* Prices may differ from that shown
The London Film Festival is something that, as a film buff, I have always wanted to go to but been a bit too timid about travelling around London to go to. Thankfully, my girlfriend lives in London so I'm used to the Tube now and decided to try and catch a screening this year. The festival screens a lot of obscure and also Oscar-caliber films months before their general release, utilising the numerous cinemas in Leicester Square as well as some more further-afield ones too.
The first thing worth mentioning is that tickets go FAST. There is a BFI Members priority, and then they get a general release a week or so later, but they go within a few hours at most, so make sure you're quick off the mark or you will get stitched up! I got to most of the bookings too late, but did manage to book tickets for a screening of the brilliant THE ROAD (due out in January), and so ended up seeing it almost 3 months early! This is quite a satisfying feeling in itself, as well as the buzz that you're seeing the film with a really grateful and buzzed audience.
The fact that this is so welcoming to those outside of the industry is a plus; gala tickets are quite expensive and I hope to grab a bunch of galas next year, but if you catch the matinee screenings you end up paying only about £8, which is a steal to see a film months in advance if you ask me. The staff are generally very friendly and it is a very exciting time to be around in London. I will definitely aim to be quicker off the mark next year and hopefully catch some screenings with the cast and crew actually in!
I was lucky enough to bum a ticket for the London Film Festival Gala performance of Sexy Beast, a new brit gangster flick with Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. Like the productions of Guy Madonna's Lock Stock... stable, this enjoyable story of money, love, the love of money and calamari looks like an extended advert. Good fun. Watch it. Anyway, there I was, Max Beastly (without Scary, mind) in a rather disgusting brown leather coat with a matching beret cap, the bloke off of the Flash commercial and me having a lager in the Cafe Royal before the screening. I don't like celebrity bashes much. You know everyone but they haven't got a clue who you are. So you eyebrow flash or nod a hello - just being polite you see, or is it habit? - and they ignore you and you feel stupid. And then I was rude about Amanda Redman's bum but that's another story... Anyway, I digress. This sexy beats film... It's about a retired blagger living the high life in Spain when a low-life from his past life turns up and threatens his life if he doesn't return to his past ways in London and rob a bank for Mr Big. Will he do it? I don't know, I was too busy looking out for celebs.
For all Londoners and those from further afeild, I'd just like to tell you what I think about this year's FF. I haven't been to the London, or any, Film Festival before. But what makes me excited is the prospect of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous and Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon being shown. Both of these movies are supposed to be excellent, and whilst I can wait for Almost Famous, I don't know if I can wait until January for CT,HD (starring the great Chow Yun Fat). This is the only film that would make me take a day off college for except for maybe a preview of Star Wars Episode II :-). As for the other films, look at the website :-).
The BFI's London Film Festival takes place manly in October, though you can probably get listing for what's going to be round about now, useful as some of the films get sold out fairly quickly. Basically its a 'festival' where about 5 cinemas (including an Odeon in Leicester Square) show a whole host of films, many of which haven't been released in this country and may well never be, on different themes. Last year included films like 'Being John Malkovich', 'The Virgin Suicides' and 'The Insider'. It's a really good way to see unusual films, or even more popular films which haven't been released yet. You'll probably see the uncut version too - I saw 'The Virgin Suicides' last year and it was VERY different to the version which was finally released. There's bound to be something you'll like, though it can be pricey to book in advance - £8 a ticket. Booking on the day makes it £5 though things get sold out. There's also a 'mystery film' which was 'The Insider' last year. They're NOT all completely random films that no one understands and only film critics would be interested in, so I highly recommend it!