The four marvellous new movies I’m seeing at LFF 2016 will soon have everyone talking.
Being a member of the British Film Institute (or BFI) has a lot of great benefits. One of them is to be able to get tickets in advance of them going on public sale for the annual London Film Festival every autumn.
Last year, I was lucky enough to see Jacques Audiard’s astonishing film Dheepan a full six months before it received a cinema release. The year before it was the same for Bennett Miller’s dazzling Foxcatcher.
Whilst the four marvellous movies I’ve chosen to see this year will all, I’m sure, have illustrious and awards-laden lives ahead of them, two have a UK release date in early/spring 2017. So I could be lucky enough once again to see a movie that people will be talking about, months in advance. I’m making a very happy face right now.
So what am I watching?
Manchester by the Sea (UK release date: 13 January 2017)
The new film from fantastically talented writer / director Kenneth Lonergan. It’s only his third movie following his universally praised debut, You Can Count on Me (2000) which launched the careers of Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney. And the much more mixed reception but no less brilliant Margaret (2011) which saw the superb Anna Paquin leading a brilliant cast – including Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Reno and Allison Janney – in the title role.
Here we see what’s been heralded as a career-best performance from Casey Affleck (in a role apparently originally intended for Matt Damon) as Lee Chandler, a Boston-based janitor, whose life changes beyond all recognition when he receives some devastating news that pulls him back to his old home town. There he wrestles with his past, principally in the form of his ex-wife (another powerhouse turn from Michelle Williams) and his future, the nephew he now needs to care for (a sparky, talented performance from newcomer Lucas Hedges).
A film by Lonergan is now an event which is part of the reason I chose it but the movie just sounds amazing.
Paterson (UK release date: 25 November)
Writer / director Jim Jarmusch already has a stellar career. But many people at this year’s Cannes Film Festival thought his new film was one of his very best. The quite amazing Adam Driver who delivers breathtakingly nuanced performances plays the title role, a bus driving poet who we follow through his day-to-day life over the course of a week.
His life revolves around simple things – his work where he observes his passengers and the life in the town he lives, also called Paterson; his home life, in the happy marriage he has with his creative wife Laura (an equally subtle performance to match Driver’s from Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani); and his own time after work, when he walks their dog and visits his local bar (run by the brilliant Barry Shabaka Henley), always drinking exactly one beer as he chats to the locals.
Certainly Driver is one of the most interesting young actors to emerge over the last couple of years and a big part of why I wanted to see this but couple with Jarmusch’s storytelling, it looks like the most beautifully observed character driven delight.
Nocturnal Animals (UK release date: 4 November)
Tom Ford – writer / director / iconic fashion designer. Rarely has an artist with such a phenomenally successful career in one discipline made the equally successful transition into another quite different field. Ford’s first film A Single Man, adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s novel, made a big splash on its release in 2009. But his new film with the brilliant Amy Adams, remarkable Jake Gyllenhaal and magnificent Michael Shannon seems destined for even greater things.
I was so struck by the trailer for this film that I posted about it in Nocturnal Animals – brace yourself for brilliance so have a read and you’ll see what the movie’s about. But suffice it to say that it was certainly the actors involved that drew me to choose this. I’m also interested though to also see how Ford pushes himself as a film-maker, after his first much more low-key drama, here he seems to be working on a much more epic canvas. Looks fascinating.
It’s Only The End of the World (UK release date: 14 April 2017)
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know what an admirer I am of Marion Cotillard. So the prospect of seeing her in the winner of the ‘Grand Prix’ at this year’s Cannes was an opportunity too good to pass up. What’s more it’s the new film from the uber-talented 27 year old Canadian writer / director Xavier Dolan, whose previous film Mommy won the ‘Jury Prize’ at Cannes 2015.
Alongside Cotillard, Dolan has assembled the creme de la creme of French acting talent – Vincent Cassel, Lea Seydoux, Nathalie Baye and Gaspard Ulliel (wow!) – as the members of a family whose lives recalibrate considerably with the arrival of Ulliel’s Louis, a writer not seen for 12 years. His return to the fold with the news he brings, allows Dolan to put a microscope onto this particular family, exposing all the claustrophobia, cruelty and pessimism that surely made Louis leave all those years ago.
With a cast like this and my complete love of French cinema, I’m interested to see if my first encounter with Dolan’s work could bring about the kind of regard for him that I have for one of my favourite film-makers, Jacques Audiard.
Let’s see how they all turn out. And if they are gems, as I hope they all are, you’ll be reading posts about them on their respective releases. Very excited face now!Tags: Adam Driver, Amy Adams, Casey Affleck, Its Only The End of the World, Jake Gyllenhaal, London Film Festival, Manchester By The Sea, Marion Cotillard, Michelle Williams, Nocturnal Animals, Paterson