Must try easier

Ok, the other day I said was going to see Up on Sunday. Well, I didn’t. I’m nothing if not inconsequential.

But I did get a double bill in, and possibly the most distressing double bill since I went to the then Peckham Premier a few years back on a Sunday to see the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Finding Nemo. I’ll leave it to you to work out which one of those was the most distressing.

Today I picked The Soloist, followed by Away We Go. If the following seems overly harsh or angry then I apologise. One of these films has put me in a hideously dark and furious mood.

Let’s get The Soloist out of the way quickly, because it’s not the offender, and I feel that on any other given Sunday I would likely be kinder.

Great cast. Three of my favourites; Robert Downey Jnr, Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener. I’ll watch them in anything.

A sweet and true story, though a little slight; not much that can be done there since it’s true… and of course ongoing. So good luck in particular to the real Nathaniel Ayers (a schizophrenic and, initially, homeless musician played by Jamie Foxx who is exploited… sorry, helped… by LA Times journalist Steve Lopez, played by Robert Downey Jnr).

I like the director’s style, but I always feel he needs to relax a bit. It’s directed by Joe Wright. He obviously knows what he’s doing but sometimes I feel he tries too hard. Sometimes his direction gets in the way and shouts out at us. Other directors (Scorsese, De Palma) are flashy show-offs too but they seem to serve the story more. Joe (I feel I can call him Joe since he’s not gone for some high falutin’ Joseph, and also it makes me think of my grandpa and my godson, and so, in a long and roundabout way, makes me feel less shameful for criticising him when I know nothing) …Joe, does some great stuff, but it’s as if he knows it’s great and can’t stop himself from doing it some more. There’s a lovely moment where Ayers talks of the pigeons from the street rising and flapping their wings, clapping the music. It’s a poetic image that Joe brings to life. To the music of Beethoven the pigeons rise and fly up from the subway. We follow them. They fly by a bridge, they fly higher… the music and the pigeons fill our world. They soar. It’s beautiful and we get it. And then they fly straight upwards into the heavens, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2- Die Harder. Something lovely, through being overegged, becomes silly.

But I cried and felt that even if it doesn’t get the Oscars it seems to want it’s a film that has its heart in the right place, and we can only be moved and wish well to the people of the Lamp Community in their battle to end homelessness.

I’m starting to feel ill as I approach writing about Away We Go. No trailer is going to be put up here. No free publicity. If it’s true that there’s no such as bad publicity then what can I do? That’s that. I’ll do my best to give it the worst publicity going and no doubt increase it’s bloody box office. Hell, as I sit here in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall, drinking my second pint of Theakston’s, I tap my computer keys so aggressively and with so much fury and anger someone has just come up and asked me if I am an installation.

Away We Go tells the tale of a quirky, sweet-natured couple who, upon finding they are going to have a baby and that the only living grandparents of the baby are about to move to Belgium, decide to go on a road trip, visiting friends and family thoughout the States and Canada. They do their road trip and they learn a thing or two. All sounds fine. But this is a film that takes the maybe somewhat elastic definition of an indie film and then chooses to… well, fuck it. And not in a nice way.

If, let’s say, Jordan represents all indie films, it’d be like she gave an interview to a Sunday tabloid and refused to name Sam Mendes as the man who so savagely abused her. Hell, I feel like he’s done me over too.

It might not be his fault. It’s not the actors. They all do their damnedest. This anger within me is not to do with liking this or that character; identifying with this or that character; hating this or that character. All my anger is firmly aimed at whoever wrote this piece of fraudulent shit. (Ok, I know it was written by two people- Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida- but I don’t want to know anymore about them in case I get cold feet and start to backtrack on how annoyed they’ve made me).

It’s just an out and out cheat of a film. No character is believable. The film would have worked better played as a Will Ferrell style arch comedy. Will Ferrell would have been great as the hippy nutjob of a partner to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character. They are visited in Madison and this is where one of the biggest cheats of the film takes place; just for the sake of a joke.

Our couple, Burt and Verona, ask another mother where they might find the Maggie character. With some venom, this seemingly aggrieved other mother points them in the direction of Maggie, declaring her to be the mother “without a stroller”.

Our couple meet Maggie and are quicky subjected to her alternative lifestyle.


Bloody hell! How often do I use capitals? Or Unnecessary extra exclamation marks? I’m so livid. It was just a big CHEAT to create a supposedly comic moment that had no right to exist.

I’ve had it. I’m finishing my pint and I’m off. I would like to see this film put in a brazier. I would like to see Wes Anderson, Mike Leigh, Shane Meadows, Miranda July, Jim Jarmusch… and anyone else who wants to join in… I’d like to see them all dump on this film and then drop a match in.

Let’s end on something fun. Here’s the trailer from a film I love. When is Miranda July going to make her next film?


About Simon Hickson

Hello anyone reading this. I'm Simon Hickson. Known to some (ie. old people from the 20th Century) as one half of a comedy double act called Trev and Simon. I'm the Simon half. I try to make a living writing. It almost works.
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