Neither Perth nor Adelaide have a permanently cheap cinema, unlike Brisbane, but I’ve kept my eyes open for cheap times to go. Before 6 at a Hoyt’s, on a Tuesday at Ace cinemas and Tuesday or Wednesday at different picture houses in the Luna palace group.
Plenty of options, then, and I used the last days of the mini heat wave that came to a crescendo over the cricket as an excuse to remain largely indoors.
How I Live Now
Adapted from a ‘young adults’ book, it got mostly favourable reviews, though a negative caught my eye, pointing out that it “made ww3 seem boring”. I think that misses the point – it has a post apocalyptic setting, but the fighting is mostly off screen and much about the conflict between army and shadowy ‘terrorists’ (deliberately, I think, not expanded upon, making that term nicely nebulous) is not revealed, which is surely to make the point that to those going through a war, the politics of same has very little resonance. Surely we wouldn’t again believe that we were fighting a war for freedom, or against ‘evil’, so all wars are just the destructive forces shown – vaguely – here, as the setting for a love story. I thought it a decent film, if not brilliant. I didn’t know its provenance but guessed because of the simplicity of the story and the youth of the protagonists.
Another book adaptation, this time of an Irvine Welsh book I’ve not read. Apparently the book has plentiful appearances from the tape worm which is dutifully put into the film but seemed a bit ‘huh?’ to my mind. See Ender’s Game, below, though – there I knew why certain things were there, here I didn’t. Still enjoyed the film. This is a properly grotty depiction of a good/bad cop and his very varied fellow detectives. One of them will make you feel old – Billy Elliott is all grown up. Looking back on it, there are an awful lot of stand out scenes, almost plays within a play, or perhaps sketches within a whole, but at the time it was just a rollicking ride. I thought it was great at the time, though in memory it seemed a little more bitty, something of a clock and dagger trick obscuring a slight lack of substance. Certainly a good watch, something for a laddish and a thoughtful audience. Don’t watch it with your parents, perhaps.
Yes, in the week’s theme, it comes from a book. Where Filth had to get creative in order to incorporate the surreality of the original material, this is fan service for a classic sci-fi book. I have read the book, so knew what the twist was and wanted to see how the whole thing would be translated. Bloke A in the cinema said it was good and hadn’t read the book, but to my mind there were bits that would have been ‘huh?’ without knowing the book. Perhaps it just seemed that way because I did – without that knowledge it’s probably simple enough to accept some things are slightly opaque without missing meaning. The big twist is almost too big to be done justice, I think, and is the one area where the film fails, seeming to feel that it can’t make too much of it because so many of the potential audience will know already. It strikes a slightly false note when it could have made a much more climactic moment without avoiding the moral questions raised. It is still good solid fan service, decent sci-fi even if you’ve not read the book.
“Some of what follows actually happened” But this is not an adaptation, more an ‘inspired by’. Looking up ‘Abscam’ to see which bits were real is a bit of an anticlimax, in fact, but at least that means you won’t spoil the film if you read up or already know about those events. The film is a bit of a slow burner. It’s set in the 70s, entertaining enough in itself (though I was sure some of the music was from ‘my’ youth in the 80s – fair enough to use creative licence but that sat a little oddly with an otherwise authentic – looking setting) but giving it a slightly grimy feel. It starts with a scene and then backtracks to show what led up to that, and much of that backtracking seemed too slow. Stick with it. Even the scene where Christian Bale’s character takes an interminable time to sort out his toupee and comb over is, with hindsight, useful for establishing the character. I don’t normally go for individual shots or scenes in a film, but I loved one here, as protagonists converge for a pivotal meeting in a casino; I almost applauded, it is so beautiful. As the hustle built I finally started to care, stopped thinking ‘crikey, that’s Louis CK!’ and enjoyed the ride, emerging smiling.
Even the loss of sound an hour in, necessitating a run down the corridor to find a member of staff while less clued-up patrons slow handclapped couldn’t spoil the flow. Slow starting but ultimately mesmerising.