London Film Festival 2019 – Preview 3/3

The third and final part of my LFF round up – following on from parts 1 and 2.

This part covers letter M-Z…


Maggie (dir: Yi Ok-seop) When an x-ray of a couple making love is circulated around a South Korean hospital, a sassy radiologist gets nervous – are those her bones being boned? Features nods to Michel Gondry, but ultimately has idiosyncracies all of its own.


Marriage Story (dir: Noah Baumbach) The buzz is through the roof for the new Baumbach, who seems to be properly entering into some sort of mature period with first The Meyerowitz Stories and now this. Early reviews from the festival circuit are glowing; the cast (Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta) is a knockout. (My current favourite Baumbach? Yes, it’s Francis Ha).


Monos (dir: Alejandro Landes) Hallucinogenic tale of child soldiers and the man (and cow) they have captured up in the mountains. Looks ravishingly, hypnotically beautiful – and it has a score by Mica Levi (Under The Skin), who can do no wrong and to my mind frankly wouldn’t work on a project that wasn’t worth it. Comparisons include, remarkably, Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Flies.


The Personal History of David Copperfield (dir: Amando Iannuci) Writer-director Iannuci directs Dev Patel as Copperfield, alongside Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton et al. That director and cast are my reasons to see this – and touch wood, I’m hoping for a super-smart script too.


Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir: Céline Sciamma) I love Girlhood, and Sciamma’s follow-up is one of the best reviewed films of the year – those at Cannes who saw this tale (of an artist and her female model falling in love in 1760) were bursting with enthusiasm. I couldn’t find a subtitled trailer, but here’s a clip…


The Report (dir: Scott Z. Burns) Adam Driver investigates the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. I love a good investigation tale (see Cold Case Hammarskjöld) and Adam Driver is one of the must-watch actors of the age. Hopefully he pins things to a wall and draws lines between them.


So Long, My Son (dir: Wang Xiaoshuai) A family drama spanning four decades of change in Beijing, from the 80s to today. Early reviews suggest its the biggest tear-jerker at fest, leaving audiences utterly wrung out. Get ready to sob.


Synchronic (dir: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson) Two paramedics deal with a new, weirdly powerful hallucinogen on the streets of New Orleans. It’s hard to “do no harm” when reality itself may be collapsing all around you. If they’re lucky, they’ll end up back in the ER. If they’re unlucky… somewhere else. I really dug Benson and Moorhead’s The Endless, so I’m hoping for more of that weird/eerie goodness.


System Crasher (dir: Nora Fingscheidt) Intense drama about a troubled, impulsive girl being passed around within Germany’s welfare system. Will she ever be reunited with her mother? Another tearjerker; one that’s unafraid to get in its audience’s face. Early review emphasise how moving this one is. I’m hoping for something in the tradition of Alan Clarke, maybe.


Vivarium (dir: Lorcan Finnegan) House-buying couple Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots visit a perfect housing development together. One problem – once inside, the estate becomes endless and recursive, and you can never leave. Things only get stranger once a baby shows up. This one looks weird, subversive, sly and satirical.


Waiting for the Barbarians (dir: Ciro Guerra) Robert Pattison again, this time paired with Mark Rylance and Johnny Depp in an adaptation of a parable by JM Coetzee. Set somewhere in “the colonies” – South America, maybe? – a man must make tough choices when he’s caught in the remorseless logic of colonialism. I adored Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent so I’m hoping this is a return to that form.


Wounds (dir: Babak Anvari) Grouchy slacker Armie Hammer tries to return a phone someone leaves in his bar. But good intentions can have bad consequences… I loved Babak Anvari’s Under The Shadow, and I’m keen to check out this follow-up. Also features the excellent Dakota Johnson, in one of the last films she made before sadly removing the gap between her front teeth.


You Don’t Nomi (dir: Jeffrey McHale) Passionate feature-length defence of Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. What more could any cineaste want?


The Young and the Damned aka Los Olvidados (dir: Luis Buñuel) I love Buñuel, but I’ve never seen this one. That’s it, that’s the tweet.


Zombi Child (dir: Bertrand Bonello) Bonello blew me away – absolutely blew me away! – with Nocturama three years ago. This new film is a tale spanning almost 60 years, linking 1962 Haiti with present day Paris, dark magic with modern liberalism, and Stephen Kind with Rhianna. If Zombi Child is even half as good as Nocturama it’ll be superb. Bonello knows how to end a movie, too (Nocturama’s fatalistic dread pinned me to my seat), so I’ve very , very hyped for this one.


There ends my LFF preview… now I just have to narrow it down to a manageable list. About 35 films should do it…

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