jencat: (dessert spoons)
I've done the LFF for quite a few years now (I'm thinking since 2004, because Mirrormask was the first one I saw, and that would tie in nicely to seeing a clip beforehand at SDCC in 2004. I think.).  And I've been building up the number of films I see each year, around and about actually trying to work for a living dammit.

But this year - hell, this year I didn't really have anything else going on at all.  Empire's Moviecon stuttered out of existence with absolutely no announcements (because last year was a case of Expansion: UR Doing It Wrong. And this year apparently we had the Olympics or something, which are obviously kryptonite to film cons? Who knows.). And obviously, having given up on SDCC completely, *sob*, it's not even worth planning a repeat trip to SD anytime soon.  I'm studiously ignoring the fact that I seem to be planning a trip to Atlanta next year that may miraculously coincide with Dragoncon, but there you go.

The obvious solution was to focus all my time and energy and non-existent money on blitzing LFF like a mad thing. So.. I kinda did. As in, 29 films in 11 days. Some days there were four films, some days there was one. Most days there was also work. Hell yeah.
(There may be actual reviews, when I have my brain back/some more sleep).

For now, there is Stuff I Have Learnt:
  • Films with cute dogs are generally better if the dog has its own Twitter account (Boonee in Starlet, the Shih Tzu in Seven Psychopaths. Let's not talk about The Wall. Because I may start with the nihilistic sobbing all over again.)


  • Films with threesomes are generally godawful pretentious wastes of time. Sadly they were also my opening and closing films (Dead Europe, Kiss of the Damned.). Next year I really, really have to find something more reliably enjoyable to end on, like, say Seven Psychopaths.
  • The films you nearly knock off the list because they look a bit odd/generally meh... will probably turn out to be some of the most enjoyable films of the festival, if not the entire year (Starlet, Aiyyaa), or the most interesting (Lore, The Patience Stone). Or I may totally forget that it's by the same director as something I adored previously and not even book a ticket until the last minute when I finally cotton on (White Elephant). All amazing stuff.
  • In fact, anything you make a massive effort to see will sadly not be worth it (Hyde Park on Hudson. AKA, the Mayor's Gala, minus said Mayor. A gigantic, expensive waste of time for which one tiny bar of Green &Blacks, Icelandic mineral water and 2 minutes of Bill Murray in person were really not fair compense for no Boris and an irritating film. Ahem.)
  • Other things I was desperate to see (Painless, Helpless) were watchable but slightly disappointing.   Robot & Frank started well but I had such problems with the ending and how it treated dementia that it soured everything else.
      Beasts of the Southern Wild was beautifully shot, amazing cast, had an incredible soundtrack with some lovely moments, and had me sobbing by the end - but was never quite going to live up to the hype somehow.  Mainly, it didn't all quite hang together, and I don't feel the need to rewatch, which is my marker of a truly great film.  Seeing Hushpuppy (sorry, Quevenzahe?) on stage afterwards was magic enough though - that girl is absolute gold dust.
  • The only one that was on my top watch list that actually earned its place was the truly amazing Imagine. Which hasn't been picked up by a distributor, but I would watch again in a heartbeat, and make everyone I know watch it too. Fantastic stuff.
  • It was also a good year for films that were a little bit Amelie -  Aiyyaa, most deliciously, sets out to be a Bollywood Amelie (along with a billion other things), stealing great chunks of the soundtrack (and moped rides), and succeeds brilliantly, but also Imagine, in a far more unlikely way.  It had the same mentality; the 'times are hard for dreamers'; small pleasures, and whether it does more harm to try and make the world a more liveable place by denying reality to some extent. The fantasy, spliced with a great deal more tension and trip hazards....
  •  There are some truly awesome cinemas in London which I didn't even know existed - number one being the Hackney Picturehouse: a bar entirely redecorated with a white wrap in honour of Beasts of the Southern Wild, complete with quotes, auroch 'cave paintings' and a large wooden sign saying 'The Bathtub'. So much love.
    They also stock proper gourmet popcorn, ice lollies and icecream along with the usual rubbish (not cheap, obviously but then my salted banoffee Urban Ice and salted caramel popcorn were instead of dinner so that totally doesn't count), and their main screen is a smaller scale equivalent of the Sky Screen at the O2 - for an arthouse cinema it's huge and has incredibly steep seating so you're not constantly peering through someone's bouffant hairdo while developing DVT (like, say, the hellhole that is Odeon West End).  Sadly it's a 40 minute bus ride from work (no tube stop!), whereas the West End is 15 min by tube, so hard to justify making the trip...
    The Everyman cinemas - the Islington Screen on the Green this time - are also brilliant (armchairs with drink tables and a full bar at the back of the screen? Don't mind if I do.) if rather easy to fall asleep in (during Silence) but equally handy to nip out to the loo directly from the screen if you're in the midst of a major hysterical sobbing fit  and want to clean up a bit (um, The Wall).
    Brixton's Ritzy is also rather nice - hell, Brixton was actually quite nice, considering I'd never been there before. Although on a day when the only tube line running there was closed, it took a bit of ingenuity to actually make the trip.
  • So far as my hit rate goes - there were far more perfectly pleasant if unmemorable films than there was stuff I actually hated.  Films you adore are always going to be few and far between, and, um, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Also, sacrifices had to be made in terms of time/money, and stuff that was about to come out in the next month was more justifiable to do on general release - I wanted a festival screening of Beasts for the atmosphere and Q&A, basically.  I still feel I'm going to love Argo when I do finally see it, but it can wait. Rust & Bone I'm not sure, but it's getting a wide enough release. 


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Jennifer Howell

July 2015

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