Meirelles’s ‘360’ to open London fest

Posted by · 9:20 am · August 24th, 2011

I’m trying not to think too much about my hometown film festival right now — with the chaos of Venice only a week away, the idea of diving into another five-films-a-day fortnight shortly afterwards seems somewhat deadly. Still, with this week essentially amounting to the calm before the storm, now is as good a time as any for the London Film Festival to announce that they’ll be kicking off their 55th edition with Fernando Meirelles’s starry erotic drama “360.”

It’s a choice that’ll bring the requisite glamor to the fest’s opening night — the cast includes Jude Law, Rachel Weisz (set to be the fall festival season’s most ubiquitous face), Anthony Hopkins, Eminem and Ben Foster — but I must admit to being somewhat disappointed.

The LFF raised its international profile considerably in 2008 and 2009 by opening with major world premieres (“Frost/Nixon” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” respectively), and while I’m aware of the difficulty of securing such coups, a curtain-raiser that has already been seen and critically assessed at Toronto — whatever its merits — just doesn’t carry the same level of excitement.

Last year, “Never Let Me Go” opened proceedings in London: a respectable enough choice in itself, but one that had already opened to a commercial and critical shrug in the US. With “360” currently slated for a 2012 release, it won’t feel like quite such old news, but it’ll need strong Toronto reviews to avoid giving off a similar whiff of damaged goods.

The festival clearly has a good relationship with Meirelles — “The Constant Gardener” was a popular occupant of the opening-night slot back in 2005. Since then, the director’s reputation hit a bit of a speed bump with the noble failure of 2008’s “Blindness,” so there’s pressure on “360” to make up some ground. I confess I’m slightly nervous about the project — a reworking of “La Ronde” is a tall order for anyone, and neither Meirelles’ earnest-if-kinetic drive, nor writer Peter Morgan’s dryly disciplined oeuvre, necessarily promise the playful, passionate touch needed for such a project. (Still, it’s encouraging to see Morgan continue to move away from his trademark fact-based work, in light of the drubbing dished out to last year’s misguided fantastical foray “Hereafter.”)

Festival director Sandra Hebron, in her final year steering the LFF, is confident, of course:

I’m delighted that 360 will be our opening night film, and very pleased to welcome back Fernando Meirelles and Peter Morgan to the Festival. With its impeccable film making credentials and intriguing premise, 360 combines masterful visual story telling with a modern and moving narrative, helped by strong performances from a terrific ensemble cast. It will be a pleasure to open this year’s Festival with such an accomplished film from one of international cinema’s finest film makers.

Well, we’ll have some idea before then. The London Film Festival runs from the 12th to the 27th of October, with press screenings beginning about two weeks before. (The full lineup drops on September 7.) Expect our usual coverage, but not before Venice and a long nap.

[Photo: BBC Films]

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 8-24-2011 at 10:00 am

    red_wine said...

    La Ronde is magnificent. I was quite taken with the film – very good performances and an absolute bedazzlement of sumptuous black and white images. Its also an incredibly sexy and suggestive movie without any actual sex shown on screen.

    The trio of La Ronde, Le Plaisir and The Earrings of Madame de… must be 3 of the most gorgeously beautiful black and white films ever shot.

    How could 360 compare to La Ronde, its like a lose-lose situation.

  • 2 8-24-2011 at 10:29 am

    m1 said...

    I did not think that The Constant Gardener was that great, so hopefully I will enjoy 360 more.

  • 3 8-24-2011 at 11:57 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    World premieres are tough. NYFF could only get one world premiere this year which was My Week With Marilyn as the centerpiece.

    Not quite the same as The Social Network last year.

  • 4 8-24-2011 at 2:56 pm

    daveylow said...

    Trying to choose my 30+ films for TIFF this week and can’t decide about 360.

    360, Trishna, The Ides of March, and Oslo 31, August (by the director of Reprise) are 4 movies I want to see but one of the must go for me to fit them all in my schedule.

    I’m already bummed that I have to forego the new Ewan McGregor-Emily Blunt movie because it’s playing opposite the new Sarah Polley film.

    I know that Olso 31 has gotten some good notices already because it played at Canned.

  • 5 8-24-2011 at 4:06 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Daveylow: In such situations, I always think in terms of which films will be harder to access once the festival is over. For example, you’ll be able to see The Ides of March in regular theatres only a couple of weeks after the fest — why make sacrifices to see it at Toronto?

  • 6 8-24-2011 at 4:30 pm

    daveylow said...

    Guy, I totally agree with your philosophy. I also enjoy seeing some of the people associated with the film live. I’d like to catch Ryan Gosling, though he was my screening of Blue Valentine last year. And Clooney will probably be at my Gala screening of The Descendants.

    So I am leaning toward 360, Trishna and Oslo. I’ve been burned before, however, with world premieres at Toronto. Thinking of The Burning Plain as one good example.

    I was spoiled last year. I think I only disliked one film I saw–the Woody Allen picture, though Allen made a rare appearance and introduced the film!