In this week's programme presented by
This week's programme is devoted to the London Film Festival. This year, the 51st festival, includes over 180 films from around the globe.
Natalie Haynes |
Mark Kermode |
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Eastern Promises, the story of an innocent midwife caught up with the Russian mafia, opened the London Film Festival this week.
Filmed, appropriately enough in the East End, it employs what director David Cronenberg described as the "strange, depressive exoticness" of our capital to convey the complexities of navigating an alien underworld.
Naomi Watts plays the midwife in question, who approaches a seemingly kindly Russian restaurateur (Armin Mueller-Stahl) when his card is found amongst the belongings of a girl who dies while Watts is delivering her baby. Viggo Mortensen - who starred in Cronenberg's last film, A History of Violence - is the Russian's driver, and confidante of son Kirill (Vincent Cassell), the heir of the crime family.
Cronenberg's supposed trademarks of identity, concealment and transgression are all here and one scene, involving a naked Mortensen and some Chechen aggressors, is already becoming infamous. Cronenberg himself denies any constancy of themes in his work but will the panel agree?
Eastern Promises, cert 18, is released 26th October
I'm Not There
Todd Haynes' (Far From Heaven) latest offering follows the many lives of Bob Dylan. Six people portray the illusive and complex musician each representing different aspects of his life.
Marcus Carl Franklin stars as Woody who epitomises the early years of Dylan's music career and his obsession with Woody Guthrie. Christian Bale characterises his breakthrough years as Jack Rollins - when Dylan's protest songs and music altered the face of folk music for ever. Later in the movie Rollins converts to Christianity just as Dylan did in the 1970s.
Dylan's interest in Arthur Rimbaud is embodied in Ben Wishaw's Arthur character and captures the change of his musical style with Dylan writing more personal material. Cate Blanchett's Jude encapsulates Dylan's character during the mid-1960s and scenes from 1965's Newport Folk Festival and the notorious 1966 concert tour of England are recreated when Dylan turned electric - much to the chagrin of the crowd.
Robbie personifies Dylan's personal life and is played by Heath Ledger who stars alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg as his neglected wife Claire. Richard Gere stars a Billy, the older Dylan with his interest in Country and Roots music and American Folklore and his character of Billy the Kid - a mythical figure just like Dylan became as he retreated from public life.
On general release 21st December, certificate tbc
The complex and controversial issues surrounding the US policy of Extraordinary Rendition - where foreign nationals suspected of terrorist activities and deemed a threat to national security are detained and interrogated at secret overseas prisons, is played out in this film by Gavin Hood (winner of the 2006 Academy Award for best foreign film - Tsotsi).
Rendition spans two continents - USA and North Africa and follows the interconnecting lives of CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who starts to question the ethics of his job after witnessing the unorthodox and violent interrogation of an Egyptian-born American by secret North African Police.
Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor) is the head of the secret prison who conducts the interrogation - but he is weighed down with problems of his own - a missing daughter last seen with her Islamic fundamentalist boyfriend Khalid (Moa Khouas). Omar Metwally stars as the Egyptian born American Chemical Engineer - Anwar El-Ibrahimi - who is held as a terrorist suspect whilst his pregnant wife Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon) enlists the help of Senator aide Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard) to try and find out what happened to her husband after he failed to get off his flight home from South Africa. Meryl Streep stars as the hard hitting Corrinne Whitman, the CIA's head of terrorism, who is intent on protecting national security at all costs.
On general release Friday 19 October
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Cristian Mungiu's gritty and low budget drama about illegal abortion in Communist Romania won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Set in the 1980s in the final years of the Ceaucescu regime, the story follows Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), a timid student in a small town who is desperate to get rid of her baby at a time when both contraception and abortion are against the law. Her friend and roommate Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) risks her own freedom to accompany Gabita to an unsympathetic back alley abortionist, but finds that more sacrifices are demanded of her if Gabita is to get what she needs.
The title refers to the age of the baby at abortion and the film does not shy away from showing the aborted foetus on screen. Mungiu was the first Romanian director to win the Palme d'Or. Will the panel see what the judges found to admire in the film?
4 months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days is released in January. ( no certificate yet)
Director Michael Haneke remakes his 1997 Austrian film with Tim Roth and Naomi Watts starring as the upper middle class parents who along with their son - played by Devon Gearhart take a break in their summer house.
Two young men donning white gloves visit the family to borrow some eggs and this is when the games start. Michael Pitt (Last Days) and Brady Corbet (Thunderbirds) play the psychotic killers intent on having fun as they make their way through the neighbourhood terrorising its inhabitants.
On general release March 2008
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