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London Film Festival: Night Moves & Blue is the Warmest Colour


Last Monday, I felt a cold coming on. Well, I thought it was a cold. It was tonsillitis. Not very pleasant. Got some penicillin from the doctor; by this time, the tonsillitis was subsiding. I packed what remained of the first packet out of two for London, and by the time I had run it through, my throat felt pretty much back to normal. It’s what, Thursday today? And the tonsillitis has returned. With a fucking vengeance. I do not intend to sit through nine films shivering like a fucking hobo in Helsinki and convulsing every time I swallow. FML.

The three films I saw yesterday, though all very good, were also all pretty dry, if you know what I mean. Not exactly designed to entertain. The same cannot be said for my first film today, Rigor Mortis. Chinese pop-star-turned-actor Juno Mak has now turned director, for a homage to the classic Chinese horror films of the 1980s. Vampires and ghosts and blah blah blah, you know the kind of film I’m on about, right? Bloody good fun, that’s what I was looking for. And yes sir, that’s what I got.

You know, they play Liszt in these Vue screens before the films. I bet they don’t do that for, like, White House Down or some shite, but they’ve played highbrow music for all the films I’ve seen here on this trip. Not that I’d complain if they played some mainstream bollocks – sitting in the bar earlier, writing my review of The Selfish Giant, they were so kind as to play ABBA and Britney Spears and Steps. You poor Americans, you’ve probably never even heard of Steps. But Liszt is nice. I’m just not sure that many of the audience members for Rigor Mortis could care less about Liszt.

Rigor Mortis would have been an enormous breath of fresh air had I not seen it coming. It’s screening in the ‘Cult’ pathway at LFF, and it’s a bona fide cult extravaganza. Don’t expect it to win any prestigious awards anywhere in the world, save some Chinese and Hong Kong awards bodies which might see fit to recognise what is a terrific feat of imagination and homage melded together, and an excellent technical package. I totally dug it.

All three of my screenings today are in different locations, so then it was back off to BFI Southbank for Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves. There, with the time I had prior to the film’s start, I penned my Rigor Mortis review and attempted to publish it online… yeh, attempted. The wifi was down. Not that any of the staff knew about that until I alerted them to the issue. No internet = no happy Paddy. This is a constant detail of my entire life.

There was still plenty of time before Night Moves began once I had my shoddy Rigor Mortis review completed, so I decided on a change of scenery and took my seat. The guy next to me, who was wearing a tee I used to own when I was a fat fuck had a couple of bags perched on my seat. This is the second time this has happened to me in two days. In an already rude frame of mind, I wasn’t about to ask him to move himself to let me past, nor to move his belongings. He was just going to do it. Behind me, some talkative folks filed in, a couple, a he and a she. He wanted to know what film they were seeing. She knew that it was called Night Moves and that it was ‘some sort of thriller’. She had brought sweets! Sweets are candy in this part of the world. She had some sour sweets, which he thought sounded ‘wonderful’. She then disclosed that she also had some ‘not sour sweets’. I did not disclose that I was in a sour mood indeed.

Two young gentlemen approached the smelly man beside me, as he was in the aisle seat. They had a brief discussion about films they had seen, and films they planned on seeing, and my mate took a break from reading his nauseating-smelling geek magazine to educate this pair. His favourite film thus far had been ‘Not the End of History’. To my chagrin, I learned that he would be attending at least three of the following seven films I would be attending by Sunday. The other guys had seen Eastern Boys, and so had he, but he merely found it ‘entertaining’. He turned the topic of conversation momentarily onto ‘gay films’, because that’s all Eastern Boys qualified as, I suppose. Tomorrow, he’ll see ‘Stranger at the Lake’. What joy. I’ll concurrently see Stranger by the Lake, btw Why do I have to be around these people? Adding to that, about half way through Night Moves, the entire audience starting dying from consumption by the sound of things. Kids used to do that in school assembly as a joke. Old people in film festivals do it in earnestness and embarrassment. So let’s be clear on this. You’re not allowed to cough and sniffle your way through a film. Only I am. You’re not allowed to chew loudly and rustle packages. Only I am.

Kelly Reichardt is totally the real deal. Night Moves is a splendid thriller indeed, but in exactly the opposite way that you’d expect. And then it’s a limitlessly intriguing drama. I never thought Dakota Fanning would grow into such an un-precocious actor as an adult, but she has, and Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard are also great. It’s a film permanently on knife-edge, and with more potent human insight than the majority of similar political(-ish) thrillers.

I skip ahead a little now. Blue Is the Warmest Colour come next. Night Moves had started ten minutes late. I had approached the usher, who told me that the film was starting right away, as if I was supposed to know this. Sure enough, by the time I had returned to my seat, the lights had dimmed. In my seat for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, I saw that obnoxious dork who had been sat beside me earlier. He had a front row seat, which I did not (because the ditz on the other end of the booking line couldn’t get shit right). He also escorted a young lady to the seat next to him. A young, attractive lady. Front row. I have no words.

18:30 start time, so by 18:40 a polite lady in the row behind me asked the usher when the film would be starting, because it had been scheduled to do so at 18:30. The usher delicately responded that the film would start on time, cos sure I bet that’s fucking policy. She had to have it pointed out that that would be a physical impossibility. The same usher then faffed around trying to find people’s seats for them for the next five minutes, meaning that the film commenced 15 minutes late (if you can’t find your own seat in the cinema, you’re in trouble; if the usher can’t even find your seat, fuck, it kind of makes me wish the Mayans had been right). This is the Curzon Mayfair, btw, my fave. The same cinema that obligingly started Borgman bang on time when I was 15 minutes tardy. You can bloody well bet that if one more film starts late, I’m gonna demand to see the 15 minutes that I missed, and you can bloody well bet that I will see them too. We Brits, we like to complain, we just don’t tend to have the conviction to see our complaints through. We’re negative-minded, rather than pro-active. I don’t care how negative I need to sound… one more fucking late start for no good reason (like a sell-out crowd to see a gala premiere with the Coen brothers, for example!) and those fifteen minutes are mine!

Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a fabulous film, but then you’ve already heard that, haven’t you? Abdellatif Kechiche never skimps on anything, and the intensity of the film he has here created in its individual moments is breathtaking. The sex is so erotic, the arguments are so devastating, even the plentiful scenes of characters eating (and that’s not just pussy, oi!) are ravishing. Of course, on the way out, one would-be expert was heard to comment that he ‘liked it… up to a point. It was well acted… it was amazingly well acted, in fact…’ STFU. There were surprisingly few pervs in the audience. One guy in front of me, actually – imagine Dan Aykroyd but with less hair, and two of him. But I’m sure there were more women in the audience than men. I’m not sure whether I think that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Academy members may like the film too… up to a point. They’ll turn off after a couple of hours or so. But there’ll be enough smart cookies in AMPAS to reign it in a few nominations, I expect.

Tomorrow, I have until 18:00 to do feck all, so you can bet that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Sure, I’m in London. Sure, I ought see the sights! Hell no, I’ll be lying in my bed, eating crisps by the bucketful, probably picking my nose and farting a lot before I head out to see The Past and Stranger by the Lake – better bring the Kleenex for that one 😉