BFI London Film Festival guide 2011

Running from the 12-27th of October, the 55th London Film Festival promises to showcase the very finest in cinema from around the globe, as well as that film Madonna made. Over its 16 day run the festival will screen a total of 204 fiction and documentary features, 13 World premières, 18 International premières and 22 European premières, so the question is – what on earth should you be watching? Having seen a glimpse of a few of the upcoming features, we reckon we can at least point you in the right direction…

The Ones Everyone Will Be Talking About

Otherwise known as, The Films With Real Big Famous Folk In. Firstly (and lastly), we’ve got the films that will open and close the festival: Fernando Meirelles’ 360 (starring Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz) and The Deep Blue Sea (also starring Weisz, but with the addition of Simon Russell Beale and Tom Hiddleton.) Both are adaptations of plays (The Deep Blue Sea is originally by Terrence Rattigan, and 360 is loosely based on a play called La Ronde), and both of which focus on sexy encounters between different characters thrown together by circumstance. Except classy shots, burning tensions and lots and lots of Rachel Weisz.

And it’s not just Mrs Bond who’s stacking up more than her fair share of screen-time this year; you can get two hits of George Clooney in both the political drama The Ides Of March and dark comedy The Descendants, two doses of John C Reilly in We Need To Talk About Kevin (co-starring Tilda “everything I do is fucking amazing” Swinton) and comedy Terri, and double Michael Fassbender in Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and the brilliant-looking Shame.

If you’re looking for even more along the adaptation line, it’s worth checking out Ralph Fiennes’ production of Coriolanus, Michael Winterbottom’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles (with Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed) and Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous – which promises an interesting theory about how Shakespeare’s plays got all written by not Shakespeare n that. That and Vincent Cassell in The Monk, obviously. Delicious, hooded frenchy shark-faced Vincent Cassell.

The Ones To Look Out For

As ever, the real joys of the LFF are discovering those films that the Big Boys might have overlooked – and hopefully this year will be no different. We can’t help but be quietly excited about Snowtown – an Austrian serial killer drama by first time director Justin Kurzel, Footnotes – an Israli drama-comedy set around the Talmud department of the Hebrew University Of Jerusalem (trust us on this one) and Headhunters – a Norwegian shooty-naked-explodey thriller based on the novel by Jo Nesbo. Mexican action-thriller Miss Bala looks well worth a go, and dark-comedy-drama Alps, a film set in a world where people can be hired out to take on the role of a person you’ve lost, looks totally unmissable. If you’re hankering for some home-grown talent, keep your eye out for Wreckers, a domestic slow-burner starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy, Junkhearts – a gritty tale of an ex-solider manipulated by a young couple, and Weekend – a touching and original romance between two young men set over the course of, you guessed it, the only two days no-one hates.

The Ones That Look (good) Mental

It’s important to have a few wildcards up your sleeve, and judging by this year’s programme, we’re in no short supply. We Have A Pope is an Italian comedy starring Michel Piccoli as a cardinal who, against his wish, is elected as the new pope. Moretti co-stars as a psychiatrist called in to help him overcome his panic. Sounds a bit like The Pope’s Speech, sure, but we’re intrigued. If gentle smock-wearing isn’t really your thing, it might be worth having a gander at Let The Bullets Fly, which looks to be an angry Samurai flick with more than your usual allocation of guitar solos. Excellent. Then we have Tales Of The Night – a French fairytale silhouette animation, coming at us in 3D. Yep. Nick Broomfield has gotten a few mouth waggling with his self-explanatory documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! and last but not least we have The Artist – a silent comedy set in 1927 about the trials and tribulations of the fame game. John Goodman’s involved – what more is there?

The Ones That Look (bad) Mental

W.E. Sorry Madonna. It’s just not going to happen.

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