(Release Info London schedule, May 11th, 2018, Cineworld, Leicester Square)
"How To Talk To Girls At Parties"
From the visionary minds of director John Cameron Mitchell comes a story of the birth of punk, the exuberance of first love, and the universe’s greatest mystery of all.
It’s London, 1977 and our teenage hero Henry (Alex Sharp) and his two friends John (Ethan Lawrence) and Vic (Abraham Lewis) are in search of a night to remember, uninterested in 'The Silver Jubilee' celebrations that are going on behind the privet hedges and lace-curtained windows of quiet suburbia. Desperate to be taken seriously by local punk matriarch Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman) and her coterie of followers they hear of a party not far away and decide to gatecrash. On arrival, nothing is quite as they expected; the house seems to be full of teenage students: exotic, foreign, unbelievably gorgeous. Know-it-all ladies man Vic identifies them as American; what else could they be? Soon Henry is in way over his head with the beautiful, enigmatic Zan (Elle Fanning), an outsider just like him. As Henry becomes her ambassador to a brave new world of punk, partying and music, he learns that Zen has a new world of her own to share and over the course of twenty four hours the two will go on an adventure that's truly out of this world.
Zan, the rebellious alien drawn to the punk life, and Henry, the shy punk rocker who falls for her; and have an appealing on-screen chemistry. Zan is a tourist although she would resent that description as she wants to be more than just a tourist. She's there to see earth and what she sees is Croydon in 1977. She wants to see more and she's frustrated. Zan is part of 'The Fourth Colony' whose motto is 'Fourth Colony Manifests Individuality'. The colony is all about being unique and self-confident but PT Waldo (Tom Brooke), the father of the colony, is very protective and doesn’t allow to be individual. Zan is very frustrated because the colony have been touring many different places now we’re humans and in London, an amazing city, and we can‘t do anything, we can’t meet locals, we can’t dance, we can’t drink, all we‘re allowed to see is coal. How exciting! And then she meets Henry and she rebels. Zan comes from a sterile world where everything is strictly regulated, even the food we’re allowed to eat, so when she meets Henry, she wants to know everything about the punk world because he’s this fascinating thing, wearing interesting clothes and safety pins and she wants to be a part of it and experience something new. Punk is nasty and gritty and exciting! Zan is fascinated with every little detail, and every little vein on a person’s face.
We see the story through Henry’s eyes. He's a budding graphic novelist, doesn't quite fit in, smarter than his own good. He's not a full on punk but has something of a punk in him. Henry is a great cartoonist, a great visual artist and a wannabe punk. He's quiet and introverted but loves cartoons and creating them. One night when he’s out with his two best mates, he ends up at a party where he meets Zan who turns out to be extraordinary in a lot of unpredictable and bizarre ways and he falls in love. He’s not the archetypal nerd; he’s got a lot going on. He's got that teenage confusion and lack of self-confidence, in some ways he knows exactly who he's and what he wants. He's in that period of his life, coming of age, where he wants more than what he’s got so far and feels frustrated by it. As Henry gets to know Zan, he becomes aware of her very different ways of expressing herself and showing her affection. Queen Boadicea is the outlandish owner of the local punk club. Matt Lucas plays PT Wain (Matt Lucas) is a grumpy alien in a purple outfit. He's a bit of a killjoy and is quite stern which is a bit of a stretch. He likes to do things by the book and of course this film is about people thinking for themselves and following a new path, and this character is a barrier to that.
"How To Talk To Girl At Parties" based on a short story by Neil Gaiman from his collection 'Fragile Things'. A funny and delightful genre mash-up, the film focuses on Henry, a shy teenage punk rocker in 70s suburban England, and his two closest friends, Vic and John. One night they all sneak into a party where they meet a group of seemingly otherworldly girls; at first they think it’s a cult, but eventually come to realise the girls are actually from another world, outer space. The leaders of these alien colonies have an ominous plan in mind, but that doesn’t stop Henry from falling madly in love with Zan, one of the colonies key members. Their burgeoning romance sets in motion a series of increasingly sensational events that will lead to the ultimate showdown of punks versus aliens, and test the bonds of friendship, family, and true love. The adventures of Henry and his friends are autobiographical-ish. The film takes those fragments and makes it about the gulf between boys and girls at that age; and girls might as well be aliens.
Based on the short story by renowned author and graphic artist Neil Gaiman, the film‘s tone, spirit and period setting chimed perfectly with gleeful love of the alternative. It draws on Neil Gaiman's youth as a punk in Croydon and in some ways we need a punk spirit more now than perhaps we did in the 70's because of a feeling of darkness, harshness and doom that's suffusing everyone now. The juxtaposition of worlds represented in the story also struck a chord. It's also a real romance between a punk and alien, it's a mixture of cultures and subcultures. Both the aliens and punks are tribes on the fringe in the normal grey 70's world of Croydon. What's lovely about the story is that it has a first act and then it stops and it's just what happens if one of the girl’s from the story follows Henry home. It starts as a very short story, that's in effect the first scene in the film. The film loves the idea of exploring punk and pop, like 'The Damned' and 'The Ramones'. The thrill of the unknown, the way the music you loved is the most important thing on earth, the mysteries of the human and alien heart, all set in a world where the line between the everyday and fantastic is blurred.
This is a film about waking up and maybe it's time to wake up again because culturally everything’s become a bit homogenous. Maybe it's time for another punk explosion. While whipping them into shape you really want to keep that punk energy of freedom, laughter, spontaneity and improvisation. The story is set in 1977 but the film is not slavishly faithful to the period. The sci-fi aspects to the story allows to let our imaginations run free. The story embraces grit-Brit naturalism as well as unbridled fantasy and the design echos that combination. Although it's set in 1977 it doesn't try too hard to be 1977. It's a mash up between now and then. It's definitely the world of punk as seen from the early 21st Century. “How To Talk To Girls At Parties" is a British film about a British subject matter, directed by a US director. As a result there's always a danger the film can feel disconnected from reality, but that’s not the case here. "How To Talk To Girls At Parties" has an authentic spirit.
Key to the look is the spirit of punk and it's effects on popular culture both in the UK and around the world. It’s difficult to understand now but when the 'Sex Pistols' appeared on early evening television in 1976, the shockwaves were seismic. If their surly attitude, scruffy clothes and hair and swastika armbands weren‘t alarming enough, it was as though civilisation had crumbled and the four horsemen were coming into view over the hilltops. Swearing on TV was just one of the barriers broken down by punk. From music to fashion, art to politics, punk represented a breaking away from the past and a dismantling of tradition. Old ways of doing things were out and the new way was whichever way you wanted. Punk means what it always meant which is that you do it. The joy of punk was that famous poster; here’s a chord, here’s another, now form a band. Just do it, find out how to do it on the way, but start doing it. It’s for the original punks and the generations whom they’ve transformed from the inside out since. It’s a wild ride and big-screen punk-show and the belief that different worlds can combine in unexpected ways to create something exhilerating and urgent and new.