The new(ish) look Ultimate Pic Palace – and a film review too!
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Mr Muddy and I went to the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford last night, the first time we’ve been since it was tarted up with a slick new facade (which I love), fancy new chairs and some natty wallpaper features. Had a lovely little indie cinema experience in the bijou 121 seater screening room, with a good coffee (sorry about the nail job, below) and a packet of Smarties while watching Blue is the Warmest Colour.
Well! Ahem! I’m not going to regale you with a lengthy review of the winner of 2013’s Palme d’Or (or as Mr Muddy put it last night as he exited the cinema slightly stunned, the Palme Bore). You have the broadsheets for that and frankly Mark Kermode and Peter Bradshaw can do no wrong in my eyes.
But if you’re planning to see this mega-hyped release, offered plaudits and 5 star reviews from every newspaper, magazine and critic in this kingdom, there’s a couple of things you need to know.
1. It’s long. And it’s French (which counts for an extra hour). A princely three and a half hours of your life is what you’ll need to dedicate to this explosive tale of modern lesbian love. Do your bladder a favour and don’t drink too much before the film starts.
2. Ah yes, the lesbian bit. Prudishness is not my natural state but thank God the lights were turned down – I reckon everyone was blushing! As you no doubt already know, there’s a lot of very graphic lesbian sex going on. Very brave heterosexual actresses, and possibly a slightly pervy director creating some highly charged sex scenes – one seven minutes long (no I wasn’t timing it, *sniff*, I’ve done my research you know). The scenes are erotic, unusual and with shock value too. But then the second time is not so surprising, and by the third you’ve kind of got used to it and got out your knitting. Sex, schmex!
3. The dancing. You may see this film and think how strange and contrived it is for these French people to dance so uninhibitedly in a room/outdoor bar/ back garden next to a washing line. I’d like to make it clear that this is totally realistic, having been to several low-key drinks parties thrown by a French friend of mine in Paris. Each time I’ve watched in amazement at how her perfectly sober friends get up and groove away unselfconsciously to terrible local music. It’s all terrifyingly un-British. Pour the tea, quick.
4. Why say in one sentence what you can say in three? Whole chunks of dialogue are given over to conversations about whether the tomatoes in the pasta were bought from the local market. Pretentious student discussions about the importance of art. Dull ten minute scenes from school lessons. The film is slow, ponderous, explorative, indulgent. If you like your action fast and furious, it’s not the film for you.
5. Go see it, if it’s showing where you are. I say that with slight trepidation, given that Mr Muddy thought it the slowest, most pretentious film he’s seen in years. But I enjoyed it. Undoubtedly the film would have been better with 90 minutes chopped (easily done too I reckon) – it did meander dangerously in places and whole scenes could have been chopped without issue. But even so, Blue is the Warmest Colour has stayed with me today. Issues of young love, infidelity, power play, sexuality, delivered in a powerful new package. You can’t ask much more than that of a film, can you?
PS Blue is the Warmest Colour has finished at the UPP, but this week it shows another risqué French film, Jeune et Jolie, which tells the story of a 17 year old girl who discovers her burgeoning sexuality and starts a double life as a prostitute. What japes!