Monday 29 April 2019

To the Coolest Girl in the World

You know that feeling of you get when you know you've just seen a monumentous film yet there's no crowds, no endless showings, no drama, some hype but not so much that it deafens you, its a feeling of pure joy and excitement. That was me, sitting watching 'Eighth Grade'.

'Eighth Grade' didn't come from nowhere, it came from festivals and the mind of Bo Burnham (aka to Parks & Rec fans, Chip McCapp) and it was hit. It won over audiences and critics alike and finally its arrived in the UK. I'd heard about the film way back in 2018 and brilliantly written it was and how brutally honest it was and that there was no announcement for when it was being released over here, but this was the same for 'Sorry to Bother You' another Sundance hit which had a surprise last minute slot at LFF. In other words, I've been waiting months for this film and in a way, years too. It was worth the wait. My impatient heart melted from the minute it started.

Charting her last week of Middle School, Kayla, quiet, nervous and awkward, makes advice videos in her room to an audience of sometimes no one. She has a creative and fun side, as she says, but has no friends to share this side with, despite her Dad's encouragment and support. She decides to 'put herself out there' by trying new things such as going to a pool party and making friends with a high schooler she is paired with in preparation for the next year. Although a few misguided steps and uncomfortable moments later, it seems that she may be on the right track.

It's a rare thing (believe it or not) to see yourself reflected in a character on TV or film. I can name a combination of TV characters that I can relate to BUT film is different. Some complain that film is too fanastical and doesn't reflect reality, where as some would say that film tries to realistic and losses what the big screen is all about, loosing yourself in a fantasy and fictional world. What 'Eighth Grade' does is makes you feel you could be watching anyone's story. It's relatable through its characters, dialogue and events BUT the addition of music and design, the film easilt slips into fantasy or fiction.

The comments made through the story, about social media and the internet being part of the younger generations lives and that even though Kayla is only 4 years younger than the high schoolers she meets, they are a generation apart. Kayla is never without her phone, its a life line to outside of her inside world. Even though Kayla is seen as an introvert who is quiet and shy, her phone doesn't prevent her from trying to connect with others. Her peers, the so called 'popular' or 'cool' kids are also glued to their phones, yet they choose to use them as barriers to ignore people like Kayla. The question whether there is a generation gap between teenagers is touched upon (as this is not the main point of the film) but is answered throughout. When Kayla wants to find out information, such as 'how to give a good blow job' she literally Googles it, where as her new high school pal Olivia, 4 years older, would probably not done this, seeing what is accessible then is easier to find now. Kayla embraces the technology that her and her peers use constantly but there is a side to her who can appreciate other forms of her entertainment and what she thinks is 'cool' by the gift she gives as a birthday present. She hasn't lost her spirit or what makes her, her.

Elsie Fisher is superb as Kayla, capturing her vulnerabilities and expressing every ounce of pain and despair. Her reaction to being voted 'Most Quiet' by her classmates is quietly dramatic as she shuts her eyes in anguish, this is the last thing she wanted. Her desire for friends and confidence is something that all kids have, no matter who they are. The universal appeal of these incidences, which seems minor are everything to a 13 year old. Her judgement of herself is harsh and heartbreaking at the same time. Constantly saying sorry for things she should never be sorry for is so poignant. But when she chooses to make another time capsule for herself, with the worlds, 'To the coolest girl in the world' again, there is hope that she'll take her own advice from her videos and just be herself and I think that is something to hold onto or my case, reflect on and hope that I have always just been myself.

Thursday 25 April 2019

TMP Television Edition: Music/Musicals

I am not a Cameron Crowe fan. But I loved Roadies, it was the rom-com-music story told over 10 episodes that I seriously didn't know I needed. I'm a film fanatic and while I do love the music I like (if you get what I mean) I'm not 'all about the music' like most of the characters in the show. The roadies from rigging to management are on a nation wide tour of famous band, The Staton-House Band (terrible name). Its all about their loves, lives and how dedicated they are to the music and their loyalty to the band. There are episodes about stalker fans, super fans, mean spirited critics, superstitions, missing band members, accountants and of course death. Its a literal love letter to the roadies for any band and anyone who loves music THIS much. Gutted there was no second season as the show ends on major cliffhangers but alas the Amazon Prime show was cancelled.

Speaking of shows that were cancelled, Smash is top of the list of shows that should not have been cancelled but you could see it happening a mile off. The first season focused on the workshop of a new musical about Marilyn Monroe and the two possible leads, Broadway professional looking for her starring moment and new in town and talented as hell looking for her big break. As well as Angelica Huston as the producer who shows up every now and then to throw drinks at her arse of an ex-husband. I personally enjoyed the secons season more as it introduced another show that was going to be off broadway, Hit List, created by two up and comers who team up with said new in town girl. The songs were great and the lame characters from season 1 were ditched for a cleaner cut cast. But alas, shows aout Broadway are damn expensive so no season 3. 

Flight of the Conchords
Unlike the others, this show was not cancelled and instead ended on an odd high low note. New Zealand's no. 4 folk band, Flight of the Conchords, aka Bret and Jermaine who are trying to breakthrough into the music biz in New York with the help of their fellow New Zealander Murray who works as the Deputy Cultural Attaché at the New Zealand Consulate and moonlights at their manager. While trying to navigate the 'scene', the attentions of their number one (and only) fan Mel and having the ocassional romantic interlude, the duos songs are played out like music videos and they are so perfectly bizarre. Such a brilliant show, I do miss it.

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

Tuesday 23 April 2019

The Poster

As its been a really rather packed and busy Bank Holiday Easter weekend, I haven't had a lot of time to sit and write. However, this particualr post has been brewing in my mind for quite some time.

When you haven't moved around ior lived in many places, your personal space and how you choose to decorate or fill that space rarelt changes. I've lived in four different places and two towns. The first house, I don't remember, we moved when I was three. The second house, due to economic reasons is where I currently am. The other two were during university, both walls of which I quite quickly plastered with photos, posters and artwork so that they'd feel like home. But I didn't have anything up on my walls until I was well into my teens. When I moved into my current room, I immedately covered the walls, my way of expressing my freedom and being finally able to put up posters.

The Darjeeling Limited was released during my first year at college and already being a fan of Wes Anderson I was thrilled to find a large poster of the film free in a magazine. This poster has been with me for the last 13 years. It's been above my desk while I was home, I took it to Uni with me and in order for me to take it with me to my next home (whenever that will be, economic situation still standing) I decided this weekend to take it down off the wall. It was time. Especially as it had been there for years.

This signifys the end of an era and my poster habits. I also have a large collarge of postcards, collected from over the years that I put on mu cupboards, but part of me thinks its time for it all to come down so that all I will have are my framed prints. I do not think for one moment that posters are childish BUT stepping up to framed art I admire is a step in the 'growing up' direction.

For now, TDL postser, cellotaped in places and with a bit of white tac still in the corners, its foldered and stowed safely away until it once again be up on my wall, but hopefully framed this time.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Interview

This is the first ever film I watched at my first BFI London Film Festival back in 2007. I was so excited to see Steve Buscemi (who starred and directed) in the flesh. I also got to go on the red carpet as it was a premiere and I even dressed up a little as I wasn't sure of the ettiquette. Its brilliant two hander, with Sienna Miller as a famous soap opera actor who's being interviewed by a hard bitten journalist who thinks this interview is beneath him. Over the course of the night they reveal their secrets, weakness' and they're real motives. Its actually a remake of the Dutch film of the same name by Theo van Gogh who was murdered. In tribute, three of his films, including this one, were remade by American directors.

I've used this film a couple of times before  but its is meant for this theme as it is exactly that, an interview. Eight candiates prepare to take an exam that will lead to a job at a pretigious company. After being given simple and odd instructions the group slowly decends into chaos as they compete and decypher each other's real motives for the job. It's gritty, dark and actually a tad sci-fi when you find out what sort of company the job is with. It does go down the route of ridiculousness and the final winning candiadte is an odd outcome but its indie worth seeing.

Mildred Pierce
Classic film noir about a woman who tries and succeeds but is never good enough for her hideous spoilt daughter Veda. The entire film is laid through a police interview where Mildred, after finding out her husband has been murdered, relates the entire story of things became the way they were. Its more a brilliant murder mystery than about an interview but she is being interviewed by the police so it sort of fits in. 

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

Tuesday 16 April 2019

You're So Cool - Appreciation for Ocean's Eight

In the history of film, there have been many great female characters to grace our screens, big and small. Of course TV has its own breed of amazing female characters that is its own subject so I’m just going to focus on film.

Years before the announcement that there was to be an Ocean’s Eleven spin off or new version with women, I had been saying for years that if you swapped every male cast member for women the only thing you’d need to change is she instead of he. The setting, the dialogue, the skills they all bring, they are suited to just men, the entire cast could be female and it wouldn’t change the plot or dialogue.

However when it was announced, along with cast and story, I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that the women would be stealing jewellery and at the MET Gala too, the most fashion concentrated event of the year (so they say). It seemed that diamond heist was very female centric. However, over looking this slight too cliche story choice, the film looked and sounded like any other ‘fun’ heist film. Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean and Cate Blanchett as her right hand woman, Lou headed up the star spangled cast. With nods to the previous Ocean’s films with a cameo from Elliot Gould and a surprise cameo from another member of the previous team. Danny is dead but Debbie is not convinced, but this is dwelled upon and mentioned a few times by other as they offer condolences. This is Debbie’s show. This the women’s show. Unlike Danny’s crew, not everyone in the gang is actually a criminal. But to be honest, it doesn’t matter. Every woman on the team has their own reason for being there, the weakest member of the team having the weakest reason, but less on her later.

The crime caper, heist film, light action, is usually loose on many characters details and concentrate more on the main character and their personal problems. Debbie is has a story and like her brother it was a romantic one, but unlike him, her’s is about revenge. So, not only this film have an amazing female line up BUT there is no romantic attachment, just a bit of revenge on the side. As romance seems to creep into most stories (think about it) I like to value the fact the films that don’t have this element, especially when its seamless and doesn’t feel on purpose. Another aspect of the heist film, when a woman is involved, a seduction must take place. Although there is, sort of scene like this, its not by the original team member. None of the of the women have to seduce anyone in any part of the heist and THAT is unbelievably satisfying. In spy, crime, special agent films, there is always a bloody seduction scene and its boring. Thank you Ocean’s 8 for (sort of) subverting the mould.

Every woman in the film (apart from Hathaway) is undeniably cool. They way they act, the skills they have and of course their own styles. I wanted to wear everything Blanchett worse in the film, her outfits were so cool and that's what I kept yelling every time she was on screen.

Films where crime is ‘glamourised’ are fun to enjoy but if they take themselves too seriously, it almost feels like a promotion. Luckily the film jokes about being a criminal and how they shouldn’t being this heist for themselves but for an 8 year old girl somewhere who is dreaming of being a criminal. The women of the film are undeniably cool. They are exude a coolness even when under pressure. They are organised and they know their end goal, to most of them, this is just another job, but they’ll be damned if they’re not having fun with it.

For those, like me, who end up having to wait for films such as Ocean's 8 in order to see, yes Hollywood can sometimes produce something that isn't making a statement, even though it does and can get behind an ace cast which is predominately female and doesn't dwell on romance, having a family, having a career crisis (well Helena Bonham Carter's Rose is kind of) or 'trying to have it all'. No one makes a huge deal if a film has all men in the main cast, but the fact its so damn rare to have a cast like Ocean's 8, everyone sits up, takes notice and usually tries to tear it down (just look at Ghostbusters). But not this time, in my eyes, these cool AF women can't be torn down. Unless they pretend to in order to nick your cash, but that's another story.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Half Witch, Half Mortal, All Kinds of Chaos

So, Sabrina, not like the 90s show I loved way back when. But it wasn't all shock and horror. As soon as it was announced I went out and read The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (vol 1) of course. I was prepared for something very different to the previous TV show. There were similar characters, yes but other than that, this was completely other worldly another realm.


By now, anyone who loves witches, supernatural goings on, Sabrina, TV would have seen the first season of the aptly shortened name CAOS so I won't get bogged down with the Dark Baptism and all that jazz. Let's jump straight into the deep dark end of the satanic pool.

First off, I am beyond pleased that the second season, part two was so quick on the heels of part one. After the cliffhanger of last season with Sabrina going full witch and getting the white hair and eveyrthing, my impatience to see what happens next had reached a high. BUT the teasers teased a very different season to what we got. Playing up a love triangle that turned out to be square and then nothing really. The impending doom of the world and the Dark Lord himself appearing in his Heavenly form were not to be expected, just Sabrina trying to balance her mortal life and witch times.

I really enjoyed season two, even if Salem still didn't talk, but there were some things lacking such as, more time with Hilda and her developments, more time with Ambrose apart from him gasping and sitting down heavily in chairs, more about Sabrina's parents would have also been interesting to unfold and maybe, dare I say it, more explaination about Roz's 'cunning'. BUT what did happen was brilliant for th most part.

Immediate thoughts....
-Noboby is buying this second rate forced romance between Roz and Harvey - its dull and boring, they were more interesting apart.
-Are we not going to find out more about the ghost that Theo talks to?? Seriously, why has this been dropped. And speaking of dropping things...
-Throwback to season 1 with all those mysterious deaths, are we just letting that go now?
-Lillith was out of the picture for most of the season, which was a shame, hope shes back in season 3
-What's with all the betraying familiars?? Is Salem and Hilda's spiders the only loyal ones?
-Can't believe Blackwood cool aided the entire coven
-And the last line 'let's go to hell and bring back my boyfriend' - no, Sabrina, no.

Now for the more serious comments. As I said before, this season did not go the way I expected. Steering away from teenage dramas and highschool issues, Sabrina and Harvey's unresolved feelings were quickly dealt with very early on, as well as cementing the new couple, that really doesn't work, Roz and Harvey. Why not have new characters come in for them? Sabrina also spent most of her time at the academy and with Nick. After the Lupercalia episode, the series seemed to settle down and get into the real story, Sabrina's destiny, Blackwood's my misogynistic plan and why is Dorian Gray in Greendale. The last one was mainly for me as its really odd. Although the joke that everything is in Greendale is played up so the show knows.

Sabrina's destiny, to rise up within the church and fulfil a prophecy, taking her place by the Dark Lord, was part of season one. Sabrina continues her 'good' works, challenging the patriarchy, believing that because she's half witch/mortal rules don't apply to her. But when the Order of Innocence aka Angels come hunting souls, she literally wears a crown of thorns, is hit by three arrows and levitates in the air. She also brings the dead back to life and sets fires to those angels. She becomes Hell's herald and continues to perform 'miracles' until the Dark Lord's plan is revealed. Satanic mythology as well as influence from the Bible is used throughout and with ease in the show. Tapping into the Church of Night's religion and the rules and regulations the church follows is actually quite fascinating, especially with the arrival of the anti-pope, perfectly casting Ray Wise in the role. Magic, witchcraft and religion alike are combined into a large melting pot that actually make you more curious about the classes they teach at the academy. What I am trying to say is, I think its amazing that the show went all the way with Sabrina being the prophet for the Dark Lord and its also why I'm a little disappointed, it didn't play out longer.

The show was stunted in it's teen romantic entanglement choices (dull) but for calling out the misogynistic ways of the church and making a spectacle of the Dark Lord and wanting to open the gates of hell was brilliant. The other issues were tackled in the form of character development, when Theo Putnam joined the basketball team. Handled with care, Theo's story unfolded in parts but out of all the mortal friends, he actually had story. In fact, apart from this part of the season, the mortal kids weren't around much, or maybe I didn't notice them.

With quite a few cliffhangers, the show is now left with no Dark Lord (maybe), barely a Church of Night and Sabrina, with powers restored but still thinks its a great idea to go back to hell after the gang literally just left the gates. Come on 'Brina, you can do better.

Thursday 4 April 2019

JT Leroy - BFI Flare

It all started with a phone call and ended up one of the biggest literary 'hoaxes' of our time. Or at least that's what the media reported. 'JT Leroy', written by Savannah Knoop who embodied the author for 6 years shares her story through a fictionalised telling.

My full review is over at VultureHound HERE.

Monday 1 April 2019

Watch List March

Captain Marvel
 No one expected a cat named Goose would be such a hit but the Captain herself was great fun. There were flaws yes but on the whole, Marvel finally making a superhero film with a female character front and centre was long overdue. That's of course if you discount Ant-Man and The Wasp. My post about the film and the media hell around it can be read HERE. 4/5

The Girl in the Spider's Web
My review of the adaptation of the fourth book in the Millenium series but a weird side stepped not quite a sequel to David Fincher's remake (doesn't make sense as the film references things that happened after that film) can be read over at VultureHound HERE. 3/5

Incredibles 2
Missed this at the cinema first time round, caught it on Blu-ray. Many films do not require a sequel, including The Incredibles and I stand by this. But I love the characters and the other side of superheros so I enjoyed this one. A great and interesting turn from the ending of the first film where the family are living in a motel after their house was destroyed and they make a mess of trying to capture a villain. A secretive, worth millions company who's CEO loves superheros recruits the family to help change the law, making superheros legal again but this time, its Elastigirl who is the one fighting crime, while Mr Incredible takes care of the family. Its a fun story, with a mystety and actually genuine scary moments (well, I was scared) as well as some 'real' family time issues, plus discovery of all baby Jack's powers, which are insane!! 4/5

Having seen this documentary float around the film-sphere for years, I finally got to see this tale of true love, rumours, Mormon cults and the media circus that ruined lives. There are two sides to this story, both shown in the film, telling the tale about young American beauty queen Joyce McKinney who falls in love with Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson and follows him to the UK after he is forced to leave. It's bizarre and actually quite sad, as Joyce talks about the love of her life who is brainwashed away from her and does seem hard to imgaine thar media version of her kidnapping him. Either way, everything is laid out so you can make up your own mind. 3/5

The Honey Pot 
So, I went a little over the top buying up a bunch of cheap DVDs, ones from DogWoof and from Signal One Entertainment. This was the latter. An early 70s comedy (?) and later murder mystery about a wealthy old man who pretends to be dying in order to bring three of his past lovers back to him, hinting that he will leave his fortune to one of them. It really rather silly, self indulgent and the plot is all over the place but Maggie Smith is in it so it was worth it for that as she is the only half sain person in the film. 2/5

Black Widow
Another Signal One Entertainment purchase. This time a late 80s thriller about a woman who kills her wealthy husbands soon after marrying them. Hot headed FBI Agent Alexandra is hot on the spider's heels, even going as far as befriending the killer to try and save her next victim. Its actually pretty good, if a little cheap around the edges (which I love!).  3/5

I first saw the trailer late at night while clicking through various posts and immediately regretted and was excited by it. Using a classic hip hop song to lure you in to the hellscape that await you - genius. A simple story at the core of the film, a family goes on vacation to the beach and are then terrorised by their distorted doubles, leaves so much room for the bigger issues being explored. Appreciating every aspect of the film and how much actual detail in the film is actually enjoyable, inbetween stuffing my mouth with my jacket to stop me yelling out in fear of course. The fact that Jordan Peele's horror film(s) are grounded in the horrific nature of human beings mkaes the horror feel much closer to home, even if a little bit of sci-fi is used to enhance the premise. With creepy twists and turns throughout as well as forehsadowing galore, its much more than I expected. 4/5