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BFI 44th London Film Festival

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Opening Night Gala

Finally, after the biopics, the spoofs and the lurid documentaries, we get a genuinely great fictional movie about rock music in the 70s. William (Patrick Fugit) is 15 and desperate to be a rock critic. Through a happy series of accidents and armed with some useful advice from his mentor, the outrageous rock writer, Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he lands a gig covering an up-and-coming band’s tour for Rolling Stone magazine. This horrifies his over-protective mother (Frances McDormand) but it’s too late – William is up and off, on the road, observing the world of rock & roll from the inside. Hanging out with the band, Stillwater, William tries to get close to their lead guitarist, Russell (Billy Crudup at his most charismatic) and interview him. Even so, he is also entranced by the girls that follow the band, particularly Penny Lane (Kate Hudson). From this beginning, writer-director Cameron Crowe creates a fabulously entertaining story. Part coming-of-age drama, part road movie, Almost Famous is the first film to dramatise the rock milieu with detachment but also incredible warmth and affection. Partly based on his own experiences as a young journalist on Rolling Stone, Almost Famous is, nevertheless, much, much more than autobiography. Like Crowe’s last film, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous superbly blends gently satirical comedy with serious drama and features a whole host of delightful performances. In addition, Crowe has selected some of the finest rock songs of the 70s to further embellish the film’s marvellous on-screen action. We are, therefore, delighted to present the international premiere of Almost Famous.

Adrian Wootton
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Closing Night Gala

Following on from the tremendous success of his first film, This Year’s Love, writer-director David Kane has created this hugely enjoyable romantic comedy which makes the most of its London setting. Fergus (David Morrissey) is a failed pop star who has travelled down from Liverpool to try and find Mo (Jane Horrocks), a hairdresser he jilted eight years earlier. Eddie (Jimi Mistry) is a cheap and not terribly successful crook, who finds himself drawn to the hypochondriac and ultra-introverted Jocelyn (Catherine McCormack). On the other hand, Frankie (Craig Ferguson) is an easy-listening fanatic (obsessed by Sinatra and the Rat Pack), who determinedly pursues the posh and stand-offish Eleanor (Olivia Williams). This trio of would-be couples are connected by two things: firstly, they take cabs with and receive advice from the sage-like Jimmy (Adrian Lester) and secondly, they mainly meet and dance at a Salsa club. Kane depicts these characters and their topsy-turvy love lives with skilful wit, energy and verve. The music and dance scenes are delightfully rendered and the film is full of comic ingenuity. In all, Born Romantic is a stylish, feelgood treat and we are delighted to close the 44th Regus London Film Festival with its European premiere.

Adrian Wootton
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Gala Films

People who added this item 22 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
AMERICAN AIRLINES GALA

Thanksgiving: America’s greatest holiday; a joyous occasion commemorating the pilgrim ancestors; a festival of indulgence and over-eating; a catalyst for no end of family traumas, revelations and emotional strife. All of these and more are in evidence in this delicious comedy co-written and directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach). In contemporary Los Angeles, four very different families make their preparations for arriving relatives and guests for the traditional festive dinner. In the Williams’ picture-perfect successful African American household, Audrey lays on an immaculate spread for their WASP guests and her difficult to please mother-in-law. Across the street, Anthony Avila is determined to have the whole family for a traditional get-together, even though his philandering Dad has left his Mother. Elderly Jewish parents Ruth and Herb Seelig are trying hard to ignore the evident fact that their daughter Rachel’s guest Carla is more than her ‘roommate’. For Trinh Ngyen, finding condoms in her teenage daughter’s jacket soon seems to be the least of her worries. Working with a wonderful ensemble cast including Dennis Haysbert, Mercedes Ruehl and Maury Chakin, Chadha brings a perceptive outsider’s eye to this highly entertaining tale of modern America.

 Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 190 Average listal rating (109 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
BLACKSTAR GALA

Leo, just out of jail, returns home and hooks up with his best friend, Willie, a smooth career criminal, now working as a senior ‘aide’ in the rackets surrounding railway construction contracts. Drawn into what is, effectively, the family business, Leo is on hand when a job goes bad and finds himself on the run from both his friends and the police. This explosive situation is made worse because of Leo and Willie’s simmering rivalry over the affections of Erica, a beautiful girl whose step-father, Uncle Frank, is actually the boys’ criminal boss. A moody, atmospheric, fast moving and sharply scripted thriller with very well-realised characterisations and confident direction from James Gray, whose first film was the critically acclaimed Little Odessa. The Yards is also considerably enhanced by its simply stunning cast. Mark Wahlberg (Leo) and especially Joaquin Phoenix (Willie) demonstrate ever-growing maturity as fine cinema actors, and there are delightful supporting performances from James Caan (Uncle Frank) and Ellen Burstyn (Val, Leo’s Mother).

Adrian Wootton
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BRITISH GALA

After the plethora of good, bad and just indifferent gangster movies, comes this astonishing, edgy and original thriller to breathe new life into the genre. Ray Winstone giving, arguably, his best performance to date, is Gary, sexy beast of the title. An ex-villain living in contented retirement in Spain with his wife, Gary finds his peace and quiet abruptly terminated by the arrival of his old partner, Don Logan. Logan (played by Ben Kingsley, also giving a frighteningly convincing performance) is a psychopathic criminal and will use any means of violence or intimidation necessary to get Gary to return to England for one last, massive heist. More like Performance than The Long Good Friday, Jonathan Glazer’s first film is a stylistic tour de force that takes familiar themes of the gangster film and turns them into something fresh and exciting. Aside from the amazing performances, it is the look, the sound and the feel of Sexy Beast that make it so distinctive. It is not just a considerable achievement for Glazer but a tribute to the consistent risk taking and individuality of British producer, Jeremy Thomas, that Sexy Beast is such a good movie.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 342 Average listal rating (237 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.7
EVENING STANDARD GALA

Ray Winkler, a small time loser with a taste for terrible shorts and sneakers, hatches a plan to pull off a heist by tunnelling into a bank. As a front, he and his wife Frenchy, an ex-exotic dancer, rent a store, where she sets up a cookie bakery and he gets busy in the basement. They unexpectedly strike gold when Frenchy’s Sunset Cookies become the toast of the town, and turn the couple into millionaires. Frenchy prepares to launch herself into high society, and employs cultured English art-dealer David to tutor her in the finer things in life; Ray meanwhile stays defiantly attached to his poker games, his armchair and tv. Comic capers give way to shades of Pygmalion and A Star is Born, as the film ventures into the territory of the influence of their new found wealth on Frenchy and Ray’s lives. Relishing his role as the lowlife Ray, Allen gives one of his funniest and most enjoyable performances for years. Tracey Ullman is a delightful revelation as the vulgar but likeable Frenchy, Hugh Grant breezes through as the self-serving David, and it’s a joy to see Elaine May back on screen as Frenchy’s oddball cousin. Following so soon after the success of the sublime Sweet and Lowdown, Small Time Crooks confirms Allen as a master filmmaker at the height of his craft.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 68 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
FRENCH GALA

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People who added this item 153 Average listal rating (90 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6
Duets (2000)
HELLO! GALA

What links a taxi driver and a waitress, a hustler and his showgirl daughter, and an ex-con and travelling salesman? The answer is that each pair has hooked up to travel across the States to enter the Grand Prize Karaoke Contest in Omaha. On their way to this karaoke Mecca, each couple undergoes adventures, accidents, heartache and pain, experiences they exorcise on stage in the nearest karaoke bar. Finally, they all reach Omaha and their moments of truth arrive, both on and off stage. Although Gwyneth Paltrow, as innocent showgirl Liv (making her first film with her father, director Bruce Paltrow), is the star of the film – alongside rock & roll singer Huey Lewis, playing her hustler father, Ricky – this is actually a marvellous ensemble film. With a range of fascinating characters and a brilliant use of 60s, 70s and early 80s rock, pop and soul music, Duets is a wonderfully entertaining, life-affirming movie that makes you want to dance and – maybe – even sing...

 Adrian Wootton
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International Royal Charity in aid of The Prince’s Foundation

In the late 30s, the Nazi regime in Germany escalated its implementation of murderous anti-Semitic policies and whipped up destruction of Jewish property and violence toward Jewish people. As details began to emerge, there was a faltering international effort to assist Jewish families who were desperately trying to emigrate. The most successful initiative was the Kindertransport, a series of special trains to evacuate Jewish children from Germany to the safety of Britain, organized with the support of the British government. The Kindertransport was responsible for the safe passage, and long term survival, of literally thousands of children who escaped the Holocaust. Of course safety had its own price as the children who were separated from their families (adults not being allowed on the trains) and fostered to strangers’ homes all over the country, experienced loneliness, culture shock and the terrible loss of their parents’ love. This remarkable and moving story is told with intelligence, sensitivity and skill by Into the Arms of Strangers. Interweaving fascinating archive footage with enthralling contemporary interviews, given by a number of Kindertransport survivors, and a subtle voiceover commentary spoken by Judi Dench. Mark Jonathan Harris’ documentary illuminates an important historical episode and all too rare humanitarian gesture.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 137 Average listal rating (89 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.8
REGUS GALA

Drawing on all his many and varied experiences working in and around Tinseltown, writer-director David Mamet delivers this scintillating farce about movie production. A film crew arrives in a small, sleepy town to shoot their silly costume epic and everything that could possibly go wrong with the production does so. From a drunken leading man with a penchant for under-age girls, through a script-writer with writer’s block to a sex kitten co-star who refuses to do nudity, State and Main takes every cliché in the book and has enormous fun with them. With more than a nod to the work of Preston Sturges, this is a genuinely hilarious and yet somehow still endearing depiction of the absurdity of filmmaking. Perhaps the most lighthearted film of David Mamet’s illustrious career to date, coming as it does hard on the heels of The Spanish Prisoner and The Winslow Boy.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 833 Average listal rating (472 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
SKY MOVIES GALA

Screenwriter Doug Wright, has adapted his own play about the life and work of the Marquis de Sade whilst he was imprisoned in an asylum for the insane in Paris in 1807. In the hands of distinguished director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, The Unbearable Lightness of Being), the result is a challenging, ambitious and thought-provoking exploration of creative expression and sexual identity. Geoffrey Rush, who won an Oscar for his performance in Shine, is simply outstanding as the mad, bad and dangerous to know Marquis, who attempts to outwit and usurp his captors. Michael Caine is enjoyably vicious as his chief tormentor, whilst Kate Winslet is admirably engaging as his chambermaid ally. Joaquin Phoenix is also excellent as the sympathetic priest who is caught in a terrible dilemma of conscience. Quills is a highly intelligent, sumptuously staged period drama that takes its subject matter very seriously, albeit with subtle touches of black comedy. It also should be pointed out that, although Quills is not, in any way, a salacious movie, in tackling de Sade and his work, it does not shy from referring to – or depicting – elements (sometimes shocking) of the Marquis’ ideas and writings. We are, therefore, delighted to present the world premiere of Quills.

Adrian Wootton
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TIME OUT FIRST NIGHT

Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge displayed quietly confident, unshowy direction, superb low-key performances, gentle wit and total credibility. His second directorial outing, adapted by Edward Bunker (best known to buffs as Mr Blue in Reservoir Dogs) from his own novel, places those same virtues at the service of a rather darker story. A 21-year-old from a comfortable background, Ron Decker (Edward Furlong) is given an unexpectedly harsh sentence for dealing marijuana; inside, his good looks inevitably attract numerous long-term inmates. Happily, canny prison fixer and gangleader Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe) commands enough respect to offer protection, though some, including the officials, reckon he just wants his own punk. Admirably alert to the social, psychological and ethical nuances of prison society, Buscemi’s unhysterical film rings true throughout; a fascinatingly ambiguous (hence suspenseful) portrait of the central relationship between the novice and his all-too-experienced mentor, it also succeeds as an insightful study of friendship, honour and the lasting effects of rough justice doled out by cons and authorities alike. John Lurie’s score is terrific, the cast top-notch (watch out for Ron’s tranny cellmate!), and the whole thing blends tough observation with surprising moments of tenderness to very impressive effect.

Geoff Andrew
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Evening Standard Film on the Square

People who added this item 440 Average listal rating (289 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.5
Best in Show (2000)
Hilarious satire from actor-director Christopher Guest (star of This is Spinal Tap and director of Waiting for Guffman and The Big Picture), who is establishing himself as the king of ‘mockumentary’. Essentially, Best in Show is the story of a group of oddball dog lovers, who are only linked by one thing: their desire to win the top prize at the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. Filmed on digital video, this is a marvellously constructed comic gem which sends up the wildly idiosyncratic personalities of the dog owners and the extremes they are prepared to go to in order to win. A great cast, a sharp script and a plethora of very funny scenes make this a dogumentary you won’t want to miss.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 156 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.6
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People who added this item 35 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Blackboards (2000)
Samira Makhmalbaf charmed audiences and critics alike with her captivating debut feature, `The Apple'. Her second feature is an altogether more ambitious project, but one which still relies on her skill in observing human foibles and frailties. Set (and shot) around the scarred and unstable Iran-Iraq border, it follows the fortunes of two members of a group of itinerant teachers, who traverse the region with their blackboards strapped to their backs. One of the men falls in with a group of Iraqi refugees trying to make their way across the mountain to their homeland. The second finds a group of boys who are working as smugglers, carrying contraband across the border. Neither of these groups, nor the Kurdish inhabitants of the area, show any willingness to enlist the services of the teachers. The film shows the myriad of other ingenious uses for their blackboards, including their function as protection from frequent outbreaks of shooting and shelling. The harshness of the landscape and of the lives of those who inhabit or pass through it are inextricably intertwined in this bleakly engaging and humorous tale, joint winner of the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 197 Average listal rating (113 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.2
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People who added this item 26 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 5.9
The underbelly of American suburban life has long yielded rich results for writers and filmmakers alike, and Crime and Punishment in Suburbia offers an intelligent and stylish peek under the surface normality. Teenager Rosanne Skolnick seems to have it made: she’s pretty, popular and dating the most wanted boy in high school. She’s also the object of an obsession by the weirdest, Vincent, a consummate loner who follows and photographs her. Through Vincent’s observations we learn the truth behind the facade, and are drawn into the crime that will apparently take care of the one blight on Rosanne’s happiness. Crime and Punishment... comes with an impeccable pedigree: co-produced by Christine Vachon (Boys Don’t Cry, Velvet Goldmine), written by Larry Gross (This World, Then the Fireworks) and directed by Rob Schmidt, whose impressive first feature Saturn screened in last year’s LFF. Schmidt’s cast places respected screen actors including Ellen Barkin and Jeffrey Wright alongside a clutch of young talent, with Monica Keena (of Dawson’s Creek fame) and Vincent Kartheiser more than holding their own. A judiciously chosen soundtrack featuring the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Moby and Guided by Voices, and original music co-scored by Joey Santiago of The Pixies, add to the mood of this bittersweet story of love in all its beautiful, volatile guises.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 76 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
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People who added this item 212 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
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People who added this item 433 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.2
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SURPRISE FILM

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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.1
The Prime Gig (2000)
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.5
Saltwater (2000)
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 0
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People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 3.5 IMDB Rating 5.7
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People who added this item 56 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 0
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People who added this item 289 Average listal rating (175 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
An edgy, raw and impressively directed feature from Joel Schumacher, whose film Flawless is also in the RLFF this year. Unlike much of Schumacher's previous work, this is not a Hollywood blockbuster but a thoughtful, small scale movie that brings alive the conflicts and personal struggles of a group of soldiers, training in the early 70's to go to Vietnam.
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People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5
Trixie (2000)
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New British Cinema

People who added this item 78 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.9
About Adam (2000)
Cheery romantic comedy that shows how a trio of sisters become besotted with the ultra-charming Adam (played with tongue-in-cheek sex appeal by Stuart Townsend). Adam is actually supposed to be marrying the younger sister, Lucy (Kate Hudson, also to be seen in Almost Famous) but this doesn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm for secret liaisons with her siblings. As one might expect, this situation can’t go on, especially as the nuptials of Adam and Lucy approach, but the questions remain. Will Adam learn fidelity and will the sisters reveal their respective relationships to each other? A frothy, funny drama with a smart script and some nicely staged comic scenes.

Adrian Wootton
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From the producers of acclaimed film documentaries including Sam Fuller: The Typewriter, The Rifle and The Movie Camera, comes this enthralling look at the American horror movie cycle of the 70s. Featuring interviews with all the major filmmakers of the time, such as George Romero, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven, American Nightmare provides a revealing picture of the social and cultural trends that helped shape these men and their influential movies. With clips from classics such as Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, combined with archive news footage, American Nightmare is more than just a fan feast. Intelligently incorporating contributions from filmmakers, cultural critics and academics illuminating the significance of the genre in US history, this is a superb piece of work that will be of interest to anyone with the remotest interest in horror movies as well as to those who wonder why the genre had such prominence at the time.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 53 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 4.9 IMDB Rating 5.9
Just when you thought you’d had more than enough British crime flicks, along comes one which might just change your mind. True, it has its share of villainous sleazeballs and bloodshed, but is refreshingly free from tedious laddism. Trying to make a new start, practical, determined Dorothy (Susan Lynch) flees her violent low-life boyfriend and heads for the bus station. Before she’s made good her escape she witnesses a heated lovers’ fight, and intervenes. Thrown together by circumstance, Dorothy and the glamorous but apparently ditzy Petula (Rachel Weiss) come up with their own off-the-cuff plan to change their lives. With the Glaswegian mafia and a particularly unsavoury bent copper on their case, the novice criminals struggle to stay one step ahead, aided only by their intrepid dog, Pluto. Simon Donald’s sparky script supplies a witty reworking of the conventions and delivers the requisite twists and turns, and Bill Eagles provides confident and stylish direction. More than anything though what makes the film outstanding is the performances of Lynch and Weisz, who not only shine as the accidental partners in crime, but make their friendship and loyalty to each other so believable. The long anticipated first film from DNA (who individually brought us Trainspotting, Four Weddings... and Notting Hill), Beautiful Creatures justifies the wait.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 5.5
Kin (2000)
This British film, set and shot in Namibia, brings together an international cast in a moving story of the pull between the past and the future, between the familiar and the unknown. Anna (Miranda Otto) lives with her brother, a Lutheran pastor, in the Namibian desert. Both share a love of the elephants which pass their farmhouse every night to drink at their well, and Anna is a committed worker for the wildlife conservation service. Her isolated but idyllic lifestyle is disrupted by two things. Firstly, the lucrative trade in ivory which threatens the elephants; and secondly and more positively by her developing love for Stone (Isaiah Washington), an American taking a temporary sojourn from the cut and thrust of his LA law firm. Making excellent use of the fantastic sweeping desert locations, Kin also brings an informed perspective to portraying the co-existence of the local Himba community, the white settlers, the elephants and the American incomer. At heart however, Kin is a love story in the broadest sense, and a good one. Best known here for her film Friends, writer-director Elaine Proctor is a past recipient of the bfi’s Sutherland Trophy for Best First Feature (On the Line, 1990).

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
Tanya, a Russian woman, and her son, Artion, arrive in England expecting to be met by her fiance Mark. The problem is Mark doesn’t show and, after Tanya, in some confusion, has claimed political asylum, she and her son are dumped in Stonehaven, a seaside town used as a holding area for refugees. A virtual prisoner in this stark, low rent environment, Tanya makes friends with Alfie, an arcade manager, and plots her escape. Although based on a very real social problem, this is not a grim drama documentary. Instead, The Last Resort offers a thoughtful, tender and subtle character-driven drama. Striking performances from a young, relatively unknown cast are appropriately combined with a meditative and poetic shooting style to great effect. Superbly directed, this is the second fiction feature film from acclaimed documentary filmmaker Paul Pawlikowski.

Screening with Better or Worse.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7
Already rightly acclaimed at both Venice and Toronto film festivals, Liam looks set to be one of the most talked about British films of the next year. Set in Liverpool in the 30s, this is the story of Liam, a small boy, whose happy family existence is shattered when his dock worker father becomes unemployed. Refusing help from their local Catholic church, the father becomes caught up in the Fascist movement and the family begins to disintegrate. Noted film and television script writer Jimmy McGovern – drawing on his own Catholic experiences and knowledge of Liverpool life - provides a brilliant script adaptation of Joseph McKeown’s novel, ‘The Back Crack Boy’, bristling with intelligence and emotional insight. Director Stephen Frears, coming off the back of his recent success with High Fidelity is on a real creative roll and delivers haunting images that perfectly illustrate and illuminate Liam’s subject matter. The result is a heart-rending drama that shows, once again, that British cinema does not need to be big to be beautiful.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.8
Like Father (2001)
North East England, a landscape of desolate beauty where environment and communities alike have been ravaged first by the coal industry and then by its subsequent demise. Joe, an ex-miner approaching his fortieth birthday, just about scrapes a living promoting club acts of dubious talent, whilst finding the only outlet for his own considerable musical skills lies in teaching. His troubled relationship with his wife and son seems to be following a pattern familiar from his own childhood. Joe’s father has his own problems, trying to rally his friends to resist the attempts of the local council to redevelop the land on which the former pitmen have their allotments and pigeon lofts. With an admirable feel for the fabric of the everyday, the film offers a refreshing and frequently funny alternative to some recent interpretations of working class life, never patronising its characters or their lives. The broad sweep of the landscape is counterbalanced by the narrative focus on family relationships, in which tensions between grandfather, father and son touch on a host of wider issues. The result is powerful, evocative stuff which will exercise hearts and minds alike.

Screening with Hotspot.

Sandra Hebron
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North East England, a landscape of desolate beauty where environment and communities alike have been ravaged first by the coal industry and then by its subsequent demise. Joe, an ex-miner approaching his fortieth birthday, just about scrapes a living promoting club acts of dubious talent, whilst finding the only outlet for his own considerable musical skills lies in teaching. His troubled relationship with his wife and son seems to be following a pattern familiar from his own childhood. Joe’s father has his own problems, trying to rally his friends to resist the attempts of the local council to redevelop the land on which the former pitmen have their allotments and pigeon lofts. With an admirable feel for the fabric of the everyday, the film offers a refreshing and frequently funny alternative to some recent interpretations of working class life, never patronising its characters or their lives. The broad sweep of the landscape is counterbalanced by the narrative focus on family relationships, in which tensions between grandfather, father and son touch on a host of wider issues. The result is powerful, evocative stuff which will exercise hearts and minds alike.

“I wanted to make something that was realistic and very low key but as expressive as possible. I wanted to make a warm film, one that tries to smile even in its darkest of moments.” Jamie Thraves

Screening with Shifting Units.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.6
Pandaemonium (2000)
A daring and ambitious account of the personal and professional relationship that existed between two of England’s greatest romantic poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, in the early 19th century. Focusing particularly on their infamous sojourn in Somerset with their families, Pandaemonium shows how their lofty ideals, experimenting with drugs, living close to nature, in an almost commune-like way, are brought crashing to earth by sexual jealousy and professional rivalry. Julien Temple brings a real sensitivity and feel for the aesthetics of romantic poetry to this complex story and manages to convey the real excitement of particularly Coleridge’s inspirational genius. Pandaemonium also benefits from mature and thoughtful performances, especially Linus Roach as Coleridge and John Hannah as Wordsworth and Emily Woof, exceptionally good as Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy. The result is a brave, gripping and potentially controversial recreation of a seminal moment in English literary history.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
Saïd Taghmaoui (Hideous Kinky, La haine) and Juliette Lewis star in this offbeat comedy about a young man’s search for success, understanding, love - and a visa. Ali is a young Egyptian screen writer determined to make a go of things in London. But England is not an easy place for a foreigner to break through, and the realities of life keep interfering with his progress. He has an illegal job as a waiter to try and make ends meet, but his student visa is about to expire, and his tendency for using his flatmates as source material for his scripts means he keeps on being thrown out of his lodgings. With little money and no home, Ali’s prospects look unpromising, until he meets a woman who is convinced he is the reincarnation of her dead lover from the 30s... For his first English language feature Khaled El-Hagar has drawn on his own experience as an immigrant to the UK, lending an authenticity to both the obstacles and the assistance which Ali encounters. Room to Rent is a lively, multicultural affair, offering a take on London life not often seen in British film.

Screening with Assumptions.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Celebrated novelist Roddy Doyle’s first original feature film script (following successful adaptations of his work, such as The Commitments and, most recently, The Van) is a hilarious romantic comedy. Brendan is an introverted, lonely teacher who, aside from his participation in a local choir, has only one passion in his life – namely, the movies. Until, that is, a chance encounter with Trudy, extrovert and all-round livewire, who not only captures his heart but drags him into accompanying her on her dangerous and seriously illegal occupation. Set in contemporary Dublin,When Brendan met Trudy is an enchanting treat that not only plots the comedic mishaps of an oddly matched couple but also manages to incorporate a whole host of deliriously enjoyable film references and homages to classic movies. In all, this is a small but beautifully formed triumph for Doyle, producer Lynda Myles, who was also responsible for the previous film adaptations of Doyle’s novels and first time director, Kieron J Walsh, who brings out the best in his sparky cast.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 4.7 IMDB Rating 6.1
Harry McKee is a local tv chef with the kind of lifestyle that would make Delia’s hair stand on end. Alcoholic, middle-aged and no great looker, but with a flair for turning on the blarney, he’s taken advantage of his modest celebrity to sleep with all of his programme’s production team and a fair number of his fans. His no-longer-suffering wife has reached the end of her tether and is divorcing him, taking his house, his money and his kids. Storming out of the house after yet another argument, Harry is mugged and hit on the head, and wakes up in hospital claiming no recollection of anything that happened since 1974. Could this be Harry’s second chance, an opportunity to win back his self-respect and his wife and family? From an original script by Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack), Wild About Harry marks the feature film debut of established television director Declan Lowney, whose credits include Father Ted and Cold Feet. A funny, enjoyable “what if?” story, this romantic comedy succeeds in striking an entertaining balance between black humour and the soppier stuff, and is anchored by a fabulous performance by the ever-impressive Brendan Gleeson. Wild about Harry might not be life-changing (though it may make you behave a little better for a while) but it is unashamedly entertaining, and an awful lot of fun.

Sandra Hebron
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French Revolutions

People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.7
Bronx-Barbès (2000)
Joint winner of the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Locarno Film Festival, Bronx-Barbès draws on filmmaker and anthropologist Elaine de Latour’s study of the ghettos of the Ivory Coast. In her first fiction feature, de Latour sketches a portrait of two boys in search of an identity, flirting with violence, prison and death. With many of the roles taken by non actors, Bronx-Barbès is a raw and passionately made study of modern Africa and the chaos of city life. De Latour clearly not only knows her subject inside out, but can fictionalise the boys’ aspirations and struggles with a keen eye and visceral realism.

“As an anthroplogist I have always followed the example of Jean Rouch... Images have been a way of taking a different standpoint on the ground and capturing our knowledge of it.” Elaine de Latour

Sandra Hebron
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web.archive.org/web/20001017195839/http://www.lff.org.uk/films_index.php3
The (almost) complete programme for the 2000 LFF.

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BFI London Film Festival (17 lists)
list by Max the Movie Guy
Published 3 years ago



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