Thursday, 27 August 2015

August Watch List

Female focused here this month, 6 out of the 9 films on this month's list have female leads and or written by a woman. What you say? This cannot be! Yes, its happening and with more and more focus on women in film lately, I'm really pleased with the progress.

1. Hot Pursuit
The paring of Reese Witherspoon as a by the book cop trying to redeem herself and Sofia Vergara as the wife of a drug dealer who was meant to be a witness in a high profile trial, is nothing short of brilliant. But, there are very few jokes to enjoy. Speaking of short, Witherspoon's height and the fact that Vergara's selfish attitude seem to be the running jokes. Aside from a few other qualms, the messy stop start ending and obvious reveal, its a fun movie. Female buddy movies or at least female leads in comedies seem to be happening more and its a good thing, Hollywood seems to be on the way to getting just right and for this, I'm pleased. But Hot Pursuit just needed a bit more work on the writing. 2/5

2. Trainwreck
I was hesitant about this film, not because its about a woman is a mysogynist but its directed by Judd Apatow. He's an ace producer but I have not really enjoyed his films he's directed. Putting aside these two things, it was surprising. Amy Schumer of sketch comedy underdog now big leagues fame is the lead, Amy. She is a trainwreck. She drinks, alot. She sleeps around, alot. And is rather critical of her sister's life and family as well being emotionally shut down. But when she meets nice guy doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader), things change, for the better. Until (and remember, this is a rom-com so you have to have the down bit where it gets serious and people yell) the envitable happens and something gets in the way, her. I've read a few different reviews and nearly all are postive and reflective. In this film/relationship Amy is the man and Aaron is the woman - if we were going to stereotype. It's an interesting way to describe the relationship but this is more about Amy's acceptance that she needs to change as she's hurting herself and people she actually cares about so, yes, she accepts she is emotional and she doesn't have to a 'trainwreck'. When I found out that Amy Schumer, who actually wrote it, based some of the story on her life, it became more personal and I could enjoy it more. 3/5

3. Spy 
Paul Feig is at it again with his trusty pal Melissa McCarthy, an actress whom men (at least a few that I know) don't seem to like. I was skeptical at first, as always, but I loved this film, I laughed out loud at it, mainly due to the over the top insults everyone throws at each other and Jason Statham making fun of himself. I know I'm hounding this point home here but its great to see a female lead in a spy movie who isn't a trained slut and can effortless run miles without a breather. Right down to Miranda Hart being the funny sidekick, this film is not about any love interest (there is a hint but its nothing) its about taking control and proving you can do whatever you want, while working for the CIA. But please let's not ruin this with a sequel. 3/5

4. Fantastic Four
There has been such negativity around this film before it was even filmed. The announcement of the cast members made fanboys everywhere step back and question the ages, aren't they too young? As with any 'reboot' the answer is to either go younger and alternative or go darker and loyal. This film when younger, darker and stranger. I enjoyed it and even snotrted at some of the choices made but overall enjoyed the film for what it was, a science fiction film. But on reflection, its not what the fanboys ordered. For one thing, Susan Storm, doesn't even go with the rest of the gang to the weird planet/parallel universe, she ends up with her 'powers' when they get back and crash land. All these characters are disturbed by the experience and all act out of what they're character would do in the comics. Too many flaws to please those who loved the characters. I think it was better than the terrible films from 2005 and 2007, but this film recieved such a back lash I'm really surprised that this one got a planned sequel. 3/5

5. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Based on the graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, its about teen Minnie who has an affair with her mother's boyfriend. That's the basics. It also about her growing passion for wanting to be a cartoonist and her lust for sex and possibly love. It's brilliant and at times really funny but equal parts dark a desparing, so really what being a teenage girl is all about. Its a great cast, at first put off by Bel Powley's starring eyes but she's just right for the young Minnie. Set in the 70s there is also an air of encouragment to explore in every sense of the word, the added animation in some scenes is great too, illustrating thoughts and feelings and is all round a great film. 3/5

6. Mistress America
Oh Mistress America, how can I count the ways of how much I love thee? I think I fell in love with this film. I though I did with Frances Ha but this film was something else. It's the characters, the setting, the non story and the god damn brilliant dialogue, especially between Tracey and Brooke. The plot, so thin it doesn't even matter, Tracey (Lola Kirke) is a freshman at college in New York. She is lonely and not really enjoying her time there, she sums it up when she says 'I think by trying to fit in, I'm fitting in less' ( or something along those lines). But when her mother announces she's getting married and the husband to be's daughter lives in the city, she goes in search of her 'sister' who is Brooke (Greta Gerwig). She is weird and wonderful, selfish ans kind all at the same time. She has several different things happening but her main goal of the moment is to open a restaurant. 

Their pairing is perfect, Tracy needs a muse and someone to hang out with, Brooke needs to tell someone all her ideas and for them to actually listen be interested in her and Tracey is. The plot turns when Brooke, after money problems arise, goes in search of an old friend she claims ruined her life, from there it becomes this perfectly times screwball comedy that then sharply turns back to drama when Tracey's short story inspired by Brooke is read out. The cutting of ties hurts both women but we only really witness Tracey's downward spiral and the inspiration to carry on. The film is about these two women who are trying to fit in and get along with everything and finding each other, they find someone they can share with - sort of. As the film plays out, Tracey reads her story, which is inspired by Brooke, as a voiceover throughout and I love it. For me it reminded me of The Great Gatsby. Tracey is Nick, relating events, the observer and Brooke is of course the tragic Gatsby, but at least she realises her mistakes before its too late. I cannot express how much I loved this film and as a bonus Greta Gerwig co-wrote the story with Noah Baumbach, and a female influence shines through. 5/5

7. The Man From U.N.C.L.E
When I first about this film, it already ticked all the boxes, a adaptaion of a 60's spy TV show directed by Guy Ritchie, with Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill starring. What more could you ask for? Well an excellent soundtrack, a not too ridiculous plot and a great female lead. And yes, all that was in the film too. Special Agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and KGB Agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) after an awkward crossing over of missions they are forced to partner up to locate a bomb. I have to say, I though the casting seemed odd at first but after watching it, it was perfect. I also liked the fact that it wasn't all action, there was some interesting insight to the two leads characters that gave them depth. Saying all this, I can understand why some people might not enjoy it as much as me. Although set in the 60s there are aspects of the edit and behaviour of the film that have a more modern touch and those who love the original TV show might turn their nose up at it, but as I said I loved it. 4/5

8. Sorry, Wrong Number
After to taking almost hours to decide what to watch the other night, I turned to my Netflix list and watched over two nights, two great but every different films. First up, film noir that I forgot about, based on radio play. Leona (Barbara Stanwyck) a sick invalid is home alone trying to contact her husband, Henry (Burt Lancaster) who is late home. While waiting on the phone, the wires cross and she hears two men discussing a murder. Throughout the night, she calls several people surrounding a strange plot involving her husband and possibley her too. I could see how it would work as a radio play but seeing the story unfold as Leona discovers secrets was quite scary, especially the end scenes. 4/5

9. Tracks
The true story of Robyn Davidson who walked 1,700 miles across Austraila from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with her dog and four camels. The film was beautiful and even though it may seem that she was just walking, alot is conveyed is just Robyn's expressions and body languages. It's obvious from the start that she prefers her own company or her animals than people but throughout the walk she starts realise just how lonely she is and that she needs others around her. Her story was published in National Geogrpahic and photohrapher Rick Smolan actually went out to meet her along the way to document the experience. The real photographs are shown in the closing credits. It's an incredible journey to make and she is a very distant and I'm sure, would have happily disappeared into the wilderness. But her personal journey is also interesting to watch. 3/5


  1. You've managed to watch some awesome films this month! I really wish I'd seen Spy when it was in the cinemas and I hope I haven't missed Diary of a Teenage Girl.

  2. Andrew Ellington28 August 2015 at 13:38

    I'm intrigued by a number of these...but the one I'm most excited about is Miss America, so I'm thrilled to see it snag the highest rating from you!

  3. Now I want to see Miss America (and diary of a teenage girl and tracks) - sounds cool boo x

  4. You can always catch Spy on DVD - it was good but not a 'must see on big screen' kind of film. Diary of a teenage girl should still be around, I think its because its had lots of positive reviews, definitely try and catch that one.

  5. As you can tell, I cannot rave about Mistress America enough. I'm quite mean with my top rating but this film definitely deserved it.

  6. Thanks boo! Go see it or I'll see it with you, don'y mind seeing it again x