Sunday, 26 February 2017

Random Chairs in a Darkened Room V

Two dogs sitting up in the shade looking out at the patio and pool in the sun
Spain, November 2016
Lola II and Mr M staged the fifth annual Gulloebl film festival (subtitled 'Random Chairs in a Darkened Room) last weekend. Invited guests had the opportunity to watch up to eight films over the weekend, and this time there was a theme: all of the films featured Alan Rickman, who died last year. I watched seven of the eight films, and it reaffirmed for me what a talented actor and a delight to watch he was.

Due to the number of visitors like myself travelling to attend the festival and needing accommodation, I was allocated to sleep in the annexe. This took the form of a tent in the garden, which was pretty snug with duvet, blanket, hot water bottle and socks. I like camping but this was probably the first time I have camped in February.

My favourite of the seven films I watched was Dogma (1999), the most mainstream of director Kevin Smith's films. I've seen most of this director's previous work, starting with Clerks, and enjoyed most of them. Dogma features Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as well as Alan Rickman, and the Catholic Church is the cast member referenced by the title. I was expecting this to be my favourite film of the weekend, and it didn't disappoint.

Second best was Snow Cake (2006) which starred Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss. I'd seen it before and I knew I'd liked it, although I couldn't remember any details. A man gives a lift to a young woman who is killed in a terrible road accident. The man (played by Alan Rickman) feels compelled to make his way to the young woman's mother, who turns out to have autism, and the story covers just the few days he spends with her. It's touching, poignant, thought-provoking and occasionally funny.

Galaxy Quest (1999) has appeared in a previous film festival, but I could watch it every year. At the end my cheeks hurt from grinning, and the rich source of quotations from the film is a boon in many situations (Never give up, never surrender!) Sigourney Weaver is in this one too, along with Tim Allen, (You are our laaaast hooope). And, of course, Alan Rickman (Give him a hand, he's British!)

My next favourite was Truly Madly Deeply (1990). I hadn't realised that it was written and directed by Anthony Minghella with Juliet Stevenson in mind (if IMDb is to be believed). The writing was beautiful, sad and funny in turn, even though Alan's moustache and Juliet's wardrobe were dreadful. Tissues were available at the screening, and there were plenty of muffled sniffles at the end.

I also love Sense and Sensibility (1995), not only for the wonderful Alan but also for the other quality performances from Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. Hugh Grant was there too, but he was just playing himself as usual. Terrific writing, which won Oscars for Emma Thompson as the writer as well as Best Actress. Hugh Laurie deserves a notable mention for his delivery of some wonderful lines. Mrs Palmer: "No, I cannot believe it is that far, for you can see the place from the top of our hill. Is it really five and a half? No. I cannot believe it." Mr Palmer: "Try."

So five of the seven films receive my full approval; the remaining two that I watched were Die Hard (1988) with Bruce Willis, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) with every British actor ever. I hadn't seen Die Hard before but it is said to be a classic - I can see that it's quite good, but it's just not my kind of thing. I've read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the films, but the books are better and this first film spends a lot of its time setting up the series. The film I didn't watch in the festival line-up was Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991) - I actually started watching it on DVD a few years ago, but stopped after about half an hour. So I wasn't keen to try again.

If it had been up to me to choose films featuring Alan Rickman I would have included A Little Chaos (2014) - Kate Winslet again, but also the incomparable Matthias Schoenaerts as well as the always reliable Stanley Tucci. Love Actually (2003) is another obvious choice with Emma and Hugh again, and I thought the recent Eye in the Sky (2015) with Helen Mirren was also very good indeed. But there are so many choices.

My ultimate plan is to be awarded the first Gulloebl Film Festival franchise and to stage my own version when my house is ready. Of course I'm already thinking of what I might include, and the selection this year has sparked many ideas - Matthias Schoenaerts leads me to Rust and Bone and Suite Francaise as well as A Little Chaos, there's Kevin Smith's Clerks, and perhaps more of Ben Affleck (maybe Argo?) and Matt Damon (maybe Invictus?) Favourite female actors who might feature include Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding and I would say Little Miss Sunshine but that's been shown at the Gulloebl Film Festival before, then there are The Sixth Sense and About A Boy which are a bit too mainstream). I love watching Melissa McCarthy as well, who was lovely in The Heat with Sandra Bullock, Spy with Jude Law and St Vincent with Bill Murray. Lastly for the women, I'd watch anything with Alison Janney (Juno and American Beauty spring to mind). There are so many wonderful films in the world. I don't know how Lola II and Mr M manage to whittle their choices down to just eight a year.

As a form of apprenticeship in preparation for the franchise, I undertook several roles backstage including making popcorn and ice cream vendor, I received full and frank feedback when I neglected the popcorn due to being distracted by guests, and I was given short shrift and sent off to buy some proper cream when I tried to substitute Elmlea on the basis that Waitrose was closed and this was all the newsagent stocked. But I think with a bit more effort I might be trusted with the valued Gulloebl brand in a year or two.

The Gulloebl Chinema management team carried out my appraisal a week later, and I received the following feedback. Luckily for me they seem to have overlooked the popcorn and cream issues.

Year One Probation Appraisal

Trainee: Lola I
Role: Canine Corpus
Employment Status: Hopeful
Supervision Date: 23 rd February 2017

Duties and Comments

Popcorn making: Corn popped as required
Dishwasher loading: Dishwasher loaded
Ice cream vending: Needed supervision at first, but threw herself (and the ice creams) into delivery. However, forgot to collect any money. Losses to be taken from her wages. We are not Robin Hood (which Lola would know if she had watched the film)
Height: Adequate but not quite up to Lola II
Dietary knowledge: Generally excellent though struggles to identify portions of fruit if they are in jars
Prospects: Lola showed real potential and in a few years’ time, we fully expect her to be allowed to sleep in the house. We also envisage her being welcomed into heaven, when her time comes.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic review - this has given me ideas for DVDs to procure as future presents.


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