Wednesday 28th October 2009
It was another day off, but it turned out to be rather full of incident. I went to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at lunchtime. It's all very pretty (especially Lily Cole with her beautiful hideous alien face) and any Terry Gilliam film is always worth watching, but this one was a bit too sprawling for me. It didn't quite ring my bell, but there's always something to look at and so it keeps you engaged. Perhaps the script doesn't quite live up to the vision. But I love Terry Gilliam and would rather than watch one of his failures than most director's successes.
But it was a bit hard to lose myself in the world as there was something almost as entertaining happening in the cinema. We were in screen 4 in Camden Odeon which is only a small room and we were sitting in the second back row. About half an hour in there was a bit of commotion from the back row on the other side of the aisle. I thought for a second that some back row couple, bored of the film had started engaging in some vigorous sexual congress, but it soon became apparent that this was not the case. A hulking young man was leaning forward holding on to the chair in front of him, which was slightly freaking out the couple in the row in front. A man with the youth was trying to coax him back to his seat and explained that the lad had learning difficulties. The couple were patient for a while and the carer seemed more interested in the film than in persuading his charge to stop the commotion (he had started banging the seat back and forth and complained loudly every time he was told to stop). Everyone in the cinema was being admirably understanding, especially the couple who were being intimidated. Finally they moved forwards a few rows. But the young man had not finished. He had taken his shirt off and was whirling it around and then started climbing over the rows of seats. The carer made some vague attempts to stop him and moved forward to sit in the row he was now in, but it was not stopping the disruption. Soon the lad was right behind the couple who had moved. Patiently they just moved again, but by now I was wondering if the carer had made the right choice of film for this bored and hyperactive young man to see and whether he couldn't be doing a bit more to be considerate towards the other patrons. You really need to remain in Gilliam's world when you're at his films so it was a shame in a way to be more interested in what was going on in the cinema, along with the slight fear that this kid was going to get crazier, as things seemed to be escalating. But in another way it was a bit like a Gilliam film, as he likes to investigate worlds of fantasy, freakdom and mental illness and part of me wondered if this was a new interactive development in his film making. It's not a bad idea actually. I presume someone has explored the idea of combining film and real world action in a cinema, but it could easily be achieved with actors in every cinema (though the DVD experience might be more difficult).
Eventually the boy had got right down to the front row and the persecuted couple had had to move a third time. No one was complaining, which was either wonderfully understanding or down to slight fear. The lad refused to leave, but then started climbing up on to some podiums at the front and finally got down to the screen and started clawing at the image in front of him. I really hoped at this point he would get up high enough and go through the screen (so it acted like the mirror in the film) and end up in the middle of the action. If that had happened I would have heralded Gilliam as a true genius of cinema. But his carer managed to coax him back to the seats.
Once he was more or less settled another man arrived, trying to assist the first and then later a woman from the same party came, speaking loudly from the back of the cinema, telling them to get the boy out, but still he refused. By this stage there wasn't too much of the film to go and I think they might have been better off leaving the situation as it was, because now the adults were creating more distraction than their charge.
The youngster resisted all attempts to get him out and stayed in the cinema until the film was over. I admired his persistence as well as the patience of the other patrons. Everyone seemed to understand the situation and accepted that he should be there. It maybe improved the film.
And on the way home I was further cheered by news on the "Rhino Not For Sale" story that you might be familiar with if you listen to the podcast. In a key cutting store in Vauxhall Collings had spotted a small statue of a rhino which had a sign saying "Rhino Not For Sale" on it and we'd discussed how many people must have been asking about buying the rhino for the sign to have been put on. I had then suggested that there should be a ""Rhino Not For Sale" sign is not for sale" as well.
Well insane fan Andy McH, not only went down to take a photo of the rhino to show the world that Collings was not a liar, but he clearly persuaded the store owner to also put up another sign with the wording I had suggested. Whilst some people get their kicks from shooting baboons, I prefer the people who make the world brighter with such harmless idiocy. I was laughing at the fact that this had all taken place for most of the journey home and loving my part in making this magical piece of nonsense having happened. Of course the shop owner may have opened himself up to a world of pain, because obviously the signage cannot end there. Because there may be people out there wanting to buy a ""Rhino Not For Sale" sign is not for sale"sign. And I hope that the key cutter will not be willing to let his sign go. But how will he let the world know?
Ah, it's all too lovely. Thanks to Andy McH for making my dreams come true.
And if that wasn't enough, this evening I got an email through saying that Newsnight wanted me to come on their show that very night to discuss edgy comedy with Jeremy Paxman (and as it turned out Natalie Haynes). How exciting was that? When I was first in TV Centre nearly 20 years ago I had been in a lift with Paxo and touched his briefcase with one of my hands when he wasn't looking (as I discussed on Fist of Fun - it all truly happened) and now, just two decades later I would actually be talking to his face.
He was, as it turned out, a charming man. I think I did OK on the show. The only thing that I wish I'd said was that I wonder how Rebecca Adlington is being made to feel by the Frankie Boyle joke being repeated over and over again and becoming part of the news. There's a good chance she would never have heard it if no one had made a fuss, but now because it's been deemed unacceptable the whole thing is being plastered everywhere and repeated endlessly. So by complaining about it the situation is much worse. And I wonder if she would even have cared about the joke anyway. Ah well, nice to have been on Newsnight and I reckon I could have assassinated the Northern Island secretary if I'd had a gun. No one searched me. And I would have done if I'd had a gun. Just to get some idea what it would be like to kill someone.
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