The Firefly (Film) Review

Jill and I settled on Gay July because we’ve always had pretty good success with LGBTQIA films within the collab – and there are some great ones on Netflix at the moment. So let’s kick back with this Colombian love story, shall we?

*Spoilers*

The Firefly (2013) or La luciérnaga (original title)

IMDB Synopsis

After the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia accidentally meets his fiancée and falls in love with her.

My Review

Lucia (Carolina Guerra) is estranged from her brother Andres (Manuel José Chaves) because he failed to attend his own father’s funeral. There’s A LOT of family turmoil going on since he also believes he killed their mother (she died giving birth to him). As a result, the siblings have not seen each other for three years and Lucia is unaware that her brother is marrying Mariana (Olga Segura).

On the day of the wedding Lucia has no knowledge of, Andres decides he can’t go through it without her and jumps in the car to go and get her. On the way he is killed in an accident and neither marries the love of his life, nor reconciles with his willful sister.

On learning of Andres’ accident, both women are devastated. Mariana flees the wedding in her dress and collapses in the middle of a busy intersection, while Lucia takes to her bed and is unresponsive for days afterward. Her husband Adrian (Andrés Aranburo) is present to a point but he doesn’t seem particularly sympathetic.

The beginning of the film tells us that Lucia is going to break up with him anyway so he’s already marked as surplus to requirements, so don’t worry. Mariana tells her family she is going to Mexico and holes up in Andres’ apartment – which is fortuitous as Lucia has the same idea. The women meet here for the first time. YAY!

The movie comprises a heap of flashbacks to build a picture of Andres’ past relationship with his sister, up until the point they fall out, and how he met and fell in love with Mariana. Which is happy/sad to behold, particularly when Andres ruminates the loss of his sister to Mariana.

Healing is painful but together they are able to take the time they need to start the process. This involves drunken dance parties and Lucia writing a letter to Andres seeking his forgiveness. Mariana then makes her burn it. They also visit the graveside.

Little by little the bond the women share begins to turn into something stronger and it’s bloody amazing. Mariana is surprised when she learns that Lucia is married because she’s never thought to mention it. Neither did she mention the fact that she can’t get pregnant despite their many attempts to do so.

When Lucia tells Mariana her relationship status is complicated, she cryptically asks her: isn’t life too short for that? You’re damn right, M – it bloody well is. This rhetoric is further bolstered when Adrian fucks off on a business trip right in the middle of Lucia’s grieving process and she realises it’s over.

MV5BNTI2MTE0NDQtNzc5MC00NDZmLTlmYTktYTk5MGZlYTYyZDQ1L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjI0OTczMjc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,888_AL_

M asks her to move into Andres’ apartment but Lucia suggests a mini break instead. Well, that trip changes everything forever but again it isn’t plain sailing because Lucia is seriously confused. Which you can kind of understand.

Will she follow her heart and take all this as meant to be? And why is Mariana throwing up all the time? Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

The Firefly is lovely but man is it melodramatic. There are times it plays out like a telenovela – my God, ladies CHILL. Mariana’s Miss Haversham-esque few days swanning around in her wedding dress may be understandable, but it’s a bit over-dramatic. And there aren’t really any surprises here, the tale plays out by numbers. I’m not necessarily criticising it for that, it’s just an observation.

What I do criticise is the fact that Andres’ best friend knew he’d gone to find his sister on his wedding day and as far as I can tell, never tells her. You’d think that would be kind of a big deal to hear, non?

The strength of this film, as with any love story, lies in the chemistry between our leads. The hand holding and the loaded looks, the pool kisses and the fun they have together is lovely to witness – and it doesn’t help that both women are warm and so bloody beautiful. So, sure it’s a little bit all over the place but its heart is in the right place – it’s a good take on grieving and growing, of loving again as though you’ve never been hurt and of grabbing those fresh starts when you can. I’m all for that.

The Firefly 5
“I know you’re sad, but we need to talk about that horrible cardigan…”

What does the Queen of my Heart think of this one? Would she buy it dubious knitwear or leave it by the side of the road in the rain? Find out here.

Love (Film) Review

Love: or What the fuck did you expect, Murphy?

This week’s pick has a very high opinion of itself which at least makes one of us. It is definitely NSFW, not that you’d be watching French-Belgian art house at your place of work but you know what I mean: lots of private parts and shagging. You have been warned.

*Spoilers*

Love (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Murphy is an American living in Paris who enters a highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship with the unstable Electra. Unaware of the effect it will have on their relationship, they invite their pretty neighbor into their bed.

A009_L002_1020RZ

My Review

Murphy and Electra (Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock) are a highly-sexed couple. He is an American film student, while Electra is some sort of artist (who never seems to do any art but who am I to judge?). Their relationship is rather turbulent if truth be told but we don’t explore that until after they’ve broken up.

When we first meet Murphy he is living with his wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and their new baby. Murphy receives an email from Electra’s mother who tells him that she hasn’t seen her daughter for months. Presumed missing, this sends old Murphy into a tailspin as he contacts their old friends to try to locate his ex – while reminiscing about the love they let get away.

Via non-linear flashback we learn that the couple asked their then neighbour Omi to join them for a cheeky threesome, only for Murphy to get her pregnant behind Electra’s back after their original night together. This causes the break up of the relationship and although it’s not easy to follow the timeline, leads Electra deeper into the world of drugs.

LOVE_4-e1438841761142

Their love affair has already proven over-dramatic, rife with infidelity, drug abuse and fighting but it has also been rooted in a sort of love, an idealistic ride-or-die mentality that does not ring true in the end. Murphy fucks strangers at parties (which gets confusing because he has a penchant for attractive dark-haired Europeans) while Electra is unfaithful with her sugar-daddy ex.

They talk about having babies and dying without each other but can’t seem to get it together to be kind to one another. Murphy screams insults at his lover while she spirals out of control on drugs and lord knows what.

In present day, Murphy longs to go back to a ‘better’ time before he fucked it all up with Electra – and resents Omi and their child, who I think might be called Gaspar? It’s a miserable scene, man as Omi knows only too well that Murphy is pining for his past.

Meanwhile Murphy’s whiny as fuck inner voice calls his wife a bitch for tricking him into family life which just made me want to bash his head in.

5587bebd-af5e-4cc9-8f47-d000fb5888cd

Will Murphy atone for his cavalier attitude towards Electra (and all women really) or will he make the most of his new life with Omi? And will he ever stop being such a grade A fuck boi? I think we all know that answer to that last one.

The problem with Love is that I hated everyone. Even my sympathy for Omi wore paper-thin (something about her pompous Pro-life speech on her first date with the couple sealed that). Murphy is a deeply unlikable guy with such a casual attitude towards the women in his life, realistic maybe for a young student but it doesn’t bode well for his likability factor – I hated him. I hated the way he cheated on his girlfriend, how he spoke to both Electra and Omi, basically everything he did. There’s a scene where he almost has sex with a trans prostitute and I didn’t like his homophobic attitude there either. Like, just fuck off Murphy.

Electra is a complex(ish) creature but there’s not much character development and we never get any answers. As for the erotic elements, it soon becomes tiresome to see so much fucking.

I kept leaving the room for ages and coming back to the same extended scene. I’m no prude but this is trying to be shocking for shocking’s sake and it’s pretty whack. Plus, sex is never that well-lit, I’m sure of it.

This is nowhere close to Gaspar Noé‘s Irreversible, which is a very hard watch but also a heartbreaking look at the after effects of sexual assault on the victim and their relationships.

My Rating

0.5/5. I hated everything about this.

maxresdefault

What did my love think of this one? Did she want to bang its brains out or in with a brick? Find out here.

The Way He Looks (Film) Review

Foreign cinema again but this time with a LGBT vibe, which I think might be the direction our next films will be taking.

Netflix has quite a few interesting offerings in this genre so who knows, the world is our oyster! This film is Brazilian with subtitles in Portuguese – Jillian’s pick.

*Beware spoilers*

the-way-he-looks-poster

The Way He Looks (2014)

Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Stars: Ghilerme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim

IMDB Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.

My Review: 

Leo is blind. He’s also a hot-blooded teenager who fantasises about his first kiss, which he wants to be perfect (e.g. not with the school slut). Except he doesn’t believe anyone will ever want to pash on with him (oh honey, just you wait!). His best friend Giovana is a tad protective (maybe a little into him too) which earns her the nickname ‘human walking stick’ from the school bullies which, I feel, needs some work.

45049f1bb64443cd337607cff585ad59
*insert witty caption here* ‘cos I’ve got writer’s block

Every day she walks out of her way to see him to his gate, because that’s what good BFFs do. Leo takes this in good spirit but is less patient with his parents who are more than a little anxious every time he goes out, comes home to an empty apartment or breathes.

Leo also gets the piss ripped out of him by the obligatory school fuck heads, who mock his loud braille typewriter and imply that he’s gay. Pretty standard bully stuff really, but the kid’s blind, man. There has to be a special section in hell cordoned off for douche bags like Fabio (Pedro Carvalho) who, incidentally is the most irritating character in cinematic history; and not even a very good bully at that.

But back to Leo. One day, on the day he’s having to deal with stupid Fabio, in rocks Gabriel who takes the seat behind him. Before long, Giovana, Leo and Gabriel are thick as thieves, happily hanging out as a threesome but not in that way, obvs – this is a coming-of-age flick not a porno.

hoje
“And again… Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye (say goodbye)…”

While the new friends bond, Leo floats the idea of going abroad with a foreign exchange programme. Even before Gab arrives, Leo has convinced himself that he wants out, to live somewhere alone and gain a bit of independence away from his overbearing family. The Exchange Programme woman is helpful but tells Leo he has to get his parent’s consent plus as a blind person, needs to find a family who’s down with that too. Not that he’s mentioned it to anyone besides Giovana, mind – right now it’s just a thought.

“What do you use to make your hair so curly (I mean not that I can see it)…?”

When the boys are paired together on a school project on Sparta (just watch 300 (2006), yo!), they start to become closer and Giovana feels excluded. More than that, she feels like she’s been completely abandoned. One day when they fail to wait for her after class, she goes mental and refuses to speak to either of them.

Leonardo
Trapped in a glass case of emotion

This only pushes our Romeos closer together. Leo starts to get feelings for Gabriel but doesn’t really know what to do with them. Well, I mean he knows what they mean, but doesn’t push the fact with Gabriel until one night at a party, Gabriel unexpectedly gives Leo his first kiss. N’aw.

THE-WAY-HE-LOOKS (1)
I’ve kissed way worse, don’t worry, Leo

This is after Fabio and his crew have tried to play a cruel trick on Leo whilst playing spin the bottle, which is thankfully twarted by Giovana. This leads to another row, but Giovana doesn’t tell Leo what they’d been planning to save his feelings. (See, good BFF!).

way-he-looks1
“Course I’m not going to draw a giant cock and balls on your back later…”

After the party, Gabriel tells Leo he was super drunk and remembers nothing, apart from having a row with Giovana (who also kissed him but he declined). Later, on a school trip, it becomes clear to us (but not Leo), that Gabriel is having sexy feelings too, though he doesn’t say anything, just looks angsty.

For the rest of the trip, gossip is rife about Gabriel and the school ho-bag, Katrina (Isabela Guasco), who’s a bundle of fun frankly (and unfairly labelled, I think. There’ll be no slut-shaming in this review). It seems apparent, from all ‘the signs’ that they’ll be getting it on later that evening.

Giovana and Leo make up thankfully, and Leo takes the opportunity whilst they’re alone and drinking to confess that he thinks he’s in love with Gabriel. Giovana does not react well and stomps off, though a few days later comes back and apologises, saying that she thinks they’d make a cute couple and that she just needed to get her head around the idea of him being a great big gay (to paraphrase).

Later, Gabriel and Leo are alone and they talk about the kiss and then… lalalala I’m not telling you! 

wayhelookssunshine
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

To the questions section… Will our heroes admit their true feelings to one another? Will Giovana ever get over her jealousy? Will she meet her own special prince? Will Fabio just fuck off already, please?

Will Leo’s parents ever let him go abroad on his own? And will he still want to?

How fit is Leo’s dad? And finally, ain’t love just grand? (Especially young, innocent, boy love?)

My Thoughts: 

Meh. While this is a sweet film, I found it all a little bit after school special. I mean, I like the91yaVuqQJuL._SL1500_ characters and all, I like the angst but there just wasn’t enough oomph for my taste. God, has Wetlands ruined me for nice, gentle and romantic films now? I sure hope not.

There is an innocence about The Way He Looks that’s refreshing but it needed an extra push to take it from okay to great. I’m not sure what my suggestion would be. Just a bit more attitude I think; some sass.

That said, Ghilherme Lobo is really good as Leo. I’m pretty sure from the half-arsed research I did for one minute that he isn’t blind irl, which makes him a bloody acting genius in my eyes, as he was very convincing.

The theme of independence that runs throughout it is also quite a touching one. How frustrating it must be to want freedom so badly but have all control held just out of your reach. This is something I remember from being a teenager, but the added challenge of being blind must amplify the resentment.

Leo’s parents mean well and they’re nice, loving people who care. Leo’s grandma is also a big part of his life (even though I’ve failed to mention her until now) and she’s pretty cool too. When Gabriel picks Leo up to go and work on their assignment, she just knows, you know?

There are some really nice moments, some light comedy and all in all, it’s perfectly fine. Not something that will stick with me, even given the final scenes, which are very, very adorable.

My Rating: 3/5 – *shrug*

What does my partner in crime, Jillian make of this little number? Find out here soon!

We Are The Best (Film) Review

14004_JACKPOT_QUAD_AW.indd

We’ve decided to stick to Foreign Cinema for the time being, for no other reason really than because it’s awesome. This week’s pick, by Jillian, is no exception. I mean, it’s a film about an 80’s teen punk band FFS, what more can you want?

Incidentally, the most dominant thought I take away from this is: should I cut my hair über short?

As always, *spoilers!*

We Are The Best (2013)

Director: Lukas Moodysson
Stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

IMDB Synopsis: Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band — despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead.

My Review:

Bobo and Klara are BFFs who take great comfort from their friendship, while the world around them seems to reject their ideals.

Classmates (right out of Sparkle Motion) taunt them for the way they look – that old “You’d be so pretty if only you…” chestnut – and maintain that punk is dead. The girls are secure enough in themselves to push back against this nonsense, they know punk still has a pulse and one day, whilst trying to drown out the sound of the local youth group band, Iron Fist (how original), they set about trying to prove it.

“What do you mean this feels like that scene in Napoleon Dynamite?”

Sadly, enthusiasm alone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an instant hit and they must look outside their twosome for a solution to success. Enter Christian good girl, Hedvig, who plays mean guitar. Can the girls open Hedvig’s mind and show her ideas beyond her God, whilst simultaneously smashing the shit out of patriarchy via the medium of P-U-N-K? Hopefully!

This film does have a lovely feminist undertone. The girls get called ugly constantly by their male peers, and maybe this is why I liked it so much, as it really hit a nerve. All three girls are at a point in life where they’re questioning their own desirability, while actively making a pact not to conform to what’s expected of them, hence the reason the boys think they’re hideous. Bobo and Klara agree not to wear make-up and have punk haircuts maintained by themselves, in their respective bathrooms at home.

The girls have loving families by the way, though Bobo’s mother embarrasses her at parties, has relationship issues and sometimes men over. As a result, Bobo often comes across as the adult in their relationship. Her dad does come around from time to time, but is largely absent.

“So… going anywhere nice this Summer?”

Klara’s family are even more hideous in that they’re encouraging and want to jam with the girls, which goes down like a lead balloon with Klara. When the girls fall out of favour with Hedvig’s highly religious mother, by persuading Hedvig to cut her very long blonde hair, Klara’s father finds it hilarious. He also spends a fair amount of his time wandering around in his pants in polite company and this makes his A-OK with me.

As the girls get better at music, under the tutelage of Hedvig, and polish their anti-PE anthem (my kind of girls), they also explore their blossoming interest in the opposite sex.

We-Are-the-Best-2-e1384356272598
Say no to Scrubs

Bobo has a crush on Klara’s brother, sixteen year old Linus who’s quite nice to her, even when she gets drunk and pukes on his precious record collection. But there’s trouble ahead when the girls meet a fellow punk band, and Bobo and Klara set their sights on the same dude. Awkward.

Ovaries before Brovaries, Klara, c'mon
Ovaries before Brovaries, Klara, c’mon

All this coincides with a small gig the girls are booked to play with Iron Fist, organised by their local youth club.

On reviewing this film back, it could be said that not much happens action-wise. However, the beauty of this story lies in the relationship between the three girls, and between them and their families. Also, in the band sticking it to the man and learning to love themselves (basically the most important lesson you can ever learn, and some would argue, you never stop learning).

Friendship is good
Friendship is good
Friendship is the best
Friendship is the best

To the questions section! Will Bobo and Klara survive getting off with the same boy, in time to kick some serious musical butt? Will they ever prove that they’re the best? Will Hedvig renounce Jesus forever? Would a mohawk suit me?

And most importantly, will the band rock the shit out of their first real gig, proving without a shadow of doubt that Punk is still alive and kicking? All this and more will be revealed*.

“You did not just ask me if I know Wannabe!”

My Thoughts: I have to apologise for a slightly all over the place review, I’m in a bit of a daze after a busy weekend and a late night (more to be revealed about that soon!). Our internet also decided to go down on Friday, so I was forced to view this via the Netflix app on my phone. Which was fine but a little more laborious that normal.

But I always try to deliver on my promises, hence completing this week’s assignment, like a boss.

I really liked We Are The Best and I liked it because of the central characters. I love them together and I wanted them to do well. I think they all played their parts really brilliantly and made me believe in them, which is no mean feat, especially when the characters are so young.

I also wish I’d had friends like them when I was 13. Lots of the time I completely identified with how they were feeling about themselves. Had I had a punk group to focus on back then, maybe I would have been less inclined to eat my lunch locked alone in a toilet cubicle every day.

Also, in all their awkward dealing with boys I will eternally be on the same page. It’s heartbreaking when the boy you like likes your friend and you just feel perpetually shit about yourself. Bobo almost breaks me when she’s trying to be nonchalant about her feelings.

Bobo, I was you and I still am sometimes
Bobo, I was you and I still am sometimes

All in all, this was a joy. I loved one scene in particular, when the girls gain access to an electric guitar and the well-meaning youth club workers quite condescendingly (but kindly) give Hedvig some pointers on how to play. She wipes the floor with them, despite never having picked up an electric version before.

The underlying message of friendship is gorgeous and the climax is hilarious. Watch it.

My Rating: 4/5 – Highly recommend.

So what did Jillian make of her choice this week? Go see for yourselves!

*We may never know the answer to one of them. Then again, never say never.

Kolya (Film) Review

158847699_8dde7d
Peekaboo!

Jill’s pick this week and it looks like we’re in foreign cinema territory now. And what a film to start off with!

I’m going to launch straight into my review before I show my hand too soon but let’s just say, I think we’re having a successful streak.

As always: *Spoilers*!

Kolya (1996)

Director: Jan Sverák
Stars: Zdenek Sverák, Andrey Khalimon, Libuse Safránková

IMDB Synopsis: There isn’t an ‘official’ synopsis. However, have this tagline from the film poster: The perfect grump is about to meet his match – a five-year old kid called… Kolya.

(SOLD!)

My Review:

Not only is Franta Louka the perfect ‘grump’, he is also a bit of a fucking pig if you’ll mind my French. From the get go, this Sean Connery-looking mofo (and concert cellist) has my back up. Not because he’s a lady ‘killer’, but because he lifts up women’s skirts and catcalls school girls from the safety of his mate’s car (who isn’t much better given he’s in charge of the honking).

My first thought was that this guy has a loooooooong way to go to make up for being such a sexist dinosaur. But we’ll get to that.

Anyway, Louka lives in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia and is a confirmed bachelor, loving single life without ties. It seems he used to play cello for the Philharmonic Orchestra but now mainly does funerals. He has a more successful brother who has emigrated and a Russian-despising mother who rues the day they came into her country and decided to stay.

Louka also has a motley crew of friends with their fingers in all sorts of pies and one day one of them, Mr Broz tries to convince him to marry a Russian girl for convenience (and a large sum). Despite being strapped for cash, Louka initially declines as he has a bad feeling about it all and also, doesn’t really want anything to mess with his lifestyle. He has, after all, got a string of willing ladies waiting in the wings for impromptu booty calls.

“Hands, legs, everything up if you like Foreign film!”

He’s also recently hooked up with beautiful colleague, Klára, who gets hiccups after a particularly good seeing to. But things often have a habit of cropping up to change everything so in the end, Louka agrees. His new wife, Nadezda is very young and pretty, and conveniently, doesn’t speak a word of Czech. Louka doesn’t speak Russian, so things are off to a flying start. She also has a five-year-old son, Kolya.

“Not today thank you.”

A few days after the nuptials, Nadezda buggers off to West Germany, where her lover resides. She leaves Kolya behind with her aunt, who Kolya seems to know as his grandma. Grandma has a stroke and makes arrangements for Kolya to stay with his new step-dad, figuring that it’ll look better for Louka, since the cops are now aware of the sham marriage and are due to come calling any minute.

kolya (1)First of all, I have to say here that I love Kolya. He’s the sweetest little boy ever and frankly, I’d adopt him in a heart beat. Louka is less enamoured and finds the language barrier hard to take. He pleads with Mr. Broz to take him in instead but Mr. Broz already has an apartment full of children and puppies, so it’s a no-go area.

Louka has no choice but to march Kolya to the hospital to get the skinny on what’s going on with Grandma/Aunty. Alas, the poor woman is in no fit state to take over parental duties (dead, innit) and Louka finds no joy there. He writes a letter to Social Services and waits for someone to come.

In the meantime, as is always the way, Louka starts to come round. Kolya starts to pick up the Czech language and is the best behaved child I’ve ever seen on film, even if he is a bit of a cock-block (Louka takes in a sexy cello student and promptly tries to bang her, while Kolya is in the other room).

Being a massive man-whore actually works in Louka’s favour though as he’s able to call in favours with his women, who read stories to Kolya over the phone and nurse him when he’s unwell.

You can see where this is going, I’m sure and I don’t want to spoil absolutely every aspect of the film for you, but what goes up must come down and sadly, characters we’re rooting for can’t always get their own way just because we want them to. Yes, I ended up liking Louka. You knew I would, didn’t you?

Lederhosen: totally in this  season
Lederhosen: totally in this season

The two end up going on an adventure when Social Services come a-calling and tell Louka that the Russian government will want Kolya back. He also has to contend with the fuzz, who are twisting his melon over the matrimonial lie. By now our main men are inseparable, except by accident, and it’s adorable.

To the questions section! Will this story have a happy ending? What kind of horrible mother dumps her own son to go on the pull? Will Louka keep it in his pants ever and find real love? And while we’re at it, how come these women all find him so irresistible? Does he have a dick made of solid gold? (Sorry, Mum).

More importantly, where can I get an apartment as stunning as Louka’s? Sure, I could do without the over-familiar landlady but the views and the bohemian aesthetic are TDF!

My Thoughts: 

This film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996 and it’s not hard to see why. It’s excellent. Truly. I had all the feels throughout and maybe my emotions were especially weakened as I’d just got back from seeing Amy (2015) but I loved it.

I’m glad the main protagonist had to work to gain my respect. I’m glad all the characters, from the Good Cop/Bad Cop police officers on Louka’s case to his bad-tempered mother to Mr. Boz and Klára were well-formed and brilliant.

The actors are exceptional, particularly the little boy who plays Kolya. I’m just really glad we’re doing foreign cinema as I rate it so highly. Much as I do love Hollywood, European cinema often has more heart and soul.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of it with Jill.

My Rating: 

4.5/5 – Very very good.

So where’s Jill on this one? Find out here shortly.