Something-To-Watch Saturday #5

Are you new around here? Then let me catch you up. Every Saturday I’ll be publishing a list of 7 movie suggestions of films from various streaming sites, saving you time and decision-making by helping you decide what to watch. Like what you see, then just leave a comment. Want even more suggestions? Check out issues #1, #2, #3 and #4.

The Princess Bride (1987 – 98 mins – Amazon Prime)

To start with, I’m chucking out the big guns. My favourite film of all-time. If you know me, you know this fact already – you’ve probably heard me harp on about it enough. A film that is as funny as it is charming as it is romantic. This is a film perfect for every mood, with truly medical qualities. Here’s a piece I wrote for Den Of Geek about why I love it so much.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014 – 113 mins – Amazon Prime)

Easily one of the finest science fiction movies of the past decade, think Groundhog Day meets Independence Day – where a soldier (Tom Cruise) fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies. His fellow soldier (Emily Blunt), may just be the answer to saving both he and the entire world.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016 – 101 – Amazon Prime)

I first saw this movie at Genesis Cinema (East London), a month prior to it’s release – in screen 4 with an audience made up of folk from New Zealand and Australia. It was the perfect audience for such a hysterically funny film. A comedy adventure film set when a national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and his foster uncle Hec (Sam Neill) who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. ‘ I didn’t choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose me.’

Man Up (2015 – 88 mins – BBC iPlayer)

This week’s underseen romantic comedy slot goes to this gem of a Brit flick. Nancy (Lake Bell) is in her mid-30s, fed up of being single but also fed up of her friend’s awful attempts at set-ups. After literally bumping into Jack (Simon Pegg), who believes she’s the woman he’s meant to be headed on a date with, Nancy decides not to correct him and go on the date. A night they’ll never forget soon follows. Wonderfully written by Tess Morris, this is a seriously funny film with a fantastic ensemble cast. Adhering to romcom tropes, yet playing wonderfully with them, any film that has a dance-off to this tuuuune has me sold.

Southside With You (2016 – 84 mins – BBC iPlayer)

Sometimes, when present day politics terrifies me (aka, most days) I think about the Barack Obama era, with the same degree of nostalgia one would an ex partner who you ended things with on mutually respecting yet loving terms. Should you be the same, this is an indie gem for you. It’s a fictionalised account of the first date between Barack (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle (Tika Sumpter). Understated, charming and really endearing.

The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019 – 119 mins – Amazon Prime)

Armando Iannucci deciding to follow up the scathing satire The Death of Stalin with a Dickens adaptation felt like something of a choice. Thankfully, we any doubts were kicked away within the film’s opening moments. From then on it’s a charming and hilarious riot of laugher, that had me grinning like the Cheshire Cat the entire time. Dev Patel is the eponymous David in a riches-to-rags-to-riches-to-rags tale starring Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie, Morfydd Clark, Daisy May Cooper, Hugh Laurie, Anna Maxwell Martin, Tilda Swinton, Paul Whitehouse, Ben Whishaw and Benedict Wong. Click here to read my film review.

Life, Animated (2016 – 92 mins – Netflix)

If you were to ask me the oddly specific question, ‘What are you favourite five documentaries of all time?’, this would definitely be making an appearance. A story that hits me on a personal level (as I mention here), we follow Owen Suskind as he gets ready to leave his family home and move away to live on his home for the first time. It’s a situation his parents’ would never have foreseen when he stopped suddenly speaking aged 3 and a diagnosis of autism soon followed. This is a film about the magic of parents and of Disney – two powerful forces that should never be underestimated.

Tenet

‘Don’t try to understand it, just feel it.’

When submitting essays at university, between the act of final proof read and pressing that ‘submit’ button I would have one recurring and prevailing thought – this is either total brilliance or totally nonsensical. I had an echo of that thought throughout the entirety of Tenet 150 minute running time. But, are brilliance and nonsense truly binary opposites – or are they inverted…?

The biggest film to hit cinema’s in nearly six months is Christopher Nolan’s go at a Bond movie – a caper full of spies, missions, dashing leading men in great suits, a damsel in distress and gorgeous locations all around the globe. It’s also his most inaccessible film to date. I’ll avoid going into any detail at all about the plot because of A) Spoilers and B) I’m pretty sure I have absolutely no idea what happens in Tenet, and I just came out o the 14.10 screening of it. I look forward to reading the Wikipedia summary and/or idiots guide to what just went down. There’s something wildly liberating about having extended periods of time where you have absolutely no idea what is happening or will happen next.

Did I enjoy Tenet? Watching it, yes. Trying to work out what was going on, no. It’s pretentious to say, but I truly appreciated it even if I didn’t enjoy it all that much. It truly is the cinematic spectacular that Nolan himself has been advocating for months. The stunt work is truly incredible, with some impeccably coordinated and shot sequences which truly boogle the mind. The locations are extraordinary and add to the film’s immersive qualities.

The performances are exemplary. We already knew from Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman that John David Washington is a great talent. Here we see that he is an unquestionable star, with an electric charisma that is beyond captivating. Robert Pattinson’s internal chaos is channelled brilliantly as Nolan’s doppelganger (aka the character in each Nolan movie that dresses just like him. If in doubt, look for the scarves.) Elizabeth Debicki is excellent with what she is given, it’s a joy to see her 6ft 3 height shown and not hidden. Kenneth Branagh is there as a Russian villain.

As I come to end of writing this piece, I’m not sure if I need to see Tenet again or never again. My practical advice when it comes to seeing it? Go in with no expectations, don’t try to resist it or work it out. Let it embrace you and allow it to sweep you up in its journey. If you’re comfortable with getting back into the cinemas, this is one to see on the biggest screen possible.

Tenet is out in UK cinemas from Wednesday 26th August.

My worst ever date

My worst ever date lasted for 27 minutes. I know this because of the call history on my phone; my date with Dan was a 4 minute phone-call followed by 23 minutes in person that truly felt like eternity.

It was October 2014, I had lived in London for four months and was a very naive 22 year-old. My rented apartment with a friend was awesome and I was loving my first ever year as a teacher. I didn’t know all that many people in the city, with most of my university friends having scattered back to their various homes across the country. My social life was practically non-existent – which made me all-too-aware of my lack of love life. And so, like most of my generation, I had turned to the internet. A cursory Google search just now has informed me that Tinder was very much around then, but it had totally skipped me by at the point (which reveals a lot about my then-self). Instead I had turned to Match.Com; which seems a slightly baffling choice now I’m in my late twenties and feeling a sense of protectiveness towards my sweet-cinnamon-roll younger self.

Dan was one of the first people I matched and messaged with. He was neither attractive nor unattractive, he was fine. He had no distinctive features and I am safe in the knowledge I would be totally unable to recognise him if I ever saw him again. I could have passed him at any point in the following years and would have had absolutely no idea. I think I continued to exchange messages with him as he was confident and unafraid to ‘say it how it is’ (which may just be the worst thing any human being can say of themselves). I was lacking in confidence and found some sense of assurance in his matter-of-fact messaging. He was in his early 30s, a banker who worked in the city – somehow, along the way of forming relationship expectations I had decided (or been forced to decide through societal expectation…) that these were good attributes in a partner (Yes. I know.) Which is why I had missed the repeated references in his messages to my legs and his wanting me to wear a short skirt to the date. I just thought that was normal flirting…

We were due to meet at Liverpool Street station at 6pm one Friday night. I’d not been there before and nobody had warned me that it is a station with exactly 1,841,858 exits – hence me texting Dan at 6pm asking where exactly to meet. He called in response and instantly I knew tonight would not go well. He was chewing gum in the manner of a ravenous cow devouring a savoured patch in an otherwise drought-struck field. His words were more like noises, mastication turning his vowels into a form of morse code that needed deciphering. Having gone out of the station’s nearest exit, I’d decided to head towards the biggest building I could see. I told him the name of it, only to be greeted with a groan and what I was near-certain translated as ‘How did you know I worked there? Are you a stalker my crazy girl?’ My mortification levels had never been so high and every part of my body wanted to run away, my brain trying to put on the breaks, but I thought that I should at least try the date. What did I have to lose..?

We (he) carried on talking over the phone until we saw each other. He crossed the road to meet me and I instantly realised he had lied about his height, by about five inches. He’d said he was the same height as me, 5ft11″ which made our height difference pretty significant. Which wouldn’t really be a problem except a)he’d lied and b) he clearly had a profound height fetish. The greeting of ‘What’s the weather like up there chick? Glad to see you wore a skirt for me!’ did not help matters. At all.

We side-hugged as greeting, then he guided me by the small of my back to a bar. It is packed with workers in their packs who have finished for the week, stopping by the watering hole before making the commute home. Dan asks what I want to drink. I’ve recently discovered cocktails and believe them to be the height of sophistication. He leaves me at the only free table, going off to order a mojito for me and a pint for himself. He returns with two mojitos for me as it’s Happy Hour. This wouldn’t be a problem except I’ve quickly realised just how awful Dan is and that I’m now stuck here for two drinks before I can leave. My two drinks are plonked on the table by him with a look of disdain, ‘They’re not very good here – much better next door.’ I think better than to ask why he didn’t say this when he took my drinks request.

After some more height comments geared towards me, he then asks after my job plans. He’s relieved someone as young as me has a job as easy as being a teacher, that it’s good I’m doing something so flexible as I explore the city and the world. You know, take it easy as I discover myself. He’s advised teaching abroad, possibly in Scandinavia where my fellow women would be as tall and pale as I am. I’ve realised they’re no point in fighting with him on just how wrong he is, that as much as I love my job I’ve realised it has a to-do-list that will never end and will most likely consume me completely.

I have always wanted to go to Sweden though.

To keep myself busy, and to speed up my exit, I’m drinking my drinks as speedily as possible. Dan observes this, drawling ‘You’re drinking ’em quick. Yeah, suck that straw. Suck that straw good.’ Reader, yes I know I should have left immediately at that point, ideally throwing the remaining drink in his face in the process, but I was too shocked and too focused on being polite to do so.

Thankfully my exit pass came swiftly after, when he asked after my family. He asked if my mum was ‘like me’. Unsure of what was really being asked here I replied ‘Well, height-wise she’s shorter. She’s also a teacher though!’ Dan replied with the now immortal line, ‘No I meant, is she hot like you? Is your mum single?’ I jokingly apologised, explaining she was happily married to my dad. Dan seemed deeply disappointed by this response, far more at that than the fact I’d now decided to leave.

‘I’m going to go now.’ was all I said, as I got up and left. It was 6.30pm when I walked back through the station, having called my best friend as I was laughing so hysterically I feared I’d look truly crazy without my phone as a prop.

Unsurprisingly, I never heard again from Dan. It would be months before I could drink again from a straw.