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The 5 Best Films Of The 2013 BFI London Film Festival

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 22, 2013 12:14 PM
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  • 1 Comment
With AFI and Rome the only major festivals left in the calendar, the close of the 57th BFI London Film Festival last night with the world premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks" signals the winding down of festival season. I'm starting to just about recover from a twelve-day binge of movies (although thanks to early press screenings and screeners, it actually went on for more like four weeks), but it's not too early to say that, in over ten years of attending the festival (and five as press), this was the best I can remember.

BFI London Film Festival Diary Day 8: '12 Years A Slave,' 'The Past,' 'Only Lovers Left Alive' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 21, 2013 2:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
12 Years A Slave
I'm a defender of the Oscar season in general—it's a rare chance to shift the conversation away from superheroes and talking cartoon animals, and onto films made for actual grown-up human beings. But it does also have the unfortunate side-effect of often framing the movies as nothing but competitors in a six-month long sporting season. As such, while it's certainly deserving, I wouldn't mind if no one ever mentioned the words Oscar and "12 Years A Slave" [A] in the same breath again, because a film this good is only cheapened by the awards-chasing.

BFI London Film Festival Review: 'Saving Mr. Banks' With Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 20, 2013 6:00 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Saving Mr. Banks
Though the general public doesn't always share their enthusiasm, Hollywood loves making movies about itself. Whether fictional or based in reality, it's rare for a year to pass without some kind of film about filmmaking, from classics like "Sunset Boulevard" and "Mulholland Drive" to, uh, not-classics like "Hitchcock." In recent years, "The Artist" and "Argo" have both been critical and commercial successes (and not coincidentally, Best Picture Oscar winners), and Disney are clearly hoping that the same kind of success follows for "Saving Mr. Banks," which examines one of the family friendly company's most beloved films, 1964's "Mary Poppins," and their own founder and figurehead, Walt Disney, here played by megastar Tom Hanks.

BFI London Film Festival Diary Day 7: 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' 'Ida,' 'Grand Piano' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 19, 2013 10:25 AM
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Inside Llewyn Davis
At this point it's more notable when the Coen Brothers make a film that's disappointing than when they make an excellent one: the filmmakers have one of the highest hit rates in the business, and aside from a spotty period in the mid '00s, they've generally gone from great film to great film. That said, some of their most recent films I haven't entirely clicked with: "Burn After Reading" was fun, but feels minor in retrospect, while "True Grit" was uncharacteristically straightforward and old-fashioned in the context of some of their more gonzo affairs. But as you might have heard, "Inside Llewyn Davis" [A] sees them right back on top again, with the film likely to settle into the top tier of their work.

BFI London Film Festival Diary Day 6: 'Labor Day,' 'The Selfish Giant,' 'Of Good Report' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 16, 2013 2:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Labor Day
It's not the coolest thing to admit in certain circles, but I'm an unrepentant fan of Jason Reitman's work. Though his debut "Thank You For Smoking" was uneven (though a little fun), his three subsequent films have shown him to be a fine director of actors, and to have a real command of tone, and I consider "Juno," "Young Adult," and particularly, "Up In The Air" to be among the best films of their type in recent years (the mainstream-ish comedy-drama—and one only has to look at the many dismal similar films that come round the festival circuit every year to realize how hard it is to pull one of those off). Which is why I was particularly disappointed that "Labor Day" [C-] is such a misfire.

BFI London Film Festival Diary Day 5: 'The Double,' 'We Are The Best!,' 'Nobody's Daughter Haewon' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 15, 2013 11:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In the run up to its release, I was absolutely champing at the bit to see "Submarine," the debut feature from British comedian Richard Ayoade. I'd been a huge fan of the comic's breakthrough work on "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace," the buzz was electric, it appeared to tick all the right boxes in terms of influences, and had a distinctive visual look. And yet when it came to actually seeing the thing, even after loving the first half-hour or so, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. High expectations probably played a part, but ultimately, Ayoade was perhaps a little too in thrall to his influences, and the source material wasn't quite strong enough to make it the classic coming-of-age tale I'd hoped it might be.

BFI London Film Fest Diary Day 4: 'All Is Lost,' 'Mistaken For Strangers,' 'Jodorowsky's Dune' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 14, 2013 2:19 PM
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  • 0 Comments
All Is Lost Robert Redford
You could speculate about the reasons for it, but few could deny that there's something in the air involving survival narratives. Last year saw "The Grey," "Life Of Pi" and "Kon-Tiki" premiere to acclaim, and right now, Sandra Bullock's battle against the void of space in "Gravity" has led to rave reviews and phenomenal box office. The latest to pit his wits against the force of nature is Robert Redford, in "All Is Lost" [A-], the second film from "Margin Call" director J.C. Chandor.

BFI London Film Festival Diary Day 3: 'Nebraska,' 'Starred Up,' 'A Touch Of Sin' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 12, 2013 10:59 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Nebraska
The big gala on the first Friday of the BFI London Film Festival was for Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" [D+], which heads up the LFF's Journey strand (last year's major innovation saw the festival split into multiple themed sections, mostly named after verbs for some reason—Laugh, Dare, Debate, Thrill etc.) Warmly received when it premiered at Cannes, the film's been a longtime passion project for the helmer, who directs for the first time from a script that he didn't write. He's certainly found a like mind in screenwriter Bob Nelson, as many of the director's favorite subjects—the Midwest, the American Dream, thick lashings of social satire—are touched on in this story of a father (Bruce Dern) and son (Will Forte) who head on a reluctant road trip together to pick up the million dollars that the dad believes he's won. Also present and correct, unfortunately, is the sneering attitude that Payne all too often takes to his characters.

BFI London Film Fest Diary Day 1: 'Captain Philips,' 'The Congress,' 'Bertolucci On Bertolucci' & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 11, 2013 2:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Captain Phillips,
Even with the New York Film Festival still ongoing for a few more days, the international festival circuit isn't pausing for breath: Wednesday saw the kick off of the 57th BFI London Film Festival across the pond. After a fairly rocky start under new director Clare Stewart last year, the U.K.'s biggest festival has come roaring back in 2013 with the best line-up I can remember, cherry picking the best of Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, Cannes, Venice, TIFF and more, and even with a major world premiere for the first time in several years, in the shape of "Saving Mr. Banks," which closes the festival next weekend.

Spike Jonze's 'Her' To Close NYFF & 'Saving Mr. Banks' To Cap London Film Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 8, 2013 12:25 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We have more big festival announcements today for two movies expected to make waves in the coming months. And no, they don't involve the already stellar line up at TIFF, but instead, they find two more fests nabbing some pretty big titles for their closing slots.

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