24th Sep2013

London Film Festival 2013 – The Ten to Watch

by Phil Wheat

Lff-2013

With this years London Film Festival swiftly approaching we’ve teamed up with AskMen, and their film correspondent Olly Richards, to bring you ten films we think will be the pick of LFF 2013 – I’ve focused on this years genre offerings, whilst Olly looks at some of the more mainstream films which will screen as part of the festival which takes place on 9th – 20th October.

Phil -

If you’ve been reading Nerdly for anything length of time you’ll know that I, for one, love my genre flicks, be they low-budget horror or cheesy monster movies. So of course this time of year, from August’s Frightfest to November’s Abertoir, is like Christmas for me. Slid somewhere in the middle is the London Film Festival which, whilst it doesn’t cater solely for genre fans, does typically have some terror-filled delights to see, including:

SX_Tape

Cineworld Haymarket Screen 1 Oct 10th – 21:00
Screen on the Green Oct 12th – 21:00

Having already given us the modern horror classics Paperhouse and Candyman, Bernard Rose is back to delight fear fans with his latest foray into the genre. When a budding artist and her voyeuristic boyfriend break into an old abandoned hospital while scouting locations for an art exhibition, they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. Joined by another couple, they form an unlucky gang and find themselves fighting for their lives as it slowly becomes clear they are not alone. A typically esoteric choice from Rose, who is known as much for his Tolstoy adaptations as he is for his horror films, Sx_Tape is as hard to pin down as its unpredictable director. At once a sly subversion on the trend for found footage scare movies and an out and out shocker in its own right, Rose’s film constantly confounds expectations, leaving you exhilarated, terrified and just a little bit perplexed.

The Sacrament

VUE, Screen 5 Oct 15th – 20:30
Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1 Oct 16th – 20:45

Continuing to prove himself as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary horror cinema, Ti West’s (The House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers) latest nightmare once again showcases his inimitable brand of smart, slow-burn terror. Agreeing to help a friend in the search for his missing sister, two ill-fated Vice magazine journalists travel to a remote commune known as Eden Paradise where they plan an exposé on life in a religious sanctuary. Led by a mysterious figure known affectionately as ‘Father’, the residents initially seem to be in blissful rapture of their surroundings but, as the journalistic duo dig deeper, they begin to realise that the commune is not so idyllic, and underneath the supposed harmony exists a dark and terrifying truth. Notching up the tension with a masterful sense of control, The Sacrament comes laced with a disarming sense of pathos, effectively balancing scares with a biting intelligence.

All Cheerleaders Die

VUE, Screen 5 Oct 12th – 21:00
Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1 Oct 14th – 20:45

When Blackfoot High’s revered head cheerleader is unexpectedly killed in a freak accident, self-styled outsider Maddy shocks the remaining team by trying out for the new vacancy. With something darker in mind than perky acrobatics, Maddy’s plans for sabotage are soon quashed when an altercation with the football team ends in another tragedy. Now, with the help of Maddy’s Wiccan ex-girlfriend Leena, our gang of cheerleaders embark on a supernatural path of vengeance where the girls rule the school and no jock is safe. With a handful of modern genre classics already under their belts, this wickedly ghoulish subversion of the high school movie sees directors Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (The Lost) join forces to remake their notorious video project from over a decade ago. Hip, horrific and unashamedly exuberant, All Cheerleaders Die is an affectionate thrill ride with a blackly comic heart.

Rigor Mortis

BFI Southbank, NFT1 Oct 13th – 21:00
VUE, Screen 5 Oct 17th – 12:00

Inspired by the supernatural action films that populated Chinese genre cinema of the 1970s and 1980s, and featuring some original cast members from the famed Mr Vampire series, Juno Mak’s astounding debut is both a nod to that past and an ultra-contemporary new vision. A down-on-his-luck movie star, Siu Ho, struggling to make ends meet, is forced to take up residence in a dilapidated housing block. Alienated from his wife and young son, and with no end to his misery in sight, he makes the decision to end it all. But the building has other plans and, when his suicide attempt is interrupted by a supernatural presence, Siu Ho uncovers the dark history of his new home and the frightening truth about his strange neighbours. Driven by atmosphere and suspense, Rigor Mortis abandons the comedic aspects of the original movies in favour of something much darker, breathing new life into the genre.

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears

VUE, Screen 5 Oct 11th – 20:45
Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1 Oct 13th – 20:45
Curzon Mayfair, Screen 1 Oct 20th – 20:45

Following Amer, their acclaimed love letter to Italian giallo, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani return to psychedelic 1970s Euro-horror with another visceral exercise in operatic violence and perverse eroticism. Following the disappearance of his wife, a man enters a web of intrigue as he tries to uncover her whereabouts. Traversing the labyrinthine halls of his apartment building, he encounters inhabitants whose tales of sensuality and sadism play out before him. With an unconventional approach to narrative, Cattet and Forzani have created a sensory experience that’s more dream than traditional film, often forgoing dialogue in favour of instinctual storytelling. From its gloriously evocative title to its visionary execution, this is a gift to fans of exploitation cinema; pitched to perfection and delivering devious surprises with every blood-splattered frame.

Olly -

The London Film Festival begins on 9 October and while it’s generally a bit of a ‘best of’ festival, in that many of the offerings have already screened elsewhere, it is also the best chance for film obsessives to catch the most talked about movies of the year months before anyone else sees them, plus the fact the films have already screened gives you a better steer on what might be worth seeing.

Gravity

IMAX, Oct 11th – 21:00
Odeon Leicester Square, Oct 10th – 19:15

Perhaps the film event of the year. Whether it not it turns out to be the best of the year, Alfonso Cuaron’s first film since Children of Men (way back in 2006 — lazy), is certainly one of the most daring. It takes place entirely in space, where two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, the only two actors on screen) are making routine repairs on the Hubble telescope. When a piece of space debris strikes the telescope, Bullock is sent drifting into space and the rest of the movie is about the attempt to bring her back from the endless nothing. The weightless camera that Cuaron uses should inspire awe and terror in equal measure, as he makes viewers feel like they’re drifting in space.

Enough Said

Odeon West End, Screen 2 Oct 12th – 18:00
VUE, Screen 5 Oct 13th – 15:00
Ritzy, Screen 2 Oct 14th – 18:30

James Gandolfini, who died earlier this year, was always a powerful screen presence and this features one of his final performances. It’s romantic comedy, rather that intense drama, with Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as two divorcees who find each other and a second chance. It’s already had strong reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, with a number of reviews calling this some of Gandolfini’s best work.

Don Jon

Odeon West End, Screen 2 Oct 16th – 18:00
Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1 Oct 20th – 20:45
Odeon West End, Screen 2 Oct 17th – 12:30

The rise of Joseph Gordon Levitt continues as he makes the move to director, telling a story of a man who’s numbed himself to affection with an addiction to porn. Even when faced with the alternative of Scarlett Johansson he still find himself going back to 2D sex. The film is the story of his journey to finding fulfilment in relationships that don’t offer a rewind function. Reception has been good, particularly for a stand-out performance from Tony Danza. And how often do you get to use that sentence?

Captain Phillips

Odeon Leicester Square, Oct 9 – 19:00
Cineworld Haymarket, Screen 1 Oct 10th – 18:15

Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks are an intriguing match. For Greengrass’s first film in three years, Hanks plays the true-life captain who was taken hostage when Somali pirates boarded his ship in 2009. Greengrass is expert at ratcheting up tension and bringing his viewers uncomfortably into the action and when Hanks really challenges himself there are very few who can match his power on screen. This and his role as Walt Disney in festival closer Saving Mr Banks could see Hanks battling himself come award season.

12 Years A Slave

Odeon Leicester Square, Oct 18th – 20:30
Odeon West End, Screen 1 Oct 19th – 12:00
Rich Mix, Screen 1 Oct 20th – 17:45

This initially seems a strange move for director Steve McQueen. Hunger and Shame were raw, small scale films that crept up gently and then floored audiences. 12 Years A Slave would appear to be the sort of handsome, starry spectacle that Steven Spielberg directs and Oscar voters automatically add to their ballot sheets. But underneath the apparent gloss, this would still seem to fit McQueen’s theme of men trying to exert power over that they cannot control. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and kept as a slave in 1841. With a cast also including Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Quvenzhane Wallis, plus the fact it won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, this is going to be one of the most wanted tickets this year.

You can read more of Olly Richards’ pick from this years LFF here and to book tickets for the 57th London Film Festival visit bfi.org.uk/lff

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