A week in film: week 26

It’s been a long week, and by the time you read this post it’ll only just be drawing to a close. Sunday night is my new Friday night, and Monday and Tuesday my new weekend. I’ve been at home for around nine days and I’ve spent six of those doing my summer job. I’m tired, and overcaffeinated, and this calls for one thing: comfort-watching.

I know that comfort-watching takes different forms for different people. Some people can turn towards classic black and white films, others towards comedy. Ordinarily I’d go for a mix of action films or a steady stream of episodes of Gilmore Girls. Sometimes, though, the situation calls for something a little different. TV’s out, because I haven’t felt like I’ve had the time to process the multiple storylines and episodes a series binge offers (and partly because for some reason I don’t have the first two seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD). I’ve also temporarily ruled out action movies because right now I’m craving Fast and Furious franchise and nothing else, and love it though I do I don’t want to ruin it with overwatching just yet. So, I turned towards another genre that I’ve been craving recently and haven’t encountered for a while. For me, this has been the week of the movie musical.

For me, anyway, the movie musical is embodied by Disney. They’ve obviously been making them for decades, and while I didn’t grow up with their animated back catalogue like so many people did, I’ve spent my late teens and early twenties learning about what I was missing as a little kid. I found some of that unreserved joy watching both Tangled and Frozen for the first time at the cinema, and I recreated a bit of that when I watched them both again this week. I love them both, but for different reasons. Frozen‘s got better songs, even if it’s noticeably very top-heavy with them (there’s a distinct lack of musical numbers in the second half, but a constant stream in the beginning). Still, I get more emotional about Tangled. The sequence in the town, up to and including the reveal of the lanterns, makes me cry every time. It’s a beautiful mix of music and animation and never fails to work its magic, and while that’s my highlight of the film, the rest of the movie isn’t far off in quality. It’ll be a little while before Disney’s next princess movie – to the best of my knowledge the next will be Moana, which is due either next year or the year after – but with these two as forerunners, I’m hoping that it’ll be just as memorable.

Disney’s got another musical side, though: it’s live-action, and it’s generally not as highly regarded. It’s sometimes made for TV…except High School Musical 3, which bucked the trend of the previous two films, and instead debuted in cinemas. You can tell because it’s got a noticeably bigger budget than the first two, and makes a point of that from the title card onwards. This is one of many things I love about this film, because it leads to a level of ridiculousness that I do not see enough (it’s a similar feeling I get when I watch Fast and Furious). I know that I should think it’s rubbish. I do, really. But I don’t, and never will. In fact, I’ll confess something: I love all three movies to pieces. I’ve seen this film once before and I still laughed my head off, thoroughly enjoying every preposterous minute. If you let yourself have fun with it, you really will.

I watched High School Musical 3 as part of a double bill with Sunshine on Leith, running the risk of overdosing on the cinematically saccharine. Instead, though, I remembered how great Sunshine on Leith is too. I’m by no means a Proclaimers expert, but songs the film uses are all solid (in the film, the best number is ‘Over and Done With’. In the Proclaimers back catalogue, it’s ‘Then I Met You’. I stand firm on these). It’s nicely played as well: not least of all by Edinburgh itself, which does a fantastic job of looking beautiful. When watched in combination with HSM3, it prompted new levels of giddy joy, and I managed to spend a couple of fun hours actually not moaning about something for a change. Musicals. Can’t deny their healing powers.

I don’t have an infinite supply of musicals on DVD though, so I haven’t been watching them exclusively. At the beginning of the week I was left bereft after finishing Netflix’s supply of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (another reason why I needed the comfort). I’ve been banging on about how much I love it for weeks so I’m going to say that’s still true, and leave it at that. I’ve also been reunited with Ocean’s Eleven, which I think might be one of the first DVDs I ever owned and is a favourite I haven’t watched in ages. It’s glossy and slick and fun, and if you haven’t seen it and somehow don’t know how it plays out, it’s worth a watch. I’d probably say it’s worth a watch even if you do know. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are a fun double act, Matt Damon is great when he’s around (which isn’t enough), and once you get past Don Cheadle’s upsetting accent, his character’s pretty enjoyable too. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt for about half of that cast to be female…

I’m anticipating needing even more comfort-watching next week. Having exhausted my supply of musicals for now, I can think of one direction to go (probably because it’s right in front of me as I type this). This might be a clue…

Hint: it probably isn’t Ashes to Ashes.

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