Room: Innocence lost to wider horizons

room

Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is a stunning piece of work. Revolving around the story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay) & Ma (Brie Larson) this tale is simultaneously harrowing and uplifting and will surely be in most end of year polls for film of the year.

Continuing 2016’s cinematic theme of overcoming the odds (which I have previously blogged about) Room is the story of mother and son escaping imprisonment and returning to ‘normality’ and the embrace of their family.

The key to the film is  Trembelay in the role of Jack. He is the hero of the piece and the reason for Ma’s desire to escape. It is Jack who, having known nothing else but Room his entire life, adapts best to the outside world. Ma struggles with the new reality, her family struggle with their guilt over what happened and yet Jack endures.

Jack is the one who arguably has the most to overcome. Everything he knew is blown away once he escapes Room. Sky, trees, dogs, other people all are new and all are to be explored. He has the most to overcome and yet he shows the courage and heart to change.

There is something within us as humans that can adapt, change, evolve to whatever circumstances we encounter. It is important to acknowledge that this occurs at differing speeds for all of us but we all have the capacity if we are so minded.

Recently I have been challenged in my faith by many different things. Podcasts, books, conversations with friends. As I wrestle with what my faith is about and what my understanding of who or what God is these new elements have been very useful.

It’s far to dramatic to describe what I’m experiencing as a deconstruction of my faith. I haven’t lost anything. I may have changed my thinking on certain issues but to my mind this is not loss but gain.

I’m grateful for the new voices I have encountered. I’m thankful for their influence and their input into who I am becoming.

For too long my faith has been held within a small compact Room-like space. It’s time to go bigger than that and step out into the unknown.

 

Some podcasts I have been listening to recently that I’ve given reference to above:

The RobCast

HomeBrewed Christianity

Freestyle Christianity

Revolution Church

 

 

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The Revenant, church, exit & entry point

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Ok so a disclaimer to begin.

This will be my last post on The Revenant for a while I promise. I can’t help it, this film has got under my skin in a way that not many have in the last few years. The density, the spectacle, the cinematic wonder it really is a special piece of work. Even in January it will take something really special for it not to be my favourite film of 2016.

Through it all though one scene has stayed with me. Above all the moments of brilliance (and there are many) one scene leapt out more than any other and it is when Glass enters the crumbled edifice of the church.

This dilapidated structure has suffered even in these early days of civilisation but its foundation and structures remain. In fact within the fading church there is life as trees have put down roots bringing new life and growth.

It could be argued by some that the church today is in a similar position.

Dilapidated, fading, crumbling.

Recently I read an article about the majority of people in the UK claiming to have no religion . The truth is churches are closing, numbers are decreasing and desire for any notion of God is fading rapidly. People are searching though. People are searching for understanding. Searching for spirituality and searching in spaces other than churches to find it.

I believe there it still life in the church though. I believe that changes are coming. Changes that will remove old structures, old ways of thinking and an adaption to what church can/should in 2015. Dare I suggest church evolution??

That’s where the gap comes in.

While Glass stands in the church ‘grounds’ he stares at the picture of Christ on the wall at his crucifixion momentarily.

Glass has already experienced death and resurrection. The parallels are clear.

However my eye was drawn not to Christ on the cross but the gap in the wall.

the-revenant-set-design-007

This gap is significant because this gap allows both entry and exit simultaneously. I would guess that its location is not accidental either.

It is not just the gap in the wall but the cross itself that is both entry and exit point.

In terms of the film and the church today the same points can be made.

Those who enter find shelter here.

Those who enter find signs of life they may not expect.

Those who enter can rest from the constant battering of their surroundings.

 

However the same can be said for those on the way out.

 

Those who exit are ready to take on the next stage of the journey.

Those who exit have sheltered, recovered and found life in its fulness.

Those who exit see a bigger picture and possibly a new frontier.

 

Articles can speak of decline.

The Revenant showed me the foundations and the gap that helps those coming in and those ready to go.

 

 

Cinema in 2016: The Overcomers

 

So far in 2016 I have been able to see 3 of the ‘big films’ of the year and I’ve enjoyed all 3 to varying degrees. All three are very different and yet all three have something in common. From arthouse leanings of The Revenant to the popcorn munching multiplex feel good of Creed one thing unites these three.

Overcoming the odds.

From the fringes of death, family circumstances, social classes, insecurities over legacy these protagonists all endure, all survive and in varying degrees thrive.

We root for these characters. We will them on to success. I am not ashamed to say that on seeing Joy I became unexpectedly emotional about mop sales!

These people though are not just the work of cinematic stories alone.  We meet these overcomers daily.

Those who struggle. Those who are weary. Those who refuse to be held back by their circumstance.  Those who wrestle to make it through the week. Those who seem to have a strength we can only hope for. Those who refuse to wilt. Those who overcome things we can only imagine in our darkest moments.

So while enjoying the success of those who overcome on screen.

Perhaps in 2016 it may be more worthwhile to get alongside and root for those who overcome daily around us.

 

Review: Creed

creedpostersmall

Cinema has gone all nostalgic in recent times. Jurassic World, Star Wars of course and now the return of the Rocky franchise with Creed.

Nostalgia is not a bad thing in fact it can be great when executed in the right manner. Star Wars I felt carried this nostalgic feel off wonderfully. Reacquainting us with old friends and introducing us to new ones. I wish I could say the same about Creed.

Much like last years Mad Max review I fear I may be in the minority but Creed just didn’t hit the mark for me.

This is Rocky for a new generation and there should be nothing wrong with that but when you are of the generation that was blessed with Rocky first time round there really was nothing new or exciting to garner from Creed.

Even the first glimpse of Balboa himself was not enough to get a smile out of me during the film. All the old tropes are repeated again. The underdog story, the awkward love interest, it is all there rehashed for 2015 but now with added ‘gags’ about how old Rocky is.

Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan) plays the illegitimate child of Apollo Creed and much like his father in previous films he has a certain swagger and arrogance (as well a physical resemblance) that just make him unlikeable. I couldn’t invest the emotion in a character I couldn’t root for during most of the film.

However at the film’s climax my attitude shifted as the inevitable David v Goliath climax nearly brought me out of my seat. I have to say that the  fight sequences are very well staged, with some great camera work and a sense of realism that other boxing films could only dream of.

On leaving the screening I was amazed at how affected fellow viewers were. Some were emotional, tears had been shed, laughs had been shared. I came away wondering if I had watched something different?

If The Force Awakens receives a bit of flak for repetition of story and tropes how can Creed be received so rapturously??

Stallone won a GoldenGlobe for Best Supporting Actor. Did I miss something? If I did what was it?

 

Creed and I will spar again. I want to see what my friends and colleagues saw. I want to feel what they felt while they watched.  I want to get back in the cinematic ring with this film. Maybe next time I will be knocked out the way I hoped I would be first time round.

Creed is on general release from 15th January 2016.

Thanks to MovieHouse for advance screening access

2016: Plenty to look forward to

2016 is almost here and I’ve picked out several films that have already got me excited for the New Year.

Thanks to all who have read, shared and interacted with posts from the blog over 2015 I really do appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

Film of the Year 2015: Inside Out

Inside Out

So the time has come to declare my favourite film of 2015 and it may come as little surprise that the nod goes to Inside Out.

Not since Wall-E have I been so charmed and enchanted by a Pixar film. The thought and intelligence, the humour, the emotional toll, the multiple layers of thought. This journey into the emotions in all of us truly is a wonder.

The journey into the mind of a child growing up made me not only think of how my daughters are developing but also how am I doing as a parent to them. Am I doing things right to ensure they are well balanced?

Am I (as someone who is not a risk taker at all) encouraging them to not let fear have control? Am I encouraging them into joy? Am I similar to the Dad whose head is full of anger?

Nothing in 2015  has been as smart as Inside Out and nothing in the cinema has impressed me more. I laughed, I got misty eyed and I will watch it over and over again!

Inside Out will, without question,  win Best Animation Oscar but it SHOULD be a contender if not winner of Best Picture at the Oscars 2016.

Disappointment of 2015 :Mad Max Fury Road

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-lovely-day

The end of 2015 approaches and that means the obligatory best of the year lists will soon be with us.

I think it’s also important to note the standout disappointment of the year too. I’m not miserable (much) but for someone who enjoys a cinema trip there is nothing worse than a major let down.

Bad films are bad films and there is very little can be down about that. A disappointing film however is in some ways more upsetting.

This year’s award for major disappointment (and I know I’m in a minority with this) was Mad Max Fury Road. I wanted to love it, the trailer excited me but when I sat down in the cinema I felt that the trailer was pretty much all you needed. This is nothing more than a 90 minute chase sequence.

My full tale of disappointment can be found here.

I know people loved this film and it will feature on many a ‘best of 2015’ list but for me it was the biggest let down of the year.