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London Film Festival Roundup

Posted by: Matthew Turner 29/10/2010 @ 12:26
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 412
Films seen this week: Red, Mary and Max (again), West Is West, Spork, The Parking Lot Movie, Catfish, Neds, Dark Love, Nothing's All Bad, The Tillman Story, Paranormal Activity 2, Black Swan, Home For Christmas, Submarine, Surprise Film: Brighton Rock, Carancho, Abel, The First Grader, Attenberg, The Hunter, Somewhere, Special Treatment, Jackass 3D, Kaboom, 127 Hours, A Somewhat Gentle Man, Machete

Best of the Fest: LFF 2010 round-up
So another London Film Festival has come and gone. My scrupulous records tell me that I saw a total of 46 LFF films, including the 7 or so I saw before the official LFF press screenings started. (The LFF might seem like a two week festival on the outside, but for critics it's a five week slog, as press screenings start three weeks beforehand and there are three a day). Of that 46 there were very few actual stinkers (although Miral was utterly dreadful and Brighton Rock – the Surprise Film – turned out to be a huge disappointment), though there were several films that weren't quite as good as I'd hoped they'd be, such as It's Kind of a Funny Story, which was the film I'd been most looking forward to when the programme was announced and Spork, which I was hoping would be a low-budget gem but...wasn't. Anyway, I wrote 28 reviews (that can be found here) and my LFF Top Ten is as follows (mini synopsis included for anything I didn't review):

1. Tabloid
2. The Tillman Story (documentary about the US government and media manipulating the truth about the death of US soldier Patrick Tillman, who, it turned out, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan)
3. A Somewhat Gentle Man (hilarious, Coens-esque Norwegian black comedy starring Stellan Skarsgard as an ex-con)
4. Catfish
5. Blue Valentine
6. Meek's Cutoff
7. Black Swan
8. Neds
9. Archipelago
10. Heartbeats

Bubbling under were The King's Speech (sure to be coming to an Oscar ceremony near you), Richard Ayoade's coming-of-age comedy Submarine, Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, Will Ferrell drama Everything Must Go, zen slacker documentary The Parking Lot Movie, Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, Diego Luna's Abel, Biutiful and The Arbor, which won British director Clio Barnard a Best Newcomer award. Lowly internet journalists don't get invited to LFF parties (unlike Edinburgh where there are parties every night) but I did go to the non-LFF Optimum party (aka the Optiparty), which ended up being a semi-official Submarine after-party, the highlight of which was getting told to fuck off by Idris Elba.

I only did one LFF interview (with the directors of Catfish, which is out December 17th) and didn't attend a single press conference (mostly because they were always directly after the 9.30am press screenings and I always had to write the reviews immediately instead) but I did go to several excellent Q&As, including a highly entertaining one with Diego Luna and the child star of Abel. So all in all, a fun festival with some very good films, but I'm glad it's over and would like to sleep now, please.

Trailerwatch: Paul
I saw an extended trailer for Paul at Moviecon back in August and I have to say, it looked pretty funny. The newly released official trailer is still very much a teaser, but it at least gives you the general idea. Directed by Gregg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad), Paul stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who wrote the script) as Graeme and Clive, two British comic book geeks on a tour of America who encounter a grey alien (voiced by Seth Rogen, no less) when they visit Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. Paul asks them for help and, once they've stopped freaking out, they attempt to help him evade the clutches of – I assume – CIA guy Jason Bateman. The superb cast also features the comic talents of Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig (who ends up as Pegg's love interest), Jane Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor and David Koechner, as well as the impressive casting coup of landing Sigourney Weaver.

The teaser is low on actual gags, but rest assured, they're there - I've seen them. That said, I like the way the scene at the end manages to draw from both E.T. and American Dad. Pegg and Frost are a proven comic combination and a film where they're playing sci-fi nerds is certainly playing to their strengths, so the signs are good for this, particularly with Mottola directing. The film doesn't open here until February 18th but in the meantime, if you're after more Paul goodies while you're waiting for the full-length trailer to get released, the cast have done various production video blogs that can be found here.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week, with Swedish multi-character arthouse drama Involuntary, lesbian-couple's-teenagers-track-down-their-sperm-donor-father drama The Kids Are All Right (featuring tipped-for-Oscars performances from Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) and Iranian thriller The Hunter all making it into the top ten, though I should confess that I haven't seen Burke and Hare, Saw 3D, Spiderhole or The Prison Where I Live, because of the LFF. (Normal service will be resumed next week). Oh, and Afghan cricket team documentary Out of the Ashes is worth seeing too, even if it doesn't quite make it into the top ten.

Interview-wise, we have an exclusive one-on-one chat with Simon Pegg, and you can still read our semi-exclusive interview with Oliver Stone, our interviews with Made In Dagenham stars Jaime Winstone and Rosamund Pike, our interviews with Winter's Bone star and director Jennifer Lawrence and Debra Granik, our interview with Enter the Void director Gaspar Noe and our interviews with Tamara Drewe cast Gemma Arterton, Tamsin Greig, Dominic Cooper and director Stephen Frears.

1.The Social Network
2.Winter's Bone
3.Enter the Void
4.Toy Story 3
5.Involuntary
6.The Kids Are All Right
7.The Town
8.Buried
9.Made In Dagenham
10.The Hunter

DVD Of The Week: The Secret of Kells (out Monday 1st November, RRP £17.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Oscar-nominated feature The Secret of Kells, directed by Tomm Moore. The film is set in 9th century Ireland in the village of Kells, where young monk Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire) has never been outside the heavily-fortified village walls due to his over-protective uncle (Brendan Gleeson), the Abbott, who's obsessed with protecting the village from marauding Viking hordes.

When kindly Father Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives, bringing a mysterious, legendary book, he inspires a spark of creativity in Brendan and soon persuades him to venture outside into the forest for the first time, where meets a wolf-spirit-girl named Aisling (Christen Mooney) who introduces him to the wonders of the natural world. The Oscar-nominated animation is utterly gorgeous throughout, as if the pages of a particularly beautiful children's book had sprung to life; this is, of course, reflected in the film's central theme about illuminating the world through creativity and illustration.

The voice cast are excellent too, though it should be noted that the Viking attack sequences towards the end might prove too frightening for small children. In short, this is an engaging, beautifully animated drama with a strong message, appealing characters and a distinctive visual style. Extras include: a director's commentary; the trailer; 9 minutes of deleted scenes; a storyboard comparison with line test; an amusing 12 minute animated short (in Gaelic, with subtitles) called Cullin Dualach; and three short featurettes on the animation process (Compositing, Digital Ink Paint and Effects). All in all, an excellent DVD package. Highly recommended.

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