Fuck knows what our theme is anymore but who cares because next week we start the best month of the year: Halloween! So there will be tonnes of movie nastiness all over the blogs soon – but let’s not jump the gun quite yet, as we sign off September with a feminist delight.
Three Palestinian women living in an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture.
Leila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) are progressive Palestinian girls who live and party hard together. They also look fucking cool smoking all the time – add this film to the Hot Women Smoking Hall of Fame STAT.
When their old flat mate’s cousin Noor (Shaden Kanboura) comes to live with them, they are bemused by her traditional get up and values. Leila soon starts dating Ziad (Mahmud Shalaby) while Salma gets to know Dounia (Ahlam Canaan).
Noor is also involved – she is engaged to controlling fiance Wissam (Henry Andrawes) who hates the fact she now resides in Tel Aviv and that she insists on getting a job after they’re married, rather than staying home, barefoot and pregnant as scripture recommends. A fucking dickhead in other words.
The women slowly start to bond, first Salma and Noor over a hypnotic dance party in the front room, then the three of them when something awful happens to Noor at the hand of the man who supposedly loves her. Let me tell you here that the scene in which the girls tend to and comfort Noor is extremely touching.
Wissam believe that Noor has been corrupted by her forward-thinking roomies and refers to them charmingly as whores. When they find out what he’s done to their friend, they hatch a plan to rid her of him once and for all – which is a relief because she has never loved him and seems to be coming round to a less-traditional way of thinking.
While Noor tries to deal with the fall out of what Wissam has done to her, Salma struggles with her family’s attitude towards her sexuality – and Leila confronts Ziad who appears to be ashamed of her and reluctant to introduce her to his family. And all the while the women grow closer and make me fall in love with each of them a hundred times over.
Will each of our heroes chose the right path for themselves, despite the consequences they may face?
Man, I really liked this. It starts of kind of slow and I wasn’t sure for a split second – but then the girls start to bond and it was game over for my heart. This is all about sisterhood despite their differences, despite their circumstances – proof that kindness towards our fellow sisters is universal and it’s beautiful.
Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, it examines the contrast between traditional and modern cultures – and honestly, the men are so secondary in this – they’re just obstacles in our trio’s way.
That said when Noor calls off her wedding and comes clean to her dad, he’s a total sweetheart and tells her not to shed a tear on her horrible ex-fiance. That was a feeling moment too. I definitely recommend this, it was empowering and fun and lovely – now where’s my fucking sequel?
What did my angel think of this one? Would she dance in the front room with it or hide it from her family? Find out here.
This week features a film we’ve both already seen but I feel like we come back to it a lot, much like The Babadook in discussion and certainly in comparison to other movies. Since it’s free for all month and there’s no way I could complete with last week’s joyful pick, I figured this might be fun to review. Or perhaps fun isn’t quite the term. Try harrowing, haunting, ominous AF.
A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
New England in the 1630s and William (Ralph Ineson) and his clan have just been booted from their home due to differences in religious opinion. Basically, William interprets The New Testament one way and every one else another. The fam – William and his wife Katherine, son Caleb, daughter Thomasin and the twins Mercy and Jonas – relocate far from the plantation and build their own basic farm in the woods.
Shortly after their arrival, Katherine (Kate Dickie) gives birth to her fifth child, baby Samuel. Shit hits the fan when Thomasin (the really v. good Anya Taylor-Joy) is playing peekaboo on the outskirts of the woods with the baby when he disappears. Off camera we, the viewer, learn quickly of Samuel’s fate (it ain’t a good scene, man) but the family do not and there are varied opinions as to what has become of Samuel – witch or wolf being the two options.
Katherine is devastated and spends her days crying in bed as any mother would. William, sick of nothing growing in the farm, determines than in order to survive, the men will have to learn to catch their own food. He takes his son Caleb hunting and while alone he tells him that he sold Katherine’s silver cup to buy hunting supplies. Sadly the hunt does not yield much and family life is even more tense.
All the while the twins spend an abnormal amount of time goading the family goat, Black Phillip (voice by Daniel Chaudhry). We’ll come back to him later.
So the finger of blame is pointing squarely at Thomasin. When Katherine finds her cup missing she insinuates that Thomasin has something to do with its disappearance too. Sure, everyone blame the baby-loser. William and Katherine argue into the night about sending her away to serve another family.
Side note: Let’s be real this isn’t a cheery yarn.
Tired of the misery and wanting to do something to help his family, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) sneaks out into the darkness to try his hand at hunting again. Thomasin follows him and demands to go along or she’ll grass him up to their dad. While in the woods the pair are separated (Thomasin is knocked unconscious), the dog is ripped apart by unknown forces and Caleb has an encounter with a seductive witch. Once again Thomasin is forced to return home without a sibling and the family is fraught.
When Caleb turns up later, delirious and naked, Katherine is convinced that witchcraft is at play (you think?) and prays over Caleb. Unfortunately, our boy is not long for this world and shuffles off, not before throwing up an apple and presenting a beautifully serene monologue. In the melee, the twins get upset because they can’t remember the words to the Lord’s Prayer and accuse Thomasin of being a witch. In retaliation, she tells her parents about their incessant chatter with Black Phillip.
To shut them all up William locks the remaining children in the goat pen with the big man himself. Later they witness an old witch drinking the blood from another goat.
I shan’t spoil the ending but there are more fatalities, some fantastic Black Phillip dialogue and a distressing breast-feeding scene which I can feel deep inside my core when I close my eyes. Let’s just say by the end all the paranoia and the ominousness pays off.
Witches. Witches everywhere.
I couldn’t love this more. It’s such a great example of a powerful modern horror and it ticks all my personal boxes. Everything about the way it looks, from the blue-tinged filter to the stark landscape works in its favour, while the tall trees framing the farm land add to the feeling of being forever watched. I actually feel cold and uncomfortable watching this – and I like it.
All the performances are spot on but Anya is incredible here, all doe-eyed and on the cusp of womanhood. The conclusion is deeply satisfying and stunning, I think. It makes me want to shed my undergarments and join a coven.
In terms of theme, The Witch explores the concept of persecution against women (but of course), female empowerment, black magique, puberty, familial ties – so many topics and its open to your own interpretation too. So make of it what you will but check it out please, I love.
What did my favourite witch make of this? Would she dance naked with it around the bonfire or feed it to Black Phillip? Find out here, obvi.
Free for all month and we start June with this biopic of awesome polish gynaecologist Michalina Wislocka, a sex campaigner who rocked the sex lives of polish women forever. My new favourite heroine basically.
Michalina Wislocka, the most famous and recognized sexologist of communist Poland, fights for the right to publish her book, which will change the sex life of Polish people forever.
Michalina Wislocka was a well-respected gynaecologist and massive influence over the sex lives of women living and loving in Poland under communist rule. An activist for sex ed for all, we meet her (played perfectly by Magdalena Boczarska) at the beginning of this biopic as the author of a new book entitled “The Art of Loving”.
Unfortunately, she faces a hell of an opposition from the communist party, the censors and the church because of her frank talk and non-academic way of phrasing things so everyone can understand them. Plus the mostly male objectors just don’t care much about women’s pleasure (who knew?). As she battles to get her tome published, without sacrificing any of its vital content (including the chapter on the female orgasm), we learn how she became the great woman she was.
TAOL takes us from current day (the seventies) back to the birth of Michalina’s forward thinking ways during the war and to her first marriage to a biologist that ended in a long-term love triangle with her best friend Wanda. Wanda is brought into the domestic mix so that Michalina doesn’t have to shag her husband, whom she loves dearly but doesn’t fancy (or rather, she finds sex painful). The relationship comes to a head (pnar) many years and two children (by different mums) later when her husband decides he loves Wanda and Wanda angrily demands the right to be loved too.
Following the bust up of her family life, Michalina throws herself into her work and research and this eventually brings her to meet a new lover. Sex becomes a thing of pure joy and opens up a whole new world to our heroine. While the relationship is ultimately doomed from the start, it’s valuable lessons certainly contribute to Micalina’s success.
Will she get this damn book published and see it reprinted a further billion times* in her lifetime?
I really enjoyed this film, which marries serious subject matter with a wry sense of humour. Boczarska is magnificent as Michalina. She plays her part with relish and is completely believable as a warrior for women’s sex rights. It’s also poignant as fuck when she finds out her old lover has passed away years later.
I’m quite cross with myself that I didn’t know more about this incredible woman before now and I definitely recommend this film, which in parts sort of reminded me of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) – must be because of the threesomes!
What did my sex pot think of this? Would she censor the fudge out of it or send it a lifetime supply of johnnys? Find out here.
While training at the gym 11-year-old tomboy Toni becomes entranced with a dance troupe. As she struggles to fit in she finds herself caught up in danger as the group begins to suffer from fainting spells and other violent fits.
There’s been a bit of a trend over the last couple of years for films that don’t bother to explain themselves. They are what they are and what you make of them is up to you. The Fits definitely falls into this camp. This dreamy, sometimes nightmarish amble through adolescence and friendship is at times fascinating, even brilliant – and just a tad boring.
Toni is a quiet, hard-working child dedicated to her boxing training and helping out her older brother at the gym he also trains in. One day she becomes enamored with a female dance troupe. To begin with she watches them from afar but eventually, with the encouragement of her brother, joins the squad.
The main draw of this troupe seems to be their unswerving confidence and although this does not appear to come naturally to our silent protagonist, she puts the work in to improve her dance skillz – and even make a friend or two.
Things take an unusual turn when one of the dance leaders suffers an unexplained seizure. It’s shocking but as she recovers quickly and without consequence, it is soon forgotten. Until the next girl suffers ‘the fits’- then the next. Slowly but surely this phenomenon spreads through the group and Toni and her pals fear becoming the next victim. Fear, however, soon turns to something else. The fits come with a certain badge of honour and most of the girls want to be part of the rising hysteria.
It soon becomes clear that Toni is being left behind because she hasn’t suffered an attack yet, will she lose her grip on everything she now holds dear? Or will life just kind of take care of business for her?
This isn’t really your average beginning, middle and end movie. It’s more of a happening, a feeling – a rumination on puberty and of coming of age in a sometimes hopeless place. Royalty Hightower is enigmatic and lovely as our heroine. Toni barely speaks so dialogue is light and to bring such heart to a character through facial expression and mannerisms is impressive, particularly at such a young age.
It does border on dull a few times but there might be method in that madness because when I got to the climax I was blown away. It’s surreal, it’s stunning and it brings everything back together. It’s all a metaphor, innit? I recommend if you’re into this kind of dreamy film-making and aren’t afraid to unpack it all yourself.
What did the queen of the dance troupe in my heart think of this one? Would she leave it to her own devices in an abandoned corridor or film it on her iPhone? Find out here, obvs.
Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Welcome to the second best Collab month of the year: Feminist Film Month! And what better way to kick it off than with a film starring one of my all-time fave women in film? The original double G. What a gal.
This movie could possibly be one of the best representations of the hipster cliche too and I only 80% covet the exact same life for myself. (83%).
A New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment) apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer) and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as the possibility of realizing them dwindles.
Dance company understudy Frances (Gerwig) is in a long-term friendship with Sophie, her BFF and roommate (Mickey Sumner). Things are blissful until France’s boyfriend buys two hypoallergenic cats and asks her to move in with him. Her reluctance to let Sophie down derails the relationship for good and Frances returns to their grainy best friend montages with barely a backward glance.
Things change though when Sophie suddenly decides to move into an artists’ house in a different neighbourhood. Gradually she begins to spend her time with other people, including her boyfriend Patch (Patrick Heusinger) and some girl called Lisa (who’s a cunt apparently).
In turn, Frances moves in with her new friends Benji and Lev (Michael Zegen and my boy Adam Driver). Lev is a casual womaniser, while Benji is more to Frances’ speed, a decent Sophie replacement, especially after the two women have a blazing row about Patch.
In the aftermath of their fight, Frances finds herself not really dancing (aka working) and flitting between apartments. For a while she lives with another dancer, who doesn’t share her passion for rough and tumble play-fighting like Sophie does.
When Frances finds out secondhand that Sophie is moving to Japan with Patch, she starts to lose her grip – and on a whim decides to visit Paris for two days. Thus begins one of the most lonely weekend breaks I’ve ever seen committed to the big screen, as Frances tries to hook up with an old friend but keeps missing her and explores the city of lights alone.
During a phone call with Sophie, who’s finally called to tell her the news about Japan, it seems as though the women work it out but Frances’ optimism is manufactured to make Sophie feel better and it makes me want to sob uncontrollably.
Back in NYC, Frances loses her position as apprentice with the dance troupe but is offered work in the office instead. She declines and takes off to her old university for the Summer to be a camp counselor (or something similar). Here she bumps into Sophie and Patch of all people and it soon transpires that the pair are back in the US for Patch’s grandfather’s funeral.
Sophie and Frances have a drunken heart to heart in which Sophie admits she isn’t going to marry Patch (the two have gotten engaged) and that she hates Tokyo. She vows to leave Tokyo – and Patch – to return to New York for good and live in the same neighbourhood as Frances but in the cold light of the next morning, she loses her resolve.
After this, Frances slowly starts to pull her own life back together, first accepting the job at the dance company and then taking advice from her former boss, by choreographing her own show. The show is a modest success and Frances receives positive feedback. She finally finds her own apartment and there’s even a hint of romance on the horizon for her and old friend Benji.
Things are looking up but will she ever get her friendship with Sophie back on track? I’ll leave that for you to find out.
What a zingy script this film has. Frances’ relentless riffing is joyous and clever but also hugely relatable to anyone who has ever felt wildly out of control of their own life. (All of us at one time or another I’m willing to bet).
There are so many quotable lines from this film that it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. I’ll list a selection at the end.
My favourite thing about this film is that it’s a love story between two friends. Men come and go but the real focus is whether Sophie and Frances will make it. I love it for that. There’s a tragic inevitably to everything too – that whole concept of being left behind while everyone moves on and grows up, it’s terrifying.
All in all this is one of my favourite films and I can even dislike it for how cool and pretentious it could appear to some people. It’s just beautiful and hopeful and smart. So there.
5/5. Ace of base. A real joy of a film from start to finish.
4.5/5. ‘Cos it’s about a central female friendship complete with a wonderful reading/knitting scene. Would have been 5 if Sophie had dumped her boyfriend.
Benji: Are you still undateable? Frances: Oh yes, very undateable.
Frances: Don’t treat me like a three-hour brunch friend!
Sophie: It’s just this apartment is very… aware of itself.
Frances: But your blog looks so happy. Sophie: I don’t think my *mom* would read it if it were about depression. Frances: My mom would.
What did my good lady wife think of Frances Ha? Would she film it flatteringly in B&W or move to Tokyo to get away from it? Find out here.
After their mother ends up in jail, two sisters turn to train robbery in order to support their family.
Sometimes life hands you your arse on a plate and says “Eat up, chump” and you’re forced to just get on with it – knife, fork and all. Other times there’s a perfect solution to your arse problem just staring you in the face and that problem might lead you outside the law but no other fucker’s going to help, are they?
This is what happens to our titular characters when their mother loses her shit at work and ends up in clink (I hear you, gurl). Driven to breaking point by something that isn’t clear yet, mum Marigold (Danielle Nicolat) is actually quite happy behind bars, thrilled that every meal comes with salad on the side and that she can enjoy yoga classes on the regs.
Her daughters, Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and Laney (Rachel Crow) however, aren’t having such a pleasant ride. Money is tight, they’ve a young brother to bring up and their dad (David Sullivan) is fucking useless. Who knew, eh? They’re also just normal teenage girls navigating a brutal school system with regular worries about popularity, friendship and college applications, as well as having to juggle a social worker and her regular visits. What are the girls to do?
Well, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to reveal that Deirdra decides they should rob the trains that pass the back of their house to make some cash. Laney isn’t immediately convinced but agrees nevertheless. And the girls starting kicking arse as train robbers. Of course they do because if you want a job well done, you do it yourself.
Unfortunately, it’s not long before they attract the attention of a heavy-handed cop (Tim Blake Nelson) and things look set to take a turn. Meanwhile, Laney is competing in her high school beauty pageant and falling out with her jealous BFF, while Deidra is distracted by college demands and keeping the family together.
DALRAT is a sweet film that addresses some serious issues such as police brutality, poverty and crime as a means of survival in a light way. Although, when Laney is apprehended by violent cop Truman at the pageant, it actually turned my stomach so close to the bone it is. Truman is a bastard but also a great character and wonderfully representative of an over-zealous brand of twisted justice – and I truly relished his demise. FUCK DA POLICE, MAN.
The girls are great and adorable but they’re also resourceful, smart and cool – and you’ll just want them to get the fuck out of this nasty situation they don’t deserve and back on their respective paths. Meanwhile, Marigold’s justification for her meltdown is a little corny but it should hit you right in the feels. What? I got some sand in my eye.
Even dad pulls it out of the bag in the end but it’s the girls that save themselves as girls are wont to do and that’s what makes this a feminist piece. There are a couple of whiffs of romance but not really and I like that in a film about teenagers. It’s refreshing that the central characters have bigger fish to fry.
All that said though, this movie is probably not very memorable and I’m not sure if that’s because it does have a slightly light YA feel to it. I mean, I’m all for good YA material but I think my tastes have developed for much darker things. I would like to have explored some of the themes a little deeper so that is my only criticism. I wanted more and heavier.
3/5. There are worse (and better) ways to spend Sunday afternoon but I would say it’s worth a watch.
What did Jillian thinking of this one? Was in on the right tracks for her or…? Find out here. Obviously.<3
The penultimate film in our Feminist Film Month and honestly, it’s been an interesting month.
So far this Feb we’ve gone from arranged marriage and friendship than spans cultural ideals to sexy sixties witchcraft. And now we’re examining suicide and inertia in the 19th century. I can only imagine how we’ll sign off the month but I firmly believe it will have to be with a bang, it’s only right. (I do have an idea, don’t you worry, it’s going to be fabulous).
Without further ado, let’s crack on with the suicide pact, shall we?
Berlin, the Romantic Era. Young poet Heinrich wishes to conquer the inevitability of death through love but hasn’t found the right person to share this experience with. This changes when he meets Henriette.
Life can be awfully hard, can’t it? Tiring at times and at others, it seems all too pointless. Or at least that’s how whiny poet Heinrich (Friedel) feels. As a result, he has decided he wants to end it all but not in the straight-forward shuffling off this mortal coil on his own sense, of course not.
Our man wants to be assured that one special lady loves him enough to end her life by his side, proving once and for all that death with him is more worthwhile than life with anyone else. Right.
So that gives you an idea of the character of Heinrich who frankly, in the remake of this film which will never come, should be played by Jesse Eisenberg, who shares his fleshy lipped aesthetic and the same irritating air. But that’s an aside.
Heinrich is a man with a plan and his sights are set on his cousin Marie (Hüller), who tolerates his incessant persuasion but is in no way tempted by his offer. I cannot fathom why.
Heinrich is beginning to lose faith when he meets Henriette (Schnoeink) and her family at some social gathering or other. Henriette is married to her husband Vogel (Grossmann) and they have a (dreary) young daughter called Pauline (Paraschiva Dragus).
It may sound odd, but I am not looking for a partner in life. But rather in death. ~ Heinrich
Henriette has a fascination with Heinrich’s poetry, openly expressing an affinity with the leading lady from a particularly distressing piece of prose (she is attacked by a mystery offender who turns out to be the man she’s in love with). This makes her stand out to Heinrich (lucky girl) and the pair form a friendship of sorts.
One afternoon, by the river, Heinrich outlines his desire for Henriette in the clunkiest way imaginable. She is understandably: a) insulted (he tells her nobody loves her and she loves nobody) and b) very against the idea of a joint suicide. Sadly, she doesn’t really have the time to ponder the absurdity of the situation (and his rude breakdown of her character) as shortly after this meeting she is taken ill.
Henriette’s husband Vogel (Grossmann) is a sweet man who genuinely cares for his wife, vowing not to rest until she’s better. This results in him pushing for a proper diagnosis after the family GP fails to pinpoint the problem. Patronisingly, and a little too typically, Henriette’s fainting spells and nervous disposition are dismissed as “Women’s trouble”.
Another diagnosis swiftly follows when the Doc calls for a second opinion but this time it’s bad news. Henriette it turns out has a life-threatening tumour and overhears her husband being told she doesn’t have long left. Information like this tends to change a girl’s outlook and our heroine starts to rethink Heinrich’s offer.
At first he’s a little frosty about this turn of events, criticising her for not being in it for the right reasons. In short, Heinrich is a brat who wants everything his way. Who knew, eh? He relents in the end (obvs) and the two take off together on a trip to the country. Vogel btw is very pro-sabbatical, believing fresh air will do his poor wife good.
Heinrich carries a case containing two pistols (in case one doesn’t work) and explains to Henriette that he will shoot her before offing himself. It’s all very matter-of-fact but unfortch the plan is derailed when they bump into an old acquaintance of Heinrich’s. This dude assumes the two are lovers and Heinrich freaks the fuck out.
Back home and he decides to give Marie one last crack. She is freshly engaged and back from Paris where her beau resides. She cannot be convinced to give up her love and her life to Heinrich, funnily enough. While she agrees that life can be shit and people tiresome, she does not understand why Heinrich can’t just try to see the brighter side.
With all hope of turning Marie around lost, Heinrich once again places all his eggs in Henriette’s basket, persuading her to agree to the suicide pact again. Which she does.
Now, I’m parking this up here because I don’t want to spoil the ending completely. I’d like to leave you guessing as to how this pans out and what becomes of our central characters.
Well. You can’t accuse this film of being run of the mill, I suppose. The premise is bleak but I find Heinrich’s melancholia quite refreshing in some respects, and the tone too is dripping with malaise. I mean, Heinrich’s not my favourite and I find him extremely self-obsessed and irritating but his ability to be honest about his inertia is quite satisfying.
Nobody tries to talk him out of suicide either which I find interesting, and this says a lot about the characters themselves.
Now to the feminist standpoint. At one point, while talking to house guests (probably about new taxes being enforced across the country), Henriette says (I paraphrase) that she is there to obey and serve her husband. While nobody around her questions this, it does highlight the fact that Henriette does indeed inhabit a very traditional role within the household. She is also one half of a sexless marriage and although she and Vogel share a stable and content companionship, she does not have an awful lot of a say in an awful lot of her life.
So the suicide pact and her behaviour leading up to the film’s conclusion can be construed as evidence of her taking control of her own life. Finally some autonomy! And that’s powerful. Though whether it works out for Henriette is for you to find out.
I think this is a smart film that looks great, has some subtly amusing moments and takes a piece of history and gives it a quirky twist. I think it also has something to say about how easily women are let down by the medical profession, and how easily sickness is explained away by hysteria and women’s issues.
It won’t change my world view or necessarily stick in my memory for very long but it was nice while it lasted.
3/5. Quite fun for a film about a suicide pact.
What did Jillian think? Did this film make her question her own mortality or look to the bright side? Find out here. ❤
A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas.
Elaine Park (Robinson) is a stone cold fox and new to town. I know it’s shitty to merit a woman solely on her looks but since Elaine’s face is arguably one of her strongest powers, it is worth remarking upon. She’s supernaturally hot and no mistake.
Turns out she is fleeing San Francisco following the mysterious death of her husband, for which she has been questioned by the po po. Taking up residence in the most psychedelic apartment on earth, which belongs to her friend Barbara, she befriends Trisha (Waddell), who lives downstairs (I think).
Even Trisha has to remark upon how pretty Elaine is on first meeting, so I don’t feel so bad. The two women go to tea together at an all female tearoom and get to know each other a little better (not in the hot way). Trish is quite shocked when Elaine lets slip that all she wants in life is to love and be loved, and to serve and reward sexually the lucky man in return.
“You sound as if you’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy!” ~Trish
This is an old-fashioned view after all and Trish makes it known that she completely disagrees. It isn’t clear exactly when this movie is set due to the distinctly sixties vibe but still, women have moved on, man and are no longer subservient slaves. You get me?
Elaine soon sets her sights on university professor Wayne (Parise) who takes one look at her and sweeps her up to his cabin in the woods. Like I’ve been saying since the beginning of time, nothing good ever comes from a cabin in the wood, why does nobody ever listen?
Things take a dark turn when Elaine’s sexy love spell goes horribly wrong and she gets what she’s so passionately wished for (for about 5 minutes). I won’t spoiler every little thing but let’s say, only one person leaves the cabin that weekend.
There’s a funny scene where Elaine mixes her love potion using her own urine and a used tampon. As she completes the recipe, she muses about men’s aversion to periods. Sadly for our love witch, her spell is flawed but that can’t keep the #1 Fan of True Love™ down for long.
Women bleed, its beautiful. And most men have never even seen a used tampon ~Elaine
Along the way we meet some of Elaine’s witchy friends who congregate, much to the consternation of the regulars, at a burlesque club in town. On Amateur Night, our magical queens take to the stage themselves. They appear to be lead by a really creepy wizard type and Barbara (Jennifer Ingrum) is there too.
As I type this I realise that this tale is somewhat light on plot, or if not light, repetitive. Elaine has a pattern and her pattern is love, lose, love, lose, love and lose. I feel her so hard tbh, as will most women. After all, who hasn’t put all their eggs into one man’s basket, only to be let down by his constant bullshit – and then accidentally poisoned him to death had to start all over again?
As the bodies rack up so do the clues, and Elaine is not what you’d call fastidious in her evidence hiding. A hot but dickish police officer, Griff (Gian Keys) is hot on the case of the death of Wayne, whose body has now been discovered, along with a cornucopia of witchy paraphernalia. Soon he’ll have more crime and evidence to add to his caseload, as Elaine claims another victim, this time someone much closer to home.
But first, Griff has some love business to attend to and takes his prime suspect Elaine away for the weekend where they stumble across some sort of medieval orgy and get fake married. Griff is a pig and doesn’t love Elaine, which I know you can’t fake and shouldn’t, but after a confrontation in the club, you’ll hate his commitment phobic arse a lot more.
During this exchange, Elaine is attacked by the anti-witch punters. They try to burn her, proving that it might be modern-day but attitudes towards anyone slightly different, particularly of the witch variety have not moved on one iota. Griff reluctantly saves his fake wife and she wants to reward his white knight heroics in the only way she knows how. Sexily.
There’s an ending in which something happens but I’m not giving it to you. Will Elaine go to prison to face up to her love crimes? Will Griff be punished for being such a fucking melt? Only one way to find out and let me assure you, this is one trip you need to take!
Well, this is certainly a refreshing ride and unlike anything I’ve seen since maybe ever? That said, this has shades of The Stepford Wives, Bewitched, Hammer Horror and Russ Meyer woven through it and you can certainly feel the sixties emanating from the screen. Visually you can’t fault it, the soft lense loves Samantha Robinson so much and her Noir-ish yet man-pleasing Elaine is so tongue in cheek she’s destined to become a cult heroine. God I hope so.
I don’t think this film will be for everyone and maybe some won’t get what it’s trying to say but to me it’s a pastiche, a joyful piss take and I really enjoyed myself. From a feminist stand point it takes a different approach to woman power using humour and thank god for that.
Elaine has old skool ideals that may shock but she’s also a man killer, dispensing good for nothings like yesterday’s rubbish. I’d have liked more female solidarity beyond a couple of the witches sitting together at the bar, but bigger picture I guess Elaine is doing good for womankind (thinking about it, I wonder if this film deliberately fails the Bechdel test?). And it goes without saying, but the costumes and sets are stunningly beautiful.
It is overly long though and the medieval/renaissance segment wasn’t really for me, I’ll be honest. Towards the last half an hour my interest started to wane and I’m annoyed about that, I wanted to hand over my five stars no questions asked.
3.5/5. Points lost for being too long and losing its impact toward the end. Otherwise, get on it because it really is something else.🔮
Did Jillian feel a love spell was in order or did she fall for Elaine and her story unaided? Find out here.❤️
Ps. Apparently this does pass the test, when Trish and Elaine aren’t talking about love and men. ✊🏻✊🏻✊🏻
I’m going to go light on the intro this week because I’m pretty sure this month’s theme speaks for itself. Yes, it’s Feminist Film Month up in this joint (also over at Jill’s). Men are allowed but they better shut the hell up, is all I’m saying.
ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn.
Rochel (Lister-Jones) and Nasira (Benhamou) are both first year teachers at a school in Brooklyn. Although polite to one another and their peers, they don’t really start to communicate until a couple of kids call them up on their ‘opposing’ religions in class. Since Rochel is Jewish and Nasira is Muslim, the children wonder if the women hate each other.
This line of questioning prompts an exercise between the women and children called a ‘Unity Circle’, which is a success in showing the kids that friendship is a choice. Off the back of this exercise a friendship between Rochel and Nasira begins to blossom. And the theme of choice runs tidily throughout the film.
You see, our heroines are both in similar situations within their families, which basically means on the market for husbands, which they ain’t picking themselves, knowwhati’msayin’? (And hence the movie’s title). Or rather they do get final say, but from a list of potential suitors presented to them by their families – with mixed results.
As the women bond they start to share their ‘arrangement’ stories. Nasira is envious that Rochel at least gets to go on dates away from the family, while her own meetings are supervised closely by her firm but loving family.
Meanwhile, at school, Principal Jacoby (Marcia Jean Kurtz) shows her ignorance by pulling the two friends into her office and offering them money to go and buy designer clothes (which to be fair I would have taken out of principle). She cannot deal with the fact such pretty girls are holding on to their religious ideals in this day and age. I mean, I have my own views about religion too, lady but it’s none of our damn business.
This only makes the women stand their ground and they do push back, making it clear that they choose to dress the way they do and live the way they live. It’s an important point to be made, although they adhere to traditional values, both women choose to do so. This is something Nasira also touches upon nearer the beginning of the film when the new teachers are forced to go around in a circle and say a little bit about themselves. She is clear about it being her choice to wear the headscarf.
Sick of the disappointing dating pool, Rochel begins to upset her mother Sheli (Lieber), grandmother Elona (Doris Belack) and master-matchmaker Miriam (Peggy Gormley) with her negative attitude. Her dates are a mixed bag of misfits, all good Jewish boys on paper but somewhat lackluster in the flesh.
After an argument with her mother, Rochel goes to see her cousin Leah (Alysia Reiner) in the city to get a glimpse of life outside her faith. Leah talks to her about her own quality of life without religion and how open-minded it all is, but the threat of being isolated from the family seems to weigh on Rochel. She loves the fuckers after all. The cousins go to a party where Rochel gets a tiny taste of the life that might be out there for her, but after dancing with a hot hunk she freaks out and returns home.
Nasira is also having doubts about her path when her parents make her meet with a friend of the family, a bolshy man over 20 years older than her. EW. When she puts her foot down and refuses the match, her lovely father says he just wants her to have what he has with her mother. Despite this setback, Nasira finds herself crushing on the next match…
Rochel too enjoys a brief connection with an Orthodox Jew friend of Nasira’s brother. They share a sexy look in the library by chance but Nasira’s brother later refuses to hook them up. This forces Nasira to take matters into her own hands and is reminiscent of the things we used to do in school to get our friend’s crushes to notice them. I therefore loved it.
There is of course an ending and an outcome for both potential love interests but I can’t possibly spoil it for you here (but will probably do so below, in my summary). If you think this movie sounds like your cup of tea then I would suggest you find out for yourselves.
This is a sweet, gentle film with a nice ending. There’s no real conflict here, apart from a bit of discomfort when the friends visit each other’s homes. Which is fine but it just sort of trickles along and the conclusion is so neat that it’s slightly annoying. I mean, it’s nice that both women get what they want but when is life ever like that?
I would have been more satisfied if at least one of them had refused to marry so young and had gone off on their own path – or they had got together with each other. Still, this film is about choice and these women made their own and that’s the point. Right?
Both lead actresses are great but the characters themselves are so bland that they can’t possibly stick in the memory. There’s just no room for them next to Norma Desmond, The Foxy Merkins and the We Are The Best grrrls. Amirite, Jillian?!
This is a film that takes a gentler approach to feminist themes, the main one being that both women are free, they just choose to take a more traditional path. Which is what their families want for them, and what religion dictates.
It’s easy to be frustrated by this but many women do the same. Not all feminism is Doctor Martens and smashing the patriarchy, after all. Both young women are successful and intelligent with good careers in front of them, and neither of them are willing to settle.
3.5/5. Nice. As if nice isn’t the most boring thing to be labelled.
What does my partner-in-crime think? Why don’t you pop on over and see if she thought this one was a match or a crushing, creepy disappointment. ❤