London Film Festival: Round Up

The BFI London Film Festival enters its second week, with a mix of in-person and virtual screenings playing to enthusiastic audiences in the capital and at home. Here, ASFF selects five must-see films that have played this week.

THE GOOD BOSS

A very, very funny Spanish comedy, with darkly comic edge, Javier Bardem plays the titular CEO, whose company manufactures scales. Set over several days, his world implodes after sacking an employee who refuses to take it lying down. Made by Fernando León de Aranoa, who previously directed Bardem in Mondays In the Sun, this is an increasingly hilarious tale that benefits from the Spanish star taking on a rare comedic role. 

THE HARDER THEY FALL

The opening film of this year’s festival, British director Jeymes Samuel’s Netflix-backed western is a provocative blood-soaked adventure with a predominantly African American cast. As the caption tells us, the story within is fictionalised but the characters all existed. Jonathan Majors leads the pack as a gunslinger who gathers his gang together to take down Idris Elba’s villain in revenge for a traumatic incident from his childhood. Regina King, Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield all co-star.

THE TENDER BAR

A late addition to the festival, George Clooney’s eighth feature film as director is a stirring adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s memoir about growing up on Long Island. Ben Affleck co-stars as J.R.’s bar-owning uncle, while Lily Rabe gives a fantastic performance as his ever-harassed mother. But the real star(s) are the two boys playing J.R. Young, TikTok star Daniel Ranieri and Tye Sheridan, who plays him as a student, bring real heart and warmth to this coming-of-age story.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN

Craig Roberts, who will be a guest at this year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival, here directs his third film, following Just Jim and Eternal Beauty. A classic underdog yarn, scripted by Simon Farnaby, it tells the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness who, in 1976, entered the British Open golf tournament and scored the worst round ever recorded. Co-starring Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans, this is a charming crowd-pleaser about following your dreams.

ENCOUNTER

British filmmaker Michael Pearce made a startling debut with 2017’s Beast, the Jersey-set psychological thriller that propelled Johnny Flynn and Jessie Buckley to fame. Now he’s back with Encounter, an American-set tale about paranoia and PTSD. Riz Ahmed plays a former Marine on a road trip with his two young boys, a journey that turns out to be more dangerous and deadly than you might first realise. Co-starring Octavia Spencer in a crucial role, Pearce flirts with sci-fi tropes to say something powerful about the human condition.


The BFI London Film Festival runs until October 17. Click here for more details.

James Mottram