Films, late February – mid-March

Tuesday 19th March 2019

It’s been a bit slow in terms of going to the pictures.  There has been little I really wanted to see, but this week I did go and see Fighting With My Family.  Now, hear me out.  It’s a British-made film, based on a true story, about wrestling.  I love Stephen Merchant who made the film and who has a small part in it too, so that was encouraging.  I really like Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who plays – um – The Rock.  And I like wrestling.  I bet you didn’t know that.  I do not mean I wrestle.  But I like it as an entertainment.  It is really an art form, being choreographed – not exactly ‘fixed’, see it as being scripted.  I have watched it all my life on and off, and I love G.L.O.W. on Netflix (2 seasons, it’s about women wrestlers in the 1970s in America and the show is genius.  It is not:  demeaning, sexist, or stupid – and a lot of other rubbish I have heard ‘critiqued’ about it.  Get over yourselves. It is: funny, clever, sexy, good-looking, a good story, and nostalgic). 

So anyway FWMF is about a Norwich-based family whose business was wrestling.  The story follows 2 of the young-adult childrens’ careers and in particular, the woman who has a shot at the big time in America.  One bug-bear is the accents used.  The family is from Norwich and the film is partly based there.  The accents used are Bristolian. I know this because I know the Bristol accent really well; and I grew up (partly) in the east midlands, adjacent to Norfolk and its definitely a different accent.  Stephen Merchant is from Bristol and he has a lush Bristol accent which I love.  But Norfolk and West Country accents are not interchangeable versions of British-yokel.  Oy.  Anyway. The tale is true – which doesn’t mean it’s strong because it is not.  However, I really quite enjoyed it.  I do think it helps – indeed it may be essential – to like wrestling, but maybe not.  Maybe wait a few months for Netflix, if you’re not a grappling-fan. 

One ‘funny’ thing.  I took my knitting, as ever and knitted a few rounds of yet another hat while the ads and trails were on – which is at least 20 minutes and I know this but still, I have to arrive on time which for me is 10 mins before the ads/trails even start.  Anyway, I popped the bag of knitting on the floor and then after the film, I went to ‘Spoons and met Florence for tea, and then I went home and at about 10.30 I realised that my knitting was not with me.  So, ringing the cinema, and explaining: has anyone handed in a small felted, beaded bag?  Yes, they admitted and then, after a long pause:  ‘It has a badge on it’.  Me:  ‘Yes.’  Them:  ‘It says *with disbelief and in the broadest Bridgwater accent* – *Knit Camp?*‘ Me:  ‘Yes! Thank God!’ and I went and got it and they had locked up but they had waited for me.  I bloody love Scott’s Cinema in Bridgy.  Thank you.

At home or in the gym, I have watched a lot of films recently.  It has been a while since I posted on films and I watch at least 5 a week on Netflix or Prime etc.  Here are but a few:

The Mercy – Netflix.  Netlix chucked this at my head for weeks and I caved. True story about a round-the-world non-stop sailing attempt.  I think this film is about 18 months old.  Good – very good – cast, and you can’t fault the tale as it is basically accurate.  It is sad though, and annoying as he just had no business going off and trying it.  Wearing a tie and a yellow mac. He was clearly a determined, skilful and deluded fantasist. I *quite* enjoyed it, mainly because of the 2 leads, good casting for the children which is rare, and the 1960s setting.  I fast-forwarded through a fair bit of the pitching and storming, so that may tell you what you need to know.  Not awful. If I had not been in the gym, I would probably have quit. 

Juaninta, Netflix.  Making began in 2017, but just released.  A cross between a road trip/self-awareness/love-story across geographical, indigenous, and life-experience lines.  Despite that very quick summary, which may make it sound a bit complicated, it is a very easy-going film and I liked it.  Great to look at, but the scenes set in what seemed to be a weekend gathering of First Nations or indigenous people, did make me uncomfortable.   It is really funny in places and it is happy.

Polar, Netlix. 2019.  I watched this at the gym, over 2 days.  It definitely bestowed more ‘cred’ on me (never very high) with the regulars than when I watch The Durrells or Pitch Perfect…Seeing I am watching my iPad, sometimes I am asked:  what are you watching, Ali?  It’s often a film, but it’s also often something really lame.  If you are in a gym, I mean.  Polar is a very complicated and convoluted story about lots of assassins, and the older ones of this group end up being the targets of the organisations for which they work, in order to reduce the company pension liability exposure, prior to selling the firm.  So, if that sounds like Quintin Tarentino running a seminar on Tax-Efficient Best Practices for Assassins – 2019, (CPD points:  26), it is.  It is several other things:  broody; silly; confused; extremely violent; convoluted; with nice scenery.  I had to flick forwards a bit in the really bloody sections, and WARNING – a dog dies.  It is based on a web-comic and I believe it is not supposed to be a comedy – but it is very funny in sudden and unexpected bursts, so maybe that is wrong. I laughed, anyway.  The lead assassin and principle pension-fund target (and maybe the main reason I gave it a try) is the just fabulous, mighty Mads Mikkelsen.  It is a gory, complicated, grim, and ridiculous comedy.  Maybe.  Or maybe I don’t know enough about web-comics.  But on this experience, web-comics are funny, folks.  Give it a go if you don’t mind some (a lot) of spurting. 

Made in Belfast, Amazon Prime. 2013 locally made, slow-story film, that I really liked.  Belfast man makes good as a novelist but his debut novel is based on stories about his friends, who he then leaves behind.  On the death of his father, he goes back.  Will he re-connect or sod off back to Paris?  Will they forgive him? It is simple – very simple.  Very easy and gentle.  The fashion statement of the lead man – shirt buttoned to the top, but no tie, plus wearing the collar of his old-man style jacket turned up – is very, very annoying.  Lead women all beautiful.  As was Belfast. 

The Breaker-Uppers, Netflix.  This is a new Australian comedy. The first 1/3rd is really good, then it descends into farce.  The film makers had a great idea – it IS a great idea, being:  2 women adopt various persona to break up with partners on behalf of their clients who can’t face doing it themselves.  To do this they will go as far as faking the client’s death.  Or deathy disappearance. This childish humour really appeals to me and I loved it. But it is as if they had a brilliant idea for a sketch – maybe a running sketch – in a sketch show, and it really can’t sustain a full film.  The last 2/3rds are pretty poor.  I watched it with Lily, when we had been to the gym and over-done things and then eaten a huge lunch, and then just became sort of comatose.  In these circs, I heartily recommend it and whatever the circs, the first 30% is good.  

I re-watched The Imitation Game, Netlix.  It stars the unsurpassed Benedict Cumberbatch and, bizarrely, Keira Knightly. I have read a lot about this period of British history, both during and after WW2.  I do not think this film is an accurate reflection of much of what happened at Bletchley Park, but it is still a good film with a chunk of truth at its heart. (Some of) these people existed and worked there to break German code.  I expect you know all this so I won’t summarise but it is worth a watch or in my case, a re-visit.  Good, mainly, for the atmosphere. 

Velvet Buzzsaw – Netflix.  This is new, and is a blend of satire, suspense and supernatural horror film.  The satire is around 2 main themes:  the posturing in the LA art community, and shallow, self-serving real and social media relationships.  Or at least that is what I think.  The cast is excellent.  It is a stylish film and the acting is reflective of that.  The story is (no real spoilers) about the discovery of a hoard of paintings by a recently deceased artist.  But he was engaged in destroying the art before he died – and the reasons for this form the basis of the horror that follows.  Almost all the horror is in the second half of the film, and when it comes, it is full-on gory, jumpy, nasty ways to die.  In the first half of the film, we get to know the main characters, none of whom are likeable, and we observe their pointless, posturing activities.  All the ‘art’ is terrible, by the way.  Or at least that is what I think.  What do I know?  I laugh out loud in the Tate at St Ives because  – well some of it is plain ridiculous and even more ridiculous, I pay. There is also a definite thread of macabre humour running through it.  For example, the same vacuous assistant is forever turning up with coffee and finding a dead body.  Also, at one point, a gallery owner pays homage to a new ‘installation’ by an artist he hopes to secure, only to be told it is in fact just what it appears:  a pile of rubbish bags. In terms of horror, it has all the usual suspects – electricity that won’t turn off, flickering lights, horror-robots and dolls, living paintings.  But also some new, rather inventive twists that I enjoyed. It is sardonic, funny in a bleak way and I really liked it, but you certainly won’t if you are squeamish.  

HAS ANYONE SEEN ‘FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS’? I might go, but I think it might be  too naff even for me.  Please advise with feedback.  










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