Thursday 15 October 2009
Dream: today I dream of community as I hang out in it with old school friends as an adult on a Saturday morning, in suburbia on the drive of one of our large suburban houses. This is what I feel I should be doing with my life. Where is my sitcom group/entourage, my reliable circle of friends? In the dream we wonder where we can get some coffee from but the main guy (Dave) in a good mood offers to buy us all a steak lunch. Really, what kind of wet dream is this?
I wake up in the light this morning just after 7.30AM and it feels like a blessing. The plan for today is to head down to Holland to get my haircut and then head to London from there.
Slightly late from paying too much attention to the Frasier repeats delaying my pulling myself together I head off towards Clacton just after 9AM. When I get to Colin’s it is pretty quiet which thankfully means I won’t be looking at my watch too much. Shortly after I arrive some old guy arrives with his dog. Looking at the tag the dog is called Jasper and when he doesn’t sit down the old guy keeps softly hitting him on the back with his walking stick. As Colin finishes the old guy in the chair he comments that the dog should be called “Nobby” because he is well hung, which would explain why the dog is smiling so much.
I get the usual short back and sides (number 2) and straight away my hair looks a lot better than it has done recently. I get out of Holland and Clacton around 10AM.
As I head back to Colchester it begins to occur to me that I won’t have much time to arse about so when I get back I bypass my flat and go straight to the post office to collect the package they are holding for me. Annoyingly when I get there I can’t get parked up so I knock that idea on the head and go straight to the train station cursing aloud the time I have just wasted.
I end getting a train just after 11AM and with the sun out in force I suddenly feel a buzz of excitement attached to my day.
Today is my first visit to the London Film Festival this year. When tickets went on sale I became a bit overenthusiastic and bought tickets to seven films including today’s opener Fantastic Mr Fox. It felt a real coup to be snagging tickets (cheap tickets) to the gala opening movie and then I noticed the catch: the ticket was to a family screening. As a result without a kid in tow I don’t even know if they will let me in (such rules apply to family enclosures at football).
For a daytime train this one is surprisingly busy as some nice legged tourist sits to my right with luggage getting in the way and causing a fire obstacle and hazard. Later people squeeze in between us speaking in posh accents and for a moment I consider responding to their annoying me by annoying them by looking at porn on my iPhone. I don’t though, I’m cool and not weird.
Swiftly I arrive into London well on time for getting over to Leicester Square for the movie. This is the best possible day to be a tourist in London, the sun is gloriously out but it is happily complimented with a king breeze.
Soon the doors open on the London Film Festival and I step in unquestioned. It always felt like a real result managing to snag a ticket to the opening gala movie. Then the catch hit me: it was for a family screening. As a result this made me paranoid and concerned that at best the movie would be interrupted by screaming kids and at worst I would be suspected of being a nonce but undaunted I hit the screening anyway. Once inside however it would appear all my concerns from accidentally buying a ticket to a family screening were unnecessary. Family showing my arse everyone in attendance had an iPhone save for a section of noisy kids to the right of the cinema. The movie itself was a true joy, I just sat back and allowed myself to be wowed and emotionally involved at a childhood level. It achieves the best of both worlds as Roald Dahl’s original story collides with Wes Anderson’s retro cool and quirkiness and is a genuinely fun and ticklish film. George Clooney makes for a great voice of a fox and the stop motion figures make for a welcome flashback and antidote in response to the horrible slickness of modern CGI, Pixar and 3D. The puppet work onscreen harks back to an amazing time that feels wonderfully analogue. Jarvis Cocker turns up pulling a fantastic trick and all in all anyone that ever had action figures or dolls as toys as a youngster will be able to indulge in some kind of retro toy fantasy on screen. This is poetry.
As my sphincter begins to loosen suddenly it begins to occur to me that this is a pretty great place to be at this time, a day off work on a gorgeous sunny day being treated to a screening of a gala film from the London Film Festival long before anyone else I know will be able to catch/see it. For the win.
With such momentum unsurprisingly the movie turns out to be a joy and one the most enjoyable cinema experiences I have had in a very long time. On screen the fiddly puppets look majestic as Wes Anderson successfully inserts his own brand of wit and humour into the Dahl classic bringing it up to speed with the modern world while taking away none of the simple charm of the kids’ book original. When towards they all eventually head overground you can’t help but love the nonsensical juxtaposition of a US Station Wagon next to a red UK post box.
Once more George Clooney puts in another great and charming performance when by rights such a mainstream dish should not really be pulling off such a turn. He’s good. Elsewhere Jason Schwartzman comes up with a performance that isn’t necessarily a million miles away from Max Fischer. Then after lingering in the background for most of the movie a highlight for me occurs when the Jarvis Cocker character takes centre stage with a song. Pretty much this film has everything it would appear including UK indie cred. Ultimately this is so much more than just a kids’ film.
As the movie ends I fill with an enormous sense of wellbeing and emerging from the cinema onto Leicester Square the day is still young and it is a definite good one. These are truly good times.
Now sporting the best of moods with time available I head to Fopp where to my delight the shop is near empty because most people (the fools) are still at work. Upstairs the most amazingly distorted music is playing and when I actually ask the guy behind the till what it is it turns out to be A Place To Bury Strangers. In my mood I am immediately and snap up the record in seconds. Whenever I’m in a good frame of mind I tend to happily spend money which ultimately sees me additionally buying records by Mudhoney, the Melvins, Ol’ Dirty Bastard as well as Bubba Ho-tep on DVD (which I already have on DVD just not with the Elvis directors commentary) and a book about Freud all for only £26.
From here I head over to the BFI at the Southbank where my second movie of the day is playing in the form of Double Take which is set to be some kind of garbled documentary centred around Alfred Hitchcock. I expect deep meaning and Adam Curtis-esqe methods.
I choose to walk from Leicester Square to the Southbank because it is a truly pleasant walk passing Trafalgar Square and crossing The Strand before heading over the Golden Jubilee Bridge with the Millennium Wheel/London Eye on one side of the Thames and the Houses Of Parliament on the other. I haven’t been to many of the great cities of the world but I can’t help but feel they will struggle to top this.
With time to kill/spend I settle into the bar at the BFI buying a drink and overpriced crisps which were apparently made using a kettle at some point. With a bag full of goodies from Fopp and the sun drenched over my view of the Thames on an afternoon of freedom I just cannot complain.
Double Take indeed turns out to be a mashed up documentary paralleling Alfred Hitchcock with key political events in the sixties while also studying the mystique of the man via a seasoned lookalike and sharp comparisons. The resulting mish mash is like an unfocused Adam Curtis documentary that is something of a visual treat that is experimental and slightly unclear with its purpose and focus. It puts a lot of weight onto Collers coffee and how the method in which it was marketed echoed attitudes of the time, not least that of Hitchcock to his leading ladies.
Initially it centres on Hitchcock at the time of making The Birds and what was going on in the world at that time. Suddenly once again I find myself confronted with the infamous footage of Khrushchev larging it with Nixon in tow (long before he was revealed as evil) which I only recently saw for the first time in It Felt Like A Kiss by Adam Curtis. You get the impression that the filmmaker is suggesting that the suspense and tension generated in the films of Hitchcock echo those of his Russian doppelganger. At this point another Hitchcock lookalike gets thrown into the mix as a modern doppelganger (double) describes what it is like to live his life looking like such a famous individual and how it has helped and hindered.
In the end the documentary turns out to be just what I was hoping it would be making for a pleasant surprise as I head home. I wind up on pretty much my usual train home ultimately meaning my day out doesn’t equate to more than a normal day of business.
When I get back to Colchester I settle into an average Thursday night after having an exceptional Thursday day.