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BFI 46th London Film Festival

Movie list created by Max the Movie Guy Avatar

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Opening Gala

Stephen Frears’ latest film is a contemporary and highly original urban story, a thriller with a political edge set amongst London’s largely invisible community of illegal immigrants. Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a young Nigerian man who juggles his daytime job as a minicab driver with night-time shifts in a less than salubrious hotel. Okwe is a kind man, and an educated one - he uses his medical training to help his fellow ‘illegals’. When he finds a few hours to sleep, these are snatched on the couch of a woman working in the same hotel, the proud and very private Senay (Audrey Tautou), a Turkish asylum seeker. Theirs are insecure and transient lives, with discovery by the authorities a constant threat, and exploitation a given. When Okwe makes a shocking, gruesome discovery in one of the hotel rooms, he stumbles into the shadiest of worlds where everything has its price. Dirty Pretty Things marks a return by Frears to the multicultural modern city as subject, and is as refreshingly radical as My Beautiful Laundrette was in its day. His style of film-making is gritty yet anything but drab, perfectly attuned to a desire to show London in an unfamiliar light. Most of all, what shines through the film is a profound understanding of people, and an empathy for them, as the reality of their lives is revealed with wit and real warmth. Bravery in casting is rewarded in full: Chiwetel Ejiofor is simply outstanding as Okwe, on screen in virtually every scene and given praiseworthy support by Audrey Tautou, Sergi López, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Wong. We are delighted to premiere this entertaining and prescient film as our Opening Night Gala.

Sandra Hebron
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Closing Gala

Writing from the 1920s onward, Rosamond Lehmann established a reputation as a brilliant chronicler of the social mores of her English upper middle-class contemporaries, and in particular the stifling effects these could have on women’s lives. Based on her novel, ‘The Echoing Grove’ The Heart of Me is an impeccable study of passion and its repression, set behind the closed doors (and closed family ranks) of society London. In 1934, two attractive but very different sisters fall in love with the same man. Ricky (Paul Bettany) is successful and charming, a good catch for the confident, level headed Madeline (Olivia Williams). But a mutual attraction between him and the quixotic, bohemian Dinah (Helena Bonham Carter) is impossible to deny, and soon the two of them are caught up in a tempestous and inevitably disruptive affair. This beautifully composed film, reminiscent in some ways of O’Sullivan’s earlier December Bride, charts the complexities of their love over a period of ten or so years, and the longer term shifts in the relationship between the two sisters. The cast give superbly restrained performances, and it is precisely this control and elegance, so appropriate to the story, which makes the film all the more resonant. Our hearts ache for the characters, seemingly trapped by the very conventions which they uphold. We are delighted to present this European Premiere as our Closing Night Gala.

Sandra Hebron
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Gala Films and Special Screenings

People who added this item 2460 Average listal rating (1502 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 7.1
At first glance, Oscar winning director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, Wonder Boys) might not seem like the most obvious candidate to direct a film starring, and loosely based on the story of, Eminem. But the combination of Hanson’s elegant style with Eminem’s raw hip hop genius is an inspired pairing, turning what could have been simply another star vehicle into one of the year’s most captivating and skillfully rendered mainstream films. In Detroit, an authentic but subtlely drawn sprawl of desolation, the 8 Mile of the title marks both the city boundary and a dividing line separating rich and poor, opportunity and its lack. Jimmy Smith Jnr (Eminem) is the talented and driven white rapper determined to escape his trailer park origins, even though the odds seem pretty heavily stacked against him. Whilst the story is familiar, its telling is refreshingly cliché free, and the look and (essentially) the sound of the film is faultless. Eminem slips effortlessly into his role, delivering a performance of sympathy and depth, surrounded by an ensemble cast, experienced and less so, who excel. Added to which, of course, there’s the music, in no short supply, around which the story is drawn. 8 Mile is quite some achievement: neither too gritty (aka violent/ depressing) nor too glossy, it’s a genuinely gripping universal story of hopes and dreams and the determination to succeed. Which just happens to feature rap’s most innovative international superstar.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
Anita & Me (2002)
Meena Bashkar is twelve and lives with her loving parents in Tollington, a village referred to somewhat optimistically as ‘the jewel of the Black Country’. It’s 1972, and poised on the brink of her teenage years, Meena longs to leave the Spangles and spacehoppers behind. Cue the arrival of Anita Rutter, who moves into the house next door complete with her fabulously dysfunctional family. Anita is 14, and represents everything Meena wishes she was: blond, beautiful, cool, wordly, outrageous. One way and another Meena manages to strike up a friendship with Anita, and they enjoy a summer of shared confidences and daring escapades. Meera Syal’s first novel, loosely based on her own teenage years, struck a chord with many who had endured - or even enjoyed - a provincial girlhood, making us howl with the laughter of recognition. Now she’s adapted the book for the screen but handed the directing duties over to Metin Hüseyin, best known for his television work on series such as ‘Common As Muck’. Alongside talented newcomers Chandeep Uppal and Anna Brewster as the girls, Anita and Me boasts a great cast including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ayesha Dharker, Max Beesley and Kathy Burke. With the added attraction of a soundtrack courtesy of Nitin Sawhney this is a highly enjoyable slice of 70s life.

Sandra Hebron
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This historical drama set in the 1890s at the apex of the British Empire, is based on A.E.W. Mason’s classic adventure story. Harry Feversham (Heath Ledger) is one of four young army officers about to be sent to the Sudan to fight in the campaign against the Moslem rebels. At the last minute, however, his courage fails him and he is ostracised both by his friends and his fiancée, Ethne Eustace (Kate Hudson). Desperate to redeem himself and, if possible, help his friends he makes his own way to Africa and finds himself on the wrong side in one of the most brutal moments of this colonial war. Director Shekhar Kapur’s first film since the acclaimed Elizabeth, this is an exciting, visually striking action film. Although wisely resisting the temptation to ‘update’ the story, Kapur still manages to bring a subtle, contemporary sensibility to the subject matter, making it fresh for modern day audiences. He is aided in this by mature performances from his young, attractive cast, especially up-and-coming star Heath Ledger, the consistently interesting Wes Bentley, and Kate Hudson (last seen to great effect in Almost Famous). The Four Feathers is notable for its staggering North African locations and the sheer visceral quality of its set piece battles.

Adrian Wootton
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‘There are three sides to every story: my side, your side and the truth...’. So begins this beguiling and massively entertaining film about the rise, fall and rehabilitation of legendary producer Robert Evans, adapted from his own memoirs. Plucked from a swimming pool by Norma Shearer in the 50s, and launched into the movies as an actor, former underwear salesman Evans found his true métier when he turned to producing. With a string of films including Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Godfather and Love Story to his credit, Evans was every inch the Hollywood mover and shaker. But his bad boy antics caught up with him big time, and a drugs bust and some dubious associations sealed his fate. Evans’ own gravel toned off-screen narration drives the story, and he is a brilliant, scabrously funny raconteur (albeit a partial one) dishing the dirt with aplomb. Film-makers Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein adopt a superlatively imaginative approach to the visuals, breaking new ground with their collage of archive footage, classic film clips, and photographs, many digitally animated. This makes The Kid Stays in the Picture something special, a film which not only captures the larger than life spirit of Evans, but also makes self evident just how damned glamorous, seductive, excessive and irresistible Hollywood could be.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 369 Average listal rating (207 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
Peter Mullan has firmly established himself as a vital presence in British cinema. Having worked as an actor with such maverick talents as Loach, Figgis and Winterbottom since his own darkly comic directorial debut Orphans, his new film confirms that he is certainly worthy of inclusion alongside them. His subject is potent and controversial. For over 150 years, the Magdalene Laundries existed to punish young women who had fallen foul of Ireland’s strict adherence to Catholic doctrine. Generations of women were hidden from society and deprived of their freedom because they had become pregnant out of wedlock, because a parish priest decreed they were ‘in moral danger’, or just because they were poor. With nuns acting as virtual jailers, the girls were cut off from their families and endured slave labour conditions, brutalized and bullied in an institution sanctioned by Church and Government. Many spent their lives there, to be buried in unmarked graves. The last laundry closed as recently as 1996, and only since has the true horror of conditions in these institutions started to emerge. Set in the 1960s The Magdalene Sisters dramatizes the lives of three women sent to a Magdalene Laundry as punishment for their ‘sins’. With exceptional performances throughout, it is an indictment of a system that put religious dogma before the rights of its children. Mullan skilfully manages to avoid preaching or handwringing, and the real strength of the film is that he manages to deliver a powerful statement with such admirable restraint.

Michael Hayden
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It’s three years since Aki Kaurismäki made the wonderful but shamefully neglected Juha; happily, with this deceptively simple fable which won widespread acclaim and a couple of major prizes at this year’s Cannes, Finland’s best known film-maker has bounced back with a vengeance. A man (Markku Peltola) is viciously mugged upon arriving in Helsinki; he’s given up for dead but somehow, as if by a miracle, revives. With no memory and no idea of who he is, he wanders off into the city, moves in with the homeless who live in freight containers around the harbour, and eventually, after falling for a Salvation Army woman (the ever-splendid Kati Outinen) at the soup canteen, begins to put his life (or someone else’s?) back together… It’s a characteristically drole, deadpan comedy from Kaurismäki, complete with nods to 50s B-movies, rock’n’roll, and fairy-tale romance, but like Drifting Clouds, it also addresses pressing social and political issues (unemployment, welfare, homelessness, callous capitalist policies) with the very lightest of touches. A beautifully tender, funny, and idiosyncratic movie, right down to some lovely stuff featuring – what else? – a memorably melancholy dog.

Geoff Andrew
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People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Marie-Jo is married to Daniel, who she still loves very much. They have an almost grown up daughter, and as a family the three of them seem happier than most. But Marie-Jo also loves Marco, and takes great pleasure in her relationship with him. Of course, sooner or later things must change and when Marie-Jo’s secret is disovered, she leaves Daniel to live with Marco for a while. Although Daniel is deeply hurt, he waits patiently for Marie-Jo to return. Their daughter, however, is incensed by her vacillations, and refuses any attempt at rapprochement... This is not the first time that Guédiguian has focussed his attention on the complexities of middle-aged love and his new film offers a customarily thoughtful depiction of infidelity. The tone is less edgy and more relaxed than some of his earlier films, but Marie-Jo and her Two Loves is once again set in his native Marseilles location, where the brilliant palette of sun, sea and sky are integral to the story. His cast members too are familiar, with Ariane Ascaride superb as ever in the leading role, a woman visibly struggling with the impossibility of loving two men.

Sandra Hebron
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People who added this item 4010 Average listal rating (2346 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.5
Based on a true story, The Pianist recounts the experiences of Wladislaw Szpilman, a brilliant Jewish concert musician in Poland during World War II. Szpilman’s extraordinary story of persecution, family tragedy and, ultimately, survival is brilliantly rendered in what is arguably one of Roman Polanski’s greatest achievements as a film-maker. The Pianist does not flinch from re-creating the appalling horror of what happened to Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, or avoid their eventual fate in the Nazi concentration camps. Nevertheless, this is not a dramatised documentary or a grim history lesson, instead The Pianist focuses very much on Szpilman’s personal journey and what we see and feel is through his eyes. More by luck than good judgement, he becomes a fugitive and escapee in occupied Warsaw, where his terror and isolation are only offset by the help of friends and his memory and belief in the music he has performed. Adrien Brody (Bread and Roses, Summer of Sam) has already received considerable critical acclaim for his mesmerising performance as Szpilman and he is ably abetted by an impressive ensemble cast. British writer, Ronald Harwood, provides a sensitive and measured script; Pawel Edelman’s photography provides luminous, unsentimental images and, of course, there is the music which is a major character within the film, setting tones and atmosphere. Above all, though, this is a Roman Polanski film and, considering his own World War II experiences in the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos, this may be his most personal and heartfelt film. Certainly, The Pianist is one of Polanski’s most perfectly realised movies and, deservedly, won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Adrian Wootton
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People who added this item 199 Average listal rating (140 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.3
Following the huge success of The Rugrats movies, The Wild Thornberrys is the latest animated series from Nickelodeon to get the big screen treatment. Young audiences across the country will already be familiar with the eccentric Thornberry family and their global adventures but if you are one of the uninitiated few; there is still plenty for you to enjoy. The Thornberrys travel to Africa’s Serengeti Plain where Nigel and Marianne are shooting a nature film. A warthog Shaman has previously bestowed an amazing gift on their youngest daughter Eliza that allows her to communicate with animals. Were she to share the knowledge of this power with anyone, she would instantly lose it. When Eliza endangers herself while attempting to save a young cheetah cub from ruthless poachers, she is sent to boarding school in England accompanied by her talking monkey, Darwin. She learns of a plot that will endanger the lives of hundreds of elephants and sets about planning her escape. Will Eliza prevent the poachers from carrying out their evil plan and is she prepared to sacrifice her gift when her family is threatened? A worthy addition to the Nickelodeon-Paramount partnership that produced Jimmy Neutron, The Wild Thornberrys is skilfully animated and uses rich colours to capture the beauty of the vast African landscape and its animal inhabitants. Successfully combining an uncompromising ecological message with plenty of comic thrills, all age groups are sure to be captivated by this bigscreen chapter in the lives of the Thornberry family.

Justin Johnson
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
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People who added this item 130 Average listal rating (74 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.6
Auto Focus (2002)
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People who added this item 41 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.7
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People who added this item 3121 Average listal rating (1925 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.6
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People who added this item 57 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 7
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People who added this item 509 Average listal rating (244 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
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People who added this item 150 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 4.7 IMDB Rating 4.7
Full Frontal (2002)
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People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
Kedma (2002)
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 7.1
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People who added this item 769 Average listal rating (364 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.9
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People who added this item 108 Average listal rating (62 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
Love Liza (2002)
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People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.6
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People who added this item 37 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
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People who added this item 110 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 7
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People who added this item 354 Average listal rating (175 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.4
Russian Ark (2002)
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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7
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People who added this item 1294 Average listal rating (752 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7
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People who added this item 187 Average listal rating (90 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
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New British Cinema

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People who added this item 0 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.5
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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.7
Leo (2002)
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People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 0
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People who added this item 94 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
Pure (2002)
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People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
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Wanted (2002)
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BFI London Film Festival (17 lists)
list by Max the Movie Guy
Published 3 years, 2 months ago



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