Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Grease (4½ Stars)

I watched this film today on the opening day of the 2013 Outdoor Film Festival at Brindley Place in Birmingham. It's the first time I've seen the film for 30 years, and I only remembered it vaguely. In fact, I could only remember the songs, not the story.

As I remember, I didn't like "Grease" very much when I first saw it. After seeing it today I realise just how good it is. It's a beautiful portrayal of America in the 1950's. Maybe it's full of cliches, but who cares? It could be that the situation under which I watched it worked against the film. At the time I was sharing an apartment with a young baker, Torsten Jäkel. We each had our own living and sleeping rooms, but we shared the kitchen and bath. "Grease" was his favorite film. He was crazy about it. When he presented it to me he had that excited look on his face which told me he thought he was doing me a big favour. I only watched it the once, but over the following weeks and months I heard it through the wall from his room again and again, so often that I grew sick of it. Seeing it today, I feel like I've been missing out for the last 30 years.

Now to the festival itself. I hate to say it, but it was dreadful. It was so poorly organised that those responsible should be ashamed. According the the website, visitors would be given a beanbag to sit on, and a blanket in case it turned cold. That would have been nice, if they'd actually done it. There were only 30 beanbags for over 200 visitors. Is that really how many people they expected? Someone needs to be fired. We had to sit on the concrete in Brindley Place. The screen was too small for such a large event. I was told by someone that last year's screen was bigger. It was divided into six panels, and it seemed like the bottom left panel was faulty, which led to the bottom left being too bright during dark scenes. The volume wasn't loud enough; whenever people where talking in front of me they drowned out the film. The loudspeakers were small and were probably already at their top volume, so once again they slipped up.

What surprised me is that there were so many young girls watching the film, aged about 14 to 16. They obviously enjoyed the film and were singing along with every song. At the end a lot of them even got up and danced in front of the screen to the last song. I would have thought the music would be old fashioned for them.

If it were just about the films I probably wouldn't go again for the rest of the week. As it was, I had a good time chatting with my friends from the Birmingham Film Club before and after the film. Many thanks to Perveen, Shirley, Judith, Mike, Elizabeth and Mike -- yes, two Mikes, or three including myself -- for making it an enjoyable evening.

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