What have we been watching at Polari HQ this week?
When I was a boy I wanted to grow up to look like Alain Delon. It was never going to happen, but I’d seen him on telly one wet Sunday afternoon and it was love at first sight. He remains a style icon for me and in this movie from 1969 he’s paired with the equally beautiful and stylish Romy Schneider (they’d been engaged some years before and, despite splitting up, remained close friends). The camera loves the couple’s slender, glistening, golden bodies and invites us to enjoy them too. There’s an easy on-screen sexual chemistry but also a definite late-sixties sensibility – particularly towards female sexuality – as the film explores layers of sexual tension and jealousy, power-trips and game-playing in relationships. There’s also a great performance from a young Jane Birkin, gawky and gauche as a baby giraffe, but it’s the film’s central couple you can’t take your eyes off, even as their relationship sours.
Andrew Darley – Holy Motors dir. Leos Carax
Taking myself on a miserably wet afternoon to cinema this week proved to be a great decision. Not only did it keep the rain off my head but I also saw possibly one of the most inventive films of 2012. I had read snippets about Holy Motors online and seen the trailer, neither of which gave away a whole lot about the plot, so I essentially went into it blind. What unfolded was a story of a man whose profession revolves around performing several characters across Paris. Sound familiar? It may be because it taps into a common feeling in which we we must carry out various roles with different people in our lives on a daily basis. It also explores the idea that people have become complacent and dependent on technology and are happy to go through life without much feeling, or in other words acting. Walking out of the cinema, still raining, I knew I had seen a director’s vision come to life; blurring the lines between reality and fantasy with some truly obscure and inspiring moments.
Christopher Bryant – Californication, Season 1
I’m late to this party, I know, but I’ve only just started watching Californication, which has just completed its sixth season run. Before I started, David Duchovny was forever Fox Mulder, and he would always be in an X-Files universe, obsessing over conspiracies while Scully questioned his every word with a frown. The David Duchovny in Californication, the writer Hank Moody – yes it’s a terrible name but don’t let that put you off – is a completely different creature. He is irreverent, perpetually randy, and a fearless irritant to public bullies – the scene in which he takes on a man who is on his phone in the cinema is a great wish fulfillment. The ensemble cast is uniformly good, and really funny, particularly his agent, Charlie Runkle, played by Evan Handler. It’s definitely a heterosexual male paradise. The women are all hot, and the men less so. But then, I like that about it as I am interested in the story and characters, and not who’s a fantasy ….
Little Bastard – Girls HBO
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to relate to a character on a TV show 100%. So when I was told to watch HBO series Girls, it took me a while to actually take that advice, as I figured this would be another, glamourised, “fashion porn” view of New York life a la Sex And The City. Boy, was I wrong. Based around writer Hannah, whose parents have been paying her rent since graduating from college and taking an unpaid internship, this Brooklyn-based TV show is like an indie film version of Carrie Bradshaw, without the forced style and even more forced relationships. Hannah is rude, self-entitled, says inappropriate things, dates inappropriate men and is, essentially, me. Like a cross between Claire Danes and early Winona Ryder, actress, writer and director Lena Dunham manages to craft a central character that is all parts of us – including the selfish parts we try to pretend don’t exist. I devoured all 10 episodes, which begin airing on Sky Atlantic on Monday, in 24 hours, and this is probably the closest thing I have ever seen to an adult version of 90’s TV show My So Called Life, which in my opinion is a very good thing indeed. I increasingly feel, living in London, that I haven’t got it together … that, at 31, I should have the boyfriend, and the flat, and the high paid job, that I should have dinner parties, and a dog, and the life that we’re all told we should aspire to as a kid. The dysfunctional and, at some points, unlikeable characters in Girls show you that not everyone has it together – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Thank god. Now, to wait for season two…