The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival

by Joanna Orland

This is the third year that Loose Lips has ‘done’ the London Film Festival. This year seemed to bring out even bigger stars as the likes of Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Halle Berry and Christian Bale. Some great films such as Juno, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Darjeeling Limited amongst the top selections. Still, the weakest aspect of the festival is London itself. London doesn’t lend itself to such a large festival as the city is so spread out, it makes it hard to disperse film screenings across central. Instead, the bulk of the action takes place in Leicester Square which is a horrible bit of London full of tourists and pickpockets. A handful of other screenings are dispersed in the greater London area making it difficult to see more than one film on any given day. The most logical venue used for the festival is the former NFT building, the BFI centre on Southbank. If only there were similar venues nearby the festival would feel more like a festival and less like a bunch of separate galas.

Anyway, with the bitching out of the way, it’s time to talk about the red carpet and film highlights of this year’s festival… and there were plenty to choose from!

Thursday October 18

Steve Buscemi speaks of directing Interview

Sienna Miller, Steve Buscemi, Billy Connolly, Chrissie Hynde, Damien Hirst, & Rhys Ifans all came out for the carpet of red. Steve Buscemi directs and stars alongside Sienna in this American remake of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh’s film about a journalist bantering with a soap star. Sienna was dressed quite plainly by her standards and Steve Buscemi is much less scary looking in person, with the bug-eye thing reserved strictly for the silver screen.

Glory to the Filmmaker!

Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano, or ‘Beat Takeshi’ to his biggest fans, has never made a straightforward film. Most famous for blind samurai film Zatoichi (likely his greatest masterpiece) as well as his Japanese gangster films such as Violent Cop, Takeshi’s last two films have been very bizarre… even by Takeshi standards.

Two years ago at the London Film Festival I had sat through “Takeshis’”. I sat through the entire thing yet could not even begin to tell you what it was about. But regardless of strange plots, Takeshi’s films are always stylistically superior in visual and sound presentation. His new film Glory to the Filmmaker! is no exception to this general rule.

The plot was ‘slightly’ easier to follow in this film. Basically, Takeshi is playing a version of himself as usual. As a struggling director he’s investigating genres of films unexplored by him. Similar to a collection of short stories and with the help of a narrator, Kitano then displays segments of films that never were. A story of the common people called ‘Retirement’, a love story, a 1950’s period piece, another samurai story, a Japanese horror film, a sci-fi film, and whatever that long last one was at the end. Most of these were done as parody, but the 1950’s one was actually quite good up to a point.

Now what the HECK was that last really long one at the end that took up the entire second half of the film? Basically it was Takeshi who became a doll when things got rough. And a very strange cast of supporting characters. I won’t go into too much detail cuz I can’t really. Visually stunning but OH-SO-WEIRD.

Friday October 19

The Darjeeling Limited

The new Wes Anderson film is reserved for the festival’s closing night gala, but I was one of the fortunate to get a preview screening for members of the press. Personally, I enjoyed the film. In many ways it felt different to Andersons other films, yet had his unique visual and character stamps all over it. The three protagonists of the film, brothers played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and co-writer Jason Schwartzman somehow complimented each other perfectly, despite not looking one eency bit like actual brothers. Hopefully this film will not be overshadowed by Owen’s recent personal troubles as Owen is certainly playing his character as his perceived self. Adrien Brody carries the film strongest of the three actors. The only of the main actors not to have previously worked with Wes, Adrien breezes through this film, playing to Anderson’s style with perfection. Touching at times, funny at times, a token cameo from Bill Murray, what else do you need from a Wes Anderson film? Well, Seu Jorge would’ve been nice.

Saturday October 20

Patrick Dempsey on Enchanted

James Marsden on Enchanted

Director Kevin Lima on Enchanted

When hearing that I was covering the red carpet for a Disney film, I was like, ‘whatever dude’. Then shows up the hunky Patrick Dempsey and the very surprisingly HOT James Marsden (who knew a cyclops could be so Phwoar!!!). After checkin them out live in the fleisch, I got to sit in on the film with expectations at an all time low (sorry, I’m just being honest), I was very pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed Enchanted!!!! The first 20 or so minutes is Disney cartoon style with the typical princess meeting her prince charming and getting married. The wicked stepmother played by the always amazing Susan Sarandon then transports the princess to real world Manhattan where she ends up meeting Patrick Dempsey and trying to fit in to a live action world as a Disney princess. It makes sense when you watch the thing… Anyway, I was laughing my butt off! What a great idea that someone has finally done a Disney film that is a parody of a Disney film! At least, I think that was the intention… Hilare!

Lust, Caution

A lustful and cautious Ang Lee

Director Ang Lee and star Tang Wei arrived for the gala film. Very sound and passionate about his film, Ang stopped and spoke to a few members of the press who stuck around and skipped out on the big rugby game also going on that evening.

Michael Pitt tries to speak coherently about Funny Games

Naomi Watts talks shop

Stars Naomi Watts, Brady Corbet and once-sexy Michael Pitt arrived to present their film Funny Games, a shot for shot remake of director Haneken’s original Dutch film. We were quite excited at the possibility of meeting Michael Pitt until he arrived totally ‘out of it’ shall we say? Yes, a bit of a let down and a bit too Leonardo DiCaprio in the looks department. Oh well Michael… we’ll always have Hedwig. Anyway, the film was messed up. I sort of enjoyed it and sort of hated myself for enjoying it. Then I didn’t enjoy it anymore but couldn’t leave the theatre as Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt were sitting right next to us. How uncomfortable was that! They play total psychos on screen and they were sitting next to us at the same time as we were watching their maliciousness on screen, it was just nerve wracking! Agh! Make it Stop!

Sunday October 21

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Certainly a candidate for the longest title award, I was a bit apprehensive to watch this film after word on the street was that it sucked the big one and that the media was getting paid off to big it up. How wrong the word was. This film was a standout at this year’s London Film Festival. Beautiful cinematography, elegant sound, fab acting, good story, ok it was a bit lengthy, but I HIGHLY enjoyed this film. Following the tale of legendary Jesse James and his Wild West bandits, this film was quite solemn and dark. I’ve always refused to watch Western films my entire life as they bore me to tears, but this one has style and artistic merit along with the great performances by the ageing Brad Pitt and the young Affleck brother Casey. The only problem with the film is that you’re not quite sure what to feel for Affleck’s Robert Ford character. Does one feel creeped out by, sympathy for, or aligned with the young Ford? I’m still not quite sure what the answer is, but I enjoyed the drama.

The Cool School

I watched this documentary about the LA art scene and all I learned was that Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell are friends, we’re all going to let our looks go when we’re old, plastic is fantastic, and that if you’re an old man and you have the permanent pasties you should not be giving talks.

Monday October 22

Lions for Lambs

We are clearly not important enough to be invited to cover Robert Redford and Tom Cruise on the red carpet. BOO! So here is a stock photos to give the illusion that we were there.

City of Men

First there was City of God, then the television series City of Men and now this film City of Men. Not nearly as powerful as City of God, the film does hold its own with a lighter, more friendship-based tale in the favellas of Rio De Janeiro ie GHETTOS. Using some of the same cast as City of God and previous projects from the same creators, this story follows two 18 year-old boys who have been best friends their entire lives while growing up in the favella. Shit goes down and the boys are torn apart by violence and the search for their fathers. Beautifully shot, realistically violent, this film is worth watching, but again it will not be as widely acclaimed as City of God. When a film is that good it’s hard to top it.

Tuesday October 23


I was lucky enough to catch this film before it hit cinemas for the LFF. Absolute number one highlight of the festival. This film is the second by Jason son-of-Ivan Reitman as a follow up to his previous Thank You For Smoking. Juno stars two Arrested Development alumni Jason Bateman and Michael Cera, as well as Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, Jennifer Garner and Ellen Page as the most loveable Juno. As a Canadian, I felt the film was quite familiar to me. Maybe it’s because Reitman is from Montreal, Cera from Toronto and Page from Halifax, but a lot of the dialogue was similar to how me and my friends speak to each other, or at least how we did speak to each other in high school and now we pretend to be every so slightly more sophisticated, yet revert to this odd language of food babies and Thundercats references more than we’d like to admit. Shit… just admitted it.

The story is of a teenage Juno who gets knocked up by her dumbfounded friend Bleeker, played by the ever-hilarious Michael Cera. She decides to give the baby up for adoption and finds the Lorings (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) who seem like the perfect couple in need of a baby. As a longtime fan of Jason Bateman, I was a bit upset to see that he’s let his looks go a bit, but maybe it was just the odd middle-aged creepiness of his character that put me off. Jennifer Garner is perfect as uptight Vanessa Lorning, but manages to gain audience sympathy, partially due to the fact that she’s married to Ben Affleck in real life.

As the star of Juno and main focus of the film, Ellen Page is captivating. She holds this movie on her very own accord and this could very well be her breakout film that gets her up there with early comparisons to a young Meryl Streep. Kudos to Juno, Ellen Page, Michael Cera and Jason Reitman for bringing this film to life!

Wednesday October 24


Michael Moore cancelled his appearance. So did we.

Thursday October 25

In Prison My Whole Life

Produced by Colin Firth who was there with his co-producer wife to present the film, In Prison My Whole Life is the well known story of deathrow prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, as presented by the perspective of William Francome, a nicely brought up middle-class white man who was born in England on 9 December 1981, the night Mumia was arrested for murder. Supported by Amnesty International, this film explores the history of Mumia’s unfair trial and attempts at a retrial. The best part of the film for the audience who already seemed quite educated on the story and were there to show their support for Mumia, was the Q&A after the film with the Firths, Francome and company. A good outlet to vent about the injustice system of America.

Friday October 26

Exte – hair extensions

A Japanese horror film about killer hair extensions. How could I say no to this!? Screening time somewhere in the night bus territory, this camp horror film about a hair crazy coroner who controls this weird hairy corpse whose locks of hair then kills people in order to grow more hair. The story focuses on these two girls with nice shiny hair. One works in a salon and the other is her niece who she takes care of after realising that her sister was abusing the child. Anyway, potential cult following, this Japanese horror is creepy, disturbing, gross and funny! Everything you want from a horror film! Well, everything but nudity.

Saturday October 27

I’m Not There

Todd Haynes, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Christian Bale came out to support the new Bob Dylan biopic which sees different actors tackling the role of Dylan. Staying true to the title, I myself was not there as I felt ill after drinking far too much the previous night and aching with hangover. Oh well. Here is someone else’s photo of the Bale.

Monday October 29

Laura Linney on The Savages

Director Tamara rhymes with camera talks Savages

Laura Linney is hot. She’s got that sort of Julianne Moore thing about her. She’s starring in The Savages as a playwright who is dealing with an ageing parent and troubled sibling relationship. Director Tamara (rhymes with camera) was also at hand to discuss her own inspiration for writing and directing this project.

Wednesday October 31

Juno, The Darjeeling Limited – Press Conferences

We took out Wednesday to cover the press conferences for two of the festival’s best films Jason Reitman’s Juno and Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. Lots of fabulous things were said, but we’ll save the write up and audio footage for closer to the films’ release dates! Stay tuned, and in the meantime enjoy our photo of Darjeeling co-writer / star Jason Schwartzman:

Thursday November 1

The Darjeeling Limited, again.
The stars of Darjeeling hit the red carpet for the festival’s closing gala.

The End.

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