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. 


jencat: (dessert spoons)

Apparently I didn't take into account quite how brainmelting it would be trying to do LFF the way I have this year. *note to self for next year: TAKE MORE TIME OFF WORK...!*

My brain is still kinda off running around the plains of Armenia/a spooky Cumbrian boarding school circa 1921, and yet there are, like, patients to deal with and letters to be typed. Obviously I may as well start with the interesting stuff (so, completely backwards then)...

The last double-bill kicked off with The Awakening, which at some points had the potential to be utterly fabulous, and at other times was content to tick along as a kind of sub-The Others/Sixth Sense bog standard Ghost Story With a Twist. The fabulousness, as best seen in the first 20 mins, was Rebecca Hall dashing about Edwardian London being Florence the Kickass Lady Ghost Hunter/Writer.  Really, we do need more of this particular bit immediately.  Whenever the film got occasionally annoying after that, I distracted myself by theorising about a TV show where she disproves hauntings/fights crime on a weekly basis - preferably with Dominic West's adorabubble severely traumatised WW1 vet/kindly teacher Robert as her sidekick. 

Honestly, at that point it was a little bit like Sherlock with an awesome girl. And GHOSTS. What's not to love?

slightly spoilery for The Awakening )

The thing being is that this film is still in my head a couple of weeks later - for all it's many imperfections - and it's out on Friday here.. Armistice Day, nicely.  So I may have to go see it again.  

The very last festival film this year was HERE (the fact that it's 'arthouse' is about all the explanation you're gonna get for the vaguely unnecessary use of CAPSLOCK, but what the hey).

Actually it was utterly lovely, for all that it risked being fairly alienating, and I have pretty much zero knowledge of Armenia (except about the Turkish massacre about a century ago, oddly enough).  There's a nice American boy doing satellite map engineering in Armenia (part of which is disputed and has never been mapped properly), and he runs into a slightly flighty Armenian photographer who's back home  briefly on a grant and slightly reluctant to reconnect with her family, who can't really understand that photography can be an actual career.  And then they run into each other again, by pure chance, and take a little road trip to the disputed territory... Well that's one version of it.

Read more slightly spoilery ramblings )



jencat: (through the door)
Yay!  the 2011 London Film Festival kicked off again this week, and this year was the point I finally cracked and snapped up the BFI membership the month before booking opened.  Yeah, it's £40 but theoretically I can offset this against the BFI ticket discount if I go once a month (or something. It sounded plausible!).  But most importantly, I got in for the first week of ticket booking...!

To be honest, I was somewhere in Florida minus internet (ok, I was at Wet'n'Wild in Orlando...) when booking actually opened, but I managed it a day later when the sleep deprivation started to ease off a bit and I could actually work out the hideously complicated arrangements that ensue when I try to fit in a dozen films and actual work (plus family bdays!) into 3 weeks.  Oh, obviously I'd spent a couple weeks beforehand plotting my theoretical schedule, but that doesn't even nearly take account of stuff selling out practically instantly.  Or, indeed, the fact that I wasn't at work and needed to get an okay to take time off for the daytime showings...

The final list settled at this 9 - which is still minus a couple of things I would love to see, and have had to admit defeat on for the moment.  Also, next Sunday night is still up for grabs between a bday and queuing for standbyes for Mitsuko Delivers (which lost out to The Awakening in the daytime slot battle.  What can I say, the latter had Rebecca Hall and Dom West being spooky!):

Today:  50/50more later...

Monday: Where Do We Go Now?

Tuesday:   Tales of the Night

Weds:  Let The Bullets Fly
             Miss Bala

Thurs:  Nobody Else But You
            Rebellion


Mon:  Martha Marcy May Marlene

Weds:  The Awakening
              HERE



2 American, 3 French, 1 Lebanese, 1 Chinese, 1 Mexican and 1 Brit (and not sure about HERE...)
I dashed out of work in a mad rush to make the lunchtime screening of 50/50 in what I thought was plenty of time, only to discover a queue stretching halfway down Leicester Square to collect tickets, and much panicking... In the end they herded all the folk for that showing to the box office first with a minute to spare (it started late anyhoo) and we weren't allowed to collect the rest of our festival tickets (which I still don't have, dammit!).  Teeny bit more stressful than i anticipated, but hey, I'm still in shock that a Seth Rogen film made me cry...!


The best way I could think to describe it was in the vein of Up In the Air, but with cancer instead of redundancy being the Big Awkward Subject.  Also, Anna Kendrick :o)

slightly spoilery for 50/50 )


jencat: (Default)


Right now there's a war of nerves going on between me and the gigantic spider wwho has taken up residence at the top of my curtains... we had words, and he shuffled about 2 cm further away from my bed (and faced the other direction) but still. It's a really really big spider.

Ho hum.  Is my all-consuming arachnophobia showing much yet??

Now halfway through my London Film Festival blitz, which have certainly been an interesting variety thus far...
First up was The Light Thief.  From which we have gathered that Kyrgyzstan is... quite pretty, but probably not somewhere you'd want to live. As is starting to be a pattern, it's absolutely watchable, right up until the end when everything goes a little bit bonkers and stops making any kind of sense.  Mostly, there's an actual plot there (involving windmills!) but the script seems to keep forgetting what it's point was (apart from China = bad perhaps?). 

For the most part, it's got great scenery, it's sweet and funny and very human.  The nastiness that kicks off towards the end absolutely doesn't match that and makes for a very odd finish...

Which you could pretty much say something similar about Meek's Cutoff.  Actually, lots of it involved S and I reminiscing about the big trip we took.  Who knew, turns out migrating via covered wagon in 1845 is much less fun than taking a road trip in the same area a century and a half later...!

The Oregon desert felt very familiar, but hell, its not that interesting a place unfortunately - certainly not enough to bear the weight the director decides to place on cinematography over character development. Towards the end, the epithet Too Stupid To Live was the only thing going round in my brain. And Meek himself... gawd, he was terrifyingly similar to the crazy guy we shared a campfire with in Klamath, who never freaking stopped talking.

What did work was Michelle William's feisty settler wife who was the closest we were going to get to a protagonist... she has some fabulous moments (the standoff where, of course, she has the bigger gun dammit).  Could really have done with lots more about her and the relationship with her husband, who were both interesting people with a lick of sense about surviving in the desert - as opposed to the rest of their party, who honestly didn't seem to appreciate what they were heading into, or make any attempt to get their act together (why would you, when hysteria is so much more productive...). 

Mostly it inspired much frustration... I mean, I love films that deconstruct things like Westerns, but there's only so much you get from hanging around outside your characters guessing at where they're headed.  I wanted to be more involved, even if that meant bracing yourself for the inevitable cast cull toward the end - except, seriously??

It was being so willfully difficult by the end that i was barely surprised by the supremely irritating final scene.  You could sure as hell hear a few people in the audience hooting in disbelief as it cut to the credits, and, er, like The Light Thief, there wasn't any applause at the finish.  It was kinda noticeable quite how much applause the screenings of Conviction and It's Kinda a Funny Story got, come to that...


jencat: (chuck)
1 - Haha! I finally have my Brendan Flowers CD back in my grubby mitts after, er, losing custody of said CD directly after buying it (such a long, dull story).  More importantly, it actually kinda sounds like this could be the Killers album I've been waiting for. Ahem.  More accurately, it sounds like the follow-up to Sam's Town I've been waiting for, because their last one stubbornly refused to stick in my head at all, no matter how many times i stuck it on repeat (excepting Human, of course).  But Flamingo is sticking in my head after one listen, plus it has a duet with Jenny Lewis, and the utterly fabulous 'Crossfire'.

2 - Here's the thing.. I adore the video for 'Crossfire'.  It's a couple of minutes of cute, well-choreographed ultraviolent silliness in which Brandon Flowers gets tied up, threatened with torture and bashfully makes puppydog eyes at Charlise Theron while she goes all Kill Bill and matter-of-factly rescues him from ninjas while looking fabulous. as you do.. )
 
3 - Aha, my grubby little mitts also have actual booked tickets for the LFF now! No Mayor Gala Premieres this year sadly (*sob*, no Boris gaffes live on stage, dammit!) but the last booking has just gone through (for Carancho) so here we go...
sooo many films... )


4 - I cracked and bought Retribution Falls after many, many months of admiring the steampunky prettiness and murmurings of Firefly! With Airships!  Mostly I kept ignoring the way it kinda painfully ripped off little bits of said Whedon classic without actually bothering to retain anything that made it, y'know, good.  There was the writing style that was steadfastly 'tell don't show. Or show and then tell as well. Repeatedly. Just in case the dullard reader didn't quite cotton on.' Ahem. all the spoilery problems I have with this, dammit! )
5 - Tis new season TV time again, yay! As we're very slowly working through the year-old seasons of Chuck, Burn Notice, Dexter, Medium and Leverage, over here, we do at least get House as quick as they can ship it over, and I think Bones should be starting pretty soon, with any luck.  I'm kinda hoping they will stop plastering the airwaves with trailers for Nikita once it starts airing (we had the new, even more half-nekkid Maggie Q, version of said trailer tonight, of course) Read more... )

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Jennifer Howell

July 2015

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