Film has the power to create an emotional connection. And through that connection we can explore new ideas, new possibilities, new worlds.
Today, thriller Extraordinary Rendition explores the worrying scandal of delivering suspects to foreign torture jails. A retrospective of Henry V lets us enter the dramatic world of William Shakespeare at its best. And Stardust does one of the things that Hollywood does best - let us escape for a couple of hours on the wings of fantasy. Except Stardust is a British movie, and one to be proud of.
Tearing the corner of my voting slip, I wonder how it will fare in the Audience Award. Reasonably well, I imagine. But why is it not eligible for Best British Picture? Or Best Performance in a British Picture? Well, it's part American, with a British director. Shot entirely in Britain (except for a tiny bit in Iceland). The cast is British, with one or two Americans. I suppose there's more dollars than sterling. And can you imagine Robert de Niro (who has an excellent, if not leading part) picking up the very first Best Actor in a British Movie Award? No, I didn't think so. But it puts the rules under which films are selected under the spotlight. If selections are simply on merit, Stardust, although not art house, is great entertainment. And look at the list. It includes solid films like Control but also d-i-y efforts like Saxon or My Life As A Bus Stop - films that show great promise but are hardly serious competitors to more accomplished works of art and great entertainment.
So Stardust is not 'British' enough to qualify. Or maybe it is 'too good' and would make it hard for upcoming talent to get a shot. Either way, the awards process needs clarification.
One of our editors phones me as I'm on the bus. Am I going to the Special People party? (I realise sadly that she means a party for the film of that name, not that someone has decided I am more special than usual!) Special People is a touching and funny drama about a director on an outreach project with disabled kids. (The point being that the kids, like all kids, are special and ordinary at the same time.)It pokes some gentle fun at attitudes and the film business and is very well shot. It also features some great acting from Dominic Coleman and the young cast and - perhaps most refreshingly - is free from schmaltz.
It does sound good. Only my mental energy and interest in other people is at a low point today. I am exhausted. I just want a movie to wash over me. To make me feel special. I don't want to appreciate great art, the problems of others, the meaning of life or how much talent there is bursting forth at the Festival. I just want to escape. Pure and simple escapism. Escapism with nice CGIs. Good looking lead parts. Nice story. Good laughs. I admit it, Stardust was the highlight of my day.
It's like Harry Potter without annoying children. Labyrinth without David Bowie. Claire Danes is gorgeous (and so is Sienna Miller). Charlie Cox meanwhile, provides nice eye-candy for the girls. Ian McKellen gives it class. Michelle Pfeiffer is reassuringly expensive. Ricky Gervais is funny. And Robert de Niro, as macho pirate and secret closet queen, is the fabulous icing on the cake. This is what millions of people come to the cinema for. To have these great stars entertain us. To lose ourselves, to escape to a world that is bigger, better, brighter and more magical than the one we have to welcome on a Monday morning. It makes the price of admission seem worth its weight in gold.
Wednesday 22nd Coming attraction include The Surprise Movie at Cineworld 8pm At The Cameo, 5.30pm, is a movie reviewers can't seem to agree on. I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK comes from the celebrated director who brought us Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Old Boy and Lady Vengeance. His new movie makes a break from the violence trilogy that established his name in worldwide. It features a girl who ends up in a mental institution cos she believes she's a cyborg. Love, laughter and the wackiest of scenes, I'm a Cyborg is more Edward Scissorhands than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.