Like John McClane declaring his need for a regular, normal Christmas, one has to measure up the festive film season with a mix of joy and befuddlement. It’s joyful because of the crescendo building up to awards season which means that we get to enjoy fantastic films like Carol; yet it’s also befuddling as we get a lot of executive produced, committee-led Christmas trash which puts your seasonal faith in other things than cinema.
To be blunt though, this feels like the ‘quiet’ week before The Force Awakens, when everything else will appear secondary.
Anyway, let’s have a peer at what jollities are in store for us at cinemas across Brum over the next week or so.
By The Sea (15)
Angelina Jolie stars and directs alongside hubby Brad Pitt in this tale of a rich artistic couple trying to rescue their marriage and deal with their unhappiness.
The film is set in the idyllic surroundings of the French Riviera - the opulent surroundings for less than opulent relationship. Fame and fortune does not buy happiness. The French Riviera is no coincidence. The film looks like having a certain Gallic arthouse regard and miserabilism - cameos from the likes of Richard Bohringer only add to Jolie’s knowing sense of French cinema and where she is nodding towards - cigarette smoking, sexual frustration, post-coital philosophy - this is the sort of French-style fare that critics and film lovers lap up.
Critics Stateside have been scathing about this film. Contrary to certain reviews, I’m not too bothered about whether or not it is a vanity project or not - isn’t most cinema, a vanity project? I’d rather watch the ambitions, however flawed, of this film, that than Christmas with the Coopers.
Lily Tomlin plays a punkish lesbian Grandma who fresh from breaking up with her partner, gets a knock on the door from her granddaughter Elle who needs to raise $600 for an abortion. Paul Weitz’s low budget comedy is not just a vehicle for Tomlin’s extensive talents but an ensemble cast of great actors including Julia Garner as Elle and Marcia Gay Harden as her mum.
What’s promising is that this isn’t typical of many low budget quirky comedies with big casts, where the performances are mere cameos and an excuse for actors to do their ‘thing’. There appears to be well drawn characters and purpose to them. All in all very promising.
In the week’s Christmas fare, the Electric have a number of festive events such as Film Food Club presents It's A Wonderful Life with Hotel Du Vin (U) on Sunday and Conjurer's Kitchen presents The Nightmare Before Christmas in 4D (PG) (yes, 4D) next Tuesday and Wednesday. Also be sure to check out the excellent Trash Film Night showing of the delightfully dreadful Silent Night Deadly Night 2 (18).
True to form, the mac know their audience and have gone with classics such as Gone With The Wind (U) (Sunday) and True Romance (18) (Sunday) as part of the BFI Love season.
In other one off events, Urban Coffee Company are doing their annual Christmas Film & Supper Club (Thursday) a double bill with the classic short How the Grinch Stole Christmas followed by the 1951 version of Scrooge. Tickets are £20. email@example.com, 0121 2331599.
That’s it from me this week. As always any queries, please drop me a line on twitter @timmy666. Until then, have a great week at the cinema and I’ll be back to pour over Episode VII next week.