Category Archives: Film

The Hate U Give

Recently I have been mentioning Angie Thomas a bit over on Bookwitch. Before Saturday’s EIBF event with her, I wanted to read her books, and ended up reading the second one and watching the film of the first book on DVD. I thought this would be efficient use of my time. One problem now is that I liked the film so much that I might need to read the book too.

Having read On the Come Up, I felt that The Hate U Give exactly mirrored Angie’s writing. I almost sat there nodding my head in agreement with everything, as though I was reading the book. Knowing how most films are not exactly like the novels they are based on, I should probably treat the film with a little pinch of salt. And then read the book.

The Hate U Give

A refreshingly black film, I was aware that I don’t know much at all. I’ve no experience of the lives the characters lead, and it was often hard to hear what they were saying. But that’s me, not them. Just as fans of the books like the fact that the characters speak like them, that goes for the film as well.

The Carter family live in a poor, black neighbourhood, but ambition for their children means that all three are sent to the mostly white school further away. As the main character Starr says, she’s another person when she’s at school. She has to be. And Starr does it so well that none of her friends have an inkling what her real life is like.

Starr is with a childhood friend when he is shot and killed by the police. Her whole life changes. She doesn’t know what to do or whose advice she should take, but eventually she realises she needs to stand up for her friend and do ‘the right thing.’

It’s a bleak situation, handled very well. As Angie said, she needs triumph to balance the trauma, so it’s not all negative. But to stay true to what so many black people face every day, this feels like a hopeless situation. You shouldn’t have to spend every day in fear of what the police will do if they ‘notice’ you. Except this is reality for millions in America.

THE HATE U GIVE

Starr’s family are not perfect, but they work together. Her dad has been in jail, and her mum is another strong mother, just like Bri’s in On the Come Up. There are friends, neighbours, an uncle, even the local crooks.

I rather wish they had not made Starr’s white boyfriend* look like a Republican senator-to-be, but other than that this film was pretty perfect. It’s certainly an eye-opener. The question is whether those who need to see it, will.

(Photo © Erika Doss)

*I understand that the original actor was dropped because he made racist remarks. That proves how necessary books and films like this one are.

V&A Dundee

We were under the impression we were the last people on Earth to visit the new V&A in Dundee. Or, I know some exceptionally cultured people, as ‘everyone’ had mentioned going to, or having been to, the new V&A. Even Pippi managed to fit in a trip to Dundee when she was in Scotland. And Dodo and Son celebrated his thirtieth with a trip to Dundee. As you do.

Pippi mentioned how convenient it was that it’s right next to the station, and it made me wonder how I could not have seen it being built, all those times I changed trains just next to the fledgling V&A. But I realised it was all hidden behind scaffolding and in the dark you see nothing.

The Resident IT Consultant said how it’d be good to go before the Ocean Liners exhibition ended, and I silently concurred. Which is why we went two days before the end, me thinking Friday was bound to be better than the weekend. Maybe it was, but it looked like the whole world was there. Which is odd as I thought they’d already been. Not that there is a rule against going more than once, of course.

We will probably go again.

As I said, the place was heaving, mainly with other old people, and mostly speaking with an English accent.

I hope this was why the place felt as if it could have done with being bigger. The café in the middle was definitely too small. An army of helpful staff improved things, but searching for a table at which to drink tea and eat their gorgeous scones was hard. Actually, I found enough table space. It was just that the chairs had gone walkies, and even as I watched, more chairs went off to join their friends at small tables with too many people around them.

The Ocean Liners exhibition was interesting, but I didn’t linger. The crowd effect meant I couldn’t reach to see or look in peace and quiet. But that was fine. I left the Resident IT Consultant to study it in detail and went to sit outside. Good thing I did, as it meant I didn’t miss the postman. My postman. He was there too. (He’d probably hoped for a Witch-free day…)

Lovely though they were, the scones didn’t last us all day. We had hoped for lunch in the restaurant, but it was booked solid until 3pm, so we went back downstairs, to the moving chairs. The brie croissants were nice, if somewhat soggy. (I’d have put the brie underneath the tomato slices.)

Tay Bridge

A quick look at the Tay Bridge from the balcony, and then we did the Scottish Design exhibition, which was much better than reviews had led us to expect. Wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Then it was time to go home, before the Friday travelling crowds made it impossible.

But I’d go back for the scones alone.

Dear me!

Back at the beginning of the year I was intending to have a good moan on here, but somehow ran out of time and energy for it and thought ‘what the heck, I’ll just leave it.’ So it was left.

The it was drinks at the local cinema, Vue in Stirling. What with the government meddling with the sugar content of fizzy drinks, for some reason this meant the prices were going up. Obvious, really. Put in less sugar and the drink costs more. I almost understood it at the time.

However, what got me was that while the change was happening around Easter, our Vue decided to put the prices up after Christmas. It was an experiment, intended to show the powers that be that customers minded – or didn’t – the drinks costing them more. So they asked each customers if they felt the price was OK. Very scientific way of getting results.

Not only did they get to charge more when the time came; they got an extra three months of overcharging their customers before it.

Whether this was a local bright idea, or a countrywide Vue thing, I don’t know.

However, it would seem that the Stirling Vue charges more for cinema tickets than any other Vue in the country, including London. The local paper had discovered this and made some enquiries. After asking Vue about it, we now know they have a ‘dynamic pricing policy.’ So nice for them. And convenient. Whatever dynamic means in this instance.

Maybe it means we don’t have anywhere else [much] that we can go to for films. I even have a friend in deepest Perthshire who comes here for the movies.

We can go to one other place, without actually travelling to another town. The arts centre at the university has both a cinema and a theatre. It’s a nice cinema, smaller, and cheaper. But it gets the new films later than Vue, so it can’t compete. It also offers the narrower films that Vue customers aren’t expected to be interested in, like Edie a couple of months ago.

I had a little look at prices for Mamma Mia! as both cinemas show it right now. On Sunday my pensioner ticket – so already cheaper – would be £11.24 at Vue, and £7 at the Macrobert. Tuesday is better, with a mere £10.24 for old people at Vue and £6 at Macrobert. But that is anyone at the Macrobert, as Tuesdays are their cheap day. On a Sunday Vue charge £1.50 more for a normal adult ticket, while in the week it looks as if pensioners only save £1.

Earlier in the year I heard from a London friend that he goes on Mondays, when all tickets are cheap. £5, I believe. After some searching I discovered we too have a cheap Monday offer, which we had not been given, or offered, when we went on a Monday. Seems you have to sign up for something online, and after going round in a lot of circles I still didn’t quite grasp how to join or what to do, or even where to find it again, once I’d gone in and out a few times.

But that’s pensioners for you. Less dynamic.

If there is a cheap day of the week, it should be offered openly and upfront to all, whether or not they know about it, or if they don’t book online. The one thing to turn you off will be if it gets too crowded, but then it’s always possible to pick another day. Not like when we went. We got the queues and the crowds but no discount.

Might have been that dynamic pricing policy.

Here we go again

Mamma Mia! ten years on, or five if you consider the plot. We’re all ten years older, but we – mostly – don’t look it. Do we? And a person can always have a young self, like they do in the new Mamma Mia! film. I adored the young Harry especially.

So, Donna is dead. Maybe this was for the best, as it left all of us crying, and it meant there was for the most time only two almost identical young women to be confused by. Sophie, and her mother Donna as a young woman, and made more confusing by shifting quickly between the two. Now we know what it was like for Donna and Sophie’s three dads, even if some of the continuity might not actually work. Who cares?

It’s like a family party. You’re just so happy to see everyone again. This time there were fewer old ABBA hits, and possibly less music too, but you’re happy, crying both sad and happy tears, and a film has to be pretty good to achieve that, and I don’t care if the film critics are still a little sniffy about it. Although they learned their lesson ten years ago, and now take Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again much more seriously.

There were the expected cameos from Björn and Benny. I suppose many of the appearances were somewhat cameo-like, really. I love Cher, but am not sure she was the right grandmother for Sophie, even if great. And ABBA songs are less well suited to a deep voice.

Lots of laughter, quite a bit of crying, both from me and Pierce Brosnan, not to mention from Julie Walters. I could watch the film again tomorrow, if only life didn’t need me for other things.

And thanks to Daughter who saw the film in Pasadena 20 hours before me, I knew to stay for the scene after the credits. I waited and I waited and everyone else left and the cleaners came, giving me funny looks, but eventually, there it was; the extra scene. I took a chance on it!

McCartney at my dining table

How things change!

There I was, idly clicking the link to Paul McCartney singing in James Corden’s car. I thought it’d be a few minutes, but I was in a post-dinner lull, so could afford the 25 minutes required. It was a great programme, but that’s not really what I wanted to mention here.

It set me thinking about how it’s financed; how I am able to watch it via YouTube and not even sit through commercials. I don’t know. But I appreciate it. And I can watch it again, with no need for a video recorder and available space on a tape, or any other recording technique requiring forethought.

And on my phone, not even a computer needed. Yes, I know a phone is a computer, really. I meant no large machine needed. Just me and the quiet after dinner. I don’t even object to James Corden, and I’m someone who objects very easily to people. I’m thinking he’s saved by being a History Boy. Once a HB always a HB.

The quality of the recording, both sound and image, is almost like a miracle after the early days of wobbly YouTube or the old video recordings of thirty years ago.

If I’d known then that I’d be able to watch something like this on a tiny handheld contraption, I’d not have believed it.

Nor would Mother-of-witch, back in 1964, maybe, when she sacrificed herself and went to the cinema with the very young witch to see a Beatles film. Possibly A Hard Day’s Night. I don’t recall. It was the Beatles. That’s all that mattered. And all that screaming. The teenage girls must have thought they were at a Beatles concert, and not in a small provincial Swedish cinema.

Back then we definitely couldn’t watch again, at least not after the one – possibly two – weeks the film was on, to disappear and never be seen again. It certainly didn’t end up on television. If it had, then two or three decades later it would have been possible to record it, and watch again. Until the tape wore out.

And here I am, even more decades on, idly discovering a programme on my phone and simply allowing myself to sit there and enjoy. That’s progress. At least, I hope it is. There’s more to life than watching Paul McCartney, but in this day and age it might be best to take whatever good stuff comes our way. In case that’s all there is.

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.

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.