6   +   2   =  

It’s that time of year again when the London Film Festival takes over the capital and captures coming release schedules. You’ll see a flood of gala films soon appear in cinemas (opening night film Suffragette comes out on Monday), but our LFF coverage already has that in hand. Here’s what else is going on.

We may be losing the war on drugs, but we keep fighting it anyway. Denis Villeneuve’s new film, swapping the wintry whites of Prisoners for the deserted plains of the US/Mexico border, casts Emily Blunt as an FBI agent dragged into a multi-agency team attempting to take down a drug cartel. As she falls ever deeper into the murky world inhabited by Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro’s espionage agents, she finds both sides fight as dirty as they can. A bleak thriller that actually knows how to thrill, Sicario is another success for Villeneuve.

Whatever your thoughts on the Soviet Union, it’s hard to deny the brilliance of their men’s ice hockey team. Dominating the Olympics (and pretty much every major competition) for decades, they played with a style exciting even to those who’ve never even seen an ice rink before. Built around interviews with former USSR captain Viacheslav Fetisov, director Gabe Polsky manages to merge the rise and fall of the team with that of the wider country. Red Army is entertaining and thoughtful, basically everything you could want from a documentary.

Alejandro Amenábar has made a career treading the line between psychological thriller and horror. He’s best known for The Others (2001) starring Nicole Kidman and Open Your Eyes (1997), later remade with Tom Cruise as Vanilla Sky (2001). After a six year break, he’s back with Regression, a Minnesota set thriller that sees Ethan Hawke investigating a man who admits sexually abusing his daughter, played by Emma Watson, while also claiming to have no recollection of the event. It’s unlikely to be easy going.

Does Mad Max: Fury Road count as a surprise hit? Probably given the length of time since the last one, the battle George Miller had to finish the film, and the fact that the role made iconic by Mel Gibson was being passed on. Even if there were doubts, Miller soon expels them as he sends Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron on a breakneck chase across the Australian outback. It’s tense, ridiculously over the top and great fun. The perfect film to own on DVD.

That closes another week. I’m sinking back into the LFF for now, but I’ll see you here next weekend for the return of Guillermo del Toro.