A Letter from London, part 1 – Philip Wyn Jones at LLGFF
Posted on: 21 Mar 2013 by Philip Wyn Jones
Some people rhapsodize about April in Paris. I’ll settle for March in London! My holiday began with a visit to London’s Transport Museum which is celebrating poster art on the London Underground. I particularly enjoyed a 1930s poster depicting the interior of a cinema; a Ronald Colman film is featured on the screen. Then I attended the comparatively new London Film Museum, also at Covent Garden. This privately established museum presents a comprehensive survey of films set in and depicting London and there’s a very comfortable café to hand. The day ended at the Coliseum, for English National Opera’s impressive rendering of Charpentier’s 1693 opera, Medea. Tarantino would have relished the blood-stained proceedings.
My visit to this year’s LLGFF began with two films.
I Am Divine (Jeffrey Schwartz, USA, 85 mins). This biographical documentary portrayed Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as talented actor and performer, Divine. It was the inspiring story of a bullied schoolboy who fought back and became world-famous. Both hilarious and moving, highlights included an early film re-enacting the assassination of President Kennedy. Divine, needless to say, portrayed Jackie Kennedy!
Petunia (Ash Christian, USA, 108 mins). Based to some extent on the writer-director’s real-life experiences, this feature is a kind of comedy-drama, the making of which proved to be therapeutic for him. The title is a family surname and the parents, their three grown-up sons and the in-laws are thoroughly dysfunctional. As a would-be comedy the film is moderately amusing from time to time. As a serious drama it’s over familiar. It’s also far too long.
Animals (Marcal Fores, Spain, 90 mins) At the end of this film, two teenagers, two animals and a soft toy process off the screen from right to left. It may seem strange now but in context it’s wholly logical. Beautifully shot, with a throbbing soundtrack and capable acting by a young cast, it’s an account of youthful uncertainties, loneliness and various ways of escaping .The Catalan-speaking students are pupils at an English-language school and both languages feature in this fascinating film.
White Night (pictured. Leesong Hee-il, South Korea, 75 mins). This elegant film depicts a very brief encounter between a troubled flight attendant and a courier. A casual one-night stand leads to violence connected with the flight attendant’s past and there’s a fleeting hope of happiness. Both leading actors give suitably enigmatic performances and the audience has to work out the significance of various references to the past. This is the first of three films by the same director which will be shown in the festival. I look forward to the others.
Taboo Yardies (Selena Blake, Jamaica & USA, 79 mins). This straightforward documentary described the widespread homophobia in Jamaica as experienced by people who still live there and those who have fled to the USA. It was my introduction to such words as battyman (=gay) and homofibia (lies about gays). The recently replaced Prime Minister of Jamaica caused much anger and hilarity among the NFT audience with his ridiculous arguments against gay rights.
Pasolini’s Last Words (Cathy Lee Crane, USA & Italy, 61 mins) This experimental documentary concentrated on Pasolini’s first and last films and his writings. All the excerpts quoted as voice-overs used his exact words. Re-enactments and actual footage were cleverly matched and Pasolini’s murder and its aftermath were graphically presented. His fearless and caustic comments about his homeland clearly made him many enemies and led, perhaps, to his death.
To be continued ...
Philip Wyn Jones. Editor and reviewer