Film Friday #199

Pride (2014)

At his first ever gay pride march in 1984,  shy aspiring photographer Joe (George McKay) finds himself befriending Mark (Ben Schnetzer) and his close-knit group of activist friends. This is also the day that Mark comes to the realisation that the miners striking against pit closures under Margaret Thatcher are facing a similar kind of press smear campaign combined with police brutality as the gay community is. Adamant that human rights should be about all humans standing up for each other’s rights, Mark forms LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and recruits all his friends (including Joe) to help him raise money to help the miners hold their strike. Of course when LSGM decides to hand over their collection to the Union, no one wants to hear about it but Mark is not a man to be trifled with and he decides to pick one small Welsh town to support directly. He convinces union leader, Dai (Paddy Considine) to come and meet the group in London without him really understanding where is going. The culture clash is immediate and inevitable and only intensifies when the group heads into Wales to visit the miners. As the two sides get to know each other, the walls break down and a warm and touching friendship and respect is forged. Not everyone is happy about the idea of these “perverts” supporting their cause though and soon not only the group as a whole but its individual members will have to face trials they never expected. Pride‘s plotline is pretty straightforward but that’s not what this heartwarming true story is really about. it’s about the incredible characters that bring it to life. Featuring an impressive array of talented British actors from the new (Joe Gilgun, Andrew Scott, Faye Marsay) to the downright classic (Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy), every character is fully formed, interesting and wonderfully acted. All too often you hear someone describe a film as being the total package or suggesting that you’ll laugh and cry and get angry and be uplifted all in one film but when it comes to Pride this all really is true, as is the actual story. Schnetzer is an absolute stand-out as the extremely inspiring Mark and is Jessica Gunning as Sian, a miner’s wife awakened to her potential as a leader. An instant classic and a must-see. 5/5

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LGSM wished Mark would just get on with it and skip to the fashion pages

The Riot Club (2014)

In their first year at Oxford University both Alistair Ryle (Sam Clafin) and Miles Richards (Max Irons) are offered membership to The Riot Club, a society of no more than ten of the wealthiest, most privileged male students from the best families. On the surface Ryle and Richards are very different boys. Richards appears to have leftist leanings and finds himself somewhat enamored with a working-class fellow student (Holliday Grainger), while Ryle reviles anyone he considers to be poor and believes absolutely in his right to do whatever he wants. He also despises Richards. The boys go through a series of ridiculous initiation tasks in preparation for an annual debaucherous dinner, which must take place miles away as they are barred from every nearby establishment. Richards assumes this is because the dinners can get a bit messy but as the night goes on and things get more and more out of control, he realises he is in way over his head. I have to admit that I found The Riot Club incredibly difficult to watch. The things that happen at the dinner are grotesque and are so much more affecting because it’s well within the realms of possibility that there are people behaving exactly like this. After all The Riot Club is supposed to be inspired by real life Bulldingdon Club, which George Osborne, David Cameron and Boris Johnson were all members of. Unfortunately the film lets itself down at the end. it sets up a really interesting premise and then cuts it off at the knees before it can play out. it also creates an interesting homoerotic subplot but doesn’t have the balls to take it to any kind of satisfying conclusion. I can’t say I enjoyed The Riot Club because I squirmed through most of it and there is an argument that some of its audience might find it inspiring rather than upsetting but Clafin definitely does an impressive job of playing a borderline sociopath. 3/5

And then I said to her, " what do you mean your holiday cottage doesn't have an indoor swimming pool?"

And then I said to her, ” what do you mean your holiday cottage doesn’t have an indoor swimming pool?”

School Ties (1992)

David Greene, a working class Jewish senior from Scranton, Pennsylvania gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is offered a football scholariship at an exclusive prep school considered to be an incubator for Harvard. Although he initially finds the environment and the privileged buys around him really alien his football skills, willingness to get involved in various high jinks and excellent banter means his popularity is soon on the rise… as long as he keeps his religion a secret.  However not everyone is thrilled at David’s arrival. Golden boy, Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon) is not only displaced as team quarterback, but it seems his girlfriend (Amy Locane) has taken a real shine to David. When Charlie happens upon the truth about David’s heritage he sets into motion a plan to unmask his rival and use the school’s rigorous code of honour to destroy him but will David’s classmates choose real honour or tradition. This was one of my absolute favourite films when I was a teenager. I think the combination of fifties setting, hot boys (Ben Affleck and Chris O’Donnell also make an appearance) and social injustice set my sixteen year old heart racing. On watching this with some more maturity it’s still a compelling drama but the overall product is predictable and a bit simplistic. Although the film makes some effort to delve into the psychological effects that the students feel due to being pressurised by their parents’ expectations it all boils down to a very black and white good-guy bad-guy face-off. Worth a watch but not as awesome as I remember. 3.5/5

David was sick of listening to Charlie mumbling about apples.

David was sick of listening to Charlie mumbling about apples.

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Seventeen year old Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) finds her life turned upside down after she spots a beautiful woman with blue hair while she is on a date with, Thomas (Jérémie Laheurte). Although she doesn’t know anything about the blue-haired stranger, she obsesses about her until they eventually meet and strike up a friendship. Emma (Léa Seydoux) is older, more experienced and a confirmed lesbian, while Adèle is still exploring her burgeoning sexuality. The connection between the two is electric and it’s not long before the friendship turns into a white hot sexual relationship and eventually an all-consuming love. As the years go by and Emma becomes successful artist, Adèle starts to find herself left behind, confused as to why is is not the centre of Emma’s life as Emma is of hers. The relationship starts to disintegrate and Adèle will have to redefine who she is and what she wants from life without Emma. Most of the hoop-la around this film seems to be related to the graphic sex scenes, mostly between Adèle and Emma. While they might come across as somewhat gratuitous, I think they definitely have a part to play as a narrative device defining the connection between the two and also the difference between Adèle’s encounters with Emma and other lovers. I felt like this film took me on an epic journey through first love, self discovery and what is means to be part of a relationship and still keeping hold of your individuality. Initially I thought Adèle was a bit of a tit but as I got to know her, I genuinely felt for her plight and I was fascinated to see what would happen to her, even though this is one of those films where nothing really happens and it doesn’t have much of a conclusion. I loved the little hints of blue scattered throughout and the way writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche used Adèle’s love of the novel Life of Marianne to inject deeper meaning into scenes. The only thing that bugged me was that Adèle’s early failure to tell her family and friends about her relationship with Emma was never resolved. The characters just kind of disappeared. Overall I found Blue is the Warmest Colour beautiful, intense and very rewarding. 4.5/5

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What do you mean blue ISN’T a warm colour?

15 Comments

  1. MIB

    Glad you liked “Blue…” one of my faves from last year! 🙂

    I don’t think i could watch “Riot Club” without getting angry, since I hate the Tories and rich kids like them! 😡

    1. Abbi

      It was gorgeous.

      Riot Club made me extremely angry but I think that was the point. There is definitely an element of exposing who is running our country and how they feel about us commoners.

      1. MIB

        “Exposing” or “reinforcing”? 😉 😛

  2. ‘it also creates an interesting homoerotic subplot but doesn’t have the balls to take it to any kind of satisfying conclusion.’

    This may be the most innuendo filled phrasing i’ve ever seen, nice one!

    1. Abbi

      Hahahahaha! I live in England. Innuendo is our national sport.

  3. Great post, I really need to watch Blue is the Warmest Colour.

    1. Abbi

      It’s slow moving but really quite something. I thought about it for days afterwards.

  4. I havent’ seen any of these…Husband keep trying to get me to see Blue is the Warmest Colour.

    1. Abbi

      Is he a fan of French cinema?

      1. Not specie but he likes dramas. Whereas I prefer comedy.

  5. Well, I stuck The Riot Club on my watchlist, would be interesting to see!

    1. Abbi

      It’s a hard watch. Really brutal. But I liked it. Sam Clafin is so good.

      1. Pretty big reason I will look into it, he’s actually really good.

  6. Hmm – high marks for Pride! Maybe I should have gone to that instead of Life After Beth. I saw Blue Is The Warmest Color a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet but did think it was very good. Nice reviews again! 🙂

    1. Abbi

      If you like feel good British movies with a strong message you’ll love Pride. I already want to watch it again.

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