Sunday 24 November 2019

Obligatory Christmas Netflix Film

This was meant to start off as a quick round review of films from the past month but seeing as I haven't written a 'watch list' post since August, I'll save that for another time. I just wanted to write something new this week. My Star Wars writing flow hasn't begun yet.

This post also goes against my rule about 'no Christmas films until December 1st' but in my defence, for some reason, I didn't know the film was set on Christmas Eve. From the trailer it just looked like it took place over a few days during the Christmas break.

The Christmas (not holiday season, it’s the Christmas season) season usually kicks off late November BUT this year, all round everywhere was getting into the Christmas spirit or at least trying to force people into it in October. The blood, guts and ghosts had barely even been taken out for Halloween before everywhere had started with Christmas, it felt like Halloween was being shoved under the stairs this year, barely making a mark. My guess is that everyone is eager (like me) for this year to be over, so bring on Christmas. And that wouldn't be complete without the obligatory Christmas Netflix film, this year, its 'Let it Snow'.

Beginning and ending with a voiceover from Joan Cusack, as the supposed voice of reason (?) but really, she's a tow truck driver who wears tin foil and won't explain why, she only really interacts with one character so her role, even from the start, is odd. But I like Joan, so I'll let that one go. Its Christmas eve and various teenagers are going through various stages of angst. It’s snowing and the town looks like a wonderland BUT of course with snow there are snow storms so no many cars on the road, followed by a few accidents and reasons for Joan Cusack to pop and tow a vehicle. Rather than a blanket plot, the film is separated into vignettes, which is in some ways is good as it offers the chance of sweet moments but on the other hand, there is no momentum throughout the film. Having a teen film be this relaxed is unusual, there is no sense of 'this is the be all and end all' of nights, which makes this an easy going Christmas film you could have on in the background of a party, which is amusing to say seeing as there is a party at the end of the film.

The stories within the film are centred around couples and friendship but mainly about romance which is to be expected, this is a teen film, on the verge of being a different genre. We have the best friends who are obviously in love with each other, the girl who's super obsessed with finding out where her boyfriend is and her best friend who is trying to make her see she deserves better, then that friend's secret romance with 'I've got feelings for you' for a cheerleader, the guy who just wants to throw a party and the famous singer who happens to be in town alone who meets the girl who doesn't know whether to go to college or not. Out of all of these characters, DJ K*Pow$ is the most fun even though all he wants to do is impress another DJ by having a party.

With moments of sweetness, outweighing the blandness of the overall feeling of the film, the little tiny moments of comedy are welcome and actually start to make you enjoy the film despite the very obvious ‘messages’ it is sending and the very obvious ending for all the characters. As an incredibly easy watch, it doesn’t quite have the Hallmark touch like the previous Christmas Netflix films and wouldn’t fall into the terrible Netflix film category either where ‘The Kissing Booth’, ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’ and ‘Tall Girl’ live. It’s a safe Christmas feel-good film. Cannot stress that enough. But if it was going for a unique selling point, there’s no other film I know where Spiderman and (teenager) Dora the explorer make out, at Christmas or otherwise.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Adoration - BFI London Film Festival

Young lovers on the run takes a very different form in Fabrice Du Welz’s latest dark tale of obsession and loss of innocence. With two enigmatic leads pushing the boundaries of how far someone is willing to go to protect the one they think they love. 

Full review is over at Zavvi HERE.


Sunday 17 November 2019

Zombi Child - BFI London Film Festival

If you could get revenge on someone, would you? Even it meant crossing the barrier of life and death? Part family history, part horror, part coming of age (sort of) this story spans decades and goes beyond four friends and their secret society.

My full review can be read over at Zavvi HERE.


Friday 15 November 2019

Bombay Rose - BFI London Film Festival

Beyond beautifully animated, this tragic tale of love, loss and being stuck in the past. Weaving in fairytale, the magic of cinema and the reality that's hard to esacpe.

My full review is over at Zavvi HERE.


Tuesday 12 November 2019

I Lost My Body - BFI London Film Festival

Its rare to find a story with such a bizarre and unusual point of view, as well as a story that captures what it feels like to be lonely but suddenly find a connection where you wouldn't expect. This animated story is of two halves, one told in flashbacks, the other a dangerous journey. A oddity with heart and hope.

My full review can be read on Zavvi HERE.

'I Lost My Body' will be on released on Netflix later this month.


Monday 4 November 2019


I think the ‘Joker’ discourse has calmed down enough for me to write this, at least until awards season comes around and the up roar may start again, which it may or may not. Although from what I’ve seen, it will but from what I’ve read, it won’t. From the very first rumblings about the ‘Joker’ film being made there was excitement. With Todd ‘The Hangover’ Phillips at the helm I did lose interest ever so slightly as I really don’t like those damn hangover films, they’re terrible. But my love for Joaquin Phoenix trumps my dislike for him. As the story started to shape up with teasers and even more rumours, it all started up again. But once the film was show at Venice Film Festival, things go way out of hand. Not only did Film twitter explode but the media in general did too. And I thought ‘The Souvenir’ was going to be the film of discourse this year.

It’s clear that from the outset Warner Bros. knew they’d have to change things up as their DC Comics films weren’t going according to plan (except Wonder Woman). They decided to go down the ‘dark’ route and take an indie filmmaking approach to how they make their comic book films, so far, not a bad plan. The unpacking of the end result has been gone over multiple times by many people who love, hate, loathe, obsess over it and all have valid and interesting takes. Maybe it’s because I’m fed up with the discourse or maybe I really do like dark as hell films once in a while, not everything can be sunshine and roses, but I really loved this film. If you’re reading this is disgust at why I love this film, please save yourself the time and stop, but don’t finish reading this just to have a go at me. Please also do not take my love for this film as reason to think I think the people who didn’t like it missed a point or are wrong. I love this film BUT I can totally understand why others don’t. Some of my fellow writers who did/didn’t like the film have taken some abuse online for their opinion. It’s not respectful and downright inhumane, don’t be THAT person. At the end of the day, it’s a film and we all are allowed to have a difference of opinion. Discussion or debate are fine, that’s part of the fun of writing/talking about film but abuse will not be tolerated.

As an origin story, it fits quietly and comfortably within the DC world. With enough open references to Batman and its characters, the story is not burdened down with making sure that it ticks boxes and able to concentrate on the hideous and brilliantly executed transformation of Arthur Fleck into what we know as the Joker. This film is a character study of a poor wretch that never fit into ‘normal’ society and never will. There are some other films of this nature that focus on someone as they go through hell and continue to go through pain and suffering and everyone just watches those films without blinking. But as this film is technically within the comic book universe and therefore a comic book film it is elevated and given a higher platform for people to see it. But people don’t like depressing films, at least not at this high level. They don’t want to see a grown man dressed as a clown being kicked on the floor leaving him crying and bleeding, and definitely not in IMAX cinemas they don’t.

As we all know, ‘The Joker’ is a supervillain, so an origin story would either evoke sympathy and we’d understand the character better as well as his intentions and motives however, as ‘The Joker’ isn’t meant to have an origin story, which is the beauty of the character itself, this film offers just one possible iteration of the character’s origin. All the previous Jokers have either just appeared or been given an origin, whether it’s been on screen or in the comics, Arthur Fleck is not the ultimate Joker, but he is a fascinating character. As well as exploration into this clown for hire, it is also a mystery as we find out where Fleck came from, who is parents are and why he is the way he is. It’s actually feels quite easy to pity the poor man but at the same time you would cross the street to avoid him as there is something not quite right about him. He gives off these dangerous vibes because he’s unnerving. But you sympathise with him, even after the turning point scene on the subway, you get swept up in the anger bubbling at the surface that turns into full blown madness by the end. But the moment you start to question whether you should be rooting for this character is when his fragile mind is questioned, when he enters his neighbour Sophie’s apartment and it’s revealed all the previous scenes with her in are in his mind. Fleck is an unreliable protagonist which means the entire story and how it plays out can be questioned. But this is truly what makes him a perfect Joker. He’s dangerous, yes but the fact you don’t really know what’s going on just makes this story even better as the Joker’s way has always been, chaos.

There are several outstanding moments, a particular favourite of mine being Fleck dressed in a red suit, full make up, dancing on the stairs to THAT song, but the scene on the Murray Franklin show, which is what half the film was leading up to. With several nods to Scorsese films through Fleck and the fact that he loves talk show host Murray, we all knew what was coming even with the misleads and if we’re all honest, we wanted this scene to happen. When I tell people I liked the film, not only because I think Phoenix is true genius actor and even after the film will be underrated, I say I liked this film for the wrong reasons. The film goes to dark hideous places and plays out things I would never do and throughout Fleck’s personal discoveries you really want to go ‘full Joker’ that’s why you came to watch the film right? Or did you watch the film just so you could say it was terrible? If Fleck had just carried on with his miserable little life and did nothing and watched someone else become the Joker, would that have been better? No. We all know Fleck becomes Joker, but we get see HOW he evolves into this human manifestation of chaos and someone who just wants to watch the world burn. He also may have a reason to want that but as we only know him has the villain, this is where you can if its nature or nurture situation, or in Fleck’s case, both. We meet him as a victim but we leave him as the villain, but what I think he was always a villain, just waiting to come out.

If ‘Joker’ had been called something else or had barely hinted that it was part of the DC Comics/film universe, I wonder if the response would have been different. If the film hadn’t been given a Hollywood marketing budget, would people have gone to see it as much as they did? I believe that half the audience who went to see the film wanted to see a ‘comic book’ film and the other half heard about the discourse and wanted to see what the fuss was about. I was excited from the minute Phoenix’s name was attached to the film and loved the trailer. This was not going to be like other films, that much was guaranteed but since the film’s rise in controversy, the film has lost a bit of its soul. If you’re wondering how that is possible and what that even means, I see it that films are sometimes treated liked the animals of Animal Farm by George Orwell. All films are released equal (as in no one has seen them) but some films are more equal than others. Thin analogy, I know. Circumstances surrounding the release and the reaction have all been orchestrated and if things had gone slightly different, I wouldn’t be writing this long-winded post.

Friday 1 November 2019

Rolling On

As the 10th anniversary screening of 'Whip It' rolls into sight, here's a very small glance at my zine commemorating the occasion as well as a little something about the sport I'd thought I'd share.

Back in 2010, I hadn’t heard of roller derby. My uni friend hadn’t really either BUT she had heard of a new film staring Ellen Page directed by Drew Barrymore and wanted to see. My sister was working at Odeon at the time and her friend at work happened to be friends with roller derby players. They made an appearance at the cinema to promote the film, there was a bits of free merchandise handed out and the promise that this was going to be a great film and the beginning of something new and fun.

I’m not sure if this was before or after the film was released but my Uni friend and I become obsessed with roller derby, from going to our very first game or bout as its called. We even started to back a team, the Steam Rollers, we tried to go all league games, even the championship. My friend was so invested in the sport she even bought the gear; skates, helmet and protection pads. We loved the film, I couldn’t stop listening to the soundtrack and was very eager to get my hands on the DVD when it finally came out.

Towards the end of that year, my friend started to lose interest in the sport, nearly missing one of the big games even. The spell was sort of broken but I understood, she had started dating her new girlfriend and didn’t have time for things like roller derby. I still clung on to the roller derby dream, even when a new team was added to the league I supported. I went to the games with my sister still as she had loved it as much as me. But soon as after those few new champion league games, I too left roller derby behind. Maybe it was due to my final uni year being over, or the depressing thought of having to job hunt in a recession, but the shine of roller derby felt long gone.

Fast forward to 2015 and I’m in a job I hate but at least I’m working with my best friend. For some reason roller derby comes up and I think back to those days at leisure centre near Seven Sisters. I convince my best friend to come with me to a game. He doesn’t sports either but I think he’ll like this. It’s the first time I’d been to a game in years. The teams have all changed but the atmosphere and spirit is the same. We grab some beers, queue for a while and we’re off! I wonder how I managed to miss all the years in between and my friend is having a great time. We cheer and shout with little clue as to who we support but it doesn’t matter, we’re back! But the chance to go to another game doesn’t come round again and soon enough, roller derby is put on the back burner.

With the film’s 10th Anniversary coming up this year, it seems too good an opportunity to miss to revisit the film and the sport I used to love so much. I’m proud to say that roller derby is the only sport I actually enjoy watching and nowadays I find myself looking for a game I can go to, hoping I can make it. I haven’t given up. So if you know of any games happening soon in London, let me know!

 #whipit #rollerderby