I do like a good film- almost as much as I like a good book. And I have quite diverse tastes. A list of my all-time favourites would include ‘The Color Purple’, ‘Only God Forgives’, ‘All the President’s Men’, ‘Drive’, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, ‘Bronson’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’.
So, eclectic taste then. And I’m happy to try anything, mainly because my son is studying film and English and makes me watch things I otherwise wouldn’t think of, and they’re the ones I usually love.
So I was persuaded to go along to see ‘Suicide Squad’ (read Scott’s review here). But god, was it awful. Truly awful. And part of the big issue for me was Harley Quinn.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is the Joker’s psychiatrist-turned-girlfriend who helps him escape Arkham Asylum so that they can Bonnie and Clyde their way across Gotham. That’s a pretty interesting duality for a character to grapple with, but it’s handled so badly in the film that it ends up more travesty than USP. What starts out as a promising role deteriorates into a tired vehicle for infantile sex fantasy.
On the way home I had a real rant (I’m a bundle of fun to take out) and it got me thinking about films in general and why women always seem to be the ones left out of the fun.
I love films. I love well-written, stylistic, beautifully shot films. I’d go to the cinema far more if there was anything that actually appealed to me. I’m sure there are lots of older women like me who would too. So why are we ignored? What is there for us? I have no interest in Mr D’Arcy, I hated the Great Expectations remake, I hate, hate, hate anything in the New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc. franchise. I can’t bear musicals – Mama Mia was appalling and don’t get me started on Les Miserables. And no, I don’t want Marigold Hotels either.
I’ll be honest, there have been a few recent goodies that I’ve loved. Legend, for one, and not just because of Tom Hardy; and I loved Mad Max (again, I promise!). The Grand Budapest Hotel was stunning (even though I have an irrational fear of Jude Law) and I have to recommend the uncut version of Batman vs. Superman, if only for the gratuitous Ben Affleck shirt-off scenes (hey, until they stop doing it to women then it’s fair enough). OK, it was really silly – but it was well-done silly. But there is a real dearth of good films out there.
I think a lot of this is to do with fear – the same fear that stops publishers taking on unknowns. Money makes the world go round, after all, and no one wants to take a risk (except Nicolas Winding Refn, apparently) so loads of great stories go ignored.
I can think of at least ten great books I’ve read in the last year or so that would make wonderful films- films that would appeal to women like me. Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, Mary Smith’s No More Mulberries, Hilary Custance Green’s Borderline, Rebecca Powell’s The Brazilian Husband, and Samantha Harvey’s Dear Thief, for example (and if you haven’t read these books yet, then you really must). All great stories, with fabulous, interesting, three-dimensional characters and settings that would look wonderful on film. But sadly, I think that film has gone the same way as publishing. Re-make after re-make after re-make. Franchise after franchise after franchise. Celebrity sells and money talks – who cares about the story?