Regus London Film Festival 2002 - what's showing

Story by Jack Foley

THREE of Hollywood’s most consistently enjoyable directors will see their films receive UK premieres at this year’s Regus London Film Festival, in what promise to be some of the most sought-after tickets of the two-week event.

Curtis (LA Confidential) Hanson’s 8 Mile, starring Eminem and loosely based on the controversial rapper’s meteoric rise to fame, will be shown, along with Steven Soderbergh’s experimental comedy, Full Frontal, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love.

8 Mile, in particular, marks Eminem’s first lead performance in a film and drew a round of applause when it played as part of the recent Toronto Film Festival. It is said to feature a convincing lead performance from its star, while Kim Basinger (who won an Oscar when she last teamed up with Hanson) plays his mother.

Full Frontal, meanwhile, marks a return to the type of Sex, Lies and Videotape school of film-making that first shot Soderbergh to prominence in the late Eighties, and stars Julia Roberts and David Duchovny. The film was a relative hit in America when it opened, when the director accused many critics of missing the point of it.

Paul Thomas Anderson, the man behind such modern classics as Boogie Nights and Magnolia, will feature his eagerly-anticipated Punch Drunk Love, starring Adam Sandler as the down-on-his-luck owner of a small business, and brother of seven sisters, who hasn’t been able to fall in love because of abuse he has suffered.

After he resorts to a phone-sex line for companionship, he's blackmailed when a woman steals his credit card number. The movie co-stars Emily Watson, Luis Guzman and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Other highlights of the festival, which runs from November 6-21, include gala screenings of Shekhar Kapur’s The Four Feathers, starring Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson, Roman Polanski’s Holocaust drama, The Pianist, which took the coveted Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Michael Moore’s new documentary, Bowling For Columbine and Oscar-winner Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, Antwone Fisher, which will feature in the Film on the Square section.

Controversial entries this year are likely to include Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sisters, which won the Golden Lion at Venice, while also provoking an angry backlash from the Vatican, and The Quiet American, based on Graham Greene’s novel, and starring Brendan Fraser and Michael Caine, which takes a less than flattering view of American foreign policy during the early years of the Vietnam war.

Roger Avery’s film version of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, The Rules of Attraction, will also feature among the hot potatoes, having already courted controversy in the US for its poster showing cuddly toys engaged in sexual relations. Ellis, of course, penned the equally controversial American Psycho.

The festival, which promises to feature more than 100 films from over 48 countries, will also include a rare screening of the 1953 movie, Miss Sadie Thompson, which will offer film buffs the chance to see screen siren, Rita Hayworth, in 3-D.

The festival opens on November 6 with the UK premiere of Stephen Frears’ anticipated Dirty Pretty Things, starring Amelie’s Audrey Tautou, and will close on November 21 with another British flick, Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Heart of Me, based on Rosamond Lehmann's novel The Echoing Grove.

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