I am about to scram to Mexico for a couple of days (more later) – but last night I went to a “sneak preview” of a new movie: Broken English (title taken from the Marianne Faithfull number), by Zoe Cassavetes.
No, I haven’t made it big in Hollywood circles. But the premiere of a movie is a bit like the publication date of a book: that is, more symbolic than real. So I just paid my 10 dollars with the other film buffs of Santa Monica to go and see it at the Aero (less glamorous sister theatre of the Egyptian) a couple of weeks before it is officially released.
It is billed as a “Romantic Comedy”. But don’t let that put you off – it is a brilliantly funny story of a 30 something single woman, full of gags about the inadequacies (and simultaneously the adequacies, of course) of men . . . and how a good woman might learn to transcend them, even with their mother (Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ real Mum) breathing down their neck. And it has enough middle class serious drinking to have any member of the cabinet tutting. A thinking girl’s Bridget Jones, you might say.
We had gone not just for the movie, but again for the post-screening chat. This time it was with the director Cassavetes herself, and the lead actor, Parker Posey (she’s female too, for those of you who don’t recognise the name -- and the one in the picture). These women sounded as if they had had a very good day in LA indeed… and were at the height of their powers of entertainment by 9.30 pm when the Q and A started.
One of the first questions to Cassavetes was how much had it cost to make… a 96 minute movie on general release?
Amazingly it came in at just a million dollars (so, I thought, you could have two of these for the price of our Cambridge research project – or vice versa). And that million dollars had been hard to raise. Big movie backers don’t like feisty girls’ films, it seems. And if they begin to like it, they can only think in terms of Nicole Kidman or Julia Roberts in the starring role, which instantly more than doubles the price.
And it had all been filmed in 20 days, 15 in New York and 5 on Paris. That is roughly a day for each 5 minutes, which is not all that more expansive that your average tv documentary, so far as I can judge.
The funniest bit though was when Parker Posey got into her stride, remembering how she had fallen for the part. In the middle of all this, one woman was spotted creeping out. “Are you leaving already?” shouted Posey (I must remember this bravura for my seminars, I thought). “I’m only going to the bathroom”, the brave victim replied – and loudly announced her return, when she came back.
This exchange obviously had the audience glued to their seats, terrified to leave. But they were given an exit route later. By 10.00 pm Posey (after what I had concluded to be the very good day) also needed the bathroom – and marched out to find it. At which point the more timid spectators crept out before she came back to challenge them.
A memorable performance all round – and not what you tend to find at the Cambridge Film Festival.