Category Reviews

12 Must-See Movies at the 63rd BFI London Film Festival

October is the best month of the year. It begins with the first signs of autumn. It closes with Halloween. And in between is the BFI London Film Festival.

2019’s 63rd LFF delivers a stellar line-up of the year’s finest movies. Sure, there are surprising omissions: if they are holding back Bong Joon-ho’s Palme D’or winning Parasite for the Surprise Film we’ll be ticked off. But, between opening film The Personal History of David Copperfield and closing film The Irishman are a wealth of cinematic treasures.

Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, Pablo Larraín’s Ema, his follow-up to 2016’s Jackie, Judy and Punch starring Mia Wasikowska, The Two Popes with Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, Takashi Miike’s First Love and Shia LaBeouf’s part-autobiographical Honey Boy...

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The Lodge (2019)

Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Writers: Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Lieberher, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone

Producers: Aliza James, Simon Oakes, Aaron Ryder

Music: Danny Bensi, Saunders Jurriaans

Cinematography: Thimios Bakatakis

Editors: Michael Palm

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 100mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: The teenage Aidan (Lieberher) and his younger sister Mia (McHugh) spend the run-up to Christmas in an isolated lodge with their dad’s new partner, Grace (Keough). Strange events soon begin to take a psychological toll.

What’s the verdict: Filmmaking duo Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s follow their 2014 cult hit Goodnight Mommy with anothe...

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Ready or Not (2019)

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Writers: Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy

Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Elyse Levesque, Kristian Bruun

Producers: Bradley J. Fischer, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Tripp Vinson

Music: Brian Tyler

Cinematography: Brett Jutkiewicz

Editors: Terel Gibson

Cert: 18

Running time: 95mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: Newlywed Grace (Weaving) sees her wedding night become a wedding fright when her in-laws hunt her in a lethal game of Hide and Seek.

What’s the verdict: When it comes to the most unofficially remade movie ever, 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game must be a contender for the top spot...

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The Peanut Butter Falcon

Directors: Tyler Nilson, Mike Schwartz

Writers: Tyler Nilson, Mike Schwartz

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, Yelawolf, Jake Roberts, Mick Foley

Producers: Albert Berger, Christopher Lemole, Lije Sarki, David Thies, Ron Yerxa, Tim Zajaros

Music: Zachary Dawes, Noam Pikelny, Jonathan Sadoff, Gabe Witcher

Cinematography: Nigel Bluck

Editors: Nat Fuller, Kevin Tent

Cert: 12 (TBC)

Running time: 97mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down’s Syndrome, escapes his care home with dreams of becoming a wrestler. To reach his destination, he embarks on an epic river journey with Tyler (LaBeouf), a fisherman fleeing his own troubles.

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Little Monsters (2019)

Director: Abe Forsythe

Writer: Abe Forsythe

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca

Producers: Jessica Calder, Keith Calder, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea

Music: Piers Burbrook de Vere

Cinematography: Lachlan Milne

Editors: Jim May, Drew Thompson

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 94mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: After a zombie outbreak at a US military base, a kindergarten teacher and the uncle of one of the kids must protect her class as flesh-eaters descend on a New South Wales petting zoo.

What’s the verdict: Understandable if the arrival of another zombie comedy creates a chorus of undead-like groans...

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Waiting for the Barbarians

Director: Ciro Guerra

Writer: J.M. Coetzee (script, based on his novel)

Cast: Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson, Gana Bayarsaikhan

Producers: Monika Bacardi, Michael Fitzgerald, Andrea Iervolino, Olga Segura

Music: Giampiero Ambrosi

Cinematography: Chris Menges

Editor: Jacopo Quadri

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 112mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: In a desert outpost of an unnamed empire, the local Magistrate (Rylance) watches in horror as Colonel Joll (Depp) begins persecuting neighbouring tribespeople on suspicion of plotting insurrection.

What’s the verdict: All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing, so the saying goes...

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Monos

Director: Alejandro Landes

Writers: Alejandro Landes, Alexis dos Santos

Cast: Sofia Buenaventura, Moises Arias, Julianne Nicholson, Laura Castrillón, Karen Quintero, Julian Giraldo

Producers: Fernando Epstein, Alejandro Landes, Cristina Landes, Santiago A. Zapata

Music: Mica Levi

Cinematography: Jasper Wolf

Editors: Ted Guard, Yorgos Mavropsaridis, Santiago Otheguy

Cert: 15 TBC

Running time: 102mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: In the South American mountains, a squad of child soldiers kill time while holding an American engineer hostage.

What’s the verdict: A journey into the wild hearts of child soldiers, Alejandro Landes’ third feature in twelve years is riveting, frustrating, hallucinogenic and astonishing.

Conceiv...

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Ad Astra

Director: James Gray

Writers: James Gray, Ethan Gross

Cast: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler

Producers: Dede Gardner, James Gray, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Arnon Milchan, Yariv Milchan, Brad Pitt

Music: Max Richter

Cinematographer: Hoyte van Hoytema

Editors: John Axelrad, Lee Haugen

Cert: 12

Running time: 122mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: Astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) must journey across the solar system to find his long-thought dead father (Jones), whose mission may now be threatening Earth.

What’s the verdict: Dad Astra might have been a more appropriate title for James Gray’s visually breathtaking space opera...

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IT Chapter Two

Director: Andy Muschietti

Writers: Gary Dauberman (script), Stephen King (book)

Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård

Producers: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Barbara Muschietti

Music: Benjamin Wallfisch

Cinematographer: Checco Varese

Editor: Jason Ballentine

Cert: 15

Running time: 171mins

Year: 2019


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What’s the story: Twenty seven years after the terrifying events of 1989, members of the Losers gang must return to Derry once again to battle the monstrous evil taking the form of killer clown Pennywise.

What’s the verdict: Early on in Andy Muschietti’s closing chapter to his 2017 hit, successful horror author Bill Densborough (McAvoy) is wrestling with the en...

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Spiral (2019)

Director: Kurtis David Harder

Writers: Colin Minihan, John Poliquin

Cast: Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte, Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West

Producers: Chris Ball, Kurtis David Harder, Colin Minihan, John Poliquin

Cinematography: Bradley Stuckel

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 90mins

Year: 2019



What’s the story: Same-sex couple Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Cohen) move to a small town to raise their 16 year-old daughter Kayla (Laporte). But, is the supposed idyll hiding something ominous?

What’s the verdict: Spiral walks a narrowing line in hinting at the insidious attitudes that subsist in small town America, and as a character study of a man with more reason than most to fear them.

It’s 1995, and freelance ghost...

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