As mentioned in my previous post (which wasn’t really much of a post), I’m experiencing quite a bit of writer’s block at the moment where I can’t seem to write more than about a paragraph at a time. I’m not sure if it’s all the reports I have to write at work sucking the words out of my brain, or if I’m slowly turning illiterate over time, but it’s not cool.
In any case, I wanted to write something new today – so here are some short reflections on two films I really, really enjoyed watching on airplanes going to and from London. This post could be considered a direct contrast to the films I had to stop watching on the airplane because they were disappointing and bad. But it’s important to note that I did actually pick some good ones during my time in the air, and I’m happy to be able to celebrate them today.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015, dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. (source)
I wasn’t surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It has that Sundance-y, independent-feeling vibe that I generally enjoy, a sharp sense of humour which isn’t afraid to push some quite sensitive boundaries, an interesting insight into ‘the high school experience’, and gorgeously quirky visuals that are a feast for the eye to behold. The tone of the film is very teenager-like and sarcastic, but this is balanced towards the end where there is a huge amount of emotional depth. This is another one of those films which you perhaps shouldn’t watch on an airplane because you will probably cry within the immediate vicinity of many strangers. But at the same time, it’s worth it for the lovely performances by Olivia Cooke and Thomas Mann, as well as RJ Cyler, whose performance as Earl was almost scene-stealing most of the time. Plus you get a surprise Nick Offerman, which is always nice. Some viewers may find Me and Earl and the Dying Girl painfully self-aware; which it is, as a direct result of having a pseudo-intellectual adolescent as both the main character and narrator (high schooler Greg, the ‘Me’ in the film’s title) guiding the story. This film knows exactly what it’s doing to your feelings, mostly in part due to its manipulative narrator. But despite being deeply sad towards the end, the film overall is a fun journey. Highlights include the weird, surreal waking dream moments, the random Claymation, and the film parodies which almost serve as a film buff’s guessing game.
Watch the trailer here.
The Imitation Game (2014, dir. Morten Tyldum)
During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians. (source)
Have you ever been watching a film and felt somehow forced to press the pause button to tell the people around you how much you love and adore it? This was my experience with The Imitation Game. I think I paused it at least three times to turn to my partner on the plane and say, “This film is so good”, or, “I can’t believe how amazing this film is”. I love Benedict Cumberbatch, so I may have been destined to enjoy this no matter what. But I was so impressed by his performance as Alan Turing, and I continue to be impressed by Cumberbatch’s general ability to transform himself into another person like some kind of supernatural acting chameleon. I normally find Keira Knightley’s performances slightly frustrating, but she was endearing and sweet in this. The film also features Charles Dance, who I adore in everything he does. The directing and music is top notch, and the cinematography was so awesome that I know I’ll have to do a photo post on it at some time; the shotmaking and construction of each frame feels mechanical or mathematical in its precision, which is a beautiful fusion of the film’s narrative content and aesthetics. The build-up of tension is also quite perfect. If you know the Turing story, you know that the film is destined to be heartbreaking, and it is. But the authenticity of Cumberbatch’s performance shines through the bleakness of the film’s ending, and calls attention to some serious injustices of the past.
Watch the trailer here.