This week I find myself in Bath, looking after my parents’ cats as they (parents, not cats) head for the sun in Spain. I haven’t lived here for about 13 years, so it’s been fun catching up with a few friends and re-discovering what to do around and about.
We had a mooch around the new(ish) Southgate shopping development on Monday, which has spruced up nicely in the last couple of years. But mainly, these are the things that have jumped out:
- Bath is very pretty, even in the rain/ freezing fog, and especially in November without the tourists;
- It’s also full of nice restaurants. This comes as a surprise to the 15-year old me who used to think of Pizza Hut in Kingsmead Square as the height of sophistication;
- IT HAS A MULTIPLEX CINEMA. Again, for someone who lived in Bradford on Avon, the closest multiscreen was in Brislington (approximately 20 miles away). This meant I had to be very nice to my parents a LOT of the time;
- I still wouldn’t want to cycle up those hills.
So all in all, a good week, especially since I discovered that Bath Film Festival started on Wednesday. Great way to while away the time and indulge in the cultural side of things. I was also tempted by deadkidsongs at the Ustinov Studio, but it was a bit of a stretch at twenty quid a ticket.
I took myself along to the Festival launch yesterday at Komedia. I felt old when I tweeted them to ask if it was the venue of the old ABC cinema, only to find out later it hadn’t been called that since 1998. Eek.
The opening film was Safety Not Guaranteed, the trailer of which reminded me of one of those quirky, kooky, early 2000’s films like Sideways or Garden State. And it kinda lived up to expectations, with a little bit of Ghost World thrown in. Based on an advert that appeared in a local US magazine in the late-90s, the premise centres around a man looking for a partner in his time travel experiment, and the journalists sent to dig up a story. It’s a funny, entertaining, life-affirming film, which doesn’t shy away from bigging up the oddballs of society. Aubrey Plaza’s intern Darius is the break-out star, an outwardly sullen, introspective, fiercely independent 20-something nonetheless looking for a sense of belonging. Her connection with wannabe time-traveller Kenneth, is believable and affecting, if a little too reliant on pep talks and training montages.
Jake Johnson’s character Jeff is also a great creation, a cynical, good-looking, smooth-talking journalist heading rapidly for his 40s, desperately trying to recapture his disappearing youth. Karan Soni rounds off the cast as gawky virgin Arnau, who really, really doesn’t want to get laid.
The film does veer towards cliche sometimes; the afore-mentioned training montage is set to a rousing soundtrack. It’s almost as if Team America never happened. And it does teeter on the brink of saying that all outsiders/ non-conformists = danger to society (Arnau is brought into line/ Kenneth even has a minor physical deformity), but manages to avoid any black and white conclusions. For good measure, it throws in a couple of sinister government agents, a frankly hilarious low-tech, anti-Skyfall raid on a local chemical facility, and the slowest car chase this side of Enigma.
And the ending is pure cinematic magic.