Dive: Rituals in Water

What a lovely way to start of your day, with Dive: Rituals in Water. It is a documentary about Snorri, an Icelandic swimming instructor. He started out teaching adults with developmental and co-ordination challenges, and then went on to open the nation’s first baby swim class.

What he learnt was just fascinating, teaching babies a few months old to dive and swim and stand up. I mean, it sounds unreal, but apparently before a baby learns to walk, they will still automatically hold their breath when underwater. The first time you see it, it is quite startling, and my first instinct is always to panic, but he really knows what he’s doing and pays such close attention to the body language of the wee ones.

Once they learnt to swim and dive, he can lift them out the water, and they will lock their knees, standing upright on his hands from the age of 4 months. It’s just extraordinary.

The swim class is also full of music, rhymes, and stories told in songs. It is a full workout for their little brains, learning rhythm, communication, interaction, co-ordination, balance and movement.

The film is really good at bringing you right down to the babies’ level and showing their little faces as they figure things out, grow in confidence in their dives, and trust their parents as they introduce them to these new things. You see each of their wee personalities shine through. Just a lovely documentary.

The Third Marriage

The Third Marriage is a movie about how we fall in love with our friends. Martin is an old grumpy gay guy left bankrupt by the death of his husband. Tamara is an African migrant who needs to marry for a visa. A deal is done and they shack up to prove the validity of their relationship. With humour and warmth, a friendship forms.

I loved Tamara. She blows into his life like a whirlwind. A boundary-crossing, nosey, grabby, messy, presumptuous, demanding, high-maintence ball of life you can’t help but love. She makes a beautiful mess of his life and her own. Heartwarming.

Alone at my Wedding

Alone At My Wedding is about a young Roma woman who tries to get into being a mail order bride. She’s not very good at it, coz she’s lazy, messy and can’t cook. But you’re routing for her. Why should tidy bitches get all the breaks?

The main character manages to be sympathic despite in many ways not being that likeable. Her secret is that she’s sending money back home for her infant daughter, who she got knocked up with way too young. It’s pretty irreconcilable with her new life.

A surprisingly funny look at power differentials between two people using each other to fulfil a fantasy.

Girl

I’d heard some of the criticism of Girl, that it focused too much on the trans body and placed too much emphasis on medical transition. Then I saw it, and boy howdy! Does it ever. I mean, wow. Yeah, not difficult to see why folks had problem with it.

This is very much a trans story told through a cis lens. There’s even an element of gawking in much of the camera work, and it does feel very objectifying, which works against its central drive. I mean, you see her genitalia so many times, you see her put on or take off her tuck tape so many times, you see her morning glory. A lot of the shots having the feeling of the cis gaze looking in on the trans experience.

And it’s almost every third scene. You can almost count off every scene in this order: transition scene, ballet scene, family scene, transition scene, ballet scene, family scene. Just same content round and round.

I feel the director really did intend to develop a three-dimensional trans girl as the main character but where are her friends? This teenage trans lassie doesn’t know a single other queer person. In a major city. Doesn’t have a single conversation with a queer person online or engage with any community space. Who ever heard of that? This is so a cis idea about the life of the one trans person you know.

And I genuinely do feel the director came to this movie with good intentions, but its portrayal of the trans experience is that it is isolating, lonely and sad. In many ways, it’s a big step backward from the more diverse storytelling about a range of experience we’ve seen in recent years.

I’m not saying don’t go see it, because it is a worthwhile film in many ways, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself cringing at some of the shots.

Angel

Angel is the story of a Belgian professional cyclist hiring a Senegalese sex worker for the night. He is the most unbearable self-pitying, braggart, blowhart, drug-addled, misogynistic, abusive, utter cunt. He is as likeable as Joffrey. I genuinely spent the movie hoping he’d die soon. For all his privilege, wealth, fame and talent, he is the architect of all his own problems, and has the gall to moan about them and blame everyone but himself.

He spends the evening talking shite in her ear, then turns on her after some more coke and smack. Weirdly the film doesn’t seem to realise he’s just the worst cunt and the title Angel is actually for him, his nickname. Indeed, the lassie seems to actually be taken in by his shite, which it is difficult for me to imagine any woman, especially a sex worker, not seeing through this immediately. 

Keep Going

Keep Going is a cowboy movie of a kind. Two partners cross the Kyrgyzstan steppe on horseback. An angry young man and his estranged mother, struggling to find common ground across this trying journey. In another way it is a love story, of a man letting go of years of resentment and allowing himself to love his mother.

Kissing Candice

An Irish film about a lassie whose epilepsy may or may not be giving her psychic visions, and a local gang of drooges who are responsible for the disappearance of a young boy. That being said, it feels like the film’s about nothing. I got bored very early in (although it felt long enough for me) and there was nothing to regain my attention for the rest of the film.

The Cured

A zombie allegory for the release of political and paramilitary prisoners and their reintegration back into their community after the end of The Troubles. To hammer it home, the zombie virus is called the Maze virus (Maze Prison, Maze virus, gedit?) It’s one of those films where I actually would have preferred to read as a book. There’s a lot of really interesting ideas, but the actual characters feel more vehicles for that than real, lived in people. It’s also one of those horror films that confuses loud for scary. But it does have plenty of good zombie shit so I was still happy.