Film in London: 2012 preview
The films and cinema events we're most looking forward to in 2012
‘The Hobbit’ steals our gold… and our heartsReleased Fri Dec 14
There were times when it seemed as though 'The Hobbit' would never happen, that the endless roundabout of rights battles, departing directors, casting issues and government interference would strangle Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel in its cradle. But now casting is complete, shooting has commenced and the general mood – as displayed in a series of highly entertaining online blogs by Jackson – seems overwhelmingly positive. The exact content of this two-film epic is still uncertain – we know Jackson ands his co-writers have expanded the story beyond Tolkien’s original novel into new and as-yet-unconfirmed territory – but let’s face it, nothing will stop worldwide audiences from turning this into a massive smash.
The all-new London Film FestivalOct 10-25, Various venues
The London Film Festival will return in October 2012 having undergone an overhaul under its new boss, Clare Stewart, an Australian who took over the reins from artistic director Sandra Hebron when she stepped down at the end of the 2011 event. Stewart arrived at the British Film Institute, the LFF’s parent body, from the Sydney Film Festival, where she revived a flagging event by doing away with traditional country or genre-led programming sections and instead giving groups of films more experiential tags. The LFF is already a thriving and much-loved festival with a strong global reputation, so it will be interesting to see how it develops under new leadership. Further north, it will be equally interesting to see how the beleaguered Edinburgh film festival recovers under its third artistic director and third CEO in three years.
New films from cinema’s titans
2012 brings new films from some of world cinema’s biggest guns closer to our screens. Of those we’re looking forward to, near the top of the list is Michael Haneke’s ‘Love’, the Austrian director’s first film since ‘The White Ribbon’ . It stars Isabelle Huppert and veteran French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, and is said to be an examination of the indignities of ageing. It looks to be a promising year for American cinema. There’s a chance that Paul Thomas Anderson (‘There Will Be Blood’) will have his new film ‘The Master’ ready by the end of 2012. It’s a 1950s-set story, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, about a new religion, and is not – repeat, not – anything at all to do with Scientology. Wes Anderson, too, should have another film ready. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton. The film is about a pair of lovers on the run in 1960s New England.
A return to proper sci-fi
In recent years, science-fiction cinema has become an increasingly routine parade of alien invasions, drab monster movies and giant robots hitting each other. And while 2012 has its fair share of sci-fi sequels and rehashed ideas – see ‘Men in Black 3’, ‘Battleship’ and ‘Neighborhood Watch’ – there are a few titles which promise a return to the genre’s bygone greatness. First, and perhaps most intriguingly, is Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’, a return to the ‘Alien’ universe he created, albeit with an all-new cast and storyline: the leaked online trailers have us salivating with anticipation. Hopes are high, too, for the sequel to 2009’s smart, enjoyable ‘Star Trek’ reboot, with rumours of a return for everyone’s favourite space psycho, Khan. And last but far from least, ‘Brick’ director Rian Johnson makes his genre debut with ‘Looper’, about a time-hopping assassin who meets his older self.
Bond is back (finally!)Released Fri Oct 26
By the time ‘Skyfall’ hits our screens, James Bond will have spent four years in the wilderness – assuming, of course, that the days of legal wrangles, script issues and fights with foreign governments are all in the past. What we know about ‘Skyfall’ – Daniel Craig is back, Sam Mendes is directing, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Javier Bardem co-star, and Istanbul, Shanghai and London are the locations – is barely enough to scribble on a postage stamp, but it’s quite enough to get us excited about a film that Craig promised, in these pages, is set to be ‘better (than “Casino Royale”)… It’s a totally original story’. We trust, you Daniel. Don’t let us down…
Movies at the Olympics
In case you’ve forgotten, throughout July and August the capital is set to be besieged by the world’s sports fans for the 2012 Games. Remember also that a plucky band of our most treasured filmmakers will be screening new, sport-themed short films as part of the London 2012 festival which kicks off on June 21. Among new works from Max and Dania (the team behind Brit hit ‘Streetdance 3D’) and Penny Woolcock, we’re especially looking forward to seeing what Mike Leigh and Lynne Ramsay have made of their commissions. The former has produced a 35-minute film called ‘A Running Jump’ which one journalist (who was shown a sneak peak) has described as being less about sport, than a crafty cinematic ode to how physical activity plays a part in our daily lives. Ramsay’s film is called ‘The Swimmer’ and has been described as a poetic short following a lone swimmer down the waterways of Britain.
An Alfred Hitchcock season at BFI SouthbankAug-Oct
Alfred Hitchcock will be back on the cultural radar in 2012. As part of the London 2012 Festival, the BFI will be staging a series of one-off screenings of Hitchcock’s British silent films of the 1920s which have been the subject of a massive restoration project by the BFI National Archive. So you can see 1926’s ‘The Lodger’ at the Barbican with a new score by Nitin Sawhney and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Or be fast to snap up your tickets for a special presentation of 1925’s ‘The Pleasure Garden’ at Wilton’s Musical Hall. Following these screenings, you’ll also be able to reacquaint yourselves with the suspense classics of his Hollywood years with an exhaustive retrospective of work at BFI Southbank throughout August, September and October.
A big year for animation
2012 could well turn out to be a vintage year for animated films with around a dozen major releases expected so far. Unfortunately, it looks like the majority will be released in 3D, but fortunately it also looks like there’ll be a few crackers on the table. Our greatest expectations are for Pixar’s feisty Scot-fest fantasy quest, ‘Brave’ (released in August), but the Tim Burton-esque zombie animation ‘ParaNorman’ (September) looks a hoot too. And speaking of the spindly-haired auteur of weirdness, Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ (October) is surely shaping up for a run against Aardman’s ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ (March) for stop-motion film of the year. Other promising excursions include Blue Sky’s umpteenth ‘Ice Age’ sequel, ‘Continental Drift’ and a left-fielder called ‘Rise of the Guardians’ (December), which puts Santa, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy all in the same frame. Bring ’em on.
The rise and rise of pop-up cinema
2011 saw some of the most imaginative film events taking place in London than in any period since Time Out first rolled off the presses. Aside from the usual roster of underground fare (of which the free Duke Mitchell Film Club is a favourite) and several outdoor screenings (including at least one drive-in cinema), 2011 will be remembered for the advent of the pop-up screen. Portobello Pop-Up was arguably the first, springing up under the Westway near Notting Hill. Next thing we knew we were being inundated with listings for similar one-off and short-term events like Folly for a Flyover (a hand-built wooden cinema underneath the A12 in Hackney Wick), Films on Fridges near the Olympic site and, perhaps most prolific of all, the Nomad series of countrywide pop ups. All these – and almost certainly a lot more – are set to return in 2012 and frankly we can’t wait.
New screens at the Barbican cinemaSeptember
City slickers are in for a treat next September when the Barbican increases its cinema capacity with a further two purpose-built 156-seat auditoria, designed by the same architectural team responsible for the recent redevelopment of the Barbican’s foyers. Both screens will enjoy street-level access from Beech Street, near the top of Whitecross Street, plus there’s the welcome addition of a café-bar and restaurant. Expect the film programming to remain much the same – specialist cinema, quality new releases and live events – but on a much more wide-ranging basis. We like the thought.