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LFF 2018 – Five Must-Sees

Freda Cooper picks her 5 must see film in this year’s London Film Festival programme.

For any self-respecting film fan, the London Film Festival is a tantalizing mix of heaven and hell. Heaven is the prospect of some wonderful films, events, red carpets and more than a sprinkle or two of good old fashioned glamour and glitz. Hell is working out how many of the 225 features in this year’s programme you can fit in without breaking the bank.

Some of the big films have already been announced. This year’s festival kicks off on 10 October with Steve McQueen’s Widows and closes on the 21st with Stan And Ollie. The American Express Gala on the 18th sees the return of festival favourite Yorgos Lanthimos with The Favourite, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo breaks new LFF ground with its screening in Manchester and the festival’s official competition includes the likes of David Lowery’s The Old Man And The Gun, Ben Wheatley’s Happy New Year Colin Burstead, Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and Sunset, the latest from Son Of Saul director, Laszlo Nemes.

But what of all the others? Whittling them just down to five must-sees is almost impossible, but we love a challenge. Here goes …….

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Film Review: Columbus

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It is one of the curious ironies of cinema history that many great films deal with characters in near static moments of transition. Something life changing has just happened or perhaps, more poignantly, characters are waiting for signs of the life they are meant to lead to finally appear. You could have a very provocative film season with such investigations of the space between (Tokyo Story, L’Avventura, The King of Marvin Gardens, Breaking Away, Diner, Kings of The Road or Lost in Translation come to this writer’s mind).  With his impeccably shot, sensitively acted and unapologetically meditative debut, Columbus, the Korean-American video essayist, Kogonada, would be a welcome participant in such a season .

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Film Review: Cold War

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War is a story of two people whose paths cross and their hearts become entangled forevermore. At its core, it’s an epic romance, but also a social commentary of post-war communist politics, sumptuously shot in exquisite black and white cinematography (Łukasz Żal).

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Film Review: The Children Act

Adapted by Ian McEwan from his acclaimed novel, based on the 1989 UK law of the same name, The Children Act asks the question: should the laws of a society, or the rules of a religion, take precedence? Set in London, around its central law courts, Emma Thompson plays Justice Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge who works on some of the most morally challenging cases, with literal life and death consequences; we are reminded of the real-life Charlie Gard, and Alfie Evans, and the public opposition those cases attracted. Early on, Fiona is tasked with rendering a ruling on the separation of conjoined twins, both of whom will die if not separated, but only one will survive if they’re parted. Faced with critical media coverage, and a heart-wrenching decision, Fiona still maintains calm as she issues her verdict; her ability to distance herself from emotion and issue a ruling show how clear-headed she is about these issues, and how seriously she takes her work in family law.

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FrightFest 2018: Interview with Justin P. Lange, director of The Dark

Ten Questions with Justin P. Lange, director of THE DARK

THE DARK is based on your Columbia University thesis short film. Was it a difficult process expanding it into a full-length feature? 

I never really saw this as a traditional short-to-feature type of deal, to be honest. My thesis film was my first real foray into genre filmmaking, so it was very much a trial-and-error process for me, almost like a sketch, in which I wanted to see what my version of a horror film would look like. Luckily, the short had some success on the festival circuit, which gave me the confidence I needed to launch into writing the feature. Some of the ideas from the short definitely carried over, but ultimately it feels like a totally different film to me. 

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FrightFest 2018: Interview with Await Further Instructions Director Johnny Kevorkian

ARROW VIDEO FRIGHTFEST 2018

10 Questions with Johnny Kevorkian

What was it about Gavin Williams’s script for AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS you liked so much, and what did you add to make it more personal to you?

Well, when I first read the script I thought: “How the hell am I going to make this!” It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I knew it was going to be a massive challenge in every way possible. Overall, this was a very unusual script and that also appealed to me. My main addition to the script was to push it in a much darker and serious tone overall, which is more my style of filmmaking. I’m pleased that I managed to retain the dark humour at the start but then move into a different and much more serious realm as things start getting nastier for the family.

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Film Review: The Heiresses

Reviewed by Lee Hill

While there is a lot of fun to be had with the new Mission Impossible installment, summer film going is also about counter-programming. And few films achieve this with such calm panache as The Heiresses. This quietly assured debut feature by Marcelo Martinessi won best actress and best film at the Berlin Film Festival, earlier this year. While it does not quite achieve greatness – in part because it captures aging and loneliness all too well to be dramatically satisfying at times – it never feels false thanks to the astute casting.

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Film Review: The Negotiator

Reviewed by Lee Hill

It’s never a good sign when a film first appears at a creative friendly place like the Sundance Film Festival and then undergoes a change of title when it surfaces at your local multiplex. This is the case of The Negotiator, a ripped from “today’s headlines” (well, 70s/80s Lebanon to be exact) thriller, with a hardboiled take on Middle East realpolitk. Originally called Beirut, The Negotiator stars Jon Hamm as Mason Skiles, an idealistic American diplomat in the city circa 1972, whose life is turned upside down during a terrorist attack on his adopted home. Not only does he lose his wife, but he also loses a near adopted son, 13-year-old Karim, who turns out to be the younger brother of a key PLO member on the run.

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Film Review: Sicilian Ghost Story

Reviewed by Zoe Margolis

Based on the true story of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the teenage boy who was kidnapped by the Sicilian Mafia in the 1990s, and held captive for two years to prevent his father, another Mafia figure, from testifying against them in court, Sicilian Ghost Story wraps this real-life event into a fictional fantasy involving a teenage girl who is intent on finding the missing boy.

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