The Sounds Of #LFF2018 Mixtape

Joan Jett

One more year the London Film Festival’s arrival marks a peak in the calendar of every London cinephile. 2018 is being a vintage year for cinema as the diversity and quality of the programme amply proves. Roberawards will be covering the event, so do check our blog daily for the latest news, reviews and chronicles of everything that happens from the 10th to the 21st of October.

As it is our custom, we begin our coverage previewing the offerings for those who love both music and films. We have put together a Spotify playlist featuring the tracks from the soundtracks (when available) or the artistic subjects on these pictures. This is a particularly rich year for music related films, with a wealth of rock documentaries; pop stars jumping into acting and stunning soundtracks. With a couple of exceptions we couldn’t find tracks for (namely Vs., a drama set in Southend’s rap scene, and the Netflix musical about Camden, Been So Long, which also count among the highlights for music lovers) here’s our track by track preview of the Sounds of the LFF 2018.

1-Yesterdays (Junior Boys Remix) – Billie Holiday [From WIDOWS (Steve McQueen)]
Our mixtape begins like the festival, with the film chosen as its Opening Gala, Steve McQueen’s eagerly awaited follow-up to 12 Years A Slave, with a female-fronted, high-octane thriller adaptation of Linda La Plante’s 80’s TV series that earned raves at Toronto and boasts one of the most impressive casts in recent memory (Viola Davis, Liam Neesom, Colin Farrell, Cynthia Erivo, etc.) Though not particularly a musical, from its trailer, featuring a Junior Boys electronic makeover of Billie Holiday’s evocative classic ‘Yesterdays,’ one can tell a lot of care has gone into the soundtrack, which among other standouts promises a brand new track by jazz-pop legends Sade.

2-Suspirium – Thom Yorke [From SUSPIRIA (Luca Guadagnino)]
As long as stunning soundtracks go, few will be able to compete with Thom Yorke’s hauntingly atmospheric work in the impressive new adaptation of Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece Suspiria. Luca Guadagnino has structured his visionary rework as an intoxicating opera in three acts whose mysteries are revealed in a crescendo for which the music is one of its main propelling forces. Yorke follows fellow Radiohead member Johnny Greenwood (who has established himself as a high profile composer thanks to his collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson) as a force to be reckoned in the world of film music.

3-Return of Django – The Upsetters [From RUDEBOY: THE STORY OF TROJAN RECORDS (Nicolas Jack Davies)]
Among the programme’s rock documentaries, fans of reggae and the many genres spawned by the rich legacy of Jamaican music should not miss this account of the evolution in the quintessential British-Jamaican record label Trojan records, and its enormous influence in the London music scene as well as the whole musical landscape across the UK. The film’s exploration of the racial tensions its pioneering artists had to endure through the years, makes it as appealing on a social level as it is on a musical one. The Upsetter’s timeless classic ‘Return Of Django’ is one the company’s most emblematic tracks.

4-Bad Reputation – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts [From BAD REPUTATION (Kevin Kerslake)]
As a pioneer female rocker, Joan Jett’s evolution as an artist has been an inspiration for thousands of punk, hard-rock and riot grrls. From the 70’s band The Runaways until her latest solo work, going through her, perhaps, peak moment fronting The Blackhearts, this fiercely feminist musician has resisted the temptations and manipulations of the record industry to remain faithful to her rock and roll principles. Bad Reputation is meant to give a comprehensive look at her musical career and iconic personality. Now that guitar music seems to be hitting a low, it’s a great time to remember that artists like Jett are still alive, kicking and as essential as ever.

5-Take Me To Broadway – Chilly Gonzales [From SHUT UP AND PLAY THE PIANO (Philipp Jedicke)]
Another interesting documentary, it focuses on the mercurial personality of Canadian-born, Berlin-based artist Chilly Gonzales, whose career began at the peak of the electroclash trend in the late 90’s and evolved into a fully-fledged classical-influenced piano player, composing soundtracks and collaborating with the likes of Jarvis Cocker or Jane Birkin. This film, received with great acclaimed at Berlin, is meant to bring some light into the many sides of his exuberant creativity.

6-When Will I Be Famous? – Bros [From AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS (Joe Pearlman & David Soutar)]
A few films in this year’s programme deal with the particulars of fans phenomenon. One of them is this documentary whose subject are 80’s pop sensations Bros. Formed by brothers Matt and Luke Goss, the band generated a legion of followers who religiously imitated their simple white t-shirts, wasted denim trousers and short hair style. They split up at the end of that decade and went to run very different fates, one of them as a Hollywood actor. This documentary follows their reunion tour, hopefully providing some insight into their personal and artistic development, as well as into the lucrative business the nostalgic live gig market has become.

7-Freezing Moon – Mayhem [From LORDS OF CHAOS (Jonas Åkerlund)]
In demand video clip director Jonas Åkerlund (a regular filmmaker for Madonna, Lady Gaga, Metallica and many other high profile stars) take his stylized gaze from the mainstream to the most underground of genres, with this portrait of the Norwegian’s infamous Black Metal scene and its preposterous satanic imagery. He focuses on the band Mayhem and the extravagant creed of their lead and guitar player, Øystein Aarseth. One for lovers of strong sonic experiences.

8-Panic – Frank Sidebottom [From BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY (Steve Sullivan)]
The iconic papermask headed Frank Sidebottom, part comedian and part satirical rock musician, was not that long ago the subject of his own feature narrative film, Lenny Abrahamson’s very notable ‘Frank.’ Now Steve Sullivan crafts this in-depth portrait about the tortured personality of the man behind the character and the gestation of his anarchic stage persona. Fans and anyyone curious about this unique British eccentric should check it out.

9-Shut Up – Savages [Savages’ Jehnny Beth is one of the stars of AN IMPOSSIBLE LOVE (Catherine Corsini)]
For anyone who thought that the magnetic stage presence of the lead singer of British post-punk band Savages, Jehnny Beth, deserved to be given a chance in the big screen, the latest film by Catherine Corsini will prove them right. Beth has already a couple of acting credits in French films, but this could be her biggest role to date. Catherine Corsini who delighted world audiences with two well-observed, bittersweet romantic dramas such as Summertime, seems to have another ace up her sleeve with An Impossible Love, adapting the work of French writer Christine Angot.

10-It’s Not Gonna Rain – Jessie Buckley [Jessie Buckley stars in WILD ROSE (Tom Harper)]
We couldn’t find a song from the film soundtrack yet, but actress and singer Jessie Buckley is collecting rave reviews for her rendition of a Glaswegian single mum, just out of jail, who decides to follow her dream of becoming a country singer. The film mix of social realism and musical performances looks set to be one of the festival’s most popular crowd-pleasers.

11-Clay Pigeons – Ben Dickey and Original Cast [From BLAZE (Ethan Hawke)]
In a year when many actors are taking the director’s seat, Ethan Hawke, who is going through one of the best times on his career after his impressive turn as a priest doubting his faith in ‘First Reformed,’ has chosen this biopic of self-destructive country singer Blaze Foley to continue his notable work as a filmmaker. Foley was a close friend of Townes Van Zandt and his hell-raising, dramatic life had all the stuff to provide for good screenplay material. This is Hawke’s fourth feature and the one that has been received with the biggest critical acclaim to date.

12-Pijama – Najwa [Najwa Nimri is the star of QUIEN TE CANTARA (Carlos Vermut)]
Spanish star Najwa Nimri has a well-established career both as an electronic pop singer and an actress. That made her the right choice for the lead role in Carlos Vermut’s follow up to his acclaimed Magical Girl. Quién Te Cantará is an accomplished Almodovar-esque melodrama exploring the blurring of identity between artists and fans, mothers and daughters, with an excellent soundtrack made by both new tracks by songwriter Eva Amaral and renditions of Spanish pop classics by the likes of Alaska y Dinarama; Mocedades; etc. Najwa and her co-stars also perform some of the music numbers.

13-Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder [From MR. SOUL! (Melissa Haizlip & Samuel D Pollard)]
Documentary about Ellis Haizlip, the host of legendary black variety show SOUL! that ran from the late sixties for five years, featuring the most ground-breaking black artists, philosophers and activists, at a time where the civil-rights movement was taking a central place in American Politics. Stevie Wonder was one of the show’s many regular guests and another African-American icon from those times.

14-The Crying Game – Boy George [Boy George is one of the interviewees in NO IFS OR BUTS (Sarah Lewis)]
In what sounds like a fascinating look into one of the cradles of London style in the 80’s, No Ifs or Buts tells the story of Soho hair salon Cuts, where such image rebels as Boy George, Neneh Cherry or Goldie were getting, at least in part, their influential looks from. Also portraying the evolution of leftfield musical styles and art movements, from eighties New Romantics to the later hip-hop and dance trends, this seems to provide an excellent opportunity to explore the relationship between fashion styles and music straight from the head.

15-Psycho Killer – Talking Heads [From SUMMER (Kirill Serebrennikov)]
Kirill Serebrennikov, currently held under house arrest in Russia for a provocative body of work that’s not exactly the toast of the Kremlin, stylishly reflects on Leningrad’s heavily-monitored underground music scene during the eighties. Shot in stylish black and white and packed with references to classic Western rock idols, the film has an irreverent attitude, a joyful celebration of youth culture as a political expression of freedom and a whimsical recreation of classic songs such as this one by Talking Heads, using the tropes of music commercials to add energy and vitality into its often bittersweet tone.

16-Back For Good – Take That [From I USED TO BE NORMAL: A BOYBAND FANGIRL STORY (Jessica Leski)]
Another piece of work exploring the world of pop fans, this time tracking the evolution from the point of view of the fans themselves, I used to be normal go through the decades while showcasing the phenomenon of the boy band and its interdependence with their loyal female fan base. Taking a multi-generational approach there are four case studies with fans of The Beatles; Backstreet Boys; Take That and One Direction, hailing the meaning of their subjects of adoration.

17-Energy Rush – Soundcrowd [From DUBLIN OLDSCHOOL (Dave Tynan)]
The drug-fuelled, electronic rave scene of the 90’s was a musical revolution that originated in England and spread all over the world. This Irish drama set in Dublin tells a story of brotherly love against the backdrop of the rave culture in the Irish capital and has an interesting soundtrack, packed with local talent, reflecting the immense influence that electronic music has had shaping night life and young culture as a whole.

18-Enlightenment – Sun Ra [From REBIRTH IS NECESSARY (Jenn Nkiru) one of the shorts in the THIS IS THE SOUND, THIS IS THE PICTURE programme]
The Create strand’s shorts programme looks like a treasure trove for fans of music in film. Among the selections, ‘Rebirth Is Necessary’ announces itself as a study of blackness that features, among others, a portrait of legendary afro futurist jazz musician Sun Ra.

19-Doctor Who Theme – Ron Grainer [From DELIA DERBYSHIRE: THE MYTHS AND LEGENDARY TAPES (Caroline Katz) one of the shorts in the THIS IS THE SOUND, THIS IS THE PICTURE programme]
Also part of the Create strand’s shorts programme, this intriguing film interviews the woman who’s often referred to as the unsung heroine of British electronic music. A former member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during the 60’s, Delia Derbyshire’s experimental approach produced such celebrated fruits as the arrangement for Doctor Who’s popular theme tune.

20-Satellite Of Love (Demo Version) – The Velvet Underground [From THE VELVET UNDERGROUND PLAYED AT MY HIGH SCHOOL (Anthony Jannelli) one of the shorts in the THIS IS THE SOUND, THIS IS THE PICTURE programme]
And the third short we mention from the ‘This is the sound, this is the picture’ programme features an early performance by The Velvet Underground, before they went to arguably become the most influential indie band in pop history.

21-Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To) – Diana Ross [From MAHOGANY TOO (Akosuma Adoma Odusu) one of the shorts in the IS IT ME OR IS IT THE WORLD? Experimenta programme]

The Experimenta strand also features a short, part of the ‘Is it me or is it the world?’ programme, likely to be of interest for film lovers. Mahogany Too is meant to re-enact the famous role of Diana Ross in Mahogany as a piece of nostalgic Afro-Futurism. It sounds fascinating.

22-Mandy Love Theme – Jóhann Jóhannsson [From MANDY (Panos Cosmatos)]
The latest in Nicolas Cage’s series of revenge action movies delivers a few surprises, the biggest of which perhaps is that Mandy is the best film Coppola’s nephew has done in ages. Lovers of heavy metal, as well as lovers of horror, will find much to enjoy in this brilliantly stylized thriller with Cage avenging her girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) from the attack of a vicious gang of Jesus Freaks. Its brilliant score is one of the last works the late Johann Johansson completed and plays an essential part in the film’s menacing atmosphere.

23-The Fog – John Carpenter [From THE FOG (John Carpenter)]
And as far as horror film soundtracks go, few can aspire to the level of John Carpenter’s body of work. The veteran director, who also wrote the music for most of his films, has been touring the world recently playing them. Part of this year’s selection of restored Treasures, The Fog is vintage Carpenter and guarantees to provide you with all the chills and musical thrills you could expect from a true master.

, , ,