Monday, December 22, 2008

Billy Elliot...

I'm glad you guys liked this film. The first time I saw it, I was blown away. There are so many things about it that I loved. Every character was perfectly cast and I would go so far as to say that if any big time "Stars" were in it, it would have ruined it. You truly believe that these characters are going through these tough times. I was in my late teens and early twenties in the early 80's and I remember that recession, I also remember it was even more difficult in England.
So the scene where Billy is dancing in pure frustration after his family has had the fight with his teacher to the song Town Called Malice by The Jam is not only pure brilliance but absolutely perfect when you read the lyrics to that song and understand that when it came out in the early 80's it shot to number 1 within a week partly, I think, because of it's lyrics and it's commentary on the times.
Prior to suggesting this movie to this group I had some friends watch it and some them thought it had a hidden gay agenda (hence Andy and my discussion) but I didn't think so. To me the theme was purely - be who are, and find what you love doing and do that for a living. That message is driven home so strongly at the end when the strike is over and you see Billy's dad and brother heading back down into the mine on the elevator; and the look on their faces says it all. I can relate to that look - it's same look I have as I'm driving to my current job. It's not in a mine - but it's just as dark :)
The only part of the movie I didn't think was accurate (and I may be wrong) was all of the cursing (F bombs in particular) that was depicted among the family. I'm from working class Northern Ireland and so is my mother and father. I've never heard my family speak that way and according to my mother it wasn't that way when she was growing up. And even now when I ask members of my family that are still in England and N. Ireland they say that it's not how movies portray it. Maybe there are working class areas of England that conversation is continually laced with profanity but I've never heard of or seen it. To me it actually just becomes distracting.
I think we all hope to be Billy Elliott some day (if we're not already there)... finding what makes us jump out of bed every morning and excited to keep moving forward.
It's interesting to see Jamie Bell grown up now... recently in the King Kong remake and also in the new movie coming out soon called Defiance with Daniel Craig. I think he's got a bright future.

-Karl Huddleston

1 comment:

Jason Pyles, Movie Critic said...


Jason here. You never disappoint when you discuss films. (I wish everybody in this group could have heard your discourse on "Blade Runner.")

Your post brings a lot of personal insights, which is at least one man's proof that this film has the power to speak to people.

What you wrote also reminded me of Longfellow's quote about how if we could learn any person's story, their saga would endear them to us.

Well, I think any art form is that way: If we spend time with the artist (or someone who understands the artist's subject), finding out where he or she is coming from, then we can almost always better appreciate the work.

I liked how, in your comments specifically, you mentioned that recession in the '80s and the tidbits about "Town Called Malice." All that slipped by me, but I'm sure the filmmakers were precisely cognizant of those elements.

Great movie pick, Karl. Thanks for your comment.