"Isn't it funny how you get more right-wing as you get older?"
Isn't it funny how it's only ever middle-aged white men who make that observation? (Richard Herring being the most recent example, although at least he was being ironic.) Still, it's not a prophecy I want to fulfil myself. I've got lefty roots going way back, and I have no intention of betraying them. I still believe in the equality of all people, the dignity of the working man, and his inalienable right to withdraw his labour in protest at his exploitation.
Having said all that, when a postal strike results in me losing out on London Film Festival tickets, that's the sort of thing that's going to turn me into frickin' Thatcher overnight.
This isn't the first LFF that's come in the middle of a post strike: two years ago, there was one which had a fairly major impact on tickets being sent out. But after (count 'em - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19) 20 festivals where the advance postal booking system worked like a charm for me, this 21st was the first one where my application got delayed in the post so that it didn't reach the box office in time. I was able to get most of what I wanted later on through phone booking, but I inevitably ended up missing out on a few films: some obvious (the Surprise Film, The Road), some less so (Today's Special? Is Aasif Mandvi really that popular?).
Still, it pays to be philosophical about these things. The films that sell out that fast are the big ones which are guaranteed a wide release in the near future (apart from Today's Special, which is why it surprises me so much). The glitz and glamour of the big Gala screenings is all well and good, and there'll still be a degree of that covered here. But circumstances have forced me this year to gravitate more towards the smaller, less familiar selections, and that can only be a good thing. Besides, we may still be able to pull off a couple of surprises from the returns queue.
What's new for LFF #53? Well, as you can see above, we've got a new trailer. Out with Chris Parker's 2001stingclockworksevendivataxisuperman mashup: in with a meditation on the act of movie watching, directed by Zak Emerson and Dan Clifford. (According to the comments on YouTube, the score's by Adelphoi Music, although personally I don't think it's quite up there with their best work.) It's a very pretty trailer (even more so on a big screen), providing a different perspective on the Festival tagline 'the world's best new films, here in London'. The acid test will be how I feel about it in November 2011: as the trailers tend to run in three year cycles, I'll probably have seen it around 150 times by then.
The other big news is the change in the LFF's West End base. Since the early 1990s, the Festival has increased its reach dramatically by the simple act of taking over the Odeon West End for two weeks, giving them a shopfront in the heart of London's cinemaland. But times change, and apparently there aren't enough hotels in Leicester Square right now: so at the start of the year, the Odeon announced that it was about to close down for redevelopment. Two festivals use the cinema for extended periods, and they've both had to move over to the other side of the Square: FrightFest has decamped to the Empire, while the LFF is now occupying four screens in the Vue West End.
The move to the Vue has all sorts of potential problems associated with it. For a start, the cinemas themselves are smaller, so the big Galas are being held in two screens with a fifteen minute delay between the pair. That's going to play merry hell with any possibility of a post-screening Q&A session, unless they can do something smart involving a video link or the cloning of interviewees. Additionally, whereas the Odeon gave itself over entirely to the Festival for two weeks, half the screens in the Vue are still going to be showing their regular programme, which could lead to some awkward congestion in the foyer. (Back in the days when Edinburgh had a film festival, they managed to run commercial and festival screenings concurrently in the Cineworld, but that's a much bigger building.)
To add insult to injury, the LFF has had to jump through all these hoops to get around the closure of the Odeon, and the Odeon hasn't closed yet. Those redevelopment plans were drawn up in less economically embollocksed times, and I suspect that hotel may not be ready for building just yet. In the ultimate irony, the LFF has had to re-schedule a couple of screenings, and there's no spare capacity at the Vue: guess where they've had to go?
Nevertheless, I'm sure it'll all work out in the end. Sales are looking healthy - particularly as this year, they've ditched the matinee voucher scheme in favour of a single low price for all matinee tickets, which has led to several afternoon screenings already selling out. It's an offer I'll be taking advantage of quite heavily, as I'm doing my usual thing and taking time off work for a full-on two-week binge of movies. As ever, you'll get to read about them here each day, with additional contributions from Spank's Pals whenever they feel like chipping in. We may not have a postal service, but we will have - for the twelfth year running! - the most comprehensive and widely-ignored daily coverage of London's premier film event. Watch this space.
Wednesday October 14th - Fantastic Mr Fox
Thursday October 15th - Enter The Void, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Men Who Stare At Goats
Friday October 16th - Enter The Void, Oil City Confidential
Saturday October 17th - 44 Inch Chest, Trimpin: The Sound Of Invention, The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights
Sunday October 18th - Headhunter, Today's Special, Too Many Husbands
Monday October 19th - Feast Of Villains, The Informant!, Like You Know It All, Woman Without Piano
Tuesday October 20th - Castro, The Limits Of Control, MICMACS
Wednesday October 21st - Burning Down The House: The Story Of CBGB, The Ferrari Dino Girl, Men On The Bridge, Visitors
Thursday October 22nd - Animation Panorama, At The End Of Daybreak, London Moves Me
Friday October 23rd - Kamui, London Moves Me, Mother, Underground
Saturday October 24th - Air Doll, Chloe, Extract
Sunday October 25th - Capitalism: A Love Story, No One Knows About Persian Cats, Polytechnique
Monday October 26th - American: The Bill Hicks Story, As God Commands, Journey To The Moon, My Greatest Escape
Tuesday October 27th - Lebanon, A Serious Man, Taking Woodstock
Wednesday October 28th - Bare Essence Of Life, City Of Life And Death
Thursday October 29th - Defamation, A Prophet
The Wrap Party - final thoughts on the festival from Suze, The BBG and me