I started a new job this month and I’ve been too knackered in the evenings to do much more than lie back on the sofa and stick the tv on. So, many things watched, very little read (as you’ll see when I do my reading wrap-up…)
Moonlight (2016) film, cinema
This is one of those films made to be seen in a cinema – the use of light and colour is best on a big screen. I can absolutely see why it won Best Picture; it’s beautifully crafted in the way it is shot and lit, the acting is brilliant, and it has powerful themes of (sexual and general) identity, masculinity, and mother figures and father figures. It’s not a film I would recommend to everyone because, although powerful, it’s purposefully slow and ends in a kind of indefinite way that’s not for everyone, though I liked the end. In the cinema when I saw it, a guy was obviously not enjoying it but, instead of leaving, talked a lot and then shouted “fuck off” when the screen faded to black. I still enjoyed the film, but it did take away some of the atmosphere which is key to Moonlight and ruined it a bit.
Logan (2017) film, cinema
I have serious superhero movie fatigue, but I loved this. It was more grounded in character and had a different story arc than most superhero films. And it was genuinely moving in parts. Part of the reason why it works is Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, and Dafne Keen who plays Laura. I think it could have pushed some of the themes and ideas it brushes over further, and been a truly different, great (superhero) film, but it was easily one of the best superhero films I’ve seen in a long time. More character-driven comics films, please studios.
Maidentrip (2013) documentary, Netflix
This is a documentary about 14-year-old Laura Dekker’s voyage sailing around the world alone. I liked that it mostly concentrated on the trip and the sailing itself, and didn’t focus on the controversy around it – it was just about what it was like to spend two years sailing and exploring alone as a teenager. It could have done with a bit more depth in that regard, but as a quiet coming-of-age doc it was enjoyable enough.
The People vs OJ Simpson (2016) series, Netflix
I vaguely knew about the OJ trial as it has become a cultural reference point, but I didn’t really know any specifics about it. So I can’t say how close to the truth this fictionalised drama or the portrayals of real people are, but it’s still fascinating to watch. It’s the combination of systemic racism, gender, the media coverage, the profile of the people involved, mistakes in the trial, and what it has become in culture since. I know the non-fiction doc won best feature at the Oscars this year, and I’m interested to see what the differences are (and to see the film that beat Ava DuVernay’s 13th, which is the best documentary I think I’ve ever seen).
The Skeleton Twins (2014) film, Netflix
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are great in this as estranged fraternal twins, but the film was just okay. It didn’t really stay with me in any way even though it’s the kind of film I should have loved. There are some good moments and scenes, but overall it didn’t do enough in a new or different way to do much for me.
The White Helmets (2016) documentary, Netflix
This short doc follows the White Helmets – volunteer rescuers in Syria who help people out of bombed buildings. It shows you what it’s like, day-to-day, to live and work and worry about loved ones in a war zone. Obviously it’s grim, but there is hope, both in the White Helmets themselves and in the symbols of rescues like the tiny ‘miracle baby’ found alive after nearly a day in the rubble. Worth a watch.
The Overnighters (2014) documentary, Netflix
When a pastor allows the huge and growing numbers of homeless people, some of whom have criminal pasts, seeking work in the area to stay at the church and his home, it creates divisions and controversy in the local community. What makes this doc great is that it doesn’t set the pastor up as a saint against ‘evil’ townspeople, it’s a lot more nuanced than that. And, as it goes on, we see an increasingly complex picture of the pastor himself.
The Good Wife (seasons 1 – 5) series, Netflix
When I’ve been tired, this has been what I’ve reached for, so I’ve watched a shit-ton of The Good Wife this month. It’s easy, self-contained ‘legal mysteries’ in each episode with an overarching plot, and crime is often my go-to easy-watch TV. Season 5 has been properly good, but I’ve heard the next two seasons go downhill a bit. Shiny easy fluff that’s perfect for what I need right now.
Get Out (2017) film, cinema
I love smart horror, and this is it. The twists are all pretty obvious, so it’s not shocking or terrifying in that sense, but it’s still really enjoyable. It takes the more covert kinds of racism and appropriation from white people who “couldn’t possibly be racist because they like Obama” and then stretches it into more traditional horror tropes. Really worth watching.