2016 London Film Festival (LFF), Oct 5-16by allthumbs | created - 02 Sep 2016 | updated - 9 months ago | Public
SEP 1: Here are some films of note scheduled for the London Film Festival, Oct 5-16, 2016 (60th edition). I usually use Time Out-London's preview, but their format recently underwent a makeover, and they may not have any preview of film showings. Meanwhile, I'll just use other internet sources for any listings here. The LFF is quite extensive. In 2016 193 fictional and 52 documentaries are scheduled. So my review will be somewhat short, but will highlight the best of what's being shown. BTW, there are 12 films entered in The Official Competition (Best Picture) category. They are (Director, TITLE): Martin Koolhoven, BRIMSTONE; Kelly Reichardt, CERTAIN WOMEN; Mohamed Diab, CLASH; Paul Verhoeven, ELLE; Francois Ozon, FRANZ; Ivan Sen, GOLDSTONE; Miijke de Jong, LAYLA M.; Barry Jenkins, MOONLIGHT; Pablo Larrine, NERUDA; Terence Davies, A QUIET PASSION; Benedict Andrews, UNA; Makoto Shinkai, YOUR NAME. There are also competitions for First Film, Documentary, and Short Film. To start off the list here are 9 pics that excited Metro.co.uk on Sep 1...... SEP 2: I had given up hope about Time Out-London, but lo and behold, TO published their list of 30 films you gotta see on Sep 2. That list includes #'s 1, 5, 6 & 7 from Metro and 26 others. (Still no mention of The Handmaiden, a Korean flik, though). So #'s 10-35 are from TO-London......Sep 3. I found a few lists of "gotta see" movies at the LFF. Mostly those lists rename fliks already mentioned, but each one is just a little bit different and add something to this list. At some point I'll stop adding fliks to this list, otherwise it will just be a relisting of the entire roster of films at the LFF. The Handmaiden (the Korean pic) finally gets a mention from Methods Unsound. CultureTrip.com added #36, and renamed 9 others, #'s 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 13, 18, 20, & 34. MethodsUnsound.com added 7, #'s 37-43, and renamed 9, #'s 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 18, 20, 21, & 33......Sep 11. The Evening Standard named 20 movies to their list of "must sees." They repeated 15 movies: #'s 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, & 33. They had 5 additions: #'s 44-48......Oct 27. One of the Best Pic nominees gets a lot of love, MOONLIGHT. I've added it at #49. Nary a recommendation from the sources used here. BTW, Certain Women was The Official Competition (Best Pic) winner.
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1. A United Kingdom (2016)
PG-13 | 111 min | Biography, Drama, Romance
The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.
Votes: 9,110 | Gross: $3.90M
D: Amma Asante. The black ruler of African Botswana (at the time it was a colony called Bechuanaland) weds a white woman who's an office worker in London in the late 1940's. Fierce opposition ensues.
2. Lion (2016)
PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama
A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.
Votes: 149,170 | Gross: $51.69M
aka Saroo. D: Garth Davis. (IMDb keeps changing the name back and forth from SAROO to LION and back again). A 5 yr old boy becomes lost in Calcutta, India and winds up adopted by an Austrailian couple. 25 yrs later and using Google Earth he searches for his biological parents. btw, Saroo is the last name of the author of the memoir (the boy who later becomes the seeker) which is the source for this movie.
3. American Honey (2016)
R | 163 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
A teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits.
Votes: 25,401 | Gross: $0.66M
D: Andea Arnold. A group of young people canvas the American Midwest selling magazines. They also party, fall in and out of love and try to find themselves. 2016 Cannes FF Grand Jury prizewinner.
4. A Monster Calls (2016)
PG-13 | 108 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy
A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's terminal illness.
Votes: 56,944 | Gross: $3.73M
D: J. A. Bayona. While his mother battles with terminal cancer, a young boy has nightmares and is visited at night by a monster. Bring Kleenex!
5. La La Land (I) (2016)
PG-13 | 128 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.
Votes: 342,798 | Gross: $151.10M
D: Damien Chazelle. A jazz pianist and a budding actress fall in love. Hey it's a musical, and like Los Angeles in fairy tales, all is supposed to become reality. (40's Film Noir tells us different.) Highest rated LFF flick (8.7) by IMDb raters as of 10.21.16.
6. Nocturnal Animals (2016)
R | 116 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
A wealthy art gallery owner receives a draft of her ex-husband's new novel, and once she starts reading it she just cannot put it down.
Votes: 167,448 | Gross: $10.64M
D: Tom Ford. An art gallery owner thinks her dead husband's novel is a veiled tale of revenge.
7. Arrival (II) (2016)
PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
Votes: 425,326 | Gross: $100.55M
D: Denis Villeneuve. Sci-Fi. A woman tries to find a way to greet aliens as they proceed to earth. Is it "Contact"-Light? From the director of Sicario and the new Blade Runner.
8. Certain Women (2016)
R | 107 min | Drama
The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.
Votes: 7,773 | Gross: $1.03M
D: Kelly Reichhardt. Three trailblazing women try to make their way in modern day Montana, and then their lives intersect. Winner of The Official Competition (Best Pic) award at the LFF. Only gets a 6.5 rating at IMDb as of 10.21.16.
9. Brimstone (2016)
R | 148 min | Horror, Thriller, Western
From the moment the new reverend climbs the pulpit, Liz knows she and her family are in great danger.
D: Martin Koolhoven. A mute midwife in the west hears the accented voice of the man she's long tried to escape.
10. Elle (I) (2016)
R | 130 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.
D: Paul Verhoeven. Isabelle Huppert gets her revenge on a rapist by pursuing him outside the law.
11. 13th (2016)
TV-MA | 100 min | Documentary, Crime, History
An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality.
D: Ava DuVerney. A close look at the disproportionate imprisonment of black men in America. From the director of Selma (2014). The title refers to the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. Remember: the 13th Amendment freed the slaves; the 14th made them citizens; the 15th gave them the right to vote.
12. Una (2016)
R | 94 min | Drama, Romance
A woman confronts an older man, her former neighbour, to find out why he abandoned her after they had a sexual relationship.
D: Benedict Andrews. Based on the 2005 play "Blackbird." A 27 year old woman confronts her abuser, who's now age 55, from 15 years ago. Recently revived for the Broadway stage.
13. Snowden (2016)
R | 134 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller
The NSA's illegal surveillance techniques are leaked to the public by one of the agency's employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press.
Votes: 99,444 | Gross: $21.59M
D: Oliver Stone. Stone's fictional take on leaker Edward Snowden. If you give half a hoot about Edward Snowden, then Stone's sure to make you scream. Then again, maybe Stone takes Snowden's side.
14. Prevenge (2016)
Not Rated | 88 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.
D: Alice Lowe. Lowe stars as a 7 month pregnant woman and then she goes on a killing spree. The director/star was really 7 months pregnant at the time! (But she didn't go on a killing spree.)
PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary
Werner Herzog's exploration of the Internet and the connected world.
Votes: 8,937 | Gross: $0.59M
D: Werner Herzog. Can your dishwasher fall in love with your refrigerator? Herzog looks at the tech age and the internet.
16. Nocturama (2016)
130 min | Drama, Thriller
Some young folks, tired of the society they're living in, plan a bomb attack over Paris before to take shelter for a night in a shopping center.
Votes: 2,256 | Gross: $0.03M
D: Bertrand Bonello. A group of young people commit terrorist acts in France. Now they wait for the aftermath. The movie was prescient in light of recent developments.
17. Frantz (2016)
PG-13 | 113 min | Drama, History, Romance
In the aftermath of WWI, a young German who grieves the death of her fiancé in France meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé's grave to lay flowers.
Votes: 7,964 | Gross: $0.88M
D: Francois Ozon. WWI drama. A German woman grieves for her dead fiance. Then, she sees a French soldier laying flowers on his grave. What gives?
18. Free Fire (2016)
R | 91 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.
Votes: 27,410 | Gross: $1.80M
D: Ben Wheatley. Brie Larson is the go-between in an arms deal that goes terribly wrong. Set in the US, but filmed in England.
19. Safari (2016)
91 min | Documentary
Ulrich Seidls follow wealthy tourists going on safari to kill often endangered species. Some determinedly searching for trophies, others to enjoy. Even if every prey comes at a price., they... See full summary »
Director: Ulrich Seidl
aka Safari. D: Ulrich Seidl. A bad behavior special from an Austrian provocateur, Ulrich Seidl. How to act (up) while on an African safari is the subject this time. It's time for Siedl's version of Cecil the Lion.
20. The Birth of a Nation (2016)
R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History
Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.
Votes: 16,145 | Gross: $15.86M
D: Nate Parker. The story of Nat Turner and the slave rebellion of 1831. A Sundance favorite with fans. Later, the director's own history was revealed. That revelation gave pause to enthusiasts and newbies to the flik. Don't get your Nate's and Nat's mixed-up!
21. Toni Erdmann (2016)
R | 162 min | Comedy, Drama
A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO's life coach.
Votes: 32,060 | Gross: $1.48M
D: Maren Ade. A woman tries to endure corporate drudgery. Her dad and his alter ego, Toni Erdmann, help her.
22. My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
PG-13 | 70 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama
After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.
Votes: 11,173 | Gross: $0.29M
aka My Life as a Courgette. D: Claude Barras. Stop-animation tells the story of a group of kids who come to enjoy life and each other despite their upbringing in the residential social care system.
23. Aquarius (2016)
Not Rated | 146 min | Drama
Clara, a 65 year old widow and retired music critic, was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-story ... See full summary »
Votes: 13,367 | Gross: $0.29M
D: Kleber Mendonca Filho. A music critic refuses to sell her beachfront property to developers. She must endure rejection and scorn from friends, family and neighbors.
24. Mascots (2016)
TV-MA | 89 min | Comedy
A look into the world of competitive mascots.
D: Christopher Guest. It's a Guest mockumentary that looks at the world of competitive mascots.
25. Bacalaureat (2016)
R | 128 min | Crime, Drama
A film about compromises and the implications of the parent's role.
Votes: 8,161 | Gross: $0.18M
aka Bacalaureat D: Cristian Mungiu. In Romania, a man's daughter is raped just prior to her graduation. As he seeks justice, his principles are continually compromised. Finally, a wrong is done to justify a right. Who's to blame?
26. Voyage of Time: Life's Journey (2016)
PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary, Drama
An exploration into our planetary past and a search for humanity's place in the future. With narration by Cate Blanchett.
D: Terrence Malick. Full title: Voyage of Time: Life's Journey. (Oops, IMDb just adjusted the title) Malick changes gears and does a documentary. It's about the birth of planet Earth and the progression of life.
27. Sieranevada (2016)
173 min | Comedy, Drama
Centers around a family gathering on the anniversary of a patriarch's recent death.
D: Cristi Puliu. A family gathers to mark the passing of the patriarch. As film goers watch this talky flik, the director questions realism and how it's presented. How did this foreign pic get such an American title?
28. Neruda (2016)
R | 107 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party.
Votes: 6,620 | Gross: $0.94M
D: Pablo Larrain. Neruda is a poet/politician in 40's Chile. This is his strory, but don't count on a biopic. The director has craft, atmosphere and surprises in his arsenal.
29. The Student (2016)
PG-13 | 118 min | Drama
Contemporary Russia. A high school student becomes convinced that the world has been lost to evil, and begins to challenge the morals and beliefs of the adults around him.
Votes: 2,780 | Gross: $0.00M
aka (M)uchenik, but now as The Student. IMDb switches back and forth. D: Kirill Serebrennikov. A student is obsessed with the bible, quotes it (and the quote is flashed on the screen) and gains influence with his school, a lot of influence. (Too much influence?) A science teacher decides to confront him. The film is a commentary on modern religious influence in Russia.
30. Christine (I) (2016)
R | 119 min | Biography, Drama
The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.
Votes: 8,522 | Gross: $0.30M
D: Antonio Campos. This is a docudrama of the real life on-air suicide of Christine Chubbuck in 1974. This incident did NOT inspire the soon to be made Network in 1976.
31. Personal Shopper (2016)
R | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.
Votes: 21,728 | Gross: $1.31M
D: Olivier Assayas. 2016 Best Director Award at Cannes FF. Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria, also dir by Assayas in 2014) is a shopper for Kyra who's a spendthrift. Stewart's Maureen is also a part-time spiritual medium and tries to contact her (Maureen's) twin brother who died of congenital heart disease.
32. Manhattan (1979)
R | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend's mistress.
Votes: 114,968 | Gross: $45.70M
D: Woody Allen. Yup, a refurb job on the film itself gets this chestnut a re-release at the LFF. Woody is a TV writer in a shaky relationship with Mariel Hemmingway. Beyond this storyline is a tribute to The City, Gordon Willis' B&W photography and George Gershwin's music. A great oldie pick.
33. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
R | 137 min | Drama
A depressed uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.
Votes: 175,756 | Gross: $47.70M
D: Kenneth Lonergan. Casey Affleck, a caretaker, is appointed legal guardian of his teenage nephew. It's long (2h.15m). It's complex. But is it compelling? So far, IMDb raters say yes...early Oscar talk about this one.
34. Queen of Katwe (2016)
PG | 124 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.
Votes: 10,093 | Gross: $8.81M
D: Mira Nair. The true life story of chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi who overcame a poor upbringing in Uganda to become an international champion.
35. David Lynch: The Art Life (2016)
Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography
Artist and filmmaker David Lynch discusses his early life and the events that shaped his outlook on art and the creative process.
Votes: 2,930 | Gross: $0.17M
D: Jon Nguyen & Olivia Neergaard-Holm. 20 interviews conducted over 4 years are distilled and put into a doc narrated by Lynch.
36. It's Only the End of the World (2016)
97 min | Drama
Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), a terminally ill writer, returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying.
D: Xavier Dolan. A man struggles to tell his family he's HIV positive. The Grand Prix winner at Cannes. (Palme d'Or is the top prize at Cannes.)
37. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.
D: Andre Ovredal. Two medical examiners, who happen to be father and son, find mutually exclusive possibilities in their examination of a corpse. Have your tummy ready for this one!
38. Ah-ga-ssi (2016)
Not Rated | 144 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.
Votes: 52,578 | Gross: $2.01M
D: Park Chan-Wook. A young Korean woman is hired as a handmaiden to an occupying Japanese heiress in 1930's Korea. The Korean plans to steal her employer blind. Instead, there's an emotional bond that develops.
39. Mifune: The Last Samurai (2015)
Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary
A feature-length documentary about the life and films of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, weaving together film clips, archival stills, and interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Narrated by Keanu Reeves.
Votes: 534 | Gross: $0.06M
D: Steven Okazaki. A look at the career of Tashiro Mifune with an emphasis on his films with director Akira Kurosawa.
40. Mindhorn (2016)
TV-MA | 89 min | Comedy
A has-been actor best known for playing the title character in the 1980s detective series "Mindhorn" must work with the police when a serial killer says that he will only speak with Detective Mindhorn, whom he believes to be a real person.
D: Sean Foley. A has been actor of the '80's is called back to relive his heroic acting days with his character's bionic eye.
41. Paterson (2016)
R | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
Votes: 42,532 | Gross: $2.14M
D: Jim Jarmusch. His name is Paterson, he lives in Paterson, NJ and he's in a film called Paterson. Hey, it's Jim Jarmusch! Expect a contemplative story and unhurried pacing.
42. Phantasm (1979)
R | 88 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A teenage boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a lethal arsenal of terrible weapons with him.
Votes: 25,990 | Gross: $11.99M
D: Don Coscarelli. A 1979 scare-fest comes to The Festival. Be prepared with disposable undies.
43. Ten Years (2015)
104 min | Drama
Five short films set in Hong Kong in the year 2025.
D: 5 short films with 5 different directors. The dystopian future of 2025 as seen by 5 directors. Some say it's a hit or miss effort.
44. Chi-Raq (2015)
R | 127 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.
Votes: 7,171 | Gross: $2.65M
D: Spike Lee. Ancient Greece inspired Lee's morality play. The women of Chicago say "no more" sex unless the killings stop. Maybe the idea would work in the real world!
45. Kurîpî: Itsuwari no rinjin (2016)
TV-14 | 130 min | Mystery, Thriller
Takakura is a former detective. He receives a request from his ex-colleague, Nogami, to examine a missing family case that occurred 6 years earlier. Takakura follows Saki's memory. She is ... See full summary »
D: Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Evil waits just below the surface for a typical Japanese family.
46. The Informer (1935)
Approved | 91 min | Crime, Drama
In 1922, an Irish rebel informs on his friend, then feels doom closing in.
D: John Ford. Another oldie but goodie gets a showing at the LFF. In revolutionary Ireland, an IRA informer gets his payback. A resurrected nugget.
47. Wild (I) (2016)
97 min | Drama
An anarchist young woman breaks the tacit contract with civilization and fearlessly decides on a life without hypocrisy or an obligatory safety net.
D: Nicolette Krebitz. An unassuming woman has her inhibitions released when she captures a wild wolf and brings it to her home.
48. A Quiet Passion (2016)
PG-13 | 125 min | Biography, Drama
The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.
Votes: 3,300 | Gross: $1.86M
D: Terence Davies. A bio-pic of the poet Emily Dickinson looks at her youth and then her later years, when she was still an unrecognized and undiscovered artist.
49. Moonlight (I) (2016)
R | 111 min | Drama
A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Votes: 178,372 | Gross: $27.85M
D: Barry Jenkins. A black man's story is told in three parts (with different actors in each part from youth to adulthood). Chiron is a gay black man with a drug addicted single mom. Each part of the movie tells his story about growing up in Miami, his sexual awakening, and finally his recognition of who he is as an adult. No love for this one from the LFF or the previewers...lots of love from Oscar, though. It was Best Picture of the Year (after a profound mix-up.)