Clooney in triplicate at the London Film Festival
He’s very charming, a consumate professional and more than almost any other actor, possessessing the old-style Hollywood glamour — three reasons why the Artistic Director of the Times BFI London Film Festival, Sandra Hebron, has picked three films starring George Clooney.
The festival kicks off on October the 14th with Clooney voicing the eponymous Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation of the Roald Dahl classic. During the following two weeks, he’ll return as paranormal-trained special forces operative in Grant Heslov’s The Men who Stare at Goats and a management consultant in Jason Reitman’s new comedy, Up in the Air.
The closing night film, on October the 29th, is artist Sam Taylor-Wood’s first feature, Nowhere Boy, about a young John Lennon. Of of the supporting actors, David Morrissey, has a second film in the festival — Don’t Worry About Me is his directorial debut.
Unlike Cannes, the London Film Festival is open to members of the public, so over the fortnight of the festival, audiences will get to see nearly two hundred features and more than a hundred short films, curated into a variety of programmes.
The most high-profile screenings – known as galas – will include Lone Scherfig’s An Education, Jane Campion’s John Keats biopic Bright Star and John Hillcoat’s The Road, an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel — his last book to make it to the big screen was No Country For Old Men, whose directors, the Coen Brothers, are back at the festival with their next film, A Serious Man. The Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, is also on the programme, as is another of this year’s Cannes favourites, A Prophet, directed by Jacques Audiard, who’ll be giving a masterclass.
The London Film Festival wouldn’t be complete without a programme of New British Cinema, which – this year – includes Brenda Blethyn in London River, Thomas Turgoose in The Scouting Book for Boys and the latest documentary from Chris Atkins, Starsuckers, which deconstructs celebrity culture. Sir Ridley Scott’s daughter Jordan has her debut feature, Cracks, screening. And Ray Winstone heads an all-star cast in Malcolm Venville’s 44 Inch Chest.
American cinema at this year’s event includes the new film by the Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, called Extract, Cold Souls, with Paul Giamatti playing a version of himself, and Suzi Yoonessi’s Alaska-set Dear Lemon Lima.
A programme of French films include works by Claire Denis, Cedric Khan and Patrice Chéreau. Claude Chabrol is also back with a new thriller, Bellamy, starring Gérard Depardieu.
Directors including Ang Lee (Taking Woodstock), Tod Solondz, Atom Egoyan, Steven Soderbergh (The Informant), Jim Jarmusch (The Limits of Control), Gaspar Noé, Harmony Korine and Lee Daniels are also screening at this year’s festival, which, as ever, will also be blessed with animations – such as Astro Boy, featuring the voice of Freddie Highmore, and a 3D print of Toy Story 2 – as well as its full quota of shorts, documentaries, reissues and film-maker Q&As.
The short films programmes include Film London’s London Calling and an assortment of shorts about relationships in a collection titled A Thing Called Love.
This list can only skim the surface of the 191 films at this years festival – plucking the best films from the year’s other international film festivals and mixing them with some of the most interesting up-and-coming films — including fifteen world premieres.