Monday 30 October 2017

You Were Never Really Here - BFI London Film Festival

Saving the best til last. Well one of the best. From a director who know how to keep the audience on the edge as well as strangely at ease, Lynne Ramsay adapts Jonathan Ames novel, with an amazing perfomance from the one and only Joaquin Phoenix. My full review from the festival is up on VultureHound which can be read HERE.

Thursday 26 October 2017

TMP Halloween/Television Edition: Horror

I was super obsessed with this mini horror series when it first aired. No one was watching it at uni and I leant the DVD to a friend but alas, it never made its way back to me. But I really loved it for some odd reason, I even had a pin badge with 'Don't kill Jimmy' on it, reference to the show. This was my gateway horror so that I could later watch all first three seasons of AHS back to back over a week (I was so messed up after that). It was a mediocre story about a woman, Abby, who returns to her home town, Harper's Island. Her mother was murdered by a serial killer years previously, even with the killer thought to be dead, she feels uneasy. She is there to attend the wedding of her best friend Henry to an heiress, Trish. She reunites with old friends, her Dad and her old boyfriend (Jimmy) but there also happens to be a serial killer on the island taking out the guests one by one. A special torment for the series was that each episode is named after the side effect of how the latest victim is killed. Grim but still so good to watch. I think I liked it more because there is an actual end, no sequel here.

I would pick a season but there are so many deliciously horrific ones to choose from. My theory, well, more my opinion is that all the odd numbered seasons are the better ones, mostly because season 4 & 6 weren't very popular. Murder House and Coven are my favourites. I never bothered with Roanoke past a few episodes, I just couldn't watch it. I'm struggling with Cult so far as I have a problem with clowns and can only watch the show comfortably during the day, so I'm super behind. I like the theory of the nine circles of hell, each season fitting into an over all specific hell. Pondering what the next two seasons could bring...whatever they are, it'll be terrifying (to me).

Does anyone remember when Big Brother was a reality TV game show? Now its just a joke and a husk of what it was back in the first series. Well at the height of the show's popularity, this zombie horror drama was made and its actually not that bad. On eviction night, the crowds outside the house are gathering, the housemates are all celebrating and the crew behind the scenes are just going through the motions. In the midst of a zombie outbreak, the housemates, unknown to them are left without a clue of what happening, that is until the TV crew break in to escape the horrors outside. I remember seeing bits of this way back when, so my memory is hazy, but I remember everyone did praise it at the time.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Tuesday 24 October 2017

How to Talk to Girls at Parties - BFI London Film Festival

One of the first films I saw at the festival this year with an amusing Q&A with director John Cameron Mitchell who called Neil Gaiman to let him know just how much the audience loved it. The full review is on VultureHound for your redaing pleasure.

Monday 23 October 2017

Call Me By Your Name - BFI London Film Festival

Sometimes the best films are the ones you don't expect to like or enjoy as much as you end up doing. I think I annoyed everyone with my gushing praise for Luca Guadagnino's latest film.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by André Aciman, the story takes place in the 80s over 6 weeks in the summer in Italy. Seventeen year old Elio spends his long summer days reading books, transcribing music, swimming in the river and waitin for summer to end. His father, a professor and mother invite a grad student each year to stay with them in their picturesque villa. Oliver, early twentives, radiates confidence arrives and captures Elio's attention. Over the summer together, they develop a passionate bond, exploring ther desire for one another but the summer has to end eventually.

Having seen Guadagnino's previous film, A Bigger Splash, which was a simmering tale of lust between four people in the heat of Italian summer, I thought Call Me By Your Name would be similar but more innocent. Where the former became a strange tale and uncomfortable atmosphere, despite a great cast, the story was good not amazing. Where as the latter finds something playful in and exciting in the smallest of gestures and expressions. Both films have a sense of 'waiting' set against a beautiful background and lets face it, attractive cast. But Call Me By Your Name is a story about a different sort of desire. 

At first it seems that Elio and Oliver don't get along but they are each curious by one another and subtly try to show the other, until Elio's impatience and eagerness to share his feelings break the barrier. Oliver tries to be more reserved despite, technically, making the first move. He says 'they've been good' meaning they haven't given into their desires yet and there is still time to hold back and pretend nothing happened. How they each deal with their feelings shows their ages, Elio, young and impulsive and Oliver slightly older but wary about what others will think. The heartbreaking scene at the end when Elio and his parents are back at their villa for Christmas and Oliver calls, knowing that they still feel the same way but Oliver due to obligation and most likely his father, can't stay true to himself, leading to Elio breaking down into tears as the credits roll. But hope is not lost, Elio is still young and has time to be who he wants to be and there is little but some hope in that. Another glimmer of hope is in the thoughtful poetic speech Elio's father (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) says near the end as he comfort's his son. Its a speech that you'll hear about and its something you have to hear for yourself to grasp the intensity of Elio and Oliver's bond.

The two leads, Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, are beyond brilliant. The chemistry between is everything; beautiful, heartbreaking, lustful, innocent, everything the film explores. Special kudos to Chalamet who can speak French and learnt Italian as well as how to play the piano for the shoot. There was something so perfect about Hammer and Chalamet that, if you stripped the film back, its a simple story about love, without saying the word. 

I feel like Call Me By Your Name is a film that needs a second watch, which I hope to when it goes in general release this month. A brilliant, heartfelt story with great cast wrapped in a place with an amazing view. 

I Am Not a Witch - BFI London Film Festival

This was the first film of the festival for me, a brilliant intro the a great year. A mixture of UK, Welsh, French and Zambian production, an unusual mix. My full review can be read on VultureHound.

This film also doubles up on my posts.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Thursday Movie Pick Halloween Edition: Body Horror

This is a bit of a cheat one as I haven't seen it but had tried to when it was released. This film actually caused people to throw up in the screenings notoriously. I class it as 'body horror' as it is vile what is happening to her. Justine, a vegatarian, starts at a veterinary school. During a hazing ritual, she is forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney by her sister who also attends the school. From then on she is disturbed and craves the smell and taste of meat, any meat. I do still want to watch this one and hopefully will get to.

I remember seeing this at the PCC (Prince Charles Cinema) on a afternoon off and then regretting my film choice the minute I sat down, not just because I was worried about the subject of the film, but there was no one else in the room and I was slightly freaked out. Leaning to sci-fi, the story follows Syd, an employee at a clinic which extracts illnesses from celebrities and injects them into 'clients' so they can feel closer to their idols. The employee also sells viruses on the black market by injecting them into himself. When one of the most popular celebrities falls ill, Syd goes to extract a blood sample and again, injects himself only to find out that the celebrity has died. He navigates the strange underworld of growing cells of famous people and negotiates with rivals clinics before he suffers the same fate. Its disgusting to be honest, but its also fascinating. Commenting on celebrity failure and poison of today and all that.

The Skin I Live In 
I love Pedro Almodovar and I was super excited to see this film as was my sister BUT after the film we were both agreed it was a hell of a difficult watch. I ended wanting to see this film again but even a second time it was too much. Almodovar described the film as "a horror story without screams or frights" which is exactly what it is. Its about a plastic surgeon who has created an artificial skin resistant to burns and insect bites but he looses funding because he is already testing it on humans. He keeps a mysterious woman captive in his home and as the film slowly unfolds with flashbacks to six years previous, the hideous truth comes out about who the woman is and why she's there. Any one who has seen this will get this.

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at
Wandering Through the Shelves

Wednesday 18 October 2017

August, September, October Watch Lists

Moon Dogs
Review is on VultureHound which can be read HERE. 2/5

What Happened to Monday
A science fiction story featuring over population and a deadly solution. I think we've heard this one before but its still great to see Noomi Rapace play seven sisters trying to survive. Named after each day of the week, each sister is allowed to go outside on their nominated day at the risk of being caught and taken to Child Allocation Bureau, which is basically a front of an organisation lead by Glenn Close. Seeing the sisters try and peice together what happened to Monday and then later Tuesday, is actually quite tragic, but its great they all have their own special skills to bring to the table. But as always with this sort of subject, there is a resolution for the characters, but no hint of a solution to the greater problem. 3/5

God's Own Country 
Anyone who hasn't sen this brilliant piece of Britich cinema has been calling it or comparing it to another film by Ang Lee but seeing as this story is nothing like that film, I won't mention it anymore. Johnny helps is ill father run the family farm in Yorkshire. He lives in a cycle of early mornings, work, casual sex, drinking at the pub, sick at home and back to square one. Things change when Gheorghe, a Romanian farmhand arrives. Johnny doesn't seem to know how to be loved and he finds comfort and love from Gheorghe. He wants to be better but doesn't know how. Its not a story about growing up but learning how to show affection and emotion. Also the Yorkshire moors never looked more picturesque. 4/5

The Exception
 Review is on VultureHound which can be read HERE. 3/5

Review is on VultureHound which can be read HERE. 4/5

The Bad Batch
I was a big fan of Ana Lily Amirpour's first film 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' and was keen to see her second feature but...I have two great fears, the apocalypse and cannibals and The Bad Batch isn't exactly about the end of the world but it does feature a group cannibal body builders. Another desert set story, a wasteland, where criminals are left to die or survive. Suki Waterhouse's Arlen is soon caught and cut up but using her wits she escapes the cannibals minus an arm and a leg, she soon finds Comfort, a make shift settlement where people all hail the weird Dream, headed up by Keanu Reeves. But after Arlen takes revenge for her lost limbs, she ends up with a child in her care. One of the body builders, Jason Momoa's Miami Man comes looking for his lost daughter and finds Arlen instead. Its a strange horror, thriller slightly romantic even tale. 3/5

How do you even begin to decode this film, especially with all the ridiculous hype around it. Some have hated it, calling it a 'bad movie', others have liked it, even enjoyed it. I'm stuck in the middle. I didn't like it but but I don't think its a bad film, I just feel that it makes women not look in control and ultimately just a puppet and there for a man's purpose. What I find fantastic is that no one is named in the film which actually helps the overall style and 'stories' of the film. A man, a poet, and his wife, who is also creative as she designed and decorated theie house, live in a country home away from everything else. They are disturbed one day by an unexpected visitor and a little later his hostile wife. Later their sons arrive and argue, ending in a tragic and violent incident. From here, its painfully obvious what is happening as soon as you know the film is about religion. There are smaller, clever references throughout that work far better than the chaotic second half where all the poet's 'followers' decend upon the house and a distraught and heavily pregnant wife aka Mother Nature, has to scamble through the madness. You can see what Darren Aronofsky is trying to do but for me, Black Swan will always be something brilliant and cannot be outshadowed, not even with this hype heavy film. 3/5

The Invisible Guardian
 I read the book (without knowing it was going to be a series) by Dolores Redondo and always thought it would make a great TV series. A film was made instead but it was still exciting. The thrill of the chase mixed with the tragic deaths of young girls found in ritualistic ways, with a pair of shoes signalling there was another dead body, the killer has killed again. As I already knew the story, the sense of dread and excitement leading up to the arrest was less dramatic but the flashback scenes of Amaia remember her crazy mother were terrifying. This wasn't really captured in the book as well as it was on screen, adding to the tensions between sisters and pressure on the character to push aside her demons of the past. 3/5

Top Picks of the LFF

As I still have a couple of reviews still pending over at VultureHound, I can't put links up for them but I still give a brief run down of my top picks.

There were a few changes to my line up this year, thrown in mostly because quite a few screenings only had two showings, one late at night and the other middle of the day during the week. I was also stretched a little as I had my course on Saturdays until 4pm AND I was shooting the second scene of my short film on the other. I had press accreditation this year which was very exciting. In fact, I still have some films to watch on the digital library so watch this space. I got to go to a couple of press screenings which were worth my time in gold. I ended up switching films last minute one night, going to see Thoroughbreds instead of Going West. As I wasn't very keen on the former, I wonder what I missed with the latter. Hopefully I'll get another chance to see it. I also got to go to a couple of screenings before the festival started. So things were very different to how they are every year. Hopefully they'll be as fun next year too.


Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, The Breadwinner, How to Talk to Girls at Parties & You Were Never Really There (both appearing soon on VultureHound).

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Dark River - BFI London Film Festival

Set in Yorkshire, Alice is an expert sheep shearer. Drifting from place to place, travelling 'wherever there is sheep'. With news of her father's death, she returns home to the family farm where her brother Joe had been taking care of their father and of the farm. Still haunted by abuse she suffered, Alice can barely enter the house, but she wants the farm. She and Joe, with built up anger, both apply for tenancy. Joe resents his sister's presence, not fully understanding what casued her to leave and Alice unable to cope with the past.

Inspired by the novel Tresspass by Rose Tremain, the story uses flashbacks and ominous appearnces of Sean Bean as Alice and Joe's father. He drifts in and out of present day hallucinations to flashback moments serving as a memory that won't go away. The sight of him or anythingassociated with what happened to her disturbs Alice, making her unstable. She wants to farm but not what comes with it. Despite his hostility Alice tries to work with Joe, even after he tries to set her car on fire. Joe is on edge, etching some out of life, but clearly angry at his sister disappearing and coming back suddenly upsetting his way of running the farm. There are a few moments where the siblings calm down, when Joe shows Alice why he hasn't cut of the fields, expressing a sensitive side, but its all short lived. Its only near to the end where Joe finally understand Alice's unrest and realises that he may have made a mistake. The crashing ending is a slight anti climax as the siblings aren't able to find resolution. The last scene, near wordless, has a tiny glimmer of hope that the can find a way to be the way they were but it may take a long time.

Set up like a mystery which usually comes with a character returning home from a long absence yet the mystery is revealed almost straight away. The film then becomes more about the siblings fighting over the farm. This would have been rather dull to watch but thanks to Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanely's performances this isn't the case.

It's alway exciting to see British films at the festival as they carry an extra buzz about them and Dark River had someting special to offer, mainly the two leads who were utterly devastingly brilliant as the estranged brother and sister.

Monday 16 October 2017

The Breadwinner - BFI London Film Festival

From Cartoon Saloon, the ace animation studio based in Ireland has created another beautifully crafted 2D animation. Based on the novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner follows Parvana, a young girl living in Taliban controlled Kabul, Afghanistan. After her father is wrongfully arrested and taken to prison, she, her older sister, mother and baby brother are left to fend for themselves. With the impossible and cruel rules forced on women, Parvana cuts her air and dresses as a boy in order to provide for her family.

Just like Song of the Sea, the animation is beautiful. Embarcing the sights, sounds, colours of Afghanistan, beyond the brutal day to day life, there is still hope and moments of joy to be shared. The fairytale like story Parvana tells her brother, later her friend, who also dresses as boy and finally to herself as war breaks out in the prison, binds the whole film together. It peices gether what happened to her older brother who died but no one will talk about him. The story comforts Parvana as well as othere around her. Forgetting for a short while the situation they are all in.

The attention to detail is superb, whether it is in the bedtime story Parvana tells throughout the film, slightly mirroring what is happening in real life or in the family home, when they sit down to share their meal or within the framing, their is pain and hope side by side. One particular moments which is cutting as well as heartbreaking, showing just how everyone is affected by the war, the regime, Parvana, dressed as boy, reads a letter for a stranger. We see the man sit next to her and all you can see are his hands peeling an apple, as she reads his wife has been killed by a bus hitting a landmine, he stops and slowly drops the apple and knife. Without seeing the man's face, his grief is hard hitting as he silents gets up and walks away. Moments such as this makie the film stand out in memory.

Director Nora Towmey bring together a story we haven't seen before in a setting we still don't see much about.

The Boy Downstairs - BFI London Film Festival

This was a pre festival screening that took me by surprise and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Saw it in the coldest screening room possible which had a dampner on things but apart from that The Boy Downstairs is one to look out for when its on general release. Full review over at VultureHound.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Remembering Close Encounters

In the midst of the London Film Festival madness, this is to break through for a moment. Celebrating Spielberg's sci-fi classic, I wrote a piece for Park Circus as the film is screened around the UK for the 40th anniversary of the film.

My full article can be read on Park Circus' site HERE.

The Shape of Water - BFI London Film Festival

Easily in my top films list of the London Film Festival was Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water. You can read my thoughts on this beautiful film over at VultureHound as well reviews from my fellow writers covering the film festival.

Friday 13 October 2017

Thoroughbreds - BFI London Film Festival

As the film is one of the last performances of the late Anton Yelchin, gone too soon, there was some intrigue surrounding what this film had to offer. The title bascially screams what type of people will be portrayed but doesn't give much away in the way of story.

With the terrible tag line as 'good breeding gone bad', which I found out after the film, it puts the film in a bit of hellish light. That line is cheap and tacky, exactly the opposite of what these two lead teens are or rather meant to be. While the film is meant to have us engulfed in the wealth that surrounds the two leads, I barely took note that this was the whole point of the film. Two spoilt 'messed up' selfish teens not getting their way so they take revenge. But I wanted to think beyond this stereotype as I saw it as a 'basic' film noir just in the wrong setting.

Amanda and Lily, former friends have drifted apart over the years but they brought together by a rather awkward forced bribed 'play date'. Amanda is awaiting trial for animal cruelty after she killed her horse. Lily has been expelled from school and is on thin ice with her step father who she hates. After the girls put the past behind them and Amanda reveals she can't feel and barely show emotions, the two restart their friendship. After Lily finds out she is being sent to a strict school enforced by her step father, she and Amanda plot to kill him off. Of course, Amanda doesn't know the real reason why Lily wants him gone.

Both Amanda and Lily are gloriously blank faced throughout, despite the fact that only Amanda is the one who can't feel. Both menacing and comical at times, the blank faced friends are committed to their crime, intendung to frame someone else, enter Yelchin as the local wannabe drug mogal who they try to blackmail into doing the deadly deed. With the lead up to the crime, the film is suspensful, drawing in on the film noir aspects, with two femme fatales, but when the climax never happens, the slow burning ending loses its shock factor and becomes slightly flat, even with that amount of blood.

The two leads, despite some fault with the story, which actually started life as a play, explaining a lot of location choices, Brits putting excellent American accents, Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy are brilliant, especially the former. The twist of who's actually the monster shifting from start to finish is well executed and the main reason why the film stays focused. Not quite sure if this will be enjoyed by all, but hearing the comparisons to other such genre films is amusing.

Amant Double - BFI London Film Festival

I've been an admirer of director François Ozon's work for sometime so whenever I see that he has a new film out or (even better) at the festival, I immediately go to the cinema. Amant Double, like Ozon's previous films explores sexuality, trust, mystery, melodrama and something new, cannibal twins, which isn't what it sounds like.

Chloé has been having stomach pains, for a reallly long time and she doesn't know why. She thinks its connected with her extranged mother or to do with her issues sleeping. She tells this all to her psychoanalyst, Paul, whom she falls in love with. Eventually starts to feel normal again and she stops being his patient. When the two move in together, strange things start to occur. First Chloé finds Paul's passport with another name, then she sees a man that looks exactly like Paul on the street. He insists he has no brother but Chloé investigates further, meeting Louis, also a psychoanalyst and Paul's twin brother. As she has an affair with Louis, trying to keep the secret from Paul, she delves deeper into the twins' history, pushing her over the edge.

Falling into the erotic thriller zone, the fascination with twins is the main focus point of the film. In love with one and sexually obsessed with the other, Chloé can't stop seeing both. At first its just a curiosity about her boyfriend and trying to find out what secrets he's hiding, but with the affair, it turns into a morbid fantasy where she is excited by being with both twins. There is also rather a large hint at the possibility that Chloé herself is harbouring a secret sister, which may be the reason for her stomach pains. The term cannibal twin is brought up, describing how twins are made and the dominant twin literally devouring the other within the womb. A disturbing image and an even more uncomfortable feeling.

The film ramps up its melodramatic moments and loses the smooth edges of a thriller as the story progresses and as Chloé decends further into her own madness. The musuem where she works part time clevery mirrors her distorted mindset with its sometimes grotesque 'art' exhibitions and somewhat illustrates better what stage the film is at than the characters do. It follows a similar pattern to Ozon's dramatic genre with a thriller like twist but Amant Double loses pace as the story continues.


Wednesday 11 October 2017

Ingrid Goes West - BFI London Film Festival

Is social media 'bad' for you? Well, yes and no is the answer. But is social media 'bad' for you if you have a certain personality? To the point you obsess about something or someone? Or how about it pushes you so far off the edge that you loose all sight of who you are as you are so absorbed into being someone else? In these cases, you might want to step away from social media. Ingrid is one these people.

Ingrid Goes West is a about Ingrid, played to perfect boarderline psychotic precision by Aubrey Plaza. Ingrid has an obsession with Instagram, her main supplier as well as other social media sites. Having just lost her mum who died of an illness, she is alone and seeks comfort in the pretty pictures and people posting on Instagram. When Ingrid discovers Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), she moves to California with nothing but her inheritance her mother left her. She finds her way into Taylor's friendship zone, finding out that her persona isn't quite as authentic, but by now Ingrid is in too deep.  

The comedy part of the film does an excellent job, intentional or not, or poking fun at those hipster Cali types and those who are super superficial, pretending to be ahead of the curve when being nice to people, fake smiling all the way through. The film explores these types of people and those who are just being themselves, such as Dan Pinto (O'Shea Jackson Jr) who really loves Batman Forever. He is actually someone Ingrid connects with without the use of her phone showing that she can live without her obsessions and there is hope for her yet.

At the Q&A after the film a couple of people  asked about mental illness having an impact and director Matt Spicer pointed out that to say Ingrid was suffering with an illness and nothing else wasn't what the film was exploring. This is more about the effect social medis has in a negative and positive way (wait for the ending). Plaza full imerges herself into Ingrid's mind set and although she does some very questionable things, she isn't dangerous but can be pushed too far when cornered. All Ingrid wants is a friend she can admire and that appreciates her too. There is of course a back lash as Ingrid's real personality is defined about others and things and doesn't break through very often. 


Monday 9 October 2017

BFI London Film Festival: Beast

Like it's title, the film is a rare and strange 'beast'. Part of the First Feature Competition at the London Film Festival, it is expected to be raw, something that is hard to ignore and bursting with talent, which the film certainly is. There is uneasy feeling that channels throughout the story, making you questions the characters motives, whether they are telling the truth for truths sake and will passion win over instinct, all these elements have you on the edge of your seat.

Mol lives on Jersey with her overbearing and heartless mother, she lives at home to take care of her ill father and works as history tour guide which she is unsatified with. She is overlooked and blamed for most things tha go wrong. She leaves her birthday party (that wasn't really for her) to escape and dance. After a long night she ends up on the beach where she meets Pascal. The instant their eyes meet, something ignites them. Throughout the lustful first love to obsessive devotion, these two damaged souls, harbour secrets that don't burst out but graudually break and seep into their lives. At first in the background then brought to a crashing conclusion, a murderer is loose on the island, with the police closing in on their number one suspect. 

Aside from the brilliant chemistry between Mol (Jessie Buckly) and Pascal (Johnny Flynn), the stop start ending(s) started to wear thin and loose momentem BUT this is a first feature and feels as if some things were being tested out, which isn't a bad thing.

Director Michael Pearce has created a pyschosexual thriller that excites and terrifys, making you questions whether you want these two people to 'come clean'. With some brilliant scenes, particular the couple in question letting the waves wash over them and rather disturbing scene where Mol climbs into a dug out grave (I'll say no more), the story and characters are unervingly bursting at the seams with desire, hate, love and a sinister edge that keeps everything together. Hoping this get a release date soon.

Friday 6 October 2017

BFI London Film Festival: Racer and the Jailbird

The first official film of the festival for me (press screenings to be released later on VultureHound) and I was super excited to be back in the Embankment Cinema. A fantastic construction with a huge pleasing screen complete with red carpets and a welcome bar and box office, all a stone’s throw away from the river. Rather upset I won’t get to go back there during the festival. As this was a matinee, no special guests popped up to intro the film, which is always a nice touch at the festival, alas not this time.

Racer and the Jailbird or Le Fidèle as it’s known as in France, is the Belgian thriller drama about a gangster and racing car driver who fall in head fast in love, with one of my favourites Matthias Schoenaerts and Adele Exarchopoulos (of Blue is the Warmest Colour fame) as the title characters. They are the glamourous couple, Gigi (Schoenaerts) and Bibi (Exarchopoulos) who seem fun, exciting and passionate. Their relationship is put to the test more than once, sometimes with devastating consquences. The two actors are perfectly cast and well matched with screen presence that isn't taken more by the other, they are of exact equals in the story.

From a distressful childhood to a dangerous adulthood, Gigi lives life on the edge but does enjoy the thrill of the chase when it comes to robbing banks with his band of violent criminals. But when he meets Bibi, infatuated from the second he sees her, he starts to want another life and starts to pull away from his friends. But the its the ‘one last job’ trap where something is bound to go wrong does. Gigi no longer is thriller by the jobs anymore, he loses interest but goes along with it all out of loyalty. There is no doubt that Gigi is in love with Bibi and the sense that she represents freedom, a theme that is brought up a few times, and with her he can give up being a gangster. Bibi is given th harder task of having to prove that she is loyal and can be trusted despite having to turn Gigi in, most likely against her will, as she wants to run away with him. Bibi is no damsel in distress, she is a talented driver and can handle herself in the face of danger.

Split into three section, 'Gigi', 'Bibi' and 'No flowers', we get to see the relationship development, obverse the lies and witness the crumbing of their time together and apart. Each section shows a different part of their lives beginning with new love and intrigue to the fall out when love and passion takes over but doesn't win the day to desperate times with a looming tragedy that feels too quick. And yet, the ending, although odd and slightly mysterious, is almost its own section of the film, sepcualting a passing teasing question could in fact be true, I hope it is as it would shine a whole new light on the story.

Monday 2 October 2017

Around the World: Mexico

I am a sucker for a Gael Garcia Bernal film and this romantic comedy was exactly what I needed to watch. The film was shown as part of the Raindance Film Festival, which I had hoped to see more at but I was rather limited by time and work, which is such a shame as there were so many great films, but if I could only pick one I'm so glad I got to see 'You're Killing Me Susana'.

In Mexico City, Eligio, an actor stuck working on a soap opera, goes out drinking til late with his friends and screws around with the make up artist on his show, while his wife Susana, teacher and aspiring writer is losing her patience with her husband. One day Eligio wakes up to find that Susana has left, disappeared. He searches everywhere for clues for days, while Susana moves on with her life. Eventually he find out she's in Iowa, USA and immediately quits his job and sells his car to buy a flight to see his wife. Susana won a grant to a writers workshop and decided this is what she wanted and fed up with Eligio's behaviour thought that he'd forget about her. What follows is a mixture of culture clash, romantic and comedic moments as well as bitter realisation and more than one heartfelt reunion.

The clash of many cultures is felt and even uncomfortable at times. Particularly when everyone keeps calling Eligio 'that Mexican'. He's first treated with suspicion at the airport when he arrives in the US and then ends a taxi journey with a racist driver by skipping out on the fair. He makes friends with Susana's Spanish speaking classmates who continously say 'aw you Mexican man'. He is seen as someone new and exciting by one of the American classmates who flirts with him even though she knows he's married. Eligio's experience at the University with Susana comments on people's discrimnations as well as showing clashes aren't always obvious, particularly, between Eligio and Susana's Polish classmate she has been sleeping with. Speaking of Slawormir, the Polish poet, he doesn't say one word throughout the film, he just looms uncomfortably in various scenes. Compared to the loud, social and passionate Eligio, Slawormir is a cold fish, but it is obvious, even before Susana confirms this, that she was only attracted to him, she doesn't go into detail about much else.

Moving on.

Having the bulk of the film set in USA, a place completely out of Eligio and Susana's comfort zones automatically made the couple closer. Despite their past (and future) mistakes, they have a close bond and do love each other, even though Susana doesn't say it out loud until the end unlike Eligio who says it all the time. Eligio and Susana, Gael Garcia Bernal and Spannish actress Verónica Echegui make a perfect pair. The chemistry between the two no matter what the scene is brilliant. Switching from hopelessly romantic one moment to tragic the next, they are passionate pair.

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