The biggest films at the 2019 London Film Festival
By Nathanial Eker
This year’s BFI London Film Festival boasts an extraordinary array of exhilarating works from a host of well-known and lesser known #filmmakers. Blockbuster directors like Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line) tell smaller scale passion projects that present more personal, intricate and stylised stories that look to challenge and thrill audiences in equal measure. This year also boasts a host of well known and talented veteran actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Johnathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, and Scarlett Johansson who’ll grace the screens, in a variety of different films spanning multiple genres and styles. Whether inciting laughter, tears, shock, or a combination, some of the industry’s most current and exciting filmmakers will take the London stage to transport audiences on a journey of their choosing. Here are the biggest films being shown at the #LFF2019 that we can’t wait to see…
Directed by: #TaikaWaititi
Jojo Rabbit is perhaps the most well publicised film at the LFF, due in no small part to director Taika Waititi’s meteoric ascent into mainstream consciousness through the commercial success of Marvel goliath Thor: Ragnarok. The What We Do in the Shadows director brings his trademark visual flare and wicked wit through his dual role as screenwriter, in this biting black comedy set in World War Two Germany. Tackling absurdist Nazi racism through humour is one thing, but taking on the role of a sardonic imaginary Hitler is something that only Waititi would dare attempt. Jojo Rabbit looks to tell a story of heart that simultaneously oozes satire, making a mockery of the Third Reich’s ridiculous prejudice through sarcastic dialogue and droll commentary. Boasting a high-profile cast with the comedic chops of Scarlett Johansson, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, and Stephen Merchant, Waititi’s latest venture is aiming to turn heads in all the right ways.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
Directed by: #MarielleHeller
Following last years Can you Ever Forgive Me?, exciting up-and-comer Marielle Heller again dips her toe into the biopic genre with A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. Exploring the cult personality of icon of wholesomeness Fred Rogers, Heller’s latest work looks to pull heartstrings and warm the cold hearts of critics by casting the most likeable man in Hollywood as one of the sweetest celebrities in recent history. Tom Hanks will no doubt effortlessly slip into that iconic red sweater, bringing his usual charisma, as well as the warmth presented when he played a certain other, more business minded childhood hero in 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks. The decision to focus on protagonist Lloyd Vogel (based on real life journo Tom Junod), looks to be a clever one, placing us on the outside and showing, not telling us the widespread impact of Rogers, hopefully through an unbiased lens. Though a more cynical man might expect it to be sickeningly over-sentimental, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood could prove to be one of the most touching and uplifting pieces at the 2019 LFF.
The biggest film at the LFF that film fans of all ages can enjoy, Abominable vaunts beautiful visuals with vast landscapes and a gorgeous colour palette, both in its more fantastical settings and in the beautifully realised Shanghai skyline. A collaboration between Dreamworks and Pearl Studio, this charming story of girl-meets-Yeti appears to offer more than just a romp in the snow. Infusing the gorgeous Chinese aesthetics of previous Asian set ventures involving a certain Kung Fu Panda, there is seemingly a focus from the studio to craft something that respects the culture. Hopefully what is shown will sit right with Chinese and western audiences alike; pre-release footage teases a narrative that relishes in and takes advantage of its beautiful setting, presenting the country as a mystical and magical land for our young heroes to explore. Combining a diverse cast, a cute (if a tad generic) premise, and genuinely amusing jokes, Abominable will hopefully reveal itself at the LFF as an animated great. As is, its impressive trailer evokes strong How to Train Your Dragon vibes which is certainly no bad thing.
Directed by: #MartinScorsese
Widely discussed for its technical aspirations, this Netflix film offers up a far more tantalising prospect; the collaboration of director Martin Scorsese with a cast that is nothing short of legendary. In a return to his roots, the multiple academy award winning director tackles the true crime drama, bringing with him an experience and finesse that is sure to produce an exceptionally well-paced and intricately written tale. However, the gimmick of the film brings with it both excitement and anxiety. Framed by an elderly Frank Sheeran (De Niro) recounting the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), through revolutionary visual effects, the leads are ‘de-aged’ in post-production from their 70s to their 30s. Should this effect be as seamless as the marketing campaign suggests, this experiment could open the door for wider implementation of the technology across the industry. Though somewhat effective in mainstream blockbusters like Captain Marvel, if pioneering filmmakers like Scorsese accept its relevance, it’s a whole new ballgame. At any rate, there couldn’t be a more exciting film to end the festival with.