Since moving to MK, I’ve got back into the habit of going to the cinema on a regular basis, and last week decided to treat myself to Cineworld’s offer of paying a fixed amount to see an unlimited number of films a month. Cineworld are pretty good at showing movies one wouldn’t always get to see without an independent cinema in town, such as quirky British films or niche market movies, but they are very expensive, to the point where if I see two films a month, I get more than my money’s worth. I’ve realised that given my job can be quite exhausting, and I do sometimes get very lonely with Tractorgirl not being about very often, treating myself is a good thing. I’ve also overcome my anxiety about going to the cinema on my own, as when I first moved to MK, if I didn’t go alone I wouldn’t be able to go at all!
The result is that I have seen three movies recently. The first of them is ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, starring Julia Roberts as an unhappily married woman who, having dropped her husband and leaped straight into another unsuccessful relationship, goes on a round-the-world trip to ‘find herself’, as seems to be the custom with a certain type of American! She ends up in Italy, where she eats lots of pasta and pizza and makes a lot of friends, for three months. She then moves on to India and the shrine that her now ex-boyfriend was keen to one day visit. This is by far the best section of the film as she is forced to face up to the reality of her life and has some moving encounters with local people and other pilgrims. Finally, she heads to Bali (and, yep, you guessed it!) falls in love. The sweetest character is the old man she visits and copies books for, who is very huggable indeed. Overall, it’s a fun bit of escapism but suffers from predictability and being somewhat cliched 5/10.
The second is a film I found about from Diva magazine, about a lesbian couple with two teenage children who seek out the sperm donor responsible for bringing them into being. ‘The Kids are All Right’was an eye-opener for me, as someone who finds themselves, rather reluctantly, with a teenager suddenly appearing in their life. Nic and Jules have been married for over twenty years and, while they love each other deeply, feel the spark has gone out of their marriage of late. Jules, who is trying to start another new business, as a landscape gardener, ends up being more than a little attracted to Paul, the donor, when she works on re-designing his restaurant’s garden. Paul is a happy-go-lucky guy who initially takes to fatherhood, but antagonises doctor Nic by not recognising the challenges when you’re not ‘the cool new guy’ on the parenting scene and by muscling his way into the family. It all ends badly when Nic discovers the affair, and the latter half of the film takes place against the backdrop of this and the daughter Joni (named for the wonderful Joni Mitchell) preparing to go to college.
I found the film funny and moving in equal doses. The challenges of dealing with teenagers and some of the issues around step-parenting (of a sort!) are explored. I wasn’t expecting an instruction manual, but still felt a little miffed that I came away feeling more uncertain about how best to handle various aspects of that role, such as negotiation of boundaries. Maybe I learnt a little of how not to do it! The film also shows all too well how easy it is to hurt the ones we love, and how hard it can be to put the pieces back together again, which resonated deeply with me, though here is really not the place to go into all that, sufficed to say that God has a way of popping up in the most unexpected places! A good film, well worth a watch 8/10.
The third and final movie was ‘Another Year’, starring Jim Broadbent (in my opinion one of the best character actors out there) and Lesley Manville, and directed by Mike Leigh. It’s about a middle-aged couple coping with a very odd bunch of dysfunctional friends, including lonely alcoholic Mary who has a crush on the couple’s son Joe, and Ken, a civil servant dreading retirement and with a host of health issues. Doesn’t sound very jolly, I know, and apart from a few belly laughs, isn’t really. It’s one of those films where one should really have a box of tissues on standby! I did enjoy the film, especially the saga of Mary and her car, but mostly I just felt sad for Ken and Mary, both of whom are the kind of characters we can all recognise in some of our friends (or maybe ourselves!). A very well-acted and moving film, but one which would have benefited from more of a conclusion 7/10.
Right, that’s the movie world out to rights!