5 Films For That January/February Slump...

By Lucy Harbron - 12:44

It’s the strangest time of the year, when activity threatens to resume while the weather still says no. The winter lull stretching its legs all the way out from the end of December, it’s still hard to do anything productive other than tidy up and throw out January 1st’s resolutions. What is there to do other than go to bed early and wake up late? Hide away in a duvet and pass up on Saturday night plans? Well, here are some films to accompany you through that January/February slump.

#1 Another Round (Druk)

Helping you feel like you’ve achieve something in your day, subtitled films always give me a sense of productivity. Another Round is the best kind of subtitled films, centring its plot around recognisable suburbia so you never get lost if you fall slightly behind on the dialogue. Taking an interesting look into our relationship with alcohol, another round is about a group of teacher friends than decide to test out a hypothesis of keeping their blood alcohol content at 0.5% to boost social skills and happiness. For a relatively calm and oddly cosy film, I had so much to say after watching this. For one, the relationships between the men made me want to cry, feeling like the first showing of male friendship that felt real and tangible, more akin to what I feel with my own friends than boring laddy banter. It was also lovely seeing totally normal older men, obviously Mads Mikkelsen is a heartthrob, but overall these men look like men you’d see in your day to day life, entirely centring the film in our society. And then the presentation of alcohol, managing to be as complex and intricate as it truly is, with the film managing to show the tragedies it can bring without demonising its place in joy and celebration.

Filmed in Copenhagen and all in Danish, the complex relationships are all set in a beautifully cosy scandi setting that makes it a perfect late winter watch for a night you’ve cancelled drinking plans.

#2 Man On The Moon

The iconic Jim Carrey playing the iconic Andy Kaufman. I finished watching this film and immediately did my favourite chaotic past time – rating films on Letterboxd purely on how much I enjoyed them. Man on The Moon got 5 stars.

Walking you through the silly complexities of Andy Kauffman’s subversive career, this is the perfect comedy film to watch when you don’t want to watch a comedy. It’s never cheesy and, if you don’t know much about Andy Kaufman like I didn’t, it remains totally unexpected and surprising from start to finish. At points I laughed out loud at the sheer absurdity of it all, but I never felt silly for letting myself sink into it and enjoy. All balanced out with a sad commentary on fame and purpose, the silliness goes hand in hand with the sombre in a perfect Sunday night in January way.

Jim Carrey is absolutely incredible and totally perfect for the role – but I’d skip the urge to follow the film up with his documentary about it, because it makes him seem dead annoying.

#3 Eighth Grade

What better subject to dive into during the cold months than old school trauma. If ‘written and directed by Bo Burnham’ isn’t enough to instantly hook you in, Eighth Grade is genuinely one of the sweetest films I’ve ever seen. Its so simple and tender, using a story of a girls struggles to make friends as a universally relatable tale of nervousness. Focused on Kayla, an eighth grader who makes motivational YouTube videos about confidence while simultaneously having none, its full of all the feels like encapsulate growing up and our school experience. I think Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, might be one of my favourite character I’ve watched in a long time. While obviously being written in Bo Burnham’s classic dark yet silly comedy style, she feels so real as she walks through experiences we’ve all felt. Blowing up the relatively minor tragedies of teenage years into the end of the world emotional experiences we thought they were at the time, Eighth Grade is emotional and sentimental without ever becoming too heavy. 

If you want to really root for a character and have some time to reconnect with your past self, press play on this.

#4 Summer Of Soul

The total other end of the spectrum, this is one for people who want to get out of winter as quick as possible. Half way through watching this film, I genuinely remarked out loud how happy I felt, as this entire documentary is just so joyful and endearing. Using forgotten archive footage to tell the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969, there are performances from a lineup of legends including Nina Simone, Sly & The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson and more. Interviewing people who were there and looking into why this massive festival was forgotten and lost under the shadow of Woodstock, its simultaneously a massive celebration of the event while analysing the society that birthed it. Doing an amazing job of joining the dots between the 60s massive cultural moments that always feel so disconnected, Summer Of Soul immediately became one of my favourite documentaries I’ve ever watched. 

The perfect film for a Friday night when you just wish it would warm up – put the heating on, grab a drink and prepare to listen to the soundtrack for weeks to come.

#5 Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Never, ever in my life did I think I’d get emotional over Melissa McCarthy. I was so reluctant to watch this as Melissa is so associated with family friendly mind numbing comedies, but I’m so glad I got over my own snobbery. Telling the true story of Lee Israel, a biography who turned to forging letter between celebrities and literary legends when she could no longer get published, McCarthy’s performance as the figure is both painfully frustrating and totally devastating. A totally underrated gem of a film with incredible performances from McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, I was stunned when it finished, wondering how I could’ve let the film go unwatched for so long. With enough drama to keep you hooked and enough complexity to make you think, you’ll probably cry then instantly google Lee Israel after.

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