58th BFI London Film Festival: Festival Round-Up

The London Film Festival is over for another year. Over the past 12 days we’ve attended screenings all over London and eaten more baguettes than ever before. Last night saw Brad Pitt and his Fury-ous gang bring the festival to a glamorous end, but before it moves out of our consciousness completely (until next year), here’s a quick summary of the best of the rest.

We kicked of the second half of the festival by attending an Industry Keynote with Jeffrey Katzenberg, in which Katzenberg – the “K” in DreamWorks SKG – spoke about his illustrious career as his company celebrates its 20th anniversary. From Aladdin to The Lion King to The Beauty and the Beast, Katzenberg has had a hand in producing many of the movies that we loved as kids, and still love today, and he was on hand to tell us how it all came to be. Now I’d like to be him!

After this we settled back into our cinema seat to watch The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Starrring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, Eleanor Rigby is a poignant, elegant look at a plagued marriage that is told from three perspectives: “Him”, “Her” and “Them”. We were introduced with “Them”, but from what we saw, we’re now looking forward to watching “Him” and “Her”.

Staying on the topics of trouble and paradise, Danish film En Chance Til (A Second Chance) was next on our list. Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives his best performance to date in this intimate portrayal of a man driven to the edge by a family tragedy. We’ve always been a fan of Scandinavian cinema and this is further proof of why.

We mention Scandinavia, but no Fohnhouse report would be complete without a little French entry. Surprising, we only managed to catch one French film this year – conflicting schedules meant that we weren’t able to watch Bande de Filles (Girlhood) or François Ozon’s latest, but what we did see made up for our slight disappointment. Based on the short story Victoria and the Staveneys by the British author Doris Lessing, about a young black girl who dreams of a better life having spent one night with a bourgeois white family, Mon Amie Victoria is an interesting look at class and colour in the trusted French city of l’amour.

From Paris to Pittsburgh next with Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. It was the talk of Cannes – at which the director walked away with the award for Best Director – and pretty much the talk of many of the festivals leading up to this one, and we’ve now seen why. Foxcatcher is every bit as good as they say, with superb performances from its actors. A special mention must be given to Steve Carell, who gives an unexpectedly brilliant and transformative performance as the mentally unstable multi-millionaire John du Pont. Hello, Oscar, is that you on the horizon?!

While we’ve loved all the movies we’ve seen over the last few days, we seem to have completely – but unintentionally, of course – missed the “Laugh” strand at the year’s event as nothing we have seen has had a very Disney Ending – with the exception of the Katzenberg keynote, which ended with a birthday cake and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to mark the 20th anniversary of DreamWorks. We did catch the intense, thrilling and awkwardly funny film Whiplash (another possible Oscar contender), starring J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, but I don’t imagine the film intends on being funny; it just happens to contain dark humour.

Anyway, in spite of the lack of laughs, a great selection of films closed out this year’s event and we’ll, most likely, be back to do it all again next year. Keep your eyes peeled over the coming months as we’ll be posting full reviews of some of our favourite films.