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The BFI 28th 2014 London Film Festival Print E-mail




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The opening sentence of the official Tak3n synopsis is unintentionally hilarious Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 16:53

Liam Neeson returns as ex-covert operative Bryan Mills, whose reconciliation with his ex-wife is tragically cut short when she is brutally murdered. Consumed with rage, and framed for the crime, he goes on the run to evade the relentless pursuit of the CIA...


Here's the tr4l3r.


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Top 20 films to see at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 22 September 2014 23:41

Tomorrow marks one of my favourite days of the year: the day the Raindance Film Festival kicks off in London. The 2014 Raindance line-up is as diverse as ever, with an exciting array of talent attached to projects - and, even more excitingly, a range of films from people you've never heard of before.


With tickets starting from £8 during weekdays, the low numbers stretch to audience budgets as well as filmmaker budgets - and with the London Film Festival still two weeks away, why not explore some creative film-making in the coming fortnight?


What's worth catching at this year's festival? Which ambitious indie has the most interesting ideas? We pick our top 20 films to see at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival.


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The top 10 film strands to see at the 2014 London Film Festival Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 18 September 2014 07:06

245. That's the number of feature films showing at this year's London Film Festival - up 12 from last year and up 20 from 2012. It's a lot of films.


So, when public booking for tickets opens today at 10am, you've got a tough decision to make. The internet is, of course, already full of countless lists of top picks, the best films starring Benedict Cumberbatch and the celebrity guest highlights, but there are so many other films in the line-up that it's not hard to come across ones that take your fancy. Yes, even Godard has a movie playing at the BFI IMAX.


That's why the London Film Festival divides up its programme into strands: to help you find something to suit your tastes. Laugh. Dare. Love. Thrill. Cult. Debate. Journey. But let's face it, sometimes those abstract nouns and evocative verbs aren't the easiest thing to browse. What if you just want a film about robots?


And so present to you our 10 alternative strands for the LFF 2014, to make it easier to find something specific to your interests. Really like war films? Want to know more about journalism? Enchanted by Eva Green? There really is something for everyone.


Sadly, we live in a time where there aren't many countries not engaged in conflict - 11, according the latest count from the Institute for Economics and Peace - and cinema continues to explore the reasons and ramifications of war, from The Imitation Game's story of Alan Turing cracking the Enigma code in WWII and '71, which sees a young Brit (Jack O'Connell) caught behind enemy lines in 1971 Belfast, to Zero Motivation, modern military comedy about Israeli soldiers. Most moving, perhaps, of all is a restoration of 1927's The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands, which will be accompanied by a new score played by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

Zero Motivation
Rosewater
Damn the War!
War Book
'71
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands
The Imitation Game
Fury


It's not easy being a journalist, judging by this collection of newspaper-related LFF entries. Jon Stewart's debut, Rosewater, is based on the memoir of Maziar Bahari, a reporter detained for 188 days in Iran, while Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or-winner Winter Sleep follows retired actor struggling to write a local newspaper column.

Rosewater
Winter Sleep
Born Yesterday


Sometimes, you just want to see people hit things. Or kick things. Or attack things with swords. With the newly announced addition of Donnie Yen's Kung Fu Jungle receiving its world premiere at the LFF, our FISTS strand is for you.

Kung Fu Jungle
Foxcatcher
Dragon Inn


True stories are a popular source of cinematic inspiration, be it Alan Turing or an Iranian prisoner. Abel Ferrara gets in on the biopic game with Willem Dafoe playing Pasolini, while Timothy Small will star as painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell are already feted for their turns in Foxcatcher, about wrestling world champions Dave and Mark Shultz. There's even a film about Italian poet Leopardi and Sergei Parajanov's 1969 film about 18th-century Armenian ashugh, Sayat Nova: The Colour of Pomegranates. (Mental note: Campaign for a Pomegranates strand at next year's LFF.)

Pasolini
Leopardi
Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Rosewater
Mr. Turner
The Colour of Pomegranates


Who doesn't like a bit of Susanne Bier? The LFF certainly does: they've got two of hers included this year. George Clooney would get tons of column inches out of that alone: the Oscar-winning Danish director deserves no less.

A Second Chance
Serena


Enchanted by Eva Green? Join the queue. The queue, that is, to book tickets for either of her two films showing in Leicester Square this October.

White Bird in a Blizzard
The Salvation


I love a good cave. Mysterious, dark, covered in little bits of hair. But if Nick Cave the musician isn't your thing - he's scoring two films at this year's festival - why not try a film about an actual cave instead? Even better, book one of the below blindfolded and see where you end up in four weeks' time. (Warning: Watch out for caves.)

Far From Men
In Darkness We Fall
Tender


Cute. Furry. Always on YouTube. Animals are everywhere in modern society, so it's no surprise to see that they have infiltrated the BFI's event too. There's White Bird in a Blizzard, which stars Eva Green and Shailene Woodley as… oh. And Foxcatcher about Channing Tatum hunting fox… oh. But wait a minute: there is Animal Farm screening in the retro family catalogue. That has animals in it, right?

Animal Farm
The Lamb
White Bird in a Blizzard
Foxcatcher


As the old cinema saying goes, if it sounds like a medical condition, you know you're in for a good night. From Whiplash to 3 Hearts, these titles are all wonderfully intriguing and exciting. Unless, of course, they're being read to you by your doctor. In which case cancel your LFF tickets now and start making peace with your estranged Aunt Mildred.

Whiplash
3 Hearts
Hungry Hearts
X+Y
Shrew's Nest
The Turning
The Goob
Butter on the Latch
The Green Prince


There are some interesting hints of technology in this year's LFF, from social media and long-distance relationships in 10,000km to our second-screen-dominated lives captured in Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children. But screw technology. What we all want to know at the LFF each year is this: are there any films with GIANT ROBOT OVERLORDS? Finally, there is. It's called, in fact, Robot Overlords. A small British sci-fi that sees a young boy escape curfew in an age of, well, robot overlords, it's a wee adventure directed by none other than Jon Wright: the guy who made the wonderful horror-comedy Grabbers. If you haven't already put this at the top of your to-see list, the film also stars Gillian Anderson. And Sir Ben Kingsley. And GIANT ROBOT OVERLORDS. Did I mention the robots?

Robot Overlords

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Dizzyingly cinematic: Why the Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire is perfect for NT Live Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 10:33

"What is straight?" asks Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. "A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains."


That's what the Young Vic's production of Tennessee Williams' 1947 play manages to capture on stage: the curve of the human heart and mind. When the traumatised Blanche arrives on the doorstep of sister Stella's apartment in New Orleans, she is hoping for a straightforward stay. In no time, she locates the liquor under the sink and takes a swig. The room immediately starts to spin. It doesn't stop.


It's a stunningly bold piece of design from Magda Willi: staged in the round, the production centres on Stella and Stanley's home, an exposed unit on a turntable that constantly, slowly revolves.


On a technical level, it's an impressive feat: under the careful eye of director Benedict Andrews, things are choreographed seamlessly so that people hop on and off the carousel of Blanche's downward spiral, hanging off stairwells or slipping out into the wings just as the opportunity arises.


On a practical level, it's also what makes this version of A Streetcar Named Desire perfect for NT Live, the now established process that will see a bunch of cameras broadcast the performance live into over 1,000 cinemas around the world tonight (Tuesday 16th September).


While sitting in the theatre, every scene rotates to be shown from different vantage points; a process that might sound distracting but is anything but. In fact, it's actually very cinematic, like watching a screen that repeatedly pans to another character's perspective; a restless, uneasy experience that taps directly into Blanche's crumbling mental state.


Gillian Anderson is jaw-dropping as the faded belle, simultaneously attractive and pathetic, powerful and pitiful. "I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth," she insists to her sister (the equally wonderful Vanessa Kirby), impressively stubborn in her deceit, but tragic in how she has fooled herself.


Ben Foster echoes her subtle turn with a similarly nuanced Stanley, giving the plain-speaking brute a soft, sympathetic edge. When he throws plates against the wall, he doesn't yell like an ape; he almost resentfully tips them with a casual flick, more conflicted than crude.


As this trio collide in varying combinations, a normal in-the-round production would see you miss parts of their performances. The Young Vic's staging, though, amplifies every detail. Sitting behind the sink adds to the home's claustrophobic confines; swooping behind the door during a row leaves you eavesdropping from the bathroom. It's a perfect display of how to make obstacles and props a part of the text, turning background into foreground.


Throughout, Alex Baranowski's music creates an oppressive atmosphere that adds to the visual feel, while rough and ready song choices during scene changes echo the action ironically in way you normally associate with the end credits of Mad Men.


When Blanche dresses up for a birthday party halfway through, flashing lights and colourful decorations create the illusion of spinning top, a circus act gone horrifyingly wrong. The spinning production's most powerful aspect, though, comes in between the lines. When Blanche insults Stanley to Stella, he stands behind the mesh front door, hearing everything; like the audience watching this abstract unit of architecture, he sees no wall there. When Stanley later talks to Stella about Blanche, she sits in the bath, isolated by a shower curtain singing show tunes - an element that would normally take place off-stage. We still move through the home without boundaries, but for Blanche, those walls actually exist; she is the only one who hears nothing outside of her own world. Overhearing from behind the kitchen sink, the division between reality and fantasy has never seemed more visible.


For tonight's broadcast, an NT Live director would normally have to pick several points in an auditorium and cut between them, struggling to reproduce theatre's presentation in another medium. Here, the set does the work for the camera; NT Live could work by simply staying stationary, sitting in one place as Blanche's descent into madness repeatedly spirals into view. The screen may be straight, but the Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire is dizzyingly curved.


Find out where A Streetcar Named Desire is showing here.



Photo: Flickr.com/youngvictheatre

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From Godard to Björk in 12 days: The London Film Festival 2014 line-up revealed Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 10:35

16 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films. That's the London Film Festival 2014 line-up in a nutshell.


Running from Wednesday 8th to Sunday 19th October 2014, it's a typically diverse round-up of global cinema, from an old restoration of a Chinese silent to new films from debut British directors. The process of selection from the best of the rest of the year's festivals feels as enjoyably idiosyncratic as ever. Hoped for Christopher Nolan's Intersteller at the BFI IMAX? You won't get that. You will get Jean-Luc Godard's 3D Goodbye to Language. Hoped for Birdman? You won't get that. You will get the European premiere of The Duke of Burgundy, the new film from Berberian Sound Studio's Peter Strickland.


This is a celebraton of creativity in all its forms, whether it's an old master experimenting with new technology or Reese Witherspoon delivering what could be the performance of her career in biopic-drama Wild.


It's telling that there's an entire competition strand at the LFF devoted to first-timers, from Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's The Tribe - a Ukrainian film entirely in sign language with no subtitles - to Daniel Wolfe and Matthe Wolf's Catch Me Daddy - a Yorkshire-moors thriller with cinematography from Robbie Ryan.


As for the more established names, the LFF gala selection is both what you'd expect and what you wouldn't. There's Bennett Miller's wrestling film Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, drumming thriller Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, the return of festival favourite Jason Reitman with Men, Women and Children, the second directorial feature from Alan Rickman (A Little Chaos - heading up the Love strand), Jon Stewart's debut flick Rosewater (starring Gael Garcia Bernal - heading up the Debate strand), Xavier Daolan's Mommy (heading up the Dare strand), Western The Salvation (the Cult strand), but there's also, let's not forget, the concert film Björk: Biophilia Live.


Live music is becoming an increasingly important part of the London festival calender, as is its love of old cinema: both world premiere restorations (yes, there's still the Treasures strand too) will have live scores. The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Island will screen at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as the Archive Gala with a new soundtrack from award-winning composer Simon Dobson and will be performed by 24 members of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, while The Goddess, a Chinese Golden Age silent film, will have a new score by Chinese composer Zou Ye performed live by the English Chamber Orchestra.


Where else can you find an event that adores familiar faces (Michael Winterbottom's The Face of an Angel will screen) and also profiles new filmmakers? A schedule that includes audiences (the Opening Gala of Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game and the Closing Gala of Brad Pitt in Fury will both have simultaneous screenings at cinemas across the UK) while still retaining that exclusive, unique voice? A film festival that gives the stage to Chinese silent film and shines a sequinned spotlight on a singer who once attended the Oscars dressed as a swan?


The BFI press release (which spans a whopping 4,610 words) presents the LFF as an festival that positions London as the world’s leading creative city. The London Film Festival 2014 line-up in a nutshell? From Godard to Björk in 12 days. That'll do it.


For more information - and the countless films I haven't been able to mention here - visit the official website: bfi.org.uk/lff.

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In Order of Disappearance trailer: Taken to Norway Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 22 August 2014 12:03

Stellan Skarsgard. A dead son. Guns.


Taken to Norway? I'm in.


It's out on Friday 12th September.

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Competition: Win tickets to the Gala Screening of Million Dollar Arm Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 16 August 2014 18:38

Jon Hamm stars in Million Dollar Arm, out in UK cinemas on Friday 29th August - and we're giving away two tickets to the Gala Screening of the film on Thursday 21st August in a London hotel, attended by celebrity guests including Jon Hamm himself.


Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm follows failing, struggling US sports agent JB Bernstein (Hamm), who travels to India in a last ditch effort to save his career by finding a young cricketer to turn into a major sports star. With the help of a cantankerous retired talent scout (Alan Arkin), JB sets up a national contest called "The Million Dollar Arm" and discovers Rinku (played by Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Slumdog Millionaire’s Madhur Mittal), two 18-year-old boys who have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to make a quick buck he brings them to LA to train, but the boys, who have never left their rural villages before, struggle with their new life and cope and the pressure heaped on them.


His livelihood on the line and relationship with the boys at stake, with the help of his friend Brenda (Lake Bell) JB realises that family and friendships are more important than sealing the deal.


But enough of that - how can you see the film early while making eyes at Don Draper at London's Mayfair Hotel? All you have to do to win two tickets to the screening is answer the following question:


Who does Jon Hamm play in Mad Men?
A) Don Draper
B) Roger Sterling
C) Dan Dopper


Email your answer to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it along with your name and - if you're on Twitter - your Twitter username by 23:59 Monday 18th August. The winner will be informed on Tuesday.


Note: You must be free on Thursday 21st August and available to attend the screening at the Mayfair Hotel (Stratton Street, W1J 8LT). Doors open at 6.30pm (the film starts at 7pm).

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