Friday, April 28, 2006

The BFI Library

I have been spending quite a lot of time at the BFI Film library lately, researching for a piece on Ang Lee. It's a quiet place to work in the morning (although it gets a bit busy later on) and I can plug in my laptop so type notes directly. There's a back room with windows overlooking Stephen Street, just off the bottom of Tottenham Court Road. The best thing about it is they have a vast archives of film magazines.
When I was putting my bag in one of the lockers I encountered a famous film actor whose name I couldn't remember - it wasn't anyone obvious, like Tony Curtis, whom I once met when I was stewarding a Film Societies' event at the NFT. I looked him up and name is John Lithgow. He's tall with white hair and had to move because the space between the two banks of lockers is so small. I'm always surprised by how tall some actors are when you see them in the flesh. I once saw that chap in Men Behaving Badly once - not the once called Neil, but the one who played the doctor in Cornwall on Sunday nights - Martin Clunes. It was on Waterloo Station and he seemed to tower above the crowd, which must be a great disadvantage when you probably don't want to be recognised.

It's a wonder I get into the reading room, really. They always have some DVD showing on a small screen in the foyer, opposite a bank of seating. One day earlier in the week I got there before the reading room was open and watched part of a film called 'Journey to Italy' starring Ingrid Bergman, with George Raft as her husband. They seemed to be staying in Sorrento but weren't getting on very well, in fact she was reading a note on the hotel balcony which said he'd gone over to join some freinds in Capri. It was a beautiful black and white print.

Today I noticed they had a tinted Jacques Tati film called 'Jour de Fete' but as well as colour it had dialogue which made it less funny than I remember. The French are keen on mime, which just goes to show their language is not as good as English for comedy.

The only thing wrong with the library as far as I'm concerned is its location. It's OK to get there on the bus from Charing Cross but as the buses only go one way up Tottenham Court Road I had to go on a bus to Victoria, which took an age to crawl down Oxford Street and then I had to wait 40 minutes for a train to Lewisham. Next time I'll just grit my teeth and take the tube, which I find very depressing.

No comments: