Posts Tagged ‘Peckham Multiplex’

Brooklyn, Peckham Multiplex 15 November

November 16, 2015



At the end of this showing, a rather full cinema broke into genuine and sustained applause, which is a rare thing indeed.  I think that was because it was a film for grown-ups dealing with grown-up themes, in spite of the extreme youth of the heroine and of the actress playing her.

The action followed the plot of Colm Toibin’s novel quite faithfully, with some understandable simplifications.  It seemed that Father Flood had been turned into a figure of straightforward benevolence, and indeed Colm Toibin’s representative in the film, since I had more than once heard Toibin praising Saoirse Ronan with paternal pride.  Different ways of relating to the symbolic sea seemed to have been abandoned, in favour of Saoirse doing with her face what takes me thirty pages, while there were some advert-y moments like Eilis exiting the immigration shed into a screenful of light.

But it was good to see a film about nice, decent people, and indeed nice, decent, lower-middle-class people…

Bypass, Peckham Multiplex 15 April

April 15, 2015



There were three diverting moments in this film.  To start off with, the manager declined to recognise it as a film he was showing and had to get out a flyer to check that it was indeed on.  Then, since the film started immediately and with no brightly-lit scenes, all three of us in the audience had a fun time trying to find a place to live in total darkness.  The third one came at the end of the film….

In theory the protagonist Tim went through a hundred minutes of misery (his father had already deserted the family) as his brother was banged up, his mother died of cancer, his attempts to make a living through petty crime fell further and further short, his sister skipped school and fell into bad company, his girlfriend fell pregnant when he didn’t want to be a dad, and he persisted in robbing houses while developing meningitis (bad move that one)…

But I was baffled more than anything because while the action was supposed to be set in Gateshead, the characters acted and sounded like would-be hard men and other inhabitants from a council estate in Oxfordshire (which is the background of director Duane Hopkins I think).  You could tell it actually was filmed in Gateshead because you enjoyed some views from the south bank of the Tyne and learned about the family’s history as steelworkers and would-be footballers.  More convincingly, it had to be Tyneside because all the colour was washed-out, as in I am Nasrine.

Leaving aside the facts that the characters were actor-beautiful and well-spoken, and that their material conditions of life looked rather comfortable, I was disappointed to be deprived of a spiritual return to the North-East.  But nostalgia was satisfied with a fine display of the cliches of 1970s Soviet cinematography, especially the departed beckoning meaningfully from behind net curtains at the edge of the screen or striding off silently into the distance, depending on gender.  In fact, the scene at the end where Tim decided not to die in Intensive Care but instead to witness the birth of his child was rather good, and would have been more effective if we’d been allowed some saturated colour for contrast as at the end of Andrei Rublev.


The Iron Lady, Peckhamplex 07 January

January 8, 2012


That looks like an American woman's gesture...

The first thing to say is that if you see this at Peckhamplex Screen 2 then it’s better to sit at the back:  there’s a defect or pimple in the middle of the screen that can be distracting if you can see it.

As everyone knows, the film follows the daily routine of an elderly, widowed Thatcher succumbing to dementia.  At the beginning she escapes from her minders to buy a pint of milk and at the end…well best not to say…

Meryl Streep certainly gets both the accent and the voice.  She also does a brilliant performance of your mother (well certainly my mother) when she’s losing it and the old charm will still work on you but it’s just embarrassing when she speaks to outsiders.

The politics is just put in as flashes of backstory–one woman doing it her way against all opposition.  The film doesn’t really tell you much about how or indeed why she did it.  And it’s not exactly true either–according to the Wikipedia article, it was marrying a rich (older, divorced) man and having her children young that enabled her to devote herself to a political career.

Denis looks just as young as Margaret here

I think there was some general melioration as well:  Alderman Roberts for instance was a much better speaker than small-town politicians are in my experience.

If you compare this with Aleksandr Sokurov’s  Taurus, which deals with a stroke-afflicted and dementing Lenin, it’s clear that the dementia is also somewhat prettified.  And if you want to convey the effects of dementia, it would be better to use some dimness and distortion, not just leave everything Hollywood-shiny.  The film suggests that Thatcher’s overconfidence on the Poll Tax was connected with the onset of dementia, when simple dizziness due to success is a much more straightforward explanation.

It’s also interesting that the trailer and the stills you can find on the Internet show scenes from political life when most of the film is the dementing old lady.

I think this is a film representing  Carol Thatcher’s viewpoint:  at the very least, since she’s the only one of the family in any position to sue she must have consented.  The justification for the film is probably that it will give an opportunity for discussing issues around dementia, just as Dreams of a Life was meant to foreground the modern absence of community.  These films share the problem that they try to conflate the older dead or demented heroine with the younger bright and sparky one and leave out what happened.

I really don’t know any more about Margaret Thatcher’s life and personality than is in in the Wikipedia article, but it seems more than likely that she was a driven, demanding, obsessive and perfectionist individual willing to sacrifice a very great deal for her career, and as such very like many people in Hollywood–possibly including the one Meryl Streep sees in the mirror several times each day–and not very like the one portrayed here.

In spite of all of this, I found myself buying into the film because of Streep’s brilliant portrayal of my late mother (if not Margaret Thatcher) in her declining years, and because it was about my time which will never come again.

One Day Peckham Multiplex 25 August

August 26, 2011


As everyone knows, the book One Day is for long stretches a repetitious load of drivel:  the story is that common Emma and posh Dexter have a night of passion after graduating from Edinburgh and then spend most of the rest of the book failing to get it together.  I said at the time that it would work better as a film and I was quite right,  even though there was quite a long time at the beginning where it looked like a date movie for lesbians–both to gaze in wonder at Anne Hathaway and to be quite certain they were missing nothing  in terms of relations with men.

The film-makers clearly took the entirely correct decision to throw away the encumbrances of the book and make something that people would actually want to see.  Perhaps they should have gone further, but never mind.  Many commentators have complained about Ms Hathaway’s Yorkshire accent, which is certainly wobbly.  But they’re missing the real point:  the character of Emma has been softened and glamourised as against the book, so this Emma might well have a wobbly accent; that Emma would certainly have kept hers intact.

As well as the accent, Ms Hathaway made a fairly unconvincing attempt at being unattractive and passive-aggressive and rode her bike like someone who’d never been on one before, especially in London.  In spite of that I thought her performance was marvellous in conveying all the conflict and change of this Emma’s emotions, and in giving the feeling she had dug up everything out of herself she possibly could to put the character across.

I personally had the true laughter-through-tears feeling on more than one occasion, and at least considered crying during the reconciliation scene between Dexter, the failed comic and Emma’s failed boyfriend.  Both that scene and the chronologically final scene put across the good and true idea that however bad your situation may be you can still choose to act decently.

***Spoiler alert***

But the film could be seen as supporting some rather bad ideas:  a good woman who enjoys sex has to die pretty soon after, and more specifically here Emma also has to die so that Dexter can become the kind of man his mother wanted him to be.  Any kind of grown-up in fact.

***End of spoiler alert***

I must say I was shocked not by Ms Hathaway’s accent but by the sight of Portcullis House (built 1998-2001) as Dexter drove out of London in 1994.  But I was more than gratified to learn of the contribution that Brockley (in fact Crofton Park) made to the creation of this movie.

Animal Kingdom Peckham Multiplex 27 March

March 28, 2011


T0 be fair, it wasn’t that bad–I only looked at my watch once.  It felt as though at least an hour and a half had passed, and it was only forty minutes.

The idea is that after his mother dies of an overdose in Melbourne, Australia young Joshua goes to live with his grandma and her family of criminals, who she tends lovingly.  And disastrous consequences ensue, especially after they start killing cops.

I had difficulty in either believing it or being especially interested.  The parts seemed underwritten to me, or perhaps the silences weren’t measured skilfully enough.  Joshua excelled in meaningful inarticulacy.  Living up to Melbourne’s genteel image, the crime family used rather less bad language than an impeccably middle-class South London reading group.  Everyone’s houses seemed to be much nicer than mine, which tends to be the way with films.


As for the plot, I had severe difficulties.  according to the defence case, Joshua has it in for Uncles Darren and Pope because they administered an overdose to his girlfriend (not previously a heroin user).  But given the extensive criminal records of Uncles D and P and the police rightly suspecting them of offing their mates, some combination of drugs offences and failing to report a death would surely have put them in prison for some time.

And what’s the corrupt drugs squad officer supposed to do when he tracks Joshua down to his safe house?  Accidentally shoot him?  Somehow disappear him and his three police guards?  I don’t think the cops would react kindly to that one…