I Love Film Club
I might be on my own, but I was still participating in a social activity, maybe by laughing or occasionally weeping along with others in the audience if the film or play was particularly joyous, moving or uplifting. The one thing that I really missed was being able to discuss what I had just seen as I was leaving the cinema or theatre. I’d overhear others around me saying things like “I thought she was great as the wronged wife, but he was a bit pathetic” And I’d want to join in the discussion and say “Oh, how I agree - and I also felt so sorry for their poor son, caught in the middle between his angry mum and inadequate father.”
As long as there was a film that I wanted to see I would go to the cinema most weekends, so I was left somewhat bereft when lockdown forced the closure of all cinemas and theatres last March.
I actually had three theatre dates in my diary for April, May and June which were all cancelled or postponed, and suddenly my weekly trips to the cinema were no more. To console myself I decided to make a regular date to watch a film on Curzon Home Cinema every Saturday at 3pm in a rather vain attempt to create some semblance of structure and normality to my endless days and have something to look forward to at the weekend. This proved to be very successful and during that first lockdown I saw some thought provoking and absorbing films which happily transported me to different cultures, places and moments in time. If you remember, we were being promised that lockdown would be a temporary and short-lived phenomenon and before long everything would be ‘opening up’ and we’d once more be back to all our normal social activities. At the time I suspect that few of us thought that theatres and cinemas would actually stay dark for most of the next year.
However, there were lots of lovely new ways that I could fill my time by communicating and ‘meeting’ new people via zoom and Teatime at the Ritz with Tricia which then developed into regular Tuesday Tricia Talks with a delightful guest. We decided that these would become a permanent feature as people seemed to enjoy them and I also had the idea in September of including as guest interviewees those Super Troopers who had something they’d like to share. As autumn turned into winter with little sign of an end to our enforced isolation, I hit upon the notion of turning my weekly home cinema date into something I could share with a group of like-minded women, so I came up with the idea of a regular Film Club. A book club may have seemed like a more obvious choice for our demographic, but I dislike any form of ‘prescribed’ reading and prefer to read without a deadline. A film usually lasts for about two hours, so I figured that film clubbers would have no problem finding the time to watch our suggested film so that they could then join in the discussion on a Friday afternoon at 4pm.
Since its inception on October 30th, film club has become one of my favourite live zoom sessions. In that time we have watched 18 films which have stimulated some lively and fascinating discussions. My first choice was the British film ‘Hope Gap’ which was almost a two-hander between Annette Benning (badly miscast in our view) and Bill Nighy as an older couple whose marriage has been dashed on the rocks of her spiky, confrontational behaviour grounded in religious belief and his withdrawn, inarticulate passivity. It was a good choice to kick-start our film club because it provoked a good level of discussion and disagreement.
Annette Benning: 'Hope Gap'
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 'RBG'
Charlotte Rampling: '45 Years'
Catherine Deneuve:'The Midwife'
Since then we have visited Iceland for ‘The County’ and Saudi Arabia for ‘The Candidate’, both films with strong and feisty female leads and we’ve been to France three times in the company of the awe-inspiring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche for ‘The Midwife’, ‘The Truth’ and ‘Who You Think I Am’. We have time travelled to the second world war for ‘Summerland' and to medieval Shakespearean England for ‘All is True’.
Two more amazingly powerful female performances we loved were in US films ‘Clemency’ and ‘The Assistant’ and we’ve also been moved to tears by two films based on true stories of families in crisis in ‘Sulphur and White’ and ‘A Perfectly Normal Family.’ There have also been three documentary films, one about Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘RBG’, one about the French Film Director Agnes Varda and finally the tragic story of Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of the group INXS. Last week we watched a masterclass in acting from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in 45 years about the speed with which a very long marriage can crumble when a long-buried lie literally resurfaces.
If I was being honest I’d say that it has taken some time for the film club to find its feet. It was an enormous ask to expect a disparate group of strangers who all happen to like earrings (!) to gel into a coherent entity. Zoom also adds a layer of complexity which isn’t there when you’re all in the same room. Some in the group would dominate, others would stay mute. Some hadn’t seen the film and others objected that foreign language films with subtitles meant that they couldn't knit at the same time! Inevitably some loved the film and others hated it. However gradually there has been a kind of winnowing process and we now have a stalwart group of around 15-20 regulars whom I can count on to watch the film and come along at 4pm on a Friday to contribute their wonderfully intelligent observations during our 30 minute discussions. We usually divide into 3 or 4 smaller groups and I ask that everyone participates as equally as possible, and also that one person summarises their group’s discussion when we all meet up together again for the final ten minutes of general chat.
Agnes Varda: 'Varda by Agnes Varda'
Judi Dench: 'All is True'
Alfre Woodard: 'Clemency'
Juliette Binoche: 'The Truth'
I can honestly say that Film Club has been the highlight of my lockdown experience. I enjoy discovering films that I think will work well for our purposes and also taking the odd risk to suggest a film which may have some challenging or contentious themes. Happily, all of the 18 films we’ve watched have mostly provoked very balanced, intelligent and thoughtful responses from the group. It’s particularly gratifying when someone says that they’d not usually watch films like that but were glad they’d seen it. I guess that the reason I love our Film Club so much is because I am no longer all alone in that darkened cinema wishing that I had someone to talk to about the story, characters, acting or perhaps how the film made me feel. I know that all I have to do is wait until 4pm on a Friday afternoon for a wonderful thought-provoking and insightful discussion with all my new Film Club friends!
If you would like to join our weekly film club, all of the details can be found below, or on our events page at: www.lookfabulousforever.com/a-
Upcoming Event Information:
All About Me - Charmaine, The Joy of Reading
Day: Tuesday 18th May
Charmaine is a teacher in an international school in Milan. She is known simply as 'Miss Fursman the literature teacher' (as the school has a separate teacher for grammar) and she will be discussing all the joys of reading, living and teaching in Italy.
Meeting ID: 821 3170 1134
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
Film Club: The Artist's Wife
available on Curzon Home Cinema and Amazon Prime
Day: Friday 21st May
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
Teatime with Tricia - Dr Jim Down
Dr Down is head of the ICU at University College London. He is also author of the book 'Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis'
Day: Tuesday 25th May
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB