Category Archives: Film

Lady Bird

I blame the trailer. Lady Bird wasn’t what I expected it to be. And now that I’ve seen the film, I can no longer ‘see’ what it was I thought it’d be. So don’t ask me. I was experiencing a slightly empty feeling on the way home from the cinema last night. But the film has stayed with me, and I believe I have worked out what it was, other than ‘not the trailer.’

Lady Bird – her own name for herself, which seems better than the one her parents came up with 17 years earlier – is trying to work out what she wants to do with her life after she leaves school. Many of us have been there.

Sacramento is dead boring and her mother hates her. None of that is true, of course, but it feels that way. As the rather fabulous old nun at Lady Bird’s Catholic school says, she seems to love Sacramento. But she wants to go to college on the East Coast, she dreams of living in a posh house and she wants a boyfriend. Or she thinks she does.

Her mother doesn’t hate her. She is ‘merely’ exhausted, working double shifts, worrying about her husband being unemployed, worrying about her beloved daughter disappearing off to some unknown and probably dangerous place. They have so little money Lady Bird has to resort to stealing the magazine she wants, and it might seem odd that they then go shopping for a dress for Thanksgiving, and later on a prom dress. What they do, is try everything on and when Lady Bird has decided, her mother sits up all night sewing a copy of the winning dress. That’s not hate.

It’s easy to lose track of who is your true friend. Lady Bird tries a few new ‘friends’ and ‘boyfriends’ until she realises who she needs.

This is actually quite a lovely film, once you know what you’ve come for. I only wish someone hadn’t picked bits for the trailer that really should have belonged to some other film.

Saoirse Ronan is always great.

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Coco

El Día de los Muertos, the day of the dead. I’ve known about it for decades, but never really got it. Until now, when we went to see Coco in the cinema. It seemed odd to serve up food in cemeteries for your dead relatives, but I could almost do it myself now.

And the day of going to see Coco was sandwiched between news of a death and all the thinking and talking that goes with something like that, and a quick trip to the cemetery to see a new gravestone and to ‘check out’ how other people decorate their graves. So, very much like Coco.

The lesson of the film is that we must remember our dead, and we should talk about them. Once everyone who’s known them is gone, so are the dead. Reminds me of the old photos I have. No need to hang on to them after I’m gone, because I barely know who’s in them, and no one else will.

There was quite a lot to the film; remember your dead, talk to your old great grandma, respect your elders but don’t lose your own dreams. And a loving dog is always good to keep close.

I liked the strong Latin American feel to the film, complete with Spanish words, songs and the Latino accents. And it was good to have songs already well known, like La Llorona. No dejaré de quererte. I could have sung along, had I not been such a well behaved witch.

Here’s hoping that young viewers understood something of the film, and that it wasn’t all gags about your dog getting its teeth round some elderly [dead] relative’s bones.

The Stone of Destiny

The Resident IT Consultant rather surprised me. Back in the summer we wanted to have a few films to watch, and I asked him if there was anything he fancied getting. The response was immediate, and surprising. He wanted The Stone of Destiny.

For reasons I can’t easily explain here, he sees many more film trailers than I do. I assumed he’d come across it in the cinema during the last year or so. And then it turned out the film was almost ten years old. I was amazed he even remembered.

But of course he would, as it’s about Scottish history. We could see a trailer on YouTube, but then we hit a stone wall. In the end he sourced a Polish version online, with subtitles and everything. (If you’re really clever you can turn the subtitles off, but it was harder than it usually is.)

Ian Hamilton, Stone of Destiny

This is the true story of a group of young people from Scotland who go to London in 1950 to steal the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey. They do it on Christmas Eve (because that’s such a good time to commit a crime…). And they succeed.

Naturally.

It’s not an outstanding film or anything, but it’s fun and informative for rookie Scots. It’s got Robert Carlyle in it, and a group of relatively unknown actors (to me, anyway). I enjoyed it, and I could really feel the cold in that unheated B&B somewhere in London. The capital at Christmas looks very fine, if chilly, and then they drive north with the stone and it looks like summer near the Scottish border. That drive either took a long time, or the weather’s so much better up here. Or continuity forgot to lose the leaves on the trees.)

Stone of Destiny - film

It was not a forever triumph over the English, but it was good enough.

The film is worth seeing, especially without the subtitles. And the Resident IT Consultant got so fired up he [re]read Ian Hamilton’s book about his exploits as a young man, which we had on our Scottish shelves.

Naturally.

(Co-published with Bookwitch.)

75 years of Sir Billy

What can I say? There is a lot of stuff about Billy Connolly wherever you look. I started reading his Wikipedia page and it seemed to go on, if not forever, then for quite some time.

There’s obviously even more in his wife Pamela’s book about him. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read. It would have been interesting even if I’d never heard of Billy.

Although, it’s difficult not to have heard of Billy. He’s done so much and for so long. And what’s amazing is that he turned out so decent, after all that happened to him during his childhood.

Since his health problems in recent years, there’s been fewer opportunities to see Billy. I reckon my last ‘encounter’ was in the film What We Did On Our Holiday, where he died in the most dignified manner.

What we did on our holidays

What to say?

Happy 75th Birthday, Sir William!

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.

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!