25th April – Byzantium – I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a British/Irish vampire film, that twists the myth slightly, but that largely works both on a narrative and thematic level. Gemma Arterton is a lot better than I thought she would be, and Saoirse Ronan puts in a really good performance as an eternal 16 year old who demonstrates a spellbinding mix of youth and maturity. If you like vampire films then you’ll probably like this, and it is certainly in a different league to the likes of Twilight. I should probably mention that there is a fair amount of blood and bleeding in this film, but I suppose that is what you would expect considering the subject matter.
4th May – Nymphomaniac part 1 – Reading about Nymphomaniac a few months ago is what made me check out several of Lars von Trier’s other films, and I was very much looking forward to watching it at some point. The film is about Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is found in an alleyway by Seligman, a charming and well educated old bachelor. Over the course of the two films, she recounts the chronology of her sexual evolution to him, from childhood to the age of 50, and the two of them discuss the various episodes from her past. It explores a lot of the same themes as von Trier’s other films, and is well made, well acted, and very thought provoking, and I found Stacy Martin as the young Joe particularly spellbinding. This certainly isn’t for everyone, and it contains several very strong sexual scenes, but it is also incredibly thought provoking, and would probably appeal to anyone who thinks deep and complex thoughts about love, sexuality, gender roles and human relationships in general.
4th May (later) – Nymphomaniac part 2 – This concludes the story, and is in many ways a darker film (and certainly a much more violent film) than the first part. It also has a few plot twists, so I won’t say much more about how the story evolves for fear of spoiling it. All in all I mostly enjoyed both parts, and would certainly have been interested in seeing them as one continuous piece. It made me feel uncomfortable in several places, but it was the sort of discomfort that provokes valuable thought, which I see as largely a good thing.
17th May – Jubilee – I had no idea what to expect from this film. I’ve not seen any of Derek Jarman’s other films, and I only really stumbled on this one by accident in the library. It is quite pretentious in parts, but I actually found it an enjoyable Saturday morning distraction, and I certainly don’t regret watching it. If 70s punk crossed with Elizabethan mysticism is your thing then you may very well enjoy this, although it is interesting to see that the 70s scenes seem much more dated that those set further back in time or in a more mystical setting. I’m not quite sure I can summarise what this film is actually about, but I can certainly see why it received a fair amount of critical acclaim at the time.