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London Film Festival 2008

Posted by: Matthew Turner 03/11/2008 @ 16:22
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 425
Films seen this fortnight: Telstar, Adoration, Quantum of Solace, American Teen, Free Jimmy, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Lake Tahoe, Body of Lies, Genova, Quiet Chaos, Two Lovers, Wendy and Lucy, Che (Part 1), Che (Part 2), Blindness, Quarantine, W., The Other Man, The Wrestler (twice), Vicky Christina Barcelona, Not Quite Hollywood, Saw V, The Secret of Moonacre, The Brothers Bloom, Max Payne, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Revance, Changeling, Slumdog Millionaire, Frozen River

The Bestival of the Festival: LFF post-mortem
Well, another London Film Festival comes to an end and what it lacked in atmosphere (seriously, what's wrong with designating an unofficial LFF bar where the public can mingle with the film-makers, like they do in Edinburgh?), it more than made up for in quality. The London Film Festival 2008 also had one of the better surprise films in The Wrestler, which had the added bonus of Mickey Rourke and Darren Aronofsky showing up for an entertaining Q&A. Anyway, the following are my top ten films of the festival and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them ended up in my 2008 / 2009 Best of the Year lists.
1. Sugar
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
4. Wendy and Lucy
5. The Class
6. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Doctor Hunter S Thompson
7. Waltz With Bashir
8. The Brothers Bloom
9. Frozen River
10. Vicky Christina Barcelona

Special mentions should also go to The Silence of Lorna, Rachel Getting Married, Hunger, The Wrestler and the impenetrable Synecdoche, New York. Neither The Brothers Bloom nor Frozen River have a UK distributor yet, so here's hoping someone snaps them up.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: The Spirit
From the looks of the trailer, this could be a pulpy, Sin City-esque treat or a horrible, horrible disaster, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm a fan of Darwyn Cooke's revamp of Will Eisner's original. Spirit comics and writer-director Frank Miller has assembled a drop-dead gorgeous cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Jaime King and Paz Vega. Plus, Samuel L Jackson always gives good villain and I think the move of casting a relative unknown (Gabriel Macht) as The Spirit will prove to be a smart one, especially as he really looks the part. I do hope the move has a little more colour in it than the trailer implies though.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week with Hunger (Steve McQueen's stunning drama about Bobby Sands), Of Time and the City (Terence Davies' delightful documentary about his beloved Liverpool) and of course Quantum of Solace (in which Bond has a serious case of Bourne Envy) all making it into the top ten. But the most shocking news of all is that The Dark Knight has finally entered its second run, meaning that its reign at the top is finally drawing to a close. La Zona and Pineapple Express are both also worth catching before they disappear and why they took off Eden Lake in Halloween week is completely beyond me, as it's the scariest film I've seen in ages.

1. The Dark Knight
2. I've Loved You So Long
3. Hunger
4. Quantum of Solace
5. Of Time and the City
6. Pineapple Express
7. Mamma Mia
8. Gomorrah
9. La Zona
10.  Burn After Reading

DVD of the Week: Iron Man (two-disc Ultimate Edition, out now, RRP £24.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is the two-disc Ultimate Edition of Iron Man. I liked The Dark Knight as much as the next rabid fanboy (well, perhaps not that much), but for me, Iron Man was the blockbuster of the summer. More than anything else, it was genuinely exciting to see the movie become such a huge success, especially as Iron Man hadn't previously had the recognition-factor enjoyed by the likes of Hulk, Spider-Man or Batman. Also, director Jon Favreau just got everything right, from the brilliant casting of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, to look of the suit, to the perfect comic-book blend of action, humour and likeable characters.

They've gone all out on the DVD too – extras include: eleven deleted or extended scenes (including a better ending as well as some frankly bizarre scenes which I'm glad they cut out); a teaser for the upcoming animated series; a Stan Lee Easter Egg; a 7-part Making Of documentary; a featurette on the visual effects; Robert Downey Jr's screen test; a rehearsal scene with Favreau, Bridges and Downey Jr; a delightful 6-part documentary on the history of the comics themselves (including interviews with Stan Lee and various artists and writers); some extensive galleries; and a hilarious skit by The Onion TV, entitled "Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into Full Length Film". Oddly, however, there's no trailer (which is a shame, as the trailer (see below) was awesome) and no commentary.


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