Friday, 1 July 2011

To “This Charming Man” a fond farewell.

It’s been a very illusory few days. Starting Monday night when the Robert Burns Film Club showed as part of the evening a ten-minute visual tribute showing some of the highlights of interviews that our mentor Darren Conner carried out which our own filmmaker Alec Barclay thankfully captured for prosperity. The complete interviews can be found on the Robert Burns Film Theatre YouTube Channel (rbcfilmtheatre). It was very surreal watching Darren on the big screen carrying out his conversations with Rab Buchanan, Morag McKinnon and of course Peter Mullan. It showed what memorable evenings these were with Darren at his charismatic best. After a break and a short but informative introduction we watched the latest Woody Allen movie, a film that Darren had particularly wanted us to see, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010).  

Allen’s fourth London based movie, the others being Match Point (2005) Scoop (2006) and Cassandra’s Dream (2007), follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and husband Roy (Josh Brolin), displaying their passions, ambitions, and anxieties.  After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortuneteller from whose predictions the title of the film comes from. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), while Roy, a novelist of sorts nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Frieda Pinto), a mysterious woman who catches his eye through a window opposite his own.  All the characters‘ attempt to avoid their problems, a fact that lead’s to further anxieties. I think you probably get the crux of story by now?

As many of you are aware I am not a Woody Allen enthusiast, although I have tried really hard to appreciate the mans work. To date I have only liked Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008) and this evening’s film has done nothing change my opinion! This latest offering is a labouring farce that never builds a head of steam and fouls to solicit a decent performance from any of it’s rather well known cast. Allen’s London films remind me of the Swinging Sixties movies without their vitality and colour and to some extent their excitement. They show the great city as tourist attraction and completely avoid showing its true character. Sorry Woody better luck next time.

Incidentally Nicole Kidman was programmed to play the character Charmaine Foxx but because of scheduling conflicts with Rabbit Hole (2010) the part went to the 33-year-old Hammersmith actress Lucy Punch.

I can’t really avoid mentioning Wednesday and the service held at Carlisle Crematorium and Darren’s Woodland Burial. Many of us found this part of the day very moving and sad particularly when the tributes were read out and Clare’s being exceptionally poignant. Once we moved on to the Brampton Road Campus it did morph into a wonderfully fitting celebration of this charming mans life almost to the extent that I felt that Darren was actually present. I would like to thank every one involved in putting this on and allowing me the privilege to be part of it.

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