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25 October 2009

Surprise, Surprise

LoFiFest screenings/events attended: 6
Red carpets crossed: 2
Directors sighted: 2
Clive Owen sighted: 2
Questions posed by me during Q&A: 1

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise
Yeah, surprise, surprise, surprise
Well, surprise, surprise, come on open your eyes
And let your love shine down
--B. Springsteen

Each year at the London Film Festival, there is a surprise film event. You aren't told anything about the film--not even its genre and certainly not the name of any of the actors or the director--you just have to book and hope it's a good one. Last year, the surprise film was The Wrestler and the year before that, No Country for Old Men, so you have to assume that it will be a fairly safe gamble--maybe less so for someone like me who only goes to see movies of which there is a high chance of her liking.

The LoFiFest website describes the secret film as, "the hottest ticket in the entire festival" and so naturally it was sold out weeks ago, although the BFI has been releasing a few extra tickets each day for the past few days. Finding myself unexpectedly available this evening and finding that there were about three seats left (fairly good seats too--mine is fairly central and in the seventh row), I decided to go ahead and book before the BFI's Twitter feed led to those seats being snapped up, leaving me once again completely powerless to determine my evening's success.

It only occurred to be afterwards to check the blogosphere for people's suggestions of which film it is likely to be. Both Where the Wild Things Are and Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes film came up several times. Now, regardless of whether Sherlock Holmes was any good, at least I knew I would be able to enjoy the aesthetically appealing Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law (especially if they actually turned up at the end for Q&A). Where the Wild Things Are, on the other hand, is not something I wanted to see. It had pretty bad reviews, I'm not that interested in that kind of film (I don't care how dark it is; I'm not a big fan of fantasy or animation) and there's no one hot in the cast, although admittedly, listening to Spike Jonze talk about the film and his other work might be interesting. The film I really wanted to see was one no one mentioned (it may still be in production)--Shutter Island. I was in the mood for a dark thriller and or drama--and a combination of DiCaprio and Scorsese would have done the trick.

So, along I trekked to the now very familiar Vue cinema at Leicester Square. It was pretty rammed, presumably because people had just come from watching Eva Green arrive at the gala for her new film, Cracks (reading the description, I'm surprised I didn't spot that one before; I'll have to catch it when it goes on general release). It turns out that a) this wasn't my lucky weekend and b) you should be careful what you wish for. You see, when I go to the cinema, I go for the escapism. I go for the characters, the dialogue and, most of all, the story.

And what did I get? A sermon from the church of Michael Moore. Yes, that's right; the surprise film was Capitalism: A Love Story, except only two thirds of the title was accurate because while there was a whole lot of capitalism, there wasn't much love or story. Aged ten, Moore quite liked capitalism--at least, he liked living in his nice house and getting a new family car every three years and going to New York every other summer. This love story soon turned sour, of course, and the rest of the film was filled with Moore's usual emotive polemic filled with the usual shock tactics and the occasional bit of humour (I wish there had been more; it might have been easier to stay awake. At 2h10, the film could have been at least 30 minutes shorter given that it only had one point--capitalism is evil.

It's not that I disagree with the point Moore is making but I prefer to go to the movies to be entertained not to be preached at. It seemed an odd choice for the London Film Festival too--in the final scene of the film, Moore proclaims that he can't live in such a morally and socially bankrupt country any longer but that he isn't leaving, so he then puts a call out to the audience to go and mess with the system a little bit in their own towns and villages. Viva la RevoluciĆ³n! sez Michael Guevara. Zzzzzz... The song remains the same, sez Bexquisite. Anyway, this message would presumably be better targetted at other individuals rather than people whose main common trait is that they love movies, but who am I to judge.

Capitalism: A Love Story had its moments and I did LOL a number of times but needless to say, I wasn't too devastated to hear that the director wouldn't be taking audience questions.


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