Tuesday, 13 April 2010

[330] Cemetery Junction (2010) Review

Here is my review of Cemetery Junction, the debut film from the directing and writing duo of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

Two things that didn't make it into my over-long review.

First, can we please put a ban on using 'All The Young Dudes' in any filmic context where there are teenagers or 20-somethings? It's a belter of a song, in both Bowie-prominent and Mott the Hoople versions, but it is overplayed and by now completely meaningless. It sorely hurts the soundtrack of this film, which otherwise is quite tastefully poppy and unpretentious ('Crazy Horses', 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting', 'Cum On Feel the Noize'). Plus, there's a brilliant sequence set to Led Zeppelin's 'The Rain Song', from the under-rated album Houses of The Holy.

Second, what is it with nostalgia at the moment? In the review, I refer to The Boat That Rocked and An Education as two extremes of a spectrum in which Cemetery Junction sits comfortably in the middle. Those three films have come out in the last 12 months, and I am sure they are not the only pictures doting on the 1960s-1970s period. Thankfully, An Education dodged that by sinking into pre- or non-Beatles pop and jazz, and had much more interesting, character-driven depths, but it needs to be said.

I commented on Twitter, that I look forward to, in 20 years time, a glut of softly focused, slightly smug, self-mythologising, pleasant comedies about a group of late 90s teenagers listening to Green Day in Chorley. Sewing patches onto their rucksacks and wearing hoodies two sizes too large. And we can look back and smile and say 'yep, that's exactly what it was like and wasn't the music brilliant?'. We can call it Chain Gang, a tactful two-pronged phrase that links their youthful rebellion with the length of metal chain hanging from the back pocket of their baggy cargo jeans.

Enough of my ranting. Read the review! See the film, perhaps! It's actually, in some ways, pretty good!

The crackle of vinyl gives way to sweeping Vaughan Williams strings, as the camera gazes over sun-bronzed English countryside. Vistas of double decker buses and vine-chewed pubs share space with graceful tableaux of hard graft factory work.

This is the 1970s in Cemetery Junction, a fictional town near Reading, home to a trio of cheeky 20-somethings who are still finding their place in life, stuck between youthful rebellion and the inevitable march towards blue-collar labour. Breaking from the cycle, Freddie (Christian Cooke, a sort of British Emilio Estevez, with sandy hair, blue eyes and a boyish charm) decides to shoot for the big money, by going into the life assurance business.

The tone is leaden and poignant, but it doesn't take long for the first punchline to slice through the atmosphere, bringing with it an eruption of rock music, expressive cutaways and an opening sequence that boldly affirms itself. Of course, this is
Cemetery Junction, the debut film from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, their transition from small to big screen.

Read the full article here.

1 comment:

Edward said...

I went to one of cemetary junctions filming sites yesterday! It was a bell factory in Loughborough. Did you know we still made shit in this country? bells, no less!