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BFI 48th London Film Festival

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Opening Gala

London, 1950. Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) lives with her husband Stan (Phil Davis) and their grown-up children Sid and Ethel (Daniel Mays and Alex Kelly). The very epitome of a respectable working class family, they're not well off, but they are happy and close, and Vera is devoted to them. Always helping people, Vera takes care of her old mum, regularly pops in to visit a poorly neighbour, and invites another, Reg (Eddie Marsan), round for his tea because she thinks he isn't eating properly. Perenially cheerful, Vera is the salt of the earth. What her family do not know is that for more than 20 years Vera has been helping young women who find themselves in trouble.

If the move to a 50s setting is something of a departure for Leigh, it's a move which sees his characteristic concern to find drama in the ordinary and the everyday remaining fully intact. In telling Vera's story, and its repercussions for the people around her, the complexity of the moral issues and social iniquities surrounding her actions are keenly felt, emerging subtly as events unfold. So much of Vera Drake's resonance lies in its accumulation of detail - the small moments and seemingly insignificant encounters, their sheer matter of factness concealing their dramatic consequences. Like all of his films, Vera Drake is full of humour, sharp observations, and the richness and rhythms of everyday speech, interpreted here by a strong cast including several Leigh regulars (Phil Davis, Ruth Sheen, Jim Broadbent). As Vera, Imelda Staunton is simply outstanding, and her transition from cheery stoic to broken woman is devastating to watch. Beautifully crafted, considered and deeply affecting, Vera Drake is a major new work from a world class film-maker.

Sandra Hebron
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Closing Gala

Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman), head of the Open Spaces Coalition, has been experiencing an alarming series of coincidences, the meaning of which escape him. With the help of two Existential Detectives, Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), Albert examines his life, and his conflict with Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive climbing the corporate ladder at Huckabees, a popular chain of retail stores. When Brad also hires the detectives, they dig deep into his seemingly perfect life and his relationship with his spokesmodel girlfriend, the voice of Huckabees, Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts). Albert pairs up with rebel firefighter Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) to take matters into their own hands under the guidance of the Jaffe's nemesis, the French radical Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert).

Don't be fooled by this synopsis, which makes this exhuberant existential comedy from David O. Russell (Spanking The Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings) sound something like a film - or at least a kind of film - you might have seen before, and gives little away about its sheer bonkersness. This isn't to demean the film at all, for there's more ingenuity, invention and political engagement in I Heart Huckabees than in most, mainstream or otherwise. Credit too, to his dream-team of a cast, who throw themselves into the proceedings with such enthusiasm that it's hard to separate them in terms of strength of performance (and really who wants to decide whether Hoffman is better than Schwartzman or Tomlin better than Huppert?). An end of Festival treat, this is hugely enjoyable film-making that sneaks in no end of moral and emotional concerns, and amply demonstrates that in making the transition to established director, Russell has lost none of his irreverent indie edge.

As a late addition to the programme there will be a free screening of Soldiers Pay, David O Russell's documentary on the 2004 Iraq war, on Wed 3 Nov.

Sandra Hebron
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Gala Films and Special Screenings

People who added this item 923 Average listal rating (470 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
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People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (55 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.7
5x2 (2004)
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People who added this item 6735 Average listal rating (4516 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 8
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People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 7.1
Mondovino (2004)
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People who added this item 175 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Tarnation (2003)
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People who added this item 579 Average listal rating (292 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Vanity Fair (2004)
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People who added this item 171 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.3
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Sky Movies Film on the Square

People who added this item 1342 Average listal rating (906 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 7.1
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People who added this item 98 Average listal rating (48 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7
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People who added this item 100 Average listal rating (64 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 0
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People who added this item 296 Average listal rating (174 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.3
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People who added this item 69 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Dig! (2004)
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People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.7
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People who added this item 645 Average listal rating (345 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
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People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.9
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People who added this item 2214 Average listal rating (1373 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
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People who added this item 98 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 4.6
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People who added this item 72 Average listal rating (39 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
The Holy Girl (2004)
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People who added this item 48 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
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People who added this item 810 Average listal rating (505 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
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People who added this item 360 Average listal rating (211 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Mean Creek (2004)
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People who added this item 592 Average listal rating (327 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.5
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People who added this item 336 Average listal rating (209 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
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People who added this item 74 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
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People who added this item 423 Average listal rating (234 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
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People who added this item 1303 Average listal rating (684 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
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People who added this item 374 Average listal rating (177 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1
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People who added this item 119 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7
Notre Musique (2004)
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People who added this item 230 Average listal rating (119 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
Palindromes (2004)
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People who added this item 1211 Average listal rating (743 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Ray (2004)
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People who added this item 62 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
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People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.4
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People who added this item 139 Average listal rating (64 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Undertow (2004)
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People who added this item 35 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.7
Yesterday (2004)
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New British Cinema

People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
Bullet Boy (2004)
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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 4.4
Top Spot (2004)
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (37 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Touch of Pink (2004)
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web.archive.org/web/20041030021130/http://www.lff.org.uk/films.php
The (almost) complete programme for the 2004 LFF.

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BFI London Film Festival (17 lists)
list by Max the Movie Guy
Published 2 years, 11 months ago



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