Blog Up-Date; Films – summer

Wednesday 31st July 2019

Again with the blogging fail.  I see it is the last day of July so I am blogging today (instead of say, next week) so I do not miss a month.  The old blog archives from 2010 onward disappeared when I migrated to this new site in February this year but I have been blogging for 9 years and I have never missed a month.

I really do need to think about blogging though.  I never ever thought I’d ‘go off’ it.  And it’s not the blog, it’s me.  However, I hereby resolve to Do Better this summer/autumn and make a proper effort.  That is a key word, though, effort.  If it’s a chore, I won’t do it.  I love writing, and in 2010, I was made redundant from my former ‘grown up’ job. I was already being a Rowan Design Consultant, which I then left to focus on my own knitting activities.  In those days, if you worked for Rowan (all self-employed but let’s gloss over that…) it was forbidden to work for non-Rowan approved ventures.  Hence, the website, events here, growing to events elsewhere such as Knit Camp; ditching profit-free teaching all over the UK and focussing on what is local to me.  Sarah Millington was, as ever, right about doing all that.  And I started blogging.  It was my writing outlet. And I loved it.  But I write an awful lot of other stuff nowadays in the ‘new’ grown up job I have been doing alongside my knitting since late 2010.  You wouldn’t be that interested in what I write as it’s corporate reports; but it is still creative, so maybe as that has grown, I don’t need the blogging?  Let’s try and rekindle that love!

What I have been doing, mostly, is getting ready for Knit Camp (now over) and being A Grown Up in my other Grown Up Job, but that is quiet now until September.  In between I have been gardening and getting slowly back to cycling fitness, so there has been less opportunity to do my second favourite thing, which is watching films.  However, I have squeezed a few in and here is a summary of the best and the worst.  

I went to see the new Disney Aladdin and it was, unlike the steaming pile of elephant dung that is their Dumbo re-imagining, very good. It is live action, with CGI and it is 95% faithful to the beloved original, plus at least one new song.  I really loved it. Great casting.  It’s not in the pictures any more I think which is the best place to see it, but it will soon be available to rent on Prime so I recommend it. 

I recently rented a few films from Prime in the sale, so they were £1.99 – bargain, bring your own popcorn.  First a film I almost went to the pictures to see a few months ago, but thought twice about, Instant Family.  I am so glad I didn’t schlep all the way to the pictures to see this moderately bad film which also conveys some really negative messages around white saviours.  The main redeeming feature is the supporting cast of the 3 children who are the subject of the adoption around which the tedious and predictable plot revolves, and the 2 women who play the adoption agency team.  The young actors are really good, which is a relief, and the 2 women are funny and odd.  But the story is poor and insensitive to say the least.  It feels like a film that was made about 10 years ago.

Then I rented Vice.  This is the story of Dick Cheney’s rise to Vice President.  This area of US history is something I only have rudimentary knowledge of so I do not know if this film is embellished or economical, but if it is accurate, he was a bastard and his wife was worse.  Outstanding cast but this enormous dislike I had for him made it hard to enjoy the film.  But it is a really good film, so you might like it more than me.  Again though, if I had gone to the pictures to see this, as I almost did, I’d have regretted it and been bored and fidgety.

I also rented Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and this is a really unusual film, which I enjoyed a lot.  I say I enjoyed it, and I did but there were times during the film when I also felt it was borderline creepy; and then sad. But mostly, it was fascinating. It is a documentary made in 2018 about Fred Rogers, who created and starred in a long-running TV programme in America called Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.  This programme ran for decades in America but I had never heard it, or Fred Rogers.  The film explores his life and so really, as he was in, and made this programme for most of his adult life, it is largely about the programme.  I felt Mr Rogers was an impossibly nice man, really good.  Too good to be true, but it is true.  Such innocence and steadfast, quiet belief in goodness seems so at odds with today’s often horrific world. And at odds with the America we see now.  This film is good, slow, odd and I loved it.

The Upside is new and free on Amazon Prime now.  Good cast, fairly good story with a lot of often bleak humour.  I liked it, well worth a couple of hours.  Wonder Woman was free on Prime (might still be) so I watched that.  I heard good reviews when it came out but really, it is so tedious.  Don’t pay to see it.  

I think Netflix is losing the war with Amazon Prime, which is a shame. So many of their recent films and series have been awful.  Yes, Unicorn Store, I am looking at you and a bunch of others.  But Departures on Netflix is really very good, the best film I have seen for a few weeks.  Unfortunately for me, I decided to watch this as a download on a recent journey by train into London.  It is funny – very funny at times, but it is also howling-sad.  So in an uncharacteristic moment of emotion, I cried as quietly as I could for the last 30 minutes or so and arrived in Paddington  somewhat the worse for this. Good cast led by the excellent leads.  It could be a teen movie I suppose but don’t let that put you off, just make sure you watch it at home.

I also watched Chernobyl Cafe on Netflix.  An hour-long documentary, I found it a good way to pass a gym session and I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t learn much as I know a lot (morbid? yep, that’s me; plus I live c1.5 miles as the glowing-crow flies from Hinckley…) about this but it cast a new (oddly green) light and there really is a cafe, and you can stay there.  Give it a go. The film, not so much the cafe/contaminated and deathy holiday destination.  It does look grim. 

And again, on Netflix, I watched a slightly older film, Special Correspondents.  This film is absolutely ludicrous but it has a good cast, led by Ricky Gervais and as I’d watch him reading a shopping list, I loved it.  Daft, really daft at the end but also clever and sweet and quite funny.  

New on Netlix, Always be My Maybe. Not great, not bad, very bland.  Can you see me kind of shrugging and waving my hands about at waist-level, like you do when you want to say ‘so-so’? ‘head waggle’ ‘meh’. 

And finally on Amazon, Safety Not Guaranteed, free on Prime and not new (8 years old I think), but new to me.  I really enjoyed this frankly odd, indie-feel US film with a weirdly British vibe.  somehow. It’s a quite funny, quirky, very low-budget fantasy plus fantasist (or IS he??) with great but limited cast, of which I always approve.  A cast of thousands is a no-no for me, with the attention span of a fruit-fly and knitting, obvs. It’s about time travel but please don’t that detail (and it is a detail) put you off if like me Sci-Fi is not your first love.  Because really it’s about what is true, what we invent as truth and remember, truly. It’s not as deep as I have perhaps painted it. Usually, films made from the 90s onward are too long.  The ideal film length is 1.5 hrs.  Hollywood/UK etc film makers, make a note?  This film is c15 minutes too short.  I really did not want it to end, not because I was in love with it, I just felt they didn’t tie it up quite enough.  But it was still very good, if you don’t mind a bit of a hand-held VT feel, understated to monosyllabic dialog, and oddness. 

By the way, I have now, according to my 2019 Film Record (this record is not a joke, it is real. Are you judging me? But if you are, I think you should try it, it’s great!), watched 97 films since the 1st January. So these infrequent reviews are the tip of a massive film-berg my friend, just the tip.




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