Thursday, September 10


I find it funny that people constantly harp on about how music can always brighten any day. Well, not exactly funny just, well, odd that not everybody (at least not this ipod-totting, youtubing generation) recognises that there is, similarly, a movie for every situation. A good film will do wonders for the downbeat, offer motivation to the depressed, relax the over-stressed and enchant the unimpressed. I have personal experience of this miracle pill that is cinema: Never has Braveheart failed to lift me to an emotional peak, charged through with the electricity of valiance, chivalry, self-belief; A friend of mine claims that he is shot through with goodwill after every viewing of Love, Actually (his words, not mine).

The thing about movies is that they have the power to set an agenda in a way that a song, however revolutionary never can. Consider the power of a movie like Milk to sustain the fight against homosexual prejudice, the way some cinema phrases from the silver screen make their way into everyday lingo (Who has never said "Houston, we have a problem!" from Apollo 13 or "Yipee Ki Yay Motherfucker!" from the Die Hard franchise?) and certain movie characters help to articulate the peculiar circumstances of a whole section of society previously overlooked (see Requiem For A Dream; Boyz In The Hood). One song may become transcendental as with John Lennon's Imagine, in fact a novel may blueprint the start of a movement- a paradigm shift- as with D H Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, but neither of these media can represent situations that are true-to-life and at the same time thoroughly accessible to everybody.

Now, I watched Funny People, the new Judd Apatow comedy about a famous dying comic and his struggle to reconnect with reality. Apatow's movies have been hailed as a new take on the trashy comedy that allows women to cash in on the jokes too. This point is driven home by the many female faces pictured hee-hawing at the various dick jokes in the sets of the stand-up comics that give this film its title. That is Apatow's agenda: he is re-engineering the genre so that it is no longer directed mainly at men but also made for their girlfriends to enjoy too. This is why topics like pregnancy and its pitfalls and now a man with potentially terminal cancer are becoming routine in his work. Despite the vulgar jokes and his offensive characters, he can maintain the estrogen levels in a viewing audience.

Apatow's achievement is, however, putting the bromance front and centre. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill in Superbad cemented the role of the bromance in modern comedy and Funny People puts Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler centrestage, tackling age-old issues like Who Is The bigger Dick? alongside How Much Can We Take Before We Let The Tears Fall? The bromance, an abbreviation for brotherly romance (I presume) which describes the platonic love between two males (and will not apply in the Brokeback sense) has become a runaway success, borrowing from the buddy comedy turns of actors like Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hours and filling the hard shell of manliness with a caramel heart, much like an eclair (lol). Now we can look to screwball-esque comedy without the expectation of a repertoire full of explosive fart gags in the way that the Wayans brothers' Scary Movie franchise taught us to expect. It's genre- bending has made (I'm told) men more open and women more forgiving of the time men spend together, now that they know that all the filthy talk is a mask for all the love welled up inside.

Going back to music and the way it can change the mood though, anyone who likes good music should see (500) Days of Summer by director Marc Webb which is a sunny but sort of grey dramedy (the term romcom will not do, this is too real). Boy Meets Girl, falls in love, Girl gets married to someone else. That is the sequence pursued back and forth at random through 500 Days. It is not a movie about the summer season, but rather the girl's name is Summer and it is she who is a mere season in the boy's life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt with those schmaltzy eyes waltzes through the phases alongside the delightfully quirky Zooey Deschanel backed by the gorgeous piano- driven tones of Regina Spektor lighting up their dull wasted days in a Greeting Card company while the straightforward lyrics of Morrissey with the Smiths underscores Curtis' vision of the nature of the modern relationship. Every song on the soundtrack seems carefully chosen and adds to the wise and whimsy autumnal feel of this feelbad feelbetter flick which is perfect for this season.