Thursday, 5 September 2013

I really wanted to love Le Week-end. It has a pithy script by Hanif Kureishi  and you couldn't ask for better casting than Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent - who both deserve Oscars.
They are a couple in their late 50s who go to Paris to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in the hotel where they spent their honeymoon.

It's beige.
It does have a certain light-brown-ness about it. 
You do get a complimentary breakfast.

So, instead, they check into a hotel de grand luxe that they can't afford.

Tony Blair once slept there.
As long as they changed the sheets.

I enjoyed this far more than the long-awaited anti-climax of Before Midnight, earlier this summer. (You couldn't stay married to Julie Delpy's character for 30 years, or even 30 days, without going mad unless you were profoundly and peacefully deaf.)

But there was something terribly sad about Le Week-end, the despair in their eyes, the early promise that had settled into mediocrity in Birmingham, the sexual loneliness and avoidance.

Can I touch you?
What for?

I might do it for you later. 

Why won't you let me touch you?
It's not love. It's like being arrested.

But it kind of tailed off towards the end and, like most films, it was about half-an-hour too long for my middle-aged attention span. And then I went home feeling faintly depressed about middle-aged mediocrity and how stiff my knees get when I've been sitting down for too long.

And I don't even have the consolation of having cheekbones like Lindsay Duncan's. The ageing process should not be inflicted on women without cheekbones.

The other film I saw this week was What Maisie Knew. Very clever - and the child who plays Maisie is excellent - but so distracting wondering what Julianne Moore is doing with Alan Partridge.

If you're staying in, though, I can thoroughly recommend BBC4's new series Sound of Cinema which has really opened my ears to the function of music in films and, as I'm more of a visual person, I'm finding it fascinating. It starts with The Ipcress File (which sent me on a detour to watch the whole movie ... wonderful cookery scenes but didn't Len Deighton write a cookery series for men in The Observer?) ... then stay in your seat for Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, A Streetcar Named Desire  (the Legion of Decency objected to the sexy sax which was rewritten for strings) and Mary Poppins. A wonderfully eclectic mix of movies, and I still haven't seen the electronic episode - which starts with Hitchcock's Spellbound and Billy Wilder's Lost Weekend (as early as 1945, and I'd love to have a go on a Russian theremin, an instrument I'd never even heard of) and culminates in Chariots of Fire. Well worth seeing.

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