07th Oct2014

2014 London Film Festival – Film

by timbaros

The 58th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® starts today and promises big movies and even bigger stars.

Last year’s BFI London Film Festival was a rip-roaring success, with such high-profile premieres as Gravity, Philomena, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. All films went on to box office success and many Oscars.
This year’s festival could possibly top last year’s festival. Here is a quick snapshot of what’s on:

Opening Night Gala:

The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, who created a machine during WWII that cracked the German Enigma Code and whose inventions would become the prototype of the modern computer. He was also arrested and convicted in 1952 for the criminal offense of homosexuality. Keira Knightley also stars.

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Closing Night Gala:

Fury
Brad Pitt’s new film has him playing a battle-hardened sergeant. Set during WWII when the allies were making their final push into Germany, Pitt commands a Sherman tank, called Fury, that is on a mission behind enemy lines. Also stars Shia LaBeouf.

Foxcatcher
This film comes with the lots of good buzz (and talk of Oscar nominations). An unrecognizable Steve Carrell plays a very wealthy, and crazy, benefactor to wrestlers and brothers Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Based on the true story of American millionaire John du Pont and his fascination with brothers Dave and Mark Shultz. Directed by Bennett Miller who gave us Capote and Moneyball. Also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller.

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Mr. Turner
Timothy Spall is said to be excellent in Director Mike Leigh’s movie about British painter J.M. William Turner. Mr. Turner is a character study of the last 25 years in the life of the painter, and the relationships he has with several women, including with his children.

Wild
Reese Witherspoon stars in this true story of a young woman attempting to walk the gruelling 1,100-mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail in the early 1990’s. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who last brought us Dallas Buyers Club.

Mommy
Wunderkind Director Xavier Dolan, a festival favorite, is back with Mommy. His fifth feature in as many years (and he’s only 25) has Anne Dorval as a single mother who takes back into her home her son who is a troublemaker, suffers from ADHD, and has been expelled from a juvenile facility.

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Bjork: Biophilia Live
This is being described as a multidimensional, multimedia project that explores the creative nexus between music, nature, and technology. And Bjork will be attending the festival as well to explain what it all means.

The New Girlfriend
Another film festival favorite – Francois Ozon brings us his latest film about a woman who is devastated by the death of her best friend and makes a promise to watch over her best friend’s husband and newborn child. This has the earmarks of Ozon written all over it – melodramatic and twisty.

Son of a Gun
Ewan McGregor stars in this heist thriller which is all about mobster living: fast cars and firearms. McGregor plays a father figure to a younger man who is just out of the slammer and is trying to take the right path.

’71
Jack O’Connell, excellent in the recent Starred Up, plays a British soldier trapped on the streets of Belfast in 1971 after his army crew accidentally leaves him behind. He struggles to hide, and survive, while being chased by provisional militia and reliant on the mercy of loyalist allies. This one is a must see, just for O’Connell’s performance alone.

Serena
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are on screen again (after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) about a logging magnate and his ruthless brilliant wife set against the backdrop of the hills of North Carolina.

Camp X-Ray
Kristen Stewart plays against type as a soldier in the U.S. army who is tasked to guard over prisoners in Guatanamo Bay. She gets emotionally attached to one of the inmates while at the same time comes up against sexism within her ranks.

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Pasolini
Willem Dafoe could either be perfect, or disastrous, by playing Italian Director Paolo Pasolini who’s films courted controversy for their shocking images of nudity and his homosexual lifestyle. Pasolini the movie is told in the hours leading up to his 1975 murder.

Also on offer are documentaries galore, including ones on artist David Hockney and film Director Robert Altman, as well as a documentary that deals with the Holocaust – titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – showing actual footage of the liberation of the concentration camps.

The Festival will screen a total of 245 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films including 2 Restoration World Premiere’s.1 There will also be screenings of 148 live action and animated shorts. A stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew are expected to take part in career interviews, master classes, Q&As and other special events. The 58th BFI London Film Festival will run
Wednesday 8 – Sunday 19 October 2014.

Tickets for the festival can be purchased at:

Telephone Bookings: 020 7928 3232 between 09:30–20:30
Online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff
In person: BFI Southbank Office: 11:30–20:30
Last minute tickets are available to be purchased on the day about 30 minutes prior to the screening at Festival venues

12th Jan2014

12 Years a Slave – Film

by timbaros

images-57In 1853, Solomon Northup wrote an autobiography called 12 Years a Slave, 160 years later it has been turned into a film with the same title, and is one of the best films of the year.

Directed by British Director Steve McQueen (Shame), 12 Years a Slave tells Northrup’s true story of his kidnapping in Washington D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery, a time when blacks in the United States were commonly and legally treated as slaves. Chiwitel Ejiofor plays Northrup, a skilled carpenter and a free black family man with two children living in upstate New York. One evening he meets two men, they start drinking, one of them drugs his drink, and then he wakes up and realizes that he is going to be sold into slavery. He protests, telling all around him that he is a free man, unfortunately his papers are at his home, so of course no one believes him. So this begins his time as a slave for 12 years, which would see him being shipped to Louisiana, going from one owner to another, and from one who is kind to one who is brutal. What he has to endure in these 12 years is enough to break any man down, but Northrup doesn’t give up.
Northrup is initially ‘bought’ by William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a well-meaning but clueless plantation owner. But things get worse for Northrup. He is sold to the brutalistic and cruel Edwin Epps (an excellent Michael Fassbender, who is a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor) and his passive wife (Sarah Paulson). Epps is aggressive with his slaves, literally treats them like dirt, and punishes them when he is in a bad mood. In one brutal scene, Northrup is hung from a tree as punishment for fighting an overseer, with his feet barely touching the ground, enough to allow him not to hang himself, and he hangs there from morning to dusk, while the other slaves around him go about their work, and children play in the background. The look on Ejiofor’s Northrup conveys an image of a man who has given up hope to escape and who is now focused merely on survival. In another brutal scene that is possibly one of the most harrowing film scenes in recent memory (and one that will make you turn away), Epps punishes slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o – sure to receive the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in this movie), who had only briefly disappeared from the plantation to get a bar of soap. Egged on by his wife who knows that Ebbs has been sleeping (raping her) with her, Ebbs orders Northrup to lash Patsey as hard as he can, Northrup can only manage a few strokes when Ebbs takes over and savagely lashes her. It is a scene that was shot in real time, lasts only a few minutes, but feels much longer. Ebbs is in love with her but doesn’t know why he is in love with a slave, so he tries to destroy her.
Brad Pitt shows up near the end of the film (he is also a producer of the film) who has cast himself as a sort of Northrup’s savior, a Canadian labourer who listens to his story and then promises him that he will attempt to help him. It is Brad Pitt, while in a small role, is Brad Pitt – it is a bit distracting when he all of a sudden shows up.
Ejiofor, a British film, television and theatre actor, has either won or is nominated for Best Actor for his work in this film by over 40 critics organizations, including being nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, and winning Best Actor by organizations such as the Boston Society of Film Critics to the Women Film Critics Circle Award. Ejiofor, previously seen in American Gangster, 2012 and Salt, outacts his fellow black actors from this season’s films: Forest Whitaker of The Butler and Idris Elba of Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom. Fassbender, and especially Nyong’o, deserve every award they will receive. 12 Years a Slave has just been nominated for 11 BAFTA’s, including nominations for Ejiofor, Fassbender and Nyong’o.
The stories of these slaves being beaten, raped, and tortured are told by McQueen’s detailed and controlled direction. How did McQueen find this story to tell? His wife is a historian and she recommended that he look into true accounts of slavery, she then found this book, and he said that he had to do it. It is a film where each performance is excellent, every scene has impact, and is emotional from the beginning to the very end. And each and every performance in this film is astounding.
Ejiofor recently told Vanity Fair Magazine that “I remember it (the book) and and being amazed by the story, and also realizing that it was quite daunting to step into something like that.” Yes, the film is quite daunting, but it is all the more daunting when you remember that this is the true life story of a man who lost 12 years of his life, and being away for 12 years from his family and home.