Monday, October 25, 2010

BEST KEPT SECRET...

I know my posts are a bit film festival heavy this week, having previously been a bit Frieze heavy before, but that's what's going on, so what can you do?

Yesterday, thanks to the continuing magic powers of Twitter I saw that a few more tickets to the sold out surprise film of the festival had been released. By the time I got through to book, there was one solitary seat left - so I nabbed it. They change it up each year so that it's hard to guess - the surprise film could be a documentary one year, then a small independent film, even a cartoon. Despite repeated Googling, I couldn't find any hint to what it might be. At the cinema, upon grilling, the box office and film festival staff swore they didn't know what we were about to watch. I had never been to the surprise film before so I was...surprised when in the introduction to the film the very chic lady from the film festival (help?) said she wasn't even going to tell us before it started. She took some guesses from the audience and told us that had this film been in the usual festival selection it would have had a gala screening. And that this was the European premiere. I started to have some inkling then as everyone sat with fingers poised to tweet above their phones. I started to write Brigh...and then as the film started, yes, Brighton Rock (as 800 tiny screens glowed in the dark). We were at the first screening, so we let it out of the bag for those next door about to watch it 15 minutes later.
Brighton Rock is based on the 1938 Graham Greene novel, consciously avoiding comparison with the earlier film adaptations, as director Rowan Joffe told us at the Q&A after the film.
It's set in 1964 - the time closest to ours when Britain still had the death penalty, the threat of which is crucial to the story, and the time of the clashes between mods and rockers on Brighton seafront. Rowan Joffe said that they had considered setting it in modern times, but the character of Rose is such a complete innocent that it would never be believable.

Pinkie, the 17 year old would-be gang boss and budding sociopath is played by Sam Riley (Rowan Joffe wrote the screenplay for The American, directed by Anton Corbijn who cast Riley as Ian Curtis in his film Control) who is more than capable of holding his own in a cast containing Helen Mirren and John Hurt. Andy Serkis (last seen by me as Ian Dury) plays rival gang boss Colleoni - Serkis is able to communicate the entire essence of his character in the first two seconds he is on screen, just by sitting down on a sofa. The background of the mods and rockers skirmishing is really just that, background: a parallel world that collides with Pinkie's diabolical little world at various points. Visually the film reminded me slightly of An Education with it's lush perfection and slightly unreal quality. I disliked An Education intensely but here the story is so compelling, the acting so accomplished that you forgive them for using a bit of CGI here and there.

I found the whole surprise element quite thrilling, and the anticipation of the audience made it a rare atmosphere for London. The fact that we - surprise again, got to ask director Rowan Joffe questions at the end sealed the deal for me. I will definitely be throwing caution to the wind again next year and getting tickets for the surprise film, though I think I might have started the tradition on something of a high.

{Until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10am you can still enter my competition to win two tickets to the film festival screening of Sofia Coppola's Somewhere this Thursday.}

{image: Optimum Releasing}

6 comments:

Rose said...

how exciting that must have been! I have seen a couple of great things this year but have been a bit thwarted by not being free at all the times I'd have liked. Next year I'd like to go to lots more.

If Jane said...

oh i shall look it for it!!!

Bombay Beauty said...

well done! there's always an extra frisson of a premiere, that too an unexpected one! xo bb

Ally said...

That sounds like such a lovely experience! A surprise screening is a really great idea, and I love when directors/actors are there for a Q&A. At the Melbourne Film Festival two years ago I went to a screening of 'Anna' starring Anna Karina, and you can imagine my delight when she did a Q&A after the film.

tunabake said...

Wow so excited to hear there is a new version of Brighton Rock, one of my favourite books and films - always welcome a new interpretation.

Rose said...

I saw Brighton Rock at the Curzon soho at the weekend- finally! I feel like I'm a bit late to the party but wanted to say somewhere how gripped I was and that I actually think the reviews for it have been rather unfair. I think Sam Rily is fascinating and I loved Eastbourne dressed as Brighton- a little bit of CGI aside they'd done really well. So yes, one of those films that has had a hard time I feel