Over the past several weeks I have had a few folks ask me…
How do you watch so many films over such a short period of time?
My answer, easily, is WITH OUR EYES. But that got me thinking, perhaps we need a guide to help those veteran Film Club members PLUS those experiencing Lost Weekend for the first time navigate successfully and ultimately become one of those fabled members that make it through all 18 screenings! I have developed this trusty guide to assist in making this upcoming weekend one you will talk about for a very long time.
Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm originally debuted in 2013 but has now officially been released in U.S. in 2015 most likely due to the recent success of his current film, Mommy. In Tom at the Farm, Dolan both stars and directs, and also co-wrote the script for the film with Michel Marc Bouchard, which was based on Bouchard’s stage play.
Before I begin, I feel like I have to say it. The Beatles are ‘not’ the best band of all time. Not saying who is, but for me the Beatles might actually be overrated. Now, my mini-bio says I’m a self proclaimed anglophile so I should automatically love the Beatles, right? Not necessarily, but A Hard Day’s Night is definitely my favorite Beatles without question.
A Hard Day’s Night was filmed and released in following the Beatles’ burst and exploding
popularity in America which started on February 7, 1964 when they boarded a plane in London’s Heathrow Airport and stepped off said plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Filmed nearly chronologically in March and April of the same year, the film was released on July 6, 1964 along with a new album of the same name with songs played during the film. There’s plenty of documentaries on the nitty gritty about the film itself with all the usual tidbits I’ve pointed out about other films in the past. This time though I wanted to pass on some observations.
The first related to my opening statement about A Hard Day’s Night having my favorite Beatles. At this point in their careers, the Beatles were all in their early to mid-20’s. This is before Sargent Pepper, before Yoko (apologies for setting off the alarm), before their introduction to Bob Dylan, before the blending of international sounds into the sound and repertoire of the band, and far before Phil Spector’s ‘wall-of-sound’. They’re 4 guys in their 20’s full of energy, wit, and happiness at just being where they are. Being washed along with the fun because it means they get to do more.
Think of some of your favorite bands, and you’ll likely notice how many of them follow that same theme. First album is incredible, so energetic and they’re so happy for others to like what they’re doing. By the fourth album though, it may be 10 years on and what used to be 20 something band members have spouses, kids, and a lot more to juggle. They spend much more time on introspection and being a parent. Songs with spark and energy about falling in love and being happy slide into melodramatic songs about legacy and generational values. Hard Day’s Night has none of that later moroseness. It’s all about being in a “train and a room, and a car and a room, and a room and a room.” as Paul’s Grandfather says in the film. The plot is centered around that immediacy of fame that the band was encountering.
Another thing that keeps cropping up throughout the film is the generational struggles between the older adults, primarily authority figures, and the band which got me thinking about the older character’s perspective of the younger characters. Much of A Hard Day’s Night is told from the perspective of the band, but there’s loads of dialogue from older characters that emphasize the older generation’s frustration in trying to understand the fads that the youth are obsessing over. Older adults at the airport, train station, on the train itself, or even the police can’t understand why these 4 lads don’t stop acting like fools and just what the fuss is all about. Even the band’s manager takes John’s aloofness, restlessness, and tendency to evade control as a personal affront to the manager’s own mental health.
And finally the last thing I’ll note is the audience in the film. Not sure if the director and/or production crew insisted on it, but in the audience watching the Beatles perform in either the train-car, during rehearsals, or at the broadcasted performance at the end of the movie, none were singing along. Since that’s so much a part of many concerts today (or even movies, as I overheard some fellow audience members singing along, and couldn’t help own self) that I wonder when we collectively switched from singing along at home to our LP’s, tapes, and/or CD’s but not in person at the show to singing everywhere. Just a thought.
So, in conclusion, A Hard Day’s Night is a really fun film. There’s sight gags, one-liners, disguises, and even a walkabout. Not loaded with Oscar winning performances, but then you don’t go to the Beatles for high drama, you go to them for fun, and A Hard Day’s Night certainly is.
When he’s not driving to work, has his hands in his car and/or house, or is attending Film Club events as an #Awesome13 & #Sweet16 alum, Benjamin can be found listening to podcasts and hoping to start his own one day. Reformed Trekker; self-identified Anglophile; Anime fan by way of Akira, Ghibli, & Gundam; and admitted Yankee. You can find him on the Film Club Facebook page arguing about reserved seats & interpretation of recent Film Club screenings.
You’ll find great reviews of Mia Hansen-Løve’s fourth feature-length film Eden (2014) here and here, an interview with co-writer Sven Hansen-Løve here, and a convincing piece on Eden’s significance as the first film to take club culture seriously here. What follows is nothing so fancy or elegant, but it’s my attempt to capture the experience for your run-of-the-mill, middle-aged Winchesterian.
When I was a little girl I used to love Friday nights. The parents would pack us into the sedan and whisk us away to the local video den. While mom and dad perused the rom-coms I was off picking my ‘special’ film. My ‘late night everyone else is sleeping’ movie. Id march my little legs over to the cult-section and spend what felt like hours reading every description, completely mesmerized by the covers.
Let me start out by saying this film was not easy for me to watch or to write about but it is necessary. The documentary focuses on two vigilante groups (Autodefensas and Arizona Border Recon) fighting against the drug cartels in Mexico and patrolling for illegals at the US border. As one path converges into the other, both men featured are similar in their goals: to create a safe and habitable home life, not only for themselves, but for the people in their towns, states and respective countries.
Claudio Fragasso has written films such as Monster Dog with Alice Cooper and the infamous Troll 2 (that actually did not contain any trolls and had no relation to the first Troll film except for the name). Claudio’s Terminator 2: Shocking Dark is no different than his other works. Claudio specializes in budget movies that are sometimes barely related to larger movies and movies that do not intend to be a summer blockbuster in any country.
I have to admit, I went into The Tribe with anxiety and apprehension, not excitement. I knew very little of the film other than that it was out of the Ukraine, that there was no dialogue and that due to graphic violent and sexual content that it could be, would most likely be, “difficult to watch.” I fretted for days in advance because I’d committed to penning a reaction blog; I couldn’t back out. And I couldn’t just show up and eye-cover my way through it. Fact is I am extremely sensitive to violence, suffering or cruelty of any sort, physical or mental. During my school years if someone yelled ‘Fight!’ you could bet that I was running away from, not toward, the ‘action.’ I can’t stand to see or hear fists hitting flesh. (True story: I have yet to watch any more than 10 seconds of that Southpaw trailer.) And any hint of emotional cruelty or bullying, in real life or in fiction, often makes me cry. But I love movies, especially the complex, deep and emotionally gut-wrenching ones. So I’ve adapted.
I had major trepidation before viewing The Tribe. Between Andy’s numerous warnings in every post leading up to Wednesday night, to his long introduction before the film, where I believe he said “challenging”, “difficult to watch” and “prepare yourselves” more than he jumped around, this was Serious Film Viewing. My seat partner and I sighed resignedly at least 4 times before the film began, readying ourselves.
And to think I had to review such a film, well, you’ll forgive the fact that I’m on my second beer as I’m typing this.