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Viggo, Bill and Gordon Brown: catch all the hot stories from this year's London Film Festival

Bill Murray bigs up the East End

‘Here’s a shout out to outer east London!’ So screamed Bill Murray to the crowd in Leicester Square on Wednesday night at the world premiere of ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, the festival’s opening film. A strange greeting, you might think, until you learn that Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation was shot entirely in Stratford. Earlier that day, Murray had travelled with Anderson to the Chilterns to take part in an event in Roald Dahl’s old village of Great Missenden. Rumour spread round the local school that George Clooney, the voice of Mr Fox, was in town (he wasn’t) and that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were with him (they weren’t). It was left to Murray to fend off hordes of kids by signing autographs, but not before pretending to charge each of them a dollar.

Gordon upstages Gaspar

So there we were on Friday evening, heading to the festival and BFI Southbank. The plan was to raise a quick glass to the terrific news that the proposed National Film Centre next to the London Eye has been pledged £45million of Government money, then sit down and hear director Gaspar Noé (‘Irreversible’, ‘Enter the Void’) give a masterclass in NFT1. But who should we bump into? Gordon Brown. The PM made a surprise visit to the festival with culture secretary Ben Bradshaw to confirm to a small gathering – including the heads of the BFI and the UK Film Council, director Gurinder Chadha and actor John Hurt – that Anthony Minghella’s vision for a gleaming replacement for BFI Southbank was now getting Government support in the form of hard cash. The only loser was Noé, who lost the attention of Time Out in favour of a glass of wine with the PM. How shallow of us.

Scoring with Viggo

We were privileged to spend time discussing the intriguing festival film ‘The Road’ with its star, Viggo Mortensen. The serious side of our chat took in the motivations of his character, his love of Russian spiritualist cinema and his arduous preparation for the role. But the mood changed when he was having his photo taken for us. The night before, his beloved Argentinean national football team had qualified for the World Cup and he insisted he was photographed with the Argentine flag in every shot. Maradona as the national coach was a hot topic. ‘It would be like you guys having Gaza [sic] as your manager!’ he reckoned.

The Life of Jeunet


‘Amélie’ and ‘Delicatessen’ director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was in town to show his charming latest film, ‘Micmacs’, an Ealing-esque farce about a man who decides to exact revenge on two arms manufacturers. It’s Jeunet’s first film in five years, but his absence has been nothing less than eventful: he was offered (and declined) the recent ‘Harry Potter’ film and was engaged in an abortive two-year attempt to bring Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ to the screen, which didn’t happen because of budgetary constraints. Ang Lee is currently in line to direct it and has no intention of filming Jeunet’s script. ‘He wants to make it more political!’ Jeunet said when we met. ‘It’s a film about a boy stuck on a raft with a tiger. How do you make that political?!’

Room for a Vue?


The jury’s still out on whether the festival’s move from its West End home at the Odeon West End to the Vue cinema in Leicester Square has been a good thing. The move was a forced one as the Odeon was originally scheduled for demolition (which has since been delayed), but the festival has been receiving some complaints about the atmosphere and overcrowding. The biggest problem, though, is out of the festival’s hands: Leicester Square, and especially the corner which houses the Vue, is an unmitigated dump, not fit for pigeons, let alone the world’s best films. Roll on 2015 and the new National Film Centre!

Author: Time Out



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