LFF 2016 Highlights Part 1

It is now a week into the 60th BFI London Film Festival, and so far it has offered some cinematic delights. Here are some LFF 2016 highlights from the first week of screenings…

LFF 2016 Highlights – Unmissable

La La Land

From the opening sequence, it is obvious that La La Land is something special. Damien Chazelle does not disappoint with his follow-up to Whiplash. The film is beautifully composed and wonderfully executed. READ MORE

Moonlight

Moonlight is a wonderfully absorbing character study from Barry Jenkins. The film is a profusion of taut emotion, which bubbles over in a delectable way. In a different pair of hands, the film could have been a trite concoction of stereotypes and cliché. Jenkins shows he is a force to be reckoned with with the magnificent Moonlight. READ MORE

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea is rich with emotion and so finely executed that it lingers in the mind long after viewing. Lonergan exhibits a skilfulness in filmmaking and storytelling with the excellent Manchester By The Sea. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Highlights – Best of the Rest

Divines

Houda Benyamina’s Divines packs quite a punch. The film is engrossing throughout. Divines has an energy that is appealing. This is obvious from the film’s opening scene. READ MORE

The Handmaiden

Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden is exactly the style and quality of film one would expect from the filmmaker. It is thoroughly entertaining and a visual feast. There is so much to like about The Handmaiden, that it is difficult to know where to begin. READ MORE

The Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is a compelling drama that does not shy away from the realities of its narrative. The Birth of a Nation feels pertinent today, and it is a story that should be heard… READ MORE

ARRIVAL

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival brings the spectacle and wonder. For the most part, the film is an engrossing watch. Arrival is a very enjoyable science-fiction mystery. The film poses the big questions in an engaging and easily comprehendible way. READ MORE

Queen of Katwe

Director Mira Nair’s film is infectious in its positivity. Queen of Katwe is a heartwarming picture. Telling the true story of an unlikely chess champion from the slums of Kampala, Queen of Kwante is an edifying film. READ MORE

The Graduation (Le Concours)

The Graduation (Le Concours) is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that pays off, despite a slow start. Le Femis in Paris is one of the top film schools. Each of the prospective students need to go a rigorous selection process for one of the limited places at the school. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016. Details of remaining screenings are available here.

Film Review: Arrival

ARRIVAL

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival brings the spectacle and wonder. For the most part, the film is an engrossing watch.

When mystery spacecrafts land on Earth, linguist Louise Banks is asked to try and communicate with the vessel in the USA. Teams across the globe face a race against time to find answers…

Based on the short story by Ted Chiang, Arrival combines science fiction with mystery. The film poses big science-fiction questions in an understandable way, not unlike 2014’s Interstellar. Concepts explored in the film are conveyed on a large scale, so the questions become more philosophical than scientific.

The first half of Arrival is gripping. There is a real tension to the first trip to the site; director Denis Villeneuve conveys this in a very effective manner. The close up shots of Louise contrasted with the wide shots of the spacecraft really hone in on the scale of events. It also positions the audience right with the protagonist in seeing inside for the first time.

The second half of the film misses some of the element of spectacle from the first. It is still entertaining, but weaving in the two narratives is not quite as enthralling as the opening gambit. It is a problem that the science fiction genre has; asking the big, exciting questions, and being able to answer them in an satisfying manner. Hints at the outcome of Arrival are dropped throughout the film. Some viewers may predict what will happen, and some may be disappointed by the climax. Taken not as a gigantic twist but as an explanation, it is a perfectly acceptable way to end the film.

Villeneuve’s direction is strong throughout. There are some beautifully composed shots, such as journey up to the spacecraft. The relaying of exposition through news reports is a succinct tactic. Amy Adams can be relied upon for a robust performance, and she doesn’t disappoint here.

Arrival is a very enjoyable science-fiction mystery. The film poses the big questions in an engaging and easily comprehendible way.

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.

Previews: Rules Don’t Apply Trailer, Morgan and More!

Lots of trailers, posters and clips this week, including the Rules Don’t Apply trailer, a clip from Morgan, Same Kind of Different trailer and more…

Rules Don’t Apply Trailer

Here is the Rules Don’t Apply Trailer. Warren Beatty writes, directs, and stars in the Golden Era-set film. With Alden Ehrenreich in the cast, the film is instantly reminiscent of this year’s Hail, Cesar!. Ehrenreich stars as the driver to Beatty’s Howard Hughes. The film features a stellar cast, that includes Lily Collins, Alec Baldwin, and Matthew Broderick. Rules Don’t Apply is coming soon to cinemas.

Morgan Clip

This clip from the upcoming Morgan gives a bit of insight into the title character. The film stars Kate Mara as a troubleshooter sent to a remote location to investigate an accident. Also starring Paul Giamatti and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film is produced by Ridley Scott. Morgan is out in UK cinemas on 2nd September 2016.

Arrival Poster

Arrival PosterThis is one of a series of posters for new ski-fi thriller Arrival. The film is about a mystery spacecraft that arrives on Earth, and the team who are sent to investigate. Denis Villeneuve directs the film, which stars Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner. Arrival lands in UK cinemas on 11th November 2016.

War on Everyone Trailer

The Guard director John Michael McDonagh’s latest film combines dark humour with a buddy cop movie. War on Everyone stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as New Mexican cops who set out to blackmail every criminal that crosses their paths. War on Everyone will hit UK screens on 7th October 2016.

Moana Trailer

Disney latest animation Moana is about a South Pacific teenager who sails on a daring mission to save her people. The film features the voice of Dwayne Johnson, and songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana is directed by Disney dream-team Ron Clements and John Musker. UK cinemagoers will have to wait until 2nd December 2016 to see if the pair can recreate their earlier magic.

Hell or High Water Trailer

Hell or High Water is a new crime thriller from the writer of Sicario, Taylor Sheridan.  The film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as robbers who meet their match in Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges. Hell or High Water hits UK screens on 9th September 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Poster

Miss Peregrine Poster

This poster is a visual feast. Director Tim Burton always delivers on the imagery front. Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looks like it will be weird and wonderful. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson, the film will be released in UK cinemas on 30th September 2016.

Same Kind of Different as Me Trailer

Uncomfortably reminiscent of The Blind Side, Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the book of the same name. The film stars Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear as a couple who befriend a homeless man (played by Djimon Hounsou). Some of what is shown seems risible, but the film will probably appeal to fans of the book. Same Kind of Different as Me is set for release in 2017.