Monday, 6 October 2014

Seen: July/August/September

During the spring and early summer we got out of the habit of going to the cinema. Luckily, over the latter part of the summer we've made up for it, once again becoming regulars at Leicester's brilliant independent cinema, Phoenix, and seeing some amazing movies in the process.

1. The first of two brilliant music documentaries I've seen recently, The Punk Singer follows the career of Bikini Kill singer and Riot Grrrl revolutionary Kathleen Hanna. Using a mixture of old concert footage, talking head interviews and lots of input from Hanna herself, it was fascinating to hear about her journey as a musician and as a person. The hardships and ill-health that Hanna has faced in recent years are told with a cool clarity that makes her seem all the more inspirational.

2. I just completely adored Mistaken For Strangers, which is less a rockumentary than a commentary on brotherly love and the dynamics of sibling relationships. The film tracks what happened when The National lead singer, Matt Berninger, invited his younger brother, Tom, along on tour. Ostensibly employed as a roadie, Tom (who is a failed filmmaker) decides to make a movie of the experience. By turns hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad, it's one of the best films I've seen in years.

3. Everyone I spoke to or follow on Twitter was all, "Pride's the best film evah," and I was all, "Yeah I've heard this claim many times before. How good can a film about a bunch of London-based lesbians & gay men raising money for the miner's strike actually be?" But honestly, it pretty much is the best film "evah". I fucking loved it. I loved it so much I want to take it home and marry it. Loved it so much that for the whole evening afterwards, every time I tried to recall a scene I was particularly moved by, I ended up crying again. Loved it so much that its very existence made my whole life seem just that little bit better. It's heart-warming and funny and incredibly moving and inspiring and all those other superlatives, and if you haven't seen it yet I urge - nay, demand - that you run to your nearest cinema and buy a ticket straight away.

4. I'm not particularly a fan of sci-fi or action movies, but I'd read so much praise for Guardians Of The Galaxy that I was curious to check it out. It turned out to be full of the expected explosions and fights but also silly and funny and with an ace soundtrack. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I'll certainly go and see the sequel.

5. Richard Linklater is hands down my favourite director. I love how different his films all are from each other, yet each contains the same essential essence. Boyhood has been much talked about and critically lauded - rightly so - so I won't bang on about it too much. I did get a tiny bit restless as the film entered its third hour, but as I have a notoriously tiny attention span (and equally tiny bladder) the fact that it took me that long to feel antsy is a miracle.

6. When I discovered that The Boy had never seen Dazed & Confused I was worried. It's one of my benchmark films: if you don't love this, I probably can't love you. Sitting down to watch it together was pretty nerve-wracking, but I needn't have worried. Who doesn't love Linklater's sun-soaked, weed-infused, stoner rock-soundtracked tale of the last day of school before summer break in a 70s Texas town? It's my absolute favourite film ever, one I've watched at least once a year for the past 20 years, and never got bored or liked less. To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey's deservedly famous line from the movie, "That's what I love about these high school [films], man. I get older, they stay the same age."

7. From the most sublime high school movie to the most ridiculous, GBF is possibly one of the worst films I've ever watched (and considering my appalling taste in cheesy romcoms - I honestly love the terrible Amanda Bynes vehicle She's The Man - the bar is set pretty low). Trying very hard to be the Easy A or Mean Girls of gay rights, it falls far short of the mark. I literally did not laugh once.

8. The East was one of those so-bad-its-good films. Sexy vampire Alexander Skarsgard mooching around with his shirt off did little to save a comically far-fetched plot about eco-terrorists. As people with genuine knowledge of activist groups, The Boy and I found the whole thing hilarious and enjoyed ripping it to shreds. All that piss-taking plus Alexander and Ellen Page to drool over? I sort of loved it, but perhaps not in the way the makers intended.


  1. I also really enjoyed The Punk Singer - I didn't really know much about her illness so that was a very interesting watch. Need to see Guardians of the Galaxy as I have heard many many good things about it! Oh Dazed and Confused...when this film came out I was obsessed by it and bought the soundtrack so I could relive it every moment of the day - not seen it in years so a rewatch may be in order. Love a bit of Alexander Skarsgard so might check that one out too :)

    1. I think I perhaps expected too much of Guardians of the Galaxy. It is good but it's not the life-changing film I was led to believe from a lot of other people! As for Dazed & Confused, we rewatched it the evening I finished school for the summer, which was perfect timing!

  2. I'm not really a big fan of The National but I do fancy watching the film after reading your review! I meant to say I watched Hit So Hard on your recommendation too and really enjoyed it ( and now have that song in my head again!) x

    1. I'm really not a fan of The National, I think I like maybe one song but mostly I find them a bit droney! You definitely don't need to be a fan of the band to love the film. I'm glad you liked Hit So Hard too :)