PREVIEW: London Film Festival… The magnificent must-see seven

The Digital Fix previews seven must-see films from the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival opens this Wednesday (10 October) with a gala screening of Tim Burton’s animated Frankenweenie 3D and closes 12 days later with Mike Newell’s adaptation of Great Expectations. Sandwiched in between are 225 fiction and documentary features including 12 world premieres, 12 international premieres, 35 European premieres and 111 live action and animated shorts. With only so many hours in a day, jobs, family, mortgages, rent and bills all vying for our time and money, The Digital Fix has singled out seven films you absolutley positively have to see.

Seven Psychopaths
USA-UK 2012, 106 mins

Colin Feckin’ Farrell teams up once more with writer/director Martin McDonagh for the follow-up to his abrasive Oscar nominated comedy In Bruges. Farrell plays Marty, a struggling booze-fuelled screenwriter who is inadvertently put on the radar of seriously fucked up psychos thanks to his oddball friends pooch poaching a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu. With a stellar cast that includes Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and raspy crooner Tom Waits, Seven Psychopaths is going to beat seven shades of shit out of the London Film Festival.

France-Germany-Austria 2012, 127 mins

German-born Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke brings his Palme d’Or winning Amour to London. It tells the story of an octogenarian couple trying to cope when a stroke leaves the wife partly paralysed and speechless. Haneke’s latest success at Cannes is his second Palme d’Or in three years putting him in an elite club of just seven including Francis Ford Coppola. Haneke’s previous win in 2009 was for The White Ribbon.

Rust and Bone
France-Belgium 2012, 120mins

The follow-up to master storyteller Jacques Audiard’s BAFTA award-winning A Prophet takes its inspiration from the dark and visceral short stories of Canadian author Craig Davidson. Rust and Bone is stark poetry in motion which tells the love story between an unemployed 25 year-old man and a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) who suffers a horrible accident which creates a deeper love between the pair.

USA-Turkey 2012, 121 mins

When Ben Affleck hit rock bottom with Gigli (remember turkey time gobble gobble?), the only way was up and Affleck’s stock is now sky high thanks to impressive directorial turns with Gone Baby Gone and The Town. His third film Argo tells the true story of an audacious rescue attempt by CIA operative Tony Mendez (Affleck) to smuggle six US diplomats out of Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Mendez’s far-fetched plan involved a fake Hollywood sci-fi film in which the US diplomats would play a pretend filmcrew and ultimately put their lives on the line in a last ditch attempt to get home alive. This is desperate edge-of-your seat-stuff right until the final frame. Also stars Alan Arkin and John Goodman.

End of Watch
USA 2012, 109 mins

David Ayer (Training Day, SWAT, The Fast and the Furious) continues his love affair with cops and robbers and his latest is reminiscent of Dennis Hopper’s Colors, but delivers it as a found footage documentary style thriller. When two LA cops and best buddies (Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Peña) upset a badass South Central gang they are marked for death. Their ordeal is captured and told through a series of devices such as dashboard cameras, CCTV footage and handheld cameras and the two cops need to rely on their friendship and survival instincts in order to stay alive.

UK 2012, 88 mins

Described by Time Out as British cinema’s new wunderkind, Kill List director Ben Wheatley’s third feature is a love story set across Britain packed with Wheatley’s now staple unhinged and disturbing slant. Written by and starring Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, they play Chris and Tina, two lovers who venture on a caravanning tour which starts out full of promise but descends into madness and mayhem thanks to noisy teenagers, pre-booked caravan sites and dog poo Nazis. Wheatley’s previous film Kill List divided critics and featured in Mark Kermode’s best films of 2011 list, so it will be intriguing to see what reception Sightseers gets.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
USA 2011, 92 mins

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival where it premiered this year, Beasts has been winning awards and accolades ever since. The debut feature of New York-born Benh Zeitlin tells the tale of six year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who lives in a fictitious southern bayou community. Her hot tempered father’s ailing health and melting ice-caps that threaten to flood her home and unleash ancient aurochs, means Hushpuppy must grow up fast to fend for herself. A zesty celebration of Americana and a tribute to the people of New Orleans, Beasts also features an astonishing performance by its 6 year-old star Wallis.

For the full schedule of what’s on and where visit the official Festival website at

Alex Norman

Updated: Oct 05, 2012

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