The London Film Festival is truly international but it was hard to miss the great British talent that was on show this year. The biggest events in particular were showcasing what Britain has to offer. The Opening Night featured WIDOWS, Directed by Brit Steve McQueen. The Closing Night featured SRAN & OLLIE a film about the British comedians Laurel & Hardy, directed by Brit Jon Baird.
A few other British films which I managed to screen and recommend to you, too are:
BEEN SO LONG - A musical about love and opening up your heart. A single mom must learn to unwind and enjoy life again. This is all about letting go of the past and reaching for the future. It is funny, real and a little cheeky at a time when we need some laughs and a swing in our step. The music is uplifting from the get-go and will sweep you along to the end. Netflix has picked up this gem and will be screening it from end of October.
WILD ROSE - A Glaswegian country singer? Rose-Lynn certainly is and believes she should have been born an American. Her voice along with the western boots and fringe leather jacket could be straight out of Nashville. Rose-Lynn is running towards her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry almost as fast as she is running away from her reality. Cheer her along as she seems to screw up both her dream and her life. Plenty of foot tapping great country songs. Jesse Buckley (Rose-Lynn) delivers wonderful vocals as well as a great performance.
THE WHITE CROW - Rudolf Nureyev is perhaps the best known non-political Russian defector during the Cold War. This is his story told with music, wonderful imagery and, of course, ballet. What we all come to learn is that he was arrogant, unapologetic, selfish, talented and always moving. This last point is not surprising given he was born on a train. Rudolf's nickname as a child was White Crow which, when used in Russian, is a person who stands out, is unusual in a positive way. After watching his early life I would tend to agree and all who watched him dance would definitely.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, COLIN BURSTEAD - Colin brings his family together for a New Year’s Eve party in a stately English manor. What he wasn't counting on is that each person has an agenda that arrives with their baggage. Written, edited and directed by Ben Wheatley this British film was shot in about two weeks. The performances are all spot on, we must assume all the cast have some personal experiences to draw from their own family get-togethers. To sum up, it is watching a dysfunctional family do what it does.
SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER - The rule for anyone who wears a suit jacket. You button up the top button sometimes, the middle always and the bottom never. A tale about a tailor Alan (Bill Nighy) who is looking for his missing son. In the process, he finds his present family. There is much wordplay throughout as the prodigal son went missing during a game of scrabble. A buttoned-up drama of a father trying to reunite his family before it's too late. A line from film worth remembering - 'Fools tax - the price a fool has to pay for acting like a fool.'
THE ELEPHANT QUEEN -
A documentary about 50 year old matriarch, Athena; and her elephant herd. As the Queen of the family Athena is the leader, the protector and the one who must make the toughest decisions to ensure the survival of the herd. The directors Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble take us into a world of immense richness, sadness and wonder. We watch as these amazing creatures trek across the African Savannah in search of water during a prolonged drought. The journey of this family is narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor giving voice to what we witness on screen. A few interesting facts about African elephants: they form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females, the herds can be between 8-100 elephants in size, males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and either lead solitary lives or live in temporary groups with other males.(N.B. Apple has acquired the rights to this documentary. The assumption is it will be included in its streaming service when it launches early 2019.)