A one-line spoiler-free review of everything I watched in the cinema in October and November 2023
I’ve never really been a movies person, they last too long and I always want the bar/toilet after 20 minutes like at a gig, which stresses me out. But I got myself a BFI and a Picturehouse membership and once a week I try to find the weirdest most ‘Martin’ thing to watch somewhere. But I’ve treated it like watching TV/gigs/football rather than a sacred art event. Boring? I’ll leave. Need a wee or a drink? Go do that. Occasionally you miss the vital two minutes of a movie but then so what? There’s another one next week. It’s been brilliant.
Stop Making Sense (1984), Jonathan Demme – Often cited as the greatest concert movie of all time, Stop Making Sense captures Talking Heads at the peak of their powers, incredible songs, amazing choreography and performance, and was great to watch on a big screen. *whispers* I had forgotten that it really tails off into fifteen minutes of introduce-the-band-multiple-solos-muso-wank for the last two songs after Girlfriend Is Better *sorry but it is true*
Past Lives (2023), Celine Song – This was profoundly beautiful, deeply sad and meaningful, and I cried and cried and cried all the way through, for all of them.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (2023), Sam Wrench – My daughter has tickets to actually see the Eras tour in person next year and has said I am not to give her any spoilers so that is the entire review.
Doctor Who: The Star Beast (2023), Rachel Talalay – I got to go to Battersea Power Station for the press preview of this on the big screen because I am a spod that writes for the newspapers. My episode recap for the Guardian is here.
Night of the Demon (1957), Jacques Tourneur – I’d not seen this before, but it is based on an M R James ghost story and as it went on I was like “Ah-ha, I remember the mechanism of this one”. Often when I’m watching movies like this I’m listening out for little snippets of dialgoue or clips that could end up in m-orchestra productions, and at one point a character says “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!” and it is always nice to realise you are not alone.
Bottoms (2023), Emma Seligman – God I absolutely loved this, it was howl-out-loud funny. See it.
The Innocents (1961), Jack Clayton – This is beautifully lit and shot and well regraded and has some incredibly dark – for the time – undertones of child sex abuse and infant incest, but a big long dull chunk at the beginning seemed quite unengaging and stilted to me, and I never quite got over that and into it.
The Time Machine (1960), George Pal – I love the production design and the philosophical discussions about time and the actual time travel sequence that makes up the first 45 minutes of this movie. It is so much better than the quite slight Eloi/Morlocks adventure with its not-entirely-subtle “but oh the horror if beautiful blonde white people were being bred like cattle and whipped by slave-masters” sub-text in the middle of it. But I went to the cinema after going to the dentist and my main takeaway was don’t go to the cinema after you’ve just had a tooth pulled out.
The Eternal Daughter (2022), Joanna Hogg – Anything that is essentially 92% Tilda Swinton screentime is always going to be compelling but I found this harrowing and mystifying and moving and perplexing in equal measure, it felt like it was shot so there was always something shadowy drawing your eye to the edge of the screen, and it had a brilliant dog in it.