A/V Room









The 10 must-see films of the Times London Film Festival

Compiled by: Jack Foley

The Constant Gardener
Fernando Meirelles
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy.
Plot: When a passionate human rights activist is found brutally murdered in a remote area of Northern Kenya, her mild-mannered diplomat husband sets out to find out why. His ensuing investigation uncovers top-level political corruption and places his own life in danger.
Reasons for seeing it: Fernando Meirelles, the genius behind Brazilian hit, City of God, delivers a politically relevant, yet emotionally involving thriller that dazzles from start to finish. Fernando describes the film as his personal revenge for the way in which the US is trying to stop his home country, Brazil, from producing cheap generic drugs for people.
Festival dates: Oct 19 (Odeon Leicester Sq, 7pm) and Oct 20 (Odeon West End 2, 12.45pm)
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Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jnr
Plot: The media confrontation between renowned newscaster, Edward R Murrow, and Senator Joe McCarthy, that took place during the 50s. Murrow’s infamous broadcast antagonised the House Un-American Activities Committee to such an extent that he was accused of being a Communist.
Reasons for seeing it: George Clooney’s second film as director, shot in black and white, has already won widespread acclaim on the festival circuit, with many viewing it as a worthy successor to his debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. What’s more, it provides a timely reminder of the merits of journalistic integrity at a politically sensitive time.
Festival dates: November 3 (Odeon Leicester Square, 7pm)
Release date: February 17, 2006
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Walk The Line
James Mangold
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin
Plot: It’s the story of the music legend that was Johnny Cash (aka The Man in Black). James Mangold’s film chronicles the first half of Johnny’s life, from his early years in Mississippi county and the death of his brother, Jack, to his fateful meeting with June Carter and his decision to veer from gospel to stripped down rock ‘n’ roll.
Reasons for seeing it: The music alone should delight fans of Johnny Cash, while Joaquin Phoenix’s well-documented devotion to portraying the character as authentically as possible gives rise to one of the performances of the year. Reese Witherspoon also takes a refreshing break from romantic comedies. Could Walk The Line be this year’s Ray?
Festival dates: October 27 and October 30 (Odeon West End 2)
Release date: February 3, 2006
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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Plot: A small-time conman unwittingly finds himself auditioning for the part in an action movie and is sent to prepare for his role with a private investigator. But the mis-matched two get more than they bargained for when the murder mystery they end up investigating seems to involve the sister of the conman’s old school sweetheart.
Reasons for seeing it: Shane Black is best known as the writer of the classic mis-matched buddie films, Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight and The Last Boy Scout. He’s been away for ten years but his return, as both writer and director, provides one of the hippest action films for a while. What’s more, it provides career-reviving roles for both Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer, who share nice coming timing and good chemistry.
Festival dates: October 28 and 29 (Odeon West End 2)
Release date: November 11
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Cameron Crowe
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin
Plot: Having lost the Oregon shoe company he works for a billion dollars, Drew Baylor feels suicidal – and that’s before he learns that his father has died! While travelling home to arrange the funeral, however, he meets and befriends a stewardess and an unlikely romance develops. But will it be enough to save him from his date with death?
Reasons for seeing it: Cameron Crowe directs. That should be enough, given his past track record of films like Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. Elizabethtown boasts another terrific soundtrack, winning performances from Orlando and Kirsten and is a personal and thought-provoking exploration of the themes of love, life and death.
Festival dates: October 20 and 21 (Odeon West End 2)
Release date: November 4
Read our preview l Trailer

March of the Penguins
Luc Jacquet
Starring: Penguins (lots of them), Morgan Freeman (narrator)
Plot: The remarkable journey undertaken by a group of emperor penguins during a harsh Antarctic winter as they travel 70 miles way from home to breed.
Why you should see it: This winning documentary was the surprise hit of the summer at the US box office, actually taking more per screen than Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds. The stunning cinematography includes intimate scenes of penguin’s kissing and playing with their young that are sure to melt the hearts of even the hardest viewers.
Festival dates: October 25 and 26 (Odeon West End 2)
Release date: December 9
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Where The Truth Lies
Atom Egoyan
Starring: Colin Firth, Kevin Bacon, Alison Lohman
Plot: A beautiful girl lies dead in the bathtub of a hotel suite occupied by popular 50s comedy double act, Lanny Morris and Vince Collins. How she got there and whether they were involved is what an attractive young reporter seeks to find out 15 years later for her latest article.
Reasons for seeing it: Colin Firth finally sheds his nice-guy image (along with his clothes), while Kevin Bacon is at his charismatic best. Where The Truth Lies is a sexy murder-mystery that gleefully exposes the seamier side of celebrity. The sex scenes alone should guarantee it a lot of notoriety but it doesn’t come at the expense of plot or character development.
Festival dates: November 1 and 2, Odeon West End 2
Release date: December 2
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The Matador
Richard Shepard
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall
Plot: A globe-trotting womaniser and assassin seeks a way out of the business which has begun to take its toll. On his latest assignment he befriends a businessman looking to end his own run of bad luck. Their relationship could well provide an unlikely way out for them both.
Reasons for seeing it: Having recently had his licence to kill revoked, former James Bond Pierce Brosnan seeks to reinvent himself while poking fun at his former suave image. This could even represent a cheeky look at a 007 on the verge of retirement. But the sight of a drunken Pierce strutting through a hotel lobby in only cowboy boots and a pair of Speedos is sure to leave audiences shaken and stirred in a different way!
Festival dates: October 24 (Odeon West End 2) and October 31 (Filmworks, Greenwich)
Release date: January 20, 2006
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Hustle and Flow
Craig Brewer
Starring: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning
Plot: A pimp going through a midlife crisis resolves to become a hip-hop singer after becoming inspired by a gospel song. The path to success is frought with peril, however, and hinges on whether he can persuade a local boy made good to give him a shot.
Reasons for seeing it: Hustle and Flow won the audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It provides a spellbinding mix of hard-hitting social drama, hip-hop politics and edgy humour that deserves to make it a number one hit with audiences. What’s more, both Terrence Howard and Anthony Anderson provide career-defining performances.
Festival dates: October 25 and 26 (Odeon West End)
Release date: November 11
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Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Park Chan-Wook
Starring: Lee Yeong-Ae, Choi Min-Shik, Kim Shi-Hu
Plot: After being released from prison for the kidnap and murder of a young boy, a beautiful but impassive woman plots an elaborate plan for revenge. But who is she conspiring against and why, if she confessed to the crime in the first place?
Reasons for seeing it: Park Chan-Wook directed last year’s indie hit, Oldboy, and here delivers another fiendishly compelling mix of black humour and ultra violent revenge. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is certainly not for the squeamish but if you liked Tarantino’sKill Bill movies, then this gives you a glimpse of what may have inspired them.
Festival dates: October 22, Odeon West End 2
Release date: None given as yet
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