Larry Oliver – Diary of a Film Reviewer – 1 to 31 August 2013

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Thursday 1 August 2013

The man and his youthful ward stand at the top of Hampstead Heath. It is three o’clock in the afternoon. The heat is unbearable. The man has been accompanying his ward for his search for work experience. So far they have visited the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, where the ward reminded management of his request, and the Jackson’s Lane Theatre on Highgate Hill.

They said it would be 32 degrees today. Later, the man will wonder why he cannot find the degree symbol on his word processing package. ‘Stupid word processing package,’ he will curse.

The ward, a beanpole, who wears a ‘No One Lives’ baseball cap that the man had procured from a publicity company just two days earlier, points out that a cloud in the sky resembles a heart. The relevance of this is spurious, but the man is grateful that the ward is observant.

An old lady approaches. If you recall Omar Sharif’s appearance in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, the long approach in the shimmering horizon, yes, it is a bit like that.

‘How long have you been waiting for a bus?’ she asks, when she rests on the red fibre-glass plinth that passes for a seat.

‘Over ten minutes,’ the man replies.

It is hopeless, not just the heat and the bus-less horizon, but the whole damned expectation that the ward will ever find a placement, something to keep him busy until the start of his Future Film Filmmaking Fortnight. And that too! Would the ward knuckle down and write a short film script. Not bleeding likely. The lad was too busy watching CLERKS with commentary, then disrespecting MY NEIGHBOURS, THE YAMADAS, which the man and his wife had watched just a few hours earlier.

‘The animation style is stupid.’

‘Nonsense! It is just like CHARLIE BROWN.’

Later that same morning, the ward will watch the end of the film, gripped.

‘The father’s taking on some bikers!’

This is his excuse for not taking his empty plate to the kitchen.

The man and his ward make their way down the hill, leaving the old lady to face the long wait on her own. They reach Hampstead Tube Station. The man crosses the road to drop in on the Hampstead Everyman. A young man in his early twenties gives the ward next week’s programme.

The man gives the ward a choice: bus stop or bookshop. The ward chooses the latter, specifically Waterstone’s on Hampstead High Street where he sits down on the black leather sofa to read ‘Red State Part Two’ in Kevin Smith’s book ‘Tough Sh*t’.

The man finds a toilet in a nearby public house. Gratitude is expressed below the waist.

The man returns and summons the ward to his feet. If he could get him to stand up, that would be an achievement. They take the elusive 268 bus towards Belsize Park. Just then the ward has an idea.

‘What about Flashback?’

Flashback, the second hand vinyl and DVD store in Crouch End, said to inspire Championship Records in Nick Hornby’s novel (subsequently a film), HIGH FIDELITY.

Good call.

The plan to travel to the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise to drop off another CV is aborted. Instead, they get off the bus at Belsize Park, walk past the Royal Free Hospital, where the ward made his first worldly appearance sixteen summers ago, a screaming infant (no change there), then pop into Marks and Spencers on the site of the old UGC/Cannon/Classic cinema in Pond Street.

‘I saw MY LEFT FOOT there with my father,’ the man explains. ‘It’s about Christy Brown.’

The ward is disengaged.

‘What do you think he writes with?’ The man asks. ‘I’ll give you a clue – it’s in the title.’

‘A pen?’

They purchase a tin of bolognaise sauce and a bottle of fizzy orange which the man opens on the bus. (Not the bolognaise sauce – that would be messy.) The ward is grateful.

At Flashback, they spy a job advert for a ‘buyer’ (of vinyl/DVDs) at its Essex Road site. Knowledge of vinyl is essential, that is, what to pay for a scratched edition of ‘The Birdie Song’ – nothing, now, get out of here, you’re wasting my time!

The ward is referred to the Essex Road branch; the Crouch End site is too small.

At home, the man falls asleep to the sound of Australian runs on the radio as described by Jonathan Agnew and others. The Third Test of the Ashes has started - England verses Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester. The man has a film to see that evening at the Soho Screening Rooms that evening. He is late. Cue exaggerated sound effect. The man leaves briskly at 5:55pm. He makes it to the screening rooms slightly after 06:30pm. The publicists for a British crime drama, HARRIGAN, offer him quiche and pour a half glass of red. It is enough to keep him going during the tepid 1974-set pseudo film that actually resembles a television pilot.

The man notices how the lead actor, Stephen Tompkinson, whom some readers may know from BRASSED OFF, actually resembles the Scottish actor, Peter Capaldi, from IN THE LOOP and LOCAL HERO. The chances are that this means nothing.  The film is set in the North, but has a Cockney villain. Work that one out!

When he returns, the man is told by his wife that his brother phoned. He is getting married to the woman who broke up their relationship last year. He phones his brother back to express congratulations; congratulations mixed with some degree of scepticism. He notes the date, 26 October, on The Simpsons calendar that hangs behind the television.

His wife watches a show entitled ‘How to get a Council House.’ It displays the usual anti-immigration bias, playing to UKIP [UK Independence Party], the thoughtless man’s BNP [British National Party]. The man goes to bed, the room clammy with heat.

Friday 2 August 2013

Thank God for the rain that washes down the sidewalks – no, that’s not it. Thank God for the rain that helps British crops and refills the reservoirs. Not much of a voiceover line, but still.

It is Friday. It is 08:55am. This could only mean one thing.

Kumar and Lady O are still sleeping.

Kumar has no idea what he wants to do today. No surprise there. I decide to get my hair trimmed. No discount for this OAP but the barber offers me ‘tea, coffee, water’. ‘Good heavens, man, it’s a ten minute job,’ I think. I pop over the hill and do some banking (which is not a euphemism, boys and girls). Then I shop at the Crouch End Co-op.

When I return, Kumar greets my haircut with indifference. He can scarcely recognise me. I am sure that it is wishful thinking. In the afternoon, Kumar hatches a plan: why not go to Flashback in Essex Road to volunteer. In the afternoon, we are off, arriving in Islington at 14:00. The manager is away until 15:00. So we have to return.

We do. The manager turns out to be the father of a girl in Kumar’s class. He will keep Kumar’s CV on file. Kumar is ecstatic, euphoric - even happy. We take a bus to Haringey Sainsbury and buy some yoghurt Magnums (an ice cream on a stick) to take home.

Australia builds up a healthy lead in the Third Test. England toils.

In the evening, I pop off to Central London and watch THE CONJURING at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue. Not very scary is my view. I acquire a FrightFest 2013 programme for Kumar to give him something to read.

It will be twelve hours or so before I make a terrifying discovery...

Saturday 3 August 2013

... I have lost my hat.

I, Larry Oliver, have lost a baseball cap. A cap that once belonged to Kumar; he wore it when he was 12 years old. A cap that reminds me that, once, Kumar was shorter than me. Plus, it keeps the sun out of my eyes.

A cap – gone, but where? This was a mystery to perplex Miss Marple, boggle Colombo, encourage Paddington Bear to give a quizzical scratch with his paw. (I didn’t say where – for shame!)

I had to re-trace my steps.

First, the barbers: did I leave it there? No, they don’t remember no cap.

How can you trust a double negative?

Then there was the bank. I wait to see a personal banker, but they are busy. (That’s still not a euphemism.) I queue up for a cashier.

‘Cashier Number four, please.’

I wait.

‘Cashier Number one, please.’

I am still waiting.

‘Cashier Number two, please.’

At last! ‘Hello,’ I say, ‘I was here yesterday. I might have left my baseball cap here at this branch.’

With a facial expression that gives nothing away, the cashier asks me to describe the cap.

‘Well, it’s brown and it has a little star on it.’

‘Is there a reward for it?’

I pause. ‘No.’

The man is disappointed. ‘The cap is here. It does not have a star on it.’ He’s right, it doesn’t. That’s just wishful thinking. I thought it had joined the Communist Party by mistake. It does however have the word ‘Next’ on it, which is appropriate for teller service.

Wrinkled man and cap are re-united. Happy day! I celebrate with Kumar and Lady O at the Devonshire House in Crouch End. Brunch burgers all round, except for Kumar; he has chicken tikka masala and a pint (a pint!) of lemonade.

Later that day, I go to Housman Books to buy one of the magazines that I write for. My review of THE WORLD’S END is in it. Then I go in search of a Photo Me Booth to get my picture taken for my passport application. Snappy Snaps want to charge nine quid. I find one near Russell Square and get my picture taken for five English Pounds.

In the evening, Lady O and I watch TOP OF THE LAKE on TV and then the last hour of TED. The ‘death to Ming’ scene is less funny than I remember. The whole film is less funny than I recall, except for Tom Skerritt’s cameo, of course.

In the cricket, England chases Australia’s 527. The aim is to avoid the follow on.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor Who. I say again, Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor Who. The 12th Doctor, whom I thought was the one who runs on with the drink. (No, that’s the 12th man in cricket.) He is 55 and that’s very old. He’s mostly known for creative swearing, which should be a GCSE. (It is more useful than Media Studies.)

Kumar and I have a mostly fruitless day travelling on multiple buses around London to Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith in the West and Hackney and West India Quay in the East. Kumar fails to purchase a ticket for RIPD at FrightFest (he is old enough to see the film but the Festival is rated 18) but does procure a new copy of IRON MAN on DVD from Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury. We end up in West India Quay Cineworld. Kumar sees THE WORLD’S END, I give FRANCES HA a second viewing (it is still one of my favourites of the year).

Whilst waiting for Kumar, I talk to a Front of House assistant, Bradley, who had only been working at the cinema for a month. He has a travel qualification – so do I, but I call it my bus pass – and hopes to work in tourism.

‘But you know, we mostly book on line.’ I say, being a bit insensitive.

I imagine him in five years time as some sort of rep having to establish whether injured members of a skiing party have insurance or being in Magalouf trying to decipher the words of some drunk (his supervisor). As he speaks, he buries his right fist under the left shoulder of his tee-shirt; it’s like a little growth (bless), you know, from HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING. That film came out before he was born, I remark to myself.

Kumar, of course, stays to the end of the credits.

In football, Arsenal loses the Emirates Cup to Galatasaray – Didier Drogba struck in a 2-1 defeat for the Gunners. Arsenal fans are grumpy and cynical on the bus from Highbury to Hackney.

Monday 5 August 2013

Lady O and I have hot drinks at the Pret A Cringer in Outer Pimlico near the Bureau of Moving Things watched by Kumar. We have a rare lunchtime chat which is thoroughly pleasant – normally, Lady O barks, ‘what do you want? I’m busy. No, you can’t buy me stretchy pants.’

Kumar cannot wait for his snack. There is no talk of stretchy pants. I must admit I thought gastric bands were something you found on Apple Computers for making music – you know, with just a few programming tricks you too can make a tuneless heap of notes. As a younger man, I was happy with Kumar’s xylophone. I could play ‘three blind mice’ on that.

In the evening, as I check my Twitter account (@LarryOliverFilm, only three followers, sniff) I find a link to the remaining 36 minutes of Quentin Tarantino’s incomplete first movie, MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY (thank you, Si Horrocks). It features Tarantino himself as Clarence, a DJ who interviews the President of the Eddie Cochran fan club on air. (Did I say it was self indulgent?) Tarantino was clearly influenced by Jim Jarmusch – the film is in black and white and has long dialogue scenes that are really long monologue scenes. Thank goodness he grew out of it. Narrative surprise and tension are sadly missing. The ‘story’ has Clarence procure a ‘call girl’ (not a prostitute) for his best friend’s birthday. She apparently saw DRESSED TO KILL and wanted to be Nancy Allen. (Did I say its sexual politics are toe curling?) Anyway, the girl’s ineffectual pimp gets annoyed and there’s a fight. Tarantino tells us that if he had to make love to a man he would ‘f-k Elvis’. There is a reference to Aldo Ray and a pan round a room to show us various schlocky film posters – I think I spotted SQUIRM. So, nothing new, but at least he cleansed himself of many of his indulgences. Mathieu Kassovitz’s METISSE is a better debut before the monochrome explosion of LA HAINE.

Rain washes out the final day’s play of the Third Test between England and Australia. It is declared a draw, though England is 37 for 3 in their second innings. By a fluke, England retains the Ashes extremely unconvincingly.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

At his Future Film Steering Group, Kumar watches VOID, a 70 minute film cut down to 40 minutes then 20 minutes. He did his best to make it sound uninteresting.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Lady O and I attend the press screening of LE WEEK-END, director Roger Michell’s third collaboration with writer Hanif Kureishi. About the time of his ill-fated directorial debut, LONDON KILLS ME, featuring a lead character called Clint Eastwood (yes, really) I recall that my arts editor once approached Kureishi to write for our magazine, a symbol of undead socialism.

‘How much will you pay me?’ he asked.

Kureishi isn’t a real lefty, of course, but he pays some sort of lip service to left of centre aspirations. I have a glass of red wine before the screening (at the Curzon Soho, home of the £13.75 cinema ticket), which is good stuff.

The film takes Lady O back to every trip to Paris where I made her drag her case through cobbled streets. We only once stayed in a hotel like the one briefly featured in the movie (and chosen by Jim Broadbent’s Nick) and Lady O identified completely with Meg (Lindsay Duncan) hailing a cab and paying a driver to drop her off at a more suitable hotel, spending money like water, all the way. In short, she really enjoyed it. We have only been married for almost nineteen years, not thirty like Meg and Nick, and we don’t work in education (though I once taught a group of night school students in a Cambridge pub). There were some similarities. I don’t think we would coerce Jeff Goldblum into a dance sequence-homage to BAND A PART though – I much prefer Truffaut.

Meanwhile, Kumar saw THE WORLD’S END for the third time, this time at Cineworld Trocadero, where he watched SCOTT PILGRIM VERSES THE WORLD multiple times in 2010. He smiles at the recollection – or is it wind?

Thursday 8 August 2013

It is my sister’s birthday. Hope she had a good one. I don’t believe in cards – they are a poor substitute for communication. Plus you can’t trust the post, which is currently being privatised in the United Kingdom. (Royal Mail – what an idea?)

Lady O watches the programme ‘How to Get a Council House’. In tonight’s episode, a Housing Officer tries to get tenants on benefits to downsize, giving up their flats with spare rooms. But there are few available and then you have to bid. Two words before embarking on such a policy: feasibility study.

Kumar breaks his watch strap again. I stick it back together with sellotape.

Friday 9 August 2013

Kumar spends most of the day home alone in his pyjamas. He is typically unproductive, watching KNOCKED UP, ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS and FRANKENWEENIE on TV (the latter with Lady O, who cries afterwards). He also watched multiple episodes of THE BIG BANG THEORY and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. As for bath time, forget it! I listen to the 4th Test between England and Australia. England bat first and lose wickets carelessly. They are nine down at the close (18:30) and have only scored a piddling 236 runs. Australia laughs!

I buy Kumar a new watch to replace his old one. He pays £10 towards it. Lady O complains that I don’t buy her a new watch strap. ‘You never let me,’ I reply. Lady O wears clothes with rips in; she replaces nothing except, occasionally, her undergarments and some of those never end up in the laundry; does she ever get dirty down there?

Kumar is told he looks like Pugsley from THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Lady O laughs.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Is it Kemo Sabe or Kemo Sabay? The new version of THE LONE RANGER doesn’t make it clear. Still, it gets two thumbs up from Kumar & I (Lady O is undecided) after we see it at Cineworld Wood Green.

The experience itself leaves something to be desired. When we enter, the house lights are off. We risk injury ascending to our seats. There is no music, nothing. The magic of cinema! I point this out to a cinema attendant. Then the performance starts. We can hear the soundtrack (of a ‘Max Steel’ advert) but there is nothing on the screen. It is as if the film is taking place in the next auditorium. I go out to complain again. Finally, an image appears, but it is in the wrong ratio. This time, Lady O complains (well, that’s quite enough exercise for an old man). The problem is fixed.

We watch the movie but ten minutes before the end, two attendants come in, sit in the front section and start checking their phone. The light is distracting. I complain to both them and the supervisor. I doubt it made a difference.

We lunch at the Devonshire House. Brunch burgers for Kumar and Lady O, a Tennessee Burger for me, though I give my Tennessee sauce to Kumar in order to save £1.05 for the extra one he wanted. Kumar & Lady O have dessert – chocolate ice cream sundae, pancakes, ice cream and raspberry compote respectively.

After, Kumar & I head to Waterstones, Charing Cross to meet P, who is in England on a two week vacation with his fiancé, A. We repair to a hostelry, The Angel, in St. Giles High Street. Ale is consumed (though not by Kumar; he is only 16). We eventually make our way to Somerset House, where Kumar buys a ticket for the David Gordon Green interview on 21 August. We end up in Pret A Manger in Waterloo Station, home of the ninety-nine pence filter coffee (which is nicer than Starbucks’ bargain blend). Goodbyes are said and we end up home after Ten PM. I miss TOP OF THE LAKE again. Where is that Tui Mitcham?

Sunday 11 August 2013

Kumar’s prejudice against American independent movies is not swayed by WHAT MAISIE KNEW, an accomplished modern day adaptation of the 1897 Henry James novel about a young child who is passed between adults, her parents never quite assuming responsibility for her upkeep even though they talk about their rights. I suppose it is a metaphor for people who take out but never put in to society, except these are rich New York arty types. Did Kumar experience empathy for parents unable to fulfil their role? He did not.

The whole raison d’etre of the day was to make a silly film called DUELLING JEFFS – Kumar would play Jeff Bridges with a Western drawl, I would play Jeff Goldblum, all halting delivery and quizzical stares. It was no contest. It wasn’t very funny either, though Kumar referred to his ‘man nipples’ which was borderline humorous. We shot it – if that isn’t too grand a description – at West India Quay. The sand sculpture of William and Kate with Baby George had been defaced. Part of Kate’s face was missing. A repair job was required.

On the way back, I listened to the cricket (4th Ashes Test at Chester Le Street). England were batting again and leaking wickets. Still, Ian Bell was doing a job. Two days to go.

Monday 12 August 2013

England win the 4th Test by 74 runs in a gripping extension of play past the cut off point, with Stuart Broad taking six wickets. It is compelling radio, worth missing FRONT ROW (on Radio 4) for. Otherwise a fairly quiet day, with Kumar lounging about at home waiting for Lady O to return from work (at the Bureau of Moving Things) to make him repast.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

For the first time this holiday, Kumar went out to hang out with one of his buddies. Admittedly, they did not know the easiest way to get to Chinatown – they headed towards Blackfriars Bridge first – but then Kumar enjoyed a Pork Bun for £1.70 which for non Vegetarian Teens was the best thing ever. He attended his Future Film Steering Group for the last time before his Film Making course (starts Friday). Marc Price, one of his tutors, will let Lady O and I attend a special screening of his latest flick, WAY OF THE MONKEY’S CLAW on Friday 30 August with the Future Filmies – wahoo!

In the evening, I see a new British film, THE RISE, in which a lad out of prison plans revenge against the man who put him there. A cafe in Amsterdam is involved. Pies are served by the enterprising PR Company, Organic Marketing. I have two, since they had a surplus. The film isn’t great, but it picks up speed towards the end.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Not content with hanging out with his buddy for one day, Kumar does it for two days. They catch a screening of KICK ASS 2 at Surrey Quays Odeon. I escort Kumar there and ensure he buys tickets beforehand using EE 2 for 1. I also get some Odeon points on my much underused loyalty card. (20 trips to the cinema and I earn a free coffee.) They did give me a 2 for 1 voucher, which was rather nice.  Kumar enjoys the film even more than the first – I suppose it was just the screening, first day and all that, rather than the film’s alleged dodgy sexual politics. In a text message informing me he was on his way home, he referred to himself as Kick-Kumar. Just as well that wasn’t an invitation. That must make his friend ... no, I’m not going there. He’s not Colonel Stars and Stripes.

England played a friendly football match against Scotland at Wembley Stadium and won 3-2. A lot of men in blue kilts would be disappointed. It was quite a breezy night!

Thursday 15 August 2013

Kumar reverted to type and spent the day at home with Lady O. I went to the library and printed out my ticket for Sunday’s screening of ABOUT TIME but when I came to collect it, it was gone. Mysterious! I wrote a piece ‘HARRIGAN verses THE RISE’ which I posted on Film Annex.

One nice piece of news! Si Horrocks kindly extended his offer of a ticket for his premiere of THIRD CONTACT (BFI IMAX, Monday 2 September at 18:00) to donors who gave £40. So I get to go. I may buy a ticket for Kumar, but only if he is a good lad.

Friday 16 August 2013

Kumar begins his Future Film Making Workshop. This is his chance to prove that he can command respect, rally the troops, execute a good idea and, of course, not get the ‘ump. He assembled with his fellow inductees at Ten AM, where they were introduced to the theme, Gothic. What is Gothic? A really bad film from the late Ken Russell! What else is Gothic? Something to do with death, said Kumar. And romance, said his buddy. Dark, atmospheric stuff, piped another. Isn’t it an Ice Cream? I wondered. (Not that I was there.) The tutors set the kids aged between 15 and 25 were assigned into groups based on preference: who likes tea (everyone). Who likes coffee (no one). Stones or Beatles? STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE or LE DONK AND SCOR-SAY-ZEE? (I made that one up.) Anyway, they were shown a bunch of film trailers – WORLD WAR Z, THE SHINING, ALIEN and DON’T (Marc Price’s choice) and told to make their own. Kumar’s group, a mixture of Tea Drinking Beatles fans (I wonder if they had seen LE DONK) devised a trailer based on a parent and child entering a dark tunnel, seeing increasingly pessimistic graffiti (Arsenal to win the Premier League?) and then, well, I won’t spoil the money shot, or I should say ‘mummy shot’.

I spent my evening watching LOOKING FOR HORTENSE, an agreeable French movie by Pascal Bonitzer, at the Cineworld Haymarket. When I returned home, Kumar was watching EVITA in his undergarments and trying to balance a glass on unwashed crockery. ‘Noooooo!’ I screamed, mindful that phonetic dialogue is frowned upon (plus it makes me look silly). Lady O rushed in to do the washing up and gave me her Number One Scowl. There was food in the oven, though.

At the screening, I ran into a former employee at the National Film Theatre, later Museum of the Moving Image, bookstore. Like me, she had a Cineworld Unlimited Card. I actually approached her to ask how the film began – I arrived late and almost tripped over someone’s legs – or was it a bag or why are their legs in a bag? It became apparent I hadn’t missed anything. (It begins in a theatre with Kristin Scott-Thomas directing.) Anyway, I gave her a brief resume of the last twenty years – marriage, North London, heart attack – before wishing her well. Actually, I required the tiny gentleman’s room – one does not say that in company.

Saturday 17 August 2013

I have many regrets in life. Today’s one is that I wish I did not make my friend P call me a ‘prat’.

Picture the scene. Kumar and I meet A and P at the Benugo bar-cafe in the BFI South Bank. We arrive 35 minutes late owing to a combination of the Northern Line being out, me having to print my ABOUT TIME ticket at the library (for tomorrow’s screening) beforehand, slow buses and slow buses. (Yes, I know I wrote that twice but there were more than two of them and they were very slow.) Kumar had his water. I had a pint. Then we set off to the OXO Tower in an attempt to cure A of her fear of heights. Would it work? It’s only six storeys. A very kind greeter at the OXO cafe (or should that be the OXO cube?) let us walk out onto the observation platform. A took some pictures. We then continued our walk. ‘How about a trip to the Mayor’s Office?’ I suggested. Good plan. We carried on past various tourists gathered outside the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre and The Ship. P took us for a long short cut near Borough Market which just extended our walking and did not save us from the crowds. We stopped briefly at a Pret a Manger in Tooley Street where Kumar had a much needed can of coke and I a cup of coffee. (I like coffee.)

We stopped by the HMS Belfast and A took more some snaps. I looked for a wallet in the gift shop – one to buy, of course, mine is looking a bit threadbare. The Scoop, as the Mayor’s building is known, was closed to the public. Never mind. We crossed London Bridge and walked back towards Blackfriars taking in a remarkable absence of scenery. P was thinking about a pub. I was thinking about a toilet. A was tired and Kumar – Kumar was doing silly voices. By the time we reached Blackfriars Bridge on the North Side, I was Code Red or Code Brown or something one should not speak of in company. I made a frantic dash to the nearest hostelry – and it was blooming far – where I was able to settle a gentleman’s agreement, if you catch my drift. (I hope not, it was whiffy!)

So, rectum rectified, we were on our way – literally, the publican would not let Kumar in. It was a sports’ bar. Manchester United were playing and we did not look like Red Devils. Plus Kumar was ‘under age’.

We did eventually find a public house with soft furnishings and an agreeable landlord, who did not look like Brian Glover in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, in Fleet Street. Beers all around, except for Kumar for whom I bought a pint of lemonade. A ordered some hummus with strips of toasted pitta bread. I am sure it was over-priced – everything else was. Meanwhile, I was in happy ignorance that Arsenal had lost at home, 1-3 to Aston Villa (which was why we did not travel via Finsbury Park).

The ‘prat’ calling occurred around the second pint. I wanted to buy P a drink for his birthday. So I did, but I forgot his glass of water since I was arguing with the barman over the cost of half a pint of lemonade (over two pounds). I started a conversation about optimism. ‘F-k optimism,’ said P who was in one of his moods. ‘OK, A,’ I said, ‘You had better leave him!’

Big mistake!

‘You prat, how could you say that?’ P cried, a measured explosion of anger under which one could feel a volcano about to burst. P attacked optimism as American psychobabble – ‘we all have to be happy’. ‘F-k that!’ he exclaimed.

But if you have no reason to be optimistic, why foist your pessimism on other people? You’re not exactly promising them a good life. It is not as if the meteor is going to hit the Earth or anything. [Please note this is just the gist of my argument and not direct quotation.]

P would not look at me.

‘You’re not even looking at me,’ I said.

‘That’s because if I looked at you, I might deck you,’ P said through gritted teeth.

It was my turn to be angry. There seemed no reason to persist in this pseudo friendship which had lasted over twenty years, three years at university, a performance together in ‘Macbeth’ (‘Help me, Malcolm,’ I apparently said to him when I dried up) and the almost two decades afterwards.

I got up to leave. Kumar did not follow. Instead, A came after me. ‘He’s a good man with a warm heart. You should not end your friendship.’

I went to the bathroom, which is something of a recurring motif. That’s a polite way of putting it. I then made my peace, which I promise is not a euphemism.

The four of us ended up in Pret A Manger in Waterloo Station for a farewell coffee. We parted on good terms. The next day we exchanged texts. Before we left on that Saturday night, he spoke favourably of optimism, but I felt it was an act, as if he was trying to believe in a false God.

Why had Kumar not followed me out? Apparently, the lad was scared. It was certainly out of his range of experience.

‘I am never drinking,’ he said.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Lady O had no inclination to travel to Wandsworth to see ABOUT TIME, so I went with Kumar, who did not want to see it either but was happy watching KICK ASS 2 for a second time at the Cineworld cinema.

Watching ABOUT TIME was like being suffocated by sentimentality. It is like a feature-length John Lewis commercial, you know, the one where a couple meet, get married, fill a house, have a baby, watch their child grow up and get married all within the space of ninety seconds, with plenty of product placement but no price tags. Life goes on but John Lewis is eternal, the ad says. ‘Arggh!’ you say.

We travel back by bus to Vauxhall, then to Parliament Square where we get off the bus and walk. Whitehall is closed for some military rehearsal – very tedious. Eventually, I see Kumar off on a 91 bus and I go to an office in central London to do some proof reading for a magazine. Besides a gentleman who prints off the copy, only one other chap is there. We read all manner of left-wing slanted articles which are missing commas and require re-writes that we lack the machinery (laptops) to carry out. We only proof-read less than half the magazine before the pages cease and we are sent home. The ‘print man’, J buys some coffee from Ecco, which is highly recommended.

In the evening, Lady O and I watch the final episode of SOUTHCLIFFE, a four part drama about the aftermath of a shooting spree. It is written by Tony Grisoni, who is known to a gardener acquaintance of mine, and directed by Sean Durkin, who helmed MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, or, as I call it, Mmmm! The episode is anti-climactic. No one else is killed. No one is saved. The killing does not teach people anything or ‘enable’ them to do transcendent works. This is the point.

Monday 19 August 2013

It is the second day of Kumar’s Future Film Workshop and preparation is underway for shooting the Zombie trailer. Kumar would be co-directing and is very excited to be tutored by Marc Price.  I listen to a negative review of ELYSIUM on Front Row. Second rate sci-fi with ideas used in other movies, but a good performance from Sharlto Copley, is the verdict.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Kumar learns the most important lesson he can about directing: it’s exhausting! Some twenty eleven year olds are allocated between four groups – Kumar’s group has six. Whilst one director shoots the tunnel footage, Kumar works with Marc Price to choreograph fight scenes shot with long lenses (so you can fake ‘impact’ in body blows). Kumar finds this tremendous fun. He likes Marc’s enthusiastic way of working with the kids, which contrasts with Rob Savage’s businesslike approach. But he is, as we Brits say, cream crackered. The trailer is not complete. (Now there’s a surprise.) Some additional shooting is required the next day.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

As the additional footage is shot, Kumar spends most of his day in the editing room. It is pretty much done. It requires completion by the official editor. Kumar’s labour makes him late for our evening repast in the House of Pizza (where I get a 25% discount with my Unlimited Card, thanks very much). Lady O and I ordered his favourite pizza (barbecue meat feast) and a sprite which greets him when he arrives puffing and panting at 17:30.

‘We – didn’t – finish – until – Five-Twenty. Had - to – run – all – the - way!’

We waited for him to become de-hyphenated.

Kumar wolfed down this pizza and then dashed to the salad bar, where he proceeded to fill his bowl full of bacon bits, nachos and bacon bits. Salad in a sandwich is tolerable. Salad without – no dice.

‘Don’t eat all those bacon bits,’ barked Lady O. ‘They’re just salt. Don’t.’

It was a big bowl of bacon bits. Kumar did lose the taste of them.

‘You don’t finish them off,’ Lady O said, addressing me. ‘They’re bad for you. It’s like eating salt. Don’t!’

OK, boss!

So, much as I took it on the chagrin, food was left behind. Meanwhile some small kid somewhere was pleading to his parent, WHERE ARE THE BACON BITS!

I ordered Lady O another soda to calm her down. They offer unlimited refills. More to the point, I could have some.

‘I didn’t want this,’ she said. ‘Why did you order this?’

I, without a drink – I think £2.35 is a lot for a soda – finished it off. Don’t tell House of Pizza!

Anyway, I left a tip. Lady O and I headed for a special preview screening of WE’RE THE MILLERS, where as I predicted, they gave out beer but not Miller Lite. How could they miss a trick? Answer: Cineworld Haymarket only stocks Corona.

Lady O didn’t want a bottle so I had hers. Two bottles of beer do a job on me. By the end of the movie, it’s ‘I’ve got to get out of here’. Also, my body temperature shot up. What’s with that?

WE’RE THE MILLERS was extremely generic but enjoyable in a ‘laugh but not out loud’ kind of way. I felt uncomfortable watching Jennifer Aniston perform a strip tease. I mean STRIP TEASE killed Demi Moore’s career. What did Jen think she was doing? Plus she’s a woman in her early forties pretending to be younger yet she’s pretending to be a mom. What’s that about?

Overlooking this scene, which Aniston performs joylessly but not sultrily – Aniston does not do sultry, it’s not in her range – the rest of the comedy works in an easy reference to THE SIMPSONS (Ned Flanders lookalike) and an enlarged testicle sort of way. Kumar would have a hoot.

Where was he? At Somerset House attending an interview with David Gordon Green, which lasted an hour or forty eight minutes when you take away the clips. He was supposed to get a complimentary drink but was too shy to ask. According to him, they only appeared to offer alcohol, though he saw soft drinks in the fridge behind the barperson shortly before the interview started. He described the event as ‘insightful’. That’s it – no description.

Lady O enjoyed WE’RE THE MILLERS, especially the outtakes – a homage to SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, if anyone remembers that.

The final test between England and Australia began today at the Oval Cricket Ground. At close of play, Australia were 307 for 4. I didn’t hear any of it. On the football front, Arsenal beat Fenerbahce 3-0. Yay!

21st August 2013 should be remembered for none of this. It will go down in history as the day at least 350 Syrians were killed, and over 3,000 injured, by chemical weapons, said to have been released by the Regime (Assad and company). It will prompt world leaders to express grave concern, a concern, for what it is worth, shared by this author.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Emergency! Emergency! Kumar does not know what to do. He’s directing a gothic short but the film is not his idea.

He described Thursday’s Future Film workshop as a day of two halves. In the morning, the group watched lots of clips of gothic films that Kumar had not seen before. (Wow, clips!) In the afternoon, the group was put into teams and encouraged to brainstorm. Kumar’s idea, about a date that ends in the guy between taken to be sacrificed (‘Sacrifice date’). Marc Price liked the idea. Rob Savage didn’t and won the group over to his way of thinking. So then a girl in the group suggested a story idea about candles. Two couples end up in a crypt. There are four candles. One goes out. A girl dies. The others realise that the three remaining flames equate to their lives. So they literally have to keep the flames alive. Kumar wants to go jokey. I suggest he writes his own script. He can use my computer and I can arrange for it to be printed early in the morning. Kumar, who earlier felt demoralised and hid in the toilet to let out his feelings (works for me), suddenly became animated. He retreated to the bedroom and attacked the keyboard as if it had done him a great wrong. Eventually a script was written. He seemed happy...

Friday 23 August 2013

I fulfilled my half of the bargain by arranging for two copies of Kumar’s script to be printed (double sided so paper was saved). I handed them to him before he went to his Workshop. He hugged me in public which was embarrassing. Plus he’s taller than me and I felt I would buckle under. To think I was carried him on my shoulders. That’s one way of reaching the top shelf. Not any more...

In the afternoon, I took Lady O to a preview screening of BLUE JASMINE. I have followed Woody Allen’s career for over thirty years and always try to see his films before they open when I can. Back in the late 1980s, we’d have to wait up to a year between a Woody Allen film opening in the US and it opening here (thank you, Rank Organisation and later Columbia-Tri-Star). Some of them didn’t even come out in the cinema at all (HOLLYWOOD ENDING and SCOOP). So I got in the habit of mostly seeing them in France or at early previews. Here is my list (years are US dates of release):

1980: STARDUST MEMORIES, seen in December at the Screen on the Hill, Belsize Park, with the lovely curtain that rolled up that was followed by an animated logo – magic

1982: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S SEX COMEDY, September at a preview organised by EVENT magazine (opened in the US in July), Warner West End, Leicester Square

1983: ZELIG, seen on opening day, October (opened in US in August), Warner West End

1984: BROADWAY DANNY ROSE, seen on opening day in August (opened February), Cannon Haymarket (now Cineworld)

1985: THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, preview at Cannon Haymarket, July (opened in US in March)

1986: HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, seen at Sunday morning preview, Curzon Phoenix (cinema no longer exists), May (opened in US in March). Saw film again at packed Odeon, Leicester Square in first Monday of release (NB: cinema is London’s second largest)

1987: RADIO DAYS, Brighton Odeon (driven in friend’s car to see it), May, opened in US in February

1987: SEPTEMBER seen in May 1988 at Kensington Olympia (purpose built cinema in exhibition space), film opened in US in December 1987

1988: ANOTHER WOMAN (can’t remember)

1989: OEDIPUS WRECKS (in NEW YORK STORIES) seen May 1989 in Paris, after film opened the Cannes Film Festival (stayed to next show to see the Scorsese segment a second time)

1989: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS, seen in New York during first month of release

1990: ALICE, seen at Rank Preview Theatre (press screening, 1991)

1991: SHADOWS AND FOG – did not open in UK until after HUSBANDS AND WIVES – seen in May 1992 in a Paris repertory cinema after travelling to the city for a stag weekend – missed the shenanigans involving a friend being tied to lamppost in the red light district; I wanted an early night

1992: HUSBANDS AND WIVES, press screening late summer close to US opening; they could not wait to release this one!

1993: MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, press screening with Lady O to be, during a London visit by her aunt (August)

1994: BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, Toronto Film Festival, September 1994 (honeymoon)

1995: MIGHTY APHRODITE, seen in New York at preview (October), on the day we had to fly back (thank you, National Preview Service)

1996: EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU, preview, Odeon Haymarket (Spring 1997)

1997: DECONSTRUCTING HARRY (terrible title), preview at National Film Theatre (May 1998)

1998: CELEBRITY, Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley (October 1998, rush to release this to capitalise on Leonardo Di Caprio’s  post-TITANIC celebrity status)

1999: SWEET AND LOWDOWN (press screening, Sony Preview Theatre, 2000), opened US December 1999

2000: SMALL TIME CROOKS (opened US in May), August at UGC Haymarket, press screening with free cookie sent with the ticket (see the film and it makes sense, thank you EM Foundation)

2001: THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION, opened summer 2001, missed seeing film at Woody Allen in person in September 2001, when he appeared at the National Film Theatre to give a ‘Guardian Interview’, eventually saw film at a press screening on 1 November 2002 at United International Pictures preview theatre

2002: HOLLYWOOD ENDING, Paris, 31 August 2002 (second run cinema) opened Cannes Film Festival in May, never released in the UK (and for good reason)

2003: ANYTHING ELSE, UGC Haymarket (now Cineworld), 9 August, 2004 (over a year since opened in US)

2004: MELINDA AND MELINDA, London Film Festival, 1 November 2004 (actually didn’t open in US and UK until March 2005)

2005: MATCH POINT, Paris (UGC in Champs Elysees) 26 November 2005, opened in UK in 2006

2006: SCOOP, Paris (UGC in Champs Elysees with Lady O), never released in UK cinemas

2007: CASSANDRA’S DREAM, Paris, UGC Cine Cite, Les Halles, 3 November 2007, opened in UK following year

2008: VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, screening for BAFTA members, Soho Screening Rooms, 15 December 2008 (opened in UK, February 2009), big hit in US the preceding summer

2009: WHATEVER WORKS, Paris, UGC Cine Cite, Les Halles, 29 July 2009 – not released in UK until following year

2010: YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, Paris (UGC, Champs Elysees) 27 October 2010, with Kumar and Lady O, opened in UK the following March

2011: MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Paris (of course), UGC Cine Cite Les Halles, 3 June 2011, opened in UK in October

2012: TO ROME WITH LOVE, Cineworld West India Quay (with Kumar), 16 September 2012 (opening weekend), opened in US in July

Now, I know what you’re thinking: talk about anal retentive!

Glad I got that out of my system. Now ordinarily around this time of year, I’d be working out where in Europe Woody’s new film would open, would it be in English and could I fly there? However, presently I am without a passport. My renewal application is lodged with Her Majesty’s Office about to be processed. It will doubtless be sent to me while I’m out of the house. I’ll have to phone a courier company and arrange to have it re-delivered. How extraordinarily inconvenient and costly, too! (Why do couriers have to make two trips?) For the record, it has opened in Brussels and Oslo but I am legally unable to travel. So the press invite was a surprise – I tend not to get invited (see above). But I had to collect Lady O from the Bureau of Moving Things.

Moving Things or herself is not one of Lady O’s strong suits. Whenever we need to get somewhere quickly, Lady O slows down. Crossing a road, she slows down.

Walking with Lady O is fraught with danger!

It was probably not good of me to be late picking her up. The film starts at 15:00. I reach her office at 14:25. She takes five minutes to get downstairs.

‘Just go without me,’ she moaned. ‘I was down here at 13:50 and waited until 14:00. Then I went upstairs. Then down again and then up.’

This explained why I could not reach her on the phone to let her know I was on my way.

The best way to react is to keep calm. If Lady O walks slowly, then I walk slowly. ‘We’ll never make it,’ she cries. ‘Yes, we will,’ I say.

So we set off. We catch an 88 bus heading towards Parliament Square easily enough. The traffic isn’t bad. We get off by Westminster Station. She tells me to go ahead and she’ll go home. I slow down to keep with her pace but accelerate slightly when I enter the ticket hall.

I get through the underground gates and point out where to walk to the platform. Lady O lags behind. A tube train (District to Temple) pulls in. I hold the door so she can enter. I know I’m not supposed to do this. Lady O barges through crowds. She gets on. She finds a seat and glares at me. Glares!

The tube pulls into Temple Station. We have fifteen minutes to go. There is a long walk to the exit, then up some stairs and a sloping road to Aldwych. Lady O is gasping. You would not think she has been sitting on a train. This is a marathon of inches. I slow. She walks at her glacial pace. I know this comes across as cruelty to spouses but I have seen her walk at a normal pace. This is for show! She follows me across several crossings. We are on the home straight (sort of) – that is, the quarter circle anti-clockwise to Holborn, where we can catch a number of buses two stops and 98 Theobalds Road (where Warner Bros Preview Theatre is) is just a few minutes away. Lady O lags behind. I slow and watch her cross the road. She gasps for breath at the bus stop. A 188 bus is there but not taking on any passengers. Eventually a 91 bus pulls up and we get on it. An announcement tells us it is on diversion. I hope it goes two stops. It does.

It is 14:57. Three minutes to go. The traffic lights are red so I cross the road. Lady O follows. I then head towards Theobalds Road. Lady O trails behind. I then head for the Warners Building and make sure Lady O can see me as I enter. A couple is in front of me. They are also seeing the film. Good, then it cannot have started. Getting a pass takes an age. Then there is the bag check. Finally, we are in. We are offered drinks, but not red wine. I settle for two orange juices. The film has just started and we cannot sit together. I sit in the front row. Lady O sits behind. On screen, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is at the baggage reclaim. She does not get the contact details of the woman she is speaking to. Instead, the old woman complains that she was talking to herself ‘and I thought she was talking to me’. And we’re off.

It feels like a long 98 minutes but Cate Blanchett is mesmerising. (Review to follow.) We sit through the credits until lights up. Lady O gets up slowly and pulls a face, a ‘you’re not doing that to me again’ visage. I will tell her that I’ll try not to.

We meet Kumar in the Devonshire House for a meal. His script (or ‘scriptment’) was treated with disdain by the group – it was mostly dialogue for a start. A girl in the group had written the script he would shoot. They would film ‘in a real crypt’. Kumar described the girl’s script as ‘morbid’.

Meanwhile in the cricket, England lost four wickets for 246 (I think). Two days to go, but it is due to rain tomorrow. Kumar and Lady O settle down to watch JACK REACHER on Sky Movies. I settle for an early night.

Saturday 24 August 2013

It rains. I do the laundry. It rains. I go to the library and print off a ticket for THE WAY, WAY BACK (screening tomorrow at Clapham Picturehouse) at the third attempt. It rains. I do some shopping. It rains. I cook a pizza and listen to Arsenal beat Fulham at Craven Cottage (Fulham’s ground) 3-1. I hear Podolski score twice but miss Giroud’s goal. I hear Darren Bent nod Fulham’s single goal in reply. I rest. It rains. Kumar writes. It rains. I go out to buy a pair of shoes. It rains. I buy more shopping. It rains. I make a quick meal of curry and rice. It rains. I listen to SATURDAY REVIEW and write this diary. Kumar and Lady O watch HAYWIRE on Sky Movies.

Sunday 25 August 2013

If you’re walking through the bedroom having just closed the blinds, watch out for that – aieee! I stubbed my toe, the middle toe of right foot. It doesn’t move. Come on piggies, let’s get wiggling! No, that didn’t work either.

Up until that point it had been a pretty good day, albeit one in which Lady O stayed in bed. I summoned Kumar from his slumber after posting a review of WE’RE THE MILLERS and we actually left in good time for catching the bus (W3 to Finsbury Park, tube (Victoria Line, Finsbury Park to Stockwell) and another tube (Northern Line, Stockwell to Clapham Common). We both saw THE WAY, WAY BACK. I only had one ticket from Show Film First. The PictureHouse membership tickets were all allocated. However, someone had a spare. Plus we picked up two tickets for a mystery preview next Sunday. (I think it’s THANKS FOR SHARING). In the Clapham PictureHouse Screen 4 they even had booster sears for adults. Kumar availed himself of one. The film was preceded by a short movie, PUPIL, about a painter who loses her sight but learns to create art anyway. The sold was told without dialogue and set in a bustling Asian city (I think Hong Kong, but I have never visited). Kumar was bored by it, but did like the PictureHouse ad for ‘Seeing Film Differently’ as an usherette talked about TOY STORY being about male inadequacy. I admit PUPIL was worthy rather than emotionally moving – it had the beginning and the end of the story. (You think the circumstances are tragic, but no.) But it was a good example of visual storytelling – it did not need dialogue. It was executive produced by the Weinstein Brothers, so it’ll be flogged around Oscar time.

Whisper it, but THE WAY, WAY BACK is a period film set in the late 1980s or 1990s, whenever REO Speedwagon was popular. It is a genuinely moving film; I blubbed at the end. It has some good performances, a crowd rousing finish on a water slide and is warm hearted, about a community where nobody wants to leave – the water park where much of the action was set was opened in 1983 and never updated. Water Whiz is an actual park. The writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash didn’t make it up.

Afterwards, we picked up some free samples of Phileas Fogg sour cream potato snacks, then took the 88 bus to the Apple Store on Oxford Street – it took about 30 minutes, a note for future trips. After checking email, we looked for IRON MAN 2 in HMV and encountered a knowledgable member of staff who explained how it was out of distribution and we looked through the t-shirts at HMV, where, sadly, the really cool ones were not in Kumar’s size. Kumar had a Meatball Marinara subway sandwich for lunch. We looked at a Canon 100D in Currys PC World and then took a 25 bus to the City of London. We then stopped by the Rich Mix (I got Kumar some water). We looked at the Comedy Cafe at 68 Rivington Street (over 18s only, boo). We bought some Mars Bars from Sainsbury’s near Old Street – a man with young children was being stopped by the security guards as he ate a banana whilst leaving. The guards wanted to know if he had paid for it. (‘Don’t f-king stop me in front of my kids.’) We took a bus to Islington, went to HMV (no cool t-shirts). Then after stopping by the Screen on the Green to check out the late night films – next one (31 August), CITY OF GOD, we took the 4 bus to Finsbury Park and picked up some shopping in Stroud Green Road Sainsbury’s.

So what about the cricket? In the second innings, England were chasing 227 for victory in the fifth and final test. They got to 207 for 5 with four overs left and then the players went off for bad light. A draw and a big disappointment for fans who wanted to see a decisive result. And for me too! I invested 3.5 hours listening time for this anti-climax. Curry for Kumar for tea; Lady O and I had a mix of Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash for supper. I supervised Kumar’s bath, his first since... (He’s embarrassed to say.) At some point in the blur of the evening, I stubbed my toe! Yargh!

At night, Kumar wrapped himself up in the duvet of self-pity. ‘I’m gonna make a cruddy film and have the four days FROM HELL.’ He is concerned that he has not seen a completed script for the short film that he is meant to direct – only one page of it is online. He needs to research how to stage a bloody nose. Well, someone could punch one of the actors... But you know what I say, ‘why don’t you try acting?’

Monday 26 August 2013

Kumar is sleeping. This is not MISSION: DIFFICULT Agent Williams, it is MISSION: BLOOMING’ECK IS THAT THE TIME? (09:02). Today is all about preparation. Not that stuff for piles, but to prepare for his first day of shooting tomorrow. We check out on a script writing website whether his colleague R has finished the script. Negative. Kumar is helpless, hapless, hopeless. Time for Larry to read what has been written (in broken English) and try to bring it to some sort of conclusion! Kumar gets me access to the script sharing website and I concoct an ending to the script, turning it into the story of four kids who make a pact with the Devil to murder a child molester, Father Ramon. One of the characters is named after Kumar, so I give him the line: ‘it wasn’t me!’ It sort of works and I pass it over to Agent Williams who gives it the once over. ‘The dialogue needs work, but it isn’t bad.’ This fills both Larry and Kumar with optimism. The sun is shining, the birds are singing.

We know what one of my friends said about optimism.

We go out in the afternoon to procure some blood – not real blood, silly, the sort you can get from costume shops, specialist make-up emporia and, of course, Primark. (OK, not Primark.) But first, there is the small matter of a secret mission to Curry’s/PC World in Oxford Street, a mission so secret I cannot refer to it here for fear of a right telling-off from Lady O.

The clock is ticking.

We visit Forbidden Planet and Fopp. At the latter, Kumar procures a Cookie Monster T-Shirt for a couple of quid (£2). Bargain! Then we head to Charles Fox and Company. It is closed. Arggh! We then visit the church where Kumar will be filming tomorrow. Also closed. [Add your own sound effect.] We then go home.

Later we discover that R had finished her own script. Another member of the team, M had translated it into grammatically correct English. So no Father Ramon plot! Larry’s attempt at screenwriting comes to naught.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

You can’t get blood from a stone, but you can get it from a tin of Golden Syrup and three small vials of food colouring (red, blue and green). Thank you make-up artist from TORMENTED. We procure these items from a branch of Tesco’s. Kumar worries that he does not have enough. I loan him a large metal spoon to stir his blood mix.

It is the last time that I will see that spoon. I should have taken a picture of it.

According to Kumar, filming goes well. They did not need the blue and green colouring. Adding water to the mix increases the volume of blood. Well, that’s all right then. Plus, Kumar is tutored by Marc Price so he is a pretty happy Future Filmmaker.

In the evening, I watch BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR, also known as LA VIE D’ADELE, Chapters ! and 2. It is this year’s Cannes Palme D’Or winner, a three hour film featuring multiple scenes of two girls pleasuring each other without clothes. It’s art, but I felt like a dirty old man watching it. The queue for the Gents afterwards was longer; one could wonder why. (Answer: it was three hours long!)

Arsenal beat Fenerbahce 3-0 at home and progress to the group stages of the Champions League. The Fenerbahce players try very hard to foul Jack Wilshire.

‘Grave concern’ about the use of chemical weapons in Syria translates to a build-up for war. MPs are recalled. There is a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

On Day Two of filmmaking, Kumar is a considerably less happy Future Filmmaker, working under the watchful eye of Rob Savage, who erodes Kumar’s self-confidence. Kumar is productive, but he does not enjoy himself as much. Shooting ends but he neglects to retrieve the spoon.

In the evening, we see ELYSIUM at the Odeon West End. No time to eat beforehand. Kumar chooses the seats. Even with EE 2 for 1, it costs £28 for the three of us, two oldsters and Kumar the teen. There is little leg room. The cinema does not justify the price (we’re paying Westminster’s exorbitant business rates, a surcharge basically). I am not impressed by the film but Kumar enjoys it. Lady O is somewhere in the middle, which is understandable since she sat between Kumar and I.

We elect not to eat out, but instead go home and have home-heated pizza. I fetch ice cream, which goes down well and not, as is sometimes the case, down Lady O’s frontage.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Kumar is locked out of the editing room of his own film by Rob Savage, who tells him to go off and think of a title. This is not Kumar’s strong suit. ‘He treated me like a kid,’ he complained later. Well, he was wearing his Cookie Monster T-Shirt (did I say it costs £2 from Fopp – bargain).

In the evening, I watch THE GREAT BEAUTY, Paolo Sorrentino’s new film. It has some terrific sequences and elliptical dialogue scenes. ‘Why is it you have all these keys [to stately homes]?’ a character is asked. ‘Because I’m trustworthy,’ he replies.

Late into the evening the UK Parliament votes against involving the country militarily in Syria. The case was not made well enough. The Prime Minister is eloquent enough and takes numerous interventions, but the House remembers the vote on Iraq like it was ten years and five and a half months ago. Then the country rushed to war and regretted it, there being no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now with evidence of the use of chemical weapons clearly acknowledged, MPs have misplaced cynicism. History is small; they think only in expense claims. (‘We can debate it again.’) That’s one way to scold the Prime Minister for ending their holidays early. (It is still recess.) But it is a useful reality check. Sorrentino’s hero, Jep (Toni Servillo), searched for the ‘Great Beauty’; we can search for the ‘Great’ Britain.

Friday 30 August 2013

The final day of Kumar’s Future Film Fortnight and FLICKER (my title – yay!) is still not finished. Kumar has the ‘ump. The picture is locked by the editor had ignored certain shots and changed the ending. I talk to one of the supervisors. Kumar can continue working on Monday (from 10:30am) and finish the film (he can also work on Tuesday morning if he wishes). We see WAY OF THE MONKEY’S CLAW and two shorts, BAIT and A NINJA IS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS. The first short is technically impressive (it includes an overhead shot of a church) and is suspenseful. Dialogue is an issue. The second short (directed by Noel Goodwin) about a ninja in a box, is silent, comic but enjoyable. Kumar would prefer me not to deliver a verdict on WAY OF THE MONKEY’S CLAW. He and Lady O enjoy it, let’s leave it at that.

After a beer with Marc Price and his cast and crew, we take two buses to the Devonshire House for what is now a tradition: Friday Night Burger. Chelsea lose to Bayern Munich in the Super Cup on Penalties (4-5) after a two-all draw. It looked like Chelsea might win it in extra time, but Bayern scored in the 32nd minute of extra time.

Saturday 31 August 2013  

Very sorry, Lady O. I accidentally decapitated a model Terracotta warrior. Not good.


About the author


Independent film critic who just wants to witter on about movies every so often. Very old (by Hollywood standards).

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