BFI London Film Festival – Highlights so far

The last thing we wanted to happen after we booked our tickets for this year’s BFI London Film Festival was to get ill. However, sadly illness has struck this week. Illness so dilapidating that it has prevented Charles from attending three planned screenings and myself one. And for anybody who knows us missing the cinema and planned trips to soak up film is not something we do lightly. However, despite the illness we have had a pretty enjoyable festival so far. And with the festival now a week old it’s worth picking out some of our highlights so far.

Trumbo: Attending the premiere of Trumbo was epic and the experience was made all the sweeter by the film being so enjoyable too. Skirting up the red carpet a shoulder’s breadth from Bryan Cranston was pretty damn cool. While I know the crowd was shouting “Bryan” relentlessly it didn’t take much to mentally drop the ‘B’ and imagine they were shouting my name – one day perhaps! Needless to say Charles and I took the obligatory red carpet selfies, which we had up on facebook and Instagram almost before we had sat down in our seats.

The film which was introduced by four members of the cast: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, John Goodman, Dame Helen Mirren and of course Bryan Cranston. The four of them riffed off each other well and it put an already eager audience in an even better mood. The film is full of sass and great lines but most of all it tells the remarkable story of a remarkable man at what is frankly a shameful period of US History. It’s a film about the importance of freedom, of creativity, of the loyalty of friends, of trust, of being judged, of being ignored, of being belittled, of being forgiven, of fighting for something you believe in, of never giving up and ultimately of the power of story itself. It was a cracking film and a great start to our festival.

High-Rise: Our second film was something completely different. Ben Wheatley’s reimagining of J.G. Ballard’s dystopian novel High-Rise was delivered with the typical visual flair and black comedy one has come to expect from Wheatley. Strong performances from Tom Hiddlestone, Sienna Miller, Elizabeth Moss and a hirsuite Luke Evans drag the view up and down through the destructive and chaotic world of the High Rise. The film is clear creative adventure and Wheatley’s direction and the cast he has assembled was strong enough to pull the audience through a disturbing world of societal clashes.

The film was followed by a Q&A with the director himself and stars: Tom Hiddlestone, Elizabeth Moss and Sienna Miller whose chemistry together was clearly there months after filming had ended. Discussions of scotch eggs, Bangor Leisure Centre Northern Ireland and how much fun they had making this movie. Elizabeth Moss acknowledging that having such fun on a film like High-Rise might sound a little “sick”.

Room: Brie Larson and the very young Jacob Tremblay give extraordinary performances in Emma Donaghue’s adaptation of her own best-selling book. At times both harrowing and uplifting it is a remarkable film which shows the power of imagination to conquer the most horrific of situations. For aspiring filmmakers it also shows how a small space and setting can still be used to incredible effect to drive a narrative.

The Wave: Last night I saw Norwegian disaster thriller The Wave. Costing ‘only’  EUR 6M to make it has smashed box office records in its home country. It’s straight out of the 1970s disaster movie genre and like all good disaster movies the hero is a geologist. As someone who studied geology and geoscience at university I always have a soft spot for a geological hero who rocks (sorry!). It was extremely refreshing to see a disaster movie that wasn’t set in LA or New York.

Friday we have one-shot German film Victoria before finishing with the official shorts film competition on Saturday. Something we have ambitions of entering ourselves in the future.