Category Archives: Film

And then what?

When do you give up on the work by someone you’ve liked and admired?

I’m thinking – again – of the latest film producer to have caused a public storm and upset. But – again – it could be anyone discovered to have seriously misbehaved and sometimes not getting found out. These [usually] men have often done great work, in film, music, theatre, literature.

And when the news breaks, some of us find that we have been fans of a monster. If it’s really bad, it’s not too hard to stop watching their films or listening to their music.

But if it’s a bit more borderline? Or they have been involved with so much on the cultural scene, that it can be hard to draw a line, or even to know where that line is.

I was relieved to learn I didn’t have to ‘respect’ Jimmy Savile, so that was no hardship. Likewise OJ Simpson. But it took me a while to know what to do about Rolf Harris. It’s not that I didn’t believe the accusations. I just couldn’t tell how it would affect my fondness for his work. It was gradual, but not slow, and I knew when it was time to delete his albums from iTunes. The books went to the local charity shop, where quite possibly they languished until pulped.

Speaking of books, I have a friend who meets famous people through her work. Luckily I’ve never read anything by the very well known, older male writer she mentioned once. I can’t unsee that unwanted kiss in my mind, and I’m just grateful he wasn’t someone I liked. But whenever I see a photo of this author, it’s all I can think of. No literary merit whatsoever.

And I know what I said in my other post, about being too polite. I was far too polite about the last Rolf Harris concert I went to. It was lacklustre. He was clearly under pressure already, except we didn’t know it.

This Weinstein business is awkward. I have no hesitation blaming the man for anything that’s being said. But he’s been involved in so many films. Good films. Do they need boycotting from now on, or was he too far removed from them, for it not to matter? I mean, I generally don’t even know who produced a film.

To go back to iTunes, I have a couple of albums on there, sung by someone I used to know. Someone who behaved in an unacceptable manner to me about a year ago. I have no problem skipping past the new album, which I didn’t like much. But the really old one; I have always loved it. It’s just when one of those tracks comes on, it’s difficult to forget what she said. It takes the edge off my enjoyment.

So I don’t know.

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Too polite to stay safe

We’ve all done it, I suspect. Not said ‘no’ despite knowing full well that not to do so puts us in a situation that is at best a bit embarrassing and at worst in real danger. Usually it’s somewhere between the two. An older relative once said to me, ‘you’re so very sensible,’ and she wasn’t being complimentary. I was generally sufficiently slow, stupid or sensible that I said ‘no’ more than most. But I still did the wrong thing on occasion.

I’ve got the most recent Hollywood scandal in mind now. But it could be almost any other situation in history, because people never change.

I’m so ancient that I must have heard the accusation ‘she slept her way to the top’ for at least fifty years. I used to treat this with a pinch of salt, feeling that many successful women might just have got to the top by dint of talent and [other] hard work. Now, though, it’s become quite clear that while there might have been ‘sleeping’ involved, it wasn’t the poor, powerful man who was being lured into letting a cunning female use sex to get where she wanted to go.

She was most likely forced to. Too scared to say no, too cornered to say no, or too polite to.

I’d not thought about the being too polite [until it’s too late] to step away, until the other day when I read this: ‘You know it’s a bad idea. — You know he’s going to do you harm. He knows you know. But what do you do? You don’t wish to offend him, so you step closer. How dumb are you?’ This was about a teenage boy not keeping a good distance between himself and a dangerous criminal in the latest Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. But the sentiment is there; you are young, or pretty or female or any other thing that makes people try to get at you. Because they know you’ll be too polite to realise where it is heading before it’s too late.

Another book I read, years ago, was about a boy with Asperger Syndrome, who was bullied at school. Between them, his mother and his teacher devised a way to deal with the bully, helping the aspie boy to learn a short script, ending with a humorous surprise. It worked. Humour, and cooperation, are two great weapons. Ridicule your bully/sexual predator/film producer/boss.

If someone is doing it to you, then very likely they are, or have been, doing it to [many] others as well. Find them. Work together. It seems that employers, police and even your parents won’t necessarily believe you. Think about the film, 9 to 5. Try to find your inner Tomlin/Fonda/Parton.

Bye to the Saint, Ivanhoe and 007

Roger Moore died earlier today. He’s not someone I have thought very much about in recent years, but when I was a child and teenager he was right up there with the best.

Most people refer to him as James Bond, but his 007 days were almost a bit late for me. I’d liked Ivanhoe, and I’d loved The Saint, and sort of enjoyed The Persuaders. But that’s quite a bit of screen entertainment from one man, and enough to cover many of my early years.

Roger was a good 007; I think it’s mainly that I was never big on Bond.

But almost nine years ago when Roger appeared in Cheltenham, there was no question but we had to go to his event. He’d just turned 80 at the time, and had a book out, I believe, which is why he appeared at a book festival.

He showed his age, which I suppose is unavoidable, but his acting skills carried him through. The one thing that surprised me was his dislike of Hjördis Niven. Well, no. More that he didn’t mind airing it publicly.

Roger Moore

Goodbye to this handsome man who gave us so many screen adventures!

Hacksaw Ridge

There are many questions you can ask after watching Hacksaw Ridge, the true story about the man who refused to carry a rifle in WWII and who saved countless soldiers’ lives, and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Did it have to be so violent, and did it have to show quite so many dead and maimed soldiers? In this instance less would definitely have been more. Besides, you see less of the film if you have to look away a lot of the time.

Hacksaw Ridge

Did we really need to have parts like ‘corpse with rats #4’ on the cast list?

Couldn’t it have been clearer about when the earlier parts were set? We had to look it up, to ‘unconfuse’ ourselves.

And might it have been better to stick to what surely must have been rules back in the 1940s, like did nurses have long flowing hair on duty?

But the main question must be, if Desmond Doss was able to save 75 wounded soldiers at Okinawa, through sheer determination; how many unnecessary soldier deaths have there been in all other battles before and after?

I am not wanting to complain that others have not done what he did. You need a strong character and plenty of courage to achieve even a fraction of what Doss managed. But seeing that he could return out on to the battle field over and over again, and come back with more and more wounded comrades; how many half dead soldiers do armies leave behind everywhere?

Hidden Figures

I’ve been known to check my watch in the cinema. That is, if I can manage to see what time it is. I have to admit to having checked it during Hidden Figures too. I wanted to see – I hoped I’d find – that I had lots more film left. Ten minutes. Just ten minutes of a film I could have watched all night.

People are busy saying it’s not fun enough to do well in the Oscars. I suppose it depends on what you look for in a film, and the current climate is perhaps not ideal for black role models or intelligence, or even something as unsexy as the US space programme.

Hidden Figures

For me it’s the best I’ve seen since From the Earth to the Moon. I could easily watch it again. And that is why I worried we were not even going to get it on our local screen. A few days before the UK release it seemed we’d have to travel to see Hidden Figures, and I realised that perhaps we live in a small town more interested in sex and action movies, the more mindless the better.

But then, there it was. Only a few screenings, and the audience was like us, old and sedate and with few oversized trays of popcorn, multi-coloured sweets and fizzy drinks.

And what a story! What a great title! I didn’t know the three leading actresses from anything, and it was all the better for it. This way I wasn’t seeing a superstar pretending to be a maths genius. After Apollo 13 it seems we need an Ed Harris lookalike working for NASA, and I was happy with Kevin Costner. He could almost carry off being clever. Jim Parsons, however, is far too much Sheldon Cooper to work in this role as genius sidelined by clever black woman. I couldn’t get a grip on what he was meant to be like.

My companions who understand maths a bit better than I do, felt that while dumbed down, the maths was mostly OK.

Hidden Figures

I’d have loved this story if it had been mere fiction. I loved it a lot more for being mostly true, and to see the real three women at the end was marvellous. It was so good to know that they did well and were role models for many who came after them. And fantastic to see the real Katherine Johnson honoured by President Obama, and equally great to learn that she has had a long life with her second husband.

The film leaves me wanting to learn more.

Rogue or La La

We disgraced ourselves over Rogue One, the Resident IT Consultant and I. Don’t know whether he liked it, but neither of us understood what was going on. This is partly because neither of us are Star Wars fans. And when I saw the original back in the olden days, I didn’t get what it was about; nor even who was good or who was bad.

But it’s not important. We can’t all like the same things, and no one can be a fan of everything. This time we went with Daughter, who is a fan and who wanted company. Although we might not be asked – allowed – again.

If you don’t have to know who is fighting, or why, it was OK as an action film of sorts.

I had more or less decided against seeing La La land, for some reason. And then ‘everyone’ was going on about it and how wonderful it was and how they don’t even like musicals but they’d even bought the soundtrack afterwards.

Which would be why, when I really needed cheering up one day last week, we went to see it. Didn’t even consider any of the other films on, since a musical, praised by all, ought to be what I needed.

And OK, after that first song and dance thing on the motorway slip road (yes, they are probably called something else), I almost felt like applause would be the right response.

But after that, it was downhill all the way. It was boring. I didn’t like the characters, or the actors. The music did nothing for me, and the setting was not my kind of place at all. And the plot? I kept thinking that surely something sensible would happen to it soon?

It seems the Resident IT Consultant was slightly more tolerant than I was, but even so.

Comparing the two films, Rogue One wins comfortably.

A Monster Calls

This was the film we tried to go and see all week. We should be grateful it made it to the local cinema, because who would want to be deprived of a good long cry? As it was, Kleenex were required, and there was a bucket too.

A Monster Calls

I can no longer recall the exact details of the book by Patrick Ness, and by that I mean the minor characters and any minor plots. I think there were some. They are not in the film, which is good, as you don’t want to detract from the main story about Conor, his dying mum and his angry grandma. And the school bullies, because to be beaten up every day as your mother is dying is obviously [not] what a 13-year-old boy needs.

A Monster Calls

The film let us concentrate on Conor’s nightmares and the subsequent meetings with a tree monster who comes to the house (voiced by Liam Neeson) to tell him stories.

Then there is grandma, played by Sigourney Weaver, doing a good British accent, while going around being at least as angry as her grandson. And who can blame her; she is losing her child, and gaining a grandchild who hates her.

A Monster Calls

At first the film went so slowly I was afraid it would ruin things but, almost imperceptibly, it sped up and before we knew it we were hooked, by Conor’s dismal daily life, and his mum’s sufferings, and you could literally see her getting worse.

Beautifully filmed in the Northwest, it looked like home to us (not quite as I’d imagined it from the book or from Jim Kay’s illustrations).

And it was only on the way out I remembered I had tissues in my bag, after casting around in my mind what we could possibly use to mop those tears with.

(Also posted on Bookwitch)