When I was 11 or 12, I had to go to Oslo once a month with my mum to get the bands of my dental braces tightened. These trips were great. Not only did I get to ditch school for half a day, but we would almost always go straight from the dentist to the cinema.
I don’t think my mum would mind me telling you that she slept her way through a myriad of half-decent movies in the late ’90s, whilst I – straight as a candle – would dive into them, pick them apart, analyse, wonder, question and adore.
Today, I don’t remember more than a handful of them. I remember seeing the Icelandic movie Benjamin, the Dove and crying for days, seeing Mulan and being overwhelmed by my reaction to it (don’t worry, 12-year-old me, you’re not broken, you’re just gay. You’ll find out eventually, and life will be good), and thinking that no film could ever measure up to The Truman Show.
But more than the individual films, I remember the feeling. I remember the smell of popcorn and dusty seats, my mum’s half-awake approach to the first halves of these movies and her frequent crying through any remotely emotional scene in the latter halves.
And these experiences have shaped, perhaps not so much my taste in film, but my expectations of it, certainly. I want to be wowed. I want to be sucked into the world of the movie and forget about the people behind me, chewing their popcorn loudly, or rustling with sweet wrappers under their seats. I want a film to be an experience, whether I watch it in the cinema or at home.
That’s what I’m looking for in 2019.
The best of the first 10
Two films more than the rest gave me that good dose of escapism I was hoping for. They’re both somewhat related, both being superhero movies, both being Marvel. They were Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (watched in the cinema) and Dotor Strange (watched on Netflix).
They both scooped me up, transported me into their own-brand versions of wild and weird, and I was there for the ride. Doctor Strange was beautiful. Spiderman was interesting. Doctor Strange was fun in its cerebral approach to superheroing. Spiderman had such great casting that I never once had time to think about the voice actors. Neither of them are likely to end up in my top 10 films of the year, but I certainly enjoyed them.
The first disappointment of 2019
There were a lot of superheroes in the first 10 films of the year, and my least favourite of the lot was a newcomer to the filmatic scene: Aquaman. This too was beautiful, wild and weird, but it just didn’t land for me. I was left wanting both more and less, and although parts of it are absolutely stunning, the narrative lacked the impact I found in the other two.
The first 10 films of the year in order:
Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
Wreck-it Ralph Breaks the Internet
Welcome to Marwen
Mary Poppins Returns
What about you? Have you seen any good films lately? Any films I simply must watch? (Bonus points if you recommend something on Netflix UK or that’s in cinemas now.) Please let me know in the comments.
Also let me know if you’d be interested in more review-like pieces about some of the films I watch. I’m still toying around with the format of this blog.