The heroes of Can You Ever Forgive Me? are lonely and sad, trying to grapple with the fact that they’ve achieved far less with their lives than intended. I am twenty four, I shouldn’t be able to relate in the way I do. The title is not just a reference to a particularly witty bon mot Melissa McCarthy’s forger, Lee Israel, puts into the mouth of Dorothy Parker — it’s also a question I ask of a younger version of me late at night, for letting their prodigious (and possibly imagined) potential go to waste.
It’s hard to know where to begin, every shot in this film aches with such sincerity and affection that by about the twenty minute mark I was already a puddle of tears in an oversized hoody. Sure, I’m a sucker for tragic romance, seeing struggling people pull together to face adversity. The leads of If Beale Street Could Talk are family; their problems are largely private and, while beset by problems from the outside world, they find strength in their unity. Barry Jenkins chooses to centre so much of his movie around acts of care, prioritising the depiction of tenderness in a world that can oft be so cruel.
In a cinemagoing landscape where the definition of spectacle has narrowed down to superhero antics — whether they be performed by Avengers, Jedi, or The Rock — A Star is Born arrives to remind us that something don’t gotta be huge to feel huge. There’s something in its two hour fifteen running time that quietly cements it in the tradition of the epic.
Cold War opens on a sequence of two musicians travelling around Poland in a beat up van, recoding the folk music of those who had just survived the horrors of World War Two. They sit under on porches and in bars and around breakfast tables, inviting those who have recently lost so much to perform. Pass on the music of times torn from them.
I don’t know exactly how it is where you are, but in the UK cinema isn’t generally a participatory sport. Outside of comedy or horror there’s very few acceptable reactions one is allowed to have. I’ve been to screenings with the director present where the audience were too British to have the courtesy to applaud. Sure, not all films are hits, but you’d think polite uncomfortable appreciation would be something that we’d mastered as a culture.
I read Walden first when I was a teenager and assumed that because it was written in this elaborate, if occasionally beautiful, way there must have been something insightful in there. You know, minimalism, simplicity, getting in touch with our roots. Society is square anyway, to hell with all the people who tell you what to do. This hermit knew how to live!
I remember a point in my life when I were sure of things. Then I remember a point where I weren’t sure of anything. Then I think I realised that in an atmosphere of uncertainty, I could choose my own truths and in the acknowledgement of those the world had the possibility to become a far stranger and more liberating place. Everything seems to be going to hell pretty just about everywhere, but in creating a meaning for myself outside of that I unmoor myself.