A couple of my theatre friends are performing in an upcoming adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper so I guess I’ve been thinking about that short story a lot.
So, Eva Melander’s Tina is a woman with this facial deformity who works customs in small Swedish port town, she displays the uncanny ability to literally sniff out those who come off the ferry smuggling contraband. When someone born with the same condition as her disembarks and volunteers to be searched, all of a sudden she doesn’t know for the first time what to make of someone. It’s an initial touch of charming magical realism. We see this woman hurry between her ailing father; a boyfriend that takes advantage of her; a world that discards her for her appearance — secure in the knowledge that, at least in her unappreciated vocation, she’s the fucking best.
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.