I don’t think I’ve had a more expensive ice cream than the Ohji vanilla tub. Over 3 squids even with the member’s discount too and we’re not talking family sized. I’m wrinkled enough to remember when Nouvelle Cuisine was a fashion, or was that a fad? Write it in French, cut the size to one that makes a child’s portion seem huge and stick it on a fancy plate in unusual positions and hey presto – you find you need a cheeky chow mien and chips on the way home.
This was always going to be a tricky night. See, as the poster above indicates this is an experimental film, shot, as a single take, and broadcast live around London in January this year. The reshowing now, one screening per night at different times was accompanied by some talking heads at the start, explaining how unique this was, how tricky to set up, making sure the single camera feed could be captured by multiple receiving stations, how a bomb threat had threatened to derail the whole thing – which would have created some tension at the time but since they had got me along, having already paid my tenner, on assumption it was in the can, it fell rather flat.
So, no, I didn’t need this pre-explanation and, in truth, hearing from Woody Harleson whose idea it was, merely broke the fourth wall at the wrong time and meant I started watching without the usual suspension of disbelief. I mean, there’s an implied contract when you enter a darkened cinema – if you try and entertain me I will pretend what you put up in front of me is real rather than a total fabrication. If you start by showing me how the magic is done, if you point out where the wires are then you are already facing an uphill battle for my support.
The premise was rather neat, mind you. Woody, playing himself, is in London with his family, working in the theatre. As he leaves after that night’ performance, off to meet his family, he’s handed a newspaper with him headlining – he’s been caught in a foursome. Can he hide it from his wife?
No. That isn’t a spolier, it’s the core of the movie – how can he win her back over one night in London. He’s taken clubbing to give her breathing space, he’s arrested and caught in a Kafkaesque spiral over a damaged taxi ashtray. It is fast paced, noisy and engaging.
In truth Woody’s performance is a tour de force. There are some sticky moments but also some wonderful humour when he meets Owen Wilson and debates if Woody is his best friend, his second best friend or some other category of chum.
It rambles and it’s a little stagey at the end, involving as it does a trip to see Harry Potter with a disabled child in tow but overall it was a good 90 minutes and, as an exercise in film making, quite something.
So even if I rather regretted the indulgence I admire Harleson’s indulgence. It’s not exactly history making – let’s face it, we all prefer slick cinematography and plausible acting – but a worthy 3 stars.