In spite of extraordinary performances from Jamie Bell and Anette Benning, we didn’t like the Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool much, so the discussion ranges from the why of this to who Gloria Grahame was, film noir, why so many fading film stars marry gay men, and what it’s like to watch films at the Electric Cinema.
Paddington 2 wins us over in the end. We found it accomplished, lovely to look at, and with Brendan Gleeson and Hugh Grant giving career-best performances. The film sent us home on a high with a final, gloriously campy musical number that has Grant tapping down a staircase à la Stairway to Paradise to delight his captive audience in borstal (think pink!).
The beginning of the filkm irritated both of us: Its cosy, idealised version of England as a large, racially inclusive community of upper middle-class toffs with clipped accents and impeccable manners; its view of London neighbourhoods as small villages where everyone knows each other; the way all of it seems encased in the same cloud of amber-tinted nostalgia so familiar from Ms Marple films — perhaps it’s depicting the way we would all like it to be and perhaps it’s asking us to measure the distance between what we see and what we know. But it veered dangerously close to sap-land and brought out the ornery in me. This feeling disappeared once the film tossed in some acidity to brighten up proceedings.
We discuss the film’s glorious visuals, with various styles of animation seamlessly incorporated into the film’s clear but complex storytelling; the similarity to Wes Anderson; we diss Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent. It’s not as perfect as everyone seems to say — offering us plenty of scope to criticise — but we both left the cinema in admiration and in a cloud of good feeling. A feel-good, Brexit Paddington (and negotiations would be going much better with him at the helm). Mike mentions the word masterpiece.
Brooklyn is funny and charming, with great delicacy of tone, a marvellously restrained performance from Saoirse Ronan and a great comic turn from Julie Walters. I found it quite touching though the last half-hour dragged a bit. I do think it worth seeing on a big screen as much of what matters is in the details and it doesn’t have enough plot or incident to properly propulse it though a small screen. From some angles, Ronan’s eyes look aqua-green and seem to indicate she possesses all the secrets of existence but won’t tell them you just now.