Cinema Shows Week 9: Better Things, 27th February 2009, Phoenix, Leicester

  • British Feature Films (Fiction) Released in 2009 – 10
  • British Fictional Feature Films (Released in 2009) Watched in the Cinema  in 2009- 5
  • Ticket Outlay £18.47.5  (on British feature films released in 2009)
  • At the Phoenix again to see the British feature debut of Duane Hopkins, Better Things, not too tardy after its general release on 23rd January. Had to dash to make this for a 4pm screening. You would expect poor attendence at such a time for such a film, but the audience was doubled by a group of 20, initially giggly sixth formers. I wondered why the teacher had brought them. Was it for the artiness of treatment or  for  the subject matter of young love and drugs? Perhaps the combination.

    better_things-ticket

    I found it a dreamy and drifty experience, which I think was intentional. At times I was dragged along and enthralled by the ensemble of drugged-up youngsters cross-cut with bewildered old folks. At other times I was distanced. I was finding it difficult to physically differentate between the young characters, but I was struck by the inertia and entropy of the young and old reaching out for something unspoken to make it alright.

    better-things_hands1 better-things_hands2

    And then we overcome our own stasis and return to the (fading) light.

    When you feel lost and about to give up (to give up)
    Cause your life just ain’t good enough (just ain’t good enough)
    And your feel the world has grown cold (has grown cold)
    And your drifting out all on your own (drifting out on your own)
    And you need a hand to hold, darlin
    Reach out come on girl reach out for me
    Reach out reach out for me
    I’ll be there to love and comfort you
    And I’ll be there to cherish and care for you
    (‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’, The Four Tops)

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    One Response to “Cinema Shows Week 9: Better Things, 27th February 2009, Phoenix, Leicester”

    1. Steve Bennison Says:

      I took some of my my A Level Film Studies students to Watershed in Bristol for a screening of Better Things, followed by a Q&A talk by the producer. As you guessed, I chose it partly for the young love & drugs, partly for the artiness of the treatment, but also for the rural setting & as an example of low-budget British cinema. They’d read the Sight & Sound article about it, so knew what they were in for & only half decided to come, but they weren’t giggly & were all properly moved by the film, some very much so. When it comes out on DVD, I’ll definitely add it to my A Level course. The talk by the producer was excellent, a fascinating combination of sincere commitment & pragmatic production details. I’m vaguely uneasy about the absence of any social & cultural context in the film -the producer insisted that it’s about the “universal” experience of love etc, as your Four Tops quote suggests- but I found it deeply moving to watch. Reminded me (like it’s reminded most reviewers) of Ratcatcher & the Bill Douglas trilogy.

      Steve Bennison, Bridgwater College Somerset

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