A week in film – 2016, week 43

Full disclosure: I forgot to mention that I watched Pitch Perfect again last week. I do still really like Pitch Perfect, but it does get more difficult with every passing viewing. The second one is admittedly a far worse offender when it comes to racial and sexuality stereotyping, but the first isn’t a bastion for inclusivity either. It’s really difficult to look past that, however catchy the songs are and entertaining the Anna Kendrick/Rebel Wilson performances are. It also probably didn’t help matters that I was watching it with a vaguely disinterested boyfriend, who, let’s be honest, unsurprisingly wasn’t that sold on the film. I’ll still watch it again, though, and hope it recaptures some of the joy that I felt the first time I saw it.

Otherwise, I’m continuing on my Crazy Ex-Girlfriend kick, making my way through that slowly but surely. I was just appreciative of it before, but I’m starting to honestly like this show. It’s funny and cute, and I’ve been humming songs from this week’s batch of episodes all week. Plus, season two’s now rocked up on UK Netflix, so if there’s a time to become properly obsessed it’s now. 
Then there’s Thelma and Louise, which I’ve never seen before this week – a tremendous oversight in my cinematic education which has now been rectified. Playing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and introduced by film critic Helen O’Hara (of whom I’m a big fan, and probably the main reason why I wanted to go to this event), it seemed like a prime opportunity to see this highly regarded classic – and I’m really glad I did. Thelma and Louise is a film about trauma, and the prospect of dealing with it, and consequently it isn’t an easy watch. However, the characters, both individually and as a pair, have such an ability to draw you in and compel you forwards through their narrative that you’re rooting for them to find a way out of their increasingly horrendous situation. I had a basic familiarity with the plot of Thelma and Louise before going to see it (I’d definitely seen the end, though) – but despite all of this, and despite the fact that the film is fifteen years old, it all still felt fresh and inventive. As Helen O’Hara’s preceding talk suggested, though, this isn’t necessarily a great thing. Women leading films is still such a rarity and the prospect of two women, both over the age of thirty, starring in what’s not far from an action movie is basically unfathomable. I am so thankful that Thelma and Louise exists, though – not just because it is groundbreaking, but because it is fantastic.

JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) is another solid film, somehow much more enjoyable than I ever remember it being before. This being said, I didn’t remember a lot about this film until it was actually happening, so that doesn’t come across as quite the compliment I intended. Apart from the fact that Starfleet doesn’t really seem like quite the peacekeeping organisation it’s supposed to be, and apart from the really irritating sidelining of Uhura, Star Trek is a whole bunch of fun. It’s mad and sometimes the script’s pretty silly, but it’s got one of the most successful time-travel plots going and all the performances have their moments (apart from Zoë Saldana, who deserves far better than the love interest role she’s served here).

Then, obviously, The West Wing. In fact, the whole second half of the second series of The West Wing. God, that’s got some of the show’s greatest individual episodes. Never mind just ‘Two Cathedrals’: ‘Somebody’s Going To Emergency, Somebody’s Going To Jail’ and ‘Noël’ (the latter especially) are proper, awe-inspiring gut punches. I adore this show, and I’m loving that I’m currently rewatching it to introduce someone to it. It’s like I get to watch it for the first time all over again.

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