I love movies. I don’t do TV, not much. I enjoy political shows, comedies and nature programmes but I have zero tolerance for stuff like reality TV, tiresome soaps and those live chat shows where Average Joe goes on TV and exposes all his private business to the world. I have to confess though that for the first time I got right into this years Britain’s Got Talent, so much so that I actually rang in and voted for our favourite act – partly at the persistence of my eight-year-old boy, it has to be said.
Anyway, some films I’ve watched recently that I would recommend (listed in order of preference but the first two come very, very close). I love writing film and book reviews but for some reason, I am always reluctant to publish them so this might remain in my draft folder. We’ll see. I won’t say much about the plots or the storylines of the films. I’ll just ramble out my own thoughts . . .
The Kite Runner: A film based on a book of the same name. My dance teacher gave me this book as a gift a few years ago and it deeply moved me. Normally I would absolutely avoid watching the film of the book but I was prepared to forget my usual rule for this film, not least because I expected the music and the scenery to be spectacular. And it was. Although the story is set mainly in Afghanistan, most of the scenes were filmed in China, for two reasons apparently: firstly because Kabul city is currently too volatile and also because Afghanistan has changed so much since the era in which the book was set and the makers decided that West China best represented the then Afghanistan.
Anyway, in short, a good, good film. Disturbing at times and very sad but equally as heart-warming and sweet. I was relieved that it was faithful to the book as much as it was able to be. And I thought the acting was outstanding, especially by two child actors. Young Hassan was utterly endearing.
Whale-Rider: I picked this DVD up at our school summer fair for 50p no less and I have to say, I’d have paid full price. It’s another heart-warming and inspiring tale of family love, loyalty and triumph. Films like this tend to get lost among all the popular blockbusters which is a real tragedy because they are usually much more valuable and satisfying.
Some might say the film is a bit slow in parts but I found it to be a gentle and relaxing pace and well worth staying with. The performance of the main character, twelve-year old Paikea, was superb and I couldn’t help being enchanted by her magnetic simplicity. It has to be said that one moving scene where she recites a poem to her grandfather had me sobbing my heart out. Amazingly, this was her first main acting role and unsurprisingly, she was nominated for an Oscar.
To sum up . . . lovely. Beautiful. Amazing imagery, great music, beautiful story and quite superb acting.
Juno: I liked this film! And I liked the soundtrack even more. One of the most refreshing things about this film is the fact that the actors aren’t beautiful people. Well they are beautiful but aesthetically, they’re quite average. And that’s what’s needed in today’s image obsessed world.
The main child-bearing character, a pregnant teenager, is dynamically down-to-earth (if that makes sense) and she has a smart mouth that belies her young age. Same goes for many of the other actors but of course the dialogue is written for them and in reality, not many people have that gift of throwing out endless and perfectly timed wisecracks. Juno herself is a bit too sharp and confident to represent the average teenager, let alone a pregnant one.
The film does demonstrate the naivety of teenagers and the heartache of infertility with the right amount of sensitivity but I thought that the film ended a bit too rosy. It made the consequences of teenage pregnancy seem . . . well, inconsequential. Basically, if the film was trying to speak out for the pregnant teenager, it probably wasn’t gritty enough to be realistic. But having said all that, maybe the film wasn’t trying to make a political or social statement and if not, then I’ll take it for what it is and say that it’s sweet and funny and easy entertainment. And I’m sure it pleased the religious crowd. Oh yes, and the boyfriend Paulie was quietly wonderful.
Iron Man: In direct contrast, this is of course a loud and fast action movie. Much as I prefer a more intelligent and thought-provoking movie genre, I have to say I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it in spite of not wanting to because of the aspects involving the tiresome Americans versus Muslim Extremists agenda and the usual self-righteous American centrism. But the film manages to get away with the prevalent US flag-waving, somehow! Or almost anyway. I was disappointed that the film failed to get a more definite message across about warmongering, war profiteering and the duplicitous arms industry. And I also thought that the redemption of the hero Stark didn’t go far enough. I know some would argue that the film is meant for entertainment purposes only but when a storyline involves current and on-going delicate political matters, however brief they might be touched on, at the risk of contradicting myself, I think the makers have a duty to deal with such matters with responsible sensitivity and I believe they missed some opportunities here.
Anyway, it’s very funny with some exhilaratingly great Transformers-like special effects. Robert Downey Junior plays an excellent role as Stark. He uses lots of cool humour and he’s really quite cheesy at times but it’s intentional – it’s a comic book movie. Not a lot more to say about it other than although it is very US-patriotric and there were some missed opportunities, a humanitarian factor does get through. Although inevitably, the Americans come out shining in this area too but not nauseatingly so. And they do make great movies.
So, here endeth this month’s review. Do you think Mark Kermode should be worried? No, it’s time I read some books again. Book review coming up.