The Best Films of the 2016 BFI London Film Festival


Another BFI London Film Festival belongs to the ages. And this 60th anniversary festival was done proud by some of the best cinema you will see this year (or next dependent upon UK release patterns).

Below is Electric Shadows’ Top 10 of this year’s LFF. Please note that in Brexit Britain immune systems seem to have fallen as low as the pound. With a heavy cold racking this gutsy scribe’s constitution, part days and bed rest replaced full film indulgence. This meant Personal Shopper, Certain Women (the LFF’s Best Film winner), The Birth of a Nation, Dog Eat Dog and Ethel and Ernest were all missed in favour of Lemsip and blankets.

All the above movies seem like Top 10 contenders.

Press screening scheduling clashes meant Elle was chosen over Manchester By the Sea and Your Name over ...

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brimstone-posterDirector: Martin Koolhoven

Writer: Martin Koolhoven

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Paul Anderson, Kit Harrington, Carice van Outen, William Houston, Emilia Jones

Cert: 18 (TBC)

Running time: 148mins

Year: 2016

What’s the story: In the American Old West a young woman and her family are targeted by a dangerous, mysterious preacher.


What’s the verdict: Hell on earth is a fitting description for the world writer/director Martin Koolhoven creates in Brimstone. A Job style tale of one woman’s nightmarish struggle against a demonic stalker, and a patriarchal world in general, it is one of the most unusual horror movies of recent memory.

The 19th century American frontier is the vast stage on which this savage thriller is played...

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The 2016 BFI London Film Festival Round-Up – The Electric Shadows Podcast


Episode 13 of The Electric Shadows Podcast rounds up the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Rob Daniel and Rob Wallis run through their Top 10s, discuss what was good, what was bad, and why queuing this year was an issue. Rob D, heavy with cold, also tries to break the sound barrier by blowing his nose.  If you like what you hear, please subscribe to The Electric Shadows Podcast on iTunes.

More of Rob Wallis’ musing on movies can be found at his site Of All The Film Sites. Check it out (after listening to the podcast)…

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Free Fire

free-fire-posterDirector: Ben Wheatley

Writer: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Jack Reynor, Babou Cessay, Patrick Bergin, Noah Taylor

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 90mins

Year: 2016


What’s the story: IRA gunmen, a South African arms dealer, mediators and hired muscle all converge on an abandoned factory in 1970s Boston to swap a truckload of guns for a briefcase full of cash. Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan.


What’s the verdict: A good argument can be made for Ben Wheatley being Britain’s most versatile filmmaker. Kill List resembled Alan Clarke tackling Taxi Driver. Sightseers was Mike Leigh does The Honeymoon Killers. A Field in England resembled a Thomas de Quincey opium fantasy seared onto the bi...

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Director: Alice Lowe

Writer: Alice Lowe

Cast: Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Kavyan Novak, Gemma Whelan, Tom Davis, Kate Dickie

Cert: 18 (TBC)

Running time: 88mins

Year: 2016

What’s the story: Believing her unborn baby is telling her to get revenge on certain people, mum-to-be Ruth (Lowe) embarks on a bizarre killing spree.


What’s the verdict: No surprise pregnancy often crops up in horror films. An alien being growing inside you, controlling and distorting your body, altering your mind; it’s all good horror fodder.

Rosemary’s Baby, Inside, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, The Brood, Alien – just some examples of impregnation trepidation cinema.

Prevenge is an imaginative, funny, clever addition to the foetal attraction canon...

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The Wailing

the-wailing-posterDirector: Na Hong-jin

Writer: Na Hong-jin

Cast: Kwak Do-won, Jun Kunimura, Chun Woo-hee, Hwang Jung-min

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 156mins

Year: 2016


What’s the story: In a rural South Korean village the locals begin to act psychotically deranged, murdering loved ones. The villagers believe a Japanese stranger is to blame and a slow-witted police sergeant must solve the mystery before it comes close to home.


What’s the verdict: Six long years have passed since writer/director Na Hong-jin’s blistering action thriller The Yellow Sea. Unfortunately, when watching The Wailing you are left wishing he had spent a year or so more fine tuning this horror epic.

Overlong but underdeveloped and often incoherent, The Wailing boasts a number of stand-out moments but collapses under its own...

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

the-autopsy-of-jane-doe-posterDirector: André Øvredal

Writer: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing

Cast: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Catherine Kelly

Cert: 18 (TBC)

Running time: 99mins

Year: 2016


What’s the story: Late one night father and son coroners Tony & Austin Tilden (Cox & Hirsch) take charge of a “Jane Doe” corpse. As they investigate cause of death, shocking secrets are uncovered.


What’s the verdict: Hot off the cold heels of Swiss Army Man, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is another 2016 movie where the central character happens to be deceased. But, where Swiss Army Man was a bedfellow to Weekend at Bernie’s, The Autopsy of Jane Doe snuggles up closer to the similarly titled The Corpse of Anna Fritz (minus the kinkiness).

Troll Hunter director André Øvredal proves he...

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Director: Benedict Andrews

Writer: David Harrower (also play, Blackbird)

Cast: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Ruby Stokes, Tara Fitzgerald, Natasha Little

Cert: 18 (TBC)

Running time: 94mins

Year: 2016 

What’s the story: Haunted-eyed 28-year-old woman Una (Mara) appears at the work place of old acquaintance Ray (Mendelsohn) to confront him about a shocking past event.


What’s the verdict: Adapted by David Harrower from his Tony award winning play Blackbird and helmed by Australian theatre director Benedict Peters, Una recalls the confrontational work of Alan Clarke.

In middle England, 15 years before Una re-appears in the life of Australian ex-pat Ray, the two of them had a sexual relationship that saw Ray imprisoned and Una traumatised...

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elle-posterDirector: Paul Verhoeven

Writer: David Birke (screenplay), Philippe Dijan (novel)

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Judith Magre, Jonas Bloquet, Alice Isaaz, Christian Berkel, Laurent Lafitte, Lucas Prisor, Raphaël Lenglet

Cert: 18 (TBC)

Running time: 130mins

Year: 2016

What’s the story: After being raped in her home, businesswoman Michele seemingly puts the incident aside to calmly continue with her busy life. When her attacker contacts her again, a power play ensues.


What’s the verdict: Well ensconced in his 70s, Paul Verhoeven has lost none of the provocative audience baiting that has seen him produce great movies (Black Book, RoboCop, Starship Troopers, Katie Tippel, The 4th Man) and dreadful ones (Basic Instinct, Showgirls).

Elle is a great movie...

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A Monster Calls

a-monster-calls-posterDirector: J.A. Bayona

Writer: Patrick Ness (and novel)

Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson

Cert: 12A

Running time: 108mins

Year: 2016



What’s the story: Conor, a young boy whose mother is seriously ill with cancer, is visited by a giant tree monster who he thinks can help him.


What’s the verdict: J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls immediately joins The Spirit of the Beehive, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the too-little remembered Paperhouse as a first class film about the power of art and imagination to battle the difficulties of real life.

Or to put it another way, it’s Billy Elliott with a big monster instead of ballet.

It is also one the most effective tearjerkers of recent times, so take a big box of tissues (blokes, that goes for you ...

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