Notes From The Cinema

explorations through the world of film

(I’m pretty sure) Terrence & I Have Called It Quits

My blog has been neglected for a long time.

So, what happened?

Last year I was occupied with the post-production of my web documentary The Good Life (www.goodlife.film), and I’ve learned that when I am in an edit suite all day long unfortunately the last thing I want to do in the evening is cosy up to a film.

When I did manage to see a movie it was because I made a conscious decision to leave the house for the cinema, and the time it took to make that physical journey to somewhere other than my living room sofa put me in the right frame of mind to engage with a story unfolding on-screen that was not one I was trying to make.

And then there was the political turmoil…

Which meant that You Tube and the US based comedians (Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert) usurped the place of Netflix, Mubi and Love Film in my life. I became addicted to one emotional state: amusement.

I now no longer need to get my political news strictly through comedians (though it helps) and as I am in a lull before another of my projects begins post-production, I was excited when my friend E. emailed. There were a few movies playing in London that she wanted to see and did I want to be her date?

YES!

And so I agreed to 3 films in the span of 4 days at the cinema.

We started with a Friday night screening at the British Film Institute of L’albero degli zoccoli, or The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978, directed by Ermanno Olmi). While I was waiting for E. in the lobby of the BFI I debated ordering a coffee. It had been a long week – the first half spent in Rome, the second half on a film shoot in Uxbridge. But I got stuck into the book I’m currently reading (Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking), and before I knew it E. had arrived. We picked up the tickets and grabbed the programme notes to the film and hurried to find our seats.

Once settled I glanced down at the notes, now in my lap, and my eyes zeroed in on one particular line, out of all the others:

“this three-hour epic about the lives of peasants in turn-of-the-century Bergamo…”

Three hours!

I didn’t realise I said this aloud.

E. had seen the film before but it had been many years so she was also surprised by my announcement. But she assured me that of everything she remembered about the film, length was not one of them.

Even so, I regretted not ordering that coffee.

The curtains parted and the film began and I really don’t know why I was surprised that the film was in colour (it was only made in 1978). We were off to a good start. I was also relieved that the editing from the beginning was quite pacey. Okay, I thought – I can do this!

The Tree of Wooden Clogs is fiction but observational in style so at times you could mistake it for being a very well shot documentary. I later read that the stories in the film were based on stories Olmi’s grandmother told him, which certainly lent the film an even greater feeling of authenticity.

The beauty of this film is that not that much happens, and yet it’s still immersive. The word immersive is thrown around a lot these days, mostly in connection to virtual reality and 360 degrees video. Yet here is an entirely immersive film from the late 70s, and the immersive-ness comes from the filmmaker not only bringing you into a place, into a world, but from his mastery in keeping you there. I can’t remember any false moves that kicked you out of the fictive world the filmmaker created. In fact, I don’t recall anyone leaving the cinema early. And that’s saying something for a three-hour film on a Friday night!

Historically, too, the film is fascinating in that it is set only decades after Italian unification, and still it feels like you are watching a village in its own region in its own time, rather than a village that is now part of the same country as “Italian” landmarks that we are so used to seeing or thinking about in connection to Italy.

I found myself entranced with the film’s cinematography – the composition and the framing. Maybe this was my way of coping with its length, or my way of adapting to its pace. Unfortunately because of this mesmeric state I realised I may have missed a few plot points. This was certainly the case when the air conditioning kicked on halfway through the film and I became preoccupied with keeping warm. In my mind I went to the last time I froze watching a three-hour Italian film in the cinema. It was so long and so cold that I caught the flu during the film and once it ended I was so weak that I needed a taxi to transport me from Manhattan back to Queens. Now back in the Studio of the BFI I could see in my peripheral vision E. pulling out from her bag what looked to be a big blanket. She was seasoned at cinema going in the summer. I admired her preparation!

The Tree of Wooden Clogs HAS to be three hours long because it takes one that long to adjust to its rhythm. But when you do, when you finally submit, it is quite peaceful. E. and I compared notes afterwards and E. said she found herself fighting with the film, fighting for the first hour with the demands it was placing on her, but after that, when she eventually submitted, it was okay. More than okay. It was an immersive experience and one that I would repeat if I had another three hours in the near future to spare.

Three days later E. and I met at BAFTA for a cinema “double-header”: Baby Driver and Song to Song. I was expecting to hate Baby Driver and was once again in admiration for E. because I was pretty sure this was not her kind of film either, but she was going to see it anyway, as any good screenwriter might do for research.

What can I say? Baby Driver is an accomplished film. Yet one that is stressful – at least for me – to watch. Firstly, it’s fast. The opening car chase is brilliant – how on earth did they choreograph and shoot that?? Secondly, it’s loud. Baby Driver grabbed me by the throat and didn’t quite let me go. I could feel the vibrations of the soundtrack throughout my entire body, throughout the entire film. I was shallow breathing for nearly two hours.

There were moments in Baby Driver when I squirmed in my seat and covered my face with my hands. It was intense. And I loved the way the soundtrack – which to my delight at some point included Young MC, and not one of his super obvious tracks – was integral to the story. But I really did have trouble with the level of violence and its glorification. As we have all seen variations of the film’s story before, is this film really a vehicle for stylised violence?

Baby Driver had a plot and although it was strong, it was expected. Near the end the villain appears, and re-appears and then … re-appears once more for the final, violent showdown. I really hate villains in films, which is why I have trouble writing traditional, explicit conflict.

To its credit Baby Driver attempts a not-all-ends-well ending, but still, it’s all Hollywood fantasy (a glistening prison scene in Georgia, a state with extreme poverty). At the same time, on some level, this film is satisfying, and I do think I remember the cinema erupting into applause once the final credits rolled.

E. & I had a 15-minute break between films. We retrieved our reserved sandwiches from behind the BAFTA bar and ordered two glasses of white. This “double-header” cinema event needed careful scheduling and E. was looking after our blood sugar levels.

I confessed to E. that I had like Baby Driver more than I had expected. She nodded but was reserved. We both agreed we had no interest writing or directing such a film but we both agreed that it was very good for what-it-was. But we were baffled by the level of violence – is this what people want to pay to see on screen? Still? It’s hard to imagine that after so much – Syria, refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, police brutality, Grenfell Tower – that we as a society have not reached “peak-violence.”

I was troubled.

Is American cinema the most violent? I asked E.

She thought for a moment, then answered.

I’m not familiar with Korean cinema, but . . .

Oh yeah, me neither.  

I was happy for once that the US did not have the monopoly on blood & guts & murders (on screen) and I found myself wistful for the Italian film during which nothing much happened.

I couldn’t make it through my glass of wine so I tucked it under my scarf (I was prepared this time for cinema temperatures) and we headed back to our seats for Terrence Malick’s Song To Song. Despite its famous and extremely good-looking case – Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender – it was absolutely insufferable. I moved around in my seat. I contemplated an exit. Two people actually found it, in blatant defiance of BAFTA’s rules not to leave your seat until all of the credits are finished. (in addition to: don’t even think about touching your phone).

What was the point of that? I asked E.

Neither of us could answer.

We knew going in that it had had poor reviews, but that made me more determined to like it. And then there was the fact that it was directed by Malick.

There were too many voices in the film! I said.

But it was an ensemble! E. replied.

 Yeah, but I still didn’t know who I was supposed to care about. I felt for no one!

E. & I shared our coping mechanisms for Song To Song. The highlight for me was seeing Cate Blanchett wear a magnificent black, backless dress while standing outside on some balcony. I wondered what kind of bra she was wearing with that dress, that is how far out of the world of the film I was! E. found inspiration in some of the film’s interiors, specifically something to do with tiles.

But okay, that is not entirely the truth. I did like something more than Cate’s black, backless dress. Malick and his camera caught some lovely, warm moments between the couples in the film. But they were really not enough to stave off my restlessness. I remembered I had the same feeling with Malick’s previous film, To The Wonder.

So, are Terrence & I officially “over”??

I’d like to say now that I wouldn’t give him another few hours of my time, but . . . curiosity may not be able to keep me out of the cinema when he releases his next film.

Stay tuned….

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Off to Sheffield

Manick in the Forest

(still from The Public Life of Manick G.)

It’s going to be a long day.

With only 3 hours’ sleep and a wake up call at 5 am it’s no wonder I left my glasses on the bedside table, which means I’ve been forced to inappropriately wear my prescription sunglasses under this sky of Grey. And, just a moment ago, I clumsily knocked my newly fixed laptop down to the floor from the not-fit-for-purpose table folded down from the back of the train seat in front of me.

But things are bound to get better as I am heading North to Sheffield for my fourth visit to the always exhilarating but exhausting DocFest! In these years I’ve come to realise that film festivals breed an anxiety not dissimilar to life with their schedules packed with far too many enticing choices and only so many hours in the day. But what makes this trip that much sweeter is that The Public Life of Manick G. (https://sheffdocfest.com/films/5837will make its premiere at the Odeon on Sunday and a colleague and I have been chosen to develop a new project within the British-Mexican Docunexion programme.

If you have read this far you might have worked out that I didn’t make my 365-films-in-a-year goal. There were times when I believed the feat was possible but in the end, life and the practice of film, intervened. I’m hoping the aforementioned enticing film schedule should help me make up some good ground over the next 5 days!

Finally, some films I have seen in the past few weeks in my last bid to rack up my numbers:

Virunga (Netflix) – a powerful and courageous documentary set in the Congo
Cake – Jennifer Aniston impressive in this haunting film
Gone Girl – I resisted this film for so long but it did make a transatlantic flight much faster
Catch Me Daddy – I tried but failed to watch this on the way back from the US. I appreciated the cinematography but the story took too long to get started and I wanted more emphasis on the female. I wanted it to feel more her story
This is Where I Leave You – surprisingly watchable comedy with Tina Fey
The New Girlfriend (in the cinema) – the latest Ozon, really good
Bad Hair (on Mubi) slow-paced but moving Venezuelan film about a young boy
Birdman – worried during the first 10 minutes that this film was not going to be for me but it didn’t take much longer to fall in love with the script, acting and the genius mind of Iñárritu.

Coming soon, more news from Sheffield…

The Oscar Winner That Made Me…snooze!

Parker Posey

With almost everything in our house having finally found its place I greeted this sunny first day of March with a long overdue sense of calm. And with that I hope comes a return to routine, something with which I have a love-hate relationship.

I have always been fascinated with the things people feel they need to do on a 24 hour cycle: take 30 minutes of cardio exercise, swallow a multi-vitamin, drink 8 glasses of water and digest 5 servings of fruit and veg not to mention flossing! No wonder most people feel overwhelmed by life. But how do people go about making time for those things they want to do on a daily basis? And what would the world look like if we could all succeed in shifting our daily to-do list around to prioritise the things that we love?  As I close in on my 365-films-in-365 days goal facing the hard cold truth that I probably won’t make it I can only say: I ain’t giving up yet!

Here’s my take on the latest batch of cinema treats:

160.) Broken English (2007) directed by Zoe Cassavetes.
A few years back someone once said to me that an incident in life reminded them of Broken English. And since that moment I have made a mental note to see it. Written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes and starring Parker Posey (please someone tell me when we can see her on screen again?) the film is quite easy to forget weeks after watching save for a few clever lines of dialogue. For example, Audrey: “I think my marriage is falling apart.” Nora: “Are you sure it’s not just PMS?”

161.) Love In the Afternoon (1972) directed by Eric Rohmer.
“Since I’ve been married I find all women beautiful.” So goes the narrator in Eric Rohmer’s sensual filmic world where men drink beer for lunch and women eat ice cream. Only. Worth watching on an evening in but only if you are in the mood for the 1970s French interpretation of romantic relationships and their troubles.

162.) The Theory of Everything (2014) directed by James Marsh.
Lovely to see a documentary director at work in fiction and this was the perfect film for him to take on. Worth seeing to watch Eddie Redmayne’s stellar performance of Hawking.

163.) The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz directed by Brian Knappenberger.
The Storyville strand currently up on BBC iPlayer is full of good-looking titles. This film tells the story of Swartz’s short life and how despite a tragic end, his legacy lives on. Another film on my list that has made me cry.

164.) The Duke of Burgundy (2014) directed by Peter Strickland.
The best film I have seen in a long while, Strickland is in complete control of his third feature, shot on location in Hungary. I watched the film in the cinema as there was a post-screening Q&A with Strickland, who said one of his inspirations (alongside the 1970s sexploitation films) was to explore the idea of “who suffers more” in a relationship – the person who gives up their desire or the person who steps outside their comfort zone to please the person they love? A beautifully strange and surprising film every film lover and filmmaker should see.

165.) Citizen Four directed by Laura Poitras.
I am almost – almost! – too embarrassed to admit that I fell asleep smack in the middle of this most recent Oscar-winning documentary. Especially as I had been excited to see it for so long. Despite the remarkable, unbelievable story of Edward Snowden and his expose of the NSA and the skill of Poitras’ and Greenwald’s reporting, I kept asking myself: why did this have to be a film? Wasn’t their reporting in the Guardian enough? I struggled to find any extra value the film gave to the story and unfortunately found Greenwald’s demeanor too off-putting for me to engage fully. Citizen Four is still up on iPlayer for those who want to brave it…

Tamsin Greig, Pedro & Electric Screwdrivers

When the young man behind the counter at my local Argos called me “Mrs Bob The Builder” whilst handing over our new Black & Decker electric screwdriver/drill kit I knew it was time to disentangle myself from the tape measure and walk away from the DIY of a new house. Over the Christmas break my obsession for film was temporarily replaced by an obsession with staircases and all things mid-century but I did manage to fit in three whole seasons of the series Episodes starring Tamsin Greig, Stephen Mangan and Matt LeBlanc. If you are signed up for UK Netflix, what are you waiting for? This comedy about two British screenwriters (Greig and Mangan) working in LA is the best TV comedy I have seen in a long while and absolutely addictive.

Although still far away from my goal of 365 films by 1 April 2015 I am still feeling naively optimistic, especially given my recent re-discovery of Curzon Home Cinema (https://www.curzonhomecinema.com/), BFI iPlayer (https://player.bfi.org.uk/) and Dogwoof TV (http://dogwoof.tv/). Then again finding enough films to watch was never a problem!

131 & 132) The Seven Samurai (1956) by Akira Kurosawa – having only ever seen snippets of this classic it was decided for me that I had better sit down and watch it from start to finish! Counting as two films because of its length (which to be honest, I struggled with).

133.) For the second year in a row now I have judged a handful of student short films for the Watersprite Film Festival (http://www.watersprite.org.uk/) based in Cambridge. Am counting a few of those here as one film and looking forward to seeing some on a big screen of the festival in early March.

134.) French Kiss (1995) directed by Laurence Kasdan. Meg Ryan is the heartbroken and deluded woman who stars in this heist-meets-romantic-comedy film. Perfect for a cold winter’s night when you want to be reminded of the days when women wore big baggy trousers.

135.) Sylvia (2003) directed by Christine Jeffs. I pulled this DVD down from the shelves of my local Oxfam having forgotten that I had seen it before. Overall a well-done film except for the occasional cringe-inducing lines of dialogue that shook the memory of this film from my subconscious. There was some memorable dialogue, too, when Sylvia is confronted with her own procrastination techniques in the face of Ted’s super productivity – “When I sit down to write, I get a bake sale.”

Films 136 – 148) Episodes (2011 – 2013) (series 1 -3). This was, after all, 25 hours of television viewing over the Christmas break which had to go down as more than one film. Dying for Season 4. Which reminds me – where is Season 3 of Girls? 

149.) First Position (2011) directed by Bess Kargman. Another surprise found on UK Netflix. This documentary about young ballet dancers in the United States competing for the Young American Grand Prixe. The film is well-researched and director Kargman had terrific access to its characters. A feel-good movie with a natural narrative in the form of the dance competition built in. Have a peak at some of the characters in the film’s trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_cOwCKODgs

150.) Which Way To The Front Line From Here? (2013 – 2014) this documentary, directed by Sebastian Junger, is about the life and work of Tim Hetherington. A few years back I was at the Curzon Soho for a screening of Tim and Sebastian’s film Restrepo. Tim was in attendance for a Q&A after the film and I was astounded by his thoughtfulness and humanity, and so was deeply moved when I heard about his death in Libya only a few years later. This film is worth it even if you are not familiar with Hetherington’s work but I would also very much recommend their documentary Restrepo. 

151.) Girl Rising (2013) directed by Richard E Robbins. I discovered this documentary which features girls around the world on Netflix after having already heard of it. Although beautifully shot it was difficult to get because there wasn’t enough to tie the individual stories together.

152.) Dirty Wars (2013) directed by Rick Rowley and featuring Jeremy Scahill. Very well-made documentary about the rise of the US Joint Special Operations Command.

153.) Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown (1988) by Pedro Almodóvar. Last weekend I met my friend Paola for lunch at the BFI and lucky for us she spotted an afternoon screening of Women followed by a long Q&A session with Pedro himself. What better way to spend a freezing cold Sunday afternoon? After our meal we waited 1.5 hours in a queue before the screening for tickets, but we did manage to get a seat after a quick grilling from a BFI attendant who asked us what we thought of I’m So Excited! (loved it).

154.) Blackfish (2013) by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. I’ve been wanting to see this documentary for some time, about the killer whale Tilikum, and more generally, about our relationships with these animals. Did you know that dolphins and whales’ brains have evolved in a way that human brains haven’t, which means that they both have a strong sense of self and a strong sense of the social?

155.) The Possibilities Are Endless (2014) a documentary by Edward Lovelace and James Hall. (bought from BFI iPlayer). Creative documentary about the experience of Edwyn Collins’ stroke and its affect on him and his wife Grace.

156.) After Tiller (2013) directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson. Incredibly moving and surprising documentary (Netflix) about the only 4 doctors across the United States who can practice third trimester abortions. The film captures well the unbelievability of the whole situation.

157.) Life Itself (2014) directed by Steve James. (Curzon Home Cinema). Again, another documentary I have wanted to see for some time. Deeply moving look at the critic Roger Ebert’s life and illness with cameos by Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and Martin Scorsese among others.

158.) Whiplash (2014) directed by Damian Chazelle. Out in cinemas now, this film was recommended by several friends. What an intense cinema experience, I felt totally stressed out watching it! Despite its strong cinematography and editing I felt there was a part of the script that didn’t sit right. After coming home I checked some reviews on line and was surprised that a few articles referred to the film as a comedy?! Which leads me to think the script didn’t quite set its audience up correctly.

159.) The Interrupters (2011) directed by Steve James (Dogwoof TV). Another documentary by Steve James about the “interrupters” of gang violence in Chicago. Quite a long film with parts that are hard to follow but when the film drops down on one of the “interrupters” and stays there, it is engrossing.

We Got The Beat

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Although it may seem obvious, my goal of watching 365 films by the end of March 2015 really is about quantity. There was a time, decades ago, when I was extremely discriminating about what I watched for fear that a bad film might live on in my subconscious forever. But now I find it as interesting to find out what didn’t work in a film, and why, as to what worked so well as to go without notice.

The other goal of this intense film immersion is to experience which films and scenes stand out and remain in my memory months down the line.

Last night as I looked forward to winding down the year approaching the 200 mark (possibly?), the whirring noise of my projector which made up part of the white noise of the room called my attention to the poor machine’s fragility. What if it doesn’t take me to the end of this journey?

Too distressing a thought.

In the meantime, here are my latest adventures in cinema:

111.) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) directed by Sergio Leone. As far as movie imagery goes nothing quite beats the sight of Clint Eastwood in a poncho. Having only seen excerpts of this film my whole life I decided it was time to give it my attention from beginning to end. Was lovely to see Eli Wallach – who I had the pleasure meeting while working on New York: A Documentary Film – at the start of his career. I was quite taken by the opening credits (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kccafOf4O6Q) and equally surprised that only two women turned up on screen in over three hours.

112.) Mr Turner (2013) directed by Mike Leigh
2014 seems to be the year of the artist film and here Mike Leigh returns with another observation of the working-class. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this film but I couldn’t help but think it might be better watched from under a duvet on the sofa during the holiday season.

113.) Open Hearts (2002) directed by Susanne Bier (Mubi UK)
I find Susanne Bier to be one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. Despite having such a broad filmic repertoire, each piece is quite solid. A “Dogma” film, Open Hearts tells the story of the emotional aftermath of a tragic accident, and is well worth watching for its emotional portrayal of its characters (not to mention the “Dogma” camerawork).

114.) The Story of O (1975) directed by Just Jaeckin (Mubi UK)
This film appeared on MUBI and is one of those that you just have to see. Apart from the appearance of many great Macs and some nice sound effects the sexy promise of this film turned out to be deeply boring.

115.) Bill Cunningham New York directed by Richard Press (documentary) (2010) (Netflix)
One of the surprises of this batch of films was this life-affirming film about the obsessive, eccentric fashion photographer Bill Cunningham who is shown downing his medication with NY deli coffee. Chronicling his work and (absent?) personal life this film is a great portrait of a man who leaves us with pithy thoughts like: “fashion is the armour to survive everyday life” and “he who seeks beauty will find it.” A lovely and inspirational portrait of an artist.

116.) The Imitation Game (2014) directed by Morten Tyldum
A solidly good period film, of which the only thing that threw me out of its created world was its special effects.

117.) Ms Representation (2011) directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom (UK Netflix)
An overambitious documentary about women which longs for a focus. This film is worth it only if you want to see a broad range of women speaking about their representation in the media, as in that case, you are bound to come away with a nugget.

118.) In Search Of Memory directed by Petra Seeger (2009) (YouTube)
I had the pleasure of meeting neuroscientist Eric Kandel while working on a documentary about Columbia University in New York some years ago. Was thrilled to see that a film had finally been made about his life and career. One look at this most humane, accomplished scientist in his bow tie and you will wonder how to bring the same amount of love, joy and forgiveness into your own life. The YouTube version lacks some English subtitles so is better viewing if you know German and French!

119.) Field Study (short, 2014) directed by Eva Weber.
Beautiful short narrative crafted by documentarian Eva Weber. Not released yet but had the luxury of seeing it early. (Thanks, Eva!)

120.) Atonement (2007) directed by Joe Wright (DVD)
This film passed me by when first released but now that I finally got to it (on the cross-country X5 bus no less), I was tremendously moved. Not just because I find stories which tell how misunderstandings about one’s moral character causing destruction so compelling, but because the director managed to take this film beyond the typical trappings of the period piece.

121.) My Week With Marilyn (2011) directed by Simon Curtis (UK Lovefilm)
This film, based on a true story of a British film assistant, chaperoning Marilyn Monroe around Britain, had good reviews and yet I found it forgetting despite being easy to watch and despite Michelle Williams’ performance as Marilyn.

122.) Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997) directed by David Mirkin (UK Netflix)

My recent 20th high school reunion passed me by as did this film when first released but recently in passing I read an article with Lisa Kudrow who claimed this was one of her “most-fun” roles. If in the mood for a throw-back evening (flip phones, tape cassettes!) with a killer soundtrack (the Go-Go’s anyone? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRwR33FLmrI), then this film is not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.

124.) Café de Flore (2011), directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (UK Netflix)

I’m just waking up to the work of Jean-Marc Vallée who directed The Dallas Buyers Club as well as Wild with Reese Witherspoon which got fantastic advance reviews from friends lucky enough to see it at Bafta! I watched Café de Flore on an evening at home by myself and have to say the haunting mood it created had me looking behind closed doors in my flat to make sure all was okay before going to bed. Vallée masterly plays with time so you often don’t know where you are, but this film about letting go is totally worth the effort if you can submit to its own logic.

125.) 360 (2011) directed by Fernando Meirelles (UK Netflix)
A recent film by Meirelles, of City of God fame, this film of seemingly disparate stories yet with interweaving characters ultimately doesn’t hold up as a whole, yet some of the individual scenes are absolutely stunning, especially the tension created when a young Brazilian woman has a chance encounter with a young American male just out of prison. Meirelles loves his characters here which makes you forgive some of its more awkward moments.

126.) Love & Other Impossible Pursuits (2009) directed by Don Roos (UK Netflix)
This was a chance film found on Netflix starring Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow. Based in New York the film showcases all the hot spots (skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park) and focuses on a young second wife struggling with the recent loss of her child and her husband’s ex-wife.

127.) Bounce (2000) directed by Don Roos (UK Netflix)
Don Roos, who is also behind the film The Opposite Of Sex, came up in my Netflix queue after watching Love & Other Impossible Pursuits. This 2000 film with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck feels a bit dated but there are some nice moments that make the whole thing worth it, especially if you want to remind yourself of how American airports used to be, pre-9/11.

128.) Rabbit Hole (2010) directed by John Cameron Mitchell (UK Netflix)
Was led to this film as it was on BBC iPlayer – as well as Netflix – and also addressed a couple dealing with the loss of their child starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Oh. The film is based on play and there are interesting family dynamics at work which are well-written and played but I often felt that in parts the film was more about showcasing the parquet floors of this upper middle class house along the Hudson.

129.) Rush (2013) directed by Ron Howard (UK Lovefilm)
An action-packed brilliantly edited film which recounts the 1976 F1 season and the competition between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Although accounts of the film have claimed the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda was exaggerated for dramatic purposes, this made for far more interesting viewing than the BBC documentary below about the same time period.

130.) My Stuff (2012) directed by Petri Luukkainen (UK Mubi)
A creative, concept documentary where Petri, a young Finnish man decides to put all of his belongings in storage following a break-up with the rule that he can only retrieve one item at a time (think socks, toothbrush, coat) over the following year. Aside from re-assessing what he really “needs”, along the way he finds love.

131.) James Hunt: Clash of The Titans: Lauda vs Hunt (BBC documentary on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c19DqS127Ac)

This documentary, although uploaded in the last year to You Tube, seems to have been made years prior. Far less exciting than the dramatic portrayal of the 1976 F1 racing season.

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