Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012: A Cinematic Memory

The Avengers, film, Los Campesinos, movies, Dark Knight Rises, screenwriting
Dear Hollywood,

In the future do you think anyone will ask where were you when The Avengers was released? I was there for the 10am showing on the first day of release and I was alone. But I didn’t care. Some things are too exciting to be shared with anyone else, anyone apart from a roomful of likeminded strangers whose verve and passion equals your own….and who also don’t have to work that day.

But I felt sludgy afterwards. Like the Ben and Jerry’s I treated myself to.  Cold and sludgy. Sick to the stomach. In a mud-like depression. Heavy and slow. I was left feeling film-noirish. Pretty uninspired. Pretty dry monologue running in my head. I thought The Avengers would complete me. The ultimate high in all my favourite strands of make believe colliding together. Instead it left me pondering why I hadn’t laughed as hard, or been as convinced by the formation of these characters as everyone else.

The Avengers, Coulson, Clark Gregg, Loki, Tom Hiddleston

I sat by the fountains where I live, and thought about Loki and how pantomime the whole film felt. Fountains seem like the kind of place Joseph Gordon-Levitt would sit and think in 2012. But probably not about Loki.  About girls and moving into production and how he could be better, better then Franco, better then Tatum. After all, Tatum was getting credible. He had a production credit to his name. He had a biopic made about himself.  

I spend a lot of 2012 hanging around water features.

Sometimes I would circle and think about Loki and JGL but I mostly thought the last 5 minutes of The Dark Knight Rises, assembly like brain running it over and over, imagining Nolan arguing with executives at Warner, “No, you must give us our happy ending,” or maybe his children, “no you must give us our happy ending.” Was it Alfred’s imagination? I hope so. Bale looked so unhappy to be alive in the last shot. He was ready to have been exploded into a zillion billion CGI pieces, for he was as likeable and warm and knowing as Leo DiCaprio in Inception (and so my problem with Nolan’s leading men continues.)

Bane, Talia, Batman, Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises

In the last half of 2012 I developed tinnitus and started wearing earplugs in the cinema. My ears would supplement a high ringing tone whenever there was silence. A weighted silence in a cafĂ© between Levitt and Willis in Looper soon turned into a panic attack of high frequency in my ears, my brain telling me “this sound might be around forever.” (Echoes forever and ever and ever, and follows you around a library whispering it.) I was told to stop; I was probably making it worse and was becoming freaked by silence in films. That weighted moment of contemplation between protagonist and love interest. Like the one that should have appeared between Tatum and Cody “blank face” Horn in Magic Mike, when he explains he is more then a jiggling member. Tatum lines are as follows “but…wait…you thought…I don’t believe this… I mean….come on… but…did you…I mean… wait… (all the while Cody gives him blank face).” Fun film. WORST celluloid declaration of feelings of 2012.

It becomes evident that they had been left to ad lib and Tatum had chosen to stumble over his words in disbelief for ten minutes.

Star Trek, The Next Generation, Magic Mike, Channing Tatum, Patrick Stewart

Damsels In Distress and Pitch Perfect were my pieces of safe fluff, lovely and warm and picked from the belly button of a particularly gentle bear, however the collective consciousness singing in PP grated a little. I hate being asked to believe in characters that know what harmonies to sing without prior discussion or arrangement. Show me a film about group accapella’s where they spent three hours working out their corresponding parts. Actually don’t. That sounds awful. But Damsels In Distress was a better film then anyone led me to believe and the Gerwig will reign in 2013. My friend and I were moved by her objectives in life, start a dance craze and everything else will just sort of balance out.

In September I went to the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol. I had a laminate. I felt like a fraud. But with a laminate. I FEEL LIKE THAT A LOT IN LIFE. There was short after short of dancing cranes and dancing genitals; shorts that were subtle and quiet, shorts that hinted at potential, and shorts that bombarded the audience with explanations. There were well-dressed men in plaid shirts, sitting on their own, blogging probably. I thought about approaching them, but I never did, because no one ever does that in real life. Unless they happen to be a rickshaw driver, because if Take ThisWaltz taught me to believe anything, it’s that they get all the girls. But the plaid men were probably writers, or filmmakers or actors or animators or baristas or DJ’s or had written a thesis with words invented after I graduated or before I was born.

One of the most upsetting cinematic moments in 2012, aside from The Avengers disappointment, was Tom Hardy’s weeping throat in Lawless. How I gasped when I thought he had been killed, and then the relief as he lay in a hospital, pale of face with a bandage over his slightly bloody neck. I would have cried “artifice!” had it not been based on a real story. His character was a real man you see, and he was famous for living despite the odds. Like the protagonist in The Raid, which was a better dance film then Black Swan had ever been, the balletic movement as he moved around the hallways of an apartment building, elbowing crotches and breaking limbs with precision and prose. Anna Karenina had a rhythm to it too, the best Wright films do, and you could feel it’s beat, pulsating as the scenes changed around the actors, ebbing and flowing into each other. And Knightley played a thankless character very well.

Lots of tears were shed in 2012. Tears falling into coiled ropes of sugar cables bought in the foyer for over inflated prices you cannot help but ask rhetorical questions about, “how much?” I cried at the ending of ShadowDancer, the last ten minutes of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the twist of The Imposter being revealed to me before I had even seen the film, and every part in The Muppets where it was heartfelt.

Meme Meme, Beaker, Muppets

I cry when I watch films on planes too. But everyone knows planes are for drinking, eating mushy carbs and feeling more sentimental and contemplative then you have ever been in your life. Ever. And I had a lot of long haul flights. Australia, Singapore, the US, Edinburgh. But it’s the perfect excuse to sit quietly and catch up on films, because there is nothing else you should be doing. (Should is such a hateful word, the moment you say it is the moment your therapist points out your needs are not being met, as thought everyone does everything out of choice).

I watched ten minutes of The Savages until golden Blake Lively said, “I had orgasms and he had wargasms.” Boo. How could Taylor Kitsch be in so many goddamn awful films! I MEAN HE WAS GAMBIT FOR FUCKS SAKE. But back to flights. A couple of white wines, and a conversation with the man next to me about his dad's leg being bitten off by a shark and I watched Hysteria. I felt Richard Curtis warmth, but better. Like when you were 14, and Curtis warmth was allowed. You know you HEART the bit in Love, Actually where the boy shows how terrible security measures are at airports are by getting to a gate without having a passport or ticket. If you’re short and speedy you can get away with or from anything. As The Hobbit proved, (which I watched in 48FPS.  Bit weird.)

“Look at the detail on that eagles claw, it’s like a mythical Attenborough documentary.”

I went to Bristol FrightFest in November, horror films from 9 am to 7 am, and I took half a sleeping pill during the day so I could nap, as I don’t know how. I spent all evening eating sugar and drinking sugar free red bull, balancing out my sugar ying and yang. Watching horror films, old and new, zombies fighting sharks and sharks getting trapped in supermarkets after tsunamis. So much shark in my 2012!

The best moments. The Cabin in the Woods, where all the monsters are freed from their cages. Oh to have written that scene! An ode to the horror we know all too well, some more fourth walls broken, and lets add another post to post modern.  Also it was the superior Whedon film. Lawrence, (J Law) in The Hunger Games. Making a shitty unknowable character in a book believable and human.  The end of Twilight! Finally! Now they can stop pretending they give a shit about their audience watching a well put together film. The cuteness of Liberal Arts, how I thought I would hate it, but how I enjoyed the Radnor and his love of books and mid life crisis and David Foster Wallace sly references. I wish I could separate him from Ted Mosby though. He was like, “Less douchey Mosby.” Bardem's messed up face in Bond. I don’t know why I enjoyed that. Mark Duplass, and his awesomeness in Safety Not Guaranteed, and the vaguely interesting Your Sister's Sister. All of Killer Joe.

And now its 2013 and there is so much to look forward to. There is Star Trek.  Is Cumberbatch Khan? Who knows? Who cares! He has dark hair in it. He is always best when he has dark hair. Les Mis! Oh the wonder of a film with LIVE singing in it, and from one of the greatest musicals ever written, and of course Gatsby…. Which will probably suck.

Oh and I’m writing a film.

And it all starts here….

Ellen x

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