A Serious Man is compulsive but uncomfortable viewing, like watching a car crash unfold in slow motion. Funny but not of the laugh out loud variety. Very good but very, very dark.
I always feel quite maudlin when I have a bad hangover. Paul was the perfect antidote.
I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was supposed to be good. The film got off to a slightly slow start which didn’t quite hold my attention but I was drawn in as it went along. I was very impressed at how much was packed into this film: references to other films, thrilling action sequences, awesome villains, comedy (sometimes quite dark), morals, music and philosophy. There is plenty for adults. Not only that but you have to be sharp to catch everything as it is very fast paced after the beginning. One thing that no one can argue with is that the animation is absolutely stunning. I ended up watching it twice in the last couple of days because it’s just so delicious.
I watched Catch Me If You Can a couple of nights ago. It’s warm, funny and lighthearted but kind of epic as well. A perfect film for a lazy Sunday night on the sofa with a blanket.
Office Space reminded me that I’m eternally grateful that I don’t work in an office anymore. It’s a funny, harmless film, with some top quality moments, particularly the printer smashing scene, which has clearly resonated with a lot of people as if you there are plenty of recreations of that scene on YouTube!
I watched Control last night. Given the rave reviews it’s received, especially on Rotten Tomatoes (which usually I find to be very reliable) I was disappointed. The film is beautifully shot in black and white, but it’s very slow moving and even boring at times. I may have found it so because I’m already very familiar with the story, in no small part due to watching The New Order Story documentary on TV.
I recorded that documentary back in the nineties and I watched it over and over again. It showed the real Rob Gretton, the real Tony Wilson and real band members. To be completely frank, the real people were far more likeable and entertaining in the NO Story than the actors in Control. The anecdote about Ian having a fit in the car on the way to the gig for instance was brought to life far better in the documentary than the film.
One of my favourite films – 24 Hour Party People – tells the same story but intertwined with with everything else that was happening and again, it is far more absorbing. I suppose it is a bit unfair to compare the two as Control is a biopic of Ian Curtis who was never that much of a cheerful soul and 24 hour is a portrait of the Madchester scene.
Anyway, to return to Control, I’m not sure whether it was deliberate but the women in Curtis’ life are annoying to the extreme. Why does Debbie put up with so much? She has such an awful, pathetic voice. Why does Annik accept being the bit on the side when she wanted more? Annik’s voice is even worse, not only pathetic but she talks in half whispers so you can barely hear her. I found myself shouting at the TV ‘Speak up!’
The two redeeming features were the music (I can’t think of any other band I’ve heard who is quite as haunting and hypnotic and yet still punky) and Sam Riley’s utterly captivating performances as Ian Curtis on stage. I could barely believe that he wasn’t the real deal. So I’ll leave you with a sample of that awesomeness:
I found this essay about stuff by Paul Graham last year. It struck a chord at the time because we were packing to move from a bigger home to a smaller one. We gave away a lot of stuff but still brought a fair amount of it to the new place. There is now a room full of still packed stuff because it can’t be unpacked until the loft has been insulated and prepared as a storage space. So I have to wonder, if we haven’t touched all that stuff for 13 months, do we really need it? Do I even remember what it all is?
I dislike clutter. Whether PG’s theory about parsing is right or wrong I don’t know but I do know that, in my own home at least, I’m far more relaxed in a clean, tidy room than a dirty, cluttered one. So I’ve gone paper free with as many of my bills as possible and I’ve gone digital as far as possible. I download books to and use the Kindle app to read them on the iphone. I haven’t bought any CDs for quite a while, instead preferring to use Spotify. I realise that you can’t find everything on there but I find about 90% of what I want to listen to and that’s a good enough trade off for me. For films I use Sky Movies. In the rare case that I find a film that I’ll want to watch over and over again I will consider buying the disc but it’s more likely that I’ll just watch it again on Sky.
Christmas and birthdays are the worst times for accumulating things I don’t need. Specifically for these occasions I have a wish list on Amazon but sadly Kindle editions of books aren’t available as gifts yet. (Mind you, I do like ‘real’ books. I don’t class them as useless stuff, after all, they are useful when I need to save the iphone’s battery and, unlike digital editions, I can lend them to people. Anyway some books, such as cookery books, have to have a decent physical form to be of any use.) I don’t mind if people go ‘off list’ to buy me a gift provided that it’s something they’ve thought about. I have one dear friend who likes to introduce me to new books and it’s rather lovely. But on the whole I’d rather not have presents because I have everything I need and want.
Gritty and shocking. Michael Caine is fantastic.
The King’s Speech
Good but didn’t live up to the hype for me. Some wonderful settings though and a glorious ending.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
I’ve enjoyed the special effects in all the Harry Potter films. This one didn’t disappoint and they go to some spectacular parts of Britain too (I’ll be looking them up later). It’s also the darkest so far.
Good story, plenty of violence, some suspense and awesome action sequences.
I watched The Wrestler earlier this year. That got me interested in seeing Black Swan, which I finally watched last night. These two are the best films I’ve watched this year. Both were directed by Darren Aronovsky, who claims that they are companion pieces. In spite of being set in completely different worlds, the films do have a huge amount in common. Both main characters suffer for their art to the point of self destruction. They have problems in their relationships. There is no happy ending. But The Wrestler is heart wrenching where Black Swan is disturbing. Both are full of cliches but it doesn’t prevent them from being utterly compelling.
I love all of these films. Some are more original than others but I could watch them over and over again. There’s no better way to cheer myself up.