If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that we’re about more than just features and reviews. There’s a reason why ‘closer look’ discussion guides form a big part of our coverage. At Damaris Media, we believe that films should be experienced in community – and that community groups of all kinds can be enriched by what films have to offer.
So why not start a film club? Going to the cinema or watching a DVD together isn’t just a great way to be entertained and to unwind; it’s a way into the best kind of conversations.
Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are. – Tom Hanks
So it’s the morning after the night before (it’s still morning in L.A, OK?). All over Hollywood, celebrities are waking up with sore heads. Leo has fallen asleep clutching his statuette. Jenny Beavan, the evening’s biggest badass, is probably still partying.
What to make of it all, now that the dust has settled?
Here at Damaris Media we share an office with the folks from CharityOffice, including safeguarding specialist for charities Elaine Davidson. I wanted to hear her thoughts on the Oscar-nominated drama Spotlight, which tells the true story of the 2002 Boston sexual abuse scandal.
Hi Elaine, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Could you just share a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Hi Sophie! I have been an HR & Training consultant most of my life, but back when my children were pre-schoolers and I was juggling my career, I decided to open up my own Day Nursery. (As I didn’t have enough to do – joking – I needed good day care!). I began to get more involved, as the owner, in child protection. We were having children placed from Children’s Services who were in temporary accommodation and fragile situations. That was a steep learning curve.
I was called in to give evidence at child case conferences where I saw firsthand what abuse and neglect could look like. It caught my heart and I’ve gone on from there to dedicate my professional life to child protection.
You know the dilemma. You’re sat in a stuffy room strewn with bloated relatives and discarded scraps of wrapping paper. The food has been consumed, the presents have been opened; the charades, if you’re into that kind of organised jollity, have been played. And it’s only four o’clock. To get you through until bedtime, you’re going to have to watch a film.
But how to choose? The likelihood is, you’ve got such a range of ages and/or tastes represented that you’re never going to please everyone. You’re faced with potential boredom and confusion at best, and with deep embarrassment at worst. What if you’re forced to sit through a sex scene with grandma in the room? What if your hard-of-hearing uncle insists on having you explain every plot development in Inception? What if your annoying little brother makes you listen to his running commentary about the back-story of each of the Avengers?
Watching films at Christmas is a total minefield. Here at Damaris headquarters (which we share with staff from Charity Office), we may not have the answers, but we can certainly offer a little solidarity.
Ever heard of ‘Generation K’? No, I hadn’t either, until the upcoming release of the final Hunger Games film resulted in a spate of articles about the teenagers who have grown up with heroine Katniss Everdeen.
I discovered that unlike those currently aged between 20 and 30, the “Yes we can” generation, who grew up believing the world was their oyster, for Generation K the world is less oyster, more Hobbesian nightmare. This is the generation who’ve had Al Qaeda piped into their living rooms and smartphones and seen their parents and other loved ones lose their jobs. A generation for whom there are disturbing echoes of the dystopian landscape Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games’ District 12. Unequal, violent, hard.
What does it mean to have a diverse media, and why does it matter? These questions are explored by Anna Holmes in a recent New York Times piece, which looks at the issue more generally but touches on the film and TV industries. The term ‘diversity’, says Holmes, has to many people become at worst an irritant and at best a box to thoughtlessly tick.
She suggests that we tend to trumpet the exceptions to the rule whilst conveniently downplaying the enormous – and very provable – amount of bias that still remains.
Small victories are often overenthusiastically celebrated as evidence of larger change. In September, for example, when Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win the Best Actress in a Drama Series Emmy, the moment was cheered in the press as a triumph of racial equity in Hollywood. But just a month before, Stacy L. Smith, a professor of communication at U.S.C. who, with other researchers, had just released a damning report that studied gender bias in 700 films made between 2007 and 2014, lamented ‘‘the dismal record of diversity, not just for one group, but for females, people of color and the L.G.B.T. community.’’
I recently came across this piece by Don Aucoin in the Boston Globe about the perils of ‘rogue laughter’ for theatre actors. You’ve probably experienced the phenomenon – at a particularly intense, tragic or dramatic moment of a play, an inappropriate reaction from someone in the audience breaks the mood.
It was opening night of “A Number,’’ Caryl Churchill’s dark, chilling drama about cloning gone awry, and Nael Nacer was giving it his all in a performance of nonstop intensity at Watertown’s New Repertory Theatre.
Suddenly a young woman near the back of the theater shrieked with laughter. As the play went on, she punctuated the performance earlier this month with loud bursts of merriment, often joined by more than a dozen other chortling spectators — apparently convinced, against all evidence, that they were watching a comedy.
I scare easily. I’m not ashamed. (OK, maybe a little bit.) I don’t watch ‘proper’ horror films because my poor overactive imagination can’t handle it. But I do enjoy a bit of menace and weirdness and darkness in my fiction, so it’s a constant toss-up between watching what I want to watch and getting a good night’s sleep afterwards.
In honour of this spooky time of year, here are a few of the scariest films I have ever subjected myself to.