Summer may be long gone, but cinema thrives in all seasons. Bringing not only the the year’s busiest two weeks of film-going in the shape of the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, the autumn months are when we finally start to see some of those sun-shy big hitters and award contenders.
So many films, so much Christmas shopping to fit them around, so Curzon’s Irene Musumeci has picked the highlights playing at your local Curzon cinema this autumn.
London Film Festival
The annual event takes over most of London’s big screens with a typically eclectic and exciting mix of big hitters and tiny gems. Our top picks are:
The carefully observed drama Only You, starring Victoria’s Laia Costa and God’s Own Country’s Josh O’Connor as a couple in the early stages of whirlwind romance who decide to try for a baby.
Girl, featuring a breakout performance from young Victor Polster as a girl born in a boy’s body who’s on a quest to become a professional ballerina.
The stunning, mystical family saga/drug gang warfare Birds of Passage from Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, who made Embrace of the Serpent.
And Son of Saul Oscar winner László Nemes’ new film Sunset, a mystery which takes place in Budapest during the twilight days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Curzon Artificial Eye will be bringing you all these titles in 2019.
Recent Golden Lion winner Roma by Alfonso Cuarón and Barry “Moonlight” Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk are guaranteed to be hot festival tickets, but if you want something a little further off the beaten track do look out for Mia Hansen-Løve’s Maya, which after Eden and Things to Come confirms her as one of the greatest contemporary French filmmakers.
10-21 October at various London venues. Check out the programme of festival films screening at Curzon cinemas
True grit meets folk tale in Matteo Garrone’s latest. Loosely based on the stranger-than-fiction true story of a dog groomer from a poor suburb of Rome who is driven to a desperate act by a tough social climate of fear and violence, it sees Garrone return to the grisly aesthetic of Gomorrah after the baroque fantasia of Tale of Tales. But besides the Scorsese-inspired larger-than-life depiction of a criminal underworld, at the heart of the film is a holy innocent character capable of immense tenderness and delicate moments captured beautifully by Cannes Best Actor 2018 Marcello Fonte, whose dealings with our four-legged friends will leave you howling for more.
In cinemas Friday 19 October
Get the Moët & Chandon out of your pretty cabinet: British rock’s royalty finally get a sparkling biopic that was many years in the making. The story of Freddie Mercury (played by Mr Robot star Rami Malek with uncanny accuracy and immense gusto), Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, from the fringe stages of London’s ‘70s glam scene to the legendary wall-to-wall bangers Live Aid performance that rang across the world, is told through the making of their iconic songs and the antics of their outrageously genial leading singer who propelled them into stardom. If the electrifying trailer’s anything to go by they will, they will rock you indeed.
In cinemas from Wednesday 24 October
A tense, thrilling and wildly entertaining genre piece is not quite what we expected from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, who follows the impressive (if clinically dissecting and occasionally punishing) Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave with a proper rip-roaring heist. Viola Davis is triumphant as the leader of a gang of women whose husbands perished in an attempted coup, as she drives them to finish the job the guys started. All along the ride, McQueen makes the most of Gillian Flynn’s (Gone Girl) smart, female-centric script, as well as the urban setting of murder-riddled contemporary Chicago, adding great depth to a dirty politics subplot centred on Colin Farrell and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out). If Ocean’s 8 was a glass of bubbly, Widows is a damn fine cup of freshly roasted coffee, served hot and dark, with neither sugar nor froth.
In cinemas Friday 9 November
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
If the first Fantastic Beasts film was all about establishing new(t) characters against the backdrop of 1920s U.S., the next chapter in the saga reconnects with the familiar Wizarding World we all know and love by returning Newt Scamander to Hogwarts, where young Dumbledore tasks him with a mission to square up to a great and powerful enemy, the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald. From there, Newt sets off to London and Paris, where, if the extensive references to the Deathly Hallows in the trailer and posters released so far are anything to go by, events are bound to get darker.
In cinemas Friday 16 November
The Wild Pear Tree
Turkey’s foremost auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a household name for our audiences at Curzon Bloomsbury, where all of his recent films (including the masterpieces Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Winter Sleep) have played to packed screens. His particular brand of melancholy humour and elegiac style are deployed to great effect in this story about a young graduate who returns to his rural hometown to make a decision between the uncertainty of a career as a writer and the cosiness of a job as a teacher, following in his father’s footsteps. Success and failure, life choices, and the big questions that face us on the brink of adulthood are Ceylan’s themes, explored with wry observations and sophisticated performances.
In cinemas 30 November
The talent in front and behind the camera on this film is to die for: Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams star, directed by Sebastián Lelio (Oscar winner with the stunning A Fantastic Woman), working with a script by Ida writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz, adapted from a novel by Naomi Alderman (winner of the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction with The Power). The story is a classic one of burning passion against a strict community’s wishes, but there is such commitment and compassion from all involved that the clash of female desire versus faith moves beyond standard tropes into fresh and bold re-examinations of past and present, which in turn explain why we sometimes choose the road less travelled to destination love.
In cinemas 30 November
The House That Jack Built
When you think you’ve seen it all, trust Lars Von Trier to show you how wrong you were. Divisive to say the least, provocative as a rule, incendiary for reasons beyond logic, his work continues to anger as well as entertain. Does this ultraviolent, misanthropic, nihilistic serial killer black comedy starring Matt Dillon go too far? You decide. It will certainly make for Christmas viewing out of the ordinary!
In cinemas Friday 14 December
Mary Poppins Returns
Ok, coming clean: as a young child, this writer was terrified of Mary Poppins. It was admiration for her many skills (in particular, the ability to fit ANYTHING into a carry-on luggage regulations compliant handbag - a superpower more useful than anything in the MCU superheroes’ tool boxes) that turned me around to the world’s greatest nanny. In this long-awaited sequel, Mary Poppins (reincarnated though some pitch perfect casting into Emily Blunt) returns to London twenty or so years after the original story to help the now grown-up Jane and Michael Banks with their own children. This promises to be a real Christmas treat for the whole family. And if his adorable Twitter persona is anything to go by, we’ll be in love with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s street lamplighter Jack faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
In cinemas Friday 21 December
[Words by Irene Musumeci]