In 2016, I saw three films at the cinema. Somehow, I’ve seen the same number in the past week – all of which have been great, albeit very different. Here is a quick round up, in the order I saw them…
Probably the one that’s going to get the most accolades, but maybe my least favourite of these three – even though I still really liked it. I wasn’t sure I would. War films bore me, and Christopher Nolan is a very bombastic director – but somehow I was swept away. On paper, it shouldn’t work for the discerning cinema-goer: there’s no character development, no plot, and basically the whole thing is “people escape Dunkirk”. Which obviously is what happened, but there’s nothing more in the way of development. But it’s somehow great nonetheless. Harry Styles is much better than we had any right to expect, and it’s got the most shameless use of Elgar ever.
Guys, this film is about CATS. It’s a documentary in Turkish (yes, I watched subtitles) about the stray cats in Istanbul. I went because I love cats so much, but it’s also a gentle, interesting story about the people who feed the stray cats – looking at those who find it restorative, or grudgingly enjoyable, or simply something that just seemed to happen to them. It’s also, in the background, about the changing landscape and lifestyle of Istanbul, as markets are torn down for tower blocks. But mostly it’s cats being their beautiful, characterful selves; I saw it in an independent cinema full of Cat People, and we awwwed and ahhhed together.
The Big Sick
A truly awful title – particularly for British audiences – but a really excellent film; my favourite of the three. It stars Kumail Nanjiani in a loosely altered version of himself (called, yes, Kumail) – he wrote it with his wife Emily Gordon, and it’s about their relationship. Kumail (both character and actor) is a Pakistani stand-up comedian, born in Pakistan and now living in America. He falls in love with Emily, a white American, while his parents continue to try to find a suitable Pakistani Muslim girl to be his arranged bride. Everything changes when Emily gets sick, and Kumail must convince her parents that he should stay in the picture. The film is very funny, very moving, and entirely successful at combining the two. Romcoms have a bad name now, and hardly any seem to be released anymore, but this is one not to miss.