BFI London Film Festival 2016 Launch

Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2016. This year’s programme is bursting with cinematic delights. There are more galas than in previous years, and screen talk participants include Werner Herzog and Paul Verhoeven. Here are some of the films to look out for at London Film Festival 2016.

Headline Galas

The Birth of a Nation

The London Film Festival 2016’s opening gala A United Kingdom had already been announced, the Scorsese-produced, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire looks like a lot of fun. Elsewhere, plenty of hotly anticipated films including La La Land, Arrival and The Birth of a Nation. Writer-director Nate Parker also stars in the story of an enslaved preacher who led a revolt in 1830s Virginia. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is also a headline gala. An adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, the film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe stars David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

The Handmaiden

This year sees additional galas, which will take place on a purpose built venue on the Strand. They include The Handmaiden, from director Chan-wook Park. The film looks as sumptuous as Park’s previous film Stoker. Miles Teller stars in Bleed For This, based on the true story of boxer Vinny Paziena. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is the Sonic Gala. The hip hop musical features Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Ava DuVernay’s The 13th are among the special presentations this year.

Official Competition

My Life As A Courgette

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2016. Staring Isabelle Huppert, the film is an adaptation of a Philippe Dijan novel. Terence Davies’ A Quiet Presentation is a biopic of Emily Dickinson staring Cynthia Nixon. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, about a young man struggling with his sexuality in 1980s Miami, looks like a great watch. In the First Feature Competition, Porto sees one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, whilst animation My Life As A Courgette looks like a lot of fun. David Lynch: The Art Life is among the contenders for the Documentary Competition, as well as The Graduation. The latter is a documentary about a prestigious film school in Paris. Chasing Asylum, about the Australian government’s immigration policies, seems very topical.

Strands

The Salesman

The Love strand features Lovesong, director So Yong Kim’s film about a lonely young mother. It stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough. Highlights in the Debate category include Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. A Separation‘s Farhadi has already won awards at Cannes. Mindhorn features in the Laugh strand. The film stars Julian Barratt as a washed-up 1980s TV detective. Dare features Christine, starring Rebecca Hall as the notorious television journalist. Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog looks to be a highlight of the Thrill section, with Nicholas Cage starring alongside Willem Dafoe. Another David Lynch connection (Cage and Dafoe starred in Lynch’s Wild at Heart), Blue Velvet Revisited, features in the Cult strand.

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Cult also features I Am Not A Serial Killer, based on the young adult novel. The Innocents looks to be a highlight of the Journey strand. Anne Fontaine’s film is about a young doctor working for the French Red Cross in 1945. London Town, a coming of age film set in 1979 London, features in the Sonic strand. The Family strand includes Rock Dog, an animation featuring the voices of J.K. Simmons and Luke Wilson. Finally, Experimenta includes Have You Seen My Movie?; a must-see for cinema fans.

The full London Film Festival 2016 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016.

Stuff To Look At

A feast of trailers and images. A feast for the eyes, I say. Whether it is horror, Disney animation, or crime thriller, there is something here for everyone…

Monsters University

I want to go to Monsters University! Human universities are so boring in comparison. A prequel to Monsters Inc., Monsters University tells the story of how Sully and Mike met as students. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 12th July 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz The Great and PowerfulLook at this monkey! Surely he is reason alone for seeing Oz The Great and Powerful? Given that the film is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, it seems unlikely that hot slice Toto will appear. Not to fear, we have Finley in his little uniform to beguile us. Oz The Great and Powerful is released on 8th March 2013.

Identity Thief

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy star in Identify Thief. When Sandy tracks down Diana, the woman who has stolen his identity, hijinks ensue when he tries to bring her to justice. Identity Thief is out in UK cinemas on 22nd March 2013.

Olympus Has Fallen

Well this all looks rather tense. Training Day director Antoine Fuqua brings together Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Angela Bassett in action thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The film hits UK screens on 19th April 2013.

Mama

A TV spot for Mama was on the other night when a friend (who shall remain nameless) could not bear to watch it. Guillermo del Toro is the executive producer of supernatural horror Mama, which stars Jessica Chastain. Mama is released on 22nd February 2013.

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh reunites with Jude Law and Channing Tatum for thriller Side Effects. Also staring Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the film is about a depressed patient who is prescribed the latest medication by her psychiatrist. Side Effects is out on 8th March 2013.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

Here be the latest poster for The Lone Ranger. I am not quite sure why Johnny Depp has a bird on his head; I am hoping that this will be explained in the film. The Lone Ranger will hit UK cinemas on 9th August 2013.

Evil Dead

When I first saw a trailer for Evil Dead, initially I didn’t realise it was a remake of the 1981 film. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell act as producers for this new version, so at least it gets their seal of approval. The trailer above is rather graphic, so brace yourself if you are squeamish. Evil Dead is released on 19th April 2013.

Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer

This is the latest poster for Warner Brothers’ Jack the Giant Slayer. Jack and the Beanstalk is not one of those fairy tales that has had a plethora of film adaptations, so it will be interesting to see what is done with it. Released in 3D, Jack the Giant Slayer hits UK screens on 22nd March 2013.

Dark Skies

Another horror! When the Sandman is mentioned, it is unlikely that things are going to go well. Dark Skies is giving me shades of The Birds. However, the trailer indicates more supernatural activity than this. Dark Skies is released in the UK on 5th April 2013.

The Paperboy

Having already been released in America, a certain scene in The Paperboy has been discussed a lot. I won’t spoil it, for those of you who don’t know what I am talking about. Nicole Kidman heads a stellar cast in thriller The Paperboy. The film hits UK screens on 15th March 2013.

The Heat

Sandra Bullock plays a FBI agent and Melissa McCarthy a Boston cop. This old couple comedy comes from Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids. The Heat is released in UK cinemas on 5th April 2013.

Film Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is not a superb film, or a particularly memorable one. Despite its patchiness however, Martin Campbell’s film is sufficiently diverting.

Test pilot Hal Jordan is a talented but irresponsible guy. When an alien crash lands on Earth, he chooses Hal as his successor, leaving him with a magical ring. The ring bestows Hal with supernatural powers, as well as membership of an intergalactic force responsible for safeguarding the universe…

The main problem with Green Lantern is the narrative weirdly paced. The film seems to jump rather than flow, and the storyline simply is not strong enough. The odd plotting of the film is suggestive of significant trimming. The climax does not have a sufficient build up, so it feels as if it begins too quickly. Additionally, endings come too abruptly for some characters, whether that be death or merely disappearance from the rest of the film (Hal’s friend Thomas for example). Numerous characters are introduced, yet fail to be included later in the film. Thus, it appears as if scenes have been removed, or that the script changed dramatically during filming.

The writing is lacking at times. Green Lantern follows a well-tread arc; those familiar with comic book movies are unlikely to be surprised by the chain of events. There is also a lack of development of any of the characters besides the protagonist. Carol Ferris, for example, has a significant role in proceedings but lacks any real personality. The dialogue is not as hokey as it could have been, and there are some lightly amusing moments. These indicate that the film does not take itself too seriously at least.

To say Green Lantern is an effects-laden picture would be an understatement. The effects are decent overall, but there is an over-reliance on CGI. The use of 3D is inoffensive, even if it isn’t alluring. Martin Campbell’s direction is good, and the action sequences offer a sense of spectacle. The cinematography and the art direction are both commendable.

Ryan Reynolds’ performance is one of the highlights of the film. He makes the movie a lot more watchable with his usual brand of charm. Blake Lively is decent (and very attractive) as Carol Ferris, although she has little to do. Peter Sarsgaard is good but underused, as is Angela Bassett.

Given its flaws, it is likely that some critics will maul Green Lantern. There are several problems with the film, but it is entertaining enough, and far from the worst superhero movie ever made.