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Jenny’s review of the BFI London Film Festival

This week has been a whirlwind of films! I’ve been busy watching as much as possible at the BFI London Film Festival and I’ve been having the time of my life. I love the London Film Festival as it’s a great opportunity to see some of the film’s that will feature in awards season but also to find hidden gems that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to see if they weren’t shown at the Festival. Over the past week I’ve seen some brilliant films, some ok and some I wasn’t so keen on.

Among my favourites have been The Imitation Game, Whiplash and Birdman, which was this year’s surprise film. I expect all three to feature at the Oscars. I also loved Love Is Strange which stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, it’ll be out next year, and Ping Pong Summer which is available on Video On Demand now (iTunes, Amazon, Sky Store etc). It’s a coming of age tale set during the summer of 1985 and it’s so much fun! For anyone who grew up during the 80s there are loads of reference points – not least Lea Thompson who plays the lead character’s mum. You may remember her as Marty’s mum in Back To The Future. The cast also includes John Hannah and Susan Sarandon in the ‘Mr Miyagi’ role. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough!

brad copyright Jenny PriestleyThe Festival closed with the UK premiere of Brad Pitt’s new film, Fury. Brad and the cast took part in a press conference to promote its release on Friday. The film follows the crew of a Sherman tank during the end of World War II – it’s ok, it doesn’t really say anything new. Brad says he hopes soldiers “walk away and feel they were respectfully recognised – that there’s truth in it”.
Brad’s character is the father of the crew – he’s even called WarDaddy – and he thinks he gained a lot from the experience: “We all walked away enriched” he said. “I walk away from this film knowing I’m a better father for it”. Brad’s wife Angelina Jolie also has her own World War II-set film coming out later this year. Angelina has written and directed Unbroken which Brad says is a very different film from his, “her film focuses on the triumph of the human spirit. It’s a very uplifting film” he says.

…and in other Entertainment News.

Alexander Burke is to star in a new touring production of The Bodyguard. The musical, which has been on in London’s West End, will begin its tour in Southampton in January and then move round the country for the next 11 months, ending in Manchester. Word of warning though, Alexandra is only appearing in the evening performances. Zoe Birkett will play Rachel Marron in the matinees.

Selma, the film about Martin Luther King, will be released in the UK on February 6. It stars British actor David Oyelowo as Dr King alongside Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey.

Will Smith and Tom Hardy could be the latest stars heading to the superhero genre. They’re being chased to star in Suicide Squad which is about a group of super villains who are brought together by the government to tackle high-risk missions. Margot Robbie, who stars with Will in his next film Focus, is also being lined up to appear.

London is to hold the world premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland are all expected on the red carpet at the event on November 10.

qlQueen Latifah will host the Hollywood Film Awards in Los Angeles on November 14. The annual event honours achievement in filmmaking and acting. Last year Star Trek Into Darkness was named Best Film whilst Harrison Ford picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award.

BBC One is to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra with a one-off special. The show will mark the centenary of Sinatra’s birth and will feature unknown acts performing some of his classic hits. The winner will get the chance to perform at a special concert later in 2015.

Susan Sarandon will play Marilyn Monroe’s mum in a new mini-series about the Hollywood icon. The show is being made by US network Lifetime (the same channel that’s been making a film about Whitney Houston). The four-hour mini-series is based on the book by J Randy Taraborrelli and is expected to broadcast next year.

Neil Patrick Harris has been talking about next year’s Oscar ceremony after it was revealed he’s been given the hosting gig this week: “I have a lot of questions still about that job,” he says. “I’ve gotten to be the sort-of co-producer of the Emmys while I was hosting. And, the Tonys, since I’ve hosted a number of times, I’m aware of more things than just the hosting spots. . . I don’t want it to be super derivative of other shows that I’ve done. I don’t want it to seem like I’m doing the same award hosting gig that I did on the Tonys, just on a different stage.” Discussing the musical elements of the show NPH said his dream collaborators would be Adele, Lady Gaga and Pink.

Lots of trailers for you this week!

First is Foxcatcher which I saw at the London Film Festival. It’s a dark drama starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum and tells the true story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz and his mentor John du Pont. Don’t be surprised to see Carell getting an Oscar nomination:

Carell also stars in Alexander And The Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (yes that is the title) which is released in the UK this week. It’s a lovely family film – perfect to keep the kids entertained during half term. Here’s a clip featuring Alexander’s big brother as he takes his driving test:

And finally the new film from Ron Howard. It’s called In The Heart Of The Sea and stars Chris Hemsworth and Ben Whishaw. The story follows a whaling ship which is preyed on by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days. It’s released on March 13.

For more entertainment news, film reviews and showbiz gossip follow @JennyPriestley on Twitter.

Photo credit: Brad Pitt – Jenny Priestley

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