9 life lessons from this year’s London Film Festival

9. Terrorism has come a long way since the ‘80s.

The lesson: Che, Hunger, Incendiary, The Baader Meinhof Complex– all showing at the LFF, all dealing with different terror wars, all gripping, moving and enlightening. And they’re all better than their ‘80s equivalents, such as Nighthawks, Red Dawn and Nine Deaths Of The Ninja.

How we’d teach it: Offer people the choice between a ticket to see Che, or a copy of Nine Deaths Of The Ninja on VHS and if they take the latter, hit them over the head with it.

8. Weird is good.

The lesson: If there’s one thing you’ll learn from the majority of the flicks on display at this year’s LFF, it’s that weird is good. Almost every flick contains at least one surreal moment and, as with Synecdoche, New York, some of them are just one long weird bit.

How we’d teach it: To get this message across fully, we’d create some sort of geek super-group from the weirdoes on display at this year’s LFF.

We’d make the guitarist from Anvil come up with a melody, pluck Charlie Kauffman from his Screen Talk to write the lyrics, and put the bowler hat wearing cast of Brothers Bloom in charge of costumes.

We’re not sure what the song will sound like, but it’ll be interesting.

7. Teenagers are cool

The lesson: It doesn’t matter whether they’re taking part in wish fulfilment fantasy (Slumdog Millionaire), documentaries discussing their neuroses (American Teen), being hip guitarslingers (1 2 3 4), or making mix CDs (Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist), teenagers are inherently hip.

How we’d teach it: By handing out free hoodies to every person who buys a ticket to this year’s LFF and teaching them how to set up their very own MP3 blog.

6. Threesomes are complicated

The lesson: Whether the threesome is desired (Vicky Christina Barcelona) or unwanted (The Other Man) it seems that the path to multiple love doesn’t run smooth at this year’s LFF.

How we’d teach it: With a practical demonstration involving the writer of this feature, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel (who’s in town to promote Easy Virtue, which has nothing to do with this particular lesson, but won’t you just let us dream?)

5. Presidents are flawed

The lesson: Whether it’s an ex-president (Frost/Nixon) in the ‘70s, or the current one (W) of the ‘00s, it seems that leaders of the free world have always had a bit of the hard-drinking lunacy about them.

How we’d teach it: Get Frank Langella and Josh Brolin back in costume and get them to have a Presidential debate live in Leicester Square. Whilst boozed.

4. Surprises are brilliant (we hope)

The lesson: Last year’s LFF saw the UK debut of No Country For Old Men in the annual Surprise Film slot, but what will 2008’s flick be? Well, we have no idea – but Aronofsky’s The Wrestler would be a good bet (we hope). Whatever the film, it’s sure to be brilliant (we hope).

How we’d teach it: By getting you to head for the official website to book your ticket, before waiting outside the Odeon West End on 26 October to scream ‘I TOLD YOU SO’ after you’ve just walked out of There Will Be Blood 2 or whatever.

3. Documentaries are the new comedies

The lesson: Forget Judd Apatow, the real comedic influence on this year’s LFF is Michael Moore. From the religious satire of Religious, to the dark chuckles of Hunter S Thompson doc Gonzo, to the Spinal Tap-esque escapades of Anvil! this year, we prefer our jokes to be true.

How we’d teach it: Get Religious director Larry Charles to take time out from his LFF duties to follow us round with a camera to make a Curb Your Enthusiasm style sitcom about the life of a film journalist. We imagine it’d involve a lot of unintentional slapstick.

2 . If you’re tough enough, your biopic will use your surname for its title

The lesson: Tyson and Bronson; two names that end in ‘on’ that sound a bit like dinosaurs. But that’s not all they have in common; they’re both the titles of LFF docu-pics about two of the toughest men ever to see the inside of a prison.

How we’d teach it: By sending you into Charles Bronson’s cell and Mike Tyson’s ring to convince them that their names just aren’t marketable enough for today’s film climate.

1. Spies are cool

The lesson: Spies are cool. They just are.

How we’d teach it: By making sure you see festival closer Quantum Of Solace.


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