Oddly enough, London is scarcely ever referred to as ‘the Cannes of the UK’. But for two weeks every year, our fair capital strikes more than a passing resemblance to the French city’s Promenade de la Croisette. Film contributor Adam Marshall rounds up the London Film Festival highlights to check out at the Ritzy and beyond.
It may be a little early to be handing out awards, but if there was a gong for the most timely film of the fest, then Mediterranea (Saturday 17th October 1pm) would be a shoo-in. After an epic journey across the Sahara and eponymous sea, two refugees from Burkino Faso are given a hostile – sometimes violent – reception from their new hosts in Italy. The harsh realism of the film is amplified by the fact that much of the cast is untrained, and some face the very same unthinkable predicament as their displaced characters.
Truman (Thursday 8th October 8.45pm) is about another pair of friends, and when one reveals to the other that his days of battling cancer are almost up, they spend their last few precious hours in a nostalgic haze. It may sound morbid, but with protagonists played by the superb Ricardo Darín (him from The Secret in Their Eyes) and Javier Cámara (him from countless Almodóvar movies), Truman instead plays out as a moving, bittersweet comedy.
Looking for something a bit closer to home then Calabria and España? Then Elephant Days (Saturday 17th October 3.45pm) should satisfy your South London hunger. What starts as a document of the making of the fourth album by popular beat combo The Maccabees (and THAT’S why I write about cinema and not music), turns into an ode to the buzzing communities of Elephant and Castle and Peckham.
Off-kilter British films play well at the London Film Festival. And where Sightseers, Under the Skin and The Duke of Burgundy have led with massive critical acclaim over the last few years, Couple in a Hole (Sunday 11th October 3.30pm) looks set to follow. Yep, it’s about a couple who live in a hole. A hole in the ground. A hole. And they just want to be left alone there. But not everybody around them wants the same thing. It’s odd, it’s funny and – with a suitably strange soundtrack from Portishead genius Geoff Barrow’s BEAK> – it’s well worth a look.
Believe it or not, there are other cinemas in London that aren’t the Ritzy…apparently. And there are still Gala tickets to be snapped up – including Lance Armstrong biopic The Program (Odeon Leicester Square, BFI Southbank), Johnny Depp playing balding Irish gangster ‘Whitey’ Bulger in Black Mass (Odeon Leicester Square), Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s epic novel Brooklyn (Odeon Leicester Square) and the all-star festival curtain raiser Suffragette (Odeon Leicester Square).