Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Graduate

I have never seen the film. In fact there are far, far too many classic films I have yet to watch, particularly American gangster Robert De Niro type ones. Anyway, The Graduate is among the gems I haven't seen.
I don't know how, but I seem to have two 'Film Classics' (given away in The Times I think) on my book shelves. As my books have recently been reorganized into alphabetical order (according to the authors' surnames), I have decided to work my way through all those I haven't read. I am reading as much as possible before next Friday, when term begins, because when attending school there is not time for such mundane activities. In authoritarian eyes, reading enjoyable fiction is just as bad as playing some kind of games console and is worse than going out with friends. This really pisses me off and is the main reason I think I would be much better educated if I didn't go to school. I am rarely believed however.

The novel is by Charles Webb. It's really very strange, and rather annoying that you don't know the characters much more after reading the book than you did before. You don't know how they feel or what they think and therefore can't take a stance on anything.
Personally, I think one of the best perks of reading is taking a position, having opinions on topics and characters. I have no idea what to think with this novel as the reader's insight is based solely on the awkward monosyllabic conversations between the one-dimensional characters.

On the other hand, it was written quite well and is easy and quick to read. I did so in just a morning; at least you don't spend more than a day (at the very most) on what you may regard to be a waste of time.

It's worth a read, just to say you've done it. Although you could say that about any book really.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One Day part 2

(If you have not read Part 1 please go and do that first. Quicker! You haven't got all day.)

I dutifully googled 'One Day' and upon seeing the book cover (this upcoming film is based on a novel), recognised it and recalled a few friends reading it. The author is David Nicholls, who also wrote Starter For Ten that was adapted into a very good film starring the gorgeous James McAvoy.
Wednesday afternoon a car was sent and Mother and I were driven to the 'base' near St Pancras station. This was for The Fitting which consisted of a costume guy taking pictures of me in many different 'kiddy' outfits. [Re-reading this, that sentence sounds much more onimous than it should]. I wore no make-up in an attempt to look younger than my 16 years (althought of course this is hardly a mean feat) and looked crap. The crapness of my appearance worsened with the clothes I tried on. I think my disdain for one particularly awful turquoise t-shirt was very clear as the guy made a few jokes about my dysphoria. Perhaps I'm being unfair however, I did try my best not to appear moody. Anyway, it took hours.
Thursday morning I was taken at some ridiculously early hour (7.30am or something!) to the Novotel hotel. There was the main 'runner' person, my costume guy, a costume woman with wonderful clothes on and a runner/extra-just-for-this-scene. They were all very nice and I was soon given a latte and a croissant. Another little fitting ensued as I was photographed in various different dresses, until it was decided we were to stick with the baggy grey-and
-white striped top and skaterboy denim shorts. I wore this as I was driven to the station (approx. 1 min walk away).
After passport control et cetera, I met Lone Scherfig (the genius who directed An Education and was now doing this). When she asked whether I had read the book I shamefully admitted that I hadn't. Lone promptly went to WHSmith and bought little old me a copy! She was so lovely.
At one point I spotted Anne Hathaway looking tired and being fussed over. I quickly warned Mother not to snap her or talk to her or do anything embarrassing which she surprisingly managed to resist.
Later, make-up artists crowded around me, trying to look as efficient and busy as possible as they applied a mix of alcohol and brown paint to the ends of my hair. I asked why this was being done and they said it looked unnatural, a 14 year old would not have bleached hair. Really? I dyed mine when I was 11 I thought, but held my tongue. My intoxicated hair really stunk though.
The short scene was to be done on the train. I was told it was actually with Jim Sturgess (who is yum) and that I had two words to say: "oui" and "non". Laughingly, I assured them I could manage it, whilst I actually tried to convince myself. I hadn't done any acting for so long, and I was shit even then! I don't think I've ever taken a class and I used to go to tons of auditions and hardly ever got anything. I once got a big role in Family Affairs but I never did it (big rows with my first primary school). I wish I had.
Okay, back in the room. I was extremely nervous for the second time this week. First his POV (point of view) was filmed and it involved him staring intensely, so that I blushed. (I do blush easily). He talked to me (or my character, whatever) and I obediently said my two words off-camera. I would have felt much more confident if I looked myself but I guess that isn't acting. Nearing the next tunnel we did it from my POV which was scary. The fact the scene had to be at the precise moment the train emerged from the tunnel added pressure. We did a few different versions and it was over in about 15 mins.
When I returned to my seat, I woke Mother up and told her about it. She repeated what I said to Jim as he passed: "My daughter says your French is rubbish!". Obviously, taken out of context that sounded rude and I recoiled, incredibly embarrassed. He was gracious of course. My ol' mate Jimmy.
Mother had managed to get them to book the return ticket a day later so that we stayed at Trish Deseine's in St Germain. Trish was lovely, as was her idyllic flat overlooking an enormous park. The next day we lunched at a very nice restaurant and met a couple of creepy French guys.


Today, Saturday, I finished One Day. The book is one of those 'unusual love stories'; a mix of When Harry Met Sally and The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (both in my Top 10s for films and books respectively). The main characters being the best of friends and the audience wondering whether they will ever get together romantically (although knowing they will, of course they will) is the Harry and Sally part. The TT's Wife aspect is the time: every chapter is a different year, but on the same day (St Swithin's, 15 July) and goes from 1988 to 2007. In this way it is easy to track what Emma and Dexter get up to without it being relentlessly chronological. The way the structure is used in Part Five (the last part) is largely what makes it so poignant.
One Day is provoking, very funny and made me a cry like a baby.

One Day part 1

Dear reader, this is a very long, self-indulging post so if you are going to conquer this, be ready for numb buttocks (and possibly brain too).

I googled GCSE results and this is what came up. I wish this image was the reality of it. It's much less glamorous.

I woke up at 5am. Then at 5.15, then at 5.40, 6.10, half 6; continuing like this until 8am.
Bleary-eyed, I finally lurched out of my bed to make myself presentable for The Big Day: 'Results Day'. Ghastly words if I ever saw two. Used seperately they're inoffensive but together... perilous, nerve-wracking, life-ruining. Okay maybe not that last but they are a teenage fucking nightmare.
Once at South Ken, I predictably found a couple of mates at Costa's in Bute Street. As we were early birds, we then had to listen to each other's nervous musings. "I can't imagine opening that brown envelope", "Shit I'm so screwed, my parents are going to go mental" and a relentless flow of 'what-ifs'.
When I eventually opened that dreaded 'lope, well... 4 A's, 1 B and 3 C's. 1 A* including French that I'd done some years ago. "A bit shit, isnt' it?" was Mother's verdict, and yeah it is but not the worst bunch of marks I'd witnessed that day. Rather bof.
I received a text from my cousin who told me she was "so surprised!" that she'd got 4 A*'s and 8 A's. I replied "you cunt" and haven't heard from her since... Oopsy. It's just I knew my g-rents were going to relish this prime opportunity to compare and contrast, her perfection against my 'rebel without a cause' personality, as they see it. (This is exactly what happened by the way).
Olivia, Ali, Jack G, Yacine and I went out for a 'celebratory' (?) meal at Pizza Hut. Classy as ever. Cue a buffet of pizza slices and scoops of pasta, costing a whole of £7.99 (That's pretty pricey for me! I usually eat at Waga for 2 quid. Impossible yet true.). Then I argued with Jack G, a jumped-up twit that thinks way too much of himself. I flipped and shouted at him again when he stuck his McFlurry spoon in my hair. Everyone laughed and I was feeling a tad humourless after a crap morning so I stormed off. In classic Sienna-style. (I'm always storming off, it's a very annoying habit).
The day got progressively worse. Home at long last after a sweaty tube journey I woefully recalled that I did not have the front door key. Mother was attending the photoshoot for her book and the front locks had recently been changed whilst we were in France for a reason I didn't pay attention to. They had only cut one key for each flat. Bastards.
Of course I quickly dismissed the sensible idea of ringing, in turn, the bells of the other 3 flats to ask to be let in. As our house doesn't have a buzzer-inny-magiggy my neighbours would be obliged to clammer down the stairs to let in a distressed teenager they didn't know. I didn't want someone to go to that botheration. What if they were a couple having a romantic moment? Or had something on the stove that would burn as a result? Or, or, were on the loo?
No, instead I climbed into the garden. This sounds easy but it took a good 15-20 minutes and caused a sprained ankle. Moan, moan, yes I know. Anyway my plan to get in the flat didn't work out, I won't go into it, but I ended up laying on the balcony reading my book (Demon Barber, a collection of Lynn Barber interviews).
At some point, I get a phonecall from a Sylvia Young employee informing me there is a job available in a feature film called One Day with possibly a line in French and it stars Anne Hathaway and could I send a photo of myself looking about 14 years old within 10 minutes? My iPhone is being excruciatingly slow and I screamed and wailed as sending an email with a picture proved impossible.
[As I write this, I'm simultaneously watching Nikki screaming and wailing on Big Brother and I'm shamefully thinking it's a visual reenactment of this post.]
I rang Mother repeatedly until she answered on the 20-something-th time and, between sobs, instructed her to send a pic of me without make-up. (Later I discovered she'd sent one of me in, quite clearly, a prison cell. Typically, she thought this was hilarious.)
I had a booked appointment at my newly-come upon hairdressers in Willesden Green, Cutting Crew. Lawrence, whilst giving me the Rachel cut at my request, assured me he could count the GCSEs he passed on one hand and convinced me my results were fiiiine.
Mother joined me and we went for a Thai lunch that was dour.
That night, I got an email saying thanks for the new picture (I sent another when I got home) and that I'd got the part! My day presented at last a glimmer of a fortuitous event.

To be continued...