Catching up on summer cinema

Once again, I’ve taken one lengthy hiatus from this blog. It hasn’t been deliberate, and I haven’t decided to pack it all in favour of simply watching things and never mentioning them again (however much people may often wish I would do that). I’d like to say that it’s because I’ve been so busy being out, living my life, that I haven’t had time to put pen to paper – or my fingers to the keyboard, which is somewhat more accurate. However, that’d be a pretty sizeable lie. The reality of the situation is that I’ve just been far too lazy to write any of my thoughts down. I have had lots of them, though. So as September arrives and it’s become a more acceptable time to spend your evenings huddled on the sofa wrapped in a blanket and drinking tea (as if I didn’t do that in midsummer), the timing seems right to tackle the unmentioned but important, things I’ve encountered over the summer months.

Usually I take the opportunity of time away from university to catch up on all the programmes and films I’ve missed over the term. However, I’ve generally been pretty good at keeping on top of all my television habits over the past two semesters, and I’ve even managed to pick up a few much-loved series to add to my collection (Community anyone?). So, for me, this summer’s been more about acquainting myself with the films I’ve always intended to watch, but never quite have. Some of these have been things I’ve recorded over the past two years with the intention of watching ‘someday’, but never actually got around to. The most significant of these discoveries was Kick-Ass, which admittedly I only recorded a few weeks ago. However, while many opportunities to sit down and watch it were avoided as my brain told me that it was too violent for my poor, delicate soul (I’m a total chicken, if you haven’t noticed this already).  Still, after considering that I could always just switch it off if it got to be too much, I eventually persuaded myself to sit down with it. I’m so glad I did. While the violence resulted in my covering my face with my hands about twice, it’s not something which detracted from my enjoyment of the smart, funny, and joyousness of the film. It’s always good to see a different take on the superhero tropes I’m so heavily invested in, and Kick-Ass gave me that freshness which I’ve been craving for a while. It’s a shame that the sequel has been so widely regarded as a let-down, because after the enthusiasm I felt after watching the first one I would have been totally up for another ride in that world. Still, maybe one day.

In terms of actual television shows, some series of extreme critical and popular acclaim completely passed me by at the time of their original broadcast – probably due in no small part to my age. The boxed set I’ve become completely hooked on over this summer has been, without a doubt, The West Wing: Aaron Sorkin’s political drama. I’ve understood that it was adored at the time it was aired, and it’s one of the series that people cite among their favourites if asked in interviews. One of my best friends was kind enough to lend the boxed set to me, and from the first disc of the first series I knew I was going to become a fan of it too. While the political jargon occasionally went over my head, the sharpness of the dialogue and the absorbing and compelling characters make it a must-watch for anyone who likes, well, good TV. Because it really is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. It’s so good that I committed to watching the entire seven series again immediately after I’d finished it the first time, on the brand new shiny DVDs I bought myself. A boxed set purchase that I’ll get a lot of use out of, I’m sure.

Still, not all of the viewing I’ve taken part in has been in the confines of my own home. While this summer isn’t quite as full as the summer of 2015 is going to be (a summer so exciting I don’t even have the words to talk about it yet), there have still been some films which I’ve been desperate to see in the cinema. Firstly, I finally got to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing after catching a return screening of it at my local indie cinema. Much Ado About Nothing is the Shakespeare play I have come into the most contact with:  I saw Catherine Tate and David Tennant take on the roles of Beatrice and Benedick in an ’80s Gibraltar setting. I’ve seen the play transposed to India in a recent RSC production. I’ve seen the Kenneth Branagh film, as has almost everyone else. I’ve even had two of my closest friends occasionally drunkenly recite lines of the play at each other more frequently than you’d think. However, I’m inclined to say that this update, which sees the play take place in Joss Whedon’s own California home, is my favourite version. It’s often hysterically funny, and the cinematography is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. For an interpretation of a play which is around four hundred years old it’s remarkably fresh, and it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the cinema. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of Shakespeare (I know these people exist, even if I personally cannot relate to you), I honestly think you’d still enjoy it. Track down the DVD, because you won’t regret it.

In other cinema news, over the past week I’ve encountered Neill Blomkamp’s gigantic sci-fi wonder Elysium and the far smaller The Way Way Back, which is about as bizarre a pairing as you could possibly imagine in a cinematic week. While parts of Elysium were far too gory (I’m a child) for me to respond to, I’d still consider it worth watching for the world-building alone. The design of the slick eponymous space-habitat is spectacular, and overall I couldn’t really do much but marvel at this incredible things I was seeing in the film. The Way Way Back, however, is the film that brought about this blog post in the first place. A film about childhood that really didn’t make me miss childhood at all, but portrayed the ups and downs of a teenage summer with charm and wit. While I don’t think you could class it as a comedy, as it’s got a definite edge to it, there are moments which are brilliantly funny (mainly involving Sam Rockwell, who I love in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in) and I left the cinema smiling. It took me a while to get into it, but by the end I was thoroughly charmed. The perfect end-of-summer movie.

It almost doesn’t feel right lumping these fantastic encounters into one gigantic post, but for the sake of getting all these musings off my chest in one big go it’s got to be done. A cop-out, I know. I’m ashamed of myself. Still, as the summer winds down and autumn arrives, bringing with it blankets and jumpers and shameless binges on boxed sets and movies, I’ll be back on regular individual posts as soon as I can be. For now, however, I’d recommend any of the films I’ve mentioned in here. Enjoy the remainder of the season!

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