There are so many things I’ve hated in the past week – Galway Girl, the trailer for Viceroy’s House, trying to get quotes for a health story, Donald Trump’s inability to spell ‘hereby’, Milo Yiannopoulos’ nomination as a candidate for University of Glasgow rector. But it’s easy to be outraged and write about things you don’t like. So here are five more things I did.
Honourable Mention: Moonlight wins Best Picture
In the last two instalments of this series I’ve gushed about something Moonlight related. Against all odds, it was the deserving winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, even though it was overshadowed by a monumental farce. La La Land is also great but, as has been pointed out by many others, how sad is it that after the top prize was won by a film which showcases a diversity of race and sexuality, the lasting memory might be the fact there was a giant cock-up?
Anyway, luckily there are more graceful things in the world than Jimmy Kimmel trying to explain to a bemused audience why an accountant can’t properly deliver a card to Warren Beatty. Namely, Radio Ghibli an online compilation of soundtrack music from the acclaimed Japanese animation studio in three parts by NTS. So far only one part is available, taking in compositions from films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Castle in the Sky and Grave of the Fireflies, all released between 1986 and 1992. I am a fan of the works of Ghibli, its mastermind Hayao Miyazaki and his collaborations with composer Joe Hisaishi (described as the Japanese John Williams). This amalgamation perfectly captures the childlike wonderment of the anime, effortlessly moving from twee to operatic emotion. Even if you haven’t seen the movies, it’s worth checking out.
Let me take a moment to complain. I really hate people eating loudly in the cinema. In fact, I’d argue that there’s no need to eat there at all. I once witnessed a man consume an entire multipack of cheese and onion crisps during a screening. This brings me to Toni Erdmann – which I loved. What I didn’t love was certain audience members (all dudes) who decide that it’s cool to crunch noisily through XL tubs of popcorn and vast trays of nachos during a near three hour subtitled German comedy about a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship. I mean Jesus Christ, you have to actually concentrate. If you want to stuff your face, away home and watch a DVD. Regardless, I tried not to let it get to me.
That description of the film, I understand, is very daunting. But Toni Erdmann is both hilarious, surreal and melancholic all at once. It follows a weirdly behaving father who travels to Bucharest to surprise his estranged daughter. Once there he takes on this eponymous bizarre alter-ego and starts infiltrating her difficult, sterile and unhappy work life with practical jokes and increasingly barmy scenarios. The comedy is not broad at all – I can totally imagine people glaring straight faced at this. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, with a lot in common with great British comedies like Peep Show, The Office and The Thick of It, whilst being entirely like none of them. I’m glad that my incessant tweeting at Cineworld on Renfrew Street to show this had some effect.
American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson
I realise I’m slow to this, but it was just added to the Netflix library and, on a whim, I started watching it. I’m not generally a fan of court room dramas (in a bid to forget my recent law studying past), but this series explores so much more than just the trial and verdict of the famous OJ Simpson murder trial. It explores issues – racism, sexism, class, the corrupting power of wealth and fame, poisonous media attention – that were integral to the outcome of the case at the time and, chillingly, still ring true in modern society. It does so in broad strokes but also, quite masterfully, picks apart details within those, from the furore over how prosecuting attorney Marcia Clark’s appearance affected public opinion, to Simpson’s status within his own community and how his defence team tried to manipulate it in his favour. Couple this with the fact that a lot of once familiar faces – Cuba Gooding Jr, John Travolta, David Schwimmer – are on their A game and you have a gripping retelling of one of America’s most controversial legal moments.
The new Wolverine movie, the last with Hugh Jackman as the clawed X-Man, is not really even a Wolverine movie. It certainly isn’t a superhero movie. It’s not even a comic book movie. In fact, it deliberately goes out of its way to wave off comic books as pure fantasy. No, Logan is unlike any other adaptation of Marvel’s now extremely valuable character base. It is foul mouthed, brutal and nasty. It’s unrelentingly grim, though not in a humourless way (like that low watermark where two of the most famous superheroes face off in the worst movie ever, I forget its name…). It holds a debt to Deadpool for pathing the way, but Logan isn’t so throwaway; it’s funny in places and really violent, but you actually feel the effect of that violence because you care about the characters thanks to the intelligent writing and affecting performances. It’s about worldly issues like the importance of family and touches on modern political tensions whilst remaining grounded in the development of the three main players. I found it really affecting. Definitely the best, or at least most interesting, movie of its kind since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Can’t Stop Fighting – Sheer Mag
Technically this has been out for over a year, but the classic sounding Sheer Mag just had their first three EPs joined into a whole. At its beginning, Can’t Stop Fighting seems to be about a series of brutal murders of women in Mexico. But it is actually about empowerment and kicking back against the horror, and to go along with that is the most joyous guitar riff I’ve heard in ages. Stick it on and I dare you not to feel happy.