Tuesday 30 June 2020

Watch List: April & May & June

This really should be called Watch List: Lockdown edition but as I don't really want to look back at posts in the future and see the words 'lockdown' in the title, I'll stick to the months. I've rewatched quite a few TV shows and binged throughed new ones but I seem to be winding down. I've gone back over my watch list on Netflix mainly and plucked a few films from there to watch. As there are no new cinema releases, the excitement of going to the cinema is still yet to happen, new releases on streaming services are less exciting but non the less available. I've taken to renting a few titles as well as watching films on Sundays with friends over Zoom but I haven't included every single film I've watched. This is a selection I wanted to write about as I really don't think me mentioning 'Mr Nanny' is going to add to anything.

The Platform

Not always eager to watch the latest horror film but the premise of this Netflix film was something that disgusted and fascinated me. Also having watched this at the start of lockdown really was the cherry on top of the hell cake. Set in a gigantic concrete tower spanning suposedly 200 floors, each floor with two peopl, some criminals, others volunteers and a rectangle hole in the floor, a platform travels down the tower stopping at each level for 1 minute. This platform is filled with food but as it travels down, there is less and less food for everyone. The film is literally a comment on the distribution of wealth and how humanity has failed this. The film is bleak, there's no way to shy away from that but its discussions between the protagonist and his cell mates are what give this story meaning and hammer home that there could be enough food for everyone if they rationed. The realisations at the end are the real horror as they aren't shock moments, they linger in your mind long after the credits roll. 4/5

Love. Wedding. Repeat.

Standard. Rom-com. This literally is a colour by numbers rom-com ticking all the boxes you'd find in the genre. But it is set apart from other films set at weddings by offering several possible outcomes, all with a very amusing scenarios but each ending in chaos and disappointment for most of the characters. With an assortment of characters each with their own plot, it is entertaining and romantic in all the right places. Would be interesting to see the original French film, 'Plan de Table' and its any different. 3/5

Proud Mary

This was a film I almost saw at the cinema, if it had been given a decent release so I was very excited to see it pop up on Netflix. Unfortunately I was left with a knot in my stomach at how disappointing it was. I love hitman films, I love them more when its female protagonist and I love Taraji P. Henson BUT there was literally nothing beyond that. Henson deserved so muc more. The plot was so thin that it didn't make any sense and it ended up being about a kid and how Mary ended up helping that kid. Why do all stories set up to seem like a thriller end up being about a woman protecting a kid? Or falling for the wrong guy? Seriously?? When are we going to get a story about a hitman or hitwoman where she's free from this and able to have her own storyline?? 1/5

The Matchmaker

As an avid fan of Janeane Garofalo I of course went looking for films she was in and hadn't seen and this very hidden gem from 1997 was one that was accessible. As with this type of rom-com, fish out of water, out of towner, culture clash, the plot is high concept for little impact. Garofalo works for a Boston politician running for re-election and sends her to Ireland to look for his supposed Irish roots. But when she arrives in the small town, its right in the middle of the annual matchmaking festival and guess what? She is a a cynic when it comes to romance. There's laughs, there's some kind of love and a bit of sad note before the end but on the whole, its was surprisingly good. 3/5

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

We've waited over 25 years for Terry Gilliam's magnum opus and after all those changes and re-writes, i think the moment has passed. My full review is over at Vulturehound HERE.

Circus of Books

There are stories within stories when the main subject begins with a book or a film or a beloved and famous bookstore within a local community. Director Rachel Mason delves deep inside the bookstore her parents owned as it plans to close its doors, talking to the people who loved, patroned and worked at the store. The otherside to this film is about how her brothers and her didn't know until much later that it was a gay pornography store, their family history and how their parents kept it this information quiet from them. At times uplifting and inspiring but the personal history of the family steals the hard hitting moments. 4/5


Released on the cusp of the cinemas closing down and with little flare, I fear that this brilliant piece of British film will suffer the fate of 'Emma'. Based on the events surrounding the 1970 Miss World competition when Women's Liberation activists staged a protest during the live televised show. We get an insight into the activists lives, the contestants in the pagent and those hosting. These are the films and subjects that need to be shown. The end shots of the real life people and what happened to them after the event is beautifully edged into the frame and inspiring to see what these women accomplished. More of this please. 4/5

To the Stars

An unexpected gem that came out of nowhere, hopefully this will be a hit later on when an audience discovers it. Rent/buy this film!! My full review can be read HERE. 4/5

The Lovebirds

I thought this would get a cinema release but having seen it, I can see why it didn't depsite having the dynamite duo of Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani who are so fun to watch but even they can't save the mediocre plot about a secret organisation, blackmail and a corrupt cop. The jokes are there but the couple plot verses the film plot doesn't quite have a balance. Can we get these two in another film together? Also, enjoyed seeing the town where I live appear on screen at the end. 3/5

The Man Who Cried

This film caught my eye while looking through the endless list of films on Netflix (that will happen quite a bit as its lockdown...) and as this is a Sally Potter film, thought it was long overdue to check out her filmography. Potter directed and wrote this story about a young Russian Jewish girl who is separated from her father when he travels to America and her village is burnt down. Her journey back to her father takes her to Paris where she first becomes a dancer then part of an opera company, until the Nazis invade France and she must decide whether to stay or escape. There are low key brilliant performances all round here and it surprising how I hadn't heard of this film before, especially with the cast. An unexpected gem amongst the teen dramas. 3/5

The Legacy of the Bones

I read the first in this trilogy, 'The Invisible Guardian' and was pleased to see the rather faithful adaptation. This second enstallment focuses much closer on Amaia and her psychotic mother, delving deeper into her past and the connect that she has with serveral suicides. Discovering baby bones buried on the family home property and the possible resurrection of a witch like cult, the story and cases become entangled with Amaia once again. This story was even more terrifying than the first as we learn what Amaia's mother was really up to, more family secrets start to surface. 3/5

Body Cam

A horror film that I think was released at either the wrong or right time. My full review is over at Vulturehound HERE. 3/5

Splitting Heirs

A riduculous black comedy from 1993 where Eric Idle and Rick Moranis were switched at birth, now the latter is the Duke of Bournemouth and the former spends the film trying to bump him off so he can claim his rightful title. It is amsuing, far fetched beyond recognition but with John Cleese thrown in there as a shady lawyer along with Catherine Zeta-Jones before she disappeared off to Hollywood and had to fake her own Welsh accent, its not as unwatchable as anticipated. 3/5

The Assistant

This film was much more than I thought it was going to be it deserved it's own post which can be read HERE. 5/5

The Addams Family

Having rewatched the 90s Addams Family films many many times, its hard to picture anyone else as the family. Although the voice cast are quite good matches, the animation is not as pleasing. The story is bold and very in keeping with style of the Addams we know, involving a power hungry TV home make over host and her plans to get rid of the Addams whose home is not fitting with her asthetics but I can't help but going back to the quirky delights of the 90s. 2/5

Plus One

Two best friends from college agree to be each others plus ones at 10 weddings that seem to be happening all in the same year. This is the kind of rom-com I get enjoy, both the leads are cynical, forthright and funny, plus they are the OTP right in front of each other but take a while to realise it. There's genuine friendship followed by genuine attraction and affection. Apart from having to swallow the unrealistic amount of weddingings that they are both invited to, I really enjoyed this one. 4/5

Monday 29 June 2020

Is It So Wrong?

Is it wrong to want to see a female character who isn't size 8 or below take centre stage or is plus size? There are plenty of inbetween sizes, as people come in all shapes and sizes. And when will we get films where the way they look is not part of the story, when will it be normalised? Is it wrong to want that character be a hitman/woman or a spy where they don't seduce anyone to get to where they need to be? Whenever the character is female or playing a female role, they always do this. Very rare is it when sex is not involved. Is it wrong to want an indepth character study where children are not part of the story? I'm really fed up of this plot element, why do women always have to be attached to children? Or they were tricked, betrayed by a former lover in the past? There are a myriad of plot devices that could be used but kids and former lovers are usually the reason for the characters motives. Is it wrong to want to see these things in films? If its wrong, I don't want to be right.

I'm sure anyone reading this can think of a few examples where these things aren't in play BUT I want to see it normalised, as normalised as seeing an all star male cast in an action film without batting an eyelid. That's what I want to see. Its also not unattainable. But with the pace that Hollywood moves at and like it or not they have the power to change but take their sweet time about it, I'm not sure when this will all happen. I mean, we're still waiting on a lead LGBTQ+ character to appear in a Disney film. Background, side characters and extras are not acceptable. Let alone a disabled character where their disability isn't the story.

I think I'm just a little more than fed up with the current attitudes in film and cinema. TV are ahead of the game by far, not sure why, by film just doesn't seem to take the risks.

I do love genre films and indie films alike but I really just wish I could see something else. I'm all about story but this story needs to change.

Monday 22 June 2020

Handsome. Clever. Rich.

What is it about Emma Woodhouse that has everyone captivated? As the most adapted Jane Austen, she not only stands out from the other heroines for being the most unlikeable, but she is also the only protagonist to boast her own fortune and be from the ‘wealthier’ set. Of all the images of Emma we’ve seen, whether it is a modern day adaption set in Beverly Hills, multiple TV series in the Regency period, a web series where she is a life coach or even in present day Dehli, Emma is always the same captivating, cunning, interfering, somewhat elitist centre of the universe of whatever world she finds herself in.

You can read my full review over at Vulturehound HERE.

Monday 15 June 2020

Scenes From The Floor

It’s been a while since I film has affected me in such a way where I have physically wanted to scream out in anger at the screen. There are times where I do talk back to what is happening in the film or TV show but not with such rage. Kitty Green’s latest film has been seen as comment or a continuing response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.


The film spans one day in the life of Jane, a junior assistant at a film production company. We see her day to day duties, how her co-workers treat her, interact with her and how everyone reacts to her boss, the head of the company, and his actions. The main event in the day is when Jane decides to go to HR as she suspects that her boss is harming young women.


Choosing to tell a story, probing the culture at a film company, from the perspective of an assistant shows what and how everyone else thinks. The film is more revealing of those who are compliant in the actions of one. Jane knows that something isn’t right and does what she thinks is the right thing to do but only 2 months into the job, she doesn’t know how the system works. She can’t trust anyone. But it’s her meeting with the HR manager where she is broken down and made to feel like she’s in the wrong, threatened and told how lucky she is to be there. There are cutting moments throughout but one that sticks with you until the end and beyond, is his final throwaway remark that she should be fine as she’s not his (her boss’) type. Saying that this film is just about the cases of sexual harassment would do the film disservice as its about showing how wide the net of silence goes and also how poisonous the industry is.


I’m worried that people who go to watch the film or rent it, stream it etc will go in expecting a suspenseful thriller and be confused or disappointed by what they see. The film is a thriller but it isn’t of the slow burn variety which it could be mistaken, there is no twist or surprise. It is a story, like so many others that I have yet to see on screen until now, where the tense atmosphere and uneasy feeling of on-coming dread can be felt in almost every scene. There are the small things that don’t build up, they stay in the memory. The feeling that something awful is happening or happened is never far away. The film is superb how it captures the exact feeling of what it is like to be an assistant in a film or TV company.


I have a personal connection to this film, only because I know exactly what it’s like to be in Jane’s shoes. It doesn’t matter how big the company is, you feel trapped. There seems to be an unwritten rule within these industries that you have to ‘do your time’ at entry level and be expected to be treated like dirt and be told that you’re lucky to be where you are. Thankfully, I’ve never worked anywhere (within film & TV) where I’ve suspected my managers of sexual harassment. Julia Garner is fantastic in what looks like an understated role but just from one slight flicker of her eyes, you know exactly what she’s feeling or thinking. I’ve been Jane making endless photocopies only to be told they are the wrong ones. I’ve been Jane cleaning up in the kitchen only to have the careless colleagues ignore me and leave a whole load of plates and cups for me to deal with. I’ve been Jane cleaning up a meeting room (how the hell do they make it so messy?!) only to have a group of people sigh in annoyance and block the door so I can’t get out. I’ve been Jane sending apology emails to managers when I really shouldn’t have. I’ve been Jane arriving first and not being allowed to leave until my boss wants to go home, even if its 11pm at night. I was always astounded by the behaviour from the senior staff members. They would let doors shut in people’s faces, request ridiculous things, expect things to be done whenever they snapped their fingers, it’s as if they had never been entry level or conveniently forgotten how to treat human beings. Their arrogance knows no bounds. These things may seem odd to connect to and specific to the film & TV world, but they are. These work places can be poisonous for some. Others thrive and can carve out a career, of course, after ‘doing their time’ first. But it’s the stories told from the perspective of the assistants, the interns, the entry level workers that are key.


I won’t go on about my own experiences as there are so many like mine, like Jane’s, that I’m sure these have been documented in books, online in new stories over decades but rarely have they been told on screen. The industries don’t like to show the truth about working in film or TV and I don’t mean on set. No one really cares. Apart from those who have lived it and either walked away or gone further in.


Monday 8 June 2020

Close to Home

I usually steer clear of horror films that aren't thrillers and mystery but I like Mary J Blige and was hoping that this would do her justice. Unfortunately due to the current mood of the world, stories about police officers are probably not wanted and needed. So I will leave this up you if you want to watch this film. If you like the genre I'd say this was worth a watch.

My full review is over at Vulturehound and can be read HERE.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Watching Psycho

In all honesty, I don’t remember the first time I watched ‘Psycho’ but I know it was after I saw the 1998 remake. I was at a Halloween party, I think I was 15 or 16, I don’t remember the costume I wore but I know it was not a ‘sexy looking’ outfit. I went to an all-girls school and all the attendees of the party were girls so I didn’t have anyone to impress. As this was pre-Facebook days, I don’t have any photographs from that night. I say it was a party but really it was just a night of playing a few games and watching a ‘scary’ film while eating sweets. My memory is hazy so I don’t know what the other film choice was but I definitely had a hand in picking ‘Psycho’. This was because I thought it was going to be Hitchcock’s version. I was incredibly disappointed to find it was Gus Van Sant’s remake. On top of all that, it wasn’t particularly scary so most of the girls were annoyed and made fun of me for wanting to see it. It’s not as if I was the one who rented it from Blockbuster.

Growing up in a time when I’d only seen Vince Vaughn is mediocre comedies, seeing him as Norman Bates, one of the most famous characters in Hollywood film, seemed out of place and terribly miscast. I wrote in a post back in 2014 (please excuse my writing back then, I was still finding my style) that he was cast against type which is exactly that and upon reflection, is actually out of the box casting choice. He has that horrible disturbing laugh that fits in with the character’s mindset and you could easily believe, this guy is unhinged and definitely could be a killer.

Being ‘into film’ in secondary school was a like navigating a maze. I had to be into the films that everyone else wanted to watch, like ‘8 Mile’, ‘The Notebook’, ‘Honey’, ‘Notting Hill’, while also maintaining my edge of wanting to watch all genres of films from all eras. I read Empire while they all read Grazia and Heat. I am guilty of buying the latter on occasion but mostly, I read film and music magazines. I was and am an avid old movie watcher and probably only had one or two friends I could talk to about films so seeing the chance to watch and try and get a group of my peers to watch ‘Psycho’ was a big moment. I gave the remake a chance but I actually forgot most of it after the film ended. I asked my parents if we could get a copy of Hitchcock’s original. I think I had to wait 2 more years before I actually got to watch the film.

I’d seen other Hitchcock films and asked for a boxset for Christmas one year so I could devour as many as possible. ‘Psycho’ has always been one of those revered films that all the film critics, theorists and filmmakers say to watch only then to twist round a decade later and say its really awful. Usually. My personal experience of the film was as if I was learning how to make films and appreciate the story structure, as I had decided I wanted to go to film school. I was finally able to watch the film I knew so much about, seen clips and scenes from and able to piece together what made this film a masterpiece. Sometimes it takes a few viewings of a film to see how great or bad it is, but ‘Psycho’ is a film, for me, that I could see just how brilliant it was from the first viewing, even mentally removing the remake from my mind to make room for the occasion.