Tuesday 29th January 2019

The latest films I have been to see or have watched on Netflix or Prime.

Stan and Ollie. Just go. It’s lovely, gentle, funny, touching, interesting and well acted.  The actors who play Laurel and Hardy are startlingly like the originals, especially Steve Coogan.  The actors who play their wives are crucial supporting roles and also very good.  It is these two women who add the touches of humour.  Side note:  I dislike the word actress.  Isn’t it like having doctresses? When you watch the film, you feel as if you are right back there in Hollywood, Morcambe, London and so on.  The humour of Laurel and Hardy is gentle, like the film, and it still makes me laugh to see their sketches re-enacted.  I really loved it. It is that rare thing for me – a film I could go and see again.

The next film is Ali’s Wedding, on Netflix. This is a new Australian film, semi-autobiographical. It all happens within the networks of the disparate Muslim community in an Australian city suburb. I thought it was a real gem.  It is funny – painfully so at times – and also very tender and sweet, but not cringe-making or over-sweet.  One of the sons of the main family, Ali, is under a lot of pressure to a) be a doctor and b) marry a Muslim girl of his parents’ choice.  The film is really about his failures at both these daunting tasks.  I liked the clever way that the teen and 20s children of immigrant families are portrayed. They adapt and adopt, they are often 2 people.   It was touching and it is one of those films I have thought about on and off, since I saw it.  I hope you will enjoy it too, it was very refreshing and once or twice it made me proper-laugh. At no time did it upset, bore, make me jump. But it did make me think. My favourite line was, as Ali is explaining his real ambition, to go to America and act in films:  ‘They are always wanting people like us to play terrorists.’

I also watched The Book Shop, new on Netflix, and I know some cinemas are showing this.  So here’s a tip from me:  don’t pay to go at the flicks. It’s basically rubbish.  Bill Nighy is in it, but even this touch of royalty is not enough to raise this film from its banality.  He appears to be playing a heavily exaggerated cameo of himself – it’s Nighy-concentrate.  Even for me, and I love him, it’s just too silly. Also, I think he might now be anorexic.

The two lead actors aside – who are not that bad, the acting is often absolutely terrible.  Really, laugh out loud bad. I have done am-dram and even at it’s Hobson’s Choice worst, it was better than this tosh. There is one child actor who is good.  I note though that this actor also plays the invalid/disabled Princess in Netflix original A Christmas Prince and its sequel, and I thought she was actually disabled.  The fact that she is not is shaming.  Surely there are young actors who really do have disabilities? Anyway, the Book Shop has so many bad qualities, but here are a few.  There is a stumbling, pointless story with an extraordinarily unpleasant feel-bad ending.  Really, if you are set on making a terrible, awkward, cringing film, at least give it a decent ending.  Then there are the awful cameo acting roles which range from Panto to pathetic.  And worse of all, endless moody panoramic shots of waving grass, crashing waves and billowing trees.  With plinky-plonky music.

Don’t go. Don’t stream it. Go for a walk, strike a pose by a pond or something and stare with troubled, unfocused eyes, into the distance, whilst also allowing the howling gale to gust your annoying and over-long fringe across your face, thus causing you to incessantly claw at it, and/or, tie on an ugly nylon head scarf which will then assume character of tiny kite. Then find an old log and perch miserably upon it, whilst holding an un-opened book in your lifeless hand – the other hand being fully engaged in hair-management.  Let your gaze fall upon a distant figure who is moodily striding about, but who also hesitates here and there to rake his brooding glance across the flooded clay-pit (or wherever you have selected for this activity). Allow your eyes to meet.  Walk very slowly towards each other.  First, retreat back to the log together and both perch awkwardly upon it, side by side and with your shoulders crushed up against one another in a way that no body does in real life other than on the Bakerloo Line at 8.30am. Speak haltingly and never look at one another.  Move to the water’s edge (or whatever edge you have selected) and stand facing each other.  But make sure that you stand so close that in real-life you would be unable to focus on each others’ features because no-one stands with roughly 4cm between nose-tips.  They either stand a normal distance apart, which FYI is at least 1 meter, or they snog.  But no, assume an incredibly uncomfortable closeness and then with the hand that is not hair-swiping, and having pressed the book into the hands of your companion, clench and un-clench your free little fist. Then, both abruptly turn on your heels and walk off in random directions, really fast, taking care not to stumble into the fish-farm lake (or whatever location you have used).   And that, my friend, is it.  Apart from the bullying, the bereavement, the trauma, the deathy bit and the fire. You’re welcome. The costumes are lovely.

In preparation for seeing Glass this week at the pictures, I have now watched the first 2 films in the series, Unbreakable, and Split.  Unbreakable is good.  It’s not my usual thing but I did enjoy it.  I think you do need to see Unbreakable to see Glass which will be the last in the trilogy.  Split is quite a bad film.  It’s jumpy, contrived, silly and nasty without ever being clever. It struck me as an opportunity to have 14-year old girls walk about in diminishing amounts of clothing. And murder, and peril but without the cleverness of say Kill Bill, or Jango.  I think the lead actor is amazing but the film isn’t.  You do not really need to see Split to see Glass, I suspect.  Super-hero and in this case super-villain films are something I avoid as a rule and having seen Split I almost decided against Glass but as the original strong pairing are reunited for Glass I think I will give it a go.  I will let you know!

I would really value your views on films I could go and see – or avoid.  *chinks pop-corn with you*



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