BFI London Film Festival 2017 Launch

It’s that time of year again. Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2017. The festival this year sees 242 feature films being screened, which includes 28 world premieres. Here are some picks to look out for at the London Film Festival 2017…

Headline Galas

The opening and closing galas previously announced; closing gala Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in particular looks great. Directed by Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), the film stars Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. Other Headline Gala highlights include Battle of the Sexes (starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell), Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Another highlight is The Killing of a Sacred Deer, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). The film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan, and is about a doctor who introduces his family to a fatherless young man he has befriended.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

This year sees the return of the Embankment Garden Cinema and its series of Strand Galas.   There are a number of exciting screenings, including Redoubtable (Le Redoutable). Directed by Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) the film is a biopic of Jean-Luc Godard and stars Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, and Bérénice Bejo. Also showing is Wonderstruck, based on the novel of the same name. Directed by Todd Haynes (Carol), the film stars Julianne Moore. Among the Special Presentations are Sally Potter’s The Party and the first two episodes of David Fincher’s upcoming Netflix series Mindhunter.

Official Competition

Amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2017 are The Breadwinner (an animated film about a young girl in Taliban-controlled Kabul), and Thoroughbred, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy. The First Feature Competition includes Beast, which is about a young woman who falls for a police suspect. Also in this category is I Am Not A Witch, about a young girl in a Zambian village who is accused of being a witch. The Documentary Competition includes Jane, a film about primatologist Jane Goodall.

Strands

A highlight of this year’s Love strand is How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on the Neil Gaiman short story. The film stars Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning. The Debate strand features The Venerable W., a documentary about a Buddhist monk espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric. Laugh includes Brigsby Bear, a comedy about a man who tries to remake a children’s show he was obsessed with. A highlight of the Dare category is 9 Fingers, directed by FJ Ossang. The Thrill section includes the classic noir Mildred Pierce, whilst Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch star in Lucky as part of the Journey strand.

The Cult strand includes Paco Plaza’s horror Veronica, and Create features documentary G Funk, about Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg. The Family strand includes fairy tale compendium Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess. Experimenta features documentary Tonsler Park, a timely film about polling stations in Charlottesville during last year’s US election.

The full London Film Festival 2017 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 4th-15th October 2017.

Film Review: Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths is a lot of fun. The fantastic script and stellar cast make it a most enjoyable watch.

Screenwriter Martin is struggling to write his next script. His friend Billy offers to help, pitching him a story about a psychopath. Trouble ensues when Martin gets tangled up in Billy’s dog-napping sideline…

Seven Psychopaths is almost a film within a film. The script writing is a great device as it allows for plenty of humorous asides about filmmaking. The film flits between scenes of Martin’s film and the actual happenings in Martin’s life. This is executed in a natural manner, with neither reality appearing as usurping the other.

The film itself boasts a great screenplay. It is populated by interesting characters. McDonagh, who wrote and directed, both subverts and promotes stereotypical characters. The different stories in Seven Psychopaths entwine successfully. There is a good balance between dialogue-heavy scenes and those ripe with violence. The script is great, with numerous amusing lines.

The art direction and cinematography makes the most of the settings. Los Angeles has a polished look; there is a real light and vibrancy to the images of the city. The choice of music used in Seven Psychopaths is great as it excels in generating mood.

Seven Psychopaths offers great performances from its high profile cast. Sam Rockwell steals the show as oddball Billy. Christopher Walken is also great as Hans, while Colin Farrell is an appropriate straight man to the cast of colourful characters.

Seven Psychopaths is a most suitable follow up to McDonagh’s In Bruges. The film should satisfy its audience.

Seven Psychopaths is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

London Film Festival 2012 Launch

The BFI London Film Festival’s full programme was announced on Wednesday 5th September. This year, the festival is slightly shorter (twelve days instead of fourteen), but screenings will take place at more venues around London. Prior to the launch, it was announced that Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie would open the festival, and the new adaptation of Great Expectations would close it.

There are not many surprises in the programme. One change to this years proceedings is the dividing of films into new categories such as ‘Love’ and ‘Thrill’. I’m not sure exactly how this will pan out for films more difficult to define. The gala screenings offer some anticipated films, such as Ben Affleck’s Argo and Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray. Documentaries that look interesting include The Central Park Five, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, and Love, Marilyn. Also to look out for are Seven Psychopaths, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Antiviral and The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10 – 21 October 2012.