When I started this blog I wanted to write about films as well as books. Then the pandemic came along and splat! Now, when the cinemas have managed to crawl out of their own personal nightmare on Elm Street, we have screaming, streaming platforms Netflix and Disney ready to wreck what remains of the cinema industry.
January is a feast of quality for lovers of mid-budget films that don’t include a single blue alien or flying avenger (Jonathan Dean in the Sunday Times (15th January) has called this month “a cinema trip a week for discerning cinema goers.”
Trouble is we are already half way through the month and I’ve got out of the habit of going to the cinema. I did see Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis which I thought was overly long – coming in at nearly three hours (!) but an excellent central performance from Austin Butler. One of the most poignant scenes inevitably is when we get a brief glimpse of the man himself right at the end.
Forget blue aliens. The idea will just never catch on. (Ok I lie. Avatar: The Way of Water has already taken 1.7 billion dollars at box office).
But for the discerning cinema goer (that’s us) the figures are depressing. Most of the films listed below have so far done badly at the box office, given their production costs. Somehow cinemas need to get bums back on seats, which they won’t achieve by charging £15 a ticket and £10 for bucket of popcorn, thus making a trip to a film for a family of four prohibitively expensive.
We need a miracle if this way of life is not to vanish entirely, leaving us with batman and a load of old bull.
Meanwhile for those who love a film which encourages them to think, who like to be in the know when the Oscars come along, here are some contenders:
The Banshees of Inisherin Directed by Martin McDonagh, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Tár Directed by Todd Field and starring Cate Blanchett as fictional conductor, Lydia Tár . Blanchett won Best Actress at the Golden Globes last week.
Empire of Light , Directed by Sam Mendes, a love story (the world needs more of them) starring Olivia Colman.
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg’s film based on his own life and family. This film took two big awards at the Golden Globes last week including Best Director.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Directed by Laura Poitras (award winning Director of Citizenfour, about the Edward Snowden revelations), this film is a documentary about the artist Nan Goldin who led the charge against the Sacklers and helped get their name removed from the world’s most prestigious art galleries. Art critic and historian Waldemar Januszczak describes this as “the best film about an artist I have ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of them…” (Sunday Times, January 15th)
Up next, my review of Christy Lefteri’s Songbirds.