March, as with February, was a reasonably busy month for films, with five fairly good movies.
First up, The Grand Budapest Hotel is precisely and obviously a Wes Anderson movie. It has all the elements of his signature look and feel: the wide framing, the grand shots, the pastel colours, the awkward dialogue, the quirkiness. It’s all there. The story itself centres on the life of a young man who finds love and a mentor and has to fight for both, but is told with all of Anderson’s dry silliness. It’s fair to say that if you like his other films you will like this. I am an Anderson fan, so I’d say this is a lovely film. (See my The Grand Budapest Hotel Twitter review).
The Zero Theorem, meanwhile, is precisely and obviously a Terry Gilliam film. Weird, bordering on surreal, characters inhabiting a bizarre, but not entirely unfamiliar, world. Christoph Waltz is great as the lead, an obsessive recluse searching for an answer to a macguffin of a problem. The whole film is a strange look at hiding away rather than embracing society, and the effects that might have on a mind. It’s not the easiest film, but it is fun. Good. (See my The Zero Theorem Twitter review).
Under the Skin is an alien movie. I don’t merely mean that the lead is an antagonist (played by Scarlet Johansson) sent to lure men to their doom in the manner of many b-movies; no, it’s keen to impress upon the audience a very alien, detached view of the world. After the initial laughs provided by the candid shots around Glasgow subside, we’re left with a stark and difficult to grasp film about the main character’s first glimpses of emotion. At times, utterly devoid of something comprehensible for the audience to get behind and at others so painfully at odds with their views (the beach scene with the young child is devastating), this is an interesting movie but hard to say that it is enjoyable. Worth seeing, if you have tough skin. (See my Under the Skin Twitter review).
British prison movie, Starred Up, is an unflinching look at the criminal justice system in the UK. Told from the point of view of a young man raised under harsh conditions, his arrival in the same prison as his father is as sad as it is inevitable. As he starts to be able to cope with the anger he has, the system keeps dragging him further in. Dark, brutal, and maybe a little heavy-handed at times, this is definitely worth a watch. (See my Starred Up Twitter review).
Finally, Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves itself to be one of the best blockbuster action films in years. It manages to effortlessly handle the world-building, character progression and plot (albeit a light one), while integrating some fantastic set pieces. It’s big, without being sprawling, and fun without being silly. While the Apple advert jammed in the middle jars quite badly, the rest is a great mix of action and adventure. It’s not as epic as The Avengers movie, but is probably a better movie for it. Very good. (See my Captain America: The Winter Solider Twitter review).
It’s another difficult month to pick a winner, especially given they all do very different things. I think I’ll go for The Grand Budapest Hotel, as the film most likely to stand the test of time.