Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicago Festing, London Calling

In my dream life, I would have posted about a week ago to herald the approach of this year's Chicago Film Festival, easily one of the highlights of my moviegoing year. The festival opened on the 16th of this month and extends its enormous, diverse, and exciting programming all the way through the end of the month.

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 fashion—since, 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!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

I tend to get overexcited when any of my favourite bloggers/internet friends is actually somewhere in my own country, but this is a proper blog so I'll just say this: hurrah.

I only caught A Christmas Tale at the LFF (lack of money), but it was very enjoyable and I liked the communal experience of actually being in a packed cinema for once (hard to avoid since I was stuck at the back, but I could still see easily enough). Will you be visiting many different venues? I'm sad to say in my four screenings (three in 2006) I only ever went to the Odeon West End.

Sad to here about Two Lovers, but I must correct you: I checked out We Own the Night solely on your recommendation (like you said, no one else seemed to care), and found it to be one of the best of last year and as fantastic as you seemed to. So you did work your magic over at least one person.

5:02 AM, October 22, 2008  
Blogger Catherine said...

Wahey, congratulations! That's a nice Autumnal surprise. Are you finding time to do any tourist-y type things at all?

12:57 PM, October 22, 2008  
Blogger Brooke Cloudbuster said...

Ever since I've heard about the film Julia, I've been wondering what you'd think of it and I'm not disappointed.

Great review! I really hope it comes to the film festival around here next year. Fingers crossed!

11:02 PM, October 22, 2008  

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