Cinémoi’s Top 10 Films to see at the 55th London Film Festival Part 2 Cinemoi’s Top 10 list continues with more ‘must see’ films that will be screening at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. With some of the greatest modern filmmakers such as the Dardenne brothers, Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg airing their latest films for UK audiences the first time, the 55th BFI London Film Festival is the premiere film event of the year in Britain. From gritty social dramas to psycho-sexual biopics to eccentric religious comedies, there is an extraordinary range of films to see, so Cinemoi has picked the best just for you!
The Kid With A Bike Dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne Cast: Thomas Doret, Cecile de France The irrepresibly brilliant Dardenne brothers are back to stun us again with their unique style of visual naturalism and poetic commentary on everyday life. However many truly great films the Dardenne’s produce, (Rosetta, L’Enfant), they keep on coming back with inspirational work and powerful filmmaking. Anyone visiting this year’s festival lucky enough to see The Kid with a Bike won’t be left unsatisfied thanks to a beautiful and moving story about a troubled childhood. If Kes is the high watermark of childhood drama, then the Dardenne’s have just thrown their latest film into the discussion. After a young boy is left by his father at a children’s home, he escapes and attempts to find find his father and his beloved bike. After finding his father has moved out from their home and sold his bike, the 11 year old Cyril, heroically played by Thomas Doret, refuses to accept his father has abondoned him but seeks refuge with the help of a local hairdresser. Cyril’s relationships with others is strained to say the least due to his evergrowing anger and resentment to those who have negelected him. But as Cyril quickly comes to learn, not all fairytales are happy ones.
We Have A Pope Dir. Nanni Moretti Cast: Michel Piccoli, Nanni Moretti After completing his scathing portrayal of Italian supremo Silvio Berlusconi with The Caiman, Nanni Moretti has returned with a similary mischievous, though predominantly more light hearted, comedy about a Pope who has a sudden crisis of faith. Moretti’s genius is his ability to project laugh out loud comedy, while maintaining a sense of drama and poignancy. Moretti’s handling of sensitive religious material is done with great sincerity and respect, without ever appearing judgemental or critical. Rather, We Have a Pope give us a human insight into the Catholic church and the fact that issues to do with faith and doubt in one’s self is not something Catholicism is completely immune to. As the French Pope-elect, Michel Piccoli gives a standout performance as the suddenly confidence stricken leader of the Catholic faith. Moretti himself stars as the psychotherapist brought in to help the troubled Pope and both let sparks fly to great comic effect. Not without moments of subtlty and emotion regarding a clearly troubled man, We Have a Pope is perhaps one of the high points of the already distinguished careers of Moretti and Piccoli.
A Dangerous Method Dir. David Cronenberg Cast: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen Perhaps one of the great auteur directors of the modern era, David Cronenberg’s latest film is an essential viewing at this year’s festival. Cronenberg’s films are always laced with themes of passion and repressed sexual desires. A Dangerous Method is certainly no exception. Based on Christopher Hampton’s stage play about the birth of psychoanalysis and the relationship between its pioneers Carl Jung and the legendary Sigmund Freud, Cronenberg focuses on the idea of intense personal relationships. Whether the relationship is sexual, parental, marital or professional, Cronenberg layers the on the emotional depth and drama to such an extent that A Dangerous Method is as a fascinating and provocative film you’re likely to see this year. Michael Fassbender stars as Carl Jung in one of his two films at the Festival, once again proving he is a true acting force to be reckoned with. After working with Cronenberg on A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises, Viggo Mortensen is irrepresible as Sigmund Freud, brooding and analysing every move Jung makes. Kiera Knightley also surprises with a strong performance as Jung’s crazed mistress, continuing her good work from Never Let Me Go.
Carnage Dir. Roman Polanski Cast: Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster The brilliant, yet also controversial, director Roman Polanski is treating London with his claustrophobic adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play The God of Carnage. As ever, Polanski delves into the truth behind the brooding tensions of his characters with often explosive reactions and consequences. If Chinatown was about the unseen evil of elitist corporations, then Carnage is about the unseen complexities behind the curtain of middle class life. When two New York couples meet to discuss an altercation between their children at school, the at first civilised meeting turns into a melee of firece arguments and hard truths about their own relationships. With an extraordinary cast of acting talent, Carnage is as entertaining as it is revealing about how adults aren’t always as well behaved as their children. Polanski gives a masterclass in direction, using a single set with which to work in. Despite the apparent restrictions of working in such a way, Carnage is just as dramatic and engaging as Polanski’s The Ghost or Rosemary’s Baby.
Faust Dir. Alexsandr Sokurov Cast: Johannes Zeiler, Anton Adasinsky, Isolda Dychaux After working for so long on his series of films about the corrupting effects of power, Sokurov has rouned it off with the visually elaborate Faust, an interpretation of the classic Faust legend. After previously focusing on powerful figures such as Hitler, Lenin and Hirohito, Faust is the ultimate study of the myth of the rise and fall from power. And after winning the Golden Lion award for Best Film at this year’s Venice Film Festival, could this be the most eagerly anticipated film of the London Film Festival?
Faust is perhaps Sokurov’s most evocative and daring film to date. With stark Gothic visuals and elaborate costume design, Faust is more surreal fantasy than mythical legend. Those who are fans of the visonary work of Terry Gilliam will feel right at home as Sokurov delves into an outlandish and fantastically expressive style of filmmaking. Faust isn’t all style over substance however as Sokurov stays true to the Faust legend and finds room with which to appropriate his own ideas to this prophetic tale. If this is to be the conclusion to Sokurov’s tetrology of films on men obsessed with power, Faust hits all the high notes of a classic piece of filmmaking.