A week in film – 2016, week 6

OK, in the name of full disclosure, I started (and finished) re-reading Jane Eyre this week so films and TV have slipped lower down my list of after-work priorities. I could go on for a really long time about how much I love and appreciate Jane Eyre for its wit and beauty and relatively progressive gender politics, but if I did this wouldn’t be the ‘week in film’ blog post it professes to be. Anyway, as almost all my free time has been consumed by Charlotte Brontë, film chat might be a little thinner on the ground. I’ll try and make it work.

I’ve naturally continued to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (although I haven’t actually watched episode 2 of Agent Carter yet, which is a mistake I need to rectify). I helpfully didn’t save the notes I made afterwards but looking back on it now I can just remember a general – and then very specific – sense of frustration about it. I was kind of hoping that they’d save any encounters with Ward until slightly later in the series, when a) there’s been a bit more difficulty trying to find him and b) he’s around to annoy me for a shorter period of time, but that wasn’t to be. I mean, I don’t entirely know why I’ve got such a problem with that character (no, I do – it’s his constant depiction of himself as the victim when he’s mainly just a bad dude), but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m always irritated by his very presence. However, this week’s episode did also go to show that we are at the very least edging closer to an explanation of what happened to Simmons on that alien planet she got sucked onto, so at least there’s that to look forward to.

I also managed to catch Brooklyn Nine-Nine when it was actually airing this week, which is potentially the first time I have EVER watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine live on E4. Apart from reminding me how annoying adverts are halfway through a show that’s only twenty minutes per episode (not a problem encountered during a binge), I’m really glad that I sat down and properly watched it this week. ‘The Mattress’ (the seventh episode of series three) reminded me why I liked Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much at a time where I was worrying I’d over-watched it: Peralta and Santiago. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always dealt with them really well, among other shows which become too consumed with their central relationships. That being said I’m pretty consumed by that central relationship, so I actually did want an episode that was largely about them at this point in the series. I got that, plus some fun subplots, and I think it might have convinced me that honestly, I can’t really overwatch that show.

I’ve also apparently gone back to watch series 5 of both Parks and Rec and The West Wing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (apart from distracting me from my hunt for something new to obsess over). The fifth series of The West Wing might not be my favourite, but at the end of the day it’s still The West Wing, and that is a comfortable and dependable thing. The fifth series of Parks and Rec, though, might be among its best. I’ve just watched the first two episodes but both of them are fantastic – every single character in that show is funny – and, even though I always seem to be watching the fifth series, I’m almost certainly going to carry on.

Continuing on the theme of five (the most tenuous of connections*), this Saturday was time to finally rewatch Fast Five. Oh Fast Five. Simultaneously dumb and brilliant, confounding and amazing, I wouldn’t be without it. It still makes me laugh when the subtitles zoom on and off the screen (everything is fast in that movie), and the INSANE level of destruction is something to behold (poor Rio. Poor civilians). The whole film is a viewing experience I would not give up for anything – especially the looks I get when I try and explain to people why I love that franchise so much. Also, enjoyably enough, watching this again almost coincided with the announcement of the release dates up until Fast and Furious 10 in 2021. 10 FILMS. Incredible.

However, undeniably the best and most important viewing experience this week involved my first cinema trip of the year (I don’t know how that took so long). I mentioned a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see The Big Short, and now that I have I am so unbelievably glad that I did. There is no denying that it is a film of two fairly distinct halves – the first, a comedy, which is funny and raucous and coarse, and then the second, which is depressing and makes the blood in your veins hotter and hotter until you’re boiling with rage. What the banks did to people continues to be outrageous, and the closing minutes of the film will hammer that into you more than any others – and question why we all seem to have forgotten so quickly. The Big Short might be almost as flashy as the bankers it generally condemns (and yeah, the central characters are making a huge profit out of the banks’ scumbaggery, but somehow they manage to be less hateful). It’s stylistically overwhelming but this works to really great effect, with Ryan Gosling’s character breaking the fourth wall, celebrity cameos to explain the duller elements of mortgages and the crash itself, and clips of newsreels and interviews and b-roll of people living (or struggling to live) while this is going on interspersed throughout. It’s, in short, a great film. Both halves are thoroughly compelling, the performances (particularly Steve Carell, I think) are  great, and it’s both fascinating and intensely horrifying. Well worth a watch.


*No, hang on, I’ve thought of a better one. The first newsreader to report on the ridiculous bus crash which ‘miraculously caused no fatalities’ in Fast Five is none other than Perd Hapley of Ya Heard? With Perd!. He links A LOT of my favourite things.

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