A week in film – 2016, week 24

Surprising no-one more than myself, my film binge has continued apace. I don’t really have an explanation for why this is happening, but I’m pretty glad that it is – I’m also glad that I’m still branching out, and that there’s a bunch of new stuff to talk about this week. So, obviously, we’ll start with the TV…

Last week when I was having my hissy about The Flash season finale, I can only WISH that I’d known I had Supergirl to look forward to. Bizarre scheduling has meant that the crossover episode between those two shows hasn’t aired where it was supposed to in The Flash’s chronology, but it’s OK because I didn’t need it then! If there was ever a time to be reminded that Barry Allen is ludicrously adorable, and he’s even more ridiculously so when combined with the equally cute Kara  Danvers, THIS WAS IT. Seriously, Grant Gustin has chemistry with everyone in this episode – it might be the scenes with Melissa Benoist that work the most, but every interaction between him and Jeremy Jordan is great, and the scene with all of them in the office standing in front of Kat Grant (‘All four of you, standing there doing nothing. You look like the attractive, racially diverse cast of a CW show’) is so much fun. Siobhan’s transformation into Silver Banshee (very alarming costume aside) was a bit rushed, sure, but there are enough fun one-liners and comedy awkwardness to more than make up for it. Essentially I adored this episode – so much so, that I’ve watched it twice. If there’s one thing that can be said for the DC TV shows, it’s that they make really, really good first team-up episodes.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scrounged up a pretty decent series finale – by no stretch as emotionally distressing as the last, but still with a bit of an edge to it. Never does everyone make it out of an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale alive. The opening scenes with the base and the agents under siege are pretty effective, heightening the tension in the age-old method of making everything really dark and quiet (I sound snarky, but it works). The later scenes on the Zephyr might not be as tense, but I do acknowledge that this could be because I was pretty comprehensively spoilt beforehand. There’s a couple of decent gags, and a fairly entertaining showdown between Coulson and Hive which, while not overwhelmingly subtle, is effective. I might not sound overly enthusiastic – this is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after all – but it did the job, and the two teases at the end of the episode work in exactly the way they should. I want to know where this is going. Whether that’s against my better judgement or not will be revealed next season.

Then again, TV’s still not been my primary focus this week. Actually now fully embracing the title of this series (or taking advantage of a NOW TV free trial), I’ve been continuing my cinematic education. I’ve now finally seen Groundhog Day, twenty-three years after its release (and I’ve got no excuse, because I’ve been around for just that long). I’d managed to make it through those two-and-a-bit decades only learning about three things about it, which was nice – beyond knowing that Bill Murray has to live the same day over and over again, everything was completely new to me. This film solidified my already pretty intense affection for the bitter romantic comedy, providing the best example of the genre I’ve seen in ages. Bill Murray’s character is an awful, self-obsessed egomaniac when the loop starts, and he pretty quickly concludes that he can make the most of his erasable time by behaving even worse. There’s a vein of darkness running alongside the romance with Andie MacDowell which somehow surprised and really affected me, and honestly, I think I enjoyed this film so much that, in time, it could gatecrash my top five.

Continuing along that particular theme, I’ve also never seen You’ve Got Mail until this week. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are also both overly charming despite their meanness, as he’s the big chain store owner, she’s the independent retailer, and they just can’t get along in real life. Email, though…and oh, the email. This is made in a time where AOL wasn’t even AOL, but America Online (I feel very young not to have known that already). Signing into the internet has that familiar, nostalgic dial-up screech, and the laptops are about as thick as five planks of wood. That central pair of Hanks and Ryan is perfect, though, all the way through: the joy of that relationship hasn’t diminished, even if the technology sort of has.

Enjoyable in a very different sense is Paul Feig’s Spy, in which the completely brilliant Melissa McCarthy (this is my favourite thing of hers I’ve seen since Gilmore Girls) is a CIA agent sent into the field to observe and report back the activities of Rose Byrne’s super criminal. It doesn’t really need to be said that there’s very little observing and a lot more fighting – both verbal and physical – and it’s all really well done. There’s a fight sequence in a kitchen which I loved, and similarly there’s a scene in which Rose Byrne is shouting at McCarthy and Miranda Hart (who is in this movie) which made me CRY with laughter. After not really liking The Heat, I was surprised – to the point where I was actually slightly ashamed by the degree of my surprise – to really, really like this film. Then again, this film not only has The Stath in a starring role, but has The Stath in a series of elaborately bad disguises and outlandish scenarios (or recounting those scenarios), and I want to see that in almost every film ever. Hollywood: make it happen.

Another film which has been on my list since I started liking superhero films, the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman made its way onto my TV this week. Why I wanted to watch this film quite so badly remains an unknown – I’m not a Batman fan, unless he’s Lego – but I did, and now I have. I’m still not convinced by Batman, but Keaton’s Bruce Wayne may be the version of that character I’ve liked watching the most. I liked that it took so long for him to appear on-screen, instead focusing on the origins of the Joker (creepy AF by the way, which I know is the point) and having the Bat appear, fully formed, in the opening scenes. I also liked how visually odd it is – the Batmobile is ludicrous – but seeing as this is a Tim Burton movie, I’m not sure why that’s worth noting. It might be incredibly dated, but it’s certainly the most outright entertaining Batman movie I’ve ever seen.

It also bears mentioning that I’ve been to the tenth birthday party of my uni’s TV station, SUSUtv, at which videos made by members across the past decade were played…among lots of other festivities. SUSUtv was my favourite part of uni and I love going back, so I was going to enjoy  all of those videos. It’s fun to see Radio 1’s Chris Stark making sausages (an actual video from 2009), and it’s fun to see some of your favourite people making idiots of themselves for the station.

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