Tag Archives: film review

Tamara Drewe

I just went to the movies by myself for the first time in ages. When we lived in Glasgow I had membership to the big cinema there, which meant free movies all the time. Sometimes multiple times per day, and always multiple times per week.

I love that feeling of sitting on your own in the vast, anonymous theatre. You breathe out, you leave the chatter in your head to itself, and for the length of a film you are suspended. It’s my kind of meditation.

All I’m saying is, it was a nice treat. Great choice, too! I really loved this film.

It’s based on a graphic novel, apparently, which would be interesting to have a look at. It’s about a writers retreat in the arse end of nowhere. A gorgeous, thoughtful woman runs it, her smug prick (asshole/wanker/fuck) of a husband churns out crime novels (a girl once begged me never to use the term “churn out” in regards to my own writing, because it just perpetuates the stigma of genre fiction. I agree, except in this case it definitely applies. The film does have a bit of a go at genre fiction, but academia doesn’t escape unscathed either) and philanders on the side. Enter Tamara Drewe who’s had a nose job and returned to town. Throw in a rockstar boyfriend and some really, really bored teens, and sit back and enjoy the show.

It’s very British. Dry, unsentimental and with a walloping, dark sting in its tail. I think writers particularly will get a kick out of the writerly stuff, because it’s all so devastatingly true. Particularly the first scene made me laugh out loud and inhale my kitkat.

Also, two hours devoted to Gemma Arterton’s beauty is just fine, in my book.

The Social Network

this movie’s had a lot of hype, but I saw it tonight and I agree. It’s really frickin good.

I loved a whole bunch of stuff about it – the music that was so often at odds with the scene, the drama between a huge cast of different characters and the way that drama was re-framed at the end, the offscreen presence of fathers – but the absolute standout feature was the script.

That is writing.

I think particularly the very first scene has to be some of the best writing I’ve ever seen in a movie. All props to Aaron Sorkin.

A friend recently told me that she had to write a ten minute screenplay for uni. I said, “So that would be just one scene, right?” which made her speechless for a second. Ten minutes of screen time is a whole lotta what-just-happened? in movie time. Characters might, at a pinch, talk for a minute onscreen.

This conversation takes its time and it’s a stunner.

The characters were beautifully drawn – walking the fine edge of satire and sympathy. They were idiosyncratic in the least annoying possible way, their dialogue fast, clean and surprising.

The whole thing is also a slightly surreal experience, given that it’s about something so recent and still-evolving, that plays a part in many peoples’ everyday lives. It kind of made me interested in facebook all over again.

Which is possibly the point.

I thought it was the smartest, funniest, most well-written film I’ve seen in ages. Thumbs up.

A Walk to Remember

It’s based on a Nicholas Sparks book, it has Mandy Moore in it, and it would never be seen somewhere like Cannes.

But every single time I watch it, it surprises and moves me – and it ticks every single romance box. I think it’s a truly incredible example of storytelling, and I’ve just realised that I really need to get the book and study it until it falls apart.

Some of the best moments:

* Landon (the ultr-cool kid) asks Jaime (ultra-uncool reverend’s daughter) to run lines for the play with him. She agrees on one condition. She looks straight at him, through her awful fringe, dressed in her one sweater and shapeless dress and she says “You have to promise not to fall in love with me.”

One of the reasons this moment packs such a punch is another one of the great things about this movie:

* Jaime is a truly surprising character. She looks completely predictable, but every attempt Landon makes to pigeonhole her is thwarted. At one point, after trying and failing to make her aware of just how uncool she is, he says “You don’t care what anyone thinks of you, do you?” and she just looks at him, entirely unfazed, entirely sure in herself and says “No.”

You see a whole new world open up to him that he never would have thought possible – where your every action isn’t determined by what other people will think. Ditto when he insults her at school in front of his friends, and she just looks directly at him, blinks then nods. His actions haven’t impacted her at all, except for her to think “Ok, you weren’t who I thought.”

I think a surprising character is probably the number one thing that makes a book good.

* It’s absolutely convincing to begin with that there’s no way they’re going to get together. None of this “ugly duckling played by a model” business. They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but somehow their falling in love, and the transformation it causes are completely convincing.

I’ll get back to you when I’ve figure out why.