Mark Kermode: Live in 3D

Last night I found myself back at the BFI Southbank; for someone who hadn’t been there once prior to last November, I seem to find myself there quite a lot these days (so much so that I’ve decided to become a member as soon as I get paid). This time I had a ticket to Mark Kermode: Live in 3D, a new monthly event where the always-wonderful Dr K basically stands on stage and talks about films.

Mark Kermode Live in 3D

As this was the first event of its kind, I didn’t know what to expect, though I was sure it was going to be exceptionally entertaining. I wasn’t disappointed; Mark broke the evening up into sections that included a Q&A, Listography, Guilty Pleasures, and Sound and Vision. There was plenty of audience interaction, with Mark inviting people to try and trump his guilty pleasure of Breathless, the Jim McBride remake of À bout de souffle starring Richard Gere. Much was made of someone’s suggestion of The Rock, which I think in the end was confirmed to be the only Michael Bay film that it’s acceptable to admit to liking, and therefore ruled as not being a guilty pleasure. We also got to see Richard Gere’s bum as he sang along to Suspicious Minds.

Mark Kermode tickets

I particularly enjoyed the listography part of the evening: Mark picked ten David Bowie performances that he particularly likes, which gave him the chance to pay tribute to the great man, and that was wonderful to hear. I wish I had taken notes though – I now can’t remember all the films he mentioned, though the clip of Into the Night that he showed had me adding that to my to-watch list immediately!

The same can be said of the clip he showed right at the end of the evening. Four young girls singing and dancing to Diamonds by Rihanna completely had me under its spell, and I now find myself desperate to watch Girlhood, the French coming-of-age film that Mark loved so much from last year.

The true joy of Mark Kermode: Live in 3D was getting to hear someone I admire very much simply standing in front of me and talking about films and the film industry. Whether he’s laughing at Udo Kier thrusting a cadaver out of the screen in Flesh for Frankenstein, or sighing over Zac Efron’s old-school movie star potential (sadly going to waste, if Mark’s sighs over Dirty Grandpa are anything to go by), he’s passionate and knowledgeable, and it’s a pleasure to witness. I already have my ticket booked for February!

I was also pleased as punch to pick up a keyring in the BFI shop on my way out; when I was younger my family and I made many trips to the Museum of the Moving Image, a museum that is sadly no longer open. It’s to my great lament that this is the case – I genuinely loved that place! So when I spotted this keyring in the shop, one that my mum had on her keys for years, I had to have it!

Museum of the Moving Image

The Movie Doctors

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Last week I was lucky enough to find myself at the BFI Southbank, watching Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo do their stuff in their guise as the Movie Doctors. I reviewed the book that accompanies their nationwide tour last month; having laughed my way through the book, I knew that I was going to have a similarly fun time at the live show.

I wasn’t disappointed; essentially the show is made up of two men standing on a stage talking about films and having the odd bicker, and when you’re a fan like me, there’s nothing better than this. As with the book, the show set out to cure various different ailments and illnesses, with members of the audience asking for help. From a lady worried about a mid-life crisis (Serial Mom was prescribed, with an accompanying clip); to my lovely friend Chloe who was seeking a cure for shyness – Punch-Drunk Love was recommended, with a disclaimer not to actually smash up any toilets.

The show really works, because Mark and Simon really know their stuff, and are really good at what they do. We even got to watch a short clip of Mary Poppins. This alone made it worth the £16, especially as it was from my favourite part, when the children are up on the rooftops with Mary and Bert, and London in the twilight makes me cry.

Afterwards I had some minor anxiety about meeting Simon and Mark, to get my book signed, mainly because I am so in awe of them, and also because I felt that I wanted to say a lot to them. Mostly I wanted to say thank you (to Mark especially) for tweeting my review of the book, and I wanted to do it eloquently without making an idiot of myself. I also wanted to make a hilarious Foot-Lamberts joke again, as I did in a letter to Wittertainment, and I wanted to say how much I liked the book, and again, this was all to be done in the coolest possible way.

In the end, though none of it was done in a remotely cool way, I managed to say thank you for the tweet, causing Mark and Simon to shake my hand like the gentlemen that they are. Simon commented on my necklace, I got my book signed, they posed for a photo with me, and all in all, it was a pretty amazing way to spend a Tuesday night.

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Mark talked all the way through our photo being taken, so there’s none where he’s not pulling this face or similar!

And, for those of you paying attention, I put ‘Have a photo taken with Mark Kermode’ on my 33 Before 33 list a whole year ago, and as this particular evening was two days before my 33rd birthday, I get to tick it off.

18. Have a photo taken with Mark Kermode

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30 Before 30 ~ BFI Films

The problem with a challenge like 30 Before 30 is that is has an inbuilt deadline. I had until I turned thirty to achieve each item, and I’ve never been particularly reliable around a deadline. Actually, that’s not strictly true; I nearly always get things done, but I like to take them right up to the wire, And so it was with this particular item on the 30 Before 30 list.

25. Have watched at least 15 new films from the BFI list of Top 100 British Films

As I explained when I first set my 30 Before 30 list, I picked fifteen films from this list for a number of reasons. Firstly, setting myself a challenge to watch 100 films (or 86, discounting the fourteen that i had already seen) in a year was folly. Never going to happen. Secondly, there are a handful of films on the list that I have no desire to watch. So I thought fifteen was ideal; perfectly achievable in a year. Especially as we already had a number of the films on DVD.

As it was, I did achieve it. But only just. I had to extend the deadline, ever so slightly. I tried watching Oliver Twist on Netflix on Sunday night, the night before my birthday, but I fell asleep. This is no reflection on the film, I’m sure it’s great, but I was tired after a long weekend of actually celebrating my birthday. This mean that if I was going to cross number 25 off, I would have to watch the fifteenth film on my birthday itself. The way I look at it is that it’s my game, and therefore my rules. My birthday counts as the last day of the challenge. So when I saw that Alfie was on Film4 on Monday night, I thanked my lucky stars and watched it!

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So here are the fifteen films that I watched. I started with The Ladykillers on 6th January, and finished with Alfie on 12th November.

  • I watched at least one film from the 1930, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. The earliest film I watched (and on the list) was The 39 Steps from 1935. The most recent film I watched was The English Patient from 1996.
  • Noël Coward wrote one of the films I watched, Brief Encounter, and directed and starred in another: In Which We Serve.
  • Michael Caine starred in three of the films I watched: Educating Rita, The Italian Job and Alfie.
  • Anton Walbrook is in two of the films: The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, both of which were produced by Powell and Pressburger. (He’s dreamy, in that 1940s film star kind of way.)
  • Eight of the films were nominated for BAFTAs; six of them won.
  • Ten of the films were nominated for Oscars, and four of them won (Noël Coward won an honorary award for “outstanding production achievement” in In Which We Serve).

It’s tough to pick a favourite out of the fifteen films that I watched, because I genuinely enjoyed them all. Both Genevieve and Brief Encounter were particular favourites of my mum’s, so it was nice to sit down and actually watch them all the way through after all these years. At a push, I’d probably pick The Red Shoes, Educating Rita and Goldfinger as my favourites.

I’m planning on keeping the list running, and crossing them off as I watch them. There’s no deadline now though, so watching (almost) all of them will take me years!

25. Have watched at least 15 new films from the BFI list of Top 100 British Films