In 1953, several years after their last film and with their immense celebrity on the wane, Stan ‘Laurel’ and Ollie ‘Hardy’ embark on a gig tour of British seaside towns and music halls. Surprised by the modesty of the bookings and cramped little guesthouses, the tour starts off subdued. They struggle for audiences and their booking agent seems disinterested. But a series of TV guest spots and celebrity appearances soon rekindle the country’s interest in their genius and the buzz grows as they head towards a big London finale. As the attention builds, so too do old resentments, coming to a head as they’re joined by ‘the wives’, Lucille and Ida (Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda, a hilarious double act in their own right).
Coogan and Reilly fans know their brilliance as physical comedians, but to watch them here is a revelation; they nail body language, mannerisms and also routines the duo would have known in their sleep after decades performing together. Craft is sublime throughout, crystallised in an audacious opening with each department dazzling in a six-minute tracking sequence captured by Laurie Rose’s camera team. Director Jon S Baird (Filth), screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena) and producer Faye Ward (Wild Rose) offer a poignant study of lifelong male friendship and a fitting tribute to two of cinema’s comedy giants.
Biopic 1975 103 mins Director: Ken Russell
Ken Russell's characteristically spectacular biopic of Liszt, with Roger Daltry portraying the composer as a rock god, is a heady brew complete with garish Freudian symbolism, Hitler, spaceships and Ringo Starr as the Pope.
Biopic 1946 135 mins Director: Richard Whorf
Busby Berkeley and Vincente Minnelli are among creative team behind this fictionalised biopic of Broadway composer Jerome Kern, which includes several songs from Show Boat.
Documentary 2018 94 mins Director: Alex Holmes
The incredible, against-all-odds story of sailor Tracy Edwards, who skippered the first all-female international crew in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.
Drama 2018 102 mins Director: Ondi Timoner
Matt Smith stars as legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in this full-frontal homage to the devilish bad boy, whose sex life fuelled his career.
Drama 2018 109 mins Director: Justin Kelly
Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern's towering tall story hoaxes the world.
Biopic 2019 127 mins Director: Ralph Fiennes
Dance perfection meets political defection in director Ralph Fiennes’ intoxicating account of the young life of Rudolf Nureyev.
BFI London Film Festival Presents
Drama 2016 111 mins Director: Barry Jenkins
Winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture (eventually!), Barry Jenkins’ intoxicating drama follows the furtive life of a gay black boy through 80s Miami.
Science Fiction 2016 116 mins Director: Denis Villeneuve
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as the humans who make first contact with extra-terrestrial visitors in this richly textured sci-fi from director Denis Villeneuve.
Drama 2016 137 mins Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams shine in this devastating, Oscar-winning drama from Kenneth Lonergan about a man’s painful hometown return.
Drama 2016 84 mins Director: Hope Dickson Leach
Hope Dickson Leach's hugely impressive first feature about a middle class farming family’s crisis, set against the backdrop of the Somerset floods.
Action and Adventure 2016 90 mins Director: Ben Wheatley
Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise, Sightseers) all-guns-blazing bullet opera, starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.
Drama 2015 131 mins Director: Paul Verhoeven
Isabelle Huppert gives an unforgettable performance in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller about one woman’s response to a violent attack.
Featuring Steve Coogan
Comedy 2016 88 mins Director: Sean Foley
Julian Barratt is hilarious as the washed-up actor forced to reprise his 80s TV role as a sleuth with a robotic truth-telling eye, to help catch a deranged killer.
Drama 2013 98 mins Director: Stephen Frears
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in the deeply moving yet warm-hearted drama about a woman’s search for her forcibly adopted son.
Comedy 2013 90 mins Director: Declan Lowney
It’s Alan’s finest hour, as the veteran DJ for North Norfolk Digital (Steve Coogan) is called into action to mediate a hostage situation following a siege.
Featuring John C. Reilly
Fantasy 2015 134 mins Director: Matteo Garrone
Mythical monsters, shape-shifting sisters and a giant flea are all on the menu in Matteo Garrone’s fulsome feast of gothic fantasy.
Science Fiction 2015 118 mins Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Colin Farrell, Ben Whishaw and Rachel Weisz star in this bleakly hilarious dystopian drama from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth).
Drama 2010 112 mins Director: Lynne Ramsay
Tilda Swinton gives a BAFTA-nominated performance as the mother of a teenager who commits a high school massacre. With Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly.
Directed by Jon S. Baird
Drama 2013 97 mins Director: Jon S. Baird
The biting Irvine Welsh adaptation stars a sensational James McAvoy, boldly cast against type as the cop struggling to suppress his inner demons.
Thriller 2018 94 mins Director: Amanda Kramer
Welcome to Ladyworld, a shadowy dwelling where tensions run high and nothing is ever quite what it seems
Crime 2017 109 mins Director: Carol Morley
Carol Morley (Dreams of a Life, The Falling) returns with a wonderfully stylised, offbeat noir thriller about a murder investigation and multiple realities.
Documentary 2018 64 mins Director: Denis Parrot
A groundbreaking documentary about saying those few little words that have the power to change your life.
Documentary 1971 47 mins Director: Derek Ford
'King of the Witches' Alex Sanders initiates doe-eyed Penny into the ways of his coven.
Documentary 1970 85 mins Director: Malcolm Leigh
An evocative, esoteric exploration of witchcraft at the end of the 1960s – including night-time ritual, reflections on the history of Wicca and a black mass.
Musical 1944 110 mins Director: Vincente Minnelli
Many of MGM's leading talents assemble for the most spectacular of the Broadway revues.