Monday, 2 February 2015

Not Film 2015... but three film (mini-) reviews anyway

I've seen three films at the cinema in the past fortnight. If you knew anything about my life you'd understand that this kind of frequency is almost unheard of these days. So what can I tell you about them? Or rather, what can I tell you that you won't have already read, seen or heard elsewhere? (Especially as I don't have time to write three full reviews...)

First off, I saw The Theory Of Everything, the Stephen Hawking biopic. You already know, from every newspaper/website/TV show that has offered a review, it is very good. And you've probably also heard that Eddie Redmayne is terrific as Hawking. He is, fully deserving the awards buzz that his performance has attracted. What you might not have heard is that Felicity Jones, as Hawking's wife Jane, is equally fantastic. She's sensational, so it's a pity her performance in what is, I guess, a more conventional role will probably not trouble the awards' judges in the same way. Oh, and what you also may not know is that the film largely treats what could have become a mawkish subject in a satisfyingly straightforward, unsentimental way; the result is all the more moving for it. Anyway, don't just take my word for it, here's a trailer.

Then, at the weekend I got to see Paddington. As a child, I devoured Michael Bond's books, and loved the TV show. So I'll admit to approaching this new film, and its CGI bear, with some trepidation... but do you know what? It's terrific. Looking around the cinema, it seemed a hit with kids of all ages, and there are plenty of laughs for adults too. But you know all this already. What's new? Well, there seemed to me to be a subtle point being made about migration, inclusivity, prejudice and multi-culturalism. After all, Farage would send everyone's favourite bear straight back to Darkest Peru, wouldn't he? And what else? Well, for the dads in the audience, Nicole Kidman hams it up as the token baddie... and is quite alluring in the process. So, trailer time.

And then, last night, I got to watch Birdman. You already know, I hope, that it's the tale of a faded film star, famous for playing the titular superhero twenty years ago, trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor, adapting Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love on Broadway. And you probably already appreciate the irony (or genius casting) of Michael Keaton in the lead role, given his role in the first reimagining of Batman. What you may not have heard is that the supporting cast are pretty much all excellent too, especially Emma Stone and Edward Norton. What I hadn't heard before last night (and I therefore arrogantly assume you're unaware too) is quite how surreal the film becomes in places, though I can't elaborate without a spoiler alert. The film also shines a subtle spotlight on the nature of modern celebrity, no more so than with this line from the protagonist's daughter to her faded, jaded dad: "I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don't even have a Facebook page. You're the one who doesn't exist." Oh, and Keaton's character has this quote taped to his dressing room mirror, which I rather like: "A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing." Neat, yes? Well, I think so. Regardless, here's your last dose of trailer...

But okay, let's say you can only go the cinema once. Which should you see? Well that depends on what you're after. My overall verdict is not cut and dried, I'm afraid - I'll have to break it down instead:

  • Best film: The Theory Of Everything
  • Most enjoyable film: Paddington
  • Most interesting film: Birdman
  • Saddest film: The Theory Of Everything
  • Happiest film: Paddington
  • Strangest film: Birdman
  • Film am I most likely to buy on DVD: Birdman

Your mileage may vary, of course.


  1. I have yet tp visit the cinema this year... though I did desperately want to see Birdman.

    1. If's definitely worth hunting a cinema still showing it. Keaton, Norton, superhero film adaptations and Raymond Carver...what's not to love?