Movie Talk

59th BFI London Film Festival | Tuesday 13th October: Pick of the Day - The Lady in the Van

In this hugely enjoyable film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s 1999 National Theatre play, The Lady in the Van, Maggie Smith reprises her stage and radio role as the cranky bag lady who parked her decrepit van in Bennett’s Camden driveway sometime in the late 1960s and didn’t budge from the spot until her death 15 years later.

As imperiously rude as the Dowager Countess of Grantham but considerably less fragrant, Smith’s Miss Shepherd is a glorious comic creation, a pungent mix of dottiness and iron will - ‘I’ve had guidance from the Virgin Mary,’ she reveals when her parking...

Knock Knock | DVD review - Lorenza Izzo & Ana de Armas have mind games in store for Keanu Reeves

Left to his own devices when his wife and kids take off for the beach, Keanu Reeves' ill-fated family man succumbs to temptation after two nubile young temptresses (Lorenza Izzo, Ana de Armas) turn up dripping wet on his doorstep in the middle of a rainstorm in Knock Knock.

Chivalrously letting the seemingly innocent girls in to wait for a taxi is the first of his many bad moves in this psychological thriller cum perverse moral fable. The duo have a twisted scheme up their sleeves - and so does Hostel director Eli Roth, ditching the gore of his...

59th BFI London Film Festival | Monday 12th October: Pick of the Day - Brooklyn

A beguiling screen presence as a teenager in such films as Atonement, Hanna and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Saoirse Ronan comes of age as an actress with her richly nuanced and deeply affecting performance as a young Irishwoman torn between countries and suitors in this romantic 1950s-set drama based on Colm Tóibín’s bestselling novel Brooklyn.

Unable to find work in post-war, small-town Ireland, Ronan’s bright but reserved Eilis reluctantly says farewell to her mother and elder sister and immigrates to New York, following in the footsteps of so many of her fellow countrymen and women.

She fetches up in...

Survivor | Film review - Milla Jovovich dashes hither and thither in flat-footed action thriller

US foreign-service agent Milla Jovovich dashes hither and thither across London and New York trying to foil a dastardly terrorist plot singlehanded, which might have been fun if flat-footed action thriller Survivor hadn’t lumbered her with dog-eared dialogue and a hokey plot. Her solo mission could barely be more preposterous. She’s been framed for murder and is on the run both from the authorities and from Pierce Brosnan’s grim-faced freelance assassin, the Watchmaker, yet she manages to slip her pursuers time and again with unconvincing ease.

Certificate 12. Runtime 94 mins. Director James McTeigue

Survivor is available on EST/Digital,...

59th BFI London Film Festival | Sunday 11th October: Pick of the Day - Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) |

A band of bored and restless teenagers in a well-heeled Biarritz suburb start their own private orgy society one summer, but their freewheeling sexual experiments prove less than liberating in this bold debut film from French director Eva Husson, Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story). Indeed, no sooner has the uninhibited George (Marilyn Lima) suggested a game of ‘Truth or Dare with only dares’, than sexual jealousy, insecurity and spite rear up to complicate the pleasures of total hedonism. Yet the emotional journeys of the film’s leading characters, including George, her hitherto virginal best friend Laetitia (Daisy Broom), swaggering...

Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cats | Two classic Euro chillers claw their way onto Blu-ray

Edgar Allan Poe's celebrated story The Black Cat has provided the inspiration for numerous films over the years. But few adaptations are as stylish as those offered up by the twin Italian titans of terror, Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci.

In Martino's classic giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, teacher Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli, A Bay of Blood) finds himself under suspicion for murder when one of his students and mistress is found brutally murdered.As more bodies start to pile up, the arrival of Oliviero's attractive niece (Edwige Fenech, Five Dolls for an...

59th BFI London Film Festival | Saturday 10th October: Pick of the Day - Virgin Mountain

The eponymous Virgin Mountain of this engagingly offbeat Icelandic film is Fúsi (Gunnar Jónsson), a morbidly obese fortysomething who works as an airport baggage handler and still lives at home with his suffocating mum.

Painfully shy, he's teased and bullied at work by his colleagues, and his social life doesn’t extend much beyond re-enacting the World War Two battle of El Alamein with toy soldiers and eating the same solitary meal once a week at his local Thai restaurant.

His horizons slowly open up, however, after he reluctantly takes up a birthday gift of line dancing classes and meets...

59th BFI London Film Festival | Friday 9th October: Pick of the Day - Salaam Bombay!

Indian director Mira Nair’s moving 1988 tribute to the resilience of Bombay’s street children, Salaam Bombay! has as its protagonist a young homeless boy (Shafiq Syed) battling to survive by his wits on the city’s teeming streets after being abandoned by the travelling circus that has been his home.

With a background in documentary filmmaking, Nair shot her debut feature, entirely on location, after first conducting workshops among Bombay’s real-life street children and using their true stories as the basis for her screenplay.

She doesn’t sweeten her depiction of poverty with feelgood fantasy (unlike the later Slumdog Millionaire to...

59th BFI London Film Festival | Thursday 8th October: Pick of the Day - Beasts of No Nation

In an unnamed African country riven by civil war, a young boy is conscripted into the ragtag ranks of a rebel militia in Beasts of No Nation, a searing movie based on Uzodinma Iweala’s acclaimed novel and directed with unblinking urgency by Cary Fukunaga, maker of the first season of True Detective.

Idris Elba is scarily charismatic as the rabble-rousing, ferociously unhinged militia leader, but the film’s most astonishing performance comes from newcomer Abraham Attah, his eyes going from sparky childhood innocence to dead-eyed horror as his child soldier, Agu, witnesses a series of atrocities, and participates in them, too.


59th BFI London Film Festival | Wednesday 7th October: Pick of the Day - Suffragette

The 59th BFI London Film Festival kicks off tonight with the European premiere of British period drama Suffragette, a stirring account of the struggle to achieve votes for women from director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and screenwriter Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady).

Set in pre-First World War London in 1912 and 1913, the film is a compelling tribute to one of the unsung footsoldiers in the fight for female suffrage, rather than its upper-class leaders, and focuses on the fictional figure of East End laundry worker Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, as she goes on a journey from resigned...