So cinema is dead…if you believe film twitter. I don’t believe in film twitter, and the feeling is mutual given their complete lack of interest in my thoughts on Sean Connery’s hairpieces in the 1970s. A number of these films were dreadful, but some were sublime. If this is death, I’m okay with it.
Chevalier (2016 – Athina Rachel Tsangari)
A feminist film which features not a single woman. Tsangari rips apart the subtle devices men use to assert themselves over each other. It is a deep invidious competitiveness that underlines our every interaction. And of course, it is utterly ridiculous when viewed from afar. This film punctures any vision of masculinity we may hold – be it virility, financial success, physical prowess, intellectual insight. They are all constructs, designed to dominate the rest of the world. A lot to consider, for a film that I thought was going to be about Greek fishermen.
Screen 4 costing £6 at the Panton St. Odeon. Not the biggest screen in the world, but…£6!
Finding Dory (2016 – Andrew Stanton)
When I was growing up, the majority of my trips to the cinema were defined by others. I was quite young when I realised people would rarely listen to me. So the choice of what we saw was nearly always someone else’s. Often I would end up watching complete drivel. As I grew older, I began to be a little more insistent. At University I would alternate choices with my friends.
Nowadays, I generally see films on my tod. It means that I get to see whatever I want. Sometimes it means I have ended up sitting in a cinema all on my own. I was preoccupied with the decision as to whether this made me tremendously special and essentially at a private screening….or incredibly lonely.
Sometimes other people still get to choose what I go and see.
There was a time when Pixar was something special. But they have found a formula, and it always involves some creature (be it fish, robot, or feeling itself) learning the importance of feelings. I loathed this film.
Screen 2 at the Odeon Covent Garden. Once again, snuck back into the premiere seats – I’m a cinematic rebel. Ticket cost £7.
Body Double (1984 – Brian De Palma)
Circumstances prevented me from attending as many revival showings as I would have liked this summer, but nothing is going to stop me watching a Brian De Palma film on the big screen.
There were times when there was a palpable tension in the auditorium – moments when the audience teetered on the precipice of laughing at the film rather than with it. I could feel the inner teacher within me wanting to turn ‘round and chide them. But De Palma’s gloriously sleezy blend of sex, tension and paranoia won the crowd over. And the moment when ‘Relax’ plays over the pornographic film felt genuinely transcendental.
That’s De Palma’s gift – that he can take the ridiculous and craft the mise-en-scene to ensure that we feel something else.
Small screen at Picturehouse Central. Wasn’t sure how this was projected, but it was preceded by a trailer for Mullholland Dr. that looked like it was streamed off Youtube. Ticket coast £9.
The Shallows (2016 – Jaume Collet-Serra)
For a film where Blake Lively pretty much talks to herself for an hour-and-a-half I was expecting a lot more effort from her. I was expecting hours of preparation put into her surfing to convince us that she is the expert she is meant to be. I was hoping that she would go full Daniel Day-Lewis…but no. She paddles for a bit and then her face is unconvincingly plonked onto someone else’s body.
Oh well. Tight, terrifying and one of the genuinely few films that portrays modern technology with any of the accuracy that it actually plays in our lives, it was a reminder that 80mins is the perfect length for the majority of cinema.
Smallish but still decent screen at Bluewater Showcase. Ticket cost £8.95.
Suicide Squad (2016 – David Ayer)
Which undid all that goodwill I had after Batman v Superman (2016). I liked the post-credits scene with Ben Affleck in it. The thing is…that is the only appeal of these films…the fact that they cast some compelling actors in lead roles. And here we’ve wasted the nuclear charismas of Will Smith on Deadshot. A C-list Batman villain. A man who shoots things. Cinema is littered with men who shoot things.
It was an obvious, patronising mess.
Screen 1 at Odeon Covent Garden. A large screen, but it seems to me that Screen 2 is the nicer screen at this cinema. Ticket cost £6.
Wiener-Dog (2016 – Todd Solondz)
A relentlessly uncomfortable film. My favourite was moment was when two millennials degraded a middle-aged man’s possession of a Curb Your Enthusiasm boxset. If you aren’t horrified by the young, they’re not doing it correctly.
It’s a delight to go to the cinema and see a vision of humanity that is utterly unlike anything you are exposed to in your every life. Which is not to say you aren’t aware of it, just to say that no one around you has the honesty to suggest that it is true (though if you go for a drink with me in London, I’m likely to end up muttering it to myself.) One where utter dysfunction is common place and the only consequence is the inevitability of death.
Screen 1 (the only decent screen) at Curzon Soho. Ticket cost £9.50.
Things to Come (2016 – Mia Hansen-Love)
How can cinema be dead when Mia Hansen-Love is making movies on an almost annual basis. With every one of her films there is masculine vision of her film creeping at the edges – Father of My Children (2009) would have ended with the suicide. But Hansen-Love is more interesting than any man could be.
The masculine alternative of Things to Come is the story of an individual who loses everything. Hansen-Love’s film is about resilience in the face of quiet, private sadness. Hansen-Love is our resurrection.
Seen at the Renoir screen at the Curzon Bloomsbury. It’s a decent screen and the chairs are super-comfortable. Such a beautiful cinema. Ticket cost £9.50.
Café Society (2016 – Woody Allen)
At this point in his career, problematic individual that he is, we are left with three possible conclusions about Woody Allen’s latest film.
- It is a return to form.
- It is a boring, faintly creepy document of someone who might as well be an alien.
- It is…okay.
So it’s option 3. this time. Though the one redeeming feature of Allen’s “hands-off” approach to filming is that they look utterly divine as the cinematographer is given free-reign. But…that’s not enough.
Screen 1 at the Curzon Victoria. Despite being the best screen in this cinema, it was a pokey screen with appalling sound quality. Shan’t be going here again. Ticket cost £10.