September 08, 2015
Although it isn’t technically entertainment, films are ripe for a party theme and you never know when one will take your fancy. With the London film Festival going on sale to members on Thursday and the rest of the general public a week later, we thought we’d look away from the gala screenings to some of the more interesting entries into the BFI London Film Festival 2015.
Son of Saul
Not exactly what you’d describe as a feel-good film, Son of Saul is ‘In competition’ at the London Film Festival and is a devastating portrait of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz; a prisoner whom is forced to help the Nazis with their exterminations. When he miraculously sees that a little boy has escaped and somehow manages to survive for just a few devastating minutes, Saul decides to give the boy a proper burial, searching for a Rabbi and putting himself and his fellow inmates lives in jeopardy in the process. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and isn’t out properly until April 2016.
A couple of interns observe the chaos at a billion dollar company as it prepares to go public. Unfortunately for the company, auditors are in the building and something doesn’t quite add up. Amidst affairs and false promises, the entire working structure of the building threatens to derail. A film from Hong Kong, you may be thinking this is a similar sort of set-up to Margin Call or The Devil Wears Prada. Well yes, but this film is also a musical with angular production design, stunning costumes and shameless backstabbing. Perhaps it’ll inspire your office party years down the line!
Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?
Now for something completely different. A low-budget children’s drama set on the Dorset coastline, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? follows five children as they attempt to work out just who pushed the popular costumed character at their holiday camp off a cliff! Written and directed by children’s TV stalwart Danny Stack and the BAFTA-nominated Tim Clague, this is a film that brings back the live action children’s film. Perfect.
Many who saw Blue Ruin won’t forget it in a hurry. A low-budget revenge thriller, it earned four star reviews all over the place. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier returns with a fascinating premise that promises extreme violence and Patrick Stewart as a violent gang member. Colour us intrigued! An unsigned punk-band find themselves playing a gig in a seedy dive bar frequented by neo-nazis. Upon witnessing a murder, the band trap themselves in their green room as a gang of mercenaries are intent on keeping their mouths shut for good. Harking back to exploitation movies of the past, Green Room is a brutal shocker.
My Scientology Movie
Who doesn’t love Louis Theroux? In his feature film debut, everyone's favourite presenter Louis heads off for the Scientology headquarters and find himself duly turned away from their premises. Undeterred, he takes to filming former members of the Church who explain what it is like inside, acting out their experiences as he films. In a bizarre twist, Louis soon discovers that the Church of Scientology are now making a film about him instead. No doubt filled with his deadpan humour, this is one not to miss.
Much hyped by various film fans across the Internet, this German heist film is being talked about in revered tones for its use of a single take. That’s right, the actors apparently did just three run-throughs before completing the perfect take. At a rather stretched out 140 minutes, we feel for the poor man holding the sound mic for two and a half gruelling hours but early reviews from other festivals suggest that the sacrifice was entirely worth it as we follow the titular character falling in with the wrong crowd in after hours Berlin, effectively becoming kidnapped and embarking on a bank robbery. Taut, compelling, thrilling.
Burn Burn Burn
A tragicomic road trip, Burn Burn Burn follows two young women as they head to five British locations on the orders of their deceased friend. As the film continues, the two friends begin to emotionally freefall, devastated at their recent loss. Filled with British talent including Laura Carmichael from Downton Abbey, this is a feature film that crackles with wit to become a life-affirming voyage of self-discovery. Oh and it features a superb cameo from Alison Steadman as well.
The must-see on any LFF fan’s list, this is the hottest ticket in town each and every year. Last year there were two screenings within half an hour of one another but this time round, it’s just the one making for a mad dash as soon as the tickets go on sale. In previous years, films like The Grandmaster did little to excite (despite the fact that Wong Kar-Wai was at the helm) but last year’s screening of Birdman delighted the crowd. Understandably, as it went on to take Best Picture at the Oscars. Who knows what it’ll be this year?
Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen
Directed by the legendary Takeshi Kitano (you know Takeshi’s Castle on Challenge TV? He’s Takeshi!) whom you might have seen before in cult classics Zatoichi or Battle Royale, Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen promises to be a fun but violent affair as aging retired gang members reform to take down the young Yakuza upstarts who ripped them off. A humorous tale of revenge, ticket-holders are told to expect murder as well as memory problems.
Very Big Shot
Another film ‘In Competition’, Very Big Shot is a hilarious black comedy from Lebanon about a Beirut drug dealer trying to go legit for the sake of his two brothers but finding himself at odds with his crime boss. Part crime thriller, part social satire and part laugh out loud comedy, Jad is faced with completing ‘one last drop’ for his boss. He agrees before despairing at the discovery that it is due to take place across the border in war-torn Syria. An enjoyable caper ensues.
Of course, these are just 10 films which have caught our eye and we urge you to check out the full programme to see what appeals most to you. There will be opportunities to rub shoulders with the stars at gala premieres or attend talks from some of the best in the business. For the best chance at getting tickets, you might want to become a member and buy tickets from Thursday 10th September. If not, tickets go on general sale on the 17th. And remember, if you’re under 25 all remaining tickets go on sale 45 minutes before a film starts and you can bag them for just £5. Something I wish I knew last year... Have a great festival!
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By Henry Fosdike