by Joanna Orland
The Loose 5: 55th BFI LFF Highlights
5. James Howson getting on the wrong train and missing his red carpet debut for Wuthering Heights….. resulting in a Beckett / Bronte megamix: Waiting for Heathcliff
4. Me taking bad and blurry celebrity photos: Aaron Kick Ass Johnson and his amazing face. Is this dude for real?
3. Seth Rogen’s laugh – Who let Beavis and Butthead into the BFI?
2. Meeting THE John Hawkes! And then mistaking him for a pervert
1. The Artist. Wow.
Please read on to be enlightened….
We attended a launch party on “Day 0” of the festival. Hosted by Jameson the whiskey people, there was a speakeasy going on in Soho. OMG whiskey cocktails are LUSH! The “Emerald Presse” in particular… mmmmmmm…. Good prep for the festival to follow.
Day 1 (proper):
It is Wednesday October 12th and the celebs are out on the red carpet for the launch of the 55th BFI London Film Festival and the premiere of its opening title, 360, starring Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins.
I, on the other hand, am in the comfort of my own home watching press DVDs of films that are to play over the next 2 weeks of festivaling. I’m also eating chicken soup to ward of this evil cold that has attacked me in a vicious manner right before my festival days kick off. Boooooo……
So, what am I watching from my comfortable chicken-soupy sofa?
Writer-director Jean-Marc Moutout quietly examines frustration and alienation in the workplace in this quietly melancholic French drama. Jean-Pierre Darroussin, whom you may recognize from other French cinematic outings, is perfectly cast as the once successful banker whose career begins to derail. His personal life seems to be more intact with a loving wife and son, but he mentions of less happy times and I suppose it’s implied rather than overtly shown that things are not perfect for him.
It’s very hard to reveal too many spoilers about this film as the main and key plot point happens at the start when Paul goes into his office and shoots his boss and boss’s apprentice. For the duration of the film, Paul has locked himself in his office, with areas of his life and events leading up to the shooting depicted in various flashbacks.
This is an in-depth character study with fascinating actors, notably Darroussin, drawing the audience’s attention. It’s lack of music throughout, with a few exceptions, is key in establishing the dire mood and the not-overly-saturated use of dialogue really is key in getting to know Paul through Darroussin’s subtle emotional depiction.
A well-made portrait of a man who is pushed too far, with an amazing lead performance, and a quiet execution that leaves the audience slightly unsettled for having been drawn in a bit too close for comfort.
“An atmospheric, brooding rural drama reminiscent of early Terrence Malick.” That’s why I picked up this film. Perhaps I’m not in the right mindset? First of all, I’m reviewing it while watching it, I am clearly distracted. Perhaps if I was in the cinema it would have my full attention? Perhaps a second quiet, little-dialogue film in a row is one too many? Perhaps this film isn’t as good as the tagline?
No, I think it’s just hard to make a French rural drama interesting when the entire plot is about cows. Lead actor Vincent Rottiers is very nice eye candy though. Phwoar. Think I’ll keep it on in the background for a little while longer.
A long distance love story of a young couple who can’t seem to let each other go or keep their relationship alive across an ocean. Like Crazy did very well for itself at this year’s Sundance film festival and LFF Director Sandra Hebron sung its praises as she introduced director Drake Doremus and star Felicity Jones to the audience.
First of all, Jennifer Lawrence is well underused! The girl was just nominated for an Oscar and she’s got a bit supporting role which is pretty much like furniture. Felicity Jones is a bit underwhelming in a lead role, but Anton Yelchin holds strong and the intimacy between the two characters draws the audience in like they’re right there in between the sheets with the couple! Director Doremus even said himself how the cameraman was pretty much the 3rd central character in this film!
There were moments in this film I felt it too sappy, but it covered the relationship spectrum pretty well and it was quite a believable as well as intimate portrayal of a young couple and their daily trials and tribulations over a period of a few years and few thousand miles. And Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead as Anna’s (Felicity’s) parents were so fricking hilarious!
Drake and Felicity were available after the screening for a Q&A, which was brilliant. Check out the audio clips below (coming soon)… Note the comedy moment when Drake accidentally tells a 14 year-old aspiring female actress to film herself in the shower! Comedy genius you can’t script! Speaking of script, you know this film was improvised!! ??? Fantastic.
Anna Kendrick is wonderful! When she arrived with writer Will Reiser to introduce the film, you could tell she was a ball of energy, but on screen, she stole the show from seasoned vets such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and funnyman Seth Rogen. Her first scene in the film was by far the funniest laugh-out-loud moment. Note, Doogie Howser is a FICTIONAL teenage doctor.
The story of 50/50 follows friends Adam (Joseph GL) and Kyle (Seth Rogen) as Adam is diagnosed with the big C (that’s Cancer people) and Kyle is there to support him through thick and thin, mostly in a comedic and vulgar way. Katie (Anna Kendrick) is Adam’s newbie awkward therapist and Anjelica Huston does a wonderful stint as Adam’s mum. LOVE HER!
Most of you are probably wondering why anyone would make a comedy about Cancer. BUT this is a “comedy drama” and I still don’t have the answer to that question. It was a good film and based on writer Will Reiser’s experience with the disease with Seth as his real life friend as well. Even though this isn’t the greatest or most mind-blowing film ever made, it was a good watch and gets better the longer it goes on. It gets a LOT better when Anna’s character comes into it. My goodness that scene will have me laughing for years to come!
Shame Anna and Will didn’t come back for a Q&A! But Will and Seth will be at hand tomorrow at the BFI for a special YouTube interview session. I shall report more on this then. G’night!
The Seth Rogen & Will Reiser YouTube Interview
Edith Bowman interviewed Seth Rogen and Will Reiser about 50/50. The audience also got to ask them questions! Some were awkward. Seth Rogen’s laugh is awkward. Look for me in the audience!
This was a beautifully touching film, and the fact that I drifted off to sleep once or twice during it says nothing to the contrary. It merely emphasizes how run down I am and it’s only Day 4!! I’m screwed.
A touching story about brothers torn apart by parental separation. One boy longs for the family to be reunited, the other is carefree and having the time of his life… and is also a little shit! A little, lovable and adorable shit! Seriously, was the casting call requirements for this film “find us the cutest kids ever….. that’ll do”. The brothers were each adorable in their own way and their motley crew of friends, no less. These kids made this film and it was divine! Highly recommended even though it came in at just over two hours! A wee bit long, but just a feel good moving film!
Press screening of a modern Shakespeare adaptation on a Sunday morning at 9am? No thanks. A press conference at 11am on a Sunday morning, the morning after I saw one of my comic heroes Demetri Martin live? No thank you.. still riding on that high…. Red Carpet with Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox while I have a voice that sounds like the puberty kid off The Simpsons? No thanks. At first I felt regret, but my friend said the film wasn’t her cup of tea, and I trust her opinion. She was at Demetri Martin’s gig with me the night before. Very much trust her tasteful opinion on the arts and entertainment scene!
No we don’t really need to talk about Kevin because I have laryngitis, and because of it, I had to miss out on the red carpet interviews with author Lionel Shriver, director Lynne Ramsay and star Ezra Miller. Even though I didn’t personally get to talk about Kevin, I immensely enjoyed this film. And the following is my official review:
I tried to read the novel We Need to Talk About Kevin a few years ago, but found the narrative form of letters to an estranged husband a bit too non-linear and abstract for my liking. I didn’t get very far and put it aside thinking to myself “I’ll just wait for the movie to come out!”. And lo and behold, here it is!
We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I awkwardly keep calling “There’s Something About Kevin”, is a harrowing story of a mother’s grief and guilt at a horrible crime that her son has committed. What is interesting about the story is that this crime and regret is all told from the mother’s perspective, eventually leading her and the audience to question whether or not a child can be born evil, or if it is bad parenting that leads a child to act in such a horrific way. The film never insinuates it is one over the other, and both sides of the coin are explored.
In my opinion, and possibly not in others’, this narrative works better as a film than a novel. For me, the medium is everything, and it’s not so easily that I can accept a film based on a book if the book is already a classic. Case in point, I just saw Peter Jackon’s The Lovely Bones… WTF was THAT about? And don’t forget about such missable films as Perfume, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Never Let Me Go, all some of my favourite stories in print. But as I struggled to be gripped by the prose of this book, I am glad that I could view this story on the big screen, as it is a very important story to be told. A non-linear story can be told very well on screen when you have strong imagery, stellar actors and a very sharp director, as this film clearly does.
Speaking of the actors, Tilda Swinton is perfect as Eva Khatchadourian. Her face portrays sullen grief like no other. John C. Reilly was a bit random as her husband Franklin. I know he is an award-nominated actor with some serious film background, but he is so good at comedy performances, I often fail to take him seriously in a dramatic role, even when he performs well. Ezra Miller as the teenage Kevin was a breakout star in this film and perfectly cast in the role. His youthful physique and dark features are complimented by his dark gravelly voice, often sinister and dark well beyond his years. I look forward to watching his career blossom on screen.
This film is a heavy film and there is no way around this fact. As well as emotionally provoking, this film provokes the discussion and debate of Nature versus Nurture. In the end, the discussion will continue as no answers are given regarding this subject matter, merely dramatizations of parent-son relations. The imagery of blood on Eva’s hands is a strong one, one which I felt was exploited to the point of ridiculousness. Notably when she’s surrounded by tins of tomato soup in the grocery store. Ok… we get it, she’s got blood on her hands and feels guilty as fuck. Even with this hammering home of the point, this film works very well at telling a narrative that is hard to tell, and often painful to hear. If you can deal with the hard-hitting emotional drama, I recommend this film as a character study, narrative, exercise in tomato-based imagery, and also a discussion point for Nature versus Nurture. If you can handle it, view it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. My ovaries have permanently shrivelled up after this.
The creators of Persepolis take a more surrealist and less political approach to their latest film Chicken With Plums. Based on another of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels, the story follows Nasser Ali as he decides to die after his prize violin is destroyed. He spends 8 days in bed awaiting death.
This may sound like a grim premise, and in many ways it is. There are some depressing themes and occurrences in this film, but overall its presentation is more reminiscent of another French director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is famed for such quirky classics as Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, Micmacs and Delicatessen. The narrative jumps from present to past to future willy-nilly all presented in a fantastical nature. This film, while depressing on many levels, is first and foremost a quirky comedy. There are some moments where bails of hay are rolling by as the joke just isn’t getting a laugh, usually a visual one, but overall, the laughs were happily handed over from the audience and the bittersweet more emotional moments of the film were lapped up as well.
This film has a striking visual aesthetic that captures the spirit of a graphic novel. Mathieu Amalric as Nasser Ali is perfectly cast. His eyes are so expressive at points you’d think they would bulge right out of their sockets with emotion! Another key performance in this film is with the cameo of Isabella Rossellini, stunning as ever.
This story would not have been complete if it was never revealed why that specific violin was so important that Nasser Ali would give up his life without it. The director does not disappoint as all is revealed to reach the emotional climax of the film. I won’t say anymore. You must see it for yourself.
This film is the highlight of the festival for me (so far, but I reckon overall). It lives up to every word of hype it has received. Especially the best canine performance I have ever seen on film!
Harvey Weinstein was introduced by LFF director Sandra Hebron. He came on to introduce The Artist and explained how he and his brother Bob had to take a risk on such a film. Who else in Hollywood would want to make a $14million black & white silent film? Harvey went on to say that most people in Hollywood would say that to make it in the business you need to make a superhero film, but Harvey believes, and has clearly proven, that to make it in the business, you need to take risks! This risk has paid off. Big time. Based on audience reactions alone, this film seems to be the most well-received of the festival. It was touching, hilarious, artistic and boy was lead actor Jean Dujardin’s mug certainly charming!
Jean plays Hollywood Silent Film star George Valentin who gets by on his ability to charm an audience without words. His fame and success is threatened by the advent of talkies (non-silent films), but he’s too stubborn to speak. His love interest Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) tries to help him throughout as it was because of him that she got her big break in Tinseltown. Will he get over his stubbornness and let her help? Will he be able to get by with more than his charming mug and cheeky grin? Could this film be any more of an homage to silent film itself? Brilliantly done and modernized with humour and bold stylistic choices to see the audience through to the end.
Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor accolade at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and deservedly so. He IS a silent film star. And when introducing the film in person at the Odeon West End, his charm seeped through even verbally. He was the perfect casting choice for this role. And even better than the role of George Valentin was the role of George Valentin’s dog! That dog got bigger laughs than anybody! Is there an animal Oscar category? If not, well, why not!!??
You also gotta be on the lookout for a crazy amount of cameo appearances by real life Hollywood and British actors! Just about every scene has a familiar face! John Goodman was particularly nice to see on the big screen again! James Cromwell also put in a stellar performance.
The music and sound are key in this film just by its very nature. It is used wisely. I can’t get the incidental music out of my head! My life needs such soundtrack!
The Artist and his charming mug have completely won me over. Between this and Chicken With Plums, Day 7 is the day to beat for this year’s LFF. My standards are way too high now!
Sadly I didn’t get to view Alexander Payne’s latest masterpiece. He who is known for directing such classics as Sideways and Election. I hear it was excellent. I did however make it out to the press conference and red carpet, so do enjoy what I managed to wrangle for you there.
This red carpet was nice and relaxed. I got a whole 3 questions with the great man himself, John Hawkes. Now, you may not know John by name, but you know his body of work. And he’d prefer it that way. When asked how Oscar recognition has affected his career choices and approach to performance, he pointed out that previously, not many people remembered him playing all these amazing roles in all these amazing TV series and films (Deadwood, Lost, A Perfect Storm, Eastbound and Down, etc…). Then Winter’s Bone came along and doggonnit so did an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2010, which eventually went to Christian Bale for The Fighter. But now with his latest film MMMM there is more Oscar Buzz! And with more Oscar Buzz comes more fame! And with more fame, John fears he won’t be able to disappear into his character as well as he has been doing for all of these years! Nooooooo….
Don’t give up hope John. You are the quintessence of awesomeness. And I SHOOK YOUR HAND!!!! Legend.
As I was rushing out of the building to make it to my next screening all the way from Leicester Square to Mayfair (quite a journey), I ran out the door onto the red carpet down a dark alley. I noticed a peculiar looking man in a black hat giving me “the eyebrows” as though he knew me. I thought, “what a perv” and gave him a look like “wtf mate” and continued rushing out… On my way through Chinatown, it dawned on me that it wasn’t a pervert, but actually John saying hello again. Dagnabbit! Why must I look so distinct yet be half blind!?
Also on the red carpet was Elizabeth Olsen. Yes, she is the younger sister of the one and only Olsen twins! I couldn’t let her escape without asking at least ONE Olsen Twins related question!
Lastly we had the director Sean Durkin. It was his first feature film and he’s getting huge critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. He seemed really nervous on the red carpet, but he better get used to it quick! He’s going to be one of the ones to watch this year fo shiz!
I had high hopes for this film. It is one of a series of British films showcasing up and coming British talent. It was screening at the Curzon in Mayfair – Posh! And it stars my fellow ginge Bernadette Cumberbund…. Er… Bernice Copperpot? No… Benedict Cumberbitch! That’s it.
So it’s a very slow moving film with a few key plot points. It’s clearly more about the characters and their relationships more than anything else. Bernie is gripping as ever with the most presence of any actor ever in anything and everything he does. But overall, I don’t care what happens to these characters, which a good film this does not make.
I’m a fan of the Ghibli films and thought it’d be interesting to see a film in the same vain as that. I also love using the filmfest as an excuse to see Japanese and Korean films. I don’t know why specifically those nations, but that’s how it is. Although, this year seems to be way more about the French and British. Anyhoo…
This film was very sweet and endearing as a Ghibli film would be. It’s also filled with mythical Japanese legends that I seriously do not get, but I love it nonetheless. As endearing as this film is, it runs way too long at 116 minutes and when the end came, it wasn’t clearly the end. The credits rolled but it wasn’t over? But then it was, but then it wasn’t again? I don’t know what happened there, but that was also an awful song that played along to the credits. Bleurgh….
Anyway, the vague plot is about young Asuna, a girl who gains entry to the mythological underground world of Agartha where you can find the gateway between life and death. What follows is a barrel of laughs. Ok, not really, but there are some giggly cute moments along the journey! The clear star of the film is Mimi the cat that kind of looks like a squirrel or fox but clearly Meows. Awww….
Basically if you like the classic Japanese anime stuff, you’ll probably like this!
One of the best films of the festival and year! Andrea Arnold’s take on Bronte’s Wuthering Heights sees a lot of young first time actors along with Skins’ Effy (Kaya Scodelario) in the roles of Catherine and Heathcliff.
The best bit about the red carpet coverage was the lack of James Howson who plays older Heathcliff. He actually got on the wrong train and missed his first chance at London Film Fest glory with the press. And nearly missed the film’s introduction as he ran in late wearing clothes he probably slept in. Hmm….
But that’s ok that we didn’t’ talk to him, the real star of the film is Solomon Glaves who plays the young Heathcliff. When I saw this film at Venice, he was the one whom everyone was buzzing about. His performance was groundbreaking. Quiet, emotive, subtle but effective. And all this complexity from a first time actor who never even took a drama class! He has a bright future. Somebody PLEASE cast this boy! He told me he’s got nothing lined up, but I’m sure that won’t be the case for long once this film is released. I am a big fan. And he was so sweet and adorable showing up in his red bow tie! I want to adopt him. Would this be possible? Somebody call me a lawyer. (that sounded dodgy)
On the red carpet we spoke with Nichola Burley (Isabella), Kaya Scodelario (older Catherine), Shannon Beer (younger Catherine) and the star himself, Solomon Glaves (young Heathcliff).
Here is Michael Winterbottom adapting another Thomas Hardy novel in rural India. I heard from multiple sources that this film is rubbish, so I am rather glad I slept in and missed it. Even so, I attended the red carpet and chatted with Michael Winterbottom about his love of Thomas Hardy (not Tom Hardy) and to Freida Pinto about all of the high profile directors she’s worked with.
Richard Linklater’s latest film stars Shirley Maclaine, Matthew McConnaghey and Jack Black as Bernie himself. Bernie is based on the true story of Bernie, a funeral parlour worker with a heart of gold. He befriends all the little old lady widows, is a bit effeminate, a beloved man about town on the social scene in the small town of Carthage in Texas and is also a murderer. He’s not one of those cold-blooded murderers though. No pre-meditation was done in this case. Bernie merely went temporarily insane when he killed the meanest old lady in town played wonderfully by Maclaine. All the townsfolk were less than sad to see her go and all supported Bernie in his wrong doing.
This story has a great balance between documentary and comedy/drama. The cast of the big
is padded out wonderfully with real life Texan townfolk who to be honest, give a more welcoming performance than the 3 leads. The stuff that comes out of their mouths, well, you can’t script that sort of thing! Ingenious.
If you’re looking for a classic Jack Black slapstick, you won’t be getting it with Bernie. He will make you laugh, as will McConnaghey, Maclaine, and even more so the real-life Texans, but what is more prominent in this film than laughs is the study of Bernie and his downfall which led him to commit the horrid crime he committed. Well worth a watch, but it’s not quite as hard-hitting as some of the other films on at this year’s LFF.
The moral of the story is, Madonna is way more popular than George Clooney. I have never seen such madness on a red carpet before. I nearly got trampled to death in the stampede of fans, journalists, publicists and what have you who were all rushing Madonna as she made her way down the red carpet. I feared for my life. And after all that, all I got was this lousy photo:
Also on the red carpet was the cast of Madonna’s film W.E.. We spoke with this girl and saw this man:
This was a much more civilized red carpet. We got to talk to all of the present talent including Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley and her massive jaw, and the fassbendiest fassbendy Fassbender. In addition to getting fassbent, we also spoke with screenwriter Christopher Hampton and the legendary fellow Torontonian, David Cronenberg! He rocks. Shame the movie is supposed to be laughable. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard of Keira’s “Russian” accent.
From the producer of Billy Elliott comes another sort of Welsh musical, this time starring Minnie Driver. The film is about a high school teacher (Driver) who wants to get the kids into Shakespeare. She puts on a musical production of The Tempest to the tunes of the 70’s including Bowie, Beach Boys, ELO (I ♥ ELO!) and more. Fun. We missed the film but chatted with director Marc Evans and Minnie Driver herself about Hunky Dory.
Visually and aurally stunning, this animation greatly lacks in plot. So I have nothing more to say on the matter.
I was really grumpy on the red carpet tonight for the LFF Awards. Liam Neeson didn’t show up for interviews and Ralph Fiennes was to be late as he was performing The Tempest in town, and was scheduled to scoot in on his motorbike, pick up his BFI Fellowship award and then mosey on outta there once again.
We did however get close up with Gillian Anderson, Terry Gilliam and a few others who were about. Sam Taylor Wood was also in attendance with her boy-toy-father-of-children Aaron Johnson in tow. Otherwise known as Kick Ass, Aaron was sporting a rather unique look.
A message to Aaron who could clearly see me giggling while taking photos of him: Aaron, love, you seem really sweet, but this look isn’t working for you. Please tell me this look is for a film? If it is for a film, you are horribly miscast in the role. If it isn’t for a film, well, hun, you gotta sort it out. And pulling all those faces makes you seem a bit loopy. But HELL YEAH you were entertaining!
Ladies and Gentlemen, last year we brought you the many faces of James Franco. This year, may I present to you, for our final word on the 55th BFI London Film Festival…
The Many Faces of Aaron Kick Ass Johnson (no captions needed):
And here are some people not pulling faces at the LFF Awards:
There is a day 16, but I chose to run from Zombies in a random London event entitled 2.8 Hours Later. Hope people enjoy the closing gala film Deep Blue Sea.
For an extensive Photo Gallery of LFF 2011, please visit our FB PAGE.
Fin (Until next year).