This morning, to paraphrase Shelley, I did emerge from sleep unusually filmy-eyed – I wonder if this is some some sort of autonomic response to the rain, perhaps my body was attempting to improve its waterproofing? – so I thought it an excellent opportunity to talk of my recent cinematic experiences.
2012 seems to have been a rather good year cinematically – or at least I’ve been more often than usual and have not only enjoyed the fare on offer but even learned a few things. Given this blog’s commitment to the Reithian principles of broadcasting (or at least the education and information ones, entertainment seems to have rather fallen by the wayside) and mining my drab, wretched life for all it’s worth, I thought I should share these insights with the world.
Headhunters allowed me to expand my Scandinavian language skills to cover Norwegian (to add to my Swedish and Danish). It also showed that the sun does shine in those northerly climes (though, have no fear rain-lovers: that is in evidence as well) and that the locals do know how to smile – neither of which I learned from any of Wallander, The Killing or The Bridge. The film is very entertaining (barely depressing at all – then again, I must admit I have had rather a lot of fun with Swedes at least twice before, so this wasn’t entirely surprising) – though I would not recommended watching it while eating. It also rather add to the temptation to move to Norway: when the lights go out in the UK (probably some time around 2020) and the economy has been totally wrecked by clueless governments (perhaps rather sooner), I have high hopes for Norway having both a reliable power supply and a functioning economy!
Given my love of juxtaposition, I saw Headhunters in a double-bill (of my own devising, rather than one suggested by the Arts Picturehouse) with Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress. This is a very different take on a campus comedy and is an unalloyed joy – I am reminded that I need to check out that auteur’s very modest back-catalogue (unlike me, he has gone for quality rather than quantity).
My favourite film so far this year, in a very strong field, was Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. I’ve seen and enjoyed (in varying degrees) most of his oeuvre, but this marks the apogee (for me). The soundtrack to this film comprises rather more work by Benjamin Britten than is currently traditional, which only adds to the appeal. The only downside was that the movie’s young hero make me realise just how limited my practical survival skills are: at the very least, given the slightly damp turn taken by the weather of late, I really ought to know how to handle some sort of boat (even if only a kayak). I did have some wind surfing lessons a few years back, and whilst I was fairly good in a straight line I did struggle with the practicalities of turning and found it was very hard work on my ankles (as this blog has previously established, I seem to be the possessor of rather weak ankles): so I’m not sure how much use this will be to me in extremis.
Next came my first contact with the work of Ken Loach – which has always seemed a little to gritty and worthy in the past. The Angel’s Share was great fun (the serious message snuck in under my radar, camouflaged by the laughs) – and I’m a sucker for a Scottish accent. It did contain an important lesson for us all: the Dyson Airblade may be all well and good for drying your hands – but is basically useless in the face of a nosebleed, where the old fashioned paper towel can offer so much more assistance. It reminds me of the Phillips screwdriver which although a splendid tool for screwing (if you’ll pardon my rather fruity language) is of little use for anything else, the older “normal” screwdriver is so much more flexible: it can turn a screw, open a tin of paint and do a whole lot more besides.
My most recent visit was to see The Amazing Spider-Man, which is, in many ways, very good. Andrew Garfield, as the eponymous hero, is particularly good: so much so, that for me at least, the movie goes downhill when he is covered in lycra and surrounded (or indeed, replaced) by CGI. Rather a contrast to Captain America which I also saw recently, (via Lovefilm) and which is frankly laughable – it pointlessly breaks so many of the laws of physics that I lost count and I fear used up rather too much of its CGI budget making Chris Evans look weedy in Act I. I am coming to the view that the best superhero style screen outings are those that choose to keep a lid on the number of the laws of nature they breach and where the hero limits use of their “powers” to a minimum. It also helps if, having hired a decent actor, we are allowed to see them and if CGI is kept to a minimum – I think we’ve all seen enough explosions, large things falling over and crashes now, let’s save some budget for plot and character development.
I suspect this may be one of the reasons I liked Being Human, it only has very limited budget and has to hire decent, though largely unknown actors, and rely on them and good writing rather than massive set pieces and CGI. They do use CGI, though so far as I can tell limited to making actors’ eyes turn black and very occasionally seeing a vampire turn to dust (though for budgetary reasons this mostly happens off-screen). I was particularly impressed by the end of the world being shown using only dialogue on a dockside, with a few broken objects scattered around and a few simple background sound effects. It strikes me that radio has rather more to teach TV and film than is sometimes realised in the rush to steal its hits for the screen. It seems that negative freedom (See! No, reading of philosophy is ever entirely wasted: I barely had to shoe-horn Isiah Berlin in at all) has benefits in a whole range of spheres of human endeavour. I’m surprised in these days of austerity that the precepts of Dogme 95 are not being applied a little more widely on screen; like my vegetarianism, one doesn’t have to be dogmatic (see: Scandinavian languages aren’t that hard) about it, just only discard it when there is a good reason. Maybe my destiny lies behind the camera, rather than in front of it? Well, have to see how my BBC3 debut goes (if at all)…