about virtually the same subject matter. Looking at movies such as Armageddon with Deep Impact, White House Down with Olympus has fallen, one pair was about a mankind killing asteroid and the other is where the White House is under siege. It’s happening again right now with the two in-production Jungle Book adaptations . There seems to be a need to tell the same story twice.

Jobs (2013) and Steve Jobs (2015) are both about the founding member of Apple, both tell the story in their own unique ways. Why two movies were being made is anyone’s guess. The former starred Ashton Kutcher and the latter stars Michael Fassbender as the man himself, it’s directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. On paper, putting these three together should equal in a cinematic masterpiece, and it pretty much has.

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Steve Jobs tells the story from the release of the first Macintosh all the way up to the launch of the iMac, the computer which brought Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy. While some may think this is yet another feature length advert for Apple, it doesn’t come off as that at all. What this film does is show you all sides of Steve Jobs ranging from colleague, father, inventor, showman, all portrayed effortlessly by Fassbender. The film is cut into three acts, all taking place at a product launch, be that with Apple or the company he founded after being forced out, NeXT. From 1984 to 1998, we see his relationships change, grow, evolve and dissolve. These launches were the first Macintosh, then his next venture NeXt (perfect black cube) and then his return to Apple where he sends the iMac out into the world.

Danny Boyle is someone you can ordinarily rely on to put some grit into his film, something that’s normally hard to watch however it’s not like that at all. It doesn’t feel like a Boyle film at all but that’s not a bad thing. He’s never had a script like this before, one which is so dialogue heavy that through speech is where you see the tension, drama and action. With Boyle’s films, these are usually done with stunning visual aids but what we get here are people walking and talking, quite a bit, yet it works. Boyle has directed one of his finest films yet due to its simplicity of mostly taking place backstage with a handful of people. The complexity of his movie is in just how simple these scenes are.

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A sharp Sorkin script ensures that this is full of witty memorable lines, long conversations and brilliant put-downs. In a scene with Seth Rogen’s Steve Wozniak, Jobs is asked what it is he does. “Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.” Just one example of how highly regarded Steve Jobs is to Steve Jobs. Sorkin has created dialogue that is inviting to listen to and fascinating to see performed. This isn’t the first time he has tackled a tech genius. The Social Network was yet another example of his work that was well received thanks to his snappy lines. The thought of a film about Facebook and then another about a man who started a computer company don’t sound like they would be the most riveting views but Sorkin can create a script that actors will love to work with and speeches audiences will enjoy.

This is a fast-talking, dialogue driven film that only slightly dumbs down the technical computer lingo in order to have several sharp scenes in which they can discuss these issues in length without the audience furrowing their brows, wondering what’s going on. The movie cleverly bounces from the product launches to key moments in his life using flashbacks such as working in his garage, his sacking from Apple and asking John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) to be CEO of Apple. Steve Jobs was a man who pushed forward in tech world with his ideas and foresight but this is not a celebration of a man, this is showing a man at his best and his worst, seeing what he’s like with key people in his life. If you thought you knew Steve Jobs, think again.

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