Is This Really Suitable For A Fifteen Year Old?

15This week I met up with a friend (regular readers will remember her mega lists and, no, she still hasn’t painted the front door) to have a drink and go to the cinema. It was a chick-flick sort of an evening so we decided to see ‘Trainwreck’.

Trainwreck’ was directed by Judd Appatow, the guy who gave us ‘Bridesmaids’, and ‘This is 40’ (amongst many others) so you know you are in fairly safe hands in terms of a contemporary comedy. It actually was a fun film, it made us laugh and we left the cinema smiling – happy days.

It didn’t prompt me to write a film review but it has made me really think about film censorship and certification. ‘Trainwreck’ was a certificate 15. My teenager would be perfectly within her legal rights to buy a ticket to watch it, and she probably will on a wet afternoon at the fag end of the summer holidays. The thought of her watching it horrifies me as, as far as I am concerned, the adult content of the film is way more suited to an 18 certificate. The language and explicit sexual references come thick and fast (a very apt description), sometimes beyond what is funny and into overkill territory.  Maybe I am being taken over by the aliens of middle age, that could account for a small percent of my opinion, but I think that the relaxation of censorship also has something to do with it.

I was 15 in 1985/86 (* gulp *) and the most popular movies released at that time included ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’, and ‘Top Gun’. All rated 15. I’m guessing that if we indulged in a Netflix 1980’s sesh we would find all three of those pretty tame by today’s standards. Some bad language and a bit of sex maybe but nothing along the lines of the no holds barred content in today’s 15 rated films.

Of course times change and every generation believes those who come after them to be more precocious, street wise, knowledgeable. I am not suggesting that we return to the early days of film classification when, in 1941, the merest hint of Jayne Mansfield’s boobs resulted in director Howard Hughes having to take 37 specific re-shoots before a scene in ‘The Outlaws’ was deemed to be decent. But is there not a happy medium between then and now?

If I was not the parent of relevant aged children I probably wouldn’t give a flying flamingo about the whole issue. Although maybe I would from a rite of passage point of view? Surely most people my age have memories of trying to look old enough to get into AA or X rated films? And what about that delicious sense of triumph when you were actually officially old enough to go and watch films with content previously denied? It was nothing that we didn’t know about already but seeing it on the big screen after the long years of childhood was what it was all about.

I am not some rampant Mary Whitehouse type figure but it seems to be that the ‘Porkys’ and ‘Nine ½ Weeks’ of yesterday today are the ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ of today.

Is it just a generational thing? Am I stuck in the past? What do you think?

Far From the Madding Crowd

PosterDorset is in the grip of ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ fever.  You can take your Cornish coastline and your scything six packs and shove them up a tin mine chimney.  It’s our turn for the spotlight now and we are loving it.  The question on everyone’s lips is “Have you seen FFTMC yet?” so, in order to be able to roll with the Zeitgeist I thought I had better pop off to the cinema to see the film.

Despite being a resident of Casterbridge (albeit fairly recently) I have never read any Thomas Hardy, I didn’t even know the bare bones of the FFTMC story.  The friend I went to see the film with, however, is a mad Hardy fan and has read the book many times so we really were coming at it from totally different directions.

We went to the Dorchester Plaza which is a fantastic local resource and still only charges £3.50 for a Saturday night ticket (£2.50 Monday to Friday – total bargain).  The theatre was full with the chatter of excited Dorset folk waiting to play spot the location, and find the face in the crowd scenes – many locals were recruited as extras. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I didn’t expect to love this film as much as I did.

I was pretty much sold within the first 15 minutes when a tall and handsome Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) strode across the field carrying a new born lamb.  He presented  Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) with the lamb and then asked her to marry him.  Well, if that had been me I would have probably shrieked yes, flung myself at his feet, grabbed the lamb and dragged him off into the sunset.  However, I do appreciate that this would make for a very short story and not much of a feature film.  So, of course, Bathsehba said no and proceeded to juggle the affections of Gabriel and two other suitors along with managing an enormous farm and galloping around the place in a variety of lovely frocks.

Mulligan’s performance was, actually, perfect.  She was sympathetic, believable and of course, beautiful.  Michael Sheen trotted out his signature performance of a likeable loony tune and Tom Sturridge was a magnificent villain as the feckless and cruel Sergeant Francis Troy. The locations were beautiful although we didn’t see as much of Dorset as we thought we would.  The flavour of rural Britain in Victorian times was portrayed in  a palatable way, not too glitzy and not too grim.

A personal tick from me was the music score, I have a pet hate for film scores that jar or overtake the actual film.  The score for this movie is, to my mind, perfect and flows gently like the rolling hills it was written to accompany. At a minute short of two hours I was expecting numb bum syndrome but the time shot past in a flash, we couldn’t believe it was the end and were left wanting more which is by far the best way to leave a cinema.

So – a huge thumbs up for ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’.  It went a long way towards curing my Poldark withdrawal symptoms and satisfied both a Hardy ignoramus and a Hardy expert which was a pretty tall order.  Have you seen the film?  What did you think?

I Wish Life was Like a Disney Movie

Cinderella PosterYesterday we went to see Cinderella at the cinema. This was VERY exciting as all three of us had been waiting for it to be released since we first saw the trailer before Christmas.  I should explain that the Teen, the Tween and I are all huge Disney fans – me probably the most out of all of us. I spent my childhood dreaming of visiting Disneyland but my parents had other ideas; all family holidays were spent either lurching around the English Channel in a small boat or traipsing round endless French vineyards watching grown-ups taste wine. Of course now that I am (apparently) a grown up myself I can appreciate their holiday choices but at the time all I wanted in was Mickey and Minnie. By the time I actually made it to Disneyland I was 29 years old and every time I set eyes on the great Mouse himself I had some sort of weird Pavlovian reaction where I just burst into tears. Happy tears, but tears nonetheless. It was pretty embarrassing, especially as I was on a work trip not a holiday.

Clover Cinders2Anyway, I’ve transferred my Disney-love to my children and they have grown up knowing all the classic films and the new releases, and even now we all sit down to watch a new Disney Channel flick as soon as it is aired (what’s not to love about Teen Beach Movie…?!). The original Cinderella is a particular favourite, especially with Clover who spent a good eight months wearing nothing but her blue Cinderella costume when she was about three years old.

So it was with high expectations that we took our seats for Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of the fairy tale. You’ve probably guessed by now that we were never going to be the most critical audience but, even so, we really did love the film. Lily James took to title role beautifully, her Cinderella had a fragile breathiness that belied the actual long-suffering grit of the character. Cate Blanchett was quite magnificent as the evil step mother and her portrayal was sufficiently dignified to avoid veering into panto ‘baddie’ territory. Richard Madden was, of course, a super handsome Prince Charming but (and maybe this is my age) it was his father the King, played by the wonderful Derek Jacobi who stole my heart. The theme of loss and grief is quite strong in the film with no less than three bereavements (we cried at each one) but the tone is lightened by the not-so-ugly sisters Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera and a short but sweet cameo from Rob Brydon. I can’t finish this role call without giving due credit to the magnificent Helena Bonham-Carter who was exactly the Fairy Godmother I would like next time I’m down on my uppers please. Old favourites from the animated version were present in Gus-Gus the mouse and Lucifer the malevolent moggy, and there were also some cute nods to the original such as the little bluebirds circling overhead. The whole film was both rich and faded in colour and at times the CGI made it seem almost like an animation itself, all this added to the magic and drew us in totally to the make believe world where geese can drive carriages and shoes are made of glass. By the time we had reached the happy ever after scene we were so immersed that it was almost a shock when the credits rolled – like waking from an amazing dream and feeling disappointed that it wasn’t real life. I think that sums up my love of all things Disney – I wish it was real life. I want to live in a world where teeth are white and hair is shiny, good prevails over evil and the mean girls always get their comeuppance. Most of all I want to be swept off my feet by a handsome hero so that we can gallop off into the sunset to find our own happily ever after. Is that too much to ask?

Mills and Minnie2