Monday, 23 January 2012

Great cinema is antidote to miserable January

I think it’s fair to say that the middle of January is not traditionally known as one of the best loved parts of the calendar.

The Christmas festivities have long since gone – as sadly for some have their new year’s resolutions – the weather is invariably pretty grim and the bills for the aforementioned yuletide celebrations are now hitting the mat.

With a heavy clunk.

Clearly therefore this time of the year does have something of an image problem.

However, there is one area of life where January really is a fantastic month – and that is in the cinema where the film world traditionally releases a glut of great movies.

The reason for this has nothing to do with those charming people at film studios trying to put smiles on our miserable January faces and everything to do with the fact that we are now in the awards season. As such it is vital for BAFTAs, Oscars et al to have the big films showing at this time to capture the imagination of those who hand out the gongs.
So, this week I have been to see two of the much hyped new releases which have set the year off to such a fine start for filmgoers and it was pleasing to see that both had significant local connections.

First up on Saturday I went to see Steven Spielberg’s latest epic, War Horse. I’m a big fan of Mr Spielberg. and although I don’t think this is quite the masterpiece others have claimed, it certainly has many things to recommend it – not least the many scenes featuring the lovely Wiltshire village of Castle Combe.

This village has always been a genuine local gem and to see it used so well on the screen was a joy. It may also be a joy for local people to play ‘spot the face’ too because as you will have seen in the Chronicle previously, dozens of local people were involved as extras. I personally was thrilled to see a friend of my daughter’s on a couple of occasions which meant she actually had more screen time than some of the horses.

For an entirely different experience, on Tuesday night I joined two colleagues at the Little Theatre to watch the bio-pic of Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady.

Between the three of us we covered a wide spectrum of opinion about Mrs T but I would urge everyone (whether they think she was the greatest Prime Minister of our time or the worst) to go and see this movie, not least for the extraordinary way Meryl Streep portrays the title role.

It’s a political movie at times of course but it’s actually more of a film about a woman in her latter years suffering from dementia and reflecting on her life – a life that just happened to involve running a country for over a decade. And the local link? Look out for Anthony Head who is a superb Geoffrey Howe, bringing out the inner turmoil of this quiet ex-chancellor.

Two top films down already then – and I’ve still got the fun of catching movies like The Artist and The Decendants to come soon too.

So if January is getting you down then the message is simple. Get out, buy a cinema ticket and then say a hearty thank you for the fact that this is the film awards season.

  • Footnote - since I wrote this peice I have indeed had  a chance to add The Artist to my January entertainment salvation. It's funny, genuinely original, bright, breezy and full of life. Rather like The War Horse I am not 100 per cnet convinced it yet deserves 'masterpiece' status as some have suggested but it is still a fine piece of work. And the dog in it is truly AMAZING.     

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