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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BFI London Film Festival 2017 Announces Opening Film

The 61st BFI London Film Festival has announced that it will open with the directorial debut by Andy Serkis called Breathe. The film, which will have it’s European premiere on October 4th, tells the true story of Robin (Andrew Garfield) and Diana (Claire Foy) whose lives are changed once he’s paralysed after being diagnosed with Polio. 

Andy Serkis says, “On behalf of the cast and crew of Breathe we are absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to be the Opening Gala performance in this year’s incredibly richly diverse and world-class BFI London Film Festival. Breathe is a deeply personal story to all of us at The Imaginarium and to have the European premiere of my directorial debut in London, my hometown, is beyond my wildest dreams.” 

The BFI London Film Festival takes place from October 4th to 15th and will showcase several films, ranging from a wide variety of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds. 

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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

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60th BFI London Film Festival roundup and thoughts

This year’s festival was truly incredible, with the big films as well as the independent ones, there was a vast variety of things to see, as well as people to meet. It’s only been my second year covering the festival for my blog as press and it’s been a lot of fun watching all sort of films, getting to go to press conferences and meeting some really wonderful and passionate people. During my time at the festival, I decided to watch as much as I possibly could, I never thought that it would be tiring and difficult, whilst being totally worth it!

I was also fortunate enough to meet and interview a couple of directors who had films out at the festival. Both were incredibly passionate about their work and the industry, it’s clearly something that they are in love with, as am I. I love meeting these sorts of people, there’s something humbling about sitting down to talk to someone about their work. I hope I get to do more of it in the future.

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I saw 20 films in 12 days, here’s a few words on each one:

  1.  The Eagle Huntress – Surprisingly good
  2.  A Day for Women – Unfortunate and terrible
  3.  Into the Forest – Interesting, although made no sense in the end
  4.  Barakah Meets Barakah – Good and funny
  5.  Kills on Wheels – Inappropriately funny
  6.  Sweet Dreams – Good
  7.  A United Kingdom – Good but the music is a bit much
  8.  A Monster Calls – Wonderful, beautiful and sad
  9.  The Handmaiden – Good and weird
  10.  The Eyes of my Mother – Creepy, scary, brilliant
  11.  La La Land – Wonderful, stunning and extraordinary
  12.  Manchester by the Sea – Decent but not great, no development at all
  13.  David Lynch: The Art Life – Interesting and original
  14.  Bleed for This – Okay, but not great, lacked heart
  15.  Arrival – Better than most modern sci-fi films
  16.  Birth of a Nation – On the nose score, in your face religious imagery, well told if a little anti-climactic
  17.  Snowden – Better than I thought it would be
  18.  Lion – Moving beyond words
  19.  Nocturnal Animals – A story which essentially goes no where
  20.  Free Fire – Good fun

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Full reviews for some of these are on the way of course. In between these films I was normally queuing up for another film, chatting away to fellow delegates which is a lot more than I did last year. Frankly when I was new to the whole thing in 2015, I was nervous and I had no idea what to say to anyone! For any of you who have been to any random events by yourself where you have the chance to chat, get to know people and network, it can be hard! It’s something I took with me to this year’s festival in the sense that I just didn’t want to just stand around any more. I wanted to speak to people, see what they’ve seen, find out about their work and get to know them, which I did with a great deal of apprehension.

Those who I spoke to included several journalists, a student, a screen writer, a teacher, an actress, a producer and many more. All of them trying to make something of themselves in this insanely difficult industry. Just like myself. Having this ambition to become a film critic is a hard one to realise but recently, especially after walking from screening to screening for two weeks, it’s something that I want more than ever. I think that speaking to such a wide variety of people, finding out about their careers and what they have achieved and what they would like to achieve really got me thinking and it’s something I’m never going to stop thinking about.

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For those of you who want to cover something like this, it’s as simple as putting yourself out there, but in a lot of ways. I had a couple of amazing moments this year and last, of knowing that I’m being given a press pass to cover the best thing we have for film goers and film lovers. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’re getting to attend something as fascinating as this! So the best thing to do is start a blog, take acting classes, become a vlogger, use social media to its maximum capacity and never give up.

I love getting to cover this festival, the films, the people, the time off work! There’s so much to love and I’m already excited about next year. So, here’s to 2017 and what will be the 61st BFI London Film Festival.

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Prop Store Exhibition at BFI IMAX 2016

To have the chance to see some of your favourite memorabilia and props from some of your most beloved films, really is something quite special and unique. It’s a very rare opportunity so when you have the chance to see these random items and be up close and personal close to any of these objects, take it! I was lucky enough to have an exhibition in London so I went down to the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, London as Prop Store were holding a special event before their live auction, which took place on September 27.

Prop Store logo

What I saw made me have a huge geekgasm, it was very exciting and the perfect place for me! There were signed scripts and books, props from Die Hard, The Dark Knight, Terminator 2, Star Trek, The Martian, 24, Gladiator and too many more to name. The auction has gone live and people are currently bidding thousands on items such as the Bat Pod, costumes from Star Trek, original storyboards from Star Wars, FBI badges from The X Files, clapperboards from countless films and a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.

So if you’ve got a bottomless pit of cash, chances are you’ll be bidding on these items already! I know what I’d get first, the Batpod! Take a look and see what I saw the other day. What would you bid on?

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Jason Bourne, review

When The Bourne Identity was first released in 2002, it was hailed for its gritty grounded action and fight sequences, choreographed to brutal perfection and carried out beautifully by Matt Damon. It kept this throughout the original trilogy and made Bourne into a force to be reckoned with when it came to spy films and action sequences. This is kept in the latest installment which stars Damon who has teamed up with Paul Greengrass once again. They both famously claimed neither would do a film without the other, so they have returned, together. Nine years after surviving Bourne Ultimatum, we see Jason having flashbacks whilst on his way to an illegal fight where bets are placed and big guys are pitted up against bigger guys. It’s soon after this during another bought, he meets Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who brings him back into the firing line with new pieces of information she has acquired.

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From the start, it’s classic Bourne. The fight scenes are kept intimate and harsh, with the camera moving close in, shaky enough to feel immersed into the action, not so much that you can’t understand what’s going on. With the storyline veering towards Bourne’s past (or David Webb’s if you prefer his real name) going back to the days which lead up to the start of Treadstone, it feels more personal than ever so it’s fitting that we see more of Bourne’s skill set. There’s something to be said about how consistently original the fight scenes look in all of the Bourne films. Using a pen as a weapon, disarming police officers without meaning to, beating someone with a book or rolling up a magazine to smack his opponent before blowing him up. Some may sound ludicrous however, it’s not that he’s killing them with these items, it’s that fact that he’s a smart enough character to know how to distract them. It’s knowing how to use them and what effect they will have is where he stands apart from the rest. Bourne is like a Swiss army knife, all the utensils you can ever think of, but instead of being attached to him, it’s everything around him which he uses as a weapon.

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Whilst this had lot of the signature Bourne attributes (people trying to find Jason with tech and surveillance, sit down meetings talking about him, close up fight scenes, car chases although lacking a Mini) the atmospheric feeling you had with the previous films just wasn’t there and it’s primarily down to the performances. There’s a host of new characters including Alicia Vikander’s Heather Lee, a person hell bent on getting Bourne to come in, Robert Dewey the CIA Director played by Tommy Lee Jones who is right amount of Tommy Lee Jones and the right amount of angry man out to stop a mistake from the past. Whilst Jones brings enough to the role that he needs to, Vikander feels very underwhelming. Her performance is more robotic than her role in Ex Machina. Vikander’s mono tone delivery of every single line left her character as a one dimensional version of the much better Pamela Landy, portrayed by Joan Allen in The Bourne Supremacy. Damon was as good as always, Stiles was painfully under used and only served as a way for Bourne to have a reason to return to the world of espionage. Ato Essandoh who played Jones’s character’s right hand man Craig Jeffers is mostly there to deliver lines for the trailer and talk about Snowden a couple of times. Very clumsy references which are painfully shoehorned in. One actor who you can always rely on is Vincent Cassel who played a character known only as Asset. This is literally what he was. Brought in to take down Bourne, he is one of the few saving graces of this film. Bringing a quiet violent performance which Cassel is used to be now, the fact that he’s called Asset bring a consistent air of mystery to him. This is what you call good writing.

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There is a problem with the pre-finale car chase is very much all guns blazing and a huge disappointment mostly due to where it takes place and it’s at this moment you realise that the grounding of Bourne has been taken away, which is a real shame. Throughout this film, there are new fight scenes to enjoy, in particular the final scene, bike and car chases which aren’t exciting enough and a storyline which, whilst good, is ultimately a revenge plot that goes wrong a lot of the time. Bourne is supposed to be in hiding, no one has heard from him in years, then why is it that he keeps looking back and into the camera of those trying to take him down? Bourne is like a superhero fighting his enemies with his fists, under a fake identity and trying to allude the authorities. However this outing feels more Man of Steel than The Dark Knight.

3 out of 5.

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London Film Comic Con 2016

London Film Comic Con took place this weekend and it was full of cosplayers, a few photos shoots, plenty of celebrities who you can have your photo taken with (for a price), cars from films and lots and lots of geeky stuff to buy. Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately it wasn’t.

I went full of anticipation, only to feel a little bit let down, perhaps I should have done my research. I suppose it was never going to be as good or as big as SDCC but it just feels like you go inside to empty your wallet and that’s mostly it. This is me very much nitpicking but there seems to be a very empty atmosphere when you walk around certain areas of Olympia London. Inside there were stalls selling comics, artwork, DVDs, replicas and so on but there are huge wide open spaces where you could fit more or have somewhere to sit rather than the floor. I don’t know why this bothers me but it made it feel quite sad in places.

Now this isn’t to say it was all bad. There were plenty of opportunities where you can take your photo for free. For example with any of the cosplayers and a few of the cars, plus there was a really fantastic Suicide Squad section which I really loved! But being told off for taking a photo of one of the many famous faces around is a joke! Yes they need to make money, no we don’t all want to be ripped off for the “privilege” of being in the photo with them.

What you can buy inside is truly amazing, and surprisingly not a rip off! Plenty of offers and cheap decent items to fill your nerdy desires. The artwork was fantastic, a really eclectic range when it came to framed and printed art, lots of incredible replicas, pieces being auctioned, comics being sold, collectors items including pin badges, buttons Pop figures and such for sale. I even saw Stromtrooper armour for sale. It’s an amazing range to see, but that is mostly what it is. Stalls to buy things from.

The best part of going? Seeing my friend Charlie and meeting her friend Hollie. Both awesome, both geeks. So I suggest, if you ever go to something like, go with people who are similar to you, those who might enjoy it, those who are geeky enough for you to get your geek on.

My haul from the day, not bad!

My haul from the day, not bad!

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Backyard Cinema presents Romeo + Juliet with a live choir

Immersive cinema is constantly growing and evolving. When you mention it, the most likely image people think of normally includes something along the lines of Secret Cinema, who are masters at what they do, even though it’s pretty expensive at times. But there are plenty of alternatives to bring you closer to the magic of the movies.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet with the addition of a live choir and a church, something I have never seen done before. We arrived at the venue, grabbed a couple of drinks and, after a few photos, took our seats inside this church close to Marylebone station. For those of you who would like to know, it’s St. Mary’s Church Wyndham Place. It’s a really stunning venue and Backyard Cinemas have gone all out.

As you walk in, other than the stunning Montague shirts worn by all of the staff, the first thing you see is the beautiful set up, made to look like the final scene of the film, where (**SPOILER ALERT**) both Romeo and Juliet take their lives. If you didn’t know that, I have nothing to say to you. Anyway, after being blown away by the colours, the lights and the entire set up, downstairs they’ve got a couple of nice bars, serving all sorts of drinks, including draught Espresso Martini, who knew they could do that? They were wonderful, as was the beer and Prosecco.

We settled in for the film and whilst sitting there as if out of no where, the choir stood up and began to sing after the news report finished. It was a remarkable experience which they carried on thorough certain powerful parts of the movie. Smartly done as times they could pause the film and give you the feels and chills at once and at times keeping it running with the choir dominating the sound within the church. Both ways worked as both way didn’t draw too much attention away from the movie, it added dramatic tension and never took it away. Never too much and not too little, the perfect mix of live choir and movie. It was a remarkable and perfect evening.

The sound from the choir was astonishing, they all had truly wonderful voices. That added to the helpful staff, beautiful surroundings and the fact that someone proposed (she said yes. PHEW!), it’s an amazing thing to be a part of. If you ever have a chance to go to anything like this, please do. It really is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had whilst watching a film. Take a look here for future shows: http://www.backyardcinema.co.uk/

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Coming soon to Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later

For the first time ever, Secret Cinema is stepping into the world of horror with their project of Danny Boyle’s 2002 epic, 28 Day Later. The post-apocalyptic movie, which has been often attributed with the reinvigoration of the zombie horror movie sub-genre, will be shown at a secret in London as well as one other city.

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The film shows us what life in London would be like if the zombie apocalypse took place and it’s a pretty quiet place! We meet Jim, who is a survivor of the events that have changed London forever. Waking up by himself in a hospital, he finds a group of other survivors and they have to battle against several elements in order to stay alive.

Andrew Macdonald, producer of 28 days later said: “Secret Cinema never fails to amaze with their experiences, and its exciting to see them tackle their first ever horror. London prepare.”

Ciliain Murphy

The move into the horror genre is a brand new step for Secret Cinema and could open up doors to other horror films, genres and franchises in the coming years. I’m a huge fan of this film and for it to get the Secret Cinema treatment, it’s going to be spectacular. If you have ever been to any of their previous events including the most recent Back to the Future and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, you’ll know the amount of effort they put into bringing these iconic movies to life.

Fabien Riggall, Founder and Creative Director of Secret Cinema said:

“Secret Cinema is excited to step into the world of horror with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, a true British horror classic – we look forward to creating a suitably frightening and exhilarating experience. Secret Cinema’s expansion over the last nine years has been remarkable, we’ve now created experiences in New York and Berlin, as well as the many in London. But this will be a turning point for us as we embark upon our very first UK nationwide production.”

Secret Cinema will return from 14th April 2016 to 29th May 2016 and tickets are on sale now and you can purchase them via the Secret Cinema website: www.secretcinema.org/tickets.

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Paddington Bear: finally we have a trailer

The fuzzy friend from my childhood has come to life once more as a digital version of his former jittery self (assuming you remember the old stop-motion cartoons). Paddington Bear is coming to the big screen. I’m not going to call this a long-awaited adaptation of the children’s classic because I don’t honestly know who has been waiting for it. Have you? No, didn’t think so! BUT I’m not complaining, I did love the cartoon, and I enjoy it when you have all of this nostalgia thrown in your face. However, the trailer is a little disappointing. Whilst it is obviously a fun family film, there’s parts which is find a tad troubling. For example, where is his lovely blue coat? and why is he, at one point, wearing nothing? I have never seen him without the famous hat and coat at the same time but here we see him in all his glory (pretty much). Why? I know and love the old school bear who would never be seen without these iconic items. Even when he’s out and about, trying to tackle the dreaded escalator on the Underground, all he’s wearing is his hat. GIVE HIM HIS BLUE COAT!

I’m not too concerned about it however, from the posters he will, at some point, be in his full gear. I suppose this could be a good thing. I did have a thought that maybe, JUST MAYBE, it could be a like an origin story. Where his hat and coat come from, who gives him his first marmalade sandwich and so on. It’s just a thought. What do you think? Keep. It Reel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-d-V9jXYDE