Regular readers may remember that last year, prompted by a visit to my local multiplex to see T2: Trainspotting I vowed to go to the cinema more often, and signed up for one of those membership cards, where you pay a set amount every month (£17.70, in my case), and you get unlimited visits along with discounts on the massively over-priced munchies they sell in the foyer.
In December, I got an email from the cinema in question. The subject of the email was well intended: to show me how much money I’d saved by subscribing to the Unlimited scheme. Unfortunately, the email revealed that I had “saved” -£135.00. Yes, minus.
Probably because I only went five times all year. I think I may have just stumbled across the reason why I’m not a millionaire yet.
So, New Year’s Resolution time: to go to the cinema more frequently, and with Oscars season upon us, there’s arguably no better time to go.
At the time of writing, I’ve been twice, once to see that latest Star Wars movie (which I figured would be best seen on the big screen), and also to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
On arrival, I went to get myself some popcorn, but the tills were down, so there followed an awkward conversation with the girl serving behind the counter.
Her: What film are you going to see?
Me: The one with the odd name. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Her: (after staring at me for what seemed an eternity, like I’d just spoken in an impenetrable foreign language). Oh.
Me: Yeh. The reviews have been really good, and I really like the three main actors in it.
Her: Oh a lot of people have been coming out and saying how good that is.
Luckily, the tills pinged back into life before I had chance to challenge this. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve come out of the cinema having just seen a truly great film, I’ve never felt the urge to rush over to the popcorn stand and tell a disinterested teenager how wonderful the movie was.
Anyway, the three main actors in Three Billboards… are Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson.
You’ll know McDormand from a lot of Coen Brothers movies, but primarily, I’d think, Fargo, but she’s been nominated for Best Supporting Actress three times before, for Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country. She is reliably brilliant in every role I’ve seen her play. Rockwell you will recognise from Frost/Nixon, Duncan “Son of Bowie” Jones’ Moon, and he was Zaphod Beeblebrox in the movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Harrelson surely needs no introduction by now, but many of you will have first encountered him in 80s sitcom Cheers, and if not there then in Natural Born Killers, or maybe the Hunger Games franchise, or Zombieland (which if you haven’t seen, is just terrific), or more recently in War for the Planet of the Apes.
All three have received Oscar nominations, as has the movie, and I can tell you that all are fully justified (although I haven’t seen the other nominated movies…yet).
Here’s the basic premise: frustrated with the local police’s failure to bring her daughter’s murder to justice, Mildred Hayes (McDormand) takes matters into her own hands, by renting the titular Three Billboards and using them to bring the murder investigation back into the limelight. No spoilers, obviously, but needless to say doing so sets in motion a train of events which are at times shocking and at others blackly comic.
I can’t recommend this film enough, if I’m honest, it’s just great.
But why am I blethering on about movies on a Sunday morning when all you want to hear is some Country music? Well, because part way through the film, a song came on the soundtrack which I wasn’t familiar with, but the voice was unmistakable.
And here it is, the wonderful Townes Van Zandt from his 1987 At My Window album: