November 14, 2004
Robin Guthrie in London... Robin Guthrie on my living room floor
Now that the horror and soul-numbing depression that resulted from the disastrous election have worn off slightly, I can swing back to a report on my trip to London Film Festival.
The whole London experience was, in a word, excellent. I hadn't been to London in three years, so it was nice to revisit all my favorite streets and shops and especially to see my UK pals again. I stayed with Mark Flood and Paul Igo in their flat in Kilburn-- before, they were living in South London, so it was a welcome change to a neighborhood I'd never really visited before. For the second part of my trip, my housemate Jeanne joined me-- we went to the Tate Modern, went to Brick Lane for Indian food with a group of my old friends from when I taught at the Barbican for my fellowship in 1998, and did a hell of a lot of shopping (which wasn't such a good thing, considering the exchange rate was 1 pound to 1.8 dollars).
At "home" in Kilburn, Jeanne, Paul, Mark, and I watched a lot of episodes of this Aussie comedy called Kath and Kim. Completely f@#$ing hilarious-- although I doubt it would ever succeed in the US, mainly because most people wouldn't be able to understand the actors. We also tagged along to one of Mark's favorite vegan restaurants, which turned out to be amazingly great. The Scissor Sisters are EVERYWHERE there; nearly 1/3rd of the guys under 30 have updated mullets; Prince Harry is astonishingly beautiful, and I usually don't even go for other redheads; they thankfully still sell rhubarb yogurt; the Neal's Yard Dairy / cheese shop is one of the world's most sublime places. I discovered that UK Orangina is tons better than US because they use orange zest in it. And speaking of oranges, Kit Kat had made a special edition for Halloween, "Blood Orange." Again, sublime, but not quite as much as some of the cheeses at Neal's Yard.
(Before I forget: one of my London friends, Tamar Yoseloff, has a new book of poems just out called BARNARD'S STAR. May be a little hard to find stateside, unfortunately, but if you want to check it out through amazon.co.uk, I highly recommend her work: Yoseloff
Oh yeah, the real reason I flew over there: the festival. Mysterious Skin screened on Monday, October 25, and Tuesday, October 26. Monday was the "gala premiere" at the Odeon in Leicester Square. This wasn't the sort of gigantic shutter-snapping, red-carpet-rolling carnivalesque premiere that the Toronto festival displayed, but it was still a lot of fun. Mary Jane, Gregg, Brady, Joe, and I were all in attendance, as was Robin Guthrie, whom I finally got to meet and hang out with. As happened in Toronto, Gregg introduced us beforehand, and then after the screening, we held an onstage Q&A. (The first question was, "How did you get Robin Guthrie to do the music?" The guy practically backflipped when Gregg answered, "Why don't you ask him-- he's sitting right behind you.")
As if meeting Robin weren't enough, I was also floored to discover that Kevin Shields, the same Kevin Shields of the godlike My Bloody Valentine, came to the premiere. I got to speak (briefly) to him at the party afterward. Is this how one feels when speaking to Christ in Heaven? I also got to meet a bunch of the folks from Tartan, the company who's distribution the film in the UK, all terrific people.
On that Thursday, Gregg and I gave a little panel / Q&A that was moderated by Roger Clarke, who had reviewed Mysterious Skin years ago and had become a friend of mine over the years.
Jeanne and I saw Todd Solondz's PALINDROMES, which I loved. Don't know if they'll keep the same poster as they were using at the UK festival, but that one absolutely ROCKS-- one of the best movie posters I've ever seen. Anyway, after being a little bit disappointed in STORYTELLING, I think Solondz is back to his near-perfection again.
(On the way back to the US, on the wondrous Virgin Atlantic and its back-of-the-seat individual television screens, I was lucky to see the new Pedro Almodovar film BAD EDUCATION, which was also near perfection. In fact, this ranks up there with ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER as my favorite of his. Definitely one of my top-ten of the year.)
About a week after we got back, Robin Guthrie stopped through Boston on his short US tour for his film "Lumiere," where he sits to the side of the screen and works his magic with his guitar and effects pedals. Jeanne and I, while hanging out with him in London, mentioned that he could sleep at our place if he wanted, so that's just what happened... yes, someone I've been idolizing my entire life, now sleeping on my living room floor. Ezra woke Robin in the morning by licking his bearded face.
Then, just last week, the film was picked up by a North American distributor-- actually, it is Tartan, who have begun distributing films here as well. The latest news is that it will have a tentative May release. I'll keep updating this site for more information when I know it.
On to other things. CDs I'm currently listening to a lot: Interpol "Antics"; Efterklang "Tripper"; The Arcade Fire "Funeral"; Clinic "Winchester Cathedral"; The Delays "Faded Seaside Glamour"; Bark Psychosis "Codename: Dustsucker" (still); older stuff by Bed and The Last Post and Do Make Say Think.
There's a new collection of stories called SECONDS OF PLEASURE by Neil Labute, whom I used to know from my college days when he directed a couple of plays that I was in (actually I should say "that I was TERRIBLE in," since I absolutely suck as an actor...). I'm still savoring every single word of HONORED GUEST, the new Joy Williams. She's still my favorite living writer. I'm also reading a bunch of poetry for the hell of it, and skimming through true-crime novels again, which are always weirdly inspiring.
It's already snowing in Boston. And winter, officially, is still weeks away.
November 03, 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Apocalypse.
I have a lot to report from the London Film Festival, and from my 10-day trip there overall. Really, I do.
But right now I can't focus. I'm too depressed about the election results, and, more profoundly, from my utterly heartsick faithlessness in our country and the majority of the misguided people who live here.
We've all had to suffer for four long years with the worst president in our country's history. And now, mostly because of straight, white, midwestern, Christian, middle-aged men like Bush himself, we will all have to suffer four more longer years. (And more likely many more beyond that, after the new Supreme Court justices are in place, and after the newly structured Senate and House embarrassments take effect.)
I wonder if many of these people who wanted Bush's reelection will feel remorse when their sons and daughters are sent off to be killed because of the inevitable military draft. I wonder if they'll see a glimmer of the reality behind his political team when we do to Iran what we're doing to Iraq. I wonder if they'll feel wronged when more environmental concerns are disregarded; when more arts funding and programs are annihilated; when more blacks, Hispanics, gays, and other "minorities" are treated less and less like humans; when the rich continue to get richer. Or when, thanks to the world's rapidly downward-spiralling vision of America as a tyrannical, bullying beast, we become victims of more and more terrorist attacks.
Probably not. After all, God told them to vote for Bush, so this has all got to be part of the plan.
Okay, enough crying in my beer for one night. I'll report on London later this week... in the meantime, I recommend that you rush to see SIDEWAYS (Paul Giamatti better get nominated for an Oscar) or start reading the new Joy Williams HONORED GUEST collection of stories. Anything, ANYthing, to free your mind from the republican gloating.