A week in film – 2016, week 11

Emerging from a birthday cake-induced food coma, it’s really hard to approach this week’s post with even a hint of clarity. For example: I’m fairly certain that I saw about three episodes of Community this week, or at least one really long episode of Community, but I can’t be sure because I napped my way through extended sections of each of them. It’s been a long week, and clearly my age is getting to me.

Easier to remember is the week’s typical Marvel-fest. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is nearing its mid-season finale – in fact, that may well be on tonight (I’m not checking for fear of more spoilers) – and I’d say that it was getting more interesting if this blog series hadn’t already proved that I am very, very interested in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. already. Especially in Fitzsimmons, who are having a thoroughly horrible time at the moment (I cried for them at least once this week). While its place in general Marvel continuity feels shaky at best, and the overall quality of plotting and scripting isn’t overwhelmingly great, in every episode there are at least a few moments (generally character-driven) which work really well and keep me so solidly invested. I was amazed watching the pre-credits scene, which had a moment which shocked me – the fact that I cared (I was honestly surprised by how much) shows that the series is doing something right.

I’ve also rewatched Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy, because I am boring and predictable. Guardians of the Galaxy needs so little more said about it, apart from the fact that I must have watched it well into double figures by now and it still makes me laugh out loud. It’s certainly my favourite Marvel movie from a visual standpoint, and if my brain didn’t shout, ‘But what about The Avengers? Or Captain America: The Winter Soldier?’ immediately after I thought it, I’d probably say it was my favourite Marvel movie generally. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a little trickier – and not for the reasons so many other people struggled with it, which I still don’t completely get. Watching it again, you get the impression that the wrong bits are missing. The sequence in Korea feels baggy (it’s certainly the only bit in the movie during which I notice myself flagging), while Thor’s dream and the related scenes could do with a little more explaining. I’m not the only person to think that, and I find it hard to believe that people wouldn’t want more Chris Hemsworth in that movie – Thor’s the comedy stand-out. Overall, though, it’s still a lot of fun, and I’ll never be unhappy to see it.

Also, a new Captain America: Civil War trailer came out. You may have heard my garbled shrieks after I watched it (repeatedly). Blimey.

Off in a non-Marvel world, Muppets Most Wanted made me laugh a lot earlier this week. A fan of The Muppets generally, and especially of the 2011 film, I’d hoped that I was going to enjoy it – but mixed reviews at the time sort of put me off. It was only when the film was added to Netflix that I thought I’d give it a go – and I really liked it. It’s got its issues – accents aren’t jokes – and there were a few times where I laughed in spite of myself, but there are also some genuinely funny bits. Ty Burrell and Sam the Eagle are brilliantly silly. I’m also lucky that I fall solidly into the camp which enjoys cameos, because it’s cameos aplenty throughout. It’s not as tight or as sweet as The Muppets was but it’s still fun, and I couldn’t have picked a much better movie to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

Probably the highlight of the week, though, came from Brooklyn. The subtle and sweet Oscar-nominated movie, starring the terrific Saoirse Ronan (she’s SO so good in this film), is charming as anything. Telling the story of a young girl who emigrates from rural Ireland to, er, Brooklyn in search of work and a better life, Brooklyn is a really moving presentation of homesickness, and how identity is so heavily defined by where you can call home. To start with, Eilis doesn’t fit in Ireland, and she doesn’t fit in America either – moving away from her family makes her physically sick. But as she settles there, she and the city brighten, and it stops just being her in the camera’s frame – Tony, her Italian-American boyfriend, joins her. It, of course, all goes a bit wrong, and Eilis returns to Ireland for more home/heartsickness, but it’s such a beautifully shot and well-told story that it doesn’t feel melodramatic, but realistic. Eilis makes strange choices, but they’re human choices. That being said, I probably wouldn’t have felt so warmly towards the character were it not for Saoirse Ronan, who is completely wonderful. This whole film is wonderful.

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