Thursday, 9 February 2012

Films on a Plane, I can't complain

Travelling to New York on Virgin Atlantic has made me realise what I'm missing out on every time I've taken a Ryanair or Easyjet flight.  Endless Pepsi's and a huge list of films to choose from on demand to be watched on a little screen embedded in the chair in front of me.  Good times!  Never has seven hours on a plane flown (haha) by so quickly.  And that's coming from the world's most (understandably) nervous flyer. 

I had the choice of Drive, Tintin, The Ides of March, The Inbetweeners, The Skin I Live In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and many many others.  Some I'd already seen and many more I was desperate to see.  Having waited this long to see Drive, there was no way I was going to have it spoiled by interruptions from the pilot, a crappy small screen or one of the 31 students on board freaking out and requiring assistance.  Instead I went for films that I hadn't hyped out of all proportion and that would hopefully not lose much of their impact on a very small screen.  So on the way way to New York, here's what I watched and a short review:

Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Killing Oscar winning actresses left, right and centre is one way to make a story unpredictable and Soderbergh does his fair share here.  When a deadly virus sweeps the world, an ensemble of acting talent deal with the threat of infection in different ways.  Winslet tackles it head on, Paltrow just dies, Damon protects his daughter by locking her indoors and Law blogs about the possibilities of a cure.  Realistically creating the near-apocalypse and the government response but also finding time for quieter, sweeter moments as ordinary people struggle to survive, Soderbergh makes a pretty conventional movie that is both entertaining and engaging.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2012)
Another indie with a bit of a non-ending (see also Like Crazy), this demands to be seen for Elizabeth Olsen’s brave and committed performance as a young girl, Martha, who is struggling to come to terms with her former life in a cult.  With a wonderfully non-linear narrative that flashes back and forth in time between Martha’s life in the cult and the time she spends later with her sister, it never feels confusing and finds consistently excellent ways to cross the time gap.  Olsen is perfect and the script is ambiguous in its portrayal of the leader and members of the cult and the more ‘normal’ characters that Martha ends up with.  Haunting and beautiful with great performances, the final scene might annoy even the most devoted indie fans of open endings.

Tower Heist (Brett Ratner, 2011)
Deeply average caper about the service workers in a tower block who are scammed out of their pensions by the rich bastard who lives at the top of the tower.  Rarely funny enough to warrant belly-laughs and not emotional enough to make you really care for the characters, it is predictable and mildly entertaining.  However it is a total waste of the talent (Stiller, Affleck, Alda, Sidibe) and a disappointing ‘come-back’ for Murphy.  At least while in New York we got to see the Trump tower which was used for the exterior shots of the building where the heist takes place.  So that was nice.

Then on the flight home I was too knackered to watch anything except Moneyball.  Great film but what a shame I wasted free access to all the other films I wanted to watch.  Overall what I have learnt is that if you are a nervous flyer, go with Virgin and enjoy all the cinematic fruits that they have to offer!

And is it me or do they not cut films for planes anymore? I thought they all had to be PG rated when shown on planes but this seems to no longer be the case or I just made that up in my head.  You decide...