15 March 2015

Films

Maika Monroe as Jay in "It Follows"
The Yorkshire Pudding blog admin team frequently report that my devoted worldwide audience greatly appreciate my erudite film reviews. It is a huge weight of responsibility that I bear - knowing that what I say about a new film can make it or break it.

This evening as Shirley watches the new "Poldark" period drama on the BBC, I have two recent film expeditions to report upon. The first concerns a horror film called "It Follows" and the second which we saw together just this afternoon  is "Still Alice" in  which Julianne Moore plays a middle-aged academic with early onset Alzheimer's disease. As you will recall, for this performance Ms Moore won the best actress award at this year's Oscars.

Let's get back to "It Follows". I had read or heard several positive reviews about it and that is what led me to view it. Directed by David Mitchell it is an American suburban tale of an evil spiritual relay. The only way you can pass on the awful baton is through sexual congress.

The cinematography was excellent and there was a tense, nervous  trepidation throughout. However, it occurred to me as I was watching the tale unfold that for fantasy horror films to ring true, the onlooker must admit some susceptibility to ideas of haunting, zombies and the after life. From my perspective such things are pure nonsense so I find it impossible to accept the underlying premises of the majority of horror films. And that is how it was with "It Follows". I just couldn't believe it.

Apart from anything else it is essentially a film about teenagers in which the adult world is noteworthy because of its absence. I had the impression that the teenage focus was probably deliberate in order to rather cynically encourage youthful audiences - surely the main consumers of the horror genre. Though the BBC's Claudia Winkleman had, in all seriousness, warned filmgoers not to see "It Follows" alone, I came out of the cinema whistling like a sandboy.
Alex Baldwin and Julianne Moore in "Still Alice"
It is easy to see why Julianne Moore won this year's best actress Oscar. She demonstrated Alice Howland's gradual decline very sensitively and convincingly. However, there was something unbearably sugar-sweet about the context of her descent into the darkness that Alzheimer's brings. The Howland family was abnormally all-American - glittering with talent and white Anglo Saxon promise. I felt that there was another "Still Alice" story to told - more edgy, more ordinary, more tearful.

Alzheimer's is a cruel affliction that blights memory and communication and turns sufferers into utter shadows of themselves. The condition deserved a more powerful, more earthy exposition  but as I say I take my hat off to Julianne Moore who singlehandedly lifted "Still Alice" from the unmemorable mire of Hollywood pap.

10 comments:

  1. No doubt you've already read or heard about the following, Yorky...but in case you haven't and didn't hear....

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/obituaries/2015/03/12/still-alice-writer-director-richard-glatzer-dies/9Uyza3aY97jEkb0j8rPdVL/story.html

    LOS ANGELES — Richard Glatzer, who co-wrote and directed the Alzheimer’s drama ‘‘Still Alice’’ alongside his husband, Wash Westmoreland, while battling ALS, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 63.

    Dr. Glatzer, diagnosed in 2011 with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, took on the project of ‘‘Still Alice’’ in a very early stage of his disease.

    During the 23-day shoot, he communicated with one finger using a text-to-speech app on his iPad. By the time of the press tour for the film in late 2014, Dr. Glatzer was able to communicate only by typing on the device with his big toe.

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    1. Thanks for the link Lee. I was only vaguely aware of that background.

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  2. Horror films are so not my genre that I wouldn't have gone to watch this one in the first place, but each to their own.
    As for Julianne Moore, I really like her; there isn't a film I have seen with her where she wasn't brilliant. Without having (yet) seen "Still Alice", I think I know what you mean about the sugar-sweet bit. Maybe that is what the author and director wanted to convey; that it does not have to bee all edgy and tearful. Gathering from Lee's comment, he knew only too well how Alzheimer's feels and what it does to the sufferer and his or her environment.

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    1. Maybe Miss A but so many American films have that comfortable WASP context - as if it was a country without poverty or blacks or Mexican immigrants or dirty industries.

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  3. I would be more interested in what Shirley thought of Poldark ~ I'm a bit of a sucker for UK period drama.

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    1. Personally I shun English period dramas and there's one on TV at the moment set in Australia - "Banished". I saw the first episode and groaned. Shirley loves ""Poldark"because the hero's physique closely resembles her husband's.

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    2. Banished ~ I haven't seen it advertised here. Thank you for Shirley's appraise.

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  4. Is Frances back from her trip to Oz yet?

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    1. Yes Helen. She had a great time. Perth - Bali - Perth - Melbourne - Perth then home. Her company has offices in Australia and the experience has already made her think about the possibility of working there for a year or two.

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  5. I didn't believe in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings either. I shall not be watching "It Follows" because I don't like the genre. I may eventually watch "Still Alice" when I have the courage.

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