Just got back from the press launch of the 49th London Film Festival and it looks like there's even more on offer this year than ever.
Amanda Nevill, the director of the British Film Institute (which last year alone screened an astonishing 3000+ films in the UK) kicked things off with a promise that she was "hell bent on bringing you one of the best festivals of world cinema" - no idle threat judging from the thirty minute preview reel we were treated to featuring some mouth watering snippets of this year's bill. Sandra Hebron, artistic director of the festival pointed out some of the highlights and was joined on stage by Simon Channing-Williams, producer of both last year's opening film Vera Drake and this years opener The Constant Gardener sharing part of the letter he wrote to John Le Carre's lawyers stressing the need for that film to be made from this "wonderfully angry book... that would remain pertinent for many years to come... sad but true". Looks like it could be a career best for all involved.
Hebron went on to mention that included this year was "the first time a gala screening has a cast made up entirely of penguins" as well as a Nick Cave master class, screen talks with Shane Black and Terry Gilliam amidst the "twenty or so films a day" showing between the 19th of October and the 3rd of November.
We'll do our very best to preview the cream of the crop before and during the Festival but we have a few tips for must-have tickets that caught our eye this morning:
The George Clooney directed Good Night and Good Luck is already creating a 'classic Scorsese' buzz and seems to be a gift for the actors involved. Walk The Line, the eagerly anticipated Johnny Cash biopic may well earn Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar and with music that good it can't really fail to be a crowd pleaser. The Mayor of London's Gala film this year is Separate Lies with married couple Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson coming to terms with more than one crisis. At the other end of the world, gritty outback western The Proposition features a filthy Guy Pearce and a top of his game Ray Winstone shooting along to a Nick Cave score.
March of the Penguins almost got the biggest laugh of the morning because everyone loves penguins, but then we got to see Takeshi Kitano inadvertently shoot someone in a clip from his latest feature Takeshis' and we coudn't help but smile. Closer to home A Cock and Bull Story is a loose adaptation of the 'unfilmable' Tristram Shandy with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon brilliantly playing off each other as the leads in a doomed attempt at bringing the novel to life. Another favourite Londonist book is given the big screen treatment in Factotum - a Norwegian/American/German co-production that features Matt Dillon as Charles Bukowski's alter ego Henry Chinaski as he fucks the arse of every woman he meets when not getting fired or drinking himself stupid. We're really looking forward to seeing this after Dillon's scene stealing performance in Crash a few weeks ago.
Documentary highlights promise to be the formidable Murderball (rugby in wheelchairs) and Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul.
The reel finished in grand style with a preview of the final part of Park Chan-Wook's trilogy Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.
There's also a London on Film discussion that promises to feature the "best (and worst) film-making - both British and foreign - to feature our capital city on screen".
More detail will undoubtedly start to flow from the official London Film Festival website and we'll bring you more updates as we have them.