RR Films: Inspired By or About Films

As the Awards season gathers momentum and presidential hangers-on, the (English-speaking) film world yet again celebrates itself by gushing over – and, in Emma Stone’s case, going googly-eyed about – La La Land. I haven’t seen it yet but I can’t help feeling it’s The Artist all over again…..

There are scores of films about the movie business, from Sunset Boulevard to the last Coen Brothers flim-flam, Hail, Caesar. I rather liked the believable insanity of 2014’s Maps To The Stars:

What films about films and the film business would you recommend?

RR Films: Independence

The Office of Congressional Ethics – whose job it is to examine tales of corrupt members of the US House of Representatives – is was about to lose its independence and come under the control of those it should be investigating, until that beacon of public probity, Donald Trump, twittered about it. How comforting that must be would have been for the would-be swamp drainers: out of sight, out of mind…..

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe there are some things that must remain independent, starting with the judiciary and complaints processes. And young women, like Star in American Honey, one of my favourite recent films:

What films about independence would you recommend?

RR Films: Leaving

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Far too many poor players have left the stage this year and, although we may tell their tales like babbling idiots, their legacies did signify something. But, no matter how appropriate, I can’t end the year with Death as the topic, can I?

Leaving keeps the door open for some gentler stories and also the possibility of a comeback….so I’ll kick off with Room, a film showing the opposite of the usual journey, leaving a sort of death and (re-)joining life.

What films about leaving would you recommend?

Oh, and let’s all hope more of the good ones stick around a while longer next year….

RR Films: Christmas

Someone wiser and wittier than me recently described 2016 as the nightmare before Christmas, so let’s have some cheer (of the festive kind) for once: films about/set at/celebrating/avoiding/suffering from Christmas.

I’ll kick off with one starring one of my favourite character actors of all time, Alastair Sim, in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. I like the colorized version produced in 1989; we all need a bit more colour and/or color in our lives, I feel.

Merry Christmas (or your equivalent thereof), one and all!

What Christmassy films would you recommend?

RR Films: Forgiveness

This is an attempt to stave off yet another wave of weltschmerz, as the Syrian army and its murderous allies wreak revenge and the Donald puts his last old white man (and friend of Vlad) in place…

At the risk of sounding like an old hippy, we don’t half need some forgiveness and understanding at the moment and, despite it being the traditional time of year for that sort of thing, it doesn’t look like any is on the horizon. Much could be learnt from Adi Rukun, the quiet hero of The Look of Silence, who tries to find the humanity in those responsible for his brother’s – and about a million other Indonesians’ – death.

What films about forgiveness would you recommend in these dreadful days?

RR Films*: Historical Figures

Regarded as both a hero and a villain, Fidel Castro has now moved into the realms of history, where filmmakers can interpret his actions in whatever light suits their politics. The two-part film about Che covered much of Fidel’s revolutionary history well, but in a rather respectful manner, so let’s see what they do with Fidel.

There are many, many films about historical figures, of variable quality and veracity. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as Lincoln, seemed well real……

What films about historical figures would you recommend?

*Shoey’s ad hoc comment on RR last week stung. He’s right: I go to see films, not movies.

RR Movies: Ambition

Maybe if you don’t go into a negotiation wanting to both have your cake and it eat, you’re setting your sights too low, but there are some difficult situations – in a divorce, for example – where that would seem a rather ambitious approach…

But this allows me to make ambition the theme this week and suggest a film that shows both how effective it can be (if you’re female) and also how pointless (if you’re Caden Cotard). That’s a sort-of cake-and-eat-y thing, no? Synecdoche, New York is a film I recommend to people, expecting most of them to complain how depressing it is. Enough also appreciate its genius.

What films about ambition would you recommend?