A week in film – 2017, week 1

First of all, happy new year! We finally made it into 2017, bruised, battered, and deeply, deeply distressed. We’re still only a few days into this year, so nothing earth-shatteringly dreadful has happened yet – which I think is an achievement. Another personal, and far more specific, achievement is that somehow, even with a couple of dips towards the end of 2016, I’ve made it into my third year of writing these posts. Three years of weekly reminders of my re-watching obsession. Who’d have thought it.

This is also means that it’s time for a bit of a rethink. Schedule-wise, writing about a week finishing on Saturday for posting on Sunday has gotten a bit…well, unmanageable. I’m not the English student I was when I started writing these posts. I’ve graduated, I’m trying to live like an adult with a 9-5 job, and a home, and a lot going on outside of these areas that I really, really need my two days off a week for (and – even with the best organisational will in the world – the weekend was always filled with last-minute blog-writing). But I love writing these posts, and to keep doing them I need to have a schedule shuffle. My week’s now going to end on Friday, still for posting on Sunday.  Saturdays and Sundays are going to be the start of the week, rather than split across the two. And if it goes wrong – if I’m away/if I’m ill – I’m not going to be as harsh on myself for it. It’ll be trial and error at first, and I might change things around, but as it stands this is how I’m going about it.

There’s also a certain neatness to having this reshuffle at the start of 2017, as New Year’s Day fell on the first Sunday of the year. It also marked probably the most exciting day in my viewing history for a while – a movie marathon of the extended editions of The Lord of The Rings. Clocking in at a hefty 682 minutes (without the credits), it’s an intense commitment, and one which requires pyjamas, lots of snacks, and apparently fajitas (my new marathon day snack of choice). I’ve only ever really seen the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings, and I’d only seen them twice before this at the most – I only really remember one time, during a university cinema all-nighter, where I slept through a lot after OD-ing on students’ union café curry. I remember liking them, but being slightly bored by the time I got toThe Return of the King. A similar experience happened this time, but with more highs and fewer lows: I’m not sure I’d propose but I properly, deeply like them, and I think I was only flagging towards the end of the third film because it was twenty to midnight on New Year’s Day and I so badly needed to sleep.

Yeah, it won’t come as a shock to anyone that I – nerd girl, fantasy fan, and film appreciator – liked The Lord of the Rings. More so than ever before I felt that I truly grasped why people adore Peter Jackson’s trilogy – they span so much, in so much depth, with such vision, that it’s almost impossible not to admire them. It’s the only example I’ve got of feeling a trilogy taking over seven hours to complete warrants the huge investment in time. The storytelling is incredible: the script tackles basically every issue under the sun, in several different languages, and the strong preference for practical effects have meant that, for the most part, the films haven’t really aged in the decade or so since their release. Yeah, some storylines are more interesting than others, and yeah, however much Frodo goes through (it’s an understatement to say the ring is an ugly piece of jewellery) he’s still really, really whiny. But there is no denying that these films are among the greatest works of cinema ever produced – and they were fully deserving of all the accolades they got.

The only thing that went against the Lord of The Rings marathon was that it ran over the return of Sherlock, which has been pretty eagerly anticipated for some time. Or it was, before my feelings soured a little after ‘The Runaway Bride’. I really loved Sherlock once – it was funny, and it was smart, and while neither Sherlock nor John were all that likeable, I still looked forward to spending an hour and a half a week in their company. A little bit of that old magic came back at the start of the episode, and perhaps throughout the opening third, but after that it went a bit tits up. There’s not a lot of mystery left in Sherlock any more. We’re not being asked to solve any actual cases, and neither, really, is he – instead, he’s fighting his way out of most of the problems thrown at him. Everyone’s trained in some form of combat, and everyone can wield a gun. More than that, though, the problem with this episode is that it doesn’t really hang together. It falls into three distinct parts, loosely connected by some characters. It’s not really what I wanted from its return, but I’ll stick it out. Unlike quite a few people, I actually liked the last series.

The other part of the week, in no way connected to The Lord of the Rings or Sherlock, is Aladdin. An ever-dependable Disney classic, Aladdin – if you don’t already know, somehow – is the typical boy-meets-girl Disney story where the boy is a loveable rogue (well, a bit) and the girl’s a princess who wants more from her life of princessing. That plot isn’t the most interesting part of Aladdin, although his and Jasmine’s love story is one of the most convincing in all Disney movies. Instead, it’s Robin Williams’ performance as the Genie. The Genie’s probably the most famous part of the film, and one of the greatest animated characters of all time – Robin Williams’ performance is largely improvised, and the sheer volume of jokes is astonishing. It’s a ludicrously impressive feat, one that only serves as a reminder of how great Robin Williams was, and is probably why this film (which does have its issues) stands up to repeats.

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