A one-line spoiler-free review of everything I watched in the cinema in April 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.
Riotsville, USA (2022), Sierra Pettengill – An incredible pure archive footage look at how the US military and police reacted to late 60s civil unrest by – *checks notes* – staging fake riots in fake towns and ignoring the recommendations of the Kerner Commission except for the bit where it said “spend more money on militarised police”. What I liked most about this from a film-making craft point of view was that it would have been easy to soundtrack it with a feelgood Spotify playlist of late 60s freedom and civil rights anthems, but instead Sierra Pettengill has opted for an abrasive abstract electronic score that perfectly complimented how disturbing it was to watch official US government footage of white US soldiers firing teargas at and then dragging away and “arresting” black US soldiers pretending to be rioters.
Letter to Brezhnev (1985), Chris Bernard – I went into this 100% thinking “I haven’t seen this for decades” and came out of it thinking “Oh, maybe I’d never seen it at all, because despite it being absolutely ubiquitous in Smash Hits at the time, I didn’t remember a second of it”. Like when I saw Get Carter last year, at least some of the joy was the way it provides an absolutely brilliant time capsule of the period, hair, make-up, attitudes and all.
One Fine Morning (2022), Mia Hansen-Løve – “Martin, what first attracted you to watching this melancholy French film with Léa Seydoux looking absolutely radiant but sad all the way through?” “I don’t know, but I only lasted forty minutes because by then not a single thing had happened that hadn’t been in the trailer and I was regretting my decision.”
Sick Of Myself (2022), Kristoffer Borgli – I went into this with low expectations because I’d booked it ages ago on the strength of a mini-synopsis, then saw the trailer and was like ‘meh’, and then Peter Bradshaw only gave it two stars but I loved it – howl out loud funny at times, and then with a dangerous-feeling last act where I wasn’t quite sure where it was heading and what the ultimate message was going to be.