Saturday, March 19, 2011

two sound things you should do this weekend: submarine, and the best deli in the world

No messing, I'm legitimately writing from a burgeoning food-coma while Ceri is lying unconscious on the couch because he's so full, and so happy. Our lunch today cost 11 Euros, but I'll get on to that (where it came from and why you should get in on it) later on.

Submarine. The new indie English/Welsh type film directed by the dude who most people would know as Moss from the IT Crowd (Richard Ayoade). So I always kind of hesitate when about to write a film review because to be fair, I go in with a bias every time, because taking film studies of some sort each semester for four years in my degree basically destroyed my ability to just go in and be entertained. See previous joyous review of Disney's Tangled for the one recent exception to this argument, and see previous angry review of The Black Swan for a perfect example of this argument. Also I'm not going to spoil this one, because it's worth going on a journey with as a piece of cinema and finding out how it folds out by yourself. I'm aware I ruined The Black Swan (SHE TURNS INTO THE BLACK SWAN) but that's because it was terrible.

However, Submarine invited me in with open arms. Blurbs about it suggested it'd remind me of early Wes Anderson, it was kitchen-sink-realism-ish, it captured all the ugly awkwardness of being a teenager, etc, etc. I like films that capture awkward ugly teenage-ish moments, because it gives me one of those big warm 'thank fuck I'm not fifteen anymore' smiles. Mmm. Love that moment.

So, it tells the story of Oliver Tate's coming of age and quest to keep his parents from splitting up over his mother's feelings for her teenage sweetheart who grew up into a self-help and mysticism guru. That's it, no frills. Now, Oliver Tate as a character is not a far cry from Max Rushmore. In fact there are some remarkable similarities. The Welsh counterpart is little less cringey, which is good, a bit more haunting. Actually, importantly, quite a bit funnier too. The kid who portrays him, Craig Roberts, has a real haunting look about him. Facially he's not dissimilar from Daniel Radcliffe, but has this kind of buzz of being perpetually in fear of things. His eyes are huge, big scared glassy things. He has really limited dialogue but uses it well. There's really little dialogue in the film in it's entirety actually but it doesn't need it, where most people would throw in loads of stupid chat, Ayoade just shows with facial expressions and silences. To really strong effect and all. For a good example, keep an eye out for the bus-stop scene.

The girl he's into is unusual enough as a love-interest, pyromaniac and stocky. But again, funny, and has some of the most cracking lines in the whole film
Without context, you have no idea. But when she says it, you'll fall around laughing. Literally, everyone in the screen I saw it in laughed aloud. That's a brilliant feeling: when you and all these strangers are experiencing joy at the same moment. That doesn't count as a spoiler by the way.

This film is full of my favourite thing in the world: metaphor. Now, metaphor can make me really furious and pissy and sarcastic (SHE'S TURNING INTO A BLACK SWAN) or, when it's used with a really light and knowing touch, can be really moving and insightful. The film is set by the sea and there is a lot of watery imagery, as Oliver's father Lloyd is a marine biologist. This pretty clearly links into the title of the film, but again, when the meaning hatches, it really is one of those draw your breath moments. Their relationship is gorgeous and moving and funny, if not at the beginning of the film, when it seems ordinary and embarrassing, it grows into something very beautiful. And when the metaphors kick in, Christ they're like someone rubbing your shoulders and going 'See? This is how it's done. Now, isn't that satisfying?'

Not that Submarine is without it's flaws. It's an indie fest. Pure littered with silent references and a villain that has become such a contemporary indie cinema cliché that as Ceri pointed out, we have met him twice in iconic indie films in the last ten years. I'll just say Napoleon Dynamite and no more, because while Paddy Considine does a great job, the construction of that particular character could have been way better. He doesn't believe his own bullshit, as a psychic-self-help dude, or whatever it is he's meant to be. He has a hilarious van. But he clashes very violently with the soft aesthetic that the film achieves. Now maybe that was intentional, I don't know. Just sayin'. Also, it's not Napoleon Dynamite as a film. There's just an echo in the villain. It has a much gentler touch than Dynamite (and is also much, much funnier).

The other issue I had was that, again I don't know if this was intentional, but it had moments that felt a bit like a hipster's wet dream. All the duffle-coats, sunglasses at night, super 8 footage and Polaroid cameras, type-writers and jump-cuts and fireworks you would see scrolling through any fashionable kid's Tumblr dashboard.   Again Oliver's soft 70s/80s Welsh universe is punctuated by these things that have become a contemporary pop-culture obsession. Maybe that's popculture's fault and not the film's, maybe I just read to many blogs and  am over-sensitive to the appropriation of these things to make images and films look 'authentic' but I'm just saying that if you throw in a line like 'the super-8 film of my memory' JUST to show a reel of super-8 that showed EXACTLY what you've just shown in a lovely montage only one cut before, then you're dicking around. That's a very fussy issue on my part and could easily be ignored. I mean I have a typewriter and a fucking Polaroid and frequently wear sunglasses at night so who am I to complain? Just noticed. Just sayin'. The soundtrack is lovely, by the way. Might actually go out on a limb and buy it (I have not bought a CD or downloaded a new album in about 2 years).

So basically what I'm saying is you should go and see it, it's really good. Not without it's flaws but really, genuinely a gorgeous film that really does make you laugh, and relate to the character, and thank God you're not a 15 year old boy. It's surprising, and sad, and really aesthetically pleasing in a great many ways and I seriously fucking hope that Ayaode isn't just a one-trick-pony because it's a great film and I think he'll find his voice, because these first notes out of him are truly savage. Loved it.

SO that other sound thing you should do? Get down to the Fallon & Byrne Deli. I'm actually so close to my food-coma right now that I can't go into detail about how incredible my lunch was without fainting from being stuffed, but legit, this stuff is home-made and delicious and cheaper than McDonalds. Now don't be distracted by their cool American Food selection because it is imported and thus, shocker expensive, but just head straight down to the Deli and check out some of the incredible things they have there which are generally, around 5 or 6 euro to eat in or take out. They come with one salad too, or a carby thing, like their mashed potato. (You'd wanna see how much I flirted out of the Deli assistant today, shockin'). I know Fallon & Bryne get a bad rap and I'm not singing the whole establishment's praises (despite the fact that you can get Oreo flavoured Pop-Tarts there) BUT seriously? If you're looking for a cheap, healthy, filling lunch, hit that place up. I feel like that isn't really a review or anything, just a wholehearted recommendation. Fallon & Byrne is on Exchequer Street across from the Buffalo shoe shop where all the girls used to get their flame runners, remember that? It's also next to Uki-Yo Japanese restaurant/karaoke bar.
Just sayin'.

So party on lads I'll talk to yis soon
I'm clearly not doing college work right now



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