The Ministry was obliged to go away for a few days recently For Business Purposes. I took the opportunity to watch a few things I was pretty sure he wouldn’t care about missing.
- Sleeping Beauty (2011)
It’s not a game.
And it ain’t Disney.
It’s the “story of a young girl’s strange erotic journey”… hang on, that’s Seinfeld.
Australian novelist Julia Leigh directed this, and I guess the words “Jane Campion presents” on the cover offer a clue as to what you’ve got yourself into.
Lucy is a uni student holding down three jobs – waitress, photocopy clerk and laboratory test subject – when she takes another: a silver service waitress who works in lingerie, a novice among girls with other unexplained “responsibilities”.
She accepts a promotion: drink a tea and sleep like the dead in bed next to male clients, who have paid to do anything they like with her. Except penetrate her.
What follows is a singular tale, both nasty and beautiful, with a minimal soundtrack and some profoundly uncomfortable scenes.
There is an odd repetitive patterning to Lucy’s rotation between jobs, and a repetition of concepts as well: penetration and violation pop up in all forms.
So do intimacy and detachment; not only represented by what happens in the bed of that country manor, but in scenes such as the one in which a shopkeeper is so mesmerised by Lucy’s image on a security screen that he does not notice she is behind him, trying to attract his attention.
Definitely arthouse, so choose your movie buddy wisely. Many an online review called it boring, but I found plenty of food for thought, and was not bored. I found the whole thing a rather intense experience that ratcheted up the suspense on its way to a conclusion I did not once guess at.
- Toast (2010)
No matter how bad things get, it’s impossible not to love someone who made you toast.
This is a trip through 60s Britain, a time famous for the tinned vegetables. It is a biographical story of the youth of now-celebrated chef and food writer Nigel Slater.
It’s nostalgic, has pretty colours and a random appearance by Helena Bonham Carter and tickles you with Nigel’s mum’s reliance on the aforementioned tinned veg (and of course, when all else fails, toast).
” Ah, lashings of toast. Me favourite,” as Lockie Leonard’s little brother, Phillip, would say.
On the con side, there’s a lot of completely unexpected plot that kicks you in the guts. I didn’t know too much about Nigel Slater’s back story and consequently didn’t clock that I’d be weeping into my mending (I really was mending. I said it was ladies’ night) for so much of the film.
I wouldn’t really recommend this unless you’re a die-hard Nigel Slater fan, which I am. There’s nothing much wrong with it, but there’s nothing special either. I think IMDB’s 6.5 a touch generous.
- Jane Eyre (2011)
All governesses have a tale of woe. What’s yours?
I’d been looking forward to watching this for yonks. Read the book twice, once as a child, and once a few years ago, and have always loved its plain-talking heroine and spooky premise.
Happily, Mia Wasikowska was hands-down perfect for the role, disconcertingly shifting from plain and stark to weirdly sexy within moments.
The structure, starting with Jane collapsing on the moor after fleeing Thornfield Hall and moving back and forth from there, preserves the mystery for as long as possible.
The script captures the nuance and fire of the fiery dialogue between Jane and Mr Rochester, in all its awkwardness and insight.
Horror overtones and a sense of repressed sexuality pervade the film, enhanced by a muted colour scheme and truly exquisite score.
Mrs Rochester, when she eventually appeared, was disappointingly pretty, but apart from that, everything was satisfyingly bleak and unadorned.
I was very happy with this adaptation.