Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

To the London Film Festival

It’s that time of the year. The BFI London Film Festival is looming and, as ever, it features the heaviest concentration of cinematic talent to gather anywhere in Britain or Ireland over the year. It’s an odd event. Almost everything …

Sun, Oct 14, 2012, 22:07

   

It’s that time of the year. The BFI London Film Festival is looming and, as ever, it features the heaviest concentration of cinematic talent to gather anywhere in Britain or Ireland over the year. It’s an odd event. Almost everything worth seeing plays there. But, because the festival has trouble attracting premieres, it doesn’t quite register publicly with the force of Venice, Cannes or Toronto. Nonetheless, London being London, any number of celebrities will fly in for the fortnight. Many of the films have been mentioned here already. Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone remains a puzzling slice of high-grade soap. Michael Haneke’s Amour is still a masterpiece. Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild is among the very best debuts of recent years.

An interesting situation has arisen in relation to that last picture. Though lauded virtually everywhere else, the review in Sight and Sound magazine — the venerable arthouse bible — describes the wild, unfettered fable as “the worst movie of the year”. So what? No film has ever got universal raves. Well, Sight and Sound is the official organ of the British Film Institute, title sponsors of the festival, and copies of the magazine are handed out at every available corner. I disagree vigorously with with Nick Pinkerton‘s assessment, but it is good to see that the folk at Sight and Sound were not tempted to tone down the language. Decide for yourself when Beasts opens next week.

That’s Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in the upcoming Great Expectations above. HBC as Miss Havisham? Our policemen get younger and younger ever year, don’t they? Blink an eye and Elle Fanning will be playing the bleeding part. Mike Newell’s version of the Dickens classic closes the festival on October 21st.

Interviews culled at the LFF with the likes of Michael Haneke, Marion Cotillard and John Hawkes will appear in these pages over the coming months.