What's on? 06/10/16
So, to a review of what went on before; I watched Deepwater Horizon. In Cineworld, it was effective, the cinema's giant high-tech screens ideal for this kind of disaster movie. It was a little unsettling that they so comprehensively ignored the damage to the sea life (we see one floundering pelican crash into a boat as a portent of things to come). I read about the making of this film, the director wanted to make it a film about human suffering, with a focus on the people who died on board the rig. So he addressed this and did it convincingly, but in doing so, stripped the movie of its added epic impact. This was, after all, one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in human history. It felt like Donald Trump had directed this movie – Donald Trump supporting the little man against big business (he sometimes makes those kinds of speeches, and yes I know he is as typical of the excesses of big business as anyone). We do get John Malkovich being the BP manager who glosses over the lack of investment on the rig for the sake of profits. We also get text at the end, telling us that the two BP managers investigated for negligence were acquitted.
Perhaps this film is a sign of the times, a 'fuck-the-environment-it's-about-the-little-man'. But the consequence of such a narrowing of the lens, politically as well as cinematically, is to miss the sweeping, bigger picture. We can pretend we're not connected to something bigger, be it marine wildlife or other countries. We can narrow things just to us and those like us, to our suffering and nothing else. But I wonder who benefits from such a perspective? Not this film; it really felt like something was missing. A film for these political times indeed.
And so to this weekend instead: I haven't yet watched the zombie movie that got such great reviews, The Girl with All the Gifts, and it's still there in Cineworld, dangling tantalizingly before me. A film similarly titled but with a very different premise – and very different reviews – is out this weekend, The Girl on the Train. I will be clear, it's received terrible reviews, which is a shame. A good train movie, as David Brent might say, is a good movie forever. The Lady Vanishes, both the black-and-white Hitchcock movie and the colour version with Cybil Shepherd and Elliot Gould (a good film with Elliot Gould is a good film forever) are tense, immersive affairs. The Silver Streak starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. The Cassandra Crossing – which is my favourite disaster movie of all time (Richard Harris and Sophia Loren, with the likes of OJ Simpson and Martin Sheen and Klaus Maria Brandauer channelling a very 1970s Cold War Central European vibe). I get the impression that the marketing investment on The Girl on the Train is such that it'll be around for at least two weeks if not more in the big cinemas, the posters are everywhere. I may go and watch it eventually, hoping that the dampened expectations will make it a surprisingly enjoyable experience – the opposite of which happened when I went to watch Captain America – Civil War, a five-star movie that made me despair.What else? There's lots of good theatre around, including this Friday at the Lyceum, with The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus. I've never watched a classical Greek play before; this is an updated version sharing the theme of women trying to make it across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Greece for a better life. A drama that, in a very different way to Deepwater Horizon, expresses something about our modern world.