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1040 Abroad

Sundance London, Film and Music Festival
O2 Cineworld, Greenwich, London
Thursday April 25 to Sunday April 28, 2013

Previewed by Tim Baros

The 2nd London Sundance Film Festival takes place this weekend at the O2 Cineworld, Greenwich and brings with it 20 films chosen from the January event held in Park City, Utah. There is a varied program of feature and short films, panel discussions, and a music festival.

This year’s program includes 18 feature films and nine short films, with twenty-three films making their international debut. Tim Baros reviews The Look of Love below — scroll down for other highlights from the Festival.


Paul Raymond was known as the King of Soho. He began his reign by producing saucy shows at the Windmill Theatre and then took over a club and named it after himself — The Raymond Review Bar. He also published a saucy men’s magazine called Men Only. The story of Paul Raymond and his life is expertly captured in the new movie The Look of Love.

Raymond was famous not only for his production of nude revues but he also bought up huge swathes of Soho at a time when that part of London was cheap, making him a millionaire many many times over.

The Look of Love focuses on his relationship with the three most important women in his life: his wife Jean (played by Anna Friel), his lover Fiona (a very beautiful Tamsin Egertoon) and his daughter Debbie (Imogen Potts). Raymond is played by Steve Coogan, a perfect choice to play the colorful Soho impressario.

The film begins with Raymond (born Geoffrey Quinn in Liverpool), in his early days at the Windmill, putting nude women — shocking for the time — on stage in various forms of artistic poses — along with a lion, thereby creating entertainment (fear, excitement) for his audiences. He gets wrapped up in an affair with one of his ‘actresses’ Fiona Richmond, while his wife Jean is at home taking care of the children. With his very late nights and the affair, his marriage falls apart. Meanwhile, he will do anything to make his ill-fated daughter happy, and this includes creating a show around her, even though she is not much of a singer or stage actress.

Raymond was THE playboy of his time, he wore expensive tailored clothes, gold and silver jewellry, had chauffers take him around town, even if it were just down the street, drank expensive champagne and always had a very attractive women or two on his arms. At the time of his death in 2008, Raymond was worth $650 million and gave it all to his granddaughters, Fawn and India Rose (they now manage his property business).

Director Michael Winterbottom has expertly captured the many eras in Paul Raymond’s life — from the 1960s to family tragedy in the 1990s. Tasmin Egerton as Fiona Richmond is especially good as the much younger girlfriend of Raymond, resisting being dragged down in the drug culture, and presented as a smart woman who was no man’s fool. Imogen Poots is excellent in the role as Raymond’s daughter Debbie, a very difficult role, yet pulls it off, allowing the audience to feel sympathy as well as encouragement for her, giving the film its emotional punch.

Credit also goes to the screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh for making this a documentary-like movie, and to the production and costume designers for giving the film its very realistic feel. The Look of Love was shot in and around the Soho neighborhood, making it feel very familiar for those who know the area shaped by Raymond. “Not bad for a boy who came from Liverpool with five bob in his pocket” as Raymond would say.

Other Sundance highlights:

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes: A troubled girl, becomes preoccupied with her mysterious, new neighbor, who bears a striking resemblance to her dead mother. In offering to babysit her newborn, Emanuel unwittingly enters a fragile, fictional world, of which she becomes the gatekeeper.

The Kings of Summer: A coming-of-age comedy about three teenagers who, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a makeshift house in the woods. Free from their parents’ rules, their idyllic summer quickly becomes a test of friendship.

Mud: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love. With Reese Witherspoon and the ever lively Matthew McConaughey.

Peaches Does Herself: On the advice of an old stripper, Musician and D.J. Peaches makes sexually forthright music. This electro rock opera/documentary follows Peaches’ rise in popularity and her love affair with a beautiful she-male that ultimately leads her to realize who she really is. There will also be a performance by Peaches on Friday night at the Indigo 2.

The Summit: In this riveting documentary, twenty-four climbers converged at the last stop before summiting the most dangerous mountain on Earth — Mount Everest. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished.

Metro Manila: Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Metro Manila was the Audience Award winner at the event in January.

Muscle Shoals: Down in Alabama Rick Hall founded FAME Studios and gave birth to the Muscle Shoals sound. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Gregg Allman, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono and others bear witness to the greatest untold American music story. (Documentary).

Touchy Feely: A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s foundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his “healing touch.”

A.C.O.D.: Carter is a well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. So he thinks. When he discovers he was part of a divorce study as a child, it wreaks havoc on his family and forces him to face his chaotic past.

The Panel Programme includes discussions on topics such as The Art of the Score: An Afternoon with David Arnold — who is written and arranged music for films such as Tomorrow Never Dies and Hot Fuzz; A Screenwriting Flash Lab, where attendees will be able to hear several successful screenwriters talk about their biggest writing disasters; and Sense of Humor and Humour: US-UK Comedy — A group of UK and U.S. actors, comedians, and filmmakers discuss the huge differences behind American and British humor.

Sundance began in Salt Lake City in August 1978, as the Utah/US Film Festival in an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah. It was founded by Sterling Van Wagenen (then head of Wildwood, Robert Redford’s company), John Earle, and Cirina Hampton Catania (both serving on the Utah Film Commission at the time).

For more on Sundance events visit: www.sundance-london.com


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