London knew I was coming. They knew I knew how to handle weather like this. And anyway, there’s something about London that suits this kind of weather – the fudge-brown Thames, the greige slate and stone, the reportedly pompous insularity of its inhabitants… actually, I have quite a fondness for Londoners. Less so for the tourists. Says me…
I elected to sleep on my sofa last night, or morning, as it were. One drunken decision among several, including making too much cheese on toast, still there when I woke, to taunt my woozy stomach. I dreaded the ensuing flight, cramped and hungover, but it was at least an opportunity to sleep. And anyway, the journey thereafter was markedly more dreadful: lugging an overweight bag up and down infinite flights of stairs (London has a lot of stairs, for some reason), having my Northern Irish card declined, having my tube ticket declined, going to the wrong platform etc. etc., all in pouring rain with a flimsy umbrella and no pockets! Because I decided today would be the perfect day to wear leggings and plimsoles! Girls, if that sounds like a common problem, consider the following: I’m not a girl.
Just the one screening today – every other day I’m here I’m seeing either two or three. I came this early to make sure I caught this one, as it’s the last showing of Lav Diaz’s Norte, the End of History at the festival. [Full review] I would have caught something else earlier on, but I didn’t want to book anything in case my flight was delayed (What. A. Daredevil.). If you’ve ever seen a Lav Diaz film in a cinema, you’ll know the feeling of it being light outside when you enter, and dark when you exit. Norte started at 18:00 and ran for a bum-numbing 250 minutes – I use the hackneyed phrase ‘bum-numbing’ because that’s what it was.
I confess – those four(-ish) hours of sleep last night weren’t enough. I brought my darling caffeine pills with me, like I did when I stayed up most of 36 hours to walk to get a bus to walk to get a bus to get a boat to get a train to get a train to walk to an early screening of Shame two years ago, and caffeine pills were all that stood between me and certain death. The first two pills might have worked, I don’t know. Maybe if I hadn’t taken them, I would have been done for. As it was, I was never entirely sure how long my eyes had been closed for… was it five seconds or five minutes?! Shit. I made every effort to stay alert though, and the curious, quasi-dreamlike tone of the film probably exacerbated the sensation of being quite out of it, so I don’t think I actually missed anything. The second two pills did work, as they bloody needed to!
The film is one that I can say with surety I’ll never forget. I’ll likely never forget a lot of films in some form, actually, me being me, but Norte was an experience like nothing I’ve had before. Its length barely warrants mention -– it’s as long as it ought to be to tell this story in this manner, as all good films are. It possesses a strange surreality in how it is presented, as if shrugging off the whos and wheres and whens and particulars of the past to hone in, blithely, on the present. And it is without doubt the most thematically, psychoanalytically rich, intelligent film that I can recall seeing. It’ll go down as one of the year’s masterworks for me, no doubt about it. It won’t be eligible for Oscar consideration this year, perhaps any, but it wouldn’t have a hope of getting nominated in any category if it even were. I’m seeing 17 other films in my eight-day stay here in London. Wiseman, Coens, Kechiche, Farhadi, McQueen, Lanzmann: you better work!
If you enjoyed this diary entry and would like to read more half-baked bollocks from some Irish twat (PLUG!), why not peruse my blog (screenonscreen.blogspot.co.uk) for full reviews of the films I’m seeing at LFF? Recent SOS highlights have included the producer of Filth telling me he didn’t know what I was on about! That makes two of us.
Tomorrow: At Berkeley and Borgman