One of the nice things about the London Film Festival is that a lot of filmmakers are in town and today I spoke to Toa Fraser, who is the director of Dean Spanley, which screened tonight at the Odeon West End.
Set at the turn of the twentieth century and based on the novel by Baron Dunsany, it deals with a misanthropic old man (Peter O’Toole) who unexpectedly re-lives happy and painful memories thanks to the revels of a drunken curate (Sam Neill).
I’ll put the interview with Toa up on the site in the next 48 hours.
In the evening I saw the new Bond film Quantum of Solace, which aside from being one of the biggest films of the year is also having it’s first public showing as part of the festival on Wednesday 29th.
It might seem strange for such a commercial film to be part of a festival that showcases a diverse selection of films but from the organisers point of view it is a bit of a no-brainer.
Not only will the spotlight on a Bond world premiere help illuminate other parts of the festival, but the fact that 007 (like Harry Potter) is one of the few British cinema icons that connect to audiences on a global level.
The head of Sony Pictures UK (who are distributing the movie here) said before the film began that it was the first time anyone had seen it, so anticipation was high.
In many ways it delivered the goods with Daniel Craig’s more serious Bond working as well as it did in Casino Royale.
Although it looks good and will no doubt do great business at the box office, I do having a nagging doubt as to whether Marc Forster was the right director for this kind of material.
What’s odd about the film is that there seems to be more action than usual (even for a Bond film) but it’s a bit rushed and a lot of the set pieces lack the finesse and ingenuity of more contemporary rivals like The Bourne Ultimatum or The Dark Knight.
It is the character based sequences that actually work better, with the relationships between Bond, M (Judi Dench), Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) and Camille (Olga Kurylenko) portrayed with the kind of wit and subtley that might surprise some audiences.
Another aspect to the film that might attract some column inches is the rather dark – if entirely plausible – view of the United States as a cynical and amoral superpower. Even the British don’t escape unscathed with one scene appearing to hint at the Blairite acquiescence to the Bush administration in the war on terror.
For more thoughts on the film check out my post here.
Quantum of Solace screens at the festival next week before opening everywhere on October 31st.
Dean Spanley opens in the UK on December 12th