SCREEN GUIDE: LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017

COMING SOON: The 61st LONDON FILM FESTIVAL (04 to 15 OCT 2017) opens for public booking tomorrow (14 SEP 10:00). We thought we’d give you a quick guide to the films we’ll be seeing.


It’s coming… and with so much to see and do, things can get a little daunting. Ticketing opens to the general public tomorrow morning (14 SEP 10:00) so we thought we’d give you a quick guide to the movies we’ll be seeing, having already indulged in the BFI members’ feeding frenzy. It’s a deliberately ‘down list’ selection (with a few exceptions) following our usual preoccupations¹.

Tips? Grab yourself a print programme – its much easier to navigate through the content with good old-fashioned print sticking to your fingers. We found the festival’s themed strands particularly helpful in cutting down the cups of coffee required to sift through the vast array of delights. From there, just go with your gut (we did). For lovers of small things, there’s a dedicated short film selection for each theme.

There’s a daunting array of ticket prices. The cheapest way to see anything with an advance ticket is £9 (£6.50 conc.) for a weekday matinee (before 17:00 at all venues except Odeon Leicester Square.) There are £5 rush tickets on the door for Under 25s and the Unwaged (take ID). Children’s tickets start from £1 for under 16s.

Here’s what we’ll be up to (and why).


GALAS & SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

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We’ve avoided the headline gala screenings because £29 to £40 is a lot to pay for a movie (and we’re not huge fans of a ticket ballot…). Prices get much friendlier for the repeat screenings. Of this year’s bunch, we’ll be seeing:

THE SHAPE OF WATER: “Master of things that go bump in the night, Guillermo del Toro spins the compelling tale of friendship between a mute woman and an amphibious creature.²” CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is one of our all-time favourite Universal horrors. We can’t wait.


OFFICIAL COMPETITION

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“The Best Film Award recognises inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking.” This is where making decisions starts getting tough. All competition films get shown in the purpose-built Embankment Gardens Cinema which, if you love picture palaces like we do, is almost a reason to go in itself. We’ll be seeing:

GOOD MANNERS: “Rule-breaking filmmaking at its most compelling and imaginative.” Sight & Sound managed to do in three words what programmer Michael Blyth avoided doing for a whole paragraph…. (and we’re still grumpy about it!). Despite the esteemed magazine’s ham-fistedness, this is a movie we are very excited to know very little about.


DARE

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“In-your-face, up-front and arresting: films that take you out of your comfort zone.” There was almost too much to choose from in this strand. Our ticket money went to…

BEACH RATS: “Coney-Islander Frankie juggles his dangerous double life: showing off his heteronormative masculine prowess with friends by day, cruising for gay hook-ups at night.” Despite use of the phrase ‘heteronormative’, we’re still looking forward to this one following its stunning trailer.

GRAIN: “Mankind faces extinction in this stunningly-realised widescreen dystopian fiction about ecological disaster.” We’re hoping it makes for a grand trilogy with other biohazard films we’ve seen recently, NO BLADE OF GRASS and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

LITTLE CRUSADER: “In southern Italy, a knight searches for his son who has joined the Children’s Crusade in this unusual, visually evocative take on the Middle Ages.” The programme notes had us at mention of Tarkovsky.


CULT

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“From the mind-altering and unclassifiable to fantasy, sci-fi and horror”: Again, this was a great strand for our tastes and if there hadn’t have been overlaps, we might have spanked the wallet for a whole lot more. As things stand, our ticket money went to…

BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99: “Vince Vaughn does time in this devilishly unexpected prison thriller.” Any follow-up to BONE TOMAHAWK was going to get us seeing director S. Craig Zahler’s next film. This is it.

THE CURED: “Ellen Page stars in one of the most original and innovative zombie films in recent memory.” Apart from the intriguing premise – that a cure has been found for a zombie virus – this one is currently getting excellent press.


FEMALE FILMMAKERS

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“Films from some of our favourite women behind the camera.” BFI offers downlist Discovery Passes where you can see 3 films for £30 (other flavours include WORLD PASSPORT and DOC DISCOVERY). We were excited to pick up a ticket for one of our screen heroes, Agnieszka Holland, and followed it up with two intriguing others. We love it when someone else spins the Lazy Susan. We’ll be seeing:

SPOOR: “Set against the forest landscape of the Polish-Czech borders, Agnieszka Holland’s ‘feminist black comedy’ is also a thriller examining a sequence of bizarre murders.” Features in the DEBATE strand.

REINVENTING MARVIN: “Finnegan Oldfield stars as a young gay man desperate to break away, in this stirring drama from director Anne Fontaine (THE INNOCENTS).” Features in the CREATE strand.

THE HUNGRY: “This UK-India co-production employs Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus as the source of its story about a ruthless businessman whose world is threatened by an evil act.” One of our favourite plays by the bard gets a micro budget makeover and features in the DARE strand.


EXPERIMENTA

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“Films and videos by artists who transform our experience of seeing moving images.”: We found it hard to get totally buoyed up by this strand, but that might be general movie ignorance (and the usual diary clashes threw considerable spanners in the works). Our choice is…

THE MÆRSK OPERA: “Superflex create an operatic interpretation of the building of Copenhagen’s famous performance space, one of Europe’s most controversial buildings.” If you’re in any doubt, slap on the trailer and book a ticket.


We’ll post writeups as soon as we can after each screening. Expect other news to follow.

> What are you seeing and why? Let us know in the comments below.


#shelterfromthestorm


Featured image: BFI LFF (2017).

¹Unlike our usual GUIDES, we can’t guarantee there are tickets left for these screenings. It’s way too busy out there…

²Thanks to the programming team at BFI LFF 2017 for these theme/film summaries.

Radiant Circus

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