British Film Festival 2013 – Preview


Film festival programs can be daunting documents.   Contained within their lovingly designed pages is an assortment of cinematic goodness, which tug at your inner cinephile heartstrings whilst gently leading you towards the subdued lighting.  Before you know it 10 days have passed, you are seeing a doctor for a vitamin D deficiency, a growing addiction to choc tops and a semi persistent cramp in your legs.

Therefore to ensure both a healthy as well as a fiscal balance I tend to break down the programme into four distinct categories:

–                Films which I am keen to see asap

–                Films which are unlikely to be released in Australia

–                Films which I am keen to see, but have a scheduled Australian release date or I can access to elsewhere (VOD etc)

–                Opportunities to see classic films on the big screen

With this is mind here are my thoughts on the upcoming inaugural British Film Festival, which will be screened at the Palace Electric in Canberra, between 19 November – 1 December 2013.  Note: some film descriptions courtesy of the film festival programme.

Films Which I Am Keen To See ASAP

These are my standout picks from the festival:

Philomena:               Probably the stand out film from the festival.  The true-life tale of one mother’s (Dame Judi Dench) search for her son, assisted by a BBC journalist (Steve Coogan).  Philomena has received a plethora of 5 stars reviews as well a British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) nomination for best film.  With a 26 December 2013 Australian release date, this is a must see.

Dom Hemingway:    Jude Law and Richard E Grant star in this funny and profane laden story of a notorious safe cracker who after serving 12 years inside is back on the streets and determined to reclaim the spoils from his earlier endeavours.  Currently scheduled for a 23 January 2014 Australian release date.

Le Week-End:             To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent) revisit Paris to revitalise their marriage.  Le Week-End has been called a poignant, sharp and funny film about a love that could either flicker out at any moment or continue to burn and has also received a BIFA nomination for best picture.  Not currently due to hit Australian shores till 20 February 2014, which is an awfully long time to wait.

Films Unlikely To Be Released in Australia

As these films will probably not be released Australia, I will try to catch as many of these as I can.  However it is with noting that some of these titles are available on VOD from the UK, if you have access to a UK iTunes account or something similar.

Blood                         When a young girl is brutally murdered in a small seaside town, brothers Joe (Paul Bettany) and Chrissie (Stephen Graham) investigate the case.  In no time, a perfect suspect is found, ex-con Buleigh (Ben Compton).  Directed by Nick Murphy (The Awakening) with a standout supporting performance from Mark Strong. (Available on UK iTunes)

Closed Circuit:         Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall and Jim Boradbent star in a gripping and thought-provoking political thriller, which explores conspiracy, terrorism and privacy in the modern age.  Eric Bana will be in attendance for one of the screenings for a special Q&A session.

Good Vibrations:     The critically lauded, unmissable chronicle of the legendary Terri Hooley – a chaotic but charismatic optimist, instrumental in developing Belfast’s independent rock scene. (Available on UK iTunes)

Jump:                         Its New Years Eve in Derry, Northern Ireland, and as the clock ticks relentlessly towards midnight three interlocking stories twist and turn in this comic crime thriller.

Mission To Lars:     A documentary, which follows three siblings on their challenging quest to meet Lars Ulrich from the heavy metal band Metallica. (available on UK iTunes)

Private Peaceful:      Private Peaceful is the second of Michael Morpurgo’s First World War novels to be adapted for the screen.  As in his first novel, War Horse, the beauty of Devon is juxtaposed with the violence of the battlefields, but at the centre of this moving story is the relationship between two brothers. (Available on UK iTunes)

Romeo and Juliet:    A modern retelling of the timeless story set against stunning northern Italian locations.  An impressive ensemble cast including Douglas Booth, Hailee Steinfield, Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis amongst others.

Still Life:                    Still Life is a poignant and life affirming drama, starring the exceptional Eddie Marsden alongside Joanne Forggatt (Downtown Abbey).

Films With Current Australian Release Dates

As these films have confirmed and imminent Australian release dates, I will leave these till after the festival:

One Chance:              Opening night film and a rag to riches tale of Paul Potts, a Carphone Warehouse salesman and the winner of the first season of Britain’s Got Talent.  Whilst this will open the festival on 19 November, it also opens nationally on 28 November 2013

Austenland:              Keri Russell stars as a Jane Austen obsessed single woman who is desperately searching for her own Mr Darcy.  Austenland,  a regency Westworld, and the ultimate Jane Austen experience, seems to answer her prayers, so Jane spends her life savings to buy an old-fashioned love affair of her own.  Plays on both 24 & 27 November, but also opens nationally 28 November 2013

How I Live Now:      When New York teenager Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is sent to stay on a remote farm with her English cousins, she falls for both the idyllic countryside and local boy, Eddie (George Mackay).  It seems like a perfect summer escape, until a reported nuclear attack in London signals the outbreak of World War III.  Plays on both 24 November and  December, but also opens nationally on 28 November 2013


In 1999 the British Film Institute surveyed 1000 people from the world of British film and television to produce the BFI top 100 list of the greatest British films of the 20th century.   The top five from this list will be showing throughout the festival so offering a rare chance to see these timeless classics on the big screen.

The Third Man – directed by Carol Reed

Brief Encounter – directed by David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia – directed by David Lean

The 39 Steps – directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Great Expectations – directed by David Lean

What about you guys, anyone planning on attending and if so which films? Let me know in the comments section below.

The Canberra Film Diary: 14 – 20 November 2013


It’s been a while I know, for which my apologies.

During my rather long hiatus I have been discovering the various cinematic gems contained within the ACT. One thing I discovered during this process is that there was a lot more going on in the ACT than I had realised and I had been missing out on some real fun.  Therefore in order to make sure I was up to date on all available options I put together a list, which I named ‘The Canberra Film Diary’.   I used this diary to highlight all notable cinematic events across the Territory and I thought it might be nice to share this on a weekly basis with all you fine folks out there.

Therefore welcome to the first edition of ‘The Canberra Film Diary’, which will be posted each Wednesday and will cover the following (Thurs-Weds) cinematic week.  It will contain news on latest releases, festivals, special screenings and the occasional hidden gem.  I personally have found it very useful and I hope you do to, though I suspect it will only be of relevance to Canberra-based cinephiles. I will cover all cinemas within Canberra and please see here for their full details.

So off we go.  There are two major cinematic events kicking off this week, plus three major releases:

Firstly it is time to welcome back to Canberra the simply delightful Sunset Cinema, which is back in the capital for its second year. Screening from 15 November – 21 December, Sunset Cinema provides the opportunity to relax in the outdoor setting of the gorgeous National Botanic Gardens and watch a wide variety of recent releases, as well as a smattering of modern-day classics.   Full details of the programme can be found here.  My personal highlight: Top Gun, you can’t beat a bit of Maverick outdoors.

Secondly, Palace Electric will be hosting the British Film Festival, which will screen from 19 November – 1 December.  The festival kicks off with One Chance, and closes with the highly acclaimed Philomena.  Sandwiched in-between is a cracking selection of British fayre including screenings of the BFI Top 5 and a Q&A session of Closed Circuit with Eric Bana.  Full details of the extensive programme can be found here and a preview of the festival will be up later on in the week.

Major Releases

Three major releases hit the capital’s screens this week:

Enough Said – James Gandolfini’s penultimate performance, and by all accounts one of his best.  Currently receiving rave reviews, this has been called a sharp and insightful comedy that humorously explores middle-aged romance.  Screening at Palace and Dendy.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Another Jackass character spin-off.  Never seen the original show, see no reason to start now. Screening at Dendy, both Hoyts and Limelight. 

The Fifth Estate – Is this the real story behind Wikileaks?  From the reviews I have read so far, the answer seems to be a resounding no. Screening at Palace and Greater Union Manuka. 

Other Notable Screenings

15 Nov – Sunset Cinema – Diana

15 Nov – ANU – R.I.P.D.

15 Nov – ANU – Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

16 Nov – Sunset Cinema – About Time

16 Nov – ANU – Turbo

16 Nov – ANU – Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters

16 Nov – Palace Electric – Stephen Sonheim’s Merrily We Roll Along

17 Nov – ARC – Decalogue Seven, Eight

17 Nov – ARC – La Maison de la Radio

17 Nov – Palace Electric – Vintage screening of Oklahoma!

17 Nov – Palace Electric  – Mary Meets Mohammad (Special one-off screening)

17 Nov – Palace Electric – Stephen Sonheim’s Merrily We Roll Along

18 Nov – Dendy Cult Classic – Barbarella

19 Nov – Palace Electric – One Chance (opening night of the British Film Festival)

20 Nov – Sunset Cinema – Gravity (Gravity outdoors in the dark sounds superb)

20 Nov – Palace Electric  – BFF – Jump

20 Nov – Palace Electric – BFF – Blood

20 Nov – GU Manuka – Merrily We Roll Along

So that’s it, hope everyone has a good week and let me know what you fancy seeing in the comments below.