As the 60th BFI London Film Festival draws closer, the Movie Marker team picks five must-sees. First, it’s the turn of Freda Cooper.
So, there’s over 380 feature films and shorts at this year’s LFF – and I get to choose just five! Five absolute essentials, though, and it’s just as well: with the line-up the BFI has put together, I’m going to want to see a whole lot more. I won’t be the only one.
My five must-sees for this year go like this. And they’re in alphabetic order, because putting them in order of preference was pretty much impossible.
The first film I saw at the 2014 LFF was brooding Australian thriller, ‘Mystery Road’, directed, produced, written and shot by one man dynamo Ivan Seth. He even composed the soundtrack and he’s back again this year, with ‘Goldstone’, one of the films in Official Competition. It’s the follow-up to ‘Mystery Road’ featuring the same Aboriginal detective, played by the same actor, the charismatic Aaron Pederson. Seth’s in full control of this one as well, which was also the opener at this year’s Sydney International Film Festival. This time round, the cast includes Jackie Weaver, veteran Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil and Pei Pei Cheng. Screenings are on the 11th,12th and 15th October.
‘La La Land’
Why wouldn’t I pick it? ‘Whiplash’ towered over all the other films at 2014’s LFF and now we have another film with Damien Chazelle’s name on it. Add Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – and I rest my case. The Gala is on 7th October, followed by screenings on the 8th and 16th. So far, they’re all sold out.
‘Manchester By The Sea’
Often overshadowed by big brother Ben, Casey Affleck is, for my money, the better actor. He’s not the only reason for seeing this. Kenneth Lonergan (‘You Can Count On Me’) writes and directs a powerful story of a man coping with the death of his brother and discovering he’s been made guardian of his own nephew – whether either of them like it or not. The top drawer cast also includes Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler, who made such an impression in ‘Carol’ last year. Expect to emerge from the cinema emotionally drained. The Gala is on the 8th October, followed by screenings on the 9th and 11th.
He who was Kylo Ren is now a bus driver. Adam Driver. There’s a handful of actors at the moment who I believe are future Oscar winners and he’s one of them. It goes back to when he fooled me into believing he was a real session musician in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. Under the direction of Jim Jarmusch, he’s now a bus driver called Paterson in a town called Paterson, living a seemingly hum-drum life with his wife and dog, criss-crossing the town in his bus picking up fragments of conversations and other people’s lives. As always with Jarmusch – and Driver – expect the unexpected. The film headlines the Journey strand, with a Gala on 10th October and a second screening on the 11th.
‘The Birth Of A Nation’
With this year’s LFF placing so much emphasis on diversity, Nate Parker’s Sundance winner was pretty much a shoo-in. He directs, writes, produces and stars in the story of a slave and ordained preacher who leads a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831. Recent events in US have given the film even more resonance and its challenging stance is made crystal clear by Parker’s use of the title of D W Griffith’s 1915 film, which supported diametrically opposed views. The Gala is on 11th October, with additional screenings on the 12th and 13th October.
Perhaps it’s just as well I could only choose five, otherwise my list would have gone on forever. This year’s LFF sparkles with genuine quality and maybe, just maybe, there’ll be that one special film that makes me feel like I’m floating on air. Which one? There’s less than a fortnight before I find out ……
The full programme for this year’s LFF is on the festival website.