Friday, 22 January 2016


What a month it has been for my favourite pastime: going to the cinema.

There are a few things that give me great pleasure in life. Like fresh sheets; ticking everything off on my To Do list; thick, white bread toast with marmalade; a cinnamon swirl and latte at Starbucks, and movies that are based on true events.

The Coen Brothers took the Micky out of this concept, believing that most so-called based-on movies had a tenuous link at best, so at the start of their great movie, and now TV series, Fargo, on screen comes the immortal words, This Is A True Story.

However, every now and again, leading up to Oscar season, a series of memorable films hit the big screen. The last time I recall a year as good as this one was in 2013/14, when the likes of 12 Years A Slave, Captain Philips, The Butler and Philomena were screened.

These all had one thing in common. They were all based on true events.

And this year it is the same again. So far I have seen Carol, based on a taboo lesbian love in 1950s America; Joy, about a woman who invented the self squeezing mop; The Danish Girl, the events that led a transgender man to the worlds first sex change operation; Room, based on the abduction of a girl who was then kept prisoner and gave birth to her captors offspring, and finally, The Revenant, set in the mid 1800s Canada, and the brutal life of fur trappers.

The last of these, The Revenant, can only be described with one word, grueling. The story centres around a man, played by Leonadro DiCaprio, on a quest to avenge the murder of his son. But what he goes through is startling, and painful to watch. He's attacked by a grizzly at one point, and not just once, but three times. We're right in their with the action. It looks so real (guy in a motion capture suit) I was pushing myself back in the seat. At one point the bears snout comes close to the camera, and the camera suddenly goes still, and you hold your breath, feeling that the cameraman is actually there at a real attack. And he's next! Gripping stuff.

DiCaprio has already won the Golden Globe, and he'll win every other award, as should the filmmakers. We watch as he is literally immersed in a frozen river of northern Alberta in the depths of winter, crawling out, clearly in actual pain. Starving, he eats a real raw fish in full screen. I could go on, but you should see this movie yourself. It is 15 minutes short of three hours, but I didn't notice it. It's not for the squeamish, but then again, what he goes through, and we witness, is not gratuitous. It is very much part of the story.

Still to come are two more "based on true events' movies: The Big Short, which centres around the lead up to the financial crash of 2008, and Spotlight, when the Boston Globe newspaper uncovered dodgy goings on by priests in the Catholic Church.

I find films that have an element of truth in them far more entertaining that some Marvel comic escapade, or teen movie sex romp. They have their place, but for me it is the true story every time.

After all, they do say that the truth is stranger than fiction.

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