Friday, 5 February 2016

Another Cineworld Binge Day

After trying to make my point to the Planning Inspector at the Framlingham Planing Appeals Inquiry in Woodbridge first thing yesterday morning, we drove straight to Cineworld in Ipswich to watch the first of this week's two film choices.

Michael Caine's latest film Youth has had mixed critical reviews. Our daily paper The Times gave it five stars but its sister paper The Sunday Times felt it worth only two. I can see why it divided opinions. Michael Caine's central character Fred Ballinger is an octogenarian composer who is spending a few weeks at a magnificent Swiss spa resort. His old and equally aged friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) is staying at the hotel with a young team of scriptwriters trying to finalise the final scene of his latest movie. American film star Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano of BBC's War And Peace) is also staying at the hotel. Another host of characters, Fred's daughter, a Tibetan monk, Diego Maradona, a climbing instructor, a silent couple, a prostitue, a masseuse  and a stunning Miss Universe are either residents or working at the hotel.

The main interaction is between Keitel and Caine musing on their own youth. These scenes are both funny and poignant. Surrounded by youth in the shape of Dano, the scriptwriters, the prostitute, Fred's daughter, Miss Universe and (bizarrely) Paloma Faith, the two old men have a great deal to muse about. Fred has been asked to come out of retirement to perform for the Queen but 'personal reasons' that are key to the film prevent him from doing so. 

This is a fascinating movie. It is beautifully filmed, the Swiss settings are, at times breathtaking and it includes some fabulous dream sequences including one in Venice's St Marks square. In many ways the film attempts to be a piece of art cinema with its nods to Fellini and to Peter Greenaway. It has some very touching moments and Caine and Keitel are a perfect acting partnership and put in outstanding performances. Their characters are voyeurs watching the youth around them and my only concern was the director's obsession with female (but little male) nudity. We get shots of a naked guest swimming, the prostitute dressing, the hotel staff in the locker room (the women in their underwear but the men in white coats) and, in an important scene emphasising the age gap between the old couple and Miss Universe, long and lingering shots of her (admittedly beautiful) body. The nude shots don't offend me but I also don't see any genuine need for them. The same points could have been made with bikinis without losing any of the narrative and I feel that the nudity was little more than intentional titillation a la page 3 and took the edge off the film for me.

I am probably not alone in this view. Here's a picture I found when looking for a poster on Google. Photo copyright

After Youth we had a quick trip to John Lewis before returning to Cardinal Park for a meal at a Mexican styled chain called Chimichangas (okay but no more than okay). And then it was time for our second film of the day.

Spotlight is an excellent movie and well worth its Best Movie Oscar nomination. It might not win but it will be close. It tells the true story of four investigative journalists charged with the task of investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Boston. They uncover a web of deceit, lies and cover ups. The film has an outstanding cast with Oscar nominated supporting roles for Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams. It is a powerful and compelling film and well worth a view.

As we go to the cinema so much we've seen trailers for most of the films coming up in the near future. Will Smith's Concussion looks worthy but dull, The Finest Hours looks like it will be an IMAX visual feast and Triple Nine looks like it will be exciting stuff but that may just be skilful trailer making. The trailer that has really caught our eye recently is this one (below). We love George Clooney. We love the Coen Brothers. What's not to like?