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

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Wednesday 1 May

Kumar Williams, whom I must introduce to any new readers as my faithful sidekick, the Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote, the Robin to my Alfred – where’s Batman, goodness knows – gets up with sluggish enthusiasm on the third day of his work experience at the Instituto de Cinema Anglais. He spends his days watching short movies – he could be a film reviewer himself – apparently writing elegant little critiques, at least THAT IS WHAT HE TELLS LADY O AND I. He is supposed to be on an editing assignment, but one has yet to emerge as footage has not been passed to his laptop.

I spend my evening at the Hotel W in Wardour Street, at a site formerly known as the Swiss Centre. In this same building in the early 1980s, I used to watch double bills of old releases and, later, arthouse movies (when it changed ownership). The auditoria were, I recall, very small, accessible by a lift several stories up. The screening room in the hotel W is on the first floor, adjacent to the bar. We are greeted on arrival with LARGE GLASSES containing small servings of wine – I wonder whether I should take two – and NOT ENOUGH TO GO ROUND. The film I watch is PARADISE: LOVE or PARADIES: LIEBE to give it its German title. Directed by Ulrich Seidl it is the first of a trilogy. A woman flies out to an exclusive Kenyan beachside resort much visited by German speaking tourists who are attracted by the sun and the procurement of men as sexual objects. In this it is never quite clear who is the exploiter and who is the exploited. A thin rope divides sunbathing middle-aged women and a group of Kenyan men on standby. The men shower the women with local phrases – ‘Jamba’, ‘Hakuna matata’ recognisable from a well-known juice franchise in the United States and THE LION KING – and attempt to sell them trinkets. At least one woman has ‘bought’ her man with the gift of a motorcycle – an investment. Teresa, our heroine is looking for love. She does not get it from her teenage daughter or the individuals with Downs’ Syndrome with whom she works. She meets a man, Munga, who does not crowd her like the rest and does not try to immediately attend to her sexual needs – the number five, seen on many rooms where she has liaisons  is strangely important, perhaps Seidl is a SHORT CIRCUIT fan (‘Number Five is alive’).  But soon he is asking for money for his sister, a sick child, a school teacher – the class sing for her – and for his father. Teresa sees through him and also, increasingly, her own desperation for a connection.

The portrayal of Kenyan men on standby and exploiting sympathy verges on the offensive. Seidl does capture otherness and a parallel world. I was not entirely sure I believed in it, but it was very grim.

Tuesday 2 May

At last Kumar starts his editing assignment, cutting together an award ceremony for a young person’s film festival. He describes his introduction, cutting from the words ‘third prize goes to’, to ‘second prize goes to’, to ‘and the winner is’. It sounds promising if the rest of it is as punchy.

Lady O toils late into the afternoon at the Department for Transmitted Hostility so I have to be home when Kumar puts his rucksack of weariness onto the carpet that needs cleaning. ‘I saw a book today that I want to buy – how to make a movie for two thousand dollars’. Have we heard of any of these movies made for such a low amount, THERAPISSED for example? I think not. So how will the book transport Kumar into fame, fortune and convince him that he finally needs a haircut?

At French, we learn the future tense, which is a bunch of verbs ending in ‘ai’ (as opposed to ‘aiee’ when I speak the language). ‘Je regarderai le télévision?’ Fat chance!

Friday 3 May

Miss the multi-media screening of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS held in the West End of London. Well it would just cause random arguments. I meet young Kumar for lunch where at Burger King he enjoys a Bacon Double Cheeseburger whilst I gobble a corned beef bagel (I know – you can’t buy you those in BK). He also buys the aforementioned book (‘how to make a film for $2,000’) which apparently endorses low-budget comedies.

Lady O fumes. ‘Why didn’t he invite me?’ She refuses to speak to either of us for most of the rest of the evening. I suggest to Kumar that he shows her the DVD of his editing assignment, the product of his work experience. This will get her talking.

Oh, it does.

Minutes later I am summoned to the living room where the DVD is re-screened.

Reader, it is not good.

According to Kumar, it was his fourth iteration, having taken on board advice from other interns. But it is clunky and shows no feeling for the event or for style. You need to provide a hook to get the viewer interested but quick cuts were diluted by captions and you had no idea who the filmmakers were or why they won. Inter-titles are used instead of captions using a dull font. Lady O, when she does start speaking, breaks into her familiar ‘you’ll never amount to anything speech’ that she learned from her father. I burn our Oscar nominee special to a disk and show it to Kumar. ‘You see, you can do this.’ Kumar smiles; happiness is restored.

Saturday 4 May

I go onto the internet and find an offer for free tickets for DRAGON, screening at Cineworld Trocadero at 11:15 this morning, on the website, the British equivalent of but without the spam. I have seen it before but don’t tell Lady O. Having reserved two tickets with my ‘Unlimited’ card guaranteeing me the third, I forego the pleasures of the laundry and head for the library to print off said tickets – why don’t we have a printer? Never mind. I also take out the recycling – which is a more frequent proposition than Lady O and I going out on our own – and do the shopping from Crouch End Marks and Spencers.

We arrive at the cinema but none of the staff knows anything about the screening. Worse, I cannot get an ‘Unlimited’ ticket because it is not on the schedule. Fortunately, management intervenes. I ensure Kumar and Lady O enter the cinema before I am admitted. Kumar enjoys the action sequence and gives it three stars. Lady O also found it a more pleasant experience than seeing LOS AMANTES PASAJEROS. They should put that on the poster.

We dine at the Devonshire House where service is below par. Kumar has less lemonade than usual, my Guinness has a large head and the food takes longer to arrive. When it does, Lady O complains that her bun isn’t cooked. Never mind that, we are all missing two onion rings each. So not a good dining experience; I encourage them to opt out of pudding. (Why reward bad service with extra custom?) I suspect the usual staff members are on holiday.

In the evening, I write in the bedroom whilst Kumar and Lady O watch THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. Attempts to download a game onto Lady O’s i-pod fail miserably; neither of us can remember the Apple id password. Time for a trip to the Apple Store....

Sunday 5 May

Whenever you get knocked down, you get back up again. Well, not always. When a car ran over my foot in the Old Kent Road, I shouted ‘I’m dead, I’m dead.’ A bit melodramatic, but I was under ten.

Today, Kumar and I managed to combine filmmaking with laundry. We did the filmmaking. I did the laundry – Kumar knows that if I saw him near a washing machine, I meant be tempted to throw him, the little bath dodger. Anyway, the idea was that I play two roles, that of a leather-jacketed thug and an old man in the kitchen. Yes, the old man in the kitchen was a stretch. As in all films of this type, we filmed the hitman sequences first – walking up a path, kicking open a door, walking upstairs, putting on gloves, raising a firearm, knocking on the door, then me being panicky in the kitchen. The shoot went smoothly – we completed it between spin cycles at my local laundrette and Kumar edited it on his laptop whilst I dried our clothes. His edit did not quite embrace the concept of cross-cutting but Lady O, our captive audience – she does not usually leave the house on a Sunday – enjoyed it. Confidence in Kumar’s filmmaking abilities was restored.

In the afternoon, we commenced our next project, ALL SMASHED, a parody of those youth dance movies. The elements were all in place: a troubled teen, a theatre that needs saving, a love interest, the fall from grace and the big redemptive dance number. We filmed about half of it, but Kumar insisted on putting on a squeaky voice. He was supposed to be the straight man. Oh dear.

I had a bit of everything for tea – some sausage and mash, a spoon full of curry sauce and the Oliver family staple, pepperoni pizza – and watched an episode and a bit of JIMMY FALLON. Whilst at home, Lady O watched GONE, STORAGE 24 – should have put that one in cold storage – and DIRTY DANCING. She did her armchair Jennifer Warnes impression.

We also went to the Apple Store in Covent Garden to re-set Lady O’s Apple ID. Mission accomplished and I downloaded a free snooker game for her as well as another version of Angry Birds – they must be very upset by now!

Monday 6 May 

Filmmaking is a matter of patience. You have to keep the camera running and wait for your lead actor to get hit in the face with a jet of water. But Kumar didn’t wait. He got impatient, bored, and switched the camera off. Then I was drenched.

Kumar and I saw IRON MAN THREE at the Cineworld in North Greenwich. Kumar watched it in D-Box. The seat gyrates in sync with the on-screen action. As the characters ride in a lift, you appear to be moving up. As cars speed down a road, the seat jerks. You can set the D-Box to three speeds: light, moderate and Michael Bay. Kumar appeared to enjoy it. He was looking forward to FAST AND FURIOUS 6 where the seat would move a quarter inch at a time.

We filmed a little more of ALL SMASHED but the idea of a parody seemed to be slipping away. We rode several buses home. One change took us to Bloomsbury where we observed the cast and crew of the television series of MR SELFRIDGE on a break.

Thursday 9 May

Went to Swiss Cottage Library to search for the magazine that I write for – no luck. Took several buses back to Crouch End and stopped off in Hornsey Library, from which I borrowed WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY. This featured the director, Robert B. Weide, being interviewed at the BFI South Bank, an event which Kumar and I attended last year. Were we featured? It was worth £1.10 rental fee to find out.

Friday 10 May

I finally found copies of the magazine (well, paper) that I write for in a small retailer of alternatively-opinionated prose called HOUSMAN BOOKS. Hurrah!

Saturday 11 May

Laundry. Kumar and Lady O saw STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS in 3D at Wood Green Vue. Afterwards, I met them in our local alehouse, The Devonshire. We ordered, typically, two Tennessee Burgers (Lady O and Kumar) and a Brunch Burger (me). All of us with several onion rings short. I had a row with the manager over the bargain daily special of ice cream and pancakes being withdrawn. It’s a daily special – that means it should be available all day and not, as the manager suggested, for half an hour.

Sunday 12 May

Mother’s birthday, which involved a train trip to Sandling and a thirty five minute stroll past sheep and houses (maybe there were people in houses looking sheepish) to Hythe. Kumar power-walked to Brian Tyler’s IRON MAN THREE theme. We were the first to arrive and were given a lift to Sotiros 103, a restaurant in New Romney with comedy nights and a Jessie J tribute act – a young woman saying ‘you have a terrific voice, I can do things for you’. When we arrived, a young woman was indeed singing to an instrumental backing track. The diners avoided looking at her. I think both diners and the young woman were glad when her set was over. Her voice wasn’t bad, but live acts are there to be watched; piped music exists for the background.

Found out my mother had had angina and was forced to cancel a trip to Portugal. I had given her euros as a gift.

Monday 13 May

Surf the internet for cheap flights to Nice – can recommend Norwegian air. Itchy feet and assorted limbs; curse that Kumar and his ‘hair guests’!

Tuesday 14 May

I missed a preview screening of BREATHE IN as I had set out without my Travelcard. Didn’t want to pay an additional £8 in travel expenses and was feeling tired in any case. If I had waited for a bus near home, instead of walking to Finsbury Park, I would have noticed the loss sooner. Oh well. Listened to Arsenal verses Wigan, a must-win for both sides. Arsenal opened the scoring, then Wigan netted just before half time. Wigan created several chances in the second half, before Arsenal scored a further three times to win 4-1. Podolski claimed two of the goals. Wigan were relegated to the Championship. Arsenal returned to fourth and Champions League contention with one game to play against Newcastle on Sunday. The Cannes Film Festival, which opens tomorrow, beckons. Impulsively I book a flight to Nice – well it is only £113 and the train is so much more expensive!

I watched some of the extras on the DVD of WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY. The audience – and the questions they asked – at the interview with Robert B. Weide – aren’t shown.

Kumar re-took his science exam. He missed some questions (on Charles Darwin) but felt reasonably confident....

Wednesday 15 May

The obliging people of Warner Bros had sent me one ticket for THE GREAT GATSBY, screened at the Odeon Leicester Square. I almost didn’t want to go. But I did attend and was relieved to find it entertaining. Copies of the novel were left on most seats. I picked up one for Lady O. She was grateful, but asked why I had not bought her Dan Brown’s INFERNO. ‘Because Mr Brown has already taken too much of her money?’ I wanted to reply.

In the morning I had the old defibrillator checked – well, us old people get sent for MOTs. They speeded me up and slowed me down. Not that I noticed.   

Thursday 16 May

Kumar watched the second disc of WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY before I returned it. The first Cricket test between England and New Zealand began today. Very low scoring – a far cry from the Indian Premier League. As Geoffrey Boycott would say, it’s a different game. England scored 160 and lost four wickets by the close of play.

Friday 17 May

Booked a cheap hotel in Nice and purchased my euros. Cannes is ever closer.

A possible line for my stand-up: ‘I am what they call in England a strolling player – I do walk on parts. Concerned diner [lift imaginary cover, open mouth wide, point to imaginary dish]. Over-eager wedding guest [point to myself as I watch an imaginary bouquet fly over me]. Dead guest at wedding dinner [slump forward]. Sometimes all three.’

No wonder I haven’t attempted it yet...

Saturday 18 May

A critic should always back the films they like. So I was happy to pay (well, use my Unlimited card) to see THE GREAT GATSBY again, this time with Kumar and Lady O. They both enjoyed it. Tried to persuade Lady O to buy some new stretchy pants – hers are ripped – but her shop (title not mentioned) was closed. We journeyed into the vortex of (unverified) child exploitation that is Primark, source of cheap clothes for the low of conscience. Kumar bought two shirts. Lady O felt dirty. ‘Never bring me here again,’ she said, mindful of the recent tragedy in Bangladesh in which a clothes factory had collapsed killing at least a hundred workers (I’m not connected to the internet to check the figure at time of writing). We lunched at the Devonshire. Several onion rings and Kumar’s bacon were missing. The server brought them to us separately. I bought Lady O the DVD of LES MISERABLES so she had something to watch tomorrow.

As I write this, Kumar is scratching himself like a dog with fleas. ‘You’re scratching yourself like a dog with fleas!’ ‘I’ve never seen a dog scratch itself,’ he replies. Of course not, because he’s too busy running away from them. After all, they’ve got fleas!

Not long now.

Sunday 19 May

This entry should properly begin at 11 O’clock on Saturday night when I say farewell to Kumar and Lady O and head for Gatwick Airport for my 05:50 flight to Nice. Getting up at two in the morning to take a night train isn’t an option. My plan is to arrive at the airport and kip of what is bound to be a very uncomfortable seat. This is apparently a BRITISH tradition associated with those who avail themselves of low-cost fares who are mostly young and have stronger backs than I.

I digress. I take the tube to Clapham Common. Why there? Well, it’s safer than Brixton (slightly) and I know I can get a bus to Croydon for there. Why Croydon. From there I can get a train to Gatwick. Why not just travel from Central London? I already have a travelcard for use on the buses and it is cheaper (£4.50 rather than over £10 for a single).

Why all these questions?

The area around Clapham Common tube station is busy with pub-hoppers and the like. The weekend burn-out is in full blaze. I take a number 50 bus and sit on the top deck, not out of choice. In front of me a young woman with multiple piercings is eating noodles from a plastic container. She has a self-confident ‘don’t mess with me’ posture. A man from the continent of Africa sits next to her. They converse. I am amazed by the ease of the conversation, but they are both outsiders. She is from Italy, and works in a Japanese restaurant in Camden – travel costs her a lot too, hence the bus. He is from a country that I did not catch. They exchange phone numbers by typing on each other’s phone (which I had never seen before; in my day it was a scribble on a beer mat). The man gets off before the woman and looks up. She does not return his look. I sensed as he approached his stop that he thought she might join her. She, sensing desperation and the potential of being judged as ‘one night only’ material, resists. Alternatively, she could simply just have played along. Better to go along with limits than resist. As the bus moves, she taps on her phone before disembarking at Thornton Heath. Entry deleted? I wondered...

The 50 bus drops me outside a nightclub in Central Croydon, a place I do not want to be. I walk back to East Croydon station. It is almost One AM. I buy a ticket from a machine and contemplate coffee from Burger King (reader, I resist) before catching the 01:26 to Brighton. On board the train are young women in 1920s outfits (the head-dresses are a giveaway); they are not so much flappers as slumpers. The evening has eaten their energy. They disembark a few stops later, obviously having attended a GATSBY themed event.

I arrive at Gatwick Airport. W H Smith is open. I buy the Sunday Times which allows me to purchase Ian McEwan’s SWEET TOOTH for £2.99 (a bargain). In the lavatory, I divest the newspaper of unwanted supplements, as well as read an interview with Michael Douglas and a piece on THE BLING RING. I contemplate remaining there but decide this would be unfair to others. I find the Norwegian Air check-in point and claim an empty sleep to rest. I don’t so much sleep as power down.

Perhaps an hour later, approaching Three AM, I check in. I get an aisle seat. As I head for Security, I pass a group of women heading for sun, sand and hangovers. One pulls me by the arm. ‘Are you heading for Ibiza?’ ‘No, I’m off to Nice.’ I bid them goodbye in my clumsy French. A bien tot.

I then go through security. This involves my having to remove my shoes and be frisked by security, the price of having a defibrillator. Finally I am in duty free land. Bottles and cartons glisten all around me. It is like a theme park, a grotto filled with alcohol, perfume, tobacco and candy. Reader, I resist.

I find McDonalds and have breakfast – porridge and a cup of coffee. Do I want jam or syrup with it? I choose the strawberry jam.

Have you fallen asleep yet?

Jump cut. I am on the plane. Coffee at Three Euros-Fifty. Non, merci.

I arrive at Nice.  It is quarter to nine local time. With hand luggage only I breeze through security and customs.

Then I get lost. I have a vague recollection of the way to Nice St. Augustin Station but I end up walking on a motorway, then heading towards an industrial estate. The weather is pleasant, having just rained but I do not recognise a bit of it. After a series of wrong turns, I consult a bus map and find the right way, enough to find the station (at 09:46) and procure a ticket and to catch the 10.11 train to Nice.

I eat a banana on the train and stuff the peel in an over-filled receptacle.

Cannes Station is a building site. I whizz through the exit and head straight for the Noga Hilton. Streets greet me like old friends. The sun is shining. I shall make the 11am screening. I am here! I am here!

Excitement evaporates quickly. I purchase a single ticket for the Director’s Fortnight (4 Euros with an SCNF ticket). I queue to see TIP TOP, un film avec Isabelle Huppert. The film starts at 11:30. The queue does not move until 11:15am, and then very slowly. Finally, as I am within sight of the entrance, I am told that the séance est complet.

Bienvenue à Cannes, tout le monde!

As a consolation prize, I obtain a ticket for THE LUNCHBOX screening in the Critics Week from the box office outside the screening room (that’s new). Tickets are free. I also note that the two British films, FOR THOSE IN PERIL and THE SELFISH GIANT are screening out of town at La Licorne screening room in Cannes Le Bocca. To attend, I require an invitation from Cannes Cinephiles. As fortune favours the bold, I head for their Portakabin on the Croisette. Two tickets are duly procured.

Bienvenue à Cannes.

A long walk follows. I pass Studio 13, another Cannes Cinephiles venue, where non-festival films are being screened and continue to La Licorne.

I arrive before 13:00. Then the wait.

I read several pages from SWEET TOOTH, the story of a young woman, Selena Frome, recruited into intelligence. She has an affair with an older man, who buys her a silk blouse from Liberty’s. When she leaves the blouse in his laundry basket, the relationship ends.

That is as far as I read.

At around 13:50 I enter the screening. Finally, I see my first film of Cannes 2013, FOR THOSE IN PERIL, which is followed by a Q and A with the director, Paul Wright. I nod off slightly at the beginning of the film (all those crashing waves) but catch the essence.

The day progresses smoothly after that. I forego THE LUNCHBOX and write notes on FOR THOSE IN PERIL as I wait for the screening of THE SELFISH GIANT at 17:00; better than waiting outside. By the time I re-enter the screening room, there is no queue. No Q and A this time, just a short in which young people (sponsored by Cannes Cinephiles) review the movie (I try to avoid watching the clips). Part of the festival is about encouraging discourse on different sorts of films from those who might not naturally gravitate towards them. It appears here that the job was done. The comments are all in French (no subtitles) but I can catch the gist; youngsters respond to their Anglais counterparts.

The next film is at 19:00. I am given an invitation and enter the screening room not knowing what I would be watching, only that it isn’t popular. It is the Indian film, MONSOON SHOOTOUT, a film inspired by RUN LOLA RUN (it borrowed its structure). It has no English subtitles, but as the story is told visually and I can understand some of the French subtitles, I can follow it. It is very generic and not impressive.

At around 20:25, another queue has amassed. This must be for a competition film. The man who had given me an invitation is now shaking his head. I decide that this would be one screening too far.

I walk back to Studio 13 on the same stretch of road. The American thriller BLUE RUIN is screening at 22:00. I recall that the last train left Cannes for Nice just after midnight. No problem.

I am offered an invitation and drank an 80 cent coffee from a vending machine. It is as good as the price suggests. I see the entirely impressive BLUE RUIN, and participate in the Q and A with Jeremy Saulnier afterwards. The woman with him speaks perfect French and puts me to shame.

‘This isn’t a very artistic question but how did you keep yourself going between your first and second film?’

Saulnier replies that he worked in advertising (as did his lead actor, Macon Blair). So while he sold his soul doing his day job, he reclaimed it with his new film.

Like I said, BLUE RUIN is a gripping, intelligent, must-see American indie thriller. Review to follow.

Midnight. Like Cinderella before me, I head for the Coach.

Reader, I miss the last train, which left at 23:11 (remember that for next time). I would miss a comfortable hotel bed for the night (in Ibis Budget Hotel by the airport). Instead, what?

I walk to the Croisette and catch my first glimpse of the Palais du Festivals. Ticket holders are entering a screening of Johnnie To’s BLIND DETECTIVE. I catch the glance of one of them.

‘You can have this, but you must enter at the end.’

In other words, in my casual attire, carrying a backpack, don’t spoil the red carpet moments of the guests.

The ticket says ‘tenue le soiree’ – evening dress, which means tuxedos for the men, glamorous gowns for the women. Not all the ticket bearers are dressed this way. There is a man in front of me in similar attire, minus the rip in a trouser leg that I got from falling over (don’t ask).

I see him enter without impediment and follow.

I present my ticket and am waved through.

I climb the red carpet, avoiding the centre.

Keep going, keep going.

At the top of the stairs, I meet a second security man. Again, I am waved through.

I reach the balcony.

I last attended the festival in 2008 but hadn’t been here in the building since the late 1990s.

Blimey O’Riley.

I take my seat. Some students in evening dress sit next to me. Projected on the screening are images of the red carpet outside.

Finally, Johnnie To enters. Applause!

The lights dim as there is the familiar cartoon image of a flight of steps moving to a palm and the festival logo. This is Cannes.

The film sucks.

The audience are willing to like it. Each logo was applauded with enthusiasm. By the end of the film, the crowd has thinned out, turned off by its unfunny broad comedy.

By the end, I am thinking, Johnnie Who?

It is now 03:00, two hours before the first train. I walk through the streets and decide to head for the train station not in Cannes, but le prochain.

It is a long walk.

I follow the railway line – there is a parallel road. Road signs confirm the way to Antibes.

As you expect, there are prostitutes on the street, women of African descent standing or walking alone.

Fear not them, but those behind them.

I get them a wide berth, but in one case, a smile.

I am walking down what is almost a motorway for over an hour. Finally, I see a slip road to the next town.

I am at a stony beach. A man is fishing in the sea. It is past 04:00am.

After over-shooting a turning, I find the train station and remain there until the first train arrives. By walking one stop, I have saved one euro.

I cannot recommend it.

I arrive back in Nice St. Augustin close to 06:00. I reach my hotel, pay for room and breakfast, have the latter (cereal, yoghurt, croissant, two cups of coffee, two glasses of juice) and go to bed.

Coda: Lady O has sent me a text. Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0. Fourth place and Champions League qualification has been assured. Good news.


Monday 20 May

Walked to Nice Ville and back again and flew home. Bought Lady O some barbecue popcorn and Kumar an exercise book.

I am not great on presents and resent paying high prices for chocolate – unless the cocoa farmers directly benefit, of course.

The walk is tiring and I regret not taking the bus.

The journey home is uneventful, even changing at Croydon and getting a bus to Brixton, but then return journeys lack promise – the adventure is over.

Miss the Cineworld Trocadero quiz and do not defend my title.

Tuesday 21 May

Kumar returns late from his Future Film Steering Group. Lady O and I are vexed. We express vexation. Kumar gains full knowledge of our vexitude.

Wednesday 22 May

See THE HANGOVER PART III at the Odeon West End, without the benefit of alcohol. Arguably, this is a good thing, but the film scarcely raises a chuckle. I am grateful to Warner Bros for the invitation.

Thursday 23 May

I attend only half an hour of my French lesson, so as to avoid explaining my weekend in Cannes (it would have really taxed my grasp of the language). Also, who wants to be a show off? Kumar takes his science exam. He is not confident. Lady O blows the proverbial gasket!

Friday 24 May

Obtain three lots of film tickets from for THE BIG WEDDING, THE MOTH DIARIES and BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, screening on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Saturday 25 May

Lady O does not want to leave the house. So she doesn’t. Usual routine of laundry and shopping and listening to the Second Test, England verses New Zealand at Headingly. 2nd day. The England Team are bowled out for 348 (I think). New Zealand is still batting at close of play, six wickets down. I am pessimistic. One German team beats another in the Champions League Final (zzz). Lady O and I watch JIMMY FALLON.

Sunday 26 May

I persuade Kumar to travel to Wimbledon with me – yes, deepest darkest Wimbledon, home of the Lawn Tennis Association, the Wombles, a cash-strapped football team (no relation). I plan for him to see THE HANGOVER PART III whilst I see THE BIG WEDDING. Only the first screening is at midday. Kumar watches THE BIG WEDDING under sufferance. He suffers. Kumar scowls at me at the attempts of genitalia related humour. De Niro gets hit in the face. Kumar harrumphs. De Niro gets hit in the face again. Kumar growls! De Niro is hit in the face a third time. Kumar is ready to leave.

He doesn’t.

We agree it is not a good film.

We head to Wandsworth. Lunch at KFC for Kumar, then he sees THE HANGOVER PART III whilst I watch FAST AND FURIOUS 6. He leaves the screening a very happy Kumar. I am underwhelmed. The star cameo in the final scene is moderately entertaining.

We bus it to South Kensington and engage in our own vehicular warfare, taking public transport back to Finsbury Park (a bit of an exaggeration, but some of them are crowded).

Monday 27 May

Kumar sees STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS in D-Box at Cineworld O2, whilst I see THE MOTH DIARIES at nearby Greenwich Odeon (thank you, Kumar enjoys the simulation of Warp Mark Two. I am less enamoured with the moths. After a windy picnic lunch we travel to the Barbican to conclude filming ALL SMASHED, a parody that involves me being attacked by a teddy bear and getting my hair wet. A normal evening in the Oliver home, I’d say.

Tuesday 28 May

Improbably, England beat New Zealand. Lady O, Kumar and I enjoy steak night at the Devonshire House. Then Kumar gets his hair removed – a buzz cut. It’s extreme. Curiously Kumar is happy. We can clean it more easily, so even Lady O is content.

In the evening I forego both BEHIND THE CANDELABRA and PARADISE: FAITH for BREATHE IN, which I missed a few days earlier. It has more of a plot than Drake Doremus’ previous film, LIKE CRAZY and builds to a crescendo (classical music runs throughout; Guy Pearce’s character plays cello, Felicity Jones the piano). Review to follow.

Watch THE APPRENTICE for the first time this series. Haven’t missed much!

Wednesday 29 May


Thursday 30 May

Lady O, Kumar and I travel to Shepherd Bush for a Sky Movies preview of THE ICEMAN. Should we have bothered? Erm, no. The film is delayed by an hour and ten minutes owing to the delay in downloading it to the projection booth. We choose not to wait and get complementary tickets instead. Home in time for BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT.

Friday 31 May

England’s cricket team loses to New Zealand at their first One Day International. Fortunately, I don’t hear it. No films today, just shopping. Kumar and Lady O watch AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. I have an early night. I hope you had a good May at the movies (pity about the cricket, though, what are they playing at?

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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