London Film Festival Debriefing

So the BFI London Film Festival is over for another year. I managed to catch thirty-five films this year, as well as a smattering of press conferences and a round table interview. Having seen less than a quarter of the films shown throughout the festival, I have undoubtedly missed some gems. With this in mind, the following is a very brief appraisal of the festival.

The Best Films I Saw: The Artist, Shame, The Ides of March

The Films That Were As Good As Expected: This Must Be the Place, Headhunters, Martha Marcy May Marlene

The Unexpected Gem: The Monk

The Films I Wish I Had Seen: 50/50, Nobody Else But You

The Film I Wish I Could Unsee: Shock Head Soul

George Clooney at the London Film Festival

In honour of George Clooney doing the rounds two days in a row at the London Film Festival, he gets his very own post. You are welcome, George. On Wednesday, George arrived to promote The Ides of March, which he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in. Along with co-stars Evan Rachel Wood and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Clooney spoke enthusiastically about the film. He was even self-deprecating enough to make a joke about Batman and Robin. The video below features highlights from the press conference.

On Thursday Clooney was back to promote Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. Director Payne was joined by Clooney, actress Shailene Woodley and producer Jim Burke to discuss the film. Again, Clooney was delightfully modest in his achievements and some of his earlier film choices. See below for footage of the conference.

London Film Festival – One Week In

It has been a busy week since the BFI London Film Festival began on the 12th October. There have been some fantastic films screened so far. Of these, The Artist tops the list. The film is simply wonderful, and heartily recommended. The video above features clips from the film, as well as brief interviews. Shame last week was also excellent. Tuesday evening also saw a screening of Headhunters, a thriller which was fantastic fun and a pleasant antidote to some of the more serious films. We Need To Talk About Kevin was shown on Monday evening. The powerful film is discussed in the video below. George Clooney strolled into town on Wednesday for The Ides of March screening. Clooney was keen to answer questions at the press conference in the afternoon. Also screening on Wednesday evening was Miss Bala, a sombre but effective Mexican film.

Film Review: The Ides of March

George Clooney’s The Ides of March is a sumptuous political drama. A good screenplay and great performances combine to produce a thoroughly absorbing film.

Stephen Meyers is a talented member of the campaign team for presidential hopeful Mike Morris, working under veteran manager Paul Zara. While Stephen believes in the idealistic Morris, others behind the scenes scheme in order to obtain power. Stephen quickly learns that there are those who will do anything to get their candidate ahead…

The Ides of March, based on Beau Willimon’s play, is a fairly simple morality tale set in a political context. The primary contests for politicians of the same party is a backdrop that Americans and non-Americans alike should find familiar. It is the deal making and scheming that goes on behind the scenes which are less well publicised.

Clooney’s film immerses viewers in a world of political game playing. The Ides of March is exceptionally well paced. It is one of those very rare examples of a film that could have gone on for another hour, as it is that enjoyable. The narrative works well because the core themes are complimented well by the characters and setting. Everything that occurs is entirely plausible; indeed, some of the incidents seem to have been derived from recent American history. The characters that populate the film also appear very realistic. This allows the audience to fully buy into proceedings.

Performances in The Ides of March are great all round. Lead Ryan Gosling, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti stand out in particular. George Clooney directs the film with competency. It is a very polished production.

The Ides of March should satisfy both fans of political dramas and those with no more than a passing interest. Clooney has exhibited his flair for engaging drama with this superb film.

The Ides of March is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

London Film Festival 2011 Launch

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well ok, it isn’t quite Christmas yet, but it is almost time for the BFI London Film Festival! Today was the launch of the festival in a heavily-gridlocked Leicester Square. BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill took the stage first to introduce this year’s event, and to say thanks to the numerous parties involved. Following this, the festival’s artistic director Sandra Hebron spoke, mentioning with sadness that this was her last LFF. A reel of clips and trailers from selected films due to be screened at the October festival was then shown.

The range of films being shown at the London Film Festival is as diverse as ever. Some of the big films have already been screened at Venice, even so there are some interesting prospects such us A Dangerous Method and Madonna’s W.E. Also being shown are Coriolanus, Shame, Anonymous and The Ides of March. Other films which peaked my interest included Let the Bullets Fly (currently China’s highest grossing film), Nick Broomfield’s Sarah Palin – You Betcha!, Norwegian film Headhunters and Tales of the Night, which is the Family Gala screening. Perhaps the film I am most looking forward is The Artist, a French homage to the silent movie era.

To see the full programme and find out more about the London Film Festival 2011 click here.