Here are a few more films or series to consider:
“My Old School” (Hulu and Amazon et al) This is a very clever and unusual documentary about the Brandon Lee scandal of the early 1990’s. I don’t want to give away too much (although the element of surprise isn’t the only interesting aspect), but I think a bit of background is essential for this brief review. The filmmaker was a classmate of Lee’s at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in an upper middle class Glasgow suburb. Former classmates as well as faculty are interviewed and actor Alan Cumming “channels” Lee by mouth-synching his words from a taped interview. It’s very weird but quite intriguing and ultimately rather sad.
“Slow Horses” (HBO) As I’ve mentioned before I’m kind of hapless with spy thrillers, but this one seems fairly easy to understand. It started out a bit gruesome for my tastes, but I ultimately got into it because it’s filmed so well and the character development is actually pretty good. And, well, Kristen Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman plus other exemplary actors–how can it miss?
“Traitors” (Netflix) Don’t confuse this with The Traitors which is some kind of really awful Hunger Games wannabe. It’s yet another spy thriller. But I do pretty much understand what is happening. Good acting, kind of a page turner, and interesting postwar British/American politics.
“The Menu” (HBO) This is the kind of movie that’s almost more fun to discuss than to watch. It seems to operate on several levels: horror, thriller, comedy, bitter social commentary, satire. As you know, Dear Reader, I do not watch horror (or crime) movies that have any semblance of reality–serial killers, torturers, etc. I simply do not have the capacity to process “It’s only a movie”. So, why you might wonder did I watch this one?
- It has absolutely nothing to do with my reality
- I love Ralph Fiennes
- I love bitter social commentaries, especially about over-the-top “gourmet” restaurants.
It’s not really scary, just a lot of cover your eyes disgusto moments. Is it amusing? Yes. Is it brilliant social satire? Not really. It’s a bit heavy handed: director Mark Mylod is competent, but he’s no Bunuel. Plan to eat before screening. Not for the same reason as suggested in the Chef’s Table review–believe me it won’t make you hungry. I want to say so much more, but it would be a spoiler. I look forward to a post-screening discussion, so watch it.
“The Super 8 Years” (Kanopy) Annie Ernaux was the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient. Perhaps you read Ernaux’s book about her attempting to get an abortion in 1960’s France. Happening has been made into a film which I haven’t seen yet, but it is getting critical acclaim. I’ve only read (actually listened to) The Years, another Ernaux “sociological-autobiography”. Her style is dispassionate reportage of her life as reflected in the zeitgeist of the eras she has lived through. As you may discern The Years does not have broad appeal. But I found it quite interesting.The film is a culling of Super 8 footage taken by her ex husband in the last decade of their marriage, from the early 70’s to 1981. The footage is the kind may of us can remember–birthdays of her young sons, holidays, family trips ( the trips were fairly exotic–Morocco, ski trips in the Alps, e.g.) Narrated by Ernaux the product is a time capsule of nostalgia but even the happiest moments are tinged with melancholy. Her husband the filmmaker begins to reflect his distancing from the family in his visual choices.The filming becomes a metaphor for the dissolution of the marriage–objects and landscapes and fewer family images dominate the screen. Again, this movie is not for all tastes. But I do recommend it, especially for those of us of a certain age who may be encouraged to pull out our own Super 8 footage or for you young ‘uns who might find some while rummaging around in the garage.