Friday 16 June 2023

Stars at Noon


Claire Denis returns from futuristic deep space (High Life, 2018) back to present day South America during the COVID-19 Global pandemic. With the political overtones and uncertainty that fills the air, this adaptation of Denis Johnson’s The Stars at Noon tries to position itself as a romantic thriller. The central characters being thrown together by circumstance and desperation, there is less romance to be found, making the overall story feel more like a tragedy waiting to happen. 

Trish, an American journalist, finds herself trapped in Nicaragua. Having written a politically fused article damning the government, her passport has been taken and she is left to fend for herself. Prostituting herself for money and the bare essentials, she meets Daniel, an English oil businessman who is not all he seems to be. Amidst an instant connection the two outsiders share, they are soon perused by the Costa Rican police and are forced to go on the run.

Full review over at Filmhounds HERE.

Monday 12 June 2023

The Hot Spot


Released on the cusp of the 90s boom of erotic thrillers, The Hot Spot, directed by Dennis Hopper, is drenched in sweat, blood and tears, it has everything you would want from a Neo Noir film. 

Drifter Harry Madox takes a somewhat dead-end job as a car salesman in a small town in Texas. He gets involved with two very different women, the na├»ve young accountant, Gloria, and the scheming flirtatious Dolly, who’s husband owns the car dealership. After Harry decides to rob the local bank, he becomes embroiled in a hot a mess of lust, blackmail and arson with murder looking like the only way out.

Full review over at Filmhounds HERE.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Are You There God? It's Me, Katie

Reading this iconic book by Judy Blume felt like a right of passage. My mum had bought it for my older sister originally and by the time I was 11 or 12, it was my turn to read it. At first it felt like a forbidden ‘grown up’ book but I soon realised it was for any pre-teen, or teenager to consume. Back in those days, I liked to read often and faster than I do now. True to my own personality, once I’d read one Judy Blume book, I had to read more. Books were also a lot cheaper in the late 90s/early 00s which meant I could pick up lots of books at a time. But unfortunately, I can’t remember much about any of the Judy Blume books I read, except for the seminal, Are You There God? It’s me Margaret

I thought it was odd that this book, which everyone seemed to know, whether they read it or not, had never been adapted into a film or TV series. But here we are 20 years after I read the book, a film has finally been made and its feels true to the book, as far as I can remember anyway. Originally the book met with controversy because the frank discussions about menstruation and the fact that Margaret is allowed to choose her own religion, because of course that’s controversial for the 70s. Only now are these kinds of discussions becoming more frequent and normalised. Though I never understood by Margaret and her friends desperately wanted their periods. The hell storm and pain that is causes many women; you would have thought you’d want that occurrence delayed as much as possible. 

Played by Abbey Ryder Fortson in the film, Margaret is as insecure and concerned about growing up as much as possible to fit in with her new friends. She has the contained, sometimes humorous conversations with God, wanting advice and wondering what religion she should choose. Her curious nature and her parents openness, allows her to explore the possibilities. I had forgotten how much religions plays a part in the story and how this choice Margaret feels she has to make weighs on her throughout the film (and book). The film differs from the book in concentrating on Margaret’s parents and her bellowed grandmother, which I was concerned would feel forced as these actors are the ‘famous’. But the scenes and storylines with the adult characters actually made the story more grounded and felt less like a pre-teen coming of age drama. The film felt more about family with Margaret at the centre. 
Judy Blume herself was one of the producers on the film, which probably meant, this was the right time to adapt this story. The author even said ‘the film is better than the book!’. For anyone who hasn’t read the book, its an enjoyable story with a talented new lead. For those who grew up with the book, it’ll take you back to when you first read it.