Wednesday 30 June 2021

Watch List: May & June


Pixar and Disney's latest about two sea monster pals who dream of running away and exploring the world is adorable. The sea monsters themselves are intricate characters who feel more than just legends of the deep. When curious Luca meets confident Alberto, another sea monster living alone on an island, the two immediately bond over their desire to explore. Once the boys make their way to mainland, set in Italy, their story really begins. They meet Giulia, a little girl who's Dad is a fisherman with a cat that finds the boys very suspicious. The story it seems is about friendship and knowing when to let go and move on, but of course with Pixar there always has to be statements. The film morphs from one lesson to another, accepting others, trustung your friends and about family. One aspect which is neglected is the reason why Alberto is alone on an island when we first meet him. We get a slight insight but nothing more than one tear soaked scene and nothing more, which is shame. Overall, its an adorable story set by the idyllic Italian coast, a sweet getaway when you can't travel. 3/5

Shiva Baby


Full review HERE 4/5

The United States vs 

Billie Holiday


Full review HERE 



Having missed this film, the first time round last year, I caught up with the sweet story about a reclusive writer of folklore and young boy separated from his family, far from home. Although there is heartfelt story of lost love in flashbacks and a revelation at the climax of the film, this is really all about two lost people needing comfort, one knowing and other not realising they missed it. Gemma Arterton is brilliant as the moody writer who has shut herself away from the world to the annoyance of the village, but this role suits Arterton perfectly. Adding the beautiful location, this sweet story by the coast during wartime is a delight. 3/5

Dinner in America


Full review HERE

When Marnie was there


Adapted from the book of the same name, the film brilliantly exports the story from its origianl location to a small country town in Japan. Anna is sent away to stay with relatives of her foster mother so that she can get well again. While in the town Anna becomes obsessed with a house that sits away from the town across a marsh. She has dreams about a girl named Marnie until she actually meets her in person. But its very clear the two girls are from different times but somehow can interact with each other at certain times. Over her stay, Anna tries to find out the mystery of their connection and who Marnie really is. The story is very on brand for Studio Ghibli, feeling grounded in the real world and the spirit world. The friendship between the girls is developed very quickly as if they already had a predetermined connection. Capturing pure joy and lonliness is the art that Ghibli has created so well over the years and this is no different. 4/5

God's Waiting Room


Full review HERE 



There was such a lowkey hype about Nomadland at festivals that I didn'y may close attention. There is no clear storyline or plot, just a year in the life of Fern, a nomad who drives from site to site taking on seasonal work in different states. We get to see her with her fellow nomad friends, on own adventure, with her sister who doesn't understand her lifestyle and in her town that no longer exists. Not only a comment on how the recession affected certain people and age groups, its showing that there are other ways to live but there is an underlying comment on how town can be so reliant on a factory to keep everything turning but within a blink of an eye that town can just disappear. Beautifully shot, a sombre character piece that is full of sadness and joy at the same time. 4/5

Monday 28 June 2021

God'd Waiting Room - Tribeca Film Festival


Young love, first love, last loves are played with and the hope that maybe things can change. Adjacent to this type of story is the one of hopelessness and redemption from someone who returns home because they have no choice. These two frequently seen stories are sliced together into ‘God’s Waiting Room’. The title describes so well the atmosphere throughout this film, to points where you wonder if the wait will ever be over for these characters.



Full review can be read over at Filmhounds HERE.

Friday 18 June 2021

Shiva Baby

Capturing the age where you have just left university or school and you’re about to be flung out into the world with nothing but a piece of paper to say what you’ve achieved from the last few years is daunting. You look around at everyone else and they seem to be getting it together. They have a flat, relationship, job offers if not a job already and all you can look forward to is going back to your parents’ house, back to your old room and the what seems like the endless search for a career. This is all ten times worse if you really have no idea what you want. Shiva Baby encapsulates this horrific feeling of inadequacy perfectly as well managing to include heightened anxiety inducing sequences and situations. It’s definitely a film that sits apart from the rest of the films out there right now.


Danielle, a college senior about to graduate is in a sexual relationship with an older man, Max, her sugar daddy. After seeing Max one day she rushes to meet her parents at a shiva where she runs into Max, his wife and baby daughter. Throughout the awkward exchanges with numerous relatives and friends in the community, Danielle tries to stay calm and keep her secret as well as the mess that is her life, from falling apart. She also sees her ex, Maya at the shiva, who doesn’t exactly help the current situation. 


As a directorial feature debut Emma Seligman, who also wrote the screenplay, captures the essence of the character of Danielle to the point we know almost everything about this young woman. Not just from her interactions with others but her demeanour and expressions through the shiva. Comedies, with a darker edge, that are usually set up like this story often descend into madness but thankfully there is not such over blown breakdown, no huge climax bringing everything to a head. Not only does the story and characters feel relatable, but place these characters at another function, family gathering, occasion and you can image yourself in Danielle’s position of feeling trapped and hopeless. 


There are quite a few themes throughout that aren’t expanded and are touched upon, which, in this setting, makes far more sense, being that the story spans (roughly) the same length of the actual film. The feeling that everything is condensed adds to the heightened anxiety and claustrophobic nature of the film. The score creates a blissfully horrific undertone throughout, turning normal conversations into some of the most painful interactions. If there was one downside to the entire film it’s that Danielle is seen as ‘the bad apple’ because she was taking money from Max, even though he happily gave it to her. Yet Max failed to mention his wife, his child, the fact that the money was actually his wife’s and that the Soho flat wasn’t where he lived. He lays guilt on to her midway through the film but Max is not called up on about his transgressions, which seems unfair. 


Danielle’s bisexuality is commented on but not delved into depth, the obscurity about her degree and what she studies as well as what she wants a job in and the financial agreement between Max and Danielle all adds to the over whelmed atmosphere that there is so much going on beneath Danielle’s surface. The relationship between her an Maya is pieced together through shared moments until the final shot gesture which gives hope that Danielle will have stability and certainty.



Thursday 10 June 2021

The United States vs Billie Holiday



While the war on drugs seems to be used as a reason to pursue Billie Holiday for years is excessive yet is stems from the truth. Although the film does use fictional characters to pad out the actual events and real people, the truth behind the stories is mostly all true which is some biopics tend to twist. The film does indulge in trying to be several different kinds of film in one and therefore over stretches the run time which does feel too long, but the amazing central performances at least make up for it. 


Full review over at Filmhounds HERE.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Gate Keeping

There is a trend out there in every corner of any industry of any sector to help out friends and family. When this familiarity stretches to friends of friends and friends of those friends, our networks become bigger. But when someone who isn’t in our inner circles or knows someone in those inner circles approaches us, we immediately clam up and don’t want to network. The arts and media are well known for only hiring and working with people who they know and the creative industries function on ‘it’s who you know’. No matter how many schemes pop up in places to combat this insidious way of working, this is STILL the ‘way things work’. As many people know film is notorious for this trait. As much as it is said that the best person for the job gets the job, we all know that’s not true. This isn’t just the case for production. It is in every single corner of film. And I mean, every corner, including exhibition, distribution and criticism.


Opportunities outside of the inner circles are rare and the opportunities that are available are picked out for the lucky few that make it through the doors. Circles in every corner of the film industry pop up or you can see these cliques forming right before your eyes. This happens with criticism and programming. The same things are said; we need to be more diverse; we need to include new people; we need to talk about varied films etc. But nothing really changes. With PR companies gate keeping opportunities from those would-be critics, you end up with the same voices. Its all too often that I see writers scrounging for contacts to get screeners so they can write about films. If they’re lucky, they’ll know someone who knows someone, but that’s where the sharing ends. Websites, publications, festivals will only accept you if you have X many readers, X many followers and so on. It turns into a loop like the job search. You need experience to get a job but if no one will give you a job how will you get experience. It’s not enough to say, that’s how it is, unfair. Anyone in a position to help others should try and change this poisonous circle. It happens in exhibition as well.


I took part in a workshop last year with two friends during lockdown. We had met on a course a few years before and had wanted to start our own film collective. But, due to the very closed off nature of film, we couldn’t break through the wall, despite our hard work and effort. This workshop which we applied to was hopefully going to be our stepping stone. But once again, we were outsiders. While others were congratulated for their ideas, even though some weren’t strong, we were supportive. But our idea, was picked apart, stamped on, no kind words of encouragement. Fair enough we thought, we can work on this to improve it. But the plain fact was that we weren’t ever going to be selected for the final round. The gate keepers, the organisers, were looking for something very particular and our idea wasn’t it. We basically didn’t tick enough boxes for them. I know this because I’ve also worked in a place where they did the same thing. I called them out on it at the time but to no vail. At first when we weren’t selected at the workshop, I thought, that was just our luck but when the people who were picked were revealed, it made more sense. It’s difficult to convey exactly what happened and how the organisers behaved through this post. You might just think this sounds bitter but having seen this behaviour so many times at different jobs, course, events, you can see what’s really happening.


We are told that we shouldn’t be bitter towards those who have succeeded where we have not. We are told that our own time will come. We are told that we should celebrate those who are succeeding and cheer them on. But those are succeeding are never asked to uplift someone else. Perhaps someone who has been struggling for a long while. No, we are told we mustn’t bother them just congratulate them. If you feel angry, you can be angry. These condescending comments filtered through social platforms and random articles across the internet are the real problem not you feeling angry that you haven’t excelled the way you wanted to and for worked for. There is no need to be jealous of others but you have every right to be fed up.