Another festival season is upon us, and coming soon is the London Film Festival, which prides itself as a real public festival, one that does earnestly open its doors to everyone for all screenings. This year, in fact, going as far as doing nationwide screenings simultaneously of the opening and closing films The Imitation Game and Fury, but whilst it is easy to simply list the films showing on the main side of it all (Rosewater, Jason Reitman's Men, Women and Children, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, Mr. Turner, etc) let's take a look at a few films off the reservation comparatively that should be peered at if you find yourself in London this October 8-19.
Ticket booking opens September 18th for public, September 11th for BFI Members.
Serena/A Second Chance
There are 2 Susanne Bier films playing the festival, the long-awaited Serena starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is a drama set amidst the depression, when a logging magnate and his wife begin to become unstuck as a couple with a plethora of looks and simmering. A Second Chance gets things into a higher gear as Nikolaj Costas-Waldau plays a cop dealing with a violent junkie and the abused child that becomes a nightmarish obsession for the cop. Both films pray on different parts of human psyche, and have vastly differing styles, that they are both Bier is testament to her quality as a filmmaker.
Love Is Strange
Ira Sachs made a big impression with 2012's personal, intimate and haunting drama Keep The Lights On, and with Love Is Strange he takes a completely different look at love, less hurtful and heartbreakingly bitter, more kindness as Alfred Molina and John Lithgow play a longtime couple who finally marry. Less a plot to get the viewer involved more a chance to experience some great actors performing something sweet and beautiful as Sachs' script is undoubtedly generous and honest.
A hit at Sundance, Kristen Stewart plays a young army officer sent to Guantanamo Bay to deal with detainees, and we, with her, get an inside look at just how people are treated when their humanity is being stripped away from them. No doubt a grueling experience, it also sounds like the kind of important film that should be viewed by everybody.
Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell writes and appears in a dark crime comedy about a man with several condoms full of heroin in his body, stuck at customs. As with any Australian film worth its salt these days Hugo Weaving is front and centre in the credits, and with anything Whannell is involved with its guaranteed to play with its premise and take the audience on a journey through many twists and stomach turns.
White Bird In A Blizzard
Gregg Araki's latest stars Eva Green, Christopher Meloni and Shailene Woodley (The only non-Sin City 2 cast member listed here, damnit) in a Gregg Araki film. Araki's work is hit and miss, but going in blind is always better, he'll take you on a crazy journey, but knowing any hints of the destination prior may lead you to think during the film, rather than experience the visual and audible delights/nightmares he creates along the way.
The Myth of the American Sleepover writer/director David Robert Mitchell turns his eye to the horror genre as a group of young folk, United States Of Tara's Keir Gilchrist and The Guest's Maika Monroe among them, are terrorised by a ghostly form that begins to attack them, sometimes visible, sometimes not. The clip shown at launch had some strange creepiness and a blackly humourous feel to it. If the film can bring about both tones well, as well as utilising its great young cast properly, this could become a real 'what do you mean you still haven't seen this?' film.
From Grabbers director Jon Wright, is nestled in the Family strand, but with a cast including SIR Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson and dealing with the aftermath of a robot invasion, it sounds like the kind of film made for the nerdiest slice of the audience as much as the broader, child-firendly stuff. Putting this in the same strand as a Moomins Movie (Moovie) might make it look like some sort of light fair, but given the qualities of those behind and in-front of the camera we're sure there's much more to this one than a simple fun time at the cinema.
Pitched at the launch as a gangster hip-hop musical. Need we know more? This may end up being more curio than quality film, but something that outlandish certainly garners the attention with ease. This may be a time-will-tell type of film, but at the very least this is a 'see it to believe it'.
The London Film Festival begins on October 8th.