Category Archives: Film

The Grand Budapest Hotel

It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. I suppose I was simply a bit careless and thought it’d be a touching story about a hotel concierge. In the hotel, I mean.

And it was, but only up to a point. M. Gustave reminded me somewhat of a holiday manager I encountered more than once, but I believe M. Gustave was far kinder and had rather more finesse than Mr B.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The crazy plot about a hotel concierge who sleeps with all the female guests, but who is both kind and friendly towards his recently employed lobby boy, young, stateless Zero, ought not to work. But it does.

When an old customer dies, the two travel to her stately home to pay their respects. They end up stealing a valuable painting and escaping the long arm of the law. There are some sad deaths, and when M. Gustave ends up in jail, it falls to Zero to run the hotel, as well as get his lovely girlfriend to bake cakes with files in…

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nice, light fun. No need to take it – too – seriously, and if you don’t, there is no need to be disappointed in the film. More big actor names than you can shake a stick at.

Temporal

There was more black humour in Temporal than was comfortable. I suppose it wasn’t meant to be a picnic, or even close to walking barefoot on the beach, as the call centre ladies dreamed about.

Times are bad, and we know they are very bad in Spain. Temporal was a day in the life of a small group of temps, and while it didn’t get worse, it certainly didn’t get better, either. Not much hope anywhere.

Temporal

If you try to complain you end up feeling grateful you are allowed to keep your job afterwards. In the call centre breaks were something the workers could only dream about, along with wanting a holiday in Varadero.

Temporal

The poor guy who sold – or tried to sell – vacuum cleaners could have been given a better script to work from. Very short shorts seemed to help Rosario/Jenifer in persuading passers-by to stop and talk to her about crisps.

This was a hard film to understand, or like. Why didn’t they stand up to their employer? Why did they let people walk all over them? Unemployment, and the wish to eat today. And tomorrow.

I truly hope I will not take pity on my cold callers in future. I still don’t want what they sell, nor can I afford it. I can see why the workers try to make a living out of this hopeless task. But why does someone want them to do it in the first place? There can be no money in it.

We could have done with finding out about poor Jenifer.

(At Cornerhouse on March 20th.)

A vinyl ¡Viva!

Once we’d got rid of the half dozen young men who were in the wrong cinema (they left to the acompaniment of much hilarity), the gala opening of the 2014 ¡Viva! at Cornerhouse went well. A brave woman made a speech in Spanish, and then the ¡Viva! head film-picker spoke (in English), before handing over to the director of Días de vinilo, Gabriel Nesci, who said a few words.

Gabriel explained his early fascination with vinyl records and he reckons his film began being written when he was twelve. He loves Britain and he has clearly been influenced by The Beatles as well as the low key retro, more introverted style of making films in the UK, as opposed to the flamboyant exuberance you tend to expect from Latin American films.

Días de vinilo

Días de vinilo follows the friendship of four young boys into adulthood. A couple of decades after they were inadvertently showered with LPs from an overhead window, they are trying to deal with being adults. One of them, Facundo, is marrying his girlfriend of ten years. The other three have relationships breaking up, and all are fairly useless around women. If they can pick the wrong woman, they will.

Damián is a screen writer (Gabriel’s alter ego?), Luciano DJs on radio and Marcelo has a Beatles tribute band, The Hitles, forever hoping to win tribute competitions that would bring him to the promised land that is Liverpool. Marcelo – as John Lennon – has a bit of a Yoko Ono complex, which is not helped when his telephone love Yenny proves to be more Japanese than Colombian.

Luciano is hopelessly in love with the singer Lila, who goes through men like there’s no tomorrow. And Damián is pursued all over town by exactly the right girl, except he doesn’t (want to) realise.

A little slow and un-Argentinian, this film could do with being watched again. I’m sure there are many nuances I missed the first time round. The actors do a great job, and apart from the glamorous looking cemetary salesman Facundo, they are genuinely ‘the boy next door.’

Días de vinilo

This is a comfortable film, rather than maniacally racy. Quitely funny instead of being a farce. Still quite Latin American, for all its quietness, since their British counterparts don’t talk or behave as openly as this. All You Need Is Love, as the Rolling Stones so famously sang (sic.)

Cornerhouse invited people round for drinks and music afterwards, and possibly even dancing. I didn’t stop to check.

And if anyone wants to know more, Gabriel Nesci will do a Q&A after the screening tomorrow afternoon, and if you miss that, the film is also shown on March 19th.

HILN on DVD

That’s shorthand for How I Live Now, and I trust you can tell it’s available on DVD.

After racing to see who would get their hands on one first, I won and Daughter came second. But it was still her copy we watched last week, when we needed something to take her mind off something else. HILN was just the thing.

She had not seen it before, as her local cinema never showed the film. Which I think was a mistake. St Andrews is a young town, and this is a young film. Not for small children, and adults might not know about it, so would be less interested.

Being the kind of person who remembers details, Daughter was able to analyse the film more than I could. She felt the changes were mostly OK, although some unnecessary, like the use of the gun. With hindsight I agree.

The squishing together of several characters into a smaller number of people is probably unavoidable, but it does change the plot rather.

But it was just the right film to watch last week. Good timing with the DVD. Americans were able to pay to view it on demand, almost immediately after it opened in cinemas. I see no reason why we should have been discriminated against in Britain. After all, it is a British film.

The Railway Man

How can a family of railway lovers not go and see The Railway Man? Even after being warned off by people that the torture scenes are so horrific as to make it unbearable.

The Railway Man

We were charmed by Colin Firth’s wooing of Nicole Kidman (I had feared she’d be too glamourous for the part, but she was fine) at the beginning of the film, in spite of the stations and railway lines and the rolling stock being ‘a bit wrong.’ It was all done in good faith. (But the bit with the guard saying Colin was on the wrong train was too much 21st century. They didn’t go in for that kind of thing back then.)

Somewhere in the middle, when it was – mentally – dark, and slow and very depressing, with little hope for improvement, I wondered what we were doing. The scenes showing Jeremy Irvine as the young Lomax during the war, as a Japanese prisoner, told me why we were there. It was good. Not fast paced action, nor enjoyable. But good. Stuff you need to see.

The torture was bad. But it was expected and it was once done for real, and it was nowhere near as awful as you get in some of those fun action films people don’t mind watching.

The Railway Man

Despite knowing the outcome, having read about Eric Lomax, it almost came as a surprise. Low key and quietly unassuming, this was an excellent film. And for all its awfulness, we found ourselves surprisingly cheery as we compared notes afterwards. That’s probably why you should see The Railway Man.

#prosit 2014

I’m with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Have a prosit 2014! Although I’ve never felt quite so sleepy while ‘attending’ the New Year’s concert in Vienna before. My eyelids kept closing. Perhaps they got out of bed sooner than they should have. The dancers’ kilts & nappies were certainly different…

The night before was fine, too. Once Daughter had been dispatched to the Lovely Library Helper’s house, the rest of us tucked into this year’s – no, I mean last year’s – home made Indian meal (apart from the chilli parathas which thankfully we’d been able to buy again), and ‘watched’ Mamma Mia! in the background. Very relaxing. We had sufficiently little food that there were few leftovers. Which is probably just as well.

Between the fictional Greek island and the London fireworks we did a quiz. It was Daughter’s new quiz book which kept us giggling and arguing for another hour, or so. I even found a question about one of my facebook friends. And I even knew the answer.

Everyone else will presumably despise us for this, but between the background television and the quiz book, we have had pleasant meals (only one sitting round the table) and not too many disagreeable silences. I could see myself doing it like that again.

Two cinemas and a pavement

My back was killing me.

I will blame – almost – all that happened on the unreliable trains we have in Britain. The ones that make you travel too early in order not to be too late. The trains, but also what I might label ‘data protection act’ behaviour, which is when unthinking caution and unhelpfulness win over human kindness and common sense.

It’s not every day you go to a world film premiere. It’s not every day I turn into a crabbit old witch for real, either. But as I said; my back was killing me.

So once I’d picked up my comp ticket I wanted to sit down for the spare hour before the world premiere. The venue has a bar. But this was a Friday night and it was busy. Very busy. I always say it’s a nice place to go, because when it’s busy it’s generally busy with more my kind of people than other people’s kind of people.

I spied three empty chairs and thought I could move one over to the side where I’d not be in anyone’s way and I could do some work (i.e. read a book) so as not to waste 60 minutes because of stupid trains. But I overlooked how unattractive I am. All three chairs would be ‘required soon.’ (I’ll say this again; I wasn’t actually intending to ‘join’ you.)

On recalling that the cinema screen I would eventually go to, has a few chairs in its foyer, I crossed the road and asked the nice young man on the door if he’d let me rest on one of them. No, they were ‘about to close to make things ready for their special event. Sorry.’

This kind of asking isn’t something I do lightly. While my advanced age now makes it easier to glare at (more able) people on public transport, here I only forced myself to ask because I was desperate.

I didn’t cry. Not really. But it was close.

Wondering what to do next, my gaze fell on the chairs on the pavement outside the café across the road. It was dark. It was wet. And cold. So surely no one would object to me sitting there without buying something from inside?

So I crossed the road and sat down. Nice chairs. It was a bit dark and damp and chilly, however. The first ten minutes were not too bad. After that I felt not only cold, but dismal. At the 20 minute mark I came to the conclusion I should restore my self respect and simply get a train home and be comfortable again. I discussed this with me and told me that once the film began I’d forget all about this and that persevering was a good thing.

After 40 minutes I wasn’t shaking too badly, but went back into the bar area and used the Ladies room and then crossed the road again to the film venue. ‘Ah,’ said the back, when I sat down. ‘This is comfy.’ ‘Yes,’ said the other bits of me, ‘we feel warm and toasty again. Nice.’

My mind got a little impatient when the film didn’t start on time. Eventually someone introduced the film’s director and asked if he had something short to say before the screening commenced. ‘No,’ he replied. He then used several minutes not saying anything in a longwinded sort of way, finally giving us a quote about the making of the film. Someone had commented to him that ‘if you’d known what you were doing, you wouldn’t have done it.’

By then I wished he hadn’t. The smirk on his face as he walked back to his seat was that of the man who made the emperor’s new clothes, and hadn’t – yet – been found out by the teacher.

It’s all very well selling the idea of a film as being unusual and quirky. But you have to deliver on that promise. It’s not enough to say it is.

Fifteen minutes into the film I was bored stiff. The audience laughed at a close up of one of the film crew sleeping on a bus (in the film). That wasn’t funny, but I’m pleased they were amused. My brain said ‘we’re leaving.’ ‘No,’ protested the back who was feeling good, and the other bits which were nice and warm joined in.

We left. The restoring of my self respect was long overdue. We missed – avoided getting on – the direct train home. It was full to bursting and would have entailed more standing. Warm possibly, but sardine style. Instead we went and sat on the London train in the warm, reading and resting. Thus needing a lift the last couple of miles home, we went in search of the Resident IT Consultant at our local Cineworld where he was enjoying the advertising.

I reckoned I might manage to stand for ten minutes in the warm cinema foyer, if I really tried. But the staff waved me in past the ticket barrier, and I was able to wait in comfort. Sitting down. Without a ticket.

Thank you.