Thursday, October 29, 2009

London 15B: Day 11 & 12 - Class & I find a Girlfriend (Girlfriend)

After racing across town and over-shooting the restaurant by a block, I get there just in time, Suzanne and Janet are drinking wine so I order a large glass to dial down the caffeine... This is my first meal of the day, and the glass of Bordeaux I drink before we are served hits me hard. Great, I’m an easy drunk. So I order another glass to go with my meal.

I mention to Janet and Suzanne my fears that once Elliot has subtracted all of the expenses that I will go home with empty pockets. I brought a bag of CDs to sell, and that’s what I’ve been paying for meals and coffee and everything else with. I only brought a small bag of CDs because I was afraid of my bag being deemed “heavy” and the airline charges me not only for the bag, but an overweight fee as well. So I brought half of the CDs I usually bring - not knowing that they would not give me any per diem money - they always have in the past. London is not a cheap place to eat and drink. Though they are covering my hotel room, I have to pay for any phone calls, room service, and leave a tip for the maids who insisted on bringing me new towels every day, or a three page letter explaining where I could get towels if I needed them. Now, Raindance has been great about the CDs - I’ve been leaving them with an envelope for money at the T shirt & Poster table at the Raindance Café Bombshelter, and they have been selling them for me. I’ve taken no inventory, and take the money every night (so that I can buy coffee in the morning), so I’m just trusting them. The Raindance Café Bombshelter closed - with a handful of CDs and my money envelope being carted back to the Raindance Office (I hope) - but most of the CDs have sold, and my wallet is not brimming with cash. *Starbucks* wallets may be brimming with cash, though. I have what translates to maybe $300 left in my wallet after I pay the restaurant bill and take out the rest of my expenses for the stay - and would hate to think that’s all I will make after teaching 5 free classes and talking for 2 full days for the weekend class.

Janet has sent me all of the mailing list stuff she gets as a member of numerous film and writing groups - and none are promoting the 2 day class (though all have stuff about the 5 free classes). I discuss my plan of action - the 5 classes were part of the film festival. My airfare and hotel? Part of the film festival. That will not count against the weekend class. The only expense for the weekend class is that dungeon room. Janet and Suzanne think that sounds fair, and both tell me not to back down.

After the food comes, we eat and talk and laugh and then it’s time to go to the big closing night movie...


Before the movie starts, Elliot grabs me and asks if I would like to hand out the Best Foreign Film Award. Well, sure - wish I’d known, I would have dressed for it. He looks at my cinema tickets - I’m in the wrong cinema. The closing night film is playing on three screens, and Janet, Suzanne, and I are in one of the small cinemas. Elliot says he’ll trying to get me a ticket for the big cinema - where the awards will be. I say - hey, we need *three* tickets. I expect that will be the end of that, and someone else will hand out the BFFA - but one of the Raindance staff grabs me in the lobby and swaps out three tickets for three tickets in the main cinema. I jog up stairs to the men’s room to comb my hair and make sure I don’t have food on my face. I’m also feeling the wine a little... swell, I’m handing out awards hammered!

Our three seats are in the front row, and we watch close up as people collect their awards, then Elliot announces me, and I jump up to read the nominees, give the big dramatic pause, then announce the winner.

Except, when I open the envelope there are *two winners* - a tie! I announce both, then mention that both film makers will battle to the death in a steel cage match to see who goes home with the actual award. Gets a big laugh (everyone else must have had wine with their dinner, too) and 25 CARATS was not there, but an actor from MY SUICIDE is - in a mask - and races up to accept their half of the award. After all of the awards have been handed out, the movie begins...

MOVIE: THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE - USA - No, Soderbergh was not in attendance. Too bad, because that would have made it a much better evening. The film is non-chron, jumping all over the place... but the story just goes no place. It’s one of Soderbergh’s pocket change experimental films, and there isn’t a story to be seen. Escort (read: high class hooker) lives with a guy who is a personal trainer. He accepts her job, as long as it’s just sex. But when she develops feelings for a client (with no scenes to demonstrate this, by the way) the personal trainer guy gets jealous and leaves. Wow! That almost sounds like a plot! It’s that writer thing again - you try to make sense of nonsense and turn it into a story. Mostly, the film is a bunch of unrelated scenes with the same characters - often talking about the stock market crash and how their investments sure took a hit! When Soderbergh throws chronology out the window in a well plotted script like THE LIMEY is works really well, because we have that revenge plot to hold on to. We can sort the scenes by the plot and it all makes sense and is interesting. With something like GIRLFRIEND that has no plot, the non-chron thing becomes confusing... except it really isn’t confusing, because that would require that you *cared* about the story and characters, and here we don’t give a damn about any of them. Imagine making the life of a hooker boring! Lesson: Balance again - if the story is soft and not focused, the way you tell the story has to be strong and focused. You can’t have a fuzzy story and a fuzzy way of telling it, or you end up with nothing but fuzz. Opening night movie HUMPDAY was a million times better than GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE.

After the film, there’s a party down the street. *Not* at TYGER TYGER this time. They tell us our ticket stub is our ticket in. Okay - imagine three sold out cinemas walking down the sidewalk to the same place at the same time. Hundreds of people!

TO BE CONTINUED (in about 2 hours)

- Bill

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