THE FIFTY KISSES FILM HAS HUGELY EXCEEDED BOX OFFICE EXPECTATIONS, PUTTING IT AMONG THE TOP RATED FILMS OF THE WEEK AS THE GUARDIAN WHICH I USED TO WRITE FOR WROTE/ IS CINEMA AT A CROSSROADS? Is taking a step back a motivation to move forward?
Of course blockbusters will always exist to make us jaded, stay in and prefer making love. Or watch 'Fifty Kisses', another upbeat, sublimely eccentric film from Judy Goldberg and Chris, who make no bones about bringing about positive outcomes in this case by involving a record number of screenwriters, filmmakers, and musicians in a film, over 2000?
So what inspires all these people to jump at the chance Chris gives them of directing, writing, acting and editing in a crowd funded feature that will not be paid? It must be the touching innocence that exudes from Chris. 'Gone Fishing' his Oscar nominated short that 'came much closer to winning than I thought' he tells me, is beautifully created by one of the masters in his field, Director of Photography, Vernon Layton. It is as he also points out a children's version of Jaws, brilliant conceived and just as entertaining.
I notice that on London Screenwriters Community last year there was a message ahead of the festival from Chris Jones suggesting that everyone 'like' Judy Goldberg' on IMDB which I immediately did. I know they are also co-writing a piece 'Rocketboy' to follow on. Facilitating others to success is a gentle and charming asset though and so I also was happy to read on their blog about 'Honest Lies'. Written by Gabriella Apicella and directed by Emma Croft. Gabey I feature in previous articles I have written in my award scheme for 'London Peace Prize' and she and Emma give their own talk and showing with Fenella Greenfield at the Cinema venue of Screenwriters Festival. It had a premiere at HQ of London Amnesty and was based on the story idea of a woman who had been a prostitute, who tells 'white lies'. What is laudable also about smiley Gabey, her nickname is how much effort she makes not only as a tutor on female characters for 'Euroscript', but also as a campaigner for showing films at her Underwire Festival which has centred on outstanding women's work, amongst them also by Isla Ure, for 'Passengers', a mutual acquaintance.
Let's face it, men are like the burnt victims of their own wars, like disfigured Simon Weston, anti-war campaigner who I saw on the tube looking deep into all eyes. Do we need to stop winning whatever races of burn-out?
The axis or shift of power from men to women has never been hazier. As I watched these fifty attempts at healing kisses it feels comforting how much I enjoy listening to women talking of film, or directing as Yildirim of Turkey did in 'That Good Night', in which a lead is played by her neighbour who has never played more than in background roles. Bertolt Brecht had the habit of employing 'lay actors',non-experts, and I find myself the experience of working with homeless on a Millenium Award funded 'From the Horses Mouth' an authenticity left us yearning to do more work like this. In Eastern Europe we worked at Brecht's 'People's Stage' probably the most avant-garde in Europe. Certainly first for working class work and his first attempts.
Even this though does not compare for me to the upbeat nature of many of these fifty films. For example in 'Beryl' by Sarah Page, the care worker takes on the role of former husband of the Alzheimer sufferer.
How interesting in fact it is to look at Kenneth Lemm's script, which centres on disappointment in familiar settings of parental hopes or wishes. The author notes a number of times that no-one has taken on the task of filming his offering and he must have felt concerned. Then as said a woman from a relatively unknown environment with 'zero budget' succeeds in making the film. Being a woman is what it speaks of to me, for she doesn't exaggerate the old man's anger, anymore than his reaction to his prodigal daughter's return with granddaughter. The understatement is what wins us over and makes us admire Yildirim as best director also.
I recently admired a book of poems by a woman from Massachusetts who delivers a guide to herself by seeing others, self-portrait drawn from many, and this is what I think has always made men see themselves, the reactions of women. The nurse yielding in the face of the old man's brutality, as well as the daughter silently but forcefully returning set the tone. In fact when comparing script and finished film understatement is more exalted by the end.
There is also the 'Dream Date', a much-admired section co-written by two females Ann Marie Draycott and Charity Trimm which is a great one to see. It works entirely out of the mistaken expectations we have of film to reveal aggressive, testosterone-driven sex, with the sedate parents exclusively orgasming over enjoying 'quiet time'. Similarly simple, gentle nuances are what set the works of women a cut above.
In fact all in all the female sequences seem more believable. Tracy Flynn also rewards with her sensitive tale of agoraphobia, while sheer multitude of kisses envisioned Jennifer Allen wins? Nina Haerland makes for the gushing tears but Smiley Gab and Emma Croft bring a powerful outcome. 'Enough' by Kirsty McConnell was considered good enough to win best script on the night of the Premiere. It speaks intensity which is what we all feel in relationships that break down. Interestingly similar to 'Love Actually' it is however more believable, urgent with the woman's role having more depth, with her smoking out of the blue; it does not glamourise the misery that is experienced when lines o communication are impaired and what feels right becomes much more ambiguous. The film was played by a whole canon of actors and filmmakers showing that it is a universal scenario.
There is a need to see your work out there so you feel you have taken chances and reached people. That is why Chris, Vernon and his ensemble buzz with positive energy.. I find myself surprised to be writing a review, but then again there is a good tradition with Jean Luc Godard starting 'Cahiers du Cinema', out of anger or dissatisfactions so I may continue on occasion to welcome what appeals to me.