Hello. I got one of those Odeon Unlimited things so I can watch as many films as I like. That’s nice, isn’t it? Anyway, I thought I would do a weekly round-up of films I have seen. So…
Independence Day: Resurgence
I didn’t really go into this one with high expectations. I went into this one thinking, “How often do you get the chance to see Jeff Goldblum in IMAX?” I should do two reviews, a Jeff Rating and a Film Rating, but as all Jeff Ratings are 10/10 there isn’t any real point in doing that. The question isn’t, “Was Jeff good?” the question is, “How much did the rest of the film hold Jeff back?” The answer is, “Quite a bit.”
Independence Day, while not as unpleasant as the tawdry version just foisted upon the UK by Nigel Farage, is pretty bad. It takes an hour to get any sort of momentum and then hangs around for half-an-hour too long once it has. It is badly written. It has plot holes so gigantic they become part of the entertainment.
WARNING NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS A SPOILER (OF SORTS, I WOULDN’T PANIC THOUGH).
My favourite bit of the film was incredible. After flying into the centre of a three-thousand-mile-wide spaceship (which didn’t seem that big when you see it in this scene, but, you know, maybe they are flying at several times the speed of sound or something) our heroes find themselves stranded in a swamp forest (the spaceship has an ecosystem. And yes, I know swamp is a rather hipster choice of ecosystem for a space ship, but bear with me, this gets better). Trapped, hunted, and without a ship, they can only watch as the ceiling of the several-miles-wide room they are in reveals itself to be another spaceship and flies away. So… they bravely steal four alien ships and escape. Not through the massive hole in the ceiling, no, through a slowly closing doorway. There is even a bit, just as their four ships reach the door, that one of them screams, “I’M NOT LEAVING ANYONE BEHIND! NO ON ELSE DIES TODAY!” and does a loop of the room killing a few more aliens (presumably not looking up and noticing the big hole in the ceiling while he was doing it) before returning to the door. Of those four ships, I can only tell you what happened to two of them. It’s that sort of film.
But, you know, the Jeff Goldblum bits are great.
Elvis & Nixon
This was more like it. A fictionalised version of the meeting of, well, Elvis and Nixon, obviously. Great performances from Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey, a sharp script and a wonderful soundtrack. This could have been a slight film, a joke stretched to an hour and a half, but it isn’t that at all. It is light-hearted a lot of the time, but it has these wonderful pockets of darkness and of sadness. It touches on gender and race in really subtle ways – a wordless scene with a janitor being a great example – giving the film a heft way beyond what it might have had. More than anything though, it is a whole bag of joy. You should go and watch it.
When I got a card giving me access to as many films as I wanted for a monthly fee, I made a promise to myself I would see every film directed by a woman the cinema showed (unless it was a scary horror film, because I have a low threshold for that sort of thing). The film industry is a business and like all businesses its plans are based on possible financial gains. In a nutshell, if you want more films directed by women, you have to see all the ones that already exist – you have to prove the model is viable. This is pathetic, I know. People are dumb, I know.
I also know I’m not making any grand or profound gesture by doing this. All I’m doing is watching films. This is literally the least I can do. But I’m doing it, so here we are.
It is highly unlikely that Susan Sarandon will be nominated for an Oscar for her performance The Meddler (because awards tend to go for big performances or incredible transformations) but she is just brilliant as a woman held back by grief, getting involved in other people’s lives because she doesn’t know what to do with her own.
It is her performance, combined with some really crisp direction and editing, that raises the film to something special. Without the control, without subtlety, her character would be a caricature, a butt of jokes, a villain, but Sarandon makes her human, real.
Sometimes you can forget that the big screen isn’t just for big spectacle. From the opening shot of The Meddler (Sarandon’s face, two pillows, a duvet) you are reminded there is also a joy in small things made large shot well. I wouldn’t have seen this film if I wasn’t on the world’s lamest crusade for equality in film making. I’m very glad I did. My life is better even if nobody else’s is. Yet. Until they watch The Meddler. Watch the Meddler.
If you see one film this week, see: The Meddler