The reason packing stresses me out is because I know there’ll be things that I’ll need to pack that I’ll also need on the morning I leave. So not everything’s going to make it into the suitcase the night before; I’m relying on keeping a clear head the next morning so I don’t forget anything. And four hours’ sleep + too much lager = anything but a clear head. Among the items I left in Belfast: shaving foam (meh), towel (damn), flip flops (FUUUUCK!!).
One ticket would do me, sure. Two films today, but I’ll just pop back to the hostel for the second one, cos sure it doesn’t start til around nine or something, right?
Shortly before the film, Fred Wiseman’s At Berkeley, I left the BFI Southbank (a nice cinema — clean, spacious, stylishly furnished in bold black and red, a theatrical colour scheme serving to enhance the occasion), which I had been using for its wifi – immeasurably superior to that in my hostel – to get a big bag of chocolate and a bottle of Fanta. This I justify on my diet by eating eff all else most of the time so my calorie count is nice and low! Have I no sense?
I clutched my belongings as close to my body as ever as a security guard beckoned me over. He must have been signalling someone behind me. No-one ever even looks at me with any expression other than distaste for my attire (would that they knew what I was thinking back…). But no, he was signalling me.
“Have you lost something?”
Aw shit. Not this. Teachers do this. They ask you a question as if you know the answer and you know you’ve done wrong, when in reality you haven’t the slightest pissing idea what you’ve done wrong and you wish they’d just bloody tell you.
That means ‘I don’t know’. I won’t bother to enunciate if you’re not going to bother to be straightforward. This guy was lucky I even responded.
Right fine, I’ll cut a long story short. I had left my iPod on the bench in the BFI. An elderly man (that makes him sound frail and decrepit, which he wasn’t, but he was old) with a Germanic accent but not only outstanding English but an outstanding comprehension of English spoken with a mumbling Northern Irish accent, something many Londoners fail to tune in to (you’d think they hadn’t invaded our country to make it a part of theirs. Yeh, we’re countrymen, now fucking understand my BRITISH accent), had found it and handed it in. He struck up a conversation with me upon entering the theatre, as ofc I was never gonna start a conversation with a stranger! Like most intelligent mainland-Europeans, he was able to keep said conversation alive, despite my invariably pithy, nerve-shredded contributions.
I ended up sitting beside him. He and I discussed films, something that’s enoooooormously nerdy but then so is flying to London to watch a four-hour documentary about a buffing university of all things, so I permitted it. He had seen Danis Tanovic’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, which he raved about. He hadn’t heard of Norte, the End of History. Age isn’t everything, eh?! He had also seen Borgman, which I think I communicated to him I would be seeing later on today, but then every time I was talking, so was he. Good job I had so much chocolate. There’s only so much nodding one can do.
The film started and he changed seats, evidently preferring a front-row spot with no adjacent filmgoers, which he didn’t have squashed between me and some other woman. We were introduced to the film by this bloke from the BFI, but not before he warned us that, per director Wiseman’s instruction, there was to be no intermission in his mammoth feature. Meh, you know, I’m totes caj~ about four-hour films now I’m a regular. Another introduction was much better – we were in the presence of Frederick himself, and he greeted us to inform us that he’d be participating in a Q&A post-film. Raging film nerd boner by this point (completely flaccid penis otherwise, though. Soz Fred. You’re just not my type!).
At Berkeley is damn engrossing. It’s not just life at UC Berkeley, but the best of life at UC Berkeley, in all its facets, in remarkable depth. Wiseman has made dozens of institution-based documentaries since he began shooting films in the sixties, but he has rarely given us this amount of sheer cinematic nutrition to chew upon in one film. His informal yet peerlessly incisive style of filmmaking ought to be much more celebrated, and I can think of a few documentarians who’d do well to study his style.
I sauntered out of the BFI. Pretty sure Borgman is on at nine. But what if it isn’t? Should have brought that ticket with me! Still, after pulling another semi-snooze during At Berkeley, I had intended to revisit my hostel dorm to perhaps catch a kip, maybe just 30 minutes?
Maybe not. It’s after six by the time I arrive back and check the ticket, to behold a start time of 18:15. Bitch plz. Plz no no no no no no no no no. Want a brief run-through of my shit life from then til now? K:
- Run to tube station. I never run.
- Get on tube. Wrong tube. Get right off that bugger before it goes. Get on right tube.
- Panic. I wanna phone BFI and ask them to postpone the start of the film by like five mins cos I’m defs nearly there (aye right)! But I’m below ground level. Should I have gotten on this train or just effing jumped in front of it fs I’m gonna be soooo late!
- Get on other train. Check ticket. It’s BFI Southbank, yeh? No. Curzon Mayfair. WHERE THE FUCK IS CURZON MAYFAIR?! Get off train one stop earlier than BFI Southbank stop.
- Hail taxi while crossing road. It doesn’t stop. Reaches red light and then stops. Ah, that’s why it didn’t stop. Nearly dying by this point. More sweat than flesh. Woman gets in taxi ahead of me. I let her live.
- Hail different taxi. How long’s it gonna take? 15 minutes apparently. It would take ten, but you know, traffic! Uck yeh mate, sure I know, it’s all grand, I’ll just sit back here and gently combust.
- Get to Curzon Mayfair. Watch film. Guy beside me tells me I’ve missed 15 minutes. Fuck it, I know what happens anyway. I’ll just imagine it. He soon vacates his seat for one very far away. Another latecomer arrives and takes his old place. She too leaves. Three people in one day! I begin to wonder if I’m one of those people who smells rly bad but has no knowledge of the fact, but sure I showered this morning, wtf’s wrong with these people?!
Borgman’s good. It’s well made, and edgy, and fun. That’s most of what I look for in a film. It’s not terribly intelligent, which is a shame, cos there were a few details about the film which didn’t work for me, primarily the strange absence of the first fifteen minutes, but who knows what happened there. I liked it most when it was at its funniest and at its weirdest. I sound like a four-year-old describing why they like milkshake or something. But you’ll forgive me, won’t you? Fuck packing. Fuck showering. Fuck stress. I’m two days in. Two out of eight. FML.
Tomorrow: Abuse of Weakness, Ida and Inside Llewyn Davis. Yes mum, I promise I won’t doze off. Promise I’ll be on time. Promise I’ll be a good boy. Can’t promise I won’t burst into tears in the middle of Leicester Square, natch.
P.S. I’m actually enjoying myself. This is what I sound like when I’m enjoying myself. You don’t wanna know what I sound like when I’m not…