London Film Festival 2012

The 56th London Film Festival opens today with a great set of movies. This list starts with the ones I am seeing at the festival (#1-#7) and then runs into recommendations of films I have seen elsewhere (#8-#18) and then finally interesting ones I am missing and want to catch later (#19 onwards). Looking for recommendations to add to the final section of the list.

I am starting with 40 films. I can't cover everything but fortunately there's a complete list of films on the festival web site.

Trivia: IMDb was the official site of the London Film Festival in both 1994 and 1995 before pretty much anyone had even heard of the web. We added all the festival films to IMDb ourselves beforehand via an intense week of typing and created a special page. Mark Harding, Alan Jay and I then went along to sit by a PC connected to a modem in the press bar area to demonstrate it to passing journalists. In 1994 this may even have been the first film festival to have an official website!
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1.
Frankenweenie (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences. (87 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ Opening night gala presentation ” - Col Needham
 
2.
Blood (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Thriller charting the moral collapse of a police family. Two cop brothers, smothered by the shadow of their former police chief father, must investigate a crime they themselves have committed. (92 mins.)
Director: Nick Murphy
“ On Friday looking forward to another Mark Strong movie from Nick Murphy, the director of The Awakening ” - Col Needham
 
3.
The Hunt (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie. (115 mins.)
“ Seeing on Saturday (we are also at LFF earlier in the day to watch a presentation on Edith Head's work with Alfred Hitchcock). ” - Col Needham
 
4.
I, Anna (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A noir thriller told from the point of view of a femme fatale, who falls for the detective in charge of a murder case. (93 mins.)
“ Seeing on Sunday -- the IMDb plot description had me at hello ” - Col Needham
 
5.
The Sessions (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest. (95 mins.)
Director: Ben Lewin
“ Seeing next Wednesday -- lots of Oscar buzz on this one. ” - Col Needham
 
6.
The Manxman (1929)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A fisherman and a rising young lawyer, who grew up as brothers, fall in love with the same girl. (110 mins.)
“ This year's BFI Archive Gala Screening a week on Friday and the next of the restored silent Hitchcock films to be unveiled. ” - Col Needham
 
7.
Great Expectations (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. (128 mins.)
Director: Mike Newell
“ Attending the closing night gala a week on Sunday. ” - Col Needham
 
8.
Argo (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. (120 mins.)
Director: Ben Affleck
“ I've already seen #8-#18. One of my top 5 from Toronto. Ben Affleck proves his directorial excellence yet again. Unmissable. ” - Col Needham
 
9.
Rust and Bone (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident. (120 mins.)
Director: Jacques Audiard
“ My favourite film from Cannes with an exceptional performance by Marion Cotillard. ” - Col Needham
 
10.
Seven Psychopaths (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu. (110 mins.)
Director: Martin McDonagh
“ Another TIFF favourite. Highly recommended if you liked Martin McDonagh's In Bruges. ” - Col Needham
 
11.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love. (93 mins.)
Director: Benh Zeitlin
“ A hauntingly beautiful and original film; one of my favourites from Cannes (it premiered at Sundance and won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize) ” - Col Needham
 
12.
Room 237 (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining. (102 mins.)
Director: Rodney Ascher
“ My favourite documentary this year and you'll never look at The Shining in the same way again. I saw it at TIFF but it was a hit at Cannes and Sundance too. ” - Col Needham
 
13.
Sightseers (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Chris wants to show girlfriend Tina his world, but events soon conspire against the couple and their dream caravan holiday takes a very wrong turn. (88 mins.)
Director: Ben Wheatley
“ This is off-the-charts outrageous and a must-see British film. A darkly comic tale directed by Ben Wheatley of Kill List fame. Seen at TIFF. ” - Col Needham
 
14.
Robot & Frank (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Set in the near future, an ex-jewel thief receives a gift from his son: a robot butler programmed to look after him. But soon the two companions try their luck as a heist team. (89 mins.)
Director: Jake Schreier
“ A simply charming story which was one of my favourites from Sundance. ” - Col Needham
 
15.
Antiviral (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
In a blackly satirical near future, a thriving industry sells celebrity illnesses to their obsessed fans. Employee Syd March's attempts to exploit the system backfire when they involve him in a potentially deadly mystery. (108 mins.)
“ See rising star Caleb Landry Jones in this original and twisted tale from the mind of Brandon Cronenberg (the clue is in the last name). I missed this at Cannes and caught it at TIFF (where it had been re-edited slightly). ” - Col Needham
 
16.
End of Watch (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves. (109 mins.)
Director: David Ayer
“ Intense police thriller seen at TIFF ” - Col Needham
 
17.
Amour (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested. (127 mins.)
Director: Michael Haneke
“ Palm d'Or winner at Cannes. It's a masterpiece by Michael Haneke although bring plenty of handkerchiefs to dry your eyes. ” - Col Needham
 
18.
Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A divorcing couple tries to maintain their friendship while they both pursue other people. (92 mins.)
“ Wonderful comedy from Sundance with great chemistry between the leads. ” - Col Needham
 
19.
Snow White (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A twist on the Snow White fairy tale that is set in 1920s Seville and centered on a female bullfighter. (104 mins.)
Director: Pablo Berger
“ All remaining titles unseen as of time of writing, but I wanted to catch them at the festival (alphabetical order). This is Spain's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. ” - Col Needham
 
20.
The Body (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A detective searches for the body of a femme fatale which has gone missing from a morgue. (108 mins.)
Director: Oriol Paulo
 
21.
The Central Park Five (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime. (119 mins.)
 
22.
Compliance (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A normal Friday service at a fast food restaurant becomes interrupted by a police officer who claims an employee stole from a customer, but something more sinister is going on. (90 mins.)
Director: Craig Zobel
 
23.
Crossfire Hurricane (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Legendary British rock band The Rolling Stones mark their 50th year together. (111 mins.)
Director: Brett Morgen
 
24.
Easy Money (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
When JW becomes a drug runner in order to maintain his double life, his fate becomes tied to two other men: Jorge, a fugitive on the run from both the Serbian mafia and the police, and mafia enforcer Mrado, who is on the hunt for Jorge. (124 mins.)
 
25.
Everybody Has a Plan (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
A man who assumes the identity of his deceased twin in Argentina. (118 mins.)
Director: Ana Piterbarg
 
26.
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A look at the lives of two teenage girls - inseparable friends Ginger and Rosa -- growing up in 1960s London as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, and the pivotal event that comes to redefine their relationship. (90 mins.)
Director: Sally Potter
 
27.
A Hijacking (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The crew of a Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates who proceed to engage in escalating negotiations with authorities in Copenhagen. (103 mins.)
Director: Tobias Lindholm
 
28.
Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York. (94 mins.)
Director: Roger Michell
 
29.
John Dies at the End (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion? (99 mins.)
Director: Don Coscarelli
 
30.
Kelly + Victor (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Kelly and Victor meet at a nightclub and start a sexual relationship, the excitement of which removes them from the dull ordinariness of their lives. (95 mins.)
Director: Kieran Evans
 
31.
Midnight's Children (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A pair of children, born within moments of India gaining independence from Britain, grow up in the country that is nothing like their parent's generation. (146 mins.)
Director: Deepa Mehta
 
32.
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Philosopher Slavoj Zizek examines the hidden themes and existential questions asked by world renowned films. (136 mins.)
Director: Sophie Fiennes
 
33.
Quartet (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. (94 mins.)
Director: Dustin Hoffman
 
34.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A young Pakistani man is chasing corporate success on Wall Street. He finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family's homeland. (130 mins.)
Director: Mira Nair
 
35.
The Sapphires (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their all-girl group The Sapphires entertain the US troops in Vietnam. (103 mins.)
Director: Wayne Blair
 
36.
Silence (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Eoghan is a sound recordist who is returning to Ireland for the first time in 15 years. His reason for... (87 mins.)
Director: Pat Collins
 
37.
Simon Killer (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A recent college graduate flees to Paris after a break-up, where his involvement with a prostitute begins to reveal a potentially dark recent past. (101 mins.)
Director: Antonio Campos
 
38.
Wasteland (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young man recently released from prison recruits his three best friends to rob the local drug kingpin who is responsible for his incarceration. Can he get revenge and win back his fed-up girlfriend? (108 mins.)
Director: Rowan Athale
 
39.
West of Memphis (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An examination of a failure of justice in the case against the West Memphis Three. (147 mins.)
Director: Amy Berg
 
40.
Wish You Were Here (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Four friends lose themselves in a carefree South-East Asian holiday. Only three come back. Dave and... (89 mins.)