We pick our favourites from BFI’s 59th London Film Festival.
The British Film Institute at Southbank is always a must-visit for cinephiles (not to mention they have a great website full of film recommendations for those ‘what shall I watch, nothing-on-Netflix’ moments) so any Londoners should be as excited as we are that the 59th BFI London Film Festival starts today. It’ll run till the 18th October, will show 240 films from 17 countries and features a huge range of cinema, from delicately poised arthouse to subversive documentaries and everything in between – so there really is no excuse not to see something. To help you choose, Wonderland present our top picks, but check the BFI for full listings.
Micag Magee gives us a filmic bildungsroman set in Texas that shows the state less as the lush, sun washed idyll that we sometimes see on screen, and more as a scorched, rusted world of trailer-parks and tricky decisions. Newcomer Devon Keller shines as a senior-schooler who must grow up quicker than expected when she falls pregnant in this languid, observational picture.
PETTING ZOO (2015) by Micah Magee [trailer] from Richard Lormand on Vimeo.
A Bigger Splash
Loosely based on 1969’s La Pisicne, which features a classic performance from the impossibly suave and attractive Alain Deloin (seriously, have a Google), A Bigger Splash stars Wonderland favourite Tilda Swindon alongside the legendary Ralph Fiennes. It’s a unique and deeply psychological film that is part black comedy and part erotic-thriller: unpredictable, sexy and steaming, this is Luca Gaudagnino follow-up to his previous collaboration with Swindon, I am Love.
Terrence Davie’s adaptation of Sunset Song – a 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon often considered to be a 20th century classic of Scottish literature – is a big, brave drama about family tragedy set just before the first world war. It’s a lavish epic full of lush cinematography and has a grandeur of scale that is fitting for such an iconic novel.
An American-cinema mainstay, the immigrant tale, is given a fresh spin in this story of an Irishwoman (Saoirse Ronan) who undertakes the journey to America on her own. A sweet and touching film that’s just the right side of corny, Ronan’s performance in particular is worth the price of admission.
Tumblr-hero and impossibly-nice-guy Tom Hiddleston stars in this exploration of class and anarchy that is set in a brutalist apartment-tower designed and presided over by an architect played by veteran thespian Jeremy Irons. Visually impressive, High Rise is a worthy addition to an illustrious line of British dystopian pictures that includes A Clockwork Orange.
A contender for the Best Picture category at the festival, this poetic film by French director Lucile Hadžihalilović follows a young boy who makes an unsettling discovery on the island he calls home. The vastness and the symbolic depth of the ocean has always made it a powerful motif in literature and film, and the neo-surrealist flourishes of Evolution are an important contribution to that tradition.
The Mexican-American border has long proved fertile ground for filmmakers, particularly in the Western context – Tommy Lee-Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) is a lesser known picture that makes wonderful use of that controversial and racially-charged border. In Desierto, Jonás Cuarón creates a thriller of astonishing tension that sees immigrants pursued by a racist and murderous vigilante: terrifying and tragic, the director’s sophomore effort is a must-see.
The BFI London Film Festival runs from the 7th-18th October
Words: Benji Walters