Things must be going back to normal if there were only three cinema outings for me in July (and none in August, incidentally). I pray this resumption of regular routines isn’t a short-lived reprieve and that we don’t return to the world of restrictions in the autumn. But no point worrying about that at the moment.
Time and worrying were high on the agenda in one of the trio of movies I clocked up in the last two months: Harry Macqueen’s Supernova. A disappointing presentation of a long-established couple’s handling degenerative illness, its central performances (from Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth) were as balanced and thoughtful as one might have expected. But there was a clunking literalness to the whole affair that left few opportunities for deep engagement with the characters and their problems.
There was no shortage of engagement in Summer Of Soul, Questlove’s absorbing documentary about a 1969 music festival that captured the hearts and memories of thousands of New Yorkers, and then seemingly vanished into obscurity. Fortunately for us, some very impressively recorded footage of the concerts was recently discovered, and it now forms the core of this must-see piece of work, in which irresistible tunes are employed to contextualise several key events from the history of 20th century America.
Finally, history, time, worrying, honesty and the very nature of existence all came together in Thomas Vinterberg’s superlative Another Round — a study of a group of very Scandinavian men and their decision to maintain a state of permanent tipsiness in an attempt to improve their engagement with life. There was so much to enjoy and admire here, not least the effortless handling of the unexpectedly heartfelt ideas, as well as Mads Mikkelsen’s gorgeous, intelligent central performance. When this film consistently beat Quo Vadis, Aida? in several high-profile awards ceremonies, I confess I found myself doubtful that it could be superior to Jasmila Zbanic’s harrowing, equally brilliant piece of work. But now that I’ve seen it for myself, I’m not sure which of the two I would have chosen had I been on an awards jury. Thankfully, both are available for all of us to admire.