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BFI 45th London Film Festival

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Opening Gala

Inspired by both Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game and Agatha Christie's novel `Ten Little Indians', Gosford Park is legendary director Robert Altman's first British film. On the face of it, it might seem peculiar to have this most modern of American cinema auteurs making a film about a weekend shooting party at an aristocratic stately home in the 30s. But Robert Altman has never been conventional in his choice of subject matter and this is another example of his unerring ability to be simultaneously daring and dazzling. From the first moments of Gosford Park, the viewer is quickly made aware that this is no chocolate box period drama but instead - and far more interestingly - an ironic, emotionally telling dissection of English society between the wars. With no less than 25 interwoven storylines, involving a rich and exotic gallery of characters, Gosford Park cuts a swathe through the upstairs and downstairs of the class system. With sexual trysts aplenty, bad business dealing and skullduggery, leading to murder, there is a dark and biting edge to the absurdly comic interplay of Gosford Park's multiple plotlines. Needless to say, Altman marshals his vivid fresco with magisterial style and cinematic gusto. Indeed, Gosford Park has all the hallmarks of his greatest work and, whilst it may be specific to its period, its breadth of vision invites comparison with his earlier movies, such as Nashville and Short Cuts. It has a number of magical scenes but, without spoiling anything, just watch out for a marvellous orchestration of film and music, when Jeremy Northam playing Ivor Novello decides to entertain the other guests. If this were not enough, Altman and his team have assembled one of the most impressive casts of British talent to be seen in a single film in recent years. The appearances of Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Emily Watson, amongst others, are wonderful to behold, especially since every one of them gives a performance of such veracity that they truly inhabit the world of Gosford Park. Embellished by Julian Fellowes' witty script which captures all the nuances of the characters' verbal sparring, Gosford Park is also finely photographed by Andrew Dunn, and has a subtle score from composer Patrick Doyle. It is, therefore, a great honour for us to welcome Robert Altman and his cast to the RLFF for the World Premiere of Gosford Park.

Adrian Wootton
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Closing Gala

Prot (Kevin Spacey) is a mysterious patient in a New York psychiatric hospital who claims to be an alien from the planet K-PAX. Dr Mark Powell is his psychiatrist, trying to sort out truth from alleged fantasy, whilst startled by the remarkably uplifting effect Prot has on other long-term patients in the hospital. There may or may not be a tragedy underlying Prot's resolutely other-worldly character but the problem is he keeps on confounding not just his doctors but also scientists and astronomers, who are astounded by his amazing knowledge of the nether reaches of the universe. A mesmerising mixture of science fiction and explosive psychological drama, this is a cleverly plotted, extremely well scripted film by Charles Leavitt (The Mighty) from Gene Brewer's novel of the same name. Kevin Spacey literally gives an unearthly performance as Prot, his magnetic charm consistently forcing everyone around him to re-evaluate who he is and where he is from. Jeff Bridges, as the sympathetic down-to-earth psychiatrist, is a terrific foil for Spacey, his questioning rationalism tested at every turn. British director, Iain Softley (Hackers, The Wings of the Dove, Backbeat) extracts the maximum cinematic potential of the story, giving K-PAX a unique style and energy that enriches the drama and enhances the suspense. K-PAX is that rarity, an intelligent, accessible commercial film that has a unique feel and will keep the audience rooted to their seats until the final credits roll.

Adrian Wootton
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Gala Films

People who added this item 3738 Average listal rating (2199 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.5
SKY MOVIES 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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Last Orders (2001)
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Evening Standard Film on the Square

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Birthday Girl (2001)
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Dinner Rush (2000)
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La Spagnola (2001)
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Lakeboat (2000)
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New British Cinema

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War Bride (2001)
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The Warrior (2001)
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French Revolutions

People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 5.9
Beach Café (2001)
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BFI London Film Festival (17 lists)
list by Max the Movie Guy
Published 3 years ago



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