Sunday 24 July 2011

BFI, you are spoiling us!

Drive (2011)

Right first of all I need to start this by saying that the BFI  (British Film Institute) is NOT paying me for this post. I have been very critical of them on some occasions but largely, I admire their work, as a charity, to promote cinema in Britain in a passionate but never elitist way. Having just received the programme for September at the National Film Theatre, which should logically be in a bit of a lull before the London Film Festival in mid October, the line up is actually incredibly good. It is as if the BFI, as a filmic ambassador, is planning on spoiling us with trays of celulloid Ferroro Rochers before the main course in October. I do not know where to start!

First off, and a highlight, a preview of Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn, with indie man of the moment Ryan Gosling. The film made a big impact in Cannes this year, and walked away with the best director prize. The Danish director of Bronson and Valhalla Rising delivers a film of pure adrenaline, bloodshed, pounding music, and breakneck speeds according to the programme. He might even be at the screening for a q&a. Not to be missed! The trailer below is the red band one, so expect some violence.

And then as part of their BAFTA screenwriter lecture series, maverick scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman will be doing a talk. If, like me, you are a fan of his very personal brand of surrealism and deadpan humour, as witnessed in Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and wants to ask him why it all went wrong with his first film as a director, Synecdoche, New York (2008) (which had his fans but I personally found a crushing bore, lacking his usual light touch) then there is your chance.

Then in their "Out at the pictures" section, there is the chance to catch up Francois Ozon's adaptation of a play by Fassbinder, Water drops on burning rocks (2000), with the late Bernard Giraudeau and the wonderful and underused Anna Thomson (Sue, 1997).

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000)

Oh and the legend that is John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, the Michael Jackson's Thriller video...) will be giving a talk about Monster movies, discussing all things from B-Movies rubber creatures to A-List big budget creatures, followed the a surprise screening of a rarely seen monster film.

And if it was not enough, they have thrown in a Ken Loach and a Terence Malick retrospective! Do not miss the chance to see The Thin Red Line (1999) on the big screen, Malick's lyrical masterpiece, and currently number two in my list of favourite films of all times.

There is also an Edward Yang season, a Tawainese director I know little about yet I have heard great thing about him, especially for A Bright Summer Day (1991) and Yi-Yi (2000) which some hold as his masterpiece.

Finally, there will be an extended run for La Piscine (1968) by Jacques Deray, with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, a tense psychological drama that is held as a true classic in France, yet is lesser known in the rest of the world, and which, according to the blurb on the programme, offers a cool, lucid assessment of sexual rivalry and the deadly pitfalls of desire. Blimey!

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