A Paddy without a shower is not a Paddy you’d want to encounter. It has nothing to do with the odour, which remains exquisite, naturally. More the mood. Thus, when, on the day I check out of my perfectly adequate hostel in Bayswater and into an Airbnb on the Tottenham Court Road, said hostel decides to begin suffering from perfectly inadequate hot water problems, that suffering was mostly absorbed by myself, and subsequently meted out upon every other poor dickhead who crossed my path this morning. Even Thomas, my companion in life as well as in the second half of my London trip this year, whose arrival today is what precipitated the change in location to somewhere more spacious, comfortable and private, was in for a tough time with me. After all, a Paddy without a shower, but with three bags to lug around the London Underground for the morning is not a Paddy whom even Paddy would want to encounter.
That said, having Thomas here is pretty great. We went for lunch at The German Gymnasium, a recently-opened restaurant outside King’s Cross Station that has been named ‘Best Overall Restaurant’ by the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. I had a chicken burger and a cucumber salad. It was 10,000x better than that reads. Thomas asked if it was nice to have someone here to talk to. No, of course it’s not, since when have I ever desired to talk to people anyway? It’s nice to have an attractive man here whose dick I’m free to suck. I’ve said it before – London is an attractive city. And they’re all off limits. But Thomas isn’t. Thomas is my upper and lower limit, my one and my all, my top and my bottom.
The gay innuendo is appropriate, as you’ll know if you read the Day #5 diary, with Taekwondo still reverberating around my
crotch mind. And more appropriate still with today’s first film, The Ornithologist from João Pedro Rodrigues, one of the few gay auteurs to have attracted the respect and attention of the international arthouse festival scene, and increasingly so with each new feature. Winning Rodrigues the Best Director prize at the Locarno International Film Festival in August, this gay spiritual odyssey is a unique, inventive, joyously blasphemous rewrite of the life of St. Anthony of Padua, strange, beautiful, erotic, absurd and wholly delightful. Rodrigues’ technical mastery has here only flourished as he’s loosened his grip on stylistic control, opening his artistic milieu out into nature, into history and deep into the unexplored corners of the mind. And if that means nothing to you (and I assure you, that’s a likely scenario), consider that The Ornithologist is the only film this year to feature a bare-breasted, bugle-blowing, shotgun-firing, horse-riding trio of warrior women sending the plot off toward its conclusion, which is undoubtedly something that would’ve helped Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice out a lot!
In spite of both of today’s screenings taking place in the same venue, the BFI Southbank – the headquarters of the BFI itself and the former hub of my trips to the festival, though hosting only a mere three films out of my 23 this time – there was one journey to be made between the two, and it was a journey that was far more important than any of João Pedro Rodrigues’ spiritual shit. Can there be anything more spiritual than receiving a vision of Nicole Kidman, in the flesh? She attended the UK premiere of Lion, the American Express Gala for LFF 2016, alongside fellow star dev Patel at Odeon Leicester Square, and you bet I was there for a glimpse. To put this into perspective: I don’t get star struck. It happened with Gwen Stefani, and it was probably only ever going to happen again if I had the opportunity to meet Madonna. But Nicole Kidman struck me down, as well she should have. She waved in my general direction. I was in her line of sight. I heard her voice! Seriously though, I HEARD NICOLE KIDMAN SPEAK. Not through speakers, no. I heard her speak because she was just a few feet away. The pictures I took on my phone’s normally trustworthy camera weren’t of quite the quality that they’d appeared upon taking, but they’re invaluable memories of the day that changed my life, the day that I glimpsed, met, embraced, added on Facebook, swapped phone numbers with, struck up a lifelong friendship with, featured prominently in the legally-binding will of Queen Dame Lady Baroness Countess Duchess Marquise Empress of the Known Universe Nicole Kidman.
I could probably just stop writing here because, lbr, neither you nor I actually care about anything that ever happens any more after that, and you should probably all just stop what you’re doing rn and re-evaluate your life because is it even worth it now you know you’ll never achieve what I’ve achieved? I chose to carry on into the evening, since I’d paid for a ticket to Julia Ducournau’s Raw, though I didn’t pay for the three beers I consumed prior to the screening, not out of fear and trepidation but out of thirst and skilful boyfriend exploitation. Remember that cannibal film that made people faint in Toronto? This is that film. But rly though, why would you choose to see a film that had already been seen, discussed and confirmed as being a rotten old gorefest if you were gonna faint during it? Or maybe it wasn’t the gore! Maybe they fainted because they’re sickened by, um… cheating on university exams?
No fainting here, we’re British, but I can confirm my all-time favourite thing to make me feel better about myself, WALK-OUTS!! Yes indeed, we had WALK-OUTS!! Silly little wusses who didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for! You know the kind of person who goes up to the front desk at the cinema and asks what’s on? That kind of goose! Raw wasn’t the first film to inspire WALK-OUTS!! in my LFF 2016 experience – that honour belongs to Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey (another case of “Rly bitch? What were you expecting?”) – but it did inspire that experience’s most remarkable reactions, given the variety of responses and the proportionate size compared to the number of attendees. The fellow to my right sat with his hand over his mouth for a good 50% of the film.
I probably laughed for a good 50% of the film, and it was probably that same 50% that saw this gentleman’s fist slowly work its way toward his throat. Raw is a glorious gross-out, like a belated book-end to the more violent films of the New French Extremity, rather like the way Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day and Marina de Van’s In My Skin preceded many of that sub-genre’s most infamous works, only with a distinctive directorial spin, varying degrees of feminist subtext, and an enormous deal more artistry. Ducournau is an unforgiving filmmaker, hurtling into her film’s hilarious nightmare of outrageous gore, as emotionally as it is physically devastating, with equal parts gusto and restraint. This is a bolshie, fast-paced film, but one whose every stylistic swerve, every disorientating camera action or sudden cut or jolt of verbal or physical violence has been calibrated meticulously, in pursuit both of intensifying the effect of each moment, each scene, each narrative device, and of contributing toward the development of a sturdy subtext and a thematic foundation upon which these horror movie excesses can accrue a lasting effect. And it’s her debut feature. Seldom has a first outing been so impressive.
No Q&As today, and that’s a first for the fest so far, and rather a deflating one. As nice as it is to have a good bit more free time than previously, and as nicer still as it is to be able to spend it with Thomas, boy would I have loved to have heard Julia Ducournau’s feelings on her film, or better still, João Pedro Rodrigues’ feelings on his! But, alas, my feelings will have to suffice, and quite right too, since they’re more than sufficient. Off to bed now, in our own private double room with generous ventilation and no bug-bearing foreigners with an infectious vendetta against me. Tomorrow, I’ll actually get to see Lion, and I can let you know if seeing Nicole in the film can even come close to comparing to seeing her in real life, and after that it’ll be Koreeda Hirokazu’s After the Storm. Family dramas, now that my family’s here with me at last!
Find out where Bob Dylan got all his Nobel Prize winning inspiration at screenonscreen.blogspot.co.uk, and then visit my Twitter @screenonscreen, where you can join the likes of Eurovision Song Contest 2014 winner Conchita Wurst, two Grey’s Anatomy fan accounts, and gay porn star Mike de Marko by following me! Everybody wins!