Thursday 30 May 2019

Watch List: April/May

The Missing Link
I love Laika Studios because their films are not just beautifully made, they are intricate and the details are amazing, but they're stories are heart warming as well breaking. They are afraid to end on a sad tone or realisation, they make realistic stories that children can enjoy and pick up on their messages, for everyone else, they get to enjoy the wonder. When explorer Sir Lionel Frost recieves a mysterious letter about a Sasquatch he comes face to face with the real deal who is actually a big fan of his work. The two go on a journey to the other side of the world so that Susan (that's the Sasquatch's name he gave himself) to meet his cousins, the yeti. But things don't always turn out how you imagine. 4/5

Eighth Grade
I think this is looking like my favourite film of the year (not seen Booksmart yet though). I wrote all about how much I loved this film and everything its about HERE.  5/5

My best mate made me watch this. Or rather, I was enjoying cocktails while we laughed/felt sick throughout the film. So much gore, so much pointless gore. When Merlin showed up in a cave, that's when I mentally checked out of the film. 1/5

Superheroes, the Russian way. More info soon.

Avengers: Endgame
In all honesty, not quite the 'end of an era' film I thought it would be. I had no idea they were going to use time travel, or a rather a time heist to 'fix' everything. But they ended two character's stories well, Black Widow deserved much better, Thor is not done yet and how the hell are they are going to solve the time travel **** ups with Guardians of the Galaxy because their time line is all over the place?! More on this HERE 3/5

High Life
So much has been said about Claire Denis' science fiction slightly horror toned drama where Robert Pattinson looks after a baby, at least that's putting it lightly. Death row inmates are given the chance to serve science by journeying into space to extract energy from a black hole. Aboard this particular ship is Dr Dibs, who is obsessed with making babies. She collectes sperm from the willing male inmates and tries to impregnate the female inmates. There is also the terrifyingly shot 'fuck box' which the crew uses to masturbate, all except Monte, nicknamed, the monk. Existence on the ship shifts from sedative induced nights to bleak days, some of the crew finds solace in the ship's garden, others stare into the vast space around them. The mystery unfolds of how Monte comes to be the only crew member left, plus a baby to care for but the true myteries are left unanswered. Such as why were they sent there, what crimes brought them to the ship (only two inmates' backgrounds are revealed) and are there more ships apart from the one with stray dogs? It's a science fiction peice of art that you can dwell on for days. Horror, is other people and the feeling that you're not in control seeps into the cracks of the ship and story and never really leaves you, as well as that damn 'fuck box'. 4/5

Detective Pikachu
I was never really into Pokemon, I had a couple of the cards (which I found in the school car park) and the show never really caught my attention long enough for me to feel invested BUT the fact that Ryan Reynolds voice was coming out of an adorable Pikachu and actually was very funny, the trailer had me at 'that's very twisty'. As someone who knows nothing about the Pokemon world I felt invested in the characters, mostly because the pokemon are either cute or ridiculous (the duck who's head explodes - loved him) and the story of a missing father and conspiracy, even though it was predictable, I still enjoyed it. 3/5

Its about how Reg Dwight became Elton John, with music and musical numbers thrown in. My review is over on Vulturehound HERE. 4/5

Someone Great
Film about friends and growing up are usually a safe space where you can sit back and relate to the characters, enjoy the hijinx and think about your own life, at least thats some of the thoughts going through my head with this type of film. I love the main cast, they all have their issues going on, they have great chemistry and there are geniune funny moments BUT the fact they are all meant to be 'almost 30' was something that bothered me. Maybe because I'm almost 30 and do not have everything together. My own insecurites coming out here. I was saving this film for another day and maybe I watched it in the wrong head space, after I had recieved terrible and sad news or that something had ended the day before and I was just accepting it but, all these things aside, the film was ok but it was more about the end of a nine year relationship than about friends. 3/5

The Tribe
When a horrible corporate HR director fires 300 people, THEN gets caught cheating when he gets stuck inside a woman, only to be dragged out in front of the whole office and phone cameras, he loses his job, his wife and when he goes to meet with his biological mother, his memory too when he gets hit by a bus, Fidel is not having a great time. His mother takes him in, taking care of him even after she finds out who he is. She intriduces him to her dance class and as they say, that's that. Turns out he's a great dancer and makes an impression on the class as well as the teacher. Very funny at time, at others truely bizarre but the dancing is fun. 3/5

Sunday 26 May 2019

Blind Spot Series: Alien

There was a time when I would never have seen a horror sci-fi because I would be too scared and worried how my imagination would run away after the credits roll BUT it was simply not a good enough reason to not watch a classic. Having seen the sequels (loved Aliens, not so much Aliens 3) it was time to watch the film that spawned an unlikely franchise, spin-offs, prequels and influences many film of the same genre. Having seen it, I really had nothing to fear... apart from a face hugger.

The premise of a small crew on an average mission in space working for a large corporation but then making a sudden detour when they receive a distress call from a near by planet, is now an opening that predicts something bad will happen. The already ominous tone of the film sets up characters but without stereotypes and without anticipation of what is their fates is, these days in film, rare. No one would have guessed that the last crew members standing would be the two women and the only black guy on board. BUT that’s not even the best part, its only after that you actually think about it that its unusual, while in the film, all you can think about it, oh my gad I hope they make it.

The evolution of Ripley as the unlikely heroine and survivor of the infamous ship, Nostromo, is that she never stands out as the leader, she’s the crew member who makes sense and wants to do things by the book. She clashes with the science officer, suspecting his creepy alternative motives early on. But she only achieves the title that so many bestow on her, ‘strong female character’, by the end of the film and technically into the next film. In ‘Alien’ she is the sole survivor and for me, that’s who she really is, just happens to be female. Casting the then unknown Weaver in the role was a bold move and one that really paid off. If the film, the story, setting and characters can absorb you into the film, it doesn’t matter who is playing them, that’s what I take away from Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.

The fact that science fiction and horror can easily go hand in hand means that more film exploring both these genres can cross over but these days so few have the same quality and patience of ‘Alien’. With such a simple title, straightforward forward plot and close quarters setting means the characters are the ones the audience is left with to engage with. The real horror in the story is obviously the alien but more deeply, fear of the unknown.

The tag line ‘In Space no on can hear you scream’ evoked terror and intrigue, something resonates throughout the film as well. The film lived up to this promise and I’m glad I finally watched the film and not just the infamous chest bursting scene, which was awful to watch by the way.

To find out how it all started, head over to The Matinee and to see what's happening now, check out Returning Videotapes who is the new host of the Blind Spot Series. 

Friday 24 May 2019

"Jesus Loved Winners"


This year marks the 20th anniversary of so many films that were released at the end of the 90s. I was hoping to get to a few others BUT there is one that really deserves to be front and centre.

'Drop Dead Gorgeous' was one of the first 'grown up' VHS tapes I remember my sister and I owning, or at least, my Nana kept at her house for us to watch when we stayed round. It was a bright pink box, so inviting and sparkling next to all the dull grey boxes. Just something I remember. I only bought it on DVD (cardboard box would you believe) a few years back when I realised I didn't own it. It's really odd that the film hasn't been released on blu-ray yet. A 20th anniversary would be a prime opportunity. I hope the distributors can hear me!

For anyone who loves this film as much as me, you know how damn quotable the film is and just how brilliant the characters of Mount Rose are.

I've written a piece about the film that will hopefully be in the next Vulturehound issue but I also couldn't resist making a zine to mark the anniversary. I won't be putting up a more detailed version until after the VH issue is out. I have ordered a print version just to see what it looks like, but for now here's a sneak peak:

Thursday 23 May 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted from Movies of a Different Language

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop - 
Blood Simple

 The Coen Brothers gritty noir debut inspired the Chinese remake, making the story no less cinematic, no less suspensful but giving it's own twist, its a welcome reimagining/remake that creates its own presence and beautifully atmospheric. I think the Coens would approve.

Contraband  - Reykjavík-Rotterdam

 Seems like action from the outset (and trailers) but is actually pretty darn good thriller about repaying debts and double crossing. The American remake of the Icelandic original has some major changes in plot and characters, namely making the main character a success after leaving his life as a smuggler aboard a container ship.

The Kindergarten Teacher - The Kindergarten Teacher

The American remake starring Maggie Gyllenhaal made waves at festivals and upon release to Netflix (on screen in the UK) but the Israli original never really had a chance. I really loved the poetry and atmoshpere of the latest version but I haven't seen the original yet to compare. HERE is what I had to say about the American version.

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

Friday 17 May 2019

When Is a Review Not a Review?

I wonder about 'reviews'. When people ask me about my blog and say 'I write about films' they usually respond with 'you mean film reviews and stuff?' I try to explain that I don't set out to write reviews but sometimes my words shape up that way. I like to make a point that the words I write are my own opinion unless stated or quoted otherwise. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I write feature length articles, I do of course research - either out of curiosity or necessity and that is usually required for articles and the like. But I don't feel I write reviews either. This leaves me to go on further, explaining what film means to me but then I become aware that I'm being, what my sister calls me, a film snob. So, then I stop and say 'Yeh,  reviews, something like that.' I do write reviews for other sites, with the full intention I am writing a review, but on my my own blog, I think I am entitled to write however I please.

To be honest, I think that reviews are just people's opinions that are meant to speak to everyone. But if you have to write for Sight and Sound or for example, The Guardian, your opinion is gold but if it isn't, it's nothing more than white noise. When I recommend a film to someone, they either listen or don't, which is fine. But when I've suggested or recommended a film but I'm met with resistance because 'it's not meant to be good' or 'looks rubbish' but then only later after a gold opinion is heard is the recommendation taken, THEN I get annoyed. To be honest this is mostly something my parents do. If someone on the radio or TV says its good, then they'll go see it and then tell me about it despite the fact that I was the one that mentioned it in the first place. OK, this is mainly about family. 

I find that the best opinions and reviews come from fellow film bloggers, film critics and film enthusiasts I've met or read on the great wide web. There are dozens of amazing fellow film fanatics who's opinions are more than a soundbite on a 'prestigious' radio show. I admit, I'm not the greatest 'commenter' and for that I apologise, but it doesn't mean I haven't read your work.

As well as reading online, I try and read magazines in print (support print!) from the big guns, Empire magazine to the indie made film zines such as Dear Movies. I think I talked about or at least tweeted my support of the beyond amazing limited zine series, Filmme Fatales, all the way from Australia. I also read when I can Shelf Heroes (beautifully designed and put together along with great pieces) and on a more serious in depth note, Another Gaze. Whenever I find a new film zine or magazine, I do get a little excited to see that film reviews/criticism is not dead.

So, when reading about film, you can decide whether it is a review or not. Support film writing in print and if someone recommends a film to you, don't ifnore then watch and then tell them about it. Film etiquette.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Birds of a Feather

 No, this is not about that British sitcom from the 90s.

At first glance, Netflix's latest animated comedy 'Tuca & Bertie' looks and feels like its from the same world as 'Bojack Horseman', but as creator and animator Lisa Hanawalt has said that the shows are not in the same universe, we might have to imagine these characters are from two different worlds (although, I like to think they are linked).

As well as sharing the same animation and anthropomorphic animals, the world also includes anthropomorphic plants, less humans, gigantic snake and snail underground trains and more pets. Added into the sureeal mix are added animated quirks, such as including animator's human hands invading the frame, similiar to Monty Python's animated segments. There are more visual jokes and a different flow altogether throughout the show. But just like Bojack's hard hitting realism and Hollywood satire, Tuca & Bertie also goes into serious territory and not everything is resolved or happy at the end of each episode. But that's why we love the immensely flawed Bojack right? The comedy is so dark you need a torch to find your way out the other side. But we love Tuca & Bertie because there's something else about the show and its the friendship. Shows about friendship will always feel sunnier and in some ways more relatable.

The beating heart of the show is Tuca and Bertie's long lasting friendship. We meet them at the start of a new-ish era for both of them. Bertie is moving in with her boyfriend, Speckle and wants to be promoted at work. Tuca, we learn has been sober for 6 months and although she's still the carefree crazy antics prone bird woman, she is slowly learning how to survive on her own. Exploring subjects including mental health, sexual harassment, office politics and sexual abuse, you would think the show would tilt towards a more serious angle BUT with episodes including giant sex bugs, cults, Yeast Week, a love of architecture and comparing porn prefrences, the show gets the balance just right. Watching Tuca and Bertie feels like any other friendship, which sometimes is needed in a comedy and sadly isn't seen enough in my opinion. It took two bird women to remind me what's missing.

The show has two amazing and perfectly cast leads in Tiffany Haddish as Tuca and Ali Wong as Bertie and these are two secret weapons to the show's success. I say success as its brilliantly scripted and amazingly animated, the show has got it all. Now it just needs a second season. So, if you're not watching 'Tuca & Bertie' get on Netflix and get absorbed into Bird Town.

Monday 13 May 2019

The Strange Love of Kubrick and His Bomb

My first collaboration piece, written with B.P Flanagan, thanks to Park Circus and Picturehouse is up on the latter's webiste.

With the release of Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove' back in cinemas, we write about the film, the climate at the time of release and about Matt Wells' short film centered around the now iconic film.

Whether you're a fan of the film, never seen it or debating a second watch, have a read HERE.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies You Have a Different Opinion After a Rewatch

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Would you believe there was a time when I DIDN'T like this epic film from Wes Anderson? I first watched the film, borrowing it from the library, thinking that it would be more of that Anderson charm but I at first I thought it was all over the place, just a large cast who didn't really know what they were doing, stop motion animation thrown in, a sudden a puzzling death two thirds in, I hated it. BUT by chance I watched it again a few months later and realised its a work of art and everything I thought was a mess was in fact pure genius. From the odd introductions, the amazing cut away boat boat scene, that famous singer singing David Bowie songs randomly, that amazing rescue of the bond stooge and that ending that shows there is hope. I love this film.

Dirty Dancing
There was a time I though this Patrick Swayze 80s cclassic was just really cheesy and over rated. I didn't even rate this as a guilty pleasure BUT then I read about the film from another point of view, Hadley Freeman's most excellent book, 'Life Moves Pretty Fast' and I watched the film again. Now I tell everyone to watch it, its a pro abortion film and I'm very much all for women's choice. Most people look at me oddly or try and tell me I'm wrong BUT read the book guys and you'll be enlightened like I was.

Django Unchained
Highly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed at the cinema BUT upon a second viewing of Tarantino's film where he has the worst 'cameo' ever it beats M. Night Shyamalan, was that the film was dull. The best two characters were killed off way too quick and the rest, well, not great.

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

Tuesday 7 May 2019

What We Talk About When We Talk About Grief

 Athougth the ban has been lifted, I'm still warning everyone SPOILERS ahead.

Whether we like it or not, films, music, art changes us. Media and visual creativity can evoke emotions, strong or weak. It can influence us, convince us to change, stay the same, reassure us that ‘we’re not alone’. For anyone who loves film, knows exactly what I mean. I am and can be equally moved by Ildiko Enyedi’s ‘On Body and Soul’ as I am by Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and to understand and enjoy film I don’t think indie and blockbuster are mutually exclusive in how you appreciate and watch them. This is my round about way of saying that blockbuster movies can also create great emotion from an audience.

Avengers: Infinity War was set to be the road final ride, the last hurrah for what is now known in the cinematic universe as ‘the original’ Avengers. No one expected what happened at the end of that film. I myself started cheering as I saw Bucky look ill (I do not like that character, he is a waste of space, moving on) but then went silent when he literally disappeared. As one by one the newer heroes we’ve come to love disappeared slowly and painfully, that’s when we finally found out that, not all heroes live forever.

The joke of superhero films is that, like the comics, there is no real danger. We all assume and take for granted that our favourite characters will come back or at least be rebooted to live and fight another day. I was devastated (yes devastated) when Gamora was killed mid Infinity War especially with the promise of a third movie with the GotG gang. But when everyone disappeared, the studios finally took that leap of faith and paid off. With Endgame, there was no guarantee that everyone would come back, a price has to be paid. But the price wasn’t all paid by out heroes, I think the fans and audience also paid a price and I’m not talking about the length of the film. I’ve watched all the Lord of the Rings extended versions in the cinema and it was glorious and I’d do it again I tell you! No, I’m talking about a few things such as the time heist walk through the old films and the past jaunt and of course, the untimely death of Black Widow.

As we all knew, certain contracts were up so it was expected we’d say farewell to some of Earth’s mightiest heroes. As Tony Stark, starting the whole franchise with four words ‘I am Iron Man’, we knew he’d go out, most likely with a bang. It was expected that Cap would follow, but instead they gave the fans what we always wanted for him. The man out of time is reunited with the love of his life and it was perfect. Bruce Banner, the one with the most trouble getting to the big screen is given, nothing really, expect that awful combo look that annoyed the hell out of me throughout the film. I’m guessing he’ll be back?? Hawkeye, bless him, did his best, sporting the Sonic the Hedgehog haircut and brooding despair that only a man who has lost his whole family understands, I’ll get to Thor later. But first, Black Widow. She doesn’t have special powers, she’s an agent and damn good one. But she’s always treated like she’s second billing. There were talks of a solo film but of course, that never came to fruition and after Endgame, they’ve made damn sure she never will get one. The fight over who gets to die between her best mate Clint and her for the Soul stone was awful, mainly because as soon as they reached that cliff top, we all knew what was going to happen. Clint has a family, Natasha had no one, except her Avenger family and they needed that stone. Her death came first and harshly before the last act. She doesn’t get to stand against Thanos, she just, leaves. She isn’t given a funeral, that we know of, she isn’t grieved for for long. There are little reminders but nothing like Stark’s superhero state funeral. Natasha deserved more than what she was given.

Let's talk about Thor. The God of Thunder has been through some horrific times and suffered terrible loses. His father, mother, brother, best friends, warriors, his hammer, his home and most of his people, all gone but he hasn't really has time to sit, take it all in and grieve. After beheading Thanos, Thor, for the first time is able to move on, or at least drink, play games, relax with his new pals and just pretend everything is ok. Beyond the weight gain (this sometimes happen in grief, it is not a visual joke thanks) he is a broken man. He thinks he's not worthy and has completely lost all confidence in himself, he can't even say Thanos' name without angry crying. The fact that the film does allow him to be this, new Thor, at least shows some compassion for the character and my gad does Chris Hemsworth do a fantastic job. He's able to be the mess that Thor has become as well as the warrior and the person who just really wants to do the right thing all while bringing in the comedic moments that were greatly needed (especially with the lack of Guardians of the Galaxy around, although Scott Lang does help). Thor's scene with his mother seems odd on the surface BUT he never really had proper closure with her death. Odin has a long farewell on a cliff top, he's had plenty of heart to hearts with Loki so Frigga actually is the right emotional choice. Also, the moment his hammer returns to him, the look of joy that he is still worthy says it all. He really thought he was at fault for everything and to find out he's still able to weild his hammer means everything to him. The film did do Thor justice and let the man grieve, feel redeemed and ultimately give him a new path to follow. So, Asgardians of Galaxy could be the next thing?

Thursday 2 May 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: True Crime

Sister My Sister
Two sister, maids to a wealthy woman and her daughter, plot to kill their employer after their incestous affair is discovered. Based om the real true crime story in Le Mans, France, were the two Papin sisters murdered their employer. There is also a play, 'The Maids' based on the same murder case. Its a suffocating and uncomfortable watch, let's put it like that.

Heavenly Creatures
Two best friends, Pauline and Juliet, plot and kill Pauline's mother after they find out they are to be separated. The film is based on the relationship between the girls and the notorious Parker/Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1954. 

Miss Bala
Miss Bala, the bullet beauty queen is what she's been called before.  Laura Guerrero, signs up to be part of a beauty pagent with her friend but on a night out she get caught up in a shooting and kidnapped by the La Estrella gang and forced to participate in their crimes. This is loosely based on Laura Zúñiga who is a model and beauty queen who was caught and arrested along with suspected gang members outside Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 2008. There is an American remake coming out this year, which I'm surprised about, not that it exists but that it took this long to make it!

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