2015 London Film Festival Coverage – Week 2

240 films from 72 countries over 16 cinemas all contained within 1 huge film festival. What’s there not to love?
Another week and every day presenting a new opportunity to see one of the many hotly anticipated films selected to be a part of the film festival.

We start on Friday with the biopic that everyone is talking about, The Program; The tale of the meteoric rise and fall of Lance Armstrong. It charts his rise to fame and all that he did to maintain his stellar Tour De France record, before disgracefully falling from fame. Audiences will see Ben Foster as they have never seen him before. Steven Frears’ (The Queen and Dangerous Liaisons) hard-hitting drama pulls no punches in dissecting many of the truths and fabrications behind one of the most celebrated athletes in history. This sharp-tongued, fast paced sports biography amalgamates real-life footage with fabricated sequences. The events surrounding Armstrong are very much still recent history and therefore we predict that The Program may be painful viewing for many Americans, but for the rest of us it is definitely one to watch – if the full capacity press screening is any indication of its early popularity.

Part of a Friday triple bill, we then move on to film number two, also known as James White. The hard-hitting American indie-drama starring Christopher Abbott (Girls). It also shows Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) as a cancer-ridden mother who becomes dependent on her son as they both battle her illness. James White is not an easy watch, but it is a relevant one. Newcomer Josh Mond was on hand both before and after the screening to answer questions about his soon to be released (predictions indicating it will be released on Nov 13) follow up film to his 2011 cult-classic Martha Marcy May Marlene. With both lead performances carried out with the upmost of conviction and sincerity on screen, we are sure that this film will do well if not better than his pervious effort.

Ending the night was the UK Premier of A Bigger Splash, Luca Guadagnino’s comedy crime drama is a welcomed treat to a day filled with sullen storylines and intense emotion-filled performances. This time around we see Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, 21 Jump Street) and Matthias Schoenaerts as a dysfunctional foursome holidaying in Rome for the summer. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and death are all combined as we dissect many of the quickly dissolving relationships that climax beautifully on screen on the idyllic sun-drenched Italian island of Pantelleria. With an impromptu Q & A immediately after the screening (headed by the Guadagnino) and Fiennes Friday was a fantastic day for film and it could be so for you to, simply grab yourself a ticket straight from the official BFI website.

Sunday brought with it the Oscar hopeful Black Mass (despite recent comments Depp has made to the press stating that he never wants to win an Oscar) that is boasting a Depp-Renaissance. An all-star cast appears in this dark thriller including Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll to name but a few famous faces. For audiences seeking in-depth immersion into a story and solid acing from the entire cast, then Black Mass is the way to go. Scott Cooper and co. inspects the legend behind the infamous James “Whitey” Bulger as Johnny Depp returns to the halcyon days of performance such as Donnie Brasco (Newell, 1997).

The rest of the week brought plenty more treats as the 2015 BFI Film Festival threw out some big titles that attracted the masses. Monday got off to a fun start with The Lobster. The soon to be released sci-fi comedy romance stars Colin Farrell as short-sighted singleton David, living in a dystopian near-future where it is a race against time to find your ideal romantic partner or you will be turned into an animal (of your choice of course). Yargos Lanthimos’ superb dark satire should more than amuse audiences who are seeking something different in the current film market.

Another day another film as Tuesday’s Green Room pits a punk rock group against a gang of ultra-violent Neo-Nazis. A classic tale of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jeremy Saulnier’s effective horror-thriller will more than make audiences wince as the green room literally becomes the only safe haven in a quickly escalating situation. Green Room looks like a perfectly timed Halloween treat for anyone who happened to grab a ticket.

Ending the week this Wednesday with the Oscar frontrunner Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Her) as two lovers attempting to be together in an intolerant 1950s American setting. This intimate tale of love and obsession will surely result in a win for Todd Hayes (who collaborated with Blanchett on I’m Not There too). Carol is topping numerous must-watch-films lists throughout the festival and is tipped to do well at the Oscars. It already has two wins to its name including a Win for ‘Best Actress’ for Rooney Mara as the lovesick Therese Belivet. Cate Blanchett is not only captivating as Carol Aird, but Mara somewhat absolves her associations to the Pan flop as she forms a strong half of the onscreen power couple. Carol is a must see, whether at the festival, or a month later when it opens for nationwide release on 27th November.
With less than a week of the festival left go, get your tickets now, and stay tuned next week for the last 2015 BFI Film Festival update!