London Film Festival 2020 highlights
BFI pulled off an excellent LFF this year, even with the lockdown measures, including the likes of Steve McQueen and Spike Lee. Here's a list of our favourites from the selection
Racism has always existed, but fewer people are ignoring it. The difference now is that the shouts, cries, and pleas are being heard and absorbed. And with Small Axe, filmmaker Steve McQueen becomes one of the loudest and most important voices among them – crafting five films showing racial oppression in London’s West Indian community in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
He opens his five-film anthology series with Mangrove, an intense and frightening examination of the Mangrove Nine trial in 1970. Nine Black men and women were arrested for inciting a riot during a protest against police brutality in Notting Hill, all of whom frequented the local Mangrove restaurant.Read more ...
Like many spirit-crushing illnesses, dementia loves the movies. Even in the last few months: having a gloomy presence in Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things and a demonic representation in Natalie Erika James’ Relic. But despite the explosive title, Supernova is muted and restrained by comparison.
Writer-director Harry Macqueen's road-trip drama follows a middle-aged gay couple, played by the endlessly absorbing Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Sam (Firth) is a musician and Tusker (Tucci) is a writer with early on-set dementia, embarking on a campervan journey through the Lake District – revisiting memories old and fond.Read more ...
Following in his father's twisted footsteps, filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg writes and directs this weird and dark hitman drama Possessor. Prepare for a violent and trippy ride.
Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is a body-shifting assassin who can kill via other bodies, and then frame those people. Her latest hit is the media mogul John Parse, played by a strangely pompous Sean Bean. She must use the body of his future son-in-law Colin (Christopher Abbott) to get close. But there are some complications, and Tasya’s reality and identity fracture into a disturbing mind-trip.Read more ...
Irish director Phyllida Lloyd’s latest film Herself is devastating and depressing, and its small spikes of hope always teeter on the edge of futility. But the charity and altruism of decent people shine through. It’s a harsh but beautiful journey.
Sandra (Clare Dunne) is mother to two girls, wife to an abusive man, and has two jobs. She manages to escape, but has to share the kids with her abuser. She's inspired by her daughter to build her own house, one that her husband will never find.
David Byrne and Talking Heads created what’s debatably the greatest concert-movie in film history: Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme. Whereas that wasn’t explicitly political, Byrne’s Broadway show American Utopia has no choice but to poke at the current ills of society.
Spike Lee directs this filmed version of the show, which, though Byrne’s new wave sound wiggles through ennui and alienation, finds a beacon of hope. As well as performing the hits with 11 other band members – Remains of the Light, Burning Down the House, Road to Nowhere – he also delivers speeches under spotlight, discussing babies’ brains and voter percentages. It’s a wondrous, surreal and politically poignant experience.Read more ...
Many have labelled Shirley an ‘anti-biopic’ of horror novelist Shirley Jackson, the dark mind behind The Haunting of Hill House. The conceit of this inverted sub-genre is using lies to tell truths about these prominent figures. Screenwriter Sarah Gubbins, taking from Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel, achieves exactly that.
Elisabeth Moss plays Shirley Jackson, who plays host to an ecstatic married couple. She forms a strange and seductive bond with the wife Rose, who loves Shirley's work. Although the premise initially screams of a postmodern, academic exercise, Shirley runs and runs with entertaining abandonment.Read more ...
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