Great Expectations for Frankenweenie and the rest – BFI London Film Festival

In Sunday’s Observer we learn that Helena Bonham Carter (more of her later) likes to call Tim Burton ‘a home for abandoned sentances’. Burton ‘is not so much vague in conversation as fleeting. Immediately a phrase half conveys its sense he is already articulating its caveats, or some further association’. AT LAST – something I share with Burton!! Since as long as I can remember I have loved his films – something in that dark, gothic, eery world he creates fascinates me.

It’s his latest film which opens this years BFI London Film Festival. According to the blurb its an exquisite stop motion movie (a re imaginaing of a short film originally rejected by Disney many years ago) but it hardly matters to me what it is – I’m already metaphorically in the queue!

In a neat twist Burton’s partner – the exquisitely eccentric Helena Bonham Carter stars in the closing movie of the festival in a role she was ‘born to play’. Following in the footsteps of Martita Hunt (in the David Lean version I grew up on), former Wivenhoe resident Joan Hickson, X Files star Gilian Anderson and (ahem) Eastern Angles own Greg Wagland she plays Miss Haversham in Mike Newells new film version of Great Expectations. If anyone could replace the image of Hunt as my Miss Haversham – Bonham Carter can!

It’s a typically packed programme full of intriguing titles. If I’m going to get to see many (or indeed any of these) I’ll be reliant on the likes of the heroes at Ipswich Film Theatre, Wivenhoe Moving Image and the Wivenhoe Film Club. With the demise of many of the independent film theatres (the now redundant – or in the Easts case bankrupt – regional screen agencies prioritising creation over exhibition and draining the film theatres of funding) these volunteer run organisations are – quite literally – culture savers!

But I digress….back to the festival which includes:-

Shane Meadows (whose work I grew to know and love whilst working in the Midlands myself) This is England gets the live score treatment to celebrate Warp Films 10th anniversary. Whilst the ‘new’ Shane Meadows Ben Wheatley is featured with his movie Sightseers.

Love the way Crich Tramway Museum gets a mention within 15 seconds on the trailer – rapidly followed by the line ‘Dear Mum – Yorkshire is lovely – not like you said at all. They can smile…’ – brilliant

Or how about this for cheering fellow cricket fans up after our crash out of the T20 world cup and tottering attempts to stay at no 1. Save Your Legs follow a D grade cricket team from the suburbs of Melbourne to India. Whether it is as charming as Hugh de Selincourt’s The Village Cricket Match or the hilarious Rain Men (Marcus Berkmann) remains to be seen…all I can say is I dream of being good enough to play D grade! Lagaan, by the way, still remains my favorite cricketing movie of all time…

On an utterly different note the documentary Love in the Grave (David Vondráče) sounds fascinating – an account of the life and love of a homeless couple who live in a cemetery

Staying with the slightly gothic the line ‘Tim Burton meets the Artist’ would sell me any film. Blancanieves is a black and white gothic relocation of Snow White and is just one of many intriguing world cinema titles on show.

Given I have a strange love affair with bicycles this first feature sounds intriguing – a tale of a young Saudi girl who will stop at nothing to earn the money to buy the bicycle she craves. I know the feeling.

Musically the Sigur Roz event – The Valtari Mystery Film Experiment has to be worth a punt.

By complete contrast Beyond the Hills by Romanian master Cristian Mungiu – like the brilliant ‘of gods and men’ is a life and death struggle set in a remote monastry. It won Mungiu the best screenplay award at Cannes in 2012 and looks enthralling

Of the Best Film Official Competition films I like the idea of a thriller for those who prefer not to leave their brains at the door (Rust and Bone)

and Sally Potter’s coming of age story Ginger and Rosa

In terms of revivals two stand out. Given the recent recovery of the bones of @richard_third (if you believe the local press and his very loud twitter feed) it would be rude not to catch Olivier’s 1955 version of his life on the big screen . It’s Olivier at his luvvy best – widely believed to be his best Shakespeare film – described at the time as a cinematographic miracle – though I suspect the afore mentioned @richard_third might have a slightly different opinion!

Staying with the Leicester theme the film festival is going where Leicester Comedy Festival (now known as Dave’s Comedy Festival – not sure if this means you have to be called Dave to attend) went in 1999 – with a celebration of the life and work of Monty Python’s Leicester born Graham Chapman. It’s hung around an animated biopic – A Liar’s Autobiography…

…but also includes a unique compilation of TV appearances and a rare screening of a pilot episode (the only one made) of Out of the Trees co-written with Douglas ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ Adams. If you can’t make the event (Thursday 18 October) you can watch the episode by the power of You Tube here:-

As ever a potent mix.

The BFI London Film Festival runs from 10-21 October


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