And so the 57th London Film Festival comes to a close with the world premiere of Saving Mr Banks, attended by Colin Farrell, Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Ruth Wilson - who earlier in the day gave one of the more hilarious press conferences I've attended.
The festival was an odd one this year: it's just as un-festive as always, but there was controversy as this year for the first time they charged journalists a whopping £36 for accreditation (especially painful for freelancers, as it comes out of our pay) without giving us anything more. There weren't even goodie bags this year, for the first time in the 18 years I have covered this festival. But then this isn't a proper premiere festival; aside from tonight's closing film, there were no major world premieres. Instead, this is a catch-up event, presenting the best of the past year's festivals, including the winners of Berlin, Cannes, Toronto and Venice. So it's a great programme for film fans who struggle to catch up with these high-profile arthouse titles. It'll certainly always be a highlight of my cinematic year, fee or no fee.
So here are three more highlights - including the closing film, the full list of award winners and my 10 favourite films of the festival (linked to reviews). I have a backlog of about 8 films this year that still need to be written up. That's not too bad actually...
Saving Mr Banks
dir John Lee Hancock; with Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks 13/UK ****
After veering dangerously close to becoming an overproduced slush-fest, this film digs deeper and draws us in. This is mainly thanks to a remarkably detailed script and especially sharp performances from Thompson and Hanks. Yes, the Disney spirit (and marketing machine) nearly swamps it, but the film remains lively, moving and thoroughly entertaining... FULL REVIEW >
Gare du Nord
dir Claire Simon; with Nicole Garcia, Reda Kateb 13/Fr ***
As an exploration of the variety of life seen in a single railway station, this film has certain value for people-watchers. But its narrative strands are only barely developed, and it overstays its welcome when it tries to stir in some twisty plotting and magical realism... FULL REVIEW >
dir Michalis Konstantatos; with Nicholas Vlachakis, Eleftheria Komi 13/GR ***.
Fans of Dogtooth, Attenberg and Alps will be intrigued by this similarly styled Greek drama, which is even more elusive than those relentlessly obtuse films. But patience is paid off as the seemingly unrelated scenes begin to coalesce into something that's genuinely horrific. And when it's over, the film leaves us pondering some pretty big issues... FULL REVIEW >