The full programme for the 2013 London Film Festival was revealed this morning to an Odeon Leicester Square packed full of critics, journos and bloggers so corpulent from all the free chocolate and pastry dished out that the entire front wall of the cinema had to be removed for us to exit. Then the whole building collapsed and exploded and a giant sexy alien came out of it and ate Mark Kermode. All right it didn't, but if it had it still wouldn't have been as exciting as the line-up of movies just announced.
The annual reveal to the press of the LFF programme is always an exciting time, and the rave reviews flying out of the still-ongoing Venice Film Festival, over France and into our Twitter feeds have only increased the anticipation. But while Ali and I sat in a dark room together this morning, our knees gently touching and pastry flakes tumbling softly down our shirts, we had no idea just how amazing this year's line up would be.
So without further ado, and because our opinions are so fucking important, here are Team Shiznit's top picks for the fest. Whether any of us get round to seeing them is another matter, but GODDAMMIT WE WILL TRY OUR HARDEST FOR YOU, DEAR READER.
I could have picked from around 25 films at the fest this year; it's definitely the strongest line-up in my long and distinguished history of attendance over the last three years. There are films I'd very much like to see, like Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin, Richard Ayoade's The Double and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's porn comedy Don Jon, but the only one I NEED to see is Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. Just watching the trailer puts me on edge; it's nightmarish in its grasping, helpless imagery of two astronauts cast adrift into the void, destined to float into an endless abyss of nothingness. It's showing in 3D at the IMAX and I fully expect it to give me motion sickness and a good decade's worth of brand new night terrors, but it'll be worth it, if just to replace the old ones of cobras.
Before you ask, no I didn’t just see the phrase ‘addicted to porn’ in the synopsis and think “Yup – that’s the LFF film for me”. No, instead it’s always interested me when an actor decides to make the big move to behind the camera, and here we have one that has barely taken a wrong step in his career so far and who isn’t about to start fucking up now. From the rave reviews it has garnered already, Don Jon sounds like it’s exactly the kind of the smart, effortlessly cool film you’d want Joseph Gordon-Levitt to make (as in write, direct AND star), and judging from the official Twitter account of the main character
, it might just give us a brilliant, all-new cinemasshole to love/hate. The film sounds fresh, funny and ‘f’rilling and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Scarlett Johansson role is in a film that seems primarily obsessed with porn culture. Not because I’m expecting nudity, you understand. I just.. I mean…. (*sigh*) I knew I should have picked Under The Skin…
As a Hanksologist of some esteem I am excited to see Captain Phillips. More so than the thing where he's Walt Disney and Emma Thompson's Donald Duck or whatever it is. Why? I'll tell you why. The great Hanks roles were always about him as an ordinary guy trying to deal with extraordinary circumstances. He wasn't a mulleted symbologist or six people in one film; he was just a dude trying to get through a thing. That's who you want captaining your ship when it gets boarded by Somali pirates, and that's why I want this to be the kickstarter for Hanks 3.0, in which he settles into some roles befitting his status over the next few years. (*checks IMDb*) Oh shit, he's doing another Dan Brown one.
An old curmudgeon takes a road trip through the drab and miserable American mid-west with a silly idea lodged in his head. Remind you of anything? Nebraska is the most 'About Schmidt' film Alexander Payne has made since About Schmidt, and that's fine by me. I love About Schmidt, and I enjoy the misery of the mid-west too. So Nebraska excites me greatly. But as Payne has shown time and time again, he has a knack for balancing sentimental, heart-breaking moments with sharp, laugh-out-loud comedy. The story then of a grumpy old booze hound taking his estranged son on a 700-mile goose chase to claim an apparent $1 million prize sounds like prime Payne territory. It's filmed in black and white too, which screams 'classy festival film'. Ed also told me to make a 'Payne & Gain' gag, but I couldn't think of one.
I'm writing this post so I make the rules, and the rules clearly state that I can pick two films. To be fair they do make a great Claustrocore double bill: two movies defined by their single location and emphasis on one, terrific actor each. All Is Lost stars Robert Redford and Robert Redford alone, as a man whose boat gets fucked by a wayward shipping crate, leading to a near dialogue-free 100 minutes of craggy-faced survival thrills. It picked up great reviews in Cannes earlier this year, and people who go to Cannes are never wrong or drunk on free wine. Locke, on the other hand, I only found out existed two days ago: it's Tom Hardy, in a car, on the phone, with a Welsh accent. And that's it. By all accounts it's utterly riveting, and as someone who loved Buried three years ago, I am rock hard for it.
So there you go. And we haven't even mentioned Cannes-conquering lesbifest Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Steve McQueen's third teaming with Michael Fassbender Twelve Years A Slave, the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davies or the return of Terry Gilliam with The Zero Theorem, all of which promise to be absolutely bang on.
There are over 200 other feature films to choose from at this year's London Film festival though, not to mention programmes of shorts and other events, so feel free to ignore our witterings and have a look what else is on
. See you there! Except we won't, because it'll be dark and we don't know what you look like.