Tuesday 29 October 2013

London Film Festival 2013 Round Up

Though it's been written here, it goes without saying that this FilmLandEmpire contributor would like nothing more than to travel the world's film festivals and see all the films on offer. All of them with a packed lunch made up of very quiet food and plenty of water and nicely brewed tea/coffee options at hand. To be able to nonchalantly observe that 'Yes, I saw it at Cannes' is an actual life goal.

So it was with Oyster card at the ready that this film fan happily donned the red cloth string that held my pass to attend the near neighbourhood based London Film Festival. 2012's LFF was marred a little bit by a slight case of blood poisoning (true) and this year was restricted by the unplanned for absence of my trusted familial dog sitter - also true. So though I did not see every film I had hoped to see, ie all of them, below is some of the films that were highlights or not especially memorable-lights to me from the festival.

Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World, as with the other Marvel Avengers films, picks up the thread of its story a few years after the Battle of New York. One of the strengths of Thor as a character, is that he is not restricted to an Earth bound story but instead, the canvas of any Thor driven story has the vastness of Nine (whole) Realms in which to explore and utilise.

Co-screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, well versed in the Marvel universe from Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011 make references to events on Earth but the world of Asgard is opened up in all it's baroque grandeur. The Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three are included in an array of battles with the talents that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings to the battle field and as a regal leader on display though gone is Thor's adolescent-like swagger.

Sunday 27 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: All Cheerleaders Die

There is no greatest betrayal than from those you love. Is it because of the emotional investment, the higher expectations... Being scorned by those you have cherished, supported, admired, longed for... is the ultimate tragedy. It happened at the London Film Festival, and it took the incredible quality of the rest of the line up to make it up for it. But it is hard to let it go, for you might find a new director to lust after, but one object of your affection never replaces the previous one. I'm looking at you, Lucky McKee.

Friday 25 October 2013

London Film Academy

In a listed building, formally a Church in Fulham, the London Film Academy was founded in 2001 by two enthusiastic friends, Anna MacDonald and Daisy Gili. Both women are joint principles of this non-profit making trust dedicated to running practical and professional film making courses including their full-time one year Filmmaking Diploma along with a wide variety of short specialised courses such as Acting for Directors which can be completed in three days. Over the three floors of the Academy, the air is filled with the buzz of near palpable industrious enthusiasm for the behind the scenes minute of creating a film from pen on paper screen writing to dead line driven production.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Interview with Michael Blyth, Programmer Of The Cult Strand At The LFF

It is safe to say that the London Film Festival has seen its best edition in a long time, thanks to a varied and inspired line-up which more than delivered on its promises. Among it, the Cult strand in particular was the gift that kept on giving. I have nowhere near finished writing all my reviews and I shall keep churning them out through the following days, but it has given to us such highlights as The Strange Colour Of Our Body Tears, The Sacrament, The Congress, Only Lovers Left Alive... Given the quality of the Cult films presented this year, I was keen to ask its programmer Michael Blyth a few question about it and about genre films in general.

1) The Cult strand was introduced at the London Film Festival last year, just as Clare Stewart took over as Festival Director. Was it her idea to include such a strand, and if not, was she easily convinced? 

When Clare took over as Head of Festivals she brought with her a load of new ideas. Luckily for me, a desire to represent cult and genre cinema in the LFF programme was one of them, so I didn’t have to do any convincing. In fact, she approached me with the idea of the Cult strand. We had a lot of discussions about what we wanted to achieve, and the direction we wanted to take the programme, and then she let me run with it. It’s been a very exciting working relationship. She’s not afraid to try new things which is really the most that I could ask for.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Epic Of Everest

The British Film Institute's role is not just to promote contemporary cinema and develop and support homegrown talent, it also has an important task of conservation and restoration of British cinema. And as has become a tradition every year at the London Film Festival, an old film from their archives was given the Archive Gala treatment, this time, The Epic Of Everest (1924) by Captain John Noel.

While the atmosphere at the LFF a decade ago used to be rather sedate and stuffy, filled with OAPs, it has become a lot more vibrant, with a wider and more diverse audience over the last few years. But the Gala screening of The Epic Of Everest, which I attended, was a different affair, with an amusingly old world, very posh and ancient audience. Indeed I must have been the youngest member of the audience by about 100 years, bar two young toffs sat next to me, who I fully expected to be secret members of the Bullingdon club about to unleash mayhem in the cinema.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Prince Avalanche Review

Prince Avalanche is one of those curious films that masquerades itself within the absurd and comedic while considering the profundities of life and how to live it. Director David Gordon Green's screen adaptation of the Icelandic film Either Way, centres around Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) as they spend the summer of 1988 freshly marking out vast swaths of roads in a Texan region devastated by wildfires.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Double

Richard Ayoade is best known for his comedic turn in the tv serie The I.T. crowd (and for his supporting part in the turkey blockbuster of last year The Watch, as the token eccentric foreigner). A few years ago he tackled his first film as a director, Submarine, a bittersweet coming of age story, which is exactly what would be expect a first film to be. But for this second film, The Double, he has taken a radical turn, from a narrative as well as a formal point of view.

LFF 2013 Capsules: The Sacrament

Ti West is one of those emerging talents from the new wave of independent horror cinema, but some of his output has been a little hit and miss of late. His films are always very distinctive, and slow burning, which is such a relief in a time of derivative horrors and epileptic editing. And House Of The Devil was a wonderful and pretty much perfect tribute to 80's horrors. But other times he has missed the mark. The Inkeepers suffered from uninteresting leads and an unengaging story. His segment in V/H/S jarred with the others but offered an interesting pay-off. And his ABCs Of Death one was needlessly offensive. Now he is back with The Sacrament, which played in the Cult section of the festival.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

LFF 2013 Capsules: Chinese Puzzle

Earlier in the year, we met up with Céline and Jessie again, in Before Midnight. But another, less remarkable film franchise which has also spread out along the years in (nearly) real time is also making a return this year. After Pot Luck and Russian Dolls, here comes Chinese Puzzle. What's next, French Windows?

Pot Luck followed a bunch of Erasmus students sharing a flat in Barcelona, their friendship and romance, their aspirations for the future... Having been a Erasmus student myself, living with a bunch of European students, this struck a chord, especially thanks to the likeable cast, despite the direction being a bit hit and miss. Then Russian Dolls followed a few years later, seeing our characters grow older, wiser (maybe), having to make some life changing decisions, with the carelessness of their youth already ebbing away.