The Raindance East Film Festival continues today, but Londonist is still reeling from a weekend filled with brutal movies that may well have warped our fragile sensibilities. Saturday saw us taking our seats for Palindromes, a sort of sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse that is as weird and wonderful as anything that Todd Solendz has ever done in the past, but still manages to leave you feeling a little unclean by the time you step outside his twisted view of New Jersey. A full review can be found over on Cinema Minima whom we are sharing festival duties with. It gets a full release early next month and we’d suggest you go see it. Just not with your teenage niece.
Sunday we were once again in the company of Danny Boyle. This time for a movie of his choice and a spirited Q&A session that threatened to hold up the rest of the days screenings at the Genesis. Most of us were expecting to see one of Danny’s earlier movies, but given the choice of something that was “easy to swallow” as he put it and something that truly inspired him as a filmmaker he went for the tougher choice. Londonist felt sorry for the few people who were hoping for a repeat screening of the family-orientated Millions and instead were treated (although that’s not quite the right word) to Elem Klimov’s Come and See. Both films open with children, but Millions has less scenes of them being thrown through windows followed by grenades.
Two and some hours later and we were exhausted. A few people walked out on the screening which was a shame as you don’t usually get to see this kind of movie on the big screen once its initial release is over. Then again, as Sunday afternoon matinees go it’s a difficult pitch. Come and See follows a young boy as he struggles to find his way as a partisan in Byelorussia during World War II. Torn from his family he finds friendship with a young girl before German bombs destroy his poorly thought out ideas of war along with his hearing. What follows is a spiralling degeneration as the boy falls from one atrocity to the next, climaxing in the destruction of a peasant village that revels in the barbarity of the Germans and seems endless. If you think something like Saving Private Ryan is the best example of a war movie then you probably shouldn’t track down Come and See as it will ruin the escapism that provides the ‘entertainment’ in most other war movies. We would love to say that the cast were brilliant, but at least a part of their convincing terror must have been thanks to the fact that live ammunition was used during the shoot. But what did any of that have to do with Trainspotting or even 28 Days Later?
Visually and thematically, not much – as Danny Boyle himself was quick to point out. He did, however find Klimov’s use of sound to be staggering and it also constantly reminds him that the limitations of budget and/or equipment can always be used to the benefit of the final film. Interestingly, Come and See was only one of four possible movies that Boyle had wanted to screen. He almost opted for Buffalo Soldiers, a view of the modern American army that still remains undistributed in the USA, The Thing (the remake, as he believes it’s a good example of a movie that is much better than the original) and the stunning western Open Range – all movies that Londonist has a lot of time for. In the conversation that followed Boyle was quick to laugh about his experiences with The Beach and revealed he still has a soft spot for A Life Less Ordinary despite it being an attempt to copy the Coen Brothers (“Never a good thing to do“). He revealed a little more about his newest project Sunshine and the tug of war he had with zombie fan Alex Garland over 28 Days Later. The oft-mentioned sequel to Trainspotting is still on the cards, but at least another ten years away as he has to wait for the original cast to settle into middle age. Even after the Q&A was officially over Boyle hung around and spoke to the audience that didn’t want to leave without shaking his hand, offering him CVs, glossy photos and questions on how to make it big in the floundering British film industry. The man has the patience of a saint and is generous with both his time and offers of names and addresses of casting directors and numerous other film contacts.
We’re glad to say that Boyle is still a proud East End resident and even after pressure to move the production of his next movie abroad he resisted and is keen to keep working in London unlike so many of his peers. Londonist will try and keep an eye on the upcoming Sunshine and do our best to keep you posted as the production takes shape. One thing that we can exclusively reveal… it won’t star Hugh Grant.