Leicester Square, gird your proverbial loins – the 57th London Film Festival is coming for you. In fact, for that matter, the rest of London’s cinemas had better prepare themselves as this year’s programme is taking no prisoners. With 234 feature films, 22 World Premieres, 16 International Premieres and 29 European Premieres, we could easily overwhelm you with the stats – but we are more than attuned to the fact that BFI London Film Festival will be bringing the big guns to this annual celebration of film.
But faced with so much on screen choice, what it ultimately comes down to is what you’re in the mood for. We’ve picked out some of our highlights we hope will match a breadth of dispositions to see us through to the end of October.
Documentary & Biopics
Bookending the festival with the Opening and Closing Gala is the much loved and much moustachioed, Tom Hanks in Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips and John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr Banks. From Somali pirate hostage to Walt Disney, Hanks is once again set to prove himself as one of cinema’s greats through these two hotly tipped biopics. More household names as Daniel Radcliffe channels the Beat as a young Allen Ginsberg in John Krokidas’ debut, Kill Your Darlings, charting the poet’s years a fresh faced…freshman at Colombia in 1944. Amongst the many impressive documentaries on offer this year, standouts include the world premiere of The Do Gooders, questioning the complex political issue of Western aid in Palestine and the aftermath of one of the world’s most famous sex communes in My Fathers, My Mother and Me.
From the vampiric to the familial, if you’re in the mood for love, you’re in luck. Mariana Rondón’s touching Bad Hair tells the story of a young boy desperate for straight hair in the hope it will make his frazzled single mother love him. In Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, having straight hair is the least of the lover’s worries as two centuries-old vampires return in this exotic retelling of the story of Adam and Eve, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Part of LFF’s official Love strand and anticipated UK premiere, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour is an uninhibited exploration of the turbulence of love between two women. Similarly anticipated, Enough Said promises to be a worthy send off to the great James Gandolfini in Nicole Holofcener’s mid-life romcom, also starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Another UK premiere, and feature directing debut, Joseph Gordon Levitt stars in Don Jon, the age-old tale of a young man obsessed with pornography, a baffling concept when faced with a love interest like Scarlett Johansson. The Cohen Brothers look to 1960s folk music for their comedy fodder in Inside Llewyn Davis, a melancholic elegy to the rich musical history of the time – with a suitably wonderful cast including John Goodman. Standard. On the darker side of comedy, take a chance on Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman, a black-as-it-comes take on home invasion thrillers. Or invite the intruders into your home yourself as with Jill Soloway’s gritty, sexy but heartfelt tale of strippers in suburbia in Afternoon Delight.
Adventure comes in many forms at LFF, from the travels of a young autistic boy on the New York subway in Stand Clear of the Closing Doors to Alexander Payne’s road movie, Nebraska, this year’s Journey Gala. Train stations have never looked so stylish in Claire Simon’s Gare du Nord while travel has never been so life-changing than in Steven Knight’s Locke, starring Tom Hardy, filmed entirely inside a car.
Drama & Thrills
Steve McQueen is back with another hardhitting blockbuster in 12 Years a Slave, set in pre-Civil War America, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and McQueen favourite Michael Fassbender. In a cinematic thriller, Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning are immersed in the world of radical environmentalism in Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves. Richard Ayoade finally provides us with his follow up film after Submarine in The Double, a peculiar love story about girl meets boy (Eisenberg) and his doppelganger. Can Eisenberg make up for Now You See Me? We can only hope. Science fiction gets a disconcertingly real sheen in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin as Scarlett Johansson stars as a beautiful alien who enraptures human prey in the backstreets of Glasgow. Meanwhile, far away from Earth, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are set adrift after a routine space mission goes frightfully wrong in Alfonso Cuaron’s thrill-ride, Gravity.
A mere touch of the surface of the emotions we can expect to experience at this year’s festival but we’ll be there riding it out, bringing you the latest reviews from the big screen throughout BFI London Film Festival 2013.
View the full programme and book your LFF tickets on the website: www.bfi.org.uk/lff
The 57th BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, will run until 20 October 2013.