Last night I got to do something that makes it worthwhile to live in Los Angeles. I was able to watch a screening of Stuart Murdoch’s film “God Help The Girl” which is something that I helped support on Kickstarter a year ago. Someday I will receive a DVD copy of the film in the mail in exchange for my donation to the film project. I was very excited to see the movie since I have been a big fan of the band since 1997 and I have been hearing about the project for the last few years.
First off I show up at United Talent Agency which is where the screening is taking place. Interestingly enough, it is located near where Maverick Records used to be housed in Beverly Hills and a corner of the city I have not been to since I left Maverick in 1998. I felt like I was coming full circle since I am someday soon going to leave LA and Maverick was one of the first places I worked at in this town.
So I sat and waited in the lobby while other fans started trickling in. To say that I can spot other Belle and Sebastian fans is not surprising. There was an English guy reading a Jonathan Lethem book, a couple in which the woman was grading her students’ classwork, and the usual assortment of people with dyed hair staring at their smartphones. The movie was going to start 30 minutes later than we were told and I was wishing I had brought a book to kill time. Instead all I had was my smartphone and a memo pad. I spot Stuart standing across the room with a pregnant American whom I guessed was his wife. Stuart having a kid? He was one of the few people out there who I thought would never have kids. It has always made me feel better knowing that there are other people out there who don’t have kids. It makes me feel less alone in my choices. Well I was feeling pretty alone last night, and this was mostly due to the fact that I did not know any of the people hanging around and I wasn’t too keen on trying to strike up a conversation with anyone new. If it was a show I was waiting around for, well then maybe, but this event felt very relaxed and mellow.
I finally get to sit down in the screening room which had these big gray couches for us to sit on and wait some more. This time I am drawing pictures of the gnomes on my socks because my cell phone would not get any reception. The theatre was about half full and I would say there were less than 100 people in the room.
Stuart introduces the movie and his pregnant wife and I am sitting right behind them. One of my favourite things to do is people watch and listen in on other people’s conversations. I have always felt that it was a way to learn about people and see what they are really like. I have learned most of my social skills from watching others or TV. When I was a child TV and movies were the way I learned everything about life. It probably also set up unrealistic expectations like the fact that I should be asked out to the homecoming dance when I was high school, and going to the prom is a MUST. But I digress from the point…
The movie is good. I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew the songs from the “God Help The Girl” cd which came out in 2009 and the general plot line of the story but I didn’t know how the songs would run together. Basically the movie followed the order of the songs from the cd although there were new ones added in. Visually it was Stuart’s story of the forming of Belle and Sebastian. It was not a biography, but the signs were there if you knew where to look. Eve and James are the two facets of Sebastian (Stuart) and Cassie was Belle (Isobel). The story had already been told in their songs and liner notes years ago, but here it was being acted out down to the scenes of fighting with umbrellas instead of swords from the video of “Is It Wicked Not To Care?” and poses in the style of the cover of the “Legal Man” single.
What really struck me about the film was how young the characters seemed. It really took me back to my years in college and even a trip I took to Scotland to visit my friend in December of 1994. I was able to identify with the characters as being younger versions of myself while also seeing how far I have moved away from it. I felt old in many ways and sad because all I wanted to do was start a band when I was 20 but I didn’t have the nerve, or any talent. These kids in the movie had the self-esteem to do such a thing. I still wonder if it too late for me? Can I still form that band and live out my fantasies from when I was young? Or has being “older and wiser” gotten the better of me? Mind you, I am very glad that I am not 20 years old anymore. Those were hellish days, but the nostalgia and “what could have been” will get me every time.