A one-line spoiler-free review of everything I watched in the cinema in January 2024

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.

The Boy and the Heron (2023), Hayao Miyazaki – I hadn’t read anything about this or seen the trailers so I was expecting it to be about a lonely boy in rural Japan who befriends a heron and it was … very much not that. Felt like it switched to being an entirely different movie nearly every fifteen minutes. Not sure I liked it.

The Boy and the Heron

Heart of Glass (1976), Werner Herzog – I didn’t really like this either, finding a lot of it seemed to be obtusely weird just for the sake of being weird.

Josef Bierbichler in Heart of Glass

Under The Skin (2013), Jonathan Glazer – This also didn’t please me much, either. Maybe my movie picking methodology is flawed. I can see the point it was trying to make and the way it neatly does a gender-reverse on serial killing and on The Man Who Fell to Earth, but it took an awful long time to wind up to it. Yes, it is clever that you’ve got candid footage of Scarlett Johansson cruising randoms in a van in Glasgow, but is it a thirty monotonous minutes worth of people giving her directions to the M8 clever?

Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin

Queen Rock Montreal (2007), Saul Swimmer – Not flashily directed, but remastered 1981 concert footage from The Game tour, so a rockier Queen than the Hot Space/The Works 80s pop phase that was to follow. Some incredible crowd shots where very occasionally you could spot a person who has been captured for posterity being bored by a Queen concert their partner has dragged them to.

Freddie Mercury in Queen Rocks Montreal

The Zone of Interest (2023), Jonathan Glazer – I can see why it has won praise but in a sense the premise is the film, and there isn’t much more to it than that? I’m not sure we learnt anything – genocide needs logistics, and the people doing the logistics probably fish and have kids and might have an ambitious wife, and lots of people knew about the Holocaust and either actively or passively participated, but didn’t we know all that already? Should I care that Hedwig Höss lost her lovely garden?

A pullback view of the family garden in The Zone of Interest showing the Auschwitz extermination camp in the background

The End We Start From (2023), Mahalia Belo – A rollercoaster this one as I initially didn’t care for it, then got caught up in the world building, then felt the fourth wall was broken by the conspicuous Benedict Cumberbatch cameo, then got back into it, then the end annoyed me. What a weird month of cinema watching this has been.

Jodie Comer in The End We Start From