Chicago Festing, London Calling
After trumpeting this occasion, I would have fluffed my own feathers a bit and shouted with joy about my biggest news of the fall, which is my first-ever trip to England to attend and cover the 2008 London Film Festival, which also comprises a bevy of new work by artists from around the world, some names more familiar than others, some titles already big buzz-hits and awards magnets from Cannes and Toronto and Venice. I used all my best soothsaying abilities to convince the BFI to accredit me as an official journalist for the fest and to persuade Northwestern to subsidize my trip, in the service of my research and of future classes I can teach with an expanded global sweep.
So, let's pretend that October had been less frenetic and that I actually did inform you of these two thrilling events in a more timely fashionsince, as it happens, I'm already in London, where I'm spending my two-week trip with the heroic and debonair Tim R. of MainlyMovies (and, by day, of the Daily Telegraph). I've never been to England before, so the last 24 hours have been a delicious comination of party, blur, and dream come true.
Truant though I was in providing advance word about these trips, I have been uncharacteristically diligent in chronicling my adventures. Because the festivals are virtually simultaneous, I had to leave Chicago only a few days into the CFF, but the two screenings I caught more than made up for the truncated stay: Erick Zonca's transfixing and ambitious Julia (reviewed here), starring Tilda Swinton in one of her best and certainly least typical performances, and Lance Hammer's Ballast (reviewed here), a poetically affecting drama in the vein of David Gordon Green, though a bit more intimate with its characters.
My first London screening was less auspicious, I'm sad to report, though a subprime James Gray film is still a solid way to spend an evening. Here is my shorter write-up of his latest, Two Lovers, with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow.
And now, stay tuned for reports on new work from Kelly Reichardt, Oliver Stone, Danny Boyle, and Steven Soderbergh, a rare old jewel with Gloria Swanson, and whatever else is fit to print from London!