Sunday, 6 January 2013

Reviews of things

Right, new year, new ideas!

I want to make this a bigger blog. So, I'm going to start sharing some things that I enjoy in the hope that I can spread that enjoyment around a bit.  I'm starting with films.
Beautiful film, beautiful poster
Would you like to know more?

The first film that I want to share is Pleasantville. I'm not sure how well known it actually is, so a quick synopsis: brother and sister with impossibly different personalities, quirks and lives are sucked into a TV and trapped in a 1950s world with improbable sets and lifestyles. The opening is a bit... tired and trite. It tries too hard to set itself up as a modern life at the beginning and this really dates the film but, and this is the thing, the actual plot and the storyline are timeless.

There is a beauty to the way in which the film sets up the central conceit about the introduction of colour into a black and white world and the lives of the characters we meet. It all seems so real and reasonable at all points. I confess that I fell in love with the progression and development of the central male, along with his romance with a girl from the reality, and the central female, from horrid airhead to nerdy University student. In both cases they were played straight and effectively. But the real beauty of this film lies in the allusions it draws between 1950s Small Town USA and the state of Europe in the 1930s. I don't know if this was deliberate, but it works for me. The burning of books, the young hoods who are oh-so-respectable but essentially the HJ and the opposition mural on the side of the diner... beautiful. Whenever I watch it I end up with a lump in my throat at that point.

There's also the complete lost nature of the father, the way in which he loses his way and ends up instituting an effective dictatorship, smothering all that makes his family happy, without even realising what he's done. In the latter scenes, his sense of not knowing where to go, his lost feeling in the world that is opening up around him and the realisation of what he did, and his inability to work out how to make things better, is the most bittersweet thing I've ever seen. It is sad, and lovely, and happy all at once. I feel for him.

The umbrella scenes cover a multitude of sins, along with the huddled outsiders in the diner debating what to do about the rules of the town that have been published. Their struggle, their debate, has a timeless quality to it that can just as easily be applied to the situation in Gaza 2012 as it can to the 1930s in Germany or the 1860s in Paris. If you have not seen this I imagine it's cheaper to buy or download now, legally, than it is to buy a packet of nachos and dip to watch it with. It's worth that. It's worth more.


  1. The two things I love about Pleasantville are the scene in the bowling alley:

    and how the whole film turns into something completely different around halfway through, on one line from a minor character about Tobey MacGuire's 'coloured' girlfriend. Completely different film ensues...

    1. I had forgotten the alley stuff. Classic. And yes, that was the line that made me sit up and pay attention too. That and the youths in the car. It was... Creepy?