Total Ticket Outlay (on 22 British feature films released in 2009) – £97.72.5
A bumper week this one. Can’t remember the last time, if ever, that I went to the cinema four times in one week. Had to start with two trips to the Phoenix on a Monday. By 6pm I had seen two films and the rest of the evening was still stretching ahead. Strange. Nice.
The afternoon 1pm screenings are cheap and seem to be dominated by an older audience, almost as if they have come on a coach trip, but probably lured out of their homes individually by the cut prices. Is Anybody There? is not comforting subject matter for people in their 50s and 60s, the dominant age groups in the screening. They are likely to be experiencing the problems of looking after elderly parents and options such as care homes. A retirement or care home is a sad backdrop to the film’s generational gap drama that proves to be a downer. Do the lucky ones die at home away from these waiting rooms for the befuddled and dependent? Michael Caine really gives it everything he has and the relationship with the young lad played by Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) is convincingly touching. It feels British through and through, and I was really surprised that it didn’t get wider distribution – but then outside of the reduced prices of the cosy arts cinema scene the multiplexes are dominated by youth and families. Will my wrongly titled ticket be worth anything in the future?
Is Anybody There?
In contrast to Is Anybody There? I didn’t leave with any strong feelings about Cheri. I found Stephen Frears’s voiceover a bit wierd. It seemed incredibly out-of-keeping with the period and subjectivity of the film. I think the cool reception to the film is that it doen’t seem to have any great resonance at this time. It seems quite a strange choice of subject and no Dangerous Liaisons. Safe Liaisons?
Out of the art cinema and back into the multiplex to complete the week’s shows. And what contrasting experiences. Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric is one of my highlights of watching new British films this year. It has a great ensemble feel, and if you want to cut through the collective action propaganda, you can do, but the ‘Operation Cantona’ sequence is a real joy. In the middle it threatens to go into dark Loachian territory – familiar, but not predictable, and ultimately uplifting. The mythology of Cantona is enhanced rather than deconstructed, like a ghostly Robin Hood.
Looking For Eric
Equally wonderful, but in a very different way was the reaction provoked by watching Doghouse at the Cinema de Lux in Leicester. I wasn’t sure whether it was completely offensive or a staggering work of post-feminist genius. Among the recent laddish horror films such as Lesbian Vampire Killers it has the most chance of attracting a cult following. We just need to decide whether we are laughing with it or at it.
Can you hear her calling, from within the house?
If you would stop barking, she might let you out
At last she opens the back gate, you’re released, you’re now free to
You’ve been waiting for this moment for sometime and now you must
Into the fields where there is laughter, there is peace and you’re
Try to hold on now before she calls you home!
You’re in the doghouse
‘Cause you’re just a dog!
(‘Doghouse’, No Doubt)