‘Che,’ ‘W.’ among films announced to play London fest

Posted by · 10:14 am · September 10th, 2008

Looking down the list of titles in the newly-revealed lineup for next month’s London Film Festival lineup, my initial reaction was one of mild disappointment. Plenty of exciting titles, for sure, but it doesn’t quite match last year’s feast that included everything from “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” to “The Assassination of Jesse James” to “Juno” to “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.”

My second thought, however, was that the lineup reflects more on what a tepid year for film 2008 is shaping up to be, rather than any lack of effort on festival director Sandra Hebron’s part. Tellingly, this morning Hebron herself cited critical opinion that, in the wake of a roundly derided Venice festival, “it wasn’t a vintage year for cinema.”

But enough of the hand-wringing. There’s still much to get excited about, including “Che,” the two parts of which, interestingly, will be screened both together and apart; Oliver Stone’s potentially polarising “W”; “Hunger,” featuring a potential dark horse for Best Actor; “Religulous”; “Rachel Getting Married,” “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist,” “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson” and, to my immense delight, “Synecdoche, New York.”

Not to mention that, as previously announced, the festival will be bookended by the world premiere of “Frost/Nixon” and Danny Boyle’s red-hot Toronto hit “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The festival also offers us Brits a chance to catch up on such already-released US titles as “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Frozen River” and “American Teen.” Meanwhile, the programme is heavy on successes from May’s Cannes festival: Palme d’Or winner “The Class,” “Waltz With Bashir,” “Three Monkeys,” “Il Divo,” “Of Time and the City,”  “A Christmas Story” and “Lorna’s Silence.”

Michelle Williams looks to be one of the faces of the festival, with two films appearing here: US indie “Wendy and Lucy,” which is prompting awards talk for the actress, and Sharon Maguire’s terrorism-themed UK drama “Incendiary.” (I can vouch for the quality of her performance in the latter.)

My biggest disappointment? The absence of Darren Aronofsky’s breathlessly acclaimed “The Wrestler,” which would be a perfect fit for the festival. Fingers crossed it shows up in the ‘surprise film’ slot, where “No Country for Old Men” made its first UK appearance last year. And this was a longer shot, but a small, irrational part of me was hoping one of the unseen heavyweight prestige titles — “Revolutionary Road,” say, or “Milk” — might land here.

Elsewhere, the world cinema selection isn’t as strong as it’s been in years past, though I’ll be looking out for Ethiopia’s “Teza,” which received a number of accolades at Venice. There’s also an interesting sidebar of new French cinema, which includes Agnes Varda’s critically lauded autobiographical doc “The Beaches of Agnes.”

So plenty to look forward to. It’s going to be an entertaining (not to mention hectic) fortnight, and I’ll be doing my best to cover as much of it as humanly possible for your benefit. Roll on October.

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14 responses so far

  • 1 9-10-2008 at 10:17 am

    Daniel Crooke said...

    I’d be pleased with either Milk or The Wrestler as the Surprise Film.

  • 2 9-10-2008 at 10:55 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yeah, here’s hoping — though they’ve copped out with the surprise film before. I’ll never forget the crushing disappointment three years ago of queuing for an hour in the rain for last minute tickets, JUST making it in, and then being met with…

    “Mrs Henderson Presents.”

    I damn near demanded my money back.

  • 3 9-10-2008 at 11:47 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m 90% positive Rev. Road won’t be ready for London, and would consider it a good assumption that Milk won’t go there either.

    So the surprise slot could still be The Wrestler.

  • 4 9-10-2008 at 11:54 am

    Kathy SF said...

    British actor Matthew Macfadyen will be prominent also with co starring roles in”Frost/Nixon” and “Incendiary”. Watch for him!;-)

  • 5 9-10-2008 at 3:47 pm

    Daniel Crooke said...

    I didn’t think about this until just now, but The Road might be the Surprise Film? Or is that too wishful thinking?

  • 6 9-10-2008 at 4:00 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    That’s certainly possible.

  • 7 9-10-2008 at 4:19 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Possibly. They tend to go for something (supposedly) audience-pleasing — “The Prestige,” “Mrs Henderson Presents,” “School of Rock,” “Sideways” … though a friend told me they had “Far From Heaven” one year, which is slightly more left-field.

    I’m betting on “The Wrestler,” as it’s the film I was most surprised not to see in the main lineup.

  • 8 9-10-2008 at 4:32 pm

    Daniel Crooke said...

    My only reservation about The Wrestler being Sandra’s pick is that, although is has certainly been on a couple of radars since its announcement, she said she made her pick back in May and if she was trying to predict a crowd pleaser, I don’t think she’d gamble it on a film that hadn’t yet been established as a legitimately great film, or with a reputation as one. Here’s hoping, though.

  • 9 9-10-2008 at 5:51 pm

    Marvin said...

    Che, Frost/Nixon, The Other Man, Slumdog Millionaire, W., Adoration, Rachel Getting Married, Synecdoche New York…

    I haven’t even seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona yet, though it is released here. I might go see that tomorrow night.

  • 10 9-11-2008 at 5:00 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Interestingly, in the programme Hebron writes that unlike last year, when she had “No Country” secured in May, this year’s surprise film is more of a last-minute affair.

  • 11 9-11-2008 at 7:48 am

    Bradley Porter said...

    I’ve sent off for tickets for Che, Bronson and the Surprise film as I won’t be able to get much more time off work in Bristol… will prob try and get some standby tickets for other films on those days as well, like Vicky Cristina Barcelona…

  • 12 9-18-2008 at 7:17 am

    EllenW said...

    The Road or The Wrestler would be terrific choices (although I’ve never managed to get over the feeling that I was being deliberately tortured by Requiem for a Dream and found The Proposition was predictable). I tend to try to see films that I wouldn’t see other than in the Festival, and in my shopping basket so far are Routine Holiday, Uprise and Helen.