In this part of my London Film Festival preview I'll be looking at the two strands focusing on national cinemas; New British Cinema and the always rewarding French Revolutions strand. More so than in the first part, largely because there are fewer 'event' movies screening in these strands, these selections are personal ones, the films I think sound interesting. For the full programme, CLICK HERE.
Notes: Within their strands films are listed alphabetically by title. Short synopses are taken from the LFF brochure.
NEW BRITISH CINEMA
DIR: Carol Morley
Filmed at a striking location, Edge is a smart and sincere character-driven drama from film-maker Carol Morley.
Set in a hotel which sits on a crumbling cliff edge, Carol Morley's film boasts an interesting premise (disparate people holed up in this hotel, watched by the maid) and a cast with a few known faces (Maxine Peake, and Nichola Burley, who made a real impression in KICKS, which played in NBC last year) and a clutch of new British talent.
DIR: Julie Moggan
Exposing the world of romance novel enthusiasts.
In taking a look at the amazing appeal of Mills and Boon romance novels, Julie Moggan has travelled the world and talked to people from all walks of life. She speaks to a writer (Middle aged Roger, who uses a female pen name), a cover model, and fans and their families. I've always been interested in documentaries that tell me something about a culture I know nothing about, and Guilty Pleasures sounds like it will be fun and fascinating.
In Our Name
DIR: Brian Welsh
A testament to the number of British soldiers returning from wars with mental problems, Brian Welsh has made an urgent and provocative film.
The wonderful Grace is Gone dealt with the loss of a female soldier in Iraq, this British film deals with the equally difficult prospect of a soldier; a wife and mother, returning from that conflict deeply affected by it. I'll be keeping an eye out for this film because I've been impressed by lead actress Joanne Froggat in some of her TV work, and because it sounds like an important and provocative film.
Upside Down: The Creation Records Story
DIR: Danny O'Connor
Alan McGee puts his side of the Creation Records story in Danny O'Connor's brilliant, passionate and significant documentary.
This doc about the British indie record label that put out albums by bands like Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain, before riding the crest of the Britpop wave with Oasis in the mid 90's, ought to be highly entertaining for two reasons. First, it will have an amazing soundtrack and second Noel Gallagher, who is spectacularlly entertaining (once, describing his brother he said "he's angry; he's a man with a fork in a world of soup") will surely be one of the interviewees. Overall, this looks like a film tailor made for my generation.
DIR: Marc Fitoussi
Isabelle Huppert plays a free-spirited mother getting to grips with the working life (and the Belgian seaside) in this brisk, intelligent comedy.
Isabelle Huppert is in this film, and quite frankly that's good enough for me. That said, there are other reasons I'm interested in Copacabana. First, it's a rare chance to see Hupppert playing comedy, and a apprently not the dry comedy she did in I Heart Huckabees, here she plays a flighty, easy-going parent who is a source of embarrassment to her daughter. The other interesting thing is the casting, playing Huppert's daughter is her real life eldest; Lolita Chammah. I'm really looking forward to seeing if Chammah has her mother's talent, and how they play off one another.
Deep in the Woods
DIR: Benoit Jacquot
Dark passions and feral revolt in nineteenth-century France: Isild le Besco stars in a stormy, provocative rural drama from director Benoît Jacquot.
I'm not sure why Isild LeBesco isn't better known; she's heart-stoppingly beautiful, versatile, fearless and extremely talented. This latest from Jacquot (whose Villa Amalia I liked a great deal) sounds like a dark romantic thriller which should give LeBesco and her co-star Nahuel Perez Biscayar (playing a near feral young man who falls in love with her) roles they can really get their teeth into. All in all it sounds like the kind of film only the French are making.
DIR: Antony Cordier
Elodie Bouchez and Roschdy Zem are among the partners in a Parisian sexual quartet, in this mature, intelligent and very intimate drama from up-and-coming director Antony Cordier.
French filmmakers often seem to deal with sex in a more open, frank and adult way than filmmakers from much of the rest of the world. Apparently Happy Few is a very explicit film, but also deals with the dramatic ramifications of the partner swapping between its four main characters. It will hinge on the strength of the performances, but Happy Few certainly sounds interesting, not to mention sexy.
In Your Hands
DIR: Lola Doillon
Another unmissable performance from Kristin Scott Thomas, in Lola Doillon's taut psychological thriller about a woman in a tight corner
Kristin Scott Thomas is an incredibly exciting actress, and these days she seems to be doing all her best work in french. In Your Hands promises much; largely a claustrophobic two hander between Scott Thomas and Pio Marmai, as a home invader who has mysterious grudge against her and is holding her prisoner. It sounds like this should be a tense thriller with some fantastic, intense performances.
The Sleeping Beauty
DIR: Catherine Breillat
Catherine Breillat offers a dazzling, subversive exploration of fairy tales, dream and the mysteries of the female imagination.
For years I found her work pretentious and boring, but Catherine Breillat really won me over with her last film; Bluebeard. This new film, happily, again finds her reworking a fairy tale and though it seems she's again going for some slightly more explicit images the available stills suggest a similarly lush visual style to that of Bluebeard. Hopefully the performances and storytelling will also be up to that same standard.
DIR: Jeanne Labrune
Isabelle Huppert at her shape-shifting best in Jeanne Labrune's brittle comedy about prostitution, psychoanalysis and role-playing.
The second film in the strand to star the great Isabelle Huppert, and once more I ask, what more do you need to know? This sounds a little more like her comfort zone, and her role as Alice Bergerac; a prostitute who specialises in role playing for her clients, should give her a chance to put in a truly stellar performance (or three). But honestly... Isabelle Huppert, if you need more information to get excited about this film then you obviously haven't seen any of her others.