Sep 2, 2015

The London Film Festival Programme 2015: Top 10 Picks and Hitlist

It's movie nerd Christmas again and the rules state that I must write a preview piece, picking the highlights of the LFF programme. The thing is... I don't want to do that. It's not that I'm lazy. Okay, it's not just that I'm lazy. What I want from LFF is to be surprised, it's about the only time of year that I can walk into a film and not know what I'm about to see, so rather than go in depth and research the films so I can write several paragraphs on each, I'm going to do what I did when I went to the festival as a punter; go with my gut, look at the blurb, the still, and allow myself to take a punt on things. This is why I love festival time.

These are the 10 films I most want to see from the selection at the festival, some may have distribution in place (which would generally place them lower on my list), but these are the films I'm champing at the bit to see. NOW.

Some of these are based on the fact I'm a fan of the directors, some of the film's genre, a few simply intrigued me from the little information we have to go on in the brochure. 

After my 10 picks you'll find, divided by programme section and in alphabetical order, my intended hitlist for the festival. I won't be able to see all of these films, as ever there are just too many exciting sounding things, but I'll try to cover as many of them as I can. Throughout, titles without UK distribution in place (which I will prioritise whenever possible) appear in italics.

The Assassin
As a martial arts movie fan, I feel a certain giddy joy when festivals give over even a little of their programme to films about people kicking each other (even in an artsy way). I'm not usually much for the Journey programme, for which The Assassin is the gala screening, but I've heard such great things about this. Plus, you know, kicking.

Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story)
Controversial cinema and coming of age movies are two of my main areas of interest, so of course this is near the top of my list. The blurb mentions Larry Clark as a touchstone, which could point the way to either something great or something awful. The premise is interesting, it's whether the film can deliver something beyond controversy.

The Boy and the Beast
This is Mamoru Hosoda's fourth film as a solo director. His first three were The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and Wolf Children. For my money he's one of the best and most consistent directors not just in anime but in world cinema right now and among my Top 3 favourite working filmmakers (another will crop up later in this list). This may be my number one pick for this year's LFF.

Six men on a boat, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangarai. Frankly, I only needed the second half of that sentence to get me into this film. Tsangarai's Attenberg and her short follow up The Capsule are both brilliant, darkly funny pieces focused on women. I was in for whatever she did next, but I can't wait to see her dig into some male characters. 

The Corpse of Anna Fritz
The title alone suggests a disturbing time with some body horror leanings, which are both things I'm all for. I'm expecting something along the lines of the underseen Deadgirl here. If it delivers, this should be one of the most fucked up films at LFF. Again, this is something I'm all for.

I was surprised, but not at all disappointed, to find Gaspar Noe's Love missing from the LFF line up. I was also surprised, to say nothing of delighted, to find that his wife Lucile Hadžihalilović has finally made a second film, following the beguiling Innocence. The stills look stunning, but I want to know nothing more about this until I sit down and watch it, which is just how I saw Innocence and how it completely captured me.

The Lobster
Yorgos Lanthimos second film, Dogtooth, slapped me round the face at LFF 2009, and I really don't think I've recovered even now. I don't believe I've seen a better new film since (though Lanthimos' third film, Alps, also got 5 stars and topped my list of the best films of its year). The Lobster is his English language début, and I can not wait to see it.

Love and Peace
To call Sion Sono prolific would be to understate things somewhat. Not only is this the third year running that he's had a new film in the festival, but Love and Peace is one of seven – yes, SEVEN – films he's made for release in 2015. Sono is a wildly unpredictable filmmaker, and this looks both from its stills and its plot description, like another bonkers opus from one of the most reliably offbeat and interesting auteurs around.

Petting Zoo
We're in the midst of an interesting period in American coming of age cinema. The mainstream side of the genre has largely been surrendered to adaptations of dystopian YA series, but the indie scene is booming, threatening a new golden age in the genre. Petting Zoo looks like it will have a harder edge than many of its contemporaries, and promises a challenging central role. Stills suggest a stylishly down to earth feel. There is an strong looking crop of teen and coming of age films at the festival this year, I'm hoping Petting Zoo will continue to deliver on the promise recently shown by the indie side of the genre.

The Witch
I have heard nothing but praise for this Salem set psychological horror film. The subject is one that fascinates and frightens almost by default. The way that people can be driven by belief to such extremes, it's also a subject that, sadly, retains great contemporary relevance, though whether that's what The Witch is reaching for is something I don't yet know. Whether it goes strongly for metaphor or simply wants to be seen as a straight up piece of psychological horror, I'm in.

Bone Tomahawk
High Rise

Official Competition
The Daughter

First Feature Competition
3000 Nights
Light Years
The Wait
Wedding Doll

Documentary Competition
The Fear of 13
Frame By Frame
In Jackson Heights
Something Better To Come

Gayby Baby
Hitchcock / Truffaut
In The Room
Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words
My Skinny Sister
The Romantic Exiles
A Tale of Three Cities
Valley of Love

The Apostate
The Memory of Justice
Much Loved

Blood of my Blood
The Chosen Ones
Closet Monster
Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere
A Monster With a Thousand Heads
One Floor Below
Take Me To The River

21 Nights With Pattie
The Brand New Testament
Burn Burn Burn
The Garbage Helicopter
Live From New York!

Rattle The Cage
The Survivalist
The Wave

The Boy
Don't Grow Up
Elstree 1976
Green Room
The Invitation
What We Become
Yakuza Apocalypse

King Jack
Land of Mine
Murmur of the Hearts
Necktie Youth
Right Now, Wrong Then
Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Sworn Virgin

The American Epic Sessions
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll
Fresh Dressed
Janis: Little Girl Blue

The Invisible Boy
When Marnie Was There
Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?

No comments:

Post a Comment