Two things I watched this month, Netflix’s Jessica Jones and at the cinema Room, have a similar midway scene. Twenty something females, after a decade long, innocence definitely lost trauma, return to their preserved teenage bedrooms (or in Jessica Jones’ case recreated). You don’t need me to walk you through the simile… You get it.
Both times I wanted to see the band posters and boy pin up chosen by the set dresser or director. Did it feel true to a teen from the mid noughties? Or was it done with an adult rewrite of what kids now wish they were into with ten years mature hindsight? Or an even more obvious forgery by an older man just having a wild stab after googling 2006 into their search bar? They passed, the walls. But it was the actresses’ responses that resonated.
With Jessica Jones it felt like good creepy hook to dangle some character background off… But in Room, a fine film, it hit a nice emotional seam.
And walking away away from the cinema I thought “That’s all we’ve been doing this year. Going back home to childhood surroundings. Recreating them. Curling up in them. Taking comfort in their safe pleasures.” We’ve had too many remakes and belated sequels and reboots before. Years of it now. Maybe we are in the Matrix as so much of culture is now a JPEG of a photocopy of a fax of a sketch.
But all this rehashing had never really been approached with as much care and attention in repeating detail as the ones this year. Like the quickly forgotten The Thing prequel / remake they weren’t satisfied with recognised brand and a returning actor cameo, they really tried to clone the era we first experienced them in. The reason why Jurassic World, The Force Awakens and Creed work so well is not just that they take us back to simple, long in putted pleasures but they get the knick knacks on the nightstand right, the books and VHS shelves having been stocked and selected by someone who loves these rooms too. Lived in those cherished originals as much as we did. The product feels like it came from the same factory with the same materials. The new album has the hiss and crackle and little jumps of a constantly listened to vinyl of old.
The big movies of last year and now work because they are replicating a long cherished experience rather than existing as a mere cash in continuation with anachronistic modern sensibilities.
Apart from Mad Max: Fury Road… which evolves Max and the chase and the apocalypse through every rejected day glo action figure, rip off console shooter and 2000AD so that it times itself to the power of all that came in its wake. Straining to make something revolutionary out of the original parts all over again. Thanks for fucking up my rambling theory lousy Best Movie of 2015.
Still the key thing about experiencing Room was not that it crystallised my feelings about the tasty blockbuster reheats we literally queued up around the block for again. It made want to watch more Brie Larson. So I tried Short Term 12. Even better, even more affecting and now within a weekend she has become a new favourite. And before I go back to the Rocky well I want to make time to see Room director Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank. As getting the chance to travel back to our childhood and be awed all over again by dinosaurs, droids and Philly underdogs is great and good but what I love most about the movies is being surprised and excited. Discovering. Seeking out new favourites will do that, whereas there’s nothing but over watched dusty VHS tapes in the old room I first started loving cinema in.