After all, it's just a ride….

BFI 58th London Film Festival 2014 Programme Announcement

cvIt’s all go isn’t it? Not twenty four-hours after I smugly accept an invitation to the press screening of the newly hewn digital print of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the BFI’s exclusive screening rooms over in Soho next week (pauses…..takes a big breath) than the offers of on-line screeners from TiFF start to trickle through, I’m not even in the fucking country and I’m being thrown the proverbial celluloid bone. To compound matters further the full 2014 London Film Festival Programme streaked across the ether today, and as usual lo there was much rejoicing and gnashing of teeth. You can read my official blurb here if you are so inclined, my initial reaction is slight disappointment at the lack of any major surprises, but as always when you comb through the programme a few treats are coaxed forward. So here as usual is a Menagerie specific round-up of what I’ll be making specific efforts to see, alongside some of the more widely distributed trailers for the gala screenings which may also float your film cruise boat. I’m off to the official public launch at the Southbank tomorrow evening after a brutal itinerary of day job appointments, although I have managed to schedule in a matinee screening of the Dardennes latest at the recently enshrined Victoria Curzon, just to keep the momentum going.  So let’s begin with the big opening night extravaganza;

I happen to think that Cumberbatch is hugely overexposed at the moment and maybe should be selecting projects with a little more strategy, yet another ‘prestige’ British film is so predictable if you ask me. Also, as fascinating as Turing and Bletchley Park was it’s hardly new territory in terms of recent coverage, and I can pretty much envisage the entire film from that trailer, right down to the final scene blurb which inevitably will reference Turing’s recent pardon and his rehabilitation within the establishment. If it’s sandwiched between other material and I’m already embedded in a screening room for the day then fine I’ll see it, but I won’t be pulling the stops out for that one…….

Some of the denser pictures have lumbered over to London from their Cannes celebrations, and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s dense metaphor on the modern Soviet body politic seems scarily apt, given the current not in the slightest terrifying rumblings of conflict on the news cycle. Following the Cannes plaudits I checked out his earlier film The Banishment which was pretty much 157 minutes of serious Soviet severity, a film you admire as you endure. I expect more of the same.

This Sundance scorcher has been getting some strong praise, it looks like J.K. Simmons could be in for acting awards come the statuette season, who knew that Jazz could be so violent?

Speaking of violence I’m so happy to see this made it over, such a fascinating premise of a full cast of deaf-mute non-professionals exposing urban and social displacement. If you think Boyhood has this years most original technique then consider this – the film has no subtitles. Alongside Interstellar, these are the two films I’m most excited to see for the rest of the year.

This looks visually alluring although I find some of the recent crop of Chinese financed epics a little cookie-cutter. I’m much more excited to see if this makes the programme once I get my paws on the full list tomorrow, that sounds amazing from Mr. Body Hammer himself.

Whilst I’m particularly nonplussed by the special guests this year – the closest approximation is legendary documentation Frederick Wiseman whom is promoting his new film National Gallery – we always need to seek out a strong documentary, and this has been exploding across the global circuit so I’m glad to see it here. No trailer yet hence the alternate hilarity above, a bit of whimsical pyrotechnics among the serious fare, if you will.

OK this made me laugh, Godard at the fucking IMAX? In 3D? That could be quite an experience, and full marks to the LFF programmers for getting a slot at the biggest screen in Europe which isn’t exactly the usual home of such continental curiosity. I’m no massive fan of his and find most of his recent films quite tedious, but his latest is supposed to be an absolute cracker, if you’re in the mood for some extremely self-reflective meta-wallowing on the art-form.

Well, it wouldn’t be the LFF if they didn’t give us more Sono who always gets favourable treatment, I think they’ve brought every one of his films over since I started attending. I’ve posted this before but it takes us to a nice round ten movies on the hit-list.

Scorsese and the BFI’s patronage of the immortal work of Powell & Pressburger continues with a 4K restoration of the beloved Tales Of Hoffman, which is incidentally George A Romero’s favourite film. I won’t bother with the inevitable ‘film being raised from the dead’ quip….

And here is the closing night gala, more WWII themed explosives which I get behind with a little more passion due to David End Of Watch Ayer in the driving seat, but the war-wounds of Monuments Men are playing up when I watch this old chap, it looks a bit like those bloody yanks have decided to win the war single handedly again the bloody rotters. So that’s that, more to report once we’ve had the chance to review the programme a little more forensically…..

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