Collage By Chloe
4 SQ writers were asked to talk about their summer in movies, anything they enjoyed, hated, if they had something on repeat, and did anything influence their summer adventures.
From roughly October to February every year, I watch ‘serious’ films. I am a sucker for Oscar season and wade through so many films which are poised for success. This year these films were mostly excellent, but not the cheeriest lot. After crying a ridiculous amount at films such as 12 Years a Slave, Philomena, Gravity and Nebraska, I subconsciously found myself looking for something lighter and more frivolous in the warmer months. I ended watching a whole bunch of male orientated comedy films, which I usually shy away from because there’s only so many jokes about dicks I can take.
Whereas a lot of my friends adore the likes of Seth Rogen and James Franco, I’ve never been that big of a fan; I don’t know quite what I expected when I turned on This Is The End, but I was pleasantly surprised by how funny it actually was. It flicked a switch, because this summer I have also watched (and enjoyed) Bad Neighbours, The Inbetweeners 2, and my favourite of all, 22 Jump Street (I became a fierce defender of Channing Tatum’s acting ability – forget Matthew Mcconaughey, Tatum is Hollywood’s secret talent).
Unfortunately, I have also seen some terrible films. Grown Ups was ridiculous and the appearance of Steve Buscemi did little to lift the stink that Rob Schneider creates, and Movie 43 is 100% as bad as everyone says, don’t waste 80 minutes of your life. Even if it does contain Chris Pratt. Jackass 3D was just slathered in testosterone and I’m not sure I was its target audience because I just became more and more worried for their wellbeing. Also it was gross.
If you’re thinking of branching into a type of film you never really consider, I would definitely recommend it – you’ll likely find some gems among the duds.
Films, while they are important culturally and artistically, can sometimes have an air of disposability about them. Not the awesomely schlocky b-movie type, or even the mediocre to super bad movies, but the critically acclaimed; the films that are paraded around as being the ‘best of the year’ or even ‘of the decade’ that are long forgotten come the end of Oscar season.
I’m all for trashy kind of movies – in fact, I worship them – but it is nice to be challenged emotionally or intellectually as a film watcher. Sometimes there is a need to watch something that doesn’t fit into the status quo of what a film should feel or look like. Cosmopolis tested the medium of movies for me when it was released in 2012, as did Spring Breakers last year. They were both films that I felt tried to do something new and fresh while wedged between movies that, while loved by critics, have not been talked about since. Then, just as I thought that film couldn’t be tested as an art form in its ‘traditional’ state any more than it already had in the last few years, Under the Skin came out.
I first saw Under the Skin on its initial release with my dad at the Brixton Ritzy, right across the street from where I work. It was a weekday; I was tired, and kind of regretted that I’d said “yes” to seeing a film that I knew I had to be in the right headspace for.
Then, in a small screening room sitting next to my dad, bottle of water in hand, the opening shot was projected on the screen. I didn’t need anything more to sell the film to me – I was hooked. For the rest of its running time I sat there sort of awestruck, confused, but completely mesmerised.
That was in March of this year and I haven’t been able to think about another film since. At least, not in the way I do about Under the Skin. It’s become part of my film vocabulary, one that I find myself returning to in random passing thoughts, a film whose music I would hear downstairs when living with my parents (my mum had bought the soundtrack, playing it early in the hours of a Saturday morning). It hasn’t just defined my summer of movies, but has very well made this year what Spring Breakers and Cosmopolis did before it – it’s taking film into an otherworldly place. And nothing makes me more excited.
You know when you do something small, not thinking much of it at the time, but then you later realise that small thing you did actually has a great impact on your life? This is how I describe the day I picked up Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha in HMV early this summer. I’d wanted to see Baumbach’s latest creation in the cinema, but had missed the small window of time it was scheduled at my local cinema – so it was clearly a sign I found it for £5 in amongst a sea of bargain DVDs. Needless to say, Frances Ha quickly became my film of the summer – one I watched over and over and was equally captivated by it each time. Our eponymous hero Frances is a 27 year old dance apprentice living in New York with her best friend Sophie, until Sophie decides to move out and the dream of living with her BFF forever is shattered. Frances doesn’t necessarily have her life together, and kind of just floats from place to place, offering carefree vibes and nuggets of wisdom wherever she goes, like this: ‘It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s – That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.’ This film is important to me because it showed me I don’t have to have my shit together, that I can grow up and still stay young at heart; it’s inspired me to dance on the streets listening to David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ and be happy by myself; it’s not only shaped my summer but I feel this film will stay with me for a long time. It is a beautiful rarity to find a character you relate to deeply, it’s like someone has taken specific parts of you and presented them back to you in this way you didn’t even know existed. It makes you look at these things differently, like you’re looking at yourself through someone else, and it makes that weird habit you thought only you had seem like less of a huge deal. For all these reasons, Frances Ha has shaped my summer and probably a lot of my life too.
Space. The final frontier. Home to the stars. And, as I can easily argue, the basis of JJ Abrams’ recent success. After all, this is the man that is about to undertake the greatest task of all time; by reviving Star Wars and returning it to its original glory amongst the supernovas with which it exploded in the late seventies. But before he begins to re-imagine the somewhat dysfunctional Skywalker family, Abrams is busy recreating another saga of galactic heights. After a busy summer this year, including an unforgettable exchange with a Spanish student, a near-death experience at open sea involving a kayak and a friend, theme parks, Japanese food and a trip to the American dream itself of New York, I relished in unwinding and undergoing multiple movie marathons, in which I discovered the small slice of wonder that is Star Trek: Into Darkness.
During my childhood, I had never taken any particular interest in the adventures of Captain Kirk and was instead immersed in Tolkien’s world of orcs and hobbits, but in my most recent years, my love of cinema has developed further and has taken me to new depths as I have stumbled across films that range from independent pieces to the Oscar-winning spectacles of the nineties. In this journey that I have taken through every corner of the cinematic world, I have found myself forming an attachment to the idea of exploring and hurtling through space at the speed of light, which has led me to watch Into Darkness far more than once this summer. Abrams’ reinvention of Star Trek pulls us into the youthful years of Jim Kirk, the charming captain of the Enterprise that effortlessly captivates those around him but struggles visibly with issues of self-confidence and inferiority, whom we both empathise with and despise at times. Kirk’s story, however, is not always one of honourable quests and heroic feats but, instead, one of friendship and sacrifice, as the connection that he forms with Spock becomes the very thing that holds him, and, sometimes, the movie, together. The bond between the human and the Vulcan is both relatable and admirable, the kind that many of us share with a friend, full of sarcasm and a dryness that is often lost on the other, and it gives the movie a certain level of familiarity and realism that no amount of constellations and aliens can make up for.
I would totally recommend Star Trek: Into Darkness to almost anyone, particularly if you have a penchant for galactic exploration and smouldering blue eyes.