Joe Bell

There was a moment of stunned silence when I told my friends at lunch on Friday I was going to a 10 am Saturday movie screening. Though we’re all of the age that remembers the “Saturday matinees”, I think most people think of going to the cinema as something you might do in the afternoon or evening.

I really like going to the movies early in the morning for a couple of reasons. It’s something you can do by yourself, without having to organise someone else to go with you. Additionally, it’s because many of the films I want to see aren’t blockbusters, and so are often scheduled for “off-peak” hours. But mostly, it’s because I often have the cinema to myself.

I was the only one in the cinema for the screening of “Joe Bell”, and that was probably a good thing, as it meant I could respond honestly without worrying about the reactions of others. It also meant I could take off my face mask!

I won’t give away too much, except to say the film is based on the true story of a boy who was bullied at school because he was gay, and the reaction of his parents to this bullying.

There are some very very funny moments in the film. The trailer features a sequence where the father and the song sing along together to a Lady GaGa song.

The son is a wise-cracker, too, and so there are lots of other very funny moments in the film.

But since it’s a film about bullying, there are also some very sad moments. All by myself in the cinema, I was able to cry/sob out loud. It’s quite a rollercoaster.

Mark Wahlberg is the lead actor, and the film is named after his character. Reid Miller plays the son, and he is VERY GOOD. I was also really pleased to see Connie Britten play the wife/mother, as I fondly remember her from the series Nashville.

The thing I like most about the film is the honesty of the emotions and the conversations between the members of the family. And I think that’s what makes it such a good movie, in my view. 

I’m sure other people will hate the movie, and there are probably lots of “issues” that could have been explored, but for me, it’s a film I really liked. The advice I gave to friends yesterday was “go and see it, but don’t read too much about it first, just go with the flow”.

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  1. Andrew

    I don’t watch trailers if I am going to see a film. If I’ve heard enough to want to see it, that is enough. It sounds interesting but I am not sure about making the effort to visit a cinema, but maybe. You would remember Wahlberg when he was young?

    1. James O'Brien

      Ah yes, Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch :) And the Calvin Klein underwear ad! :)

  2. Dean Kyte

    Ah, the 10:00 a.m. Saturday matinée! That brings back memories for me, James. I used to do it a lot when I wrote for magazines. Often it involved getting up around 6:00 a.m. to catch the Airtrain from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.

    There used to be a little art cinema in the western suburbs of Brisbane. I don’t know if it still exists, but it was called the ‘The Blue Room Cine-Lounge’. I’m sure you can imagine the type of fare that used to play there. The few times I went there, about 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, it was just me in this cosy little theaterette, emperor of my domain. I remember seeing “Flight of the Red Balloon” there and being utterly transported. The experience was somehow more immersive for me, as if the film, filling the vessel of the space, had no other soul to encounter except mine, and my soul had to expand to fill the space and meet it.

    1. James O'Brien

      Ah yes, Dean, “art cinemas”. Do they still exist? Every film has its screen, ranging from mobile phone to IMAX, and they all seem to fill a different “space”. But there’s nothing quite like the big screen, is there?

      1. Dean Kyte

        Nothing like it, James.

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