Monday, 6 April 2015

Fry and I Have a Film Watching Marathon

So I visited with Fry again recently; and is is our wont, we settled down with a vast amount of junk food, and pulled marathon 20 hour TV watching sessions, liberally sprinkled with philosophy discussions, character discussions, and discussions about how we would have made the film/TV series differently.  Last time but one was all film, which is rare, but for your delectation, here is most of what we watched, in a 3 day period with very little sleep and a lot of talking.  And pizza.

1.    Outcast
This was a brilliant horror film: dirty, organic, messy, strange, atmospheric.  Made by the same people who did Wake Wood, and with similar messy themes.  This one concerned a  fairy tale group of people stuck in the middle of a 21st century yukky Glasgow housing estate.  A grim group of fairies, one looking for immortality to be gained only by killing his own son. Wonderfully atmospheric: James Nesbitt stole the film, and the woman playing the boy’s mother was just as good.  Their magical battle was nicely done.  The only false note in the whole thing was the showing of the whole monster the boy becomes at the end, because I felt he had a funny face, with those teeth that curled up.  Also: why did the Laird save the girl and her baby at the end, when he had already tried to allow the original monster to be killed, and it’s very likely that the girl’s baby will also turn out to be a monster??? Watched once by myself and once with Fry – he liked Wake Wood more, but then he did talk through most of this, therefore lost its tight atmosphere.)
2.   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
With Fry.  Who was the one who made me watch it!  It could have been worse; I don’t feel like I’m crying to get my life back or anything [which is how I thought it would be].  It was very fast paced, had enough explanation of why they are there and are superhero turtles to content me, a total non knower (I missed all the fuss the first time round.  Well, I ignored it).  It also had a very lovely colour palette – managing to be both pale and very vivid, especially with reds, at the same time.  My eyes were happy looking at the colours.  There was one very long action scene toward the end of the film, that had such torturous single point of views from one turtle to the others, drawing you through a slide down a snowy hill, that I almost felt motion sickness watching and trying to keep up with it; it was going almost too fast for my eye.  That was very well done.  Not bad!)
3.   The Babadook
Ah.  Now this is the horror film for all mothers who get no sleep, or nowhere near – anywhere near – enough, with their children, even when they are 5 or 6; as in, they really should be sleeping well and alone by now.  Or they are single mothers struggling alone with said lack of sleep.  Or your child is slightly Damien-ish, or seems that way to you because you’re very tired.  Err…I really identified with this film’s main character, the tired mother.  Essie Davis was quite amazing in the part.  She starts off so patient and quiet; clearly utterly exhausted, but doing her best with what is clearly a difficult child, and with hardly any support and a job to hold down.  She is very kindly.  You can see she resents him – her husband died in a car crash they were all in, and you can see she wishes the husband had lived and the child died, because he has been so incredibly difficult and makes her life about nothing but him.  I really appreciated the honesty of the film about how hard life can be with a difficult child.  How cumulative exhaustion can change and pollute EVERYTHING in your life.  I won’t go into what the Babadook is, but by the end of the film I had a theory on the whole thing: which is that she had a nervous breakdown, and the Babadook is her personification of her own    anger and grief, which is why she can’t get rid of it and has to keep it in the cellar at the end, because you never ARE quite done with anger and grief.  The child’s extremely over active and brilliant imagination – his own way of coping with the grief at the death of his father – acted as an enabler to the mother’s breakdown.  They made the Babadook together.  That’s my idea; it’s not what the film says.  But it could well be what the film implies.  And it has a happy ending, so don’t worry about watching it.  It’s strange and wonderful, as most Australian horrors are – they are a very underrated country in the horror stakes, but they rarely disappoint in my experience – and always do something out of the mainstream.  For horror lovers, I saw many echoes to classic horrors here, not least Suspiria, Poltergeist…you watch and count.  Very enjoyable and emotionally gripping.)
4.   The Equalizer (the film remake)
Oooooo, I really liked this.  Denzel Washington really hit the tone of the watchful completely OCD retired …assassin?  Secret Service agent?  It’s not made clear.  Doesn’t matter.  The man has deadly skills and will use them if he sees a serious moral wrong.  [Other than that he seems to be a sort of informal motivational guru to everyone he knows that he likes.] That was what I actually enjoyed about the film the most – the very clear moral sense, the idea of lines drawn and if stepped over, retribution and an evening out of the scales.  Appealed to   my sense of order, and my rather fatalistic cold Old Testament sense of ‘justice’ that comes over me every now and again!  I liked the way he seemed so casual, and in control, but calm.  Oh, CALM.  I do like calm heroes.  I liked the scene near the end in the B&Q American equivalent, where he sorted out the bad gangsters who so clearly deserved it.  I very much liked the main villain here, who was doing a shade of the Javier Bardem’s in Skyfall – which is very fun to watch.  I liked the moral clarity of this film so much, I may buy it.  It was a very simple film, and in an ever more confusing world, I appreciated the restfulness of that.  And the idea of bad things and people removed and gotten rid of.  Gone, no longer a problem.)
5.   Gone Girl
It’s very good to see Rosamond Pike getting so much more work nowadays,  firstly.  This was a very good film.  It started off with me hating the initial couple: how smugly they performed their relationship for the world to see; how paper thin it was.  I started to wonder if I had selected the right film as I wanted to hit them both for just being so self-satisfied.  Then I noticed he seemed worse than her, and her diary showed she was worried and scared.  But since I have the book of this and haven’t read it yet, but picked up enough in the air to work out that all is not as it seems, I kept expecting her to not in fact be dead.  And lo, she was not.  There was a marvellous scene a bit of the way in, when you find out through a long ranty speech of hers that she has disappeared herself to put the blame on him out of spite and petulance…half of which I agreed with, as I did see her point about how we women tend to change ourselves to fit in with our men, and how cheated you can feel when they make no effort to be moulded and better and more wondrous also…after all you have done!!  [Gasp!] On the other hand, she was also clearly deranged as she was planning on killing herself to show him and make sure he paid the price for her ‘murder’.  Her character was wonderfully wilful and oh so spoilt and manipulative; and when she ends up with a man almost as bad as herself and is almost trapped forever…the way she ruthlessly exploits and gets out of even this tight spot, and manages to spin it so she can get back to her husband…it’s quite a ride to watch.  He realises she isn’t dead and ends up trapped with this control freaky psychopath of a wife.  I couldn’t work out if he deserved it for being such a tool in the first place, or whether that was too much of a torture for anyone…I am still deliberating with my mental jury about that!  VERY good film.  A real thinker, and it just gets more and more interesting.  The subsidiary characters are also very satisfying, the lawyer, the old boyfriend, the sister, and the detectives.  Excellent stuff!)
6. The Calling
   (This is one of those films that Susan Sarandon does so well – the   role of this cranky and in pain small town Sheriff was just so made for her face and her expressions, her eyes.  I loved the way she acted her back pain – I have a bad back, so I am all   sympathy.  The amount of subtle switching about she did when she sat down in her chair, and walked slightly too stiffly: so nicely judged.  I also very much liked Ellen Burstyn in this, a very nuanced and subtle performance, as the mother who wishes Susan Sarandon would come back to herself after tragedy, and live and laugh again.  Finally – I did enjoy the madly luminous calm eyes of the religiously motivated killer, Christopher Heyerdahl.  With those eyes and the official Religious Ignorant Beard, he was just perfect as the quiet and softly spoken killer.  The interesting thing about him as a serial killer was that he would not have gone on indefinitely; he was nearly done by the time the film started.  He only needed a certain amount of [willing] victims for his prayer of    resurrection to be complete.  I did also, very much enjoy the way you didn’t know at the end if the prayer had worked,  because the dead body of his brother had …disappeared.  Very nice touch of ambiguity.  The film was filled with quirky understated performances that didn’t yell for attention but were deeply watchable.  Enjoyed.)
7. The Rewrite
   (This wasn’t the best Hugh Grant romcom vehicle I have ever      seen, but it was a perfectly sweet and nice way to spend a couple of hours, and since it also had Marisa Tomei, and the subject of writing, I was quite peaceful with it.  Marisa Tomei never became as hugely successful as I thought she would when I first saw her ages ago, and I don’t know why – much like Mercedes Ruehl [from The Fisher King amongst other things]. Why is that?  She’s a good actress.  Anyway…I liked the way Grant started by thinking that you couldn’t teach writing to anyone, and ended up explaining the basics of a 1st-2nd-3rd act     screenplay to his variously hapless students.  It was a very gentle film, and had some lines in it that really could only have been delivered by Hugh Grant in his voice and with that cute hesitancy and honesty that his Grant persona has.  It was sweet and undemanding, though I did find myself taking a tiny few notes from what he said about screenplays; not that I fancy writing one, moreso that prose has things to learn from     drama and always has.)
8. Hector and the Search for Happiness
   (Much as Hugh Grant was the person to star in that last film, this film was very much a Simon Pegg film.  The way he kept asking people what their idea of personal happiness was, and how they got it and preserved it…the way those lines were delivered were all very Simon Pegg.  Interesting, because I don’t think Simon Pegg has a specific main persona, the way poor Hugh Grant has been made to over the years [when he’s   clearly capable of far more]; but Simon Pegg does have, again, a certain English diffidence mixed with boldness that he does very well on occasion.  This was a suitably quirky film, with a journey around the world to various far flung and dangerous or learned places [e.g. Africa for joy and danger; China’s border’s for the monks and their prayer flags of many colours] to find concepts either useful or contraindicatory for a state of happiness.  He writes and doodles in a little journal his girlfriend [Rosamund Pike again – yay!] has given him, and    compiles a list of short sentences, e.g. ‘no 14. Fear is an       impediment to happiness’.  Indeedy it is, says the often anxiously depressed person.  There were little bits of animation, odd song choices and some very good guest stars in this: Toni Colette pops up, as does Stellen Skarsgard.  Oh and Christopher Plummer.  This is a very quirky thing indeed, this one.  It does the interesting thing near the end, of deciding that happiness is at best, an ability to allow yourself to feel all emotions without fear, just to be in them.  To feel and flow with it, in all the mixed up states, is on the way to  a state of happiness itself.  Hmm.  Novel idea, still considering it.)
9. Coach Carter
   (I liked the message of this film very much: Expect more,   expect better, of yourself. I usually hate films related to sport, as I get very quickly bored with all the sweating and jumping and running about and taking it seriously – it’s not like martial arts after all, which is very pretty and balletic…But I did enjoy this, including the running about and jumping bits.  even did start to think it was a bit balletic and clever.  I   actually wished I could throw a hoop myself, seemed like it might be a satisfying thing to do.  Of course, the main message of the film and the point of it, that to get anywhere properly, you need physical and mental discipline, and to have boundaries, was so nicely done in that scene near the end where he lost the right to have the gym locked up – saying that the players couldn’t play unless they kept their grades up…his idea being, that them being good on the sports field wasn’t the only thing distinguishing them, that if they gave themselves more credit and tried harder, they could be student athletes – both mentally and physically capable; instead of delinquent athletes who are allowed to do whatever they like because they are above the law and only winning matters to the school.  It was brilliant that he lost this argument, and resigned, only to find the students sitting in the gym, studying and refusing to play because they had learned his lesson and agreed with him. [Sniffle.]  Then of course, there’s that speech the most troublesome child gave, in answer to the question Samuel L.         Jackson had been asking him the whole way through – “what’s your deepest fear?”  Here, for your inspiration, is the truly lovely and more sniffling inducing answer:

     “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light,  not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we   unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Yes! Yes! Yes!  SNIFFLE.  Goes off to write novel.  You know, in a minute.  Great film about troubled youth putting on suits and       getting a life.)
10.        White House Down
Well, really.  This, after Coach Carter?  Seriously!  Sigh.  Ok, this was a very silly film indeed.  It was quite funny in places, containing the line: “Is that President Sawyer?  He’s got a rocket launcher”…ehem.  By the end I was thinking the silliness had gone far too far and I was almost bored.  But Channing Tatum – with a larger neck than in Coach Carter, and more visible eyes, did very well with what there was here [why doesn’t he get more dramatic and less action parts??  Mystery…], and Jamie Foxx was very comedic.  They were a good pairing.  If only the film hadn’t been  quite so silly, it could have been a Die Hard type classic.  And I thought the very similarly themed film with Gerard Butler was a bit silly; but no longer, not after seeing this. Tsk.)

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