It’s the Marmite of the movie world: you either love it or you hate it.
Never have I heard a movie going audience so divided; and never have I laughed so much in the face of Marmite lovers. So, here goes. Are you ready?
I hate Marmite.
I hate The Revenant.
The Irrelevant (yes, I hate it that much) has a lot of grunting in it. I am not averse to grunting per se, especially if said grunter is Leonardo di Caprio, but I just want something more. Yes, I know the movie’s allegorical, the bear’s great, it’s shot in natural light, blah-di-blah-di-blah, but just because a few actors got cold during the making of it doth not great art make.
For me, it hasn’t been the best of years in the movies. Every week, I see truly great art on TV – Suits, Law and Order, The Good Wife, Billions – and feel so blessed that we really do live in the golden age of television. But when it comes to the big screen, I am invariably disappointed.
This year, it astonished me that Aaron Sorkin’s adapted screenplay Steve Jobs did not make it on to the Oscar shortlist, whereas Grunthog Day looks all set to clean up in almost every category. The first half of Room was extraordinary, but then turned into something that made it seem as if the director had left that room and made room for an entirely different species altogether. In an instant, we seemed to go from Bergman to Danielle Steel.
I adored Brooklyn, not least because the struggle between one’s roots and one’s ambition is, for me, coming from Wales, something with which I battle my whole life. I really liked Spotlight, and, although it was no All the President’s Men, it made a gripping detective story out of a well-worn theme. The Big Short was watchable but incomprehensible (despite the patronising “star” inserts), and The Lady in the Van was just okay. If you like ladies. And vans.
Many years ago, I crawled through someone’s legs to reach Steven Spielberg, who had just won an award for Schindler’s List. I wanted to talk to him about another movie, though. After being introduced, I said: “I know you’ve just won for another movie, but can I just say that I think ET is the greatest movie ever made.” He replied: “Thank you so much. Do you know, I was thinking about that on Friday, and I think you could well be right.”
It remains my favourite movie of all time. It encompasses all the big, great themes – love, loss, friendship, separation, power, despair – and has the greatest cinematic moment (again, for me) ever. Those bicycles. The moment of transcendence: leaving the old world behind. Magic. Everything’s possible.
And then. Coming back to Earth. Literally and metaphorically. ET: Come. Elliot: Stay. And there you have it: the great human dilemma and the greatest story that can ever be told. I want you to come with me. I want you to stay with me. And it can’t, for whatever reason, ever happen. I am crying just writing about it. Ouch. Ouch. I’ll be right here. WAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
I just don’t feel moved like I used to in the cinema, whereas TV regularly tears me apart. When Will Gardner (Josh Charles) died in The Good Wife, I howled. I never got over it (neither did the show, which CBS has just axed). I get very stressed every time something bad happens to Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in NCIS, and I bite off all my nails when Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) in Suits sails too close to the wind (often - I have to move on to my toe-nails every time they threaten to put him back together with the totally unsuitable Scottie).
Television has been my life. It still amazes me that this 52- inch slice of black in the corner of my room consistently delivers such unspeakable joy every single hour of every week. When people say, trying to impress, “I don’t watch television”, I have just one response: Yes, it shows (cue sad face).
So, while I am sure that The Irrelevant will be picking up gongs, come February 28th, my heart belongs to telly.