A Film A Week: 01

Ask me about books, and I could go on for hours about which ones I love, which ones I hate, those I could read a thousand times over and those I would happily never see again. Same goes for music. Films, however, are a whole other story- I have no real reason for it but the list of movies I have actually seen is strangely minuscule for a teenager that loves all kind of art forms. After one particularly in-depth conversation with my stepdad, who is one of those people that can name the director, release date and whole cast of practically every film ever made, it was decided that I was in desperate need of a film education. Now it’s not like I have never seen a movie before; I’ve watched my fair share of Mean Girls and Harry Potter’s, but it was those cult classics that everyone and their mother seems to have seen that I’ve somehow managed to avoid seeing for the first eighteen years of my life. So, along with said film buff stepdad, a month ago I spent an arguably productive Sunday afternoon going through the IMDb ‘Top 100 Films’ list and creating a list of 52 films to watch (the idea was one a week for a year, in case you hadn’t guessed).

So without further ado, the next Sunday rolled around and we were ready on the sofa with ‘Pulp Fiction’ in the DVD player and a good old roast on our plates. I know a lot of people are going to be in disbelief that I haven’t seen what has to be one of the most famous and best-loved classics of the nineties, and in all honesty I have no idea how I’ve managed to get this far without watching it. I’m pretty sure this was also the first Tarantino that I’ve ever seen and I can definitely see why both he and this film have been so successful. Pulp Fiction is funny in an ironic way, manages to be violent without being classed as an action of any shape or form, confusing at times thanks to its disjointed storyline, but also clever and definitely worth a watch. Is it worth all the hype that surrounds it? My stepdad would certainly say not; I would be inclined to agree, but it’s definitely one of those films that everyone should see at some point- if only so you finally understand the multitude of references that seem to be made to it in everyday life.

One week on and the setting is pretty much the same, apart from this time on the screen is ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’, one of my stepdads favourite films that I have never really heard a lot about. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly pumped to watch it for reasons that I can no longer remember, but it completely blew my expectations out of the water. Directed by the Coen brother and starring the likes of George Clooney, it’s set up to be a pretty great film and it certainly lives up to that. Witty and funny, it’s set in Great Depression-ridden Mississippi and has everything a good film needs, from a great soundtrack to cop chases. Apparently it’s based on the Odyssey and is full of references but I’ll be completely honest and admit that I didn’t realise this until (no surprise) my stepdad informed me… Nevertheless it’s a really great feel good film and I would heartily recommend if you want a chilled evening watching something that’s not too taxing on the brain!

The third and most recent installment of my movie education came in the shape of ‘Memento’, a film that I knew nothing about besides the title and the intriguing DVD cover. As we sat down to watch, my stepdad warned me that I would have to actually focus on what was happening to understand, which is always something that immediately instills fear in me- although he is plenty justified in warning me as I am horrendous at remembering who is who and what is happening in even the simplest of plotlines. ‘Memento’ is the story of a man whose wife is brutally murdered and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to finding her killer. The only minor problem is that thanks to the killer, he himself suffered an injury that left him with short-term memory loss- he can remember everything up until the accident clear as day, but anything since then only lasts a matter of minutes before disappearing from his brain.. bit of an issue when you’re trying to solve a murder case. I think my favourite thing about watching this was that it is shot completely from the protagonist’s perspective; we follow him, see what he sees, know no more than he knows and are deceived just as successfully as he is himself. If you’re looking for a movie whose concept is something new and refreshing that makes you think a bit more than your average rom-com or feel-good film, then this is your guy.

The plan is to put these mini reviews up about once a month as I slowly make my way through the list, although thanks to the almost-impossible task of finding a single night of the week when none of us are busy, sticking to a film a week might be a tad unrealistic. Either way, I hope you found entertainment in some form or other in this because I’ll be back shortly ready to impart even more of my superior knowledge as I delve deeper into the world of films. Three down, fourty-nine to go.

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Less Talk, More Action Please

If I asked people my age which political party they supported, I can pretty much guarantee that the vast majority would have no idea how to answer. To tell you the truth, up until a year ago I’d have struggled myself to tell you more than the surface differences between them. So no wonder the media complains about a lack of youth engagement in politics.

On Thursday of last week, my politics teacher organised a question time at my school, with local members of the five most prominent parties- from Green to UKIP. One of the many issues raised was the question of how the parties planned to combat the ever-increasing political disengagement, particularly in youths.  It’s funny because all of the parties got pretty excited over this question, insisting that “something must be done about it” and “my party will take measures to combat this problem”, yet not a single one cared to explain exactly how they planned on doing this.

How can you blame people for not trusting politicians, when this is a clear example of a promise with no real substance. The only redeeming one of the bunch was Chris Watts (the Labour candidate in my constituency in the 2015 election), who was completely honest in plainly admitting that the parties simply don’t do much to appeal to youths because they know that the so-called “grey vote” is the one that really matters.

Is that really an excuse though? Do they expect it to just fix itself? It’s clear that voting turnouts are just going to decrease in a society which no longer has politics ingrained into its core; in which young people grow up not even having any clue  how our government works. And I fail to see any real efforts to prevent this.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had this discussion though- I was lucky enough to meet with my local MP Claire Perry a couple of months ago and we talked about this exact issue. What’s ridiculous is that that when you talk to the individual members, they all seem to get it. They understand the importance of this issue and they really want ideas and advice on how we, the youths, believe it can be improved. Yet this never seems to to translate to a national level.. nothing is ever actually done, and talking about it doesn’t solve anything.

Whilst many politicians have argued that the fact that people like me are talking about this issue shows that not everyone is politically apathetic, and that events like the question time at school and meeting with Claire are great ways of widening interest. But to be completely honest, they are just preaching to the choir. The only people that attend these kind of events are those who care in the first place; what really needs doing is to target the youth population as a whole, and the only way of doing this is through education.

I have friends that live in America, and they are so shocked that we have no form of compulsory politics taught in school, accept for a tiny module in year 11 Philosophy & Religion that even the teachers seemed to show no interest in. Whilst there were people at question time that proposed compulsory voting as a way of forcing people to educate themselves, I see that  the best way surely is to just make it the norm to vote, as was the case when we had voting turnouts of 75-80%. If we introduced politics into the mandatory curriculum, then maybe people would actually be vaguely interested in voting. I’m not talking about in-depth analysis of parties and government as I do now in A Level Politics, but just a basic level of understanding is all I feel is needed to combat this youth disengagement in politics, which is a real problem.

I know this is unlikely to change anytime soon, but  I think it’s about time politicians were honest about what they are actually going to do to prevent the next generation from not even knowing the Prime Minister’s name. So less talk, more action please.