Princess Cyd (Film) Review

The last film of Feminist February and as far as I’m concerned we’ve signed off with a bang. A slow and subtle Indie bang but a bang nonetheless.

And, last week’s bland sniffle-fest aside, I think this month has been a success.

*Spoilers*

Princess Cyd (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.

My Review

We begin Princess Cyd with a 911 recording played over the opening credits, depicting the death of a woman while her child is in the house. This is a blunt introduction to the character of Cyd Loughlin, who we meet 16 years later as a young adult.

Cyd has been sent by her depressed father to stay with her aunt Miranda, the novelist sister of Cyd’s late mother. Miranda has not seen or heard much from Cyd since she was a small child and since she lost her mother so is a little nervous about how things will go. She’s also very comfortable in her own routine.

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When Cyd first arrives, both the women are very polite and although there’s some nervousness, Cyd is curious and asks a lot of questions. While Miranda is an open book, some of the topics broached take her outside her comfort zone. She embraces this though and starts to relax in her niece’s company. Cyd challenges Miranda’s religious beliefs, her sex life and the way she leads her solitary (but not lonely) life. This shakes Miranda up, forcing her to look inward.

Cyd is quite taken with the idea of Miranda and her friend Anthony (James Vincent Meredith) getting it on but Miranda insists this isn’t on the cards. Anyway, Anthony is sort of married.

And while Cyd is settling into her new (temporary) life in Chicago, she meets Katie in a coffee shop and there’s an immediate spark. During a literary gathering at Miranda’s home, Cyd also bonds with Ridley (Matthew Quattrocki). She disappears into a bedroom with him and this causes some mild consternation between our new housemates, even though she doesn’t bang him.

Miranda swears she’s not going to be the person who nags Cyd about her life choices but when Cyd makes a snarky comment about her aunt substituting sex with food, Miranda lets her have it.

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It is not a handicap to have one thing, but not another. To be one way, and not another. We are different shapes and ways, and our happiness is unique. There are no rules of balance. ~ Miranda Ruth

Katie meanwhile finds herself in an awful situation at home and is rescued by Cyd and Miranda. Miranda is kind and understanding, something both young women need and she welcomes Katie into the fold without question. Cyd and Katie get closer and closer; as do niece and aunt. Basically, this is what life looks like without the interference of arsehole men. Even nice ones are not needed here – and as Cyd prepares to go back to her own life, Miranda has her own decisions to make.

What will she decide?

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My Thoughts

Ultimately, this is the sweet tale of a young woman reconnecting with her mother through someone who knew and loved her too, while fulfilling her own need. It’s about the craving for maternal love and it is a love story in many ways, just one of your unconventional, familial ones.

The performances are realistic, warm and convincing – and all three women are likable. At no time is Cyd the destructive mess you might expect her to be, though she has a fucking right. She might be direct at times but she means well. She seems wiser than her sixteen years.

Don’t come into this expecting a rip-roaring ride, because you definitely won’t get that. What you will get is a beautiful rumination on adolescence and learning to do you.

My Rating

4.5 – Gentle and sweet.

What does my very own princess think of this one? Would she let it stay the summer or send it back to daddy? Find out here.

Until next year my pretties #feministfebruary.

Minimalism?

I’ve had an epiphany.

Last night I was talking to my new cool work friend Chloe about her beautiful Instagram feed (how modern!) and I asked her how the background in all her photographs is always so appealing. Like my background always has gerbils and shoes and old cups of tea lying around – how does one create the perfect pure light and airy landscape?

Just fucking tidy up, I would imagine but she said something that has really stuck (in theory anyway).

She said she prefers to own fewer things that she really really loves, rather than have loads of stuff she’s indifferent to. Simple, eh? Makes sense, right?

This is where I’ve been going wrong all this time: STUFF! I’m literally drowning in things and stuff – and something has got to give. This thinking is quite relateable. When my grandmother was preparing to leave this plain (like for real, she had enough and so she just went one day), she started clearing out her apartment, urging family and friends to give her books and pleasant smelling products instead of things.

She didn’t have 77 pairs of shoes or handbags, she didn’t have six denim jackets and a collection of plastic hair clips from the 90’s. She was free of tat and I think I’m ready for this phase in my life.

I want to be truly passionate about the things that surround me. The people, the environment, the things – clothing and jewellery aside (hey I have to express myself, man!), I don’t need all this shit.

I can read books and pass them on. I don’t need to keep old make-up just in case. I don’t need the quick fixes or the cheer-me-up treats. I should save my money for good haircuts and tattoos. Savings. Plastic surgery.

So that’s what I’m going to do now. Level 40 is just round the corner, and I’m going in with a new attitude. If it doesn’t make me truly happy, it can kiss my lily-white behind.

Now where did I put the bin bags?

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What’s going on with you?

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins: A Halloween Weekend Update

A lazy Sunday post for a lazy Sunday day. We had a blast last night with my brother and sister-in-law at The Chambers Halloween party in Folkestone – and now G and I are nestled back home in our PJs.

I’m watching a couple of films for homework and later we’ll get stuck in to Stranger Things 2 (finally!). Which is the perfect end to the perfect weekend. 

I don’t even mind too much that Monday’s just around the corner…

Hope your Sunday is as blissful ❤

Halloween

I’ve given good Halloween this year, if I say it myself…

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Title of this post borrowed from Yayoi Kusama‘s All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016

Push

Hands up if you’re having a meltdown…

This past month has not been good.

My adjustment in going from one thing to another has been so much harder than I imagined it would be. I feel insecure and foolish a lot of the time, regretful even and I feel terrified. But that surely has everything to do with change and being in a fresh environment than it does the actual environment, right?

I’ve been kicking against this change deep down, not really letting myself be present and yesterday, after a long talk with my favourite person on this planet, I’ve decided I have to give it more of a chance. My anxiety has been working double time and it’s skewering everything.

I need to take time, step back and think about this as the challenge it really is. And instead of beating myself up for all the things I still don’t know, for the little (human) mistakes I’ve made during my learning curve so far, I should think about what I’ve accomplished. I know more than I did a month ago. Next month I’ll know even more. I know I need to commit fully, take my eye off an escape plan and knuckle down.

So I’m doing that. I slept better last night having acknowledged this and I’m trying not to stress about all the questions I have to ask or the small confusions I have. I’m smart and I can do this.

On the subject of anxiety, I’ve started a side blog where I’m going to be talking more openly about that side of me and trying to live with it. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I need to square up to some demons and I’m going to do it with professional help. I’m tired of being twisted inside and I have no idea how to deal with it some days.

You can read along if you want to, I’m here at Gutter & Stars. It’s a work in progress but I think it will be helpful.

Incidentally, last night when I message my dear mother and told her that I just need to know that everything’s going to be okay, she said: You need to trust that everything will be okay and trust that it will be. If it’s not to be, there’s a reason why not. 

Cool, huh?

How’s your week going?

Babies and Baptisms*

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Me at christenings

I’ll be heading home for a couple of child-based events this weekend (I know but they’re family/BFF children so it’s acceptable) so I just wanted to check in before my next film review (coming Tuesday).

On Sunday I’m going to see my best friend from my college days and I can’t bloody wait. She was my #1 partner in crime and we have so many horrifying stories together it will be lovely to reminisce and have a laugh about it all again. Her daughter is my god-daughter and she’s just turned 19. (19! A GROWN WOMAN).

Besides the fun element though, I’ll be seeing a lot of people I haven’t seen for a long time and I don’t know if you all know this about me but I am the most anti-social person on the block. Social engagements bring me out in a cold sweat and even though you probably can’t tell when you look at me, I’m usually crapping myself inside.

Does anybody else reading suffer such crippling anxiety before an engagement? I worry about everything, about they’ll think of me, what I’m wearing, what I say, whether I’ll sweat in the heat, look ugly, etc? ARGH so stressful.

And there’s nothing worse than being in the same room as people you knew from school (who you never liked/never liked you) or family members who’ve always told you you’d be gorgeous if only you’d lose weight.

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So I’m trying to stop myself from spiraling downwards with self-doubt by just not thinking about it. I’ll be wearing flat shoes (bliss) and my power jumpsuit, rocking new hair so what could possibly go wrong? I’ll also have my mother by my side at both dos and dates don’t get much better than that.

Going to smash this weekend like a boss *bicep emoji*.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in. I’ll be more prolific in the next few weeks, I have lots on my mind, I promise.

Happy Weekend, all ❤

*Christening/holy communion, not baptism but alliteration, yo.

Beginners (Film) Review

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Jill picked another Ewan McGregor movie for this week (with a fair amount of encouragement from me), so sue us.

We decided he was infinitely more appealing than Pinhead right now (and honestly, unless we go back to #3 in the series, I’m pretty sure the PH we know and love has been replaced by another actor and I don’t know how I feel about that).

So, Ewan. Here we are again, Sir and might I respectfully say to the room, this is a phase of McGregor I really enjoy. Stripey sweaters, older, slightly more debonair McGregor. Hummina.

Also, no swinging appendage this time which is bittersweet I suppose – like, this is a film that doesn’t need dick to give it worth, yet I kind of like seeing it in all it’s familiarity, you know?

*Spoilers*! As well as added asides from me (in (brackets) AND italics to show the seriousness of the situation).

Beginners (2010)

Director: Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic

IMDB Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.

My Review:

This film is an introspective meander through the recent and historic pasts of an emotionally distant father and son, as well as a glimpse into a future so far unmapped for our boy, Oliver (McG).

(This film is so sad I blubbed throughout, maybe because Christopher Plummer looks so much like my grandfather did. Sadly, our own Grampy never did come out towards the end or experience the joy of real love before he left us (that we know of anyway)).

Oliver is coming to terms with the passing of his absent for the majority of his childhood father, Hal. We flit back and forth on Hal and Oliver’s timelines so we meet Hal after he’s come out at the age of 75, following the passing of his wife Georgia (Mary Page Keller). He has a boyfriend called Andy and doesn’t insist on monogamy. He has a little dog called Arthur and likes parties. He’s also been diagnosed with cancer and things, frankly aren’t looking great.

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An emoji or two wouldn’t have killed ya

In the present, Hal has passed on and Oliver has taken ownership of Arthur, who has separation anxiety. One evening Oliver goes to a house party with his friends (and Arthur), and meets the charming Anna. They share an adorable meet cute and the spark ignites.

(Mélanie Laurent makes me want to be so French it hurts. Everything about her seems so effortless and I’m in love with her.)

Oliver is sad though, mourning a father he only really got to know in the latter part of his life, sometimes with a side of TMI. There is real love between them but Oliver has trouble with his own relationships having witnessed the problems in his parents’ marriage (several decades of living a lie can do that to a couple). He’s scared shitless and seems aimless in other areas, though he’s trying to find his groove creatively.

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“Have you read this one? It’s called Marley & Me…”

Oliver is an illustrator with a unique style which he’s trying to evolve beyond album covers for obscure brands. He creates a series of drawings called The History of Sadness, to give you an idea of where his head’s at but it’s rejected by the band he’s done it for because he’s too much of a damn maverick and they don’t get it.

(I get it Oliver! HOLD ME!)

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The Sads

Meanwhile, back in the past, Hal is finally truly happy and loving his New Gay Life, spearheading gay political letter writing groups, gay film clubs, the gay pride committee. He’s a big hit in the gay community but he’s also in denial as his illness gets worse, telling his friends he’s turned a corner health wise.

Oliver and Anna are slowly getting to know one another in 2003, though she’s an actress who travels from job to job so there are periods of absence (you don’t really notice them within the film). Honestly, not that much happens in this film, it’s very navel-gazey which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Pretty sure this lady wants to be me too

Eventually Oliver’s fear of not feeling the way ‘he should’ when Anna moves in causes a big fight and Anna leaves. Arthur works on his neediness (kind of), Andy confronts Oliver about his ‘homophobia’ after Hal’s death and Oliver makes some political graffiti (not necessarily in that order).

Questions:

Will Oliver fuck this all up? Will Anna come back? More importantly, will super-cute Arthur the Dog ever get over his grief?

All these questions will be answered by the end of the movie. You’ll also, I predict: cry a lot, hug the next person you see after you’re done and want to call your family immediately.

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Political, innit

My Thoughts: 

I think you can get from the above that, although action is thin on the ground, this is an emotional piece of art that will stay with you long after Ewan has shuffled off the screen in his stripey jumper. It’s a thinker and in places it is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

I found myself tearing up an awful lot and I think it’s okay for me to admit here in my safe place that that’s because losing my remaining parent is the stuff of nightmares. It actually makes me panic if I think about it, so I try not to. Beginners takes you to that place and forces you to stare at it head on, to consider the act of forgiveness and letting go, and taking the person before you for exactly who they are, warty/fucking fabulous bits and all.

GAH!

McGregor is sexy as fuck throughout (good hair and nice eyes) and Melanie is effervescent but the film really belongs to Plummer, whose Hal is a joy to behold in every way. His childlike glee at finally getting to live his best life is making me form a lump in my throat as I type this.

The interspersed illustrations are also dead good.

My Rating: 4/5 – It’s all about the mood this film and it’ll cut you up, like a ferret with a flick knife. I’m telling you.

If this doesn’t get you thinking about your loved ones and your past/present relationships then you’ve a heart of granite. You’ve at least got to agree that Arthur the Jack Russell is one of the sweetest showbiz canines in a long while (that doesn’t get murdered horribly).

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“Do you like my tight sweater?”

So, did my wonderful blog wife get The Sads watching this (in the good way) or did she get the sads (in the bad way)? Only one way to find out, you know the drill by now! ❤

#weekendcoffeeshare II

Over coffee I might tell you about my week, which wouldn’t win any prizes for changing the world but had some definite highlights. And was thankfully, a little less manic.

Since it’s been a busy weekend, and I suddenly started feeling very queasy, I probably wouldn’t be all that talkative so I’d show you my Instagram feed instead.

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  1. I’ve just started reading this book. So far, so good – I love that it’s written from Chief’s perspective
  2. Sending out positivity helps me
  3. A trip to the local chippy with my work buds makes Friday even better
  4. This is Margo. Margo is the prettiest girl in the world
  5. I do love this guy, for like ever
  6. Baxter
  7. Nothing worth having comes easy, a mantra my mother used to share and now a display on my sister-in-law’s office wall. Too true
  8. My brother and Baxter, before Baxter went buck wild with a little black dog called Archie
  9. More Baxter because you’ve got to love Baxter

It’s been a lovely weekend in Kent with family, celebrating a late Christmas. Now to chill out and prepare for the week to come…

How was your weekend? ❤

Mama

It’s show your ma you love her day here in the UK and I do, I do love my ma. She is an absolute peach.

But before I Iaunch into an ode to my dear old mother (she’s not old, she’s only, like, 66), I think it’s only fair to take a moment to think about those who can’t be with us today. Days like this are all well and good but there are people out there who have lost their parents, some recently and it’s understandably hard to keep cheerful on occasions like this. Believe me.

So, to all the mums that can’t be here with us, I’m thinking of you too; all those left behind and you, my Nana.

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Photo credit: Imagining the City

Back to Penny M, the greatest lady in my life. Everything I know today and every good quality I have, I learnt/inherited from my mother. If I am anything at all, I am my mother’s daughter and I wouldn’t change that for the world, because it’s blimming awesome. Here are just a few reasons I adore my mum:

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Photo credit: Claudia Rose Carter
  • She very, very smart and has a thoughtful answer for everything, which I admire. I like clever but I love subtle intelligence that doesn’t feel the need to announce itself loudly and arrogantly.
  • My mother reads more than anyone I know and this is where I got my passion for the written word. I started reading mature titles early on because I had access to them and Mum never tried to stop me reading them, which is amazing.
  • When I was 18, Mum bought me my own TV for my bedroom and it was here I started to watch amazing films late into the night, thus cementing my adoration for some of the greatest ever film makers. And horror. Lots and lots of horror. Thanks ma!
  • When she swears, I die. It’s the most hilaire. But she’ll still slaps me around the head if I use a really bad word, even though I’m 37 years old!
  • I can talk to her about absolutely anything.
  • Whenever I am going through a shitty time, she’s right there telling me that it’s all good material for ‘the book’. This is the book she truly believes I have in me, even though I’m not so sure. She also doesn’t judge me as hard as I judge myself, and tells me I’m just as brilliant as other people who have actually done things like further education, great careers, etc.
  • My mum understands me and even though sometimes it shoves my nose out of joint, when I go back and really think about what she’s said, it’s normally spot on.
  • Sometimes she calls me or sends me something when I most need it, and I don’t understand how she just knows.
  • She did shots at my brother’s wedding (below), the first time I have ever witnessed that. Plus, later on she was getting low with some of the bridesmaids on the dance floor, which was amuh-az-ing!
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Photo credit: Imagining the City

My mother, the legend. I love you Mum, more than ever and forever. Happy Mother’s Day!

All photographs from Madeleine and Tim’s Whitstable Wedding, December 2014, by Imagining the City and Claudia Rose Carter.

The Wild Card*

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Just a quick one from me. I shall be back in touch around the weekend but from tomorrow morning I shall be wearing my Bridesmaid head!

Sadly, I didn’t manage to halve my body weight before the big event and my skin is far from flawless. My chins aren’t singular, my hair not perfect.

I didn’t even manage to get the contact lenses I was planning to unveil at the ceremony, that would have the congregation gasping “My God, you’re beautiful, Mrs Bass!”

None of that matters. I know this more than ever that the most precious things in life aren’t things at all (no matter how much toot I get from ASOS).

Friday is all about joy; pure unfiltered joy. And dancing to early 00’s R&B in a great dress.

Obvs.

*Melissa McCarthy is ‘The Wild Card’ according to the Bridesmaids film posters, hence the title of this post. I think I’m most like Megan (with a dash of Annie)

Things & Inc

An update post if you will, as boy do we have a lot going right now.

What, it’s Christmas and everybody is buzzing around like bees on ecstasy? You’re right, my bad. How’re you coping?

Here are a few of the things I am thinking about right now.

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  • Lena Dunham

I’m finally on Not That Kind of Girl and haven’t even passed the Introduction yet. But I’m looking forward to it.

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Sadly, the book already has a reputation that proceeds it, given the uproar it has caused over the last few months. People are forming new Dunham shaped opinions all over the shop due to some of the subject matter (and how it has been sculpted by Lena’s choice of language), but I am remaining on the fence until I have a context to relate it to.

I love her style and I can’t see that changing any time soon, but she might allude to stabbing puppies in the final segment, so you never know.

  • Christmas Shopping

I’m done! Did it all in one sitting with the help of the trusty internet. The lovely, lovely internet.

*SMUG FACE*

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  • Christmas Movies That Retell A Christmas Carol (And/Or Feature an Alternative Universe) From the Perspective of a High Flying Business Woman (Always American) Who Has Lost Sight of What Is Important 

See Christmas Cupid (TV Movie 2010), Holidaze (TV Movie 2013) and, from this afternoon, It’s Christmas, Carol! (TV Movie 2012).

All, you might have noticed, straight to television masterpieces. And yes, I do love them more than Coco Pops. Amusing because, of course, no woman can climb the career ladder without transforming into a total bitch of epic proportions!

(If any of you know of any more films of this ilk, please let me know).

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  • Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud

I am obsessed.

  • Family

This week hasn’t been easy and some new news has made it even more difficult and emotional (which I’m not going to go into) but I have been reminded that I have a fucking wonderful family who are strong and incredible people, come rain or shine.

It’s easier to deal with the shit stuff when you have an army of rock stars on your side, that’s for sure.

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  • Jake Gyllenhaal

We recently watched Nightcrawler and I really enjoyed it. Following the last of Jake’s films I absolutely loved, Enemy and Prisoners, he’s now pretty much my favourite. Such a talented (and fit) actor.

Nightcrawler follows creepy Louis Bloom into LA’s underground as he becomes interested, and then really quite good at, the business of crime journalism.

  • Ready Player One (the Movie)ready-player-one

OMG this book is fantastic and so completely up my alleyway, that I #canteven! But if I could, I would tell you that the fact that Christopher Nolan has been offered the film version of it is knicker-wettingly exciting and I squeaked a little when I heard.

Cannot wait.

(Even though the scriptwriter has admitted to have taken ‘liberties’ with the original source material, so you know, boo to that).

So, that’s me. I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the lead up to Christmas. I’m not feeling that merry yet, I have to say but that has to be because I haven’t seen enough Christmas movies yet (I accept non-Dickensian rehashes too). Soon to be rectified, I hope.