In the past week I’ve journeyed twice to my local independent cinema, the outstanding Tyneside cinema. Firstly, if you live in Newcastle I’d implore you to start going to this venue more often. If the wonderful decor, deep, cushioned seats and charming staff aren’t enough to persuade you, the adjoining Tyneside Café’s array of delicious food should.
The kind of experience you get here leaves you questioning why you ever set foot into a generic, sticky-floored multiplex of doom that dot our high streets.
That’s my plug over.
So anyway in the past week I’ve been to see two of the films that are battling it out for Oscars this season. Based on the performances that I saw, I understand why. Thought provoking and engrossing, these films left me pondering some profound questions.
The first film was Wild. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon in perhaps the performance of a career. Vallée was the director of the Oscar winning film Dallas Buyers Club, which as we know started Matthew McConnaughey – we know how his career has gone since that.
I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, but Wild is about grief, redemption and the anger that the loss of a loved one can cause. Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed – whose memoir this film is based upon – is one of a woman completely lost. I think one of the best things a film can elicit from a person is when it makes you contemplate your own emotions and fears. As the credits rolled I was forced to contemplate the inevitable feelings I am going to have to face when my parents die. Needless to say I walked away quite upset.
Hopefully you can go and see this terrific film, if anything to see Reese Witherspoon’s fantastic performance, or at least to enjoy the beautifully shot landscapes and hear the memorable soundtrack.
The second film I saw was Whiplash. First of all, wow. It’s a punishing film to sit through. The very tight style in which this film is shot, and the throbbing nature of the soundtrack trap you into the very intense experience that viewing this film is. I happened to see this in the smallest screen (Roxy) the Tyneside has to offer, which only increased the atmosphere.
J.K. Simmons seems a dead cert for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar – surely deserved. His performance is a brutal one. As a teacher he is more Gunnery Sergeant Hartman than anything. Some of the expletive filled (and brilliant I might add) rants that pepper his performance both induce laughter and horror.
It won’t matter if you are a fan or not of jazz or drumming in particular as this isn’t a film about either. It’s a film about how far one is willing to push, and be pushed in the pursuit of ‘greatness’. It makes you wonder at what point does the end stop justifying the means.
There are some exceptional films on release at the moment, it’s amazing that we’re only one month into the new year.
In the next week I’d like to try and see the much hyped Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year and perhaps Birdman. Fingers crossed.