The Times BFI 50th London Film Festival

by Joanna Orland & Marko Domazet

Where do I begin? Well… Christian Slater, John Cameron Mitchell and Gael Garcia Bernal for starters! This year’s London Film Festival certainly brought out the big guns from superstar directors (Anthony Minghella) to sexy A-listers (Kate Winslet) to my teenage pin-up (Christian Pump Up the Volume Slater) to EXCELLENT indie films (Shortbus) to star-studded Hollywood flicks (Borat, For Your Consideration). Wicked skins.

I’ll be honest here… I wasn’t expecting too much from the LFF before it began. I knew it would have some decent world films to choose from, I knew it would have a few celebs out to promote, but I didn’t know it would be as popular and thriving as it was this year. Unlike other exclusive film festivals (ahem CANNES), the LFF is for the public. The fans come out in hordes to see the films and the stars. The celebs love it because they can say hello to their adoring public and it’s a win win situation.

Last year I found it hard to deal with always seeing films in Leicester Square and found salvation in the NFT. This year’s cinema range expanded to outside of central London which was a bit odd really. I never made it quite as far as Brixton’s Ritzy, but found myself one night in Greenwich to scope out Fast Food Nation. The glamour was left on the underground as Greenwich is truly a city in itself. A desolate city. Please don’t send me out there again!!!

I’ll stop the ranting because I know you want to hear about the films, the celebs and the fashion. Here’s what we had to deal with:


Sleeping Dogs Lie

OH. MY. GOD. Never in my life did I think a film would bring out my juvenile side (I leave that to my friends). I suppose there is a first for everything, and it didn’t even take five minutes of Sleeping Dogs Lie until I was giggling about things one should not giggle about.

This delightful little romp starts off in a very Meet the Fockers light-hearted kind of way as we are introduced to Amy and her beautiful fiancé. The couple’s future couldn’t be brighter – she’s smart, she’s got a job, he’s beautiful, he has a nice cock (Amy’s words, not mine), he’s beautiful… well, you get the picture. Then, a secret comes out and everything is turned upside down. We cannot reveal this secret, but if it makes you laugh you may find solace in the fact that you are just as twisted as me.

Personally, I find Sleeping Dogs Lie a funny and surprisingly deep dark comedy. It forces the viewer into examining concepts of honesty, relationship and family virtues and the high visual quality of the piece make it one of the best produced indie flicks I have seen in a while. On the other hand, I would have preferred if the creative forces that be, in this case the writer and director Bobby Goldthwait, could have refrained from the melodramatic scenes displayed towards the end of the film.

Having said all of that, I still think that Sleeping Dogs Lie is a fierce piece of work the same way Janice Dickinson is a fierce model. This is one you should enjoy on its own. Not only because it’s an unsettling date film, but because you wouldn’t want the world to know that you’re into the film equivalent of Janice Dickinson would you?


A Soap

VOICE OVER: Next on our schedule, it’s ‘A Soap’. In tonight’s episode, Charlotte tries to make those crucial life-changing decisions, while Veronica pursues her quest to lose that excess baggage. Stay tuned and find out what happens next.

CUE CHEESY MUSIC

SCENE 1. INT. UGLY DANISH FLAT

Charlotte: I’ve just split up with my man and I’m going to have lots and lots of sex with strangers. But before I start having sex, I will ask my next-door neighbour to help me move the bed into the perfect positions.

DOORBELL RINGS

Charlotte: Howdy Neigh… Oh My God! You’re a tranny!

Veronica: What do you want biatch? (rolls her eyes) Can’t you see I’m busy OD-ing on prescription drugs?

CUT TO CHARLOTTE’S BEDROOM

Charlotte: Thank you so much for helping me move my bed Veronica. Here’s some fancy foundation as a token of my appreciation.

Veronica: You crazy biatch? I don’t want your stupid foundation. Didn’t I tell you I have to go home and OD on prescription drugs so that.. so that…

CUE CHEESY MUSIC

Veronica: ..so that I can go home and numb the pain of living on my own, now that my father doesn’t want to talk to me and I have to spend my nights giving head to ugly men so that I can afford to by more wigs and dresses and dressing gowns. And did I mention, I have to suppress the void my father left behind and my mother tries to fill it with expensive patés?

Charlotte: Oh Veronica, I’m so sorry. Let me touch you and make it all better. Ooooh, is that gaffer tape you’ve put across your willy to make it look like less of a willy?

Veronica: Yes it is. It is a constant reminder of the gaping hole in my soul caused by my father. Oh, why can’t he be proud of me?

Charlotte: OH, I hear your pain. I feel your pain. Let me kiss you and grope you and make you feel all better.

CUE CLIFFHANGER MUSIC

VOICE OVER: Will they find true love? Will Veronica ever manage to commit suicide? And will she have enough gaffer tape until she does? Find out next week…*

*Writers note. You see, my soap is way better and snappier than the one we saw at London Film Festival…. don’t even bother.


BREAKING AND ENTERING – RED CARPET

Anthony Minghella, Martin Freeman and Robin Wright Penn speak about Breaking and Entering

Oy vey! Where is Sluttyenna when you need her? By the time we made it to the red carpet, we were exhausted. Again, we were standing in the cold and this time it was not a very friendly atmosphere. Earlier on during the week, we had made friends with some lovely Croatian girls (if you’re reading this – zdravo!) and were relieved to see them in the reporting pit. Unfortunately, not all of the reporters were as friendly as our Croatian friends, and as a revenge for being pushed out of the way, we have decided to publish a photo of a guy that single-handedly was the biggest wanker we encountered. (see photo gallery below) In fact if you ever see him, feel free to spit his way. He loves saliva. Fortunately, we knew we were about to chat to the likes of Jude Law, Robin Wright Penn and Anthony Minghella so it sort of made up for the wanker.

Having only seen the previews of the film, my initial reaction is that Breaking and Entering is a load of cock. It tells the story of a wealthy architect (Law) and how his world changes when he decides to become a part of a poor Bosnian boy’s life. I personally think, it’s because he’s interested in getting it on with the boy’s mother (oh come on! What else are we to expect from Mr. Law?) Then again, the film is trying to send out a positive message and the fabulous Juliette Binoche is pretending to be one of my people, so respect for that.

Breaking and Entering came about as a result of a long adventure the director, Anthony Minghella, had been on. He had seen the world and wanted to make a film about what it is like to live in London. Minghella says, ‘I thought that when I started making this movie that I could make it very quickly, because it was about a city I know, but in fact from day one I created problems for myself.’. Indeed, by creating a Bosnian character, Minghella had to spend some time in Sarajevo researching the country and its people, thus being able to incorporate another element into the screenplay which he boasts is‘adding another adventure and another learning lesson for me and the film’.

With a story all in order, a stellar cast was put in place, making Breaking and Entering the third collaboration between Jude Law and Minghella. ‘Jude is as good an actor I ever worked with’ says Minghella. ‘He’s never let me down. Juliette Binoche… well, I would work with her digging up the road. When you meet great actors you just want to keep that relationship there.’

Speaking of relationships and being the naughty one in a relationship, Mr. Law said that ‘everything is bad about infidelity. It can be exciting, it can be passionate, but in the long run it’s not the idea… and people end up getting hurt’. Aaaaaaaw.

The beautiful Robin Wright Penn was more insightful (and beautiful) than her colleagues and said that Breaking and Entering ‘asks the questions if you should forgive and forget’. Like real life, it does not offer any simple, straightforward answers, but ‘at least if you have honest communication, which is what this movie is about, at least there can be some connection. You know, whether it’s resolved or not, there is connection’.

Hmmmm… yeah. So how did we feel after the Breaking and Entering Gala? Well, we were both wet and slightly underwhelmed. Robin Wright Penn looked amazing, but we didn’t get to chat to her as much as we would have wanted. Sluttyenna was not around, and Jude was… well, short. Martin Freeman still has funny hair and I will say that Anthony Minghella seemed to be a very gentle and wise man and the unexpected star of this evening. All in all, a good night, but next time Robin Wright Penn is in town, I’m gunning for an exclusive.


Shortbus

One of the most talked about films of 2006 and one of Loose Lips’ favourite filmmakers, like, ever. How fabulous is that? We were given the opportunity to hook up with none other that John Cameron Mitchell and a few of the stars in his latest flick Shortbus and, for lack of a better word, it rocked.

The real life sex scenes featured in the film have raised a few eyebrows (and other parts of the human anatomy I’m sure), but beyond presenting the conundrum that is sex, Shortbus also deals with modern relationships, big city lives and how peoples’ emotional and physical barriers can be broken down.

The first Shortbussers up to the plate were Justin Bond and Jay Braham, the two hotties who play the Jamies. The Jamies believe that Shortbus ‘is a film that should exist’, because the honesty (physical as well as emotional) seen in the film delves into and portrays important emotions about humans and sexuality. Getting to the stage of being able to perform was a time-consuming process, but from what the boys told us, it sounds like it would be the perfect scenario for any creative performer. We’re talking two and a half years of workshops that started off with ‘a loose concept of characters that were later developed as a group of people’. Now, I know what ya’ll are thinking, but all of the actors claimed that the sex scenes were the least of their worries once they got into it (pun intended). Jay said that ‘portraying a scene of sex is no different than portraying a scene where a character is crying’ and that ‘the sex should not be focused on too much.’

Unfortunately, most of us have a one-track mind and Sook-Yin Lee, one of the actresses, experienced this first hand when it was made public that she was signed up to act in the film and her job with the big shots that are CBC was on the line. Fortunately for Sook-Yin, she is a very loyal lady who sticks to her word and sailed through the project successfully. For her, Shortbus wasn’t only an opportunity to work with John Cameron Mitchell again (for all of you who didn’t know this, they worked together on Hedwig and we insist you go and rent it the minute your finish this article), but also an opportunity to face a lot of her fears. In her own words ‘all along the way, I had to encounter people who were afraid… whether it be my employers, people around me or myself. It wasn’t easy for me to do a lot of the intimate work and some of the more emotional scenes were even more difficult than the sexual scenes.’

The man himself, John Mitchell puts it, ‘in films, sex has always been used and portrayed as a metaphor. Now we’re portraying sex and that makes it a metaphor for something else. It’s not a negative thing and there’s always room for hope and room for clearing the air of fear about sex and about a lot of other things. We’re all trying to connect, everyone is trying to answer the question whether we are going to be alone… and in our case the characters try to answer the question in the sexual realm’.

To yours truly, Shortbus seems to be based around the concept of ‘We’. It’s not about trying to be an American equivalent to European films such as Fat Girl and Baise Moi, films known for their explicit sexual content. Instead, this is about all of us being in the same boat, living and experiencing things together. In this case, the collaborative, co-existing process that started on the set of Shortbus and that can easily be applied to everyday life. ‘It’s always a collaborative thing. No director has complete control over their film. It makes it more fun, you can have a very good time… and not feel very lonely, feel like you’re the only one that made it.’, says Mitchell.

In conclusion, the love Loose Lips has for John Cameron Mitchell has increased tenfold since that night Jo and I watched Hedwig and played with makeup. Sook-Yin was cool and I think it’s safe to say both of us developed a crush on the Jamies… call us!


LITTLE CHILDREN – RED CARPET

Director Todd Field and starlett Kate go on about Little Children

I never get strarstruck. Some would say it’s because I’m too cool for school. Personally, I think it’s because I’m too up my own ass to open my eyes and admire the fabulousness of real stars. Well, thanks to Miss Kate Winslet my eyes have been opened. Picture it. A cold Wednesday night, the rain is drizzling down over a crowd of reporters. Miss Orland and myself are shivering in our coats and my Connies are completely soaked through with filthy London gutter water. Then a car pulls up and we see Kate exit…oh Kate, lovely Kate.

I think this piece will be about my love and adoration for Kate Winslet. She just does everything right. Blockbusters, indie flicks, comedies… she can act fully nude and she can do it just as well with clothes on (take that Sharon Stone). She seems grounded and fun and, adding to her already high score, I’ve heard rumours that the lady smokes. Respect.

Anyway, Kate gets out of the car, the crowd goes wild. As you can see from the photos, she was wearing Graaf and boy did it look good. The film she was there to promote, Little Children, sounds good, but to tell you the truth all of it went out the window as Miss Winslet approached us. We did try getting a word in with the director, but he was a wanker and will therefore not get any more column space than this. So, moving swiftly on, here’s what Kate had to say:

In regards to her character, a woman who finds love in the arms of a studillicious young dad, ‘the biggest challenge was playing somebody that has qualities I don’t necessarily understand myself. It was a challenge for me to play somebody as emotionally subdued as Sarah is. She’s actually quite weak and as the film progresses, she learns her own strength and she comes to understand who she really is as a woman and ultimately as a mother.’

She then struck a pose, smiled and dove into the deep end by addressing the issues of themes in Little Children. ‘I don’t know if there’s necessarily a message, but the theme is a take on reality and it has some really dramatic moments, but it also has some really fun moments. It’s very much a story about people who are lost and trying to figure out who they are… but at the end there is something very hopeful’.

Another pose, another dazzling smile (Oh Kate, when will you go out for a drink with me?) before commenting on the Oscar hype that has sprung up as a result of her amazing performance. To put it simply, she loves it! ‘It’s fantastic to be in something that can be perceived in that way and it’s really thrilling for me. I will never cease to be amazed by the Academy Awards.’.

Before dashing off into the warm cinema, Miss Winslet found the time to hug a teenage girl that had been yelling her name for ages and praise the film festival as a wonderful event where ‘you really feel England celebrating film.’
What can we say? The woman is fabulous.


BOBBY – Red Carpet
Let’s put this into perspective – the girl on the right? She’s about 5″4 and not wearing heels.

Loose Lips talks to Freddy Rodriguez and Le Slater

OMG. This is where I get totally and completely starstruck. Christian Slater walks in and my mind and legs turn to goo. Hence the shaky cam on all of the photos. There is nothing I can say about this premiere because I was on another planet at the time. Let the photos and audio speak for themselves.
BTW, Emilio Estevez is either the shortest man or tallest midget. EmWEElio Estevez. Si Si Senor!


Fast Food Nation

Ethan Hawke canNOT shut up.

Why was this screening in Greenwich? I risked my life for this Richard Linklater film. I should’ve just rented Dazed and Confused because that’s how it left me.

The problem at hand is how do you turn a factual left wing sociological book into a narrative? The answer is: you don’t. Go to your local library and avoid the cinema (especially the Greenwich one) at all costs.

Then there was all the cool stuff we missed because I fell asleep:


Wilmer arrives at the Leicester Square premiere of Fast Food Nation and managed to avoid Greenwich like a clever boy.


I really should remember his name… But this despearate pretty boy showed up to the Borat premiere.


Borat arrives in style.


And GAEL – phwoar.

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