Category: Film

Ticket For One – Is going to the cinema alone still a taboo?

Ticket For One – Is going to the cinema alone still a taboo?

Is Going to the Cinema Alone Weird?

Is going to the cinema alone weird, or an accepted hobby in 2016?

Before I even start, allow me to offer a piece of advice. If you’re going to the cinema alone, do not sit in the middle.

I made that mistake about a week ago. I had a relatively free day and decided I wanted to watch Arrival (which I also reviewed here; thanks for asking!), but it was the afternoon and all of my friends were at work. I’d been in this situation before; you wait for an evening you and your friends are free and, before you know it, the film is out of the cinema and you refuse to buy the DVD full price – it’d be Mad Max all over again.

Not being someone to download films (just to clarify incase Theresa May is reading) and also being a fan of the cinema experience, I decided to go into town to watch it – forgetting that it’s ridiculously expensive since I lost student privileges and Orange Wednesdays bit the dust years ago.

Before doing so I did text a couple of friends to ask – is going to the cinema alone still considered weird? Are you seen as a big screen enthusiast, or held with the same contempt as someone who dines alone in restaurants on Valentines Day, passing themselves presents and taking selfies with their steak.

The general consensus was that nobody knew. One friend called it “bold” another said it “might look a bit sad.” Neither, however, had ever done it – it was unchartered territory.

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Even the aliens in Arrival didn’t come alone – Image taken from ‘Arrival Trailer (2016) – Paramount Pictures’ available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFM03UJ4B4g

Weirdly when I got to the desk, I had a little trepidation about asking for the dreaded ‘Ticket for One’. Would the receptionist look at me with pity? Disgust? Admiration? Would she call for security in her earpiece and put me in a padded room with the bloke who came to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop on his lonesome years ago?

Of course, none of that happened. She printed my ticket and told me which screen it was with the indifference of someone who didn’t care for my internal plight. Perhaps going to the cinema alone was less of a big deal than I thought?

Once I’d entered the theatre I was in dreamland. The screen was completely free; no smooching couples or rabbles of kids throwing popcorn (it was daytime so you’d hope not). I decided to sit in the middle and dump my jacket like I owned the place. It looked as though I was having my own private viewing – like a billionaire or anybody that watched the new Ghostbusters.

At least it did to start with.

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Who you gonna call? Literally anyone else. Image taken from ‘GHOSTBUSTERS – OFFICIAL TRAILER (HD) available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3ugHP-yZXw

After the trailers started they started coming in. First a happy couple who, like me, clearly thought it was going to be empty and stopped in their tracks when they saw my lone figure. Sat in the middle. Looking back at them. They kept their heads down at moved to the end, not daring to make eye contact.

Then two mates with way too much food to eat between them. Then another couple. Then a group of three students. And I was on my own, proudly in the centre. I was the weirdo.

By the time the trailers were finishing there was around a dozen people and I was wondering what they must think of me sat on my own. My jacket was on the seat next to me – perhaps they thought it was for a friend? They would eventually find out that was not the case.

I wasn’t sure what to do, and I’d be lying if I said leaving didn’t cross my mind. People would think I needed a different screen or had the wrong time. Not being able to read single digit numbers would be less embarrassing than this.

Once the trailers finished, however, I eased up and within 20 minutes of the film starting I’d forgotten all my worries. There were no sniggers and nobody was texting or tweeting about ‘the sad loner’ in the cinema. If truth be told, nobody seemed to care as much as me.  Perhaps if I was laughing alone to a comedy I’d look strange, but in a film where everyone was focused on the screen and not talking I didn’t feel out of place at all.

So is going to the pictures alone still a taboo? Possibly not. If you say you’re going, will people frown at you like you’ve told them you like toe nail clippings on top of your porridge? Possibly. Did I write this so if anyone I asked I could justify my solo cinema trip as a social experiment? Absolutely.

But if you’re someone who loves the movies and there’s a film you really want to see, you’ll barely notice once the curtains open.

Just don’t sit in the middle.

Movie Review: Arrival

Movie Review: Arrival

Arrival: Movie Review

With a title like Arrival and a trailer full of interior spaceship views, men in camoflauge and unusual floating objects, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was going to be another alien invasion film.

Even the opening sets it up that way as linguistic professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is tasked to work alongside theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to work out what the aliens want and if Earth is in danger.

As the film unfolds however, you realise this is anything but your standard alien sci-fi flick. For the most part of the 116 minute run-time, you are focused on Banks’ efforts to find out the alien motivation within their spacecraft or the political struggles behind the scenes rather than seeing how the planet is affected – indeed, a couple of phone calls and news reports are all you see from the outside world.

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Image taken from ‘Arrival Trailer (2016) – Paramount Picture’ available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFM03UJ4B4g

On paper this sounds like something which could turn people off, but you need not fear. Watching Banks wrestle sleep deprivation, visions of her daughter and pressure from the likeable but stern Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and the slimy Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) keeps you invested in her character, while the mystery of why the seemingly placid “heptapods” have visited are planet keep you hooked until the film’s mind-blowing finish.

Indeed the strength of the film is that in a number of ways it feels so grounded. Adams’ performance is entirely relatable – ranging from understated at times when the main character is unfamiliar with her surroundings to forceful and strong as events transpire. Her plausible reactions to the strange things happening around her and frustrating bureaucracy often hooks the audience in more than the special effects or set-pieces – like the look of wonderment when she first sees the aliens.

The bickering between nations on how to deal with a potential threat also means tensions are always simmering below the surface rather than thrust in our face, meaning that we are constantly in-tune with the pressure Banks and Donnelly are under rather than it feeling forced. Again, the differing approaches and mentalities of the nations involved feel like they could happen in real life, and leave you wondering whether it is how a scenario like this would unfold were it to happen today.

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Image taken from  ‘Arrival Trailer (2016) – Paramount Pictures’ available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFM03UJ4B4g

The film, which is based on Ted Chiang’s short Story of Your Life, is well-paced and manages to tie the themes of Bank’s troubles, political conflict and the aliens’ aims together in a superb final act that lives up to a slow (although never plodding) burn in the opening hour or so.

In summary, Arrival can almost be seen not only as the alien story for a modern age, but an interesting commentary on how the modern age would deal with an alien story, and it delivers on both scores brilliantly.

Heading image taken from ‘Arrival Trailer (2016) – Paramount Pictures’ available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFMo3UJ4B4g
Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Harry Potter fanatics will have been incredibly excited to see J.K Rowling’s works brought to life on the big screen again, but ironically this is a film that shines when it distances itself from the boy wizard’s adventures.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set approximately 70 years before Harry, Hermione and Ron’s adventures in Hogwarts and instead follows the story of Newt Scamander – an eccentric, introverted and zoologist for magical creatures.

Most of the movie’s strengths lie exactly where one would expect – the special effects. There are scores of magical creatures who have been superbly realised and look great – particularly in the scenes where we see them in their “natural” habitats – and the American ministry building (MACUSA) is brought to life with its own unique aesthetic.

The acting is as solid as you’d expect. Love him or hate him, Eddie Redmayne makes the role of Scamander his own with some great physical acting. He plays the animal expert in a typically awkward and shuffling manner and would no doubt win another Oscar for ‘Actor who spends most time in hunched position.’

Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler)  is refreshing as a non-magical character who feels natural and contributes to the film from a muggle point of view (or nomaj for Americans), rather than being restricted to some shoehorned physical gags, while Ezra Miller is also brilliantly unnerving as Credence Barebone – an adopted child who seems to be wrestling with his role as a witch hunter of sorts, leading to some of the darker moments in the film.

For me the best acting comes from Colin Farrell as no-nonsense auror Percival Graves. Farrell brings some steel to a type of character we rarely saw in the original films – a powerful ministry wizard, but one who is grey in terms of his morals and motives.

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Farrell is superb – Image taken from ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Final Trailer (HD)’ available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs05011LuGU

As I said in the intro however, Beasts is at its best when it isn’t trying to be anything like the original films. For fans of the books, the hint of Grindelwald at the start is enough to spark excitement while setting the film in muggle New York rather than a magical school leads to interesting themes of anti-wizardry feeling and propaganda that was missing in the originals and, in a lot of ways, mirrors our world today.

My only real gripe was that is sometimes felt this story was unfolding in the background when it should have been at the forefront. Anything with the ‘Second Salem’ witch hunters feels creepy and darker then anything and Graves was in nearly all of the strongest scenes. It would have been nice to have more about them, rather one or two of the animal chase segments.

It’s easy to forget that this is the first of five instalments however and it hopefully hints at a more adult story in later films. Beasts has laid the foundations for a darker wizarding adventure – I just hope it follows it through.

Header image taken from ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Final Trailer (HD)’ available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vso5o11LuGU

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