The Great Blog Collab 2017: In Review

2017 has been a roller coaster with entirely not enough shark movies to show for it. But you can’t have it all, all of the time and hopefully we can rectify that this year.

As with all Blog Collab years there are high times and very, very low times which I’m here to pay homage to. You can access the whole list of 2017 films here.

In the meantime, here’s a little overview on what we got up to.

50 films.
Seven 5 out of 5 ratings.
Eight 3 out of 5 ratings (that’s my middle of the road rating).
One 1 out of 5 rating. And a whole lot of good times!

Highlights:

This was the year I finally watched Grey Gardens and it was as fabulously bizarre and wonderful as I expected it would be. We also enjoyed the tale of murderous mermaid sisters, which is another sub-genre of film I would pay good money to see more of.

Paris is Burning, Lion, A Dark Song and our first film of 2017, Divines were all ace.

And I think I speak for us both when I say that our standout moment was I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, a film with a main protagonist that we both firmly identified with. So much so that May was designated Melanie Lynskey Month, thus heralding our first Woman of the Year, which I’ve just thought of this second.

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“What do you want?”
“For people to not be assholes.”

~ Ruth, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Lowlights:

In contrast, Nazi Vengeance was a pile of steaming poop and Bright was a very poorly executed fantasy misfire which didn’t surprise us at all, somehow. There was just one shark movie, in which the only real ray of sunshine was a warrior woman who was eaten way too soon.

There were some dodgy possessions, the birth of one of the most famous couples in the world, Keira Knightley’s eyebrows, a charismatic cult leader and some very questionable Final Girl training montages.

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All in all, 2017 has been emotional – and I can only imagine where the next year will take us. I’ll be keeping a track of progress here.

A massive thank you to Jill for being my blog wife, my partner is shitty movie crime – and being a great friend IRL too. I might not say it enough but I am grateful for you every day, bae. Here’s to many more years together and a lifetime of being buds.

Bring it, 2018!

Christmas Inheritance (Film) Review

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GAH. Something that the Netflix UK needs to rectify in time for December 2018 is the lack of Hallmark Christmas movies it has to offer. While Jill has suggested so many amazing sounding Festive cheese fests for this month’s theme, I’ve struggled to get most of the titles here.

Thankfully – or not – Christmas Inheritance was one of the easier to get my glitter encrusted mitts on and so here we are. You can almost guess the entire plot from the film’s title too which is strangely comforting, and exactly what you need from a Christmas film.

*Spoilers*

Christmas Inheritance (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Before ambitious heiress Ellen Langford can inherit her father’s gift business, she must deliver a special Christmas card to her dad’s former partner in Snow Falls, the hometown she never knew.

My Review

Ellen Langford (Eliza Taylor) is a restless party girl with a douchey fiance who isn’t really interested in her and a fractious relationship with her dad. Mum passed on when she was younger and there’s something missing from her life. What on earth could that be, one wonders?

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Those pine needles are going to be a bitch to remove

While Dad is incredibly wealthy thanks to his successful gift company, he worries about Ellen and her lack of grounding. So after she shows herself up at a business function (cartwheeling into the Christmas tree, that’s my girl), he engineers a little task for her. Go and hand deliver a letter to his business partner Zeke in small town Snow Falls, where the dream for their company first began.

Ellen is reluctant to take this trip because she’s a princess – and is determined to conclude business and return the big apple (and her life) as soon she possibly can. She’s a little bemused as to what she’s supposed to discover in Snow Falls, though her father is insistent that she will learn a lesson here.

Things get off to an awkward start when local business owner Jake (Obvious Child’s Jake Lacy) accidentally runs over Ellen’s suitcase. He drives her to the the only B&B in town which he also just happens to own – so their paths are destined to cross again, who knew?

Jake runs the B&B with his aunt Debbie (Andie “Is it raining? I hadn’t noticed” MacDowell) and it’s a quaint little place full to bursting with embroidered cushions. Debbie it turns out used to date Ellen’s pa before he met and fell in love with her late ma.

Oh yes, and Ellen has arrived incognito – nobody knows she’s the daughter of famous Snow Falls resident Jim Langford – they know her under an assumed name: Ellie London (or something lame like that). It’s through Debbie’s reminiscing about Mrs Langford that Ellie learns what a kind and decent woman her mother was.

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“Not another fucking Christmas movie.”

Well, Snow Falls is a neat little town that thrives on Christmas Spirit and before long the community attitude starts to rub off on Ellie too. Uncle Zeke incidentally is nowhere to be found so while she waits around for him to show up, she’s left kicking her heels in town.

While beginning to enjoy her time, Ellie seems less absorbed in her own problems – and when a storm whips up, leaving lots of people stranded for the night, she mucks in just like everyone else, even agreeing to share her room with a young mother and her kid. At one point Ellie even goes and rounds up the town’s only homeless person and brings him back to the B&B where he’s welcomed with open arms (everyone is so freaking NICE, this town would drive me mad).

Jake starts to take note of Ellie after this, ‘cos everyone knows kindness = bangable. Jake, for the record, has been hurt by a previous love and is totes not interested in getting into another relationship ever again, much to Aunt Debbie’s dismay.

Meanwhile, Ellie has told Jake in a panic that she’s a baker but since she doesn’t know the back end of a mixing bowl from her own arse, Debbie soon works out that she isn’t what and who, she says she is. Ellie confides her true identity to Debbie and Debs agrees to teach her to bake so she can maintain the charade.

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Elle’s Christmas card that year was pretty awks

And, as Ellie warms to this charming way of life and spends more time with Jake, looking at snow sculptures and doing charity work (probably), a spanner arrives in the form of her fiance, Gray (Michael Xavier). Gray is dismissive of Snow Falls culture, takes the piss out of the new improved Ellie and breaks a promise to keep her identity hidden. He also cock blocks Jake, who’s everything Gray is not (boring, pious).

Anyway, Ellie is changing and so is her attitude to other people and she outdoes herself when she organises a kick arse collection of local crafts for a Christmas fayre (or something, I lost interest). But Jake is taken aback by her lies and the fact she is engaged to be married – and it feels as though there can never be a happy ending for anybody.

Shall we all just go home? But lo! What light through yonder window breaks? Is that Ellie dumping her fiance and returning to Snow Falls under her own steam because suddenly she understands what all this has been about?

Maybe.

And does this also mean that Uncle Zeke and Mr Langford have found the perfect person to take over the mantel of their business, and drive it into a bright and exciting future?

Maybe again.

I’d say slap this on, grab a cup of tea and a slice of Stollen – and let the good times roll. Christmas doesn’t have to be officially over until the 6th January (and then we all turn into pumpkins if we haven’t cleared away all evidence). So enjoy.

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Oooh pretty

My Thoughts

Look, there’s really no sense in critiquing this. It’s exactly as expected. The story line is predictable, the characters bland yet palatable. The scenery is cute and Gilmore-esque – and you can almost smell cinnamon emanating from the screen.

All in all this isn’t the worst I’ve seen this season. It’s pure Christmas comfort in 105 minutes.

My Rating

2/5. It’s fine.

But what does my beautiful wifey make of this? Would she leave it out in the cold or welcome it in for cookies? Find out here.

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Red Christmas (Film) Review

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Another Christmas horror to mark this very special month. What makes you feel more Christmassy than witnessing horrific deaths at the hand of a disturbed antagonist in a Santa’s hat? Nothing, that’s what.

I do have to say I’m a little bit Crimbo/Horror-ed out now but that’s okay because Jill and I are going to skip down the Hallmark path next. So expect lots of cheddar and/or stressed female execs finally learning the true meaning of Christmas via the medium of lust for a seemingly inappropriate male colleague.

Until then, my pretties.

*Spoilers*

Red Christmas (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

A mother must protect her family on Christmas Day from a demented stranger who is hell-bent on tearing them apart.

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Only the best framing for the family Christmas album

My Review

We begin this twisted tale with a strange abortion clinic montage that is both confusing and distressing, let’s be honest. There’s a lot of Pro Life bullshit chanting going on on screen which culminates in a bomb going off in the hospital/clinic. All this whilst a termination is in full swing.

Fast forward to Christmas Day several years later and lovely matriarch Diane is enjoying an Australian Christmas with her family. Her brood appears to be comprised of both adopted and biological children which isn’t really explained as far as I can tell but is probably a device to make you see what a good person she is. And she is, don’t get me wrong.

Right away we meet Jerry, Diane’s Down’s Syndrome son who is hands down the best character in this piece. Jerry is a lot of fun, taking the mick out of his mum and it is clear the two share an unshakeable bond. Well, we’ll see about that, horror fans!

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Team Jerry

We also meet a heavily preggo daughter and her doofish partner, her Christian sister, her vicar husband and an artsy misfit who’s name I didn’t even catch. Note: Don’t get too attached to anybody, that’s my advice. The crew obviously have some issues with one another, while the pregnant daughter is very unhappy with Diane, who has put the grand house she lives in on the market and is due to go travelling around Europe just after the festive period.

Pregnant Daughter maintains that it’s a selfish thing to do but Diane argues that since the death of her husband (who we learn has passed after a long illness), she has every right to throw caution to the wind for once in her life. The woman has like 7000 children so cut her a break, bitch.

Anyway, in the midst of a full blown argument in which sides are quickly drawn, there’s a knock on the door. Diane answers it to a bandaged figure in black grim reaper robes. The stranger is extremely polite though, stating that he’s only looking for his mother. Diane takes pity on him as good people are wont to do and invites him in, much to the horror of her children – and on this one I’m kind of with them.

The children are really unfriendly to the guest, who seems hellbent on reading out a letter he’s written to his aforementioned mother. Eventually the family relent and the stranger does just that. It’s just a shame then that his letter is full of judgement about abortion then, really. Diane reacts rather heatedly and the stranger is soon ejected from the house. Diane is ruffled considerably, given that she has a pregnant daughter in the house and also miscarried a baby in her own past.

The family vow to get on with their day but sadly for them, our friend has other ideas and it appears, an agenda of his own. One by one the family are picked off violently, starting with my potential favourite, the rebel daughter. The motivation for all this murder also becomes clearer as Diane eventually confesses (to the vicar, no less) that she didn’t miscarry after all but chose to abort the baby.

Sadly, while discussing this with her son-in-law, she mentions that fact that the baby had Down’s Syndrome like her son Jerry and he overhears her. Jerry then believes that she had never wanted him either and freaks the f**k out. Diane’s reason for the abortion isn’t that cut and dry though and hinged on the fact her husband was ill and she didn’t know if he was going to make it.

Also, Cletus (the stranger) is actually the aborted foetus who wasn’t actually aborted because his termination was interrupted by a bomb way back when (and Diane was so out of it she didn’t know). BOOM! (Both literally and in the sense that this story has now come round full circle). As a result he is hideously deformed, hence the bandaged face and hood.

Following Diane’s revelation, Jerry finds himself empathising with Cletus, who shares the same condition as he has. This is quite moving actually, amidst all the carnage.

In the meantime, everyone’s dying by Cletus’ hand, Preggo Daughter’s in labour and it’s a bloodbath, man. Will Cletus get what he’s set out to gain from all this? Which isn’t that clear but I believe to be reassurance that his mother loves him after all.

When he is rejected once again, you can kind of predict how the rest of it turns out.

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Pretty room though, non?

My Thoughts

I’m a bit baffled about the science of this plot. Maybe it’s explained better than I remember in the film but surely, the chances of a foetus surviving, albeit deformed and sickly, would be dependant on the stage at which is was terminated/not terminated? In the introduction it seems Cletus was rescued from a surgical bin amidst the hub bub of the attack on the clinic? I can suspend my disbelief I guess but there are questions.

Otherwise, this film conveniently puts together a patchwork of beliefs within the family, blending religious views with liberal ones and that’s sort of interesting. I couldn’t work out if the film had a judgemental tone regarding abortion or not, and my instinct is no. It just throws a topic in the ring and lets the characters go at it. The fact there’s a religious element shakes things up a little bit and I guess ultimately Cletus is a somewhat sympathetic character, thus asking you to consider his position.

There’s a lot of guilt flying around Diane’s head too and seems unfair she should be made to feel this way after everything she has given to her family. Any woman for that matter.

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Don’t be an anchor, Cletus

I did read somewhere that this film was beautifully lit and this is a very true statement. It’s stunning to look at. Maybe it should have been a silent movie instead. Also, it’s worth noting that Dee Wallace, who plays Diane is superb. She’s got a real horror pedigree (The Frighteners/Cujo/E.Fucking.T!) and you can tell she’s a pro when it comes to defending her home and loved ones from something terrible.

Props too to Gerard Odywer who is great as Jerry. When the film started I was really impressed that his character had Down’s Syndrome but nobody was making a big deal of it. This changed of course as Cletus’ storyline evolved but I’m not mad at it. I really want to see more actors with disabilities/learning difficulties in the mainstream and this was a good start.

So my consensus is: this is a weird film that tries but doesn’t quite deliver.

What did bae think of this one? Would she blend it in the face or save it from the bear traps? Find out here.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (Film) Review

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Kicking off December with a Christmas horror classic (?). This tale is all too real to be honest and I find myself siding with the (hot) antagonist, which is always rather worrying.

There’s not much more I need to say by way of introduction, other than – I think the Christmas/Horror hybrid sub-genre is one of my favourites.

*Spoilers*

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

IMDB Synopsis

After his parents are murdered, a tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior.

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Leave Billy alone!

My Review

You know what a little kid doesn’t need when he becomes an orphan? To be abused by a sadistic Mother Superior.

You know what a little orphan kid who’s witnessed the slaying of his entire family at the hands of an evil burglar dressed as Santa Claus especially doesn’t need? To be abused by a sadistic Mother Superior. And here’s me remembering how hard I had it learning GCSE Maths from Sister Ursula and her extra long metal ruler.

From the beginning:

Billy and his family go to visit his catatonic grandfather in a nursing home on Christmas Eve. Gramps is completely unresponsive to everyone around him until Billy is left alone with him for a moment, and then it’s party central. Gramps grabs Billy and tells him a horrifying story about Santa Claus and what he does to naughty kids when they’ve been shits. Poor Billy is terrified and his parents aren’t particularly sympathetic when he tells them about it later.

This might have turned into an amusing anecdote for Billy to regale his own family with years later had it not coincided with a criminal dressed as the big man himself running their car off the road and then killing everyone but Billy and for no good reason, either.

Years later and the orphan Billy is getting a lot of shit from the Mother Superior as mentioned above. The woman is horrible and completely unsympathetic to anything vaguely childlike (kind of my hero) – and she especially takes pleasure in spanking naughty kids. She also forces Billy to be around Santa, even though she knows how triggering the notion of Saint Nic is to this poor child.

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Nice work uniform, Billy

The only real light on the horizon is Sister Margaret who totally has Billy’s back and tries to do what she can to make his life better. Ten years later and Billy is a buff young honey who gets a job in a toy shop. This is great and we even get a working hard montage to show us how well he’s getting on in the professional world.

Billy is clearly well-loved and enjoys a flirtation with a pretty young colleague. The only fly in the ointment is the Christmas period and it gets worse for Billy when he’s promoted to store Santa. Can you even imagine what that would do to a person?

Billy gets on with it as stoically as he can, though on the night of the office party something inside him snaps and he does something he can never take back (clue: it’s not getting off with the slightly creepy dude from Accounts).

And the thing is, once he gets going he can’t stop – so eager is he to punish the naughty people of the world. Some of his victims deserve to be sliced and diced (rapists/nasty bullies) and some of them don’t really (highly sexed babes/his boss) but Billy is relentless in his judgement. He slaughters with gay abandon and it all seems to be leading up to a terrible swan song: revenge on the old bitch that made a nasty situation so much worse…

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“What do you mean red isn’t my colour?!”

Sister Margaret teams up with the feds to try and track down Billy, whom she still has every sympathy for and sidenote: she totally reminds me of Doctor Lomax in Halloween. In a race against time, Margaret and co have to get to the orphanage before actual hell breaks loose.

Can they save Billy from himself and MP from the fate she so richly deserves before it is #toolate?

Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

This does exactly what it says on the tin. The eighties vibe is deeply enjoyable and Billy looks super cute in his Santa suit – the killings are OTT and satisfying. There’s a lot of boob and classic horror movie tropes (aka the slut gets it) which is fun but also highly offensive and tiresome by today’s standards. I’d like a remake please.

Billy saves his work crush from potential rape but then murders her because she’s a witness to his first murder – or is it because he’s judging her by her bad behaviour aka putting herself in a situation where she could get herself raped? Or… is it because she rejected him in the first place?

Billy is all shades of messed up and who can honestly be surprised about that? If only he’d got the help he deserved in the beginning, eh? I think it’s an interesting take on PTSD and for a change not just a clichéd escaped mental patient storyline.

Sure it could have been way better but I like it for the kitsch value. And I’m 100% on Billy’s side – fuck everyone.

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Billy with have NUN of your nonsense, Mother Superior

My Rating

3.5/5. Fun. Bloody. Silly af.

What does my queen think? Would she lop this one’s head off or… not? Find out here!

Burn Burn Burn (Film) Review

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Jill’s pick and obviously this prompted rather a lot of daydreaming about going on a road trip together. How fun? The one in this film might be somewhat bittersweet but still, anywhere is good when you’ve got your best girlfriend by your side, right?

RIGHT?

*Spoilers*

Burn Burn Burn (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Following the death of their friend, two girls in their late twenties embark on a road trip to spread his ashes. Seph and Alex take turns driving. Dan is in the glove compartment, in tupperware, decreasing in volume as the trip progresses.

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This scene is all too familiar

My Review

Dan has just died of cancer and his last wish is to have his two best friends, Seph and Alex (Laura Carmichael and Chloe Pirrie) scatter his ashes in several personal hotspots across the country. The girls must watch a video made just for them at every point to understand why each destination was important to him.

But as these plans are wont to do, things go array along the way and Dan may well have known this would happen, for it prompts the girls to face the aspects of their lives that are holding them back. For Seph it’s a relationship gone off the boil, while Alex’s relationship with her mother is damaged beyond repair (or is it?). There are other issues at the surface for Alex too, given she’s just caught her girlfriend doing it with someone else.

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“What’s wrong with my fucking hat?”

This is a good film that offers some really joyous moments. For instance, on one of their first nights on the road, Seph and Alex meet some fucking hippies who seem to offer them exactly what they need at the time. The following morning, however, the charming and inspirational couldn’t be more irritating and the pair do what any sensible people would do in the same situation (drive off as fast as their old banger will  carry them).

Somewhere near the end, Alex finds herself literally tied to the cross for an emotional confrontation with her best friend – and it’s hard not to find the whole set up surreal and amusing. I’m also a fan of the dialogue which is zippy and wise-cracking whilst also remaining convincing.

There are are decisions to made on the road, hearts to be broken for the greater good and truths to be told – all the while delivering on a promise to a dead loved one. It’s not an original premise but it is empowering and genuinely touching in places.

My Thoughts

I really appreciate the chemistry between the two leads. I buy them as friends who sometimes fight ferociously and I want them to make it through. When they argued, I felt bad. When they were happy, I wanted to be in the car with them.

And when they delivered an old women in distress to her son in Scotland, like Alex, I wanted to text my own mother immediately. In fact, I did. I think this film is a good reminder of the few people we have in our lives that are actually worth putting the work in for.

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She’s obviously got EE

My Rating

3/5. Nice. Not amazing but good and confident and life-affirming.

Did my wife like this one? Would she take it on a road trip or scatter it in the bin? Find out here, now.

Lion (Film) Review

How am I supposed to review a film that has ripped out my heart without so much as a hello and then stomped it coldly into the carpet?

This film made me Green Mile sob and it was not a pretty sight, let me assure you. It is also uplifting and pure – and stars one of the most attractive human beings on this planet. Like, for real, is Dev Patel made of stars and light?

I chose this because I knew Jill has had it on her list for a long time and selfishly, I also felt as though I was personally ready for it. I may have been wrong on that count but what’s done is done now.

Shall we?

*Spoilers*

Lion (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

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I’m in love with Dev, I’m not lion

My Review

One fateful night the lives of Saroo and his family are changed forever when he gets separated from his brother on the railways and ends up miles from home. Aged just five years old, Saroo can’t understand Bengali and somehow finds himself in Calcutta where the population speaks it. People seem very unwilling to help this tiny person or if they do lend a hand, there’s a sinister motive in mind. It’s a wild world out there and no place for a little boy alone.

Saroo finds himself just about surviving on the streets but is eventually picked up and taken to an orphanage where things are pretty dire for all the children, particularly those subject to abuse. Fate intervenes again when a few years later, Saroo is adopted by a kindly couple living in Australia. Although he has doubts about how hard the authorities actually searched for his mother on his behalf, he has little choice but to move forward into his new life.

Sue and John Brierley (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) are the sweetest, with what appears to be a bottomless well of love and understanding. They give Saroo a great life. A year after he arrives in Australia, the Brierleys adopt another little boy called Mantosh, who has been through a lot of pain and turmoil himself.

Twenty-five years later, Saroo is all grown up and starting out on his own with a place at college and a girlfriend. He has nothing but support from his family, though things are rocky between him and Mantosh, who has never been able to put his demons to rest. Despite the many blessings in his life, Saroo is haunted by the family he left behind and longs to meet them again.

A conversation with friends about the truth of his circumstances prompts Saroo to begin the search, though he keeps it from his mum to begin with. Our boy inevitably finds himself consumed with the quest and new technology (new for the time) seems to bring him closer to the answers. Or not, as it seems impossible really, like searching for a needle in a haystack.

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Same

This obsession bleeds into everything around him and Saroo drifts from his mother and father. He pushes his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara) away, sickened by the material privilege they have both enjoyed in life. He is haunted by memories and visions of his mum and brother Guddhu as they were all those years ago – and consumed with guilt at what their loss must have done to them.

Eventually, Saroo has to tell his mother what he’s been doing, as she’s scared she’s losing him. Mantosh has a long history of drug abuse and she’s not coping terribly well with it. As expected, Sue shows no sign of negativity about Saroo’s project and encourages him to go for it – because she is a goddamn hero and saint.

Will Saroo finally track down his mother and siblings (he also has a sister)? Find out for yourselves by watching this film, please. It’s fucking great.

Bring tissues.

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I’d be quite willing to be adopted by the Brierleys myself

My Thoughts

My heart, man. This was way, way too much. All the performances are unreal but the true standout star here has to be Sunny Pawar who plays the five-year-old Saroo. He just makes you feel so protective of him as he wanders the streets, lost and alone. Dev Patel too is a dream, while Kidman will break your heart as kind-hearted Sue Brierly, who genuinely wanted to give love and care to two children who needed it.

We both felt as if… the world has enough people in it. Have a child, couldn’t guarantee it will make anything better. But to take a child that’s suffering like you boys were. Give you a chance in the world. That’s something. ~ Sue Brierley

Saroo’s adoptive brother Mantosh (Divian Ladwa of Detectorists) is also great. I can’t imagine the life these boys lived, particularly Mantosh who was so troubled. I’m just happy he found some love in the form of him new family, even through all his pain.

I guess you could look at this film as a very obvious Oscar contender with the sole objective of making you cry. It manipulates you effortlessly as movies like this are wont to do but I’m sorry, I was in from the get go. It’s a lovely story. It’s just very sad that so many thousands of young children go missing in India every year and not all of them have the fortune of being adopted by a comfortable white couple.

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Leave Saroo alone! (Or rather, Don’t leave Saroo alone!)

My Rating

5/5. So good and such an unbelievable, believable story. It will make your heart sour, plummet and then sour once more.

What did Jill think of this one? Was it worth the wait? Would she leave it alone in the street or give it a home, no questions asked? Find out here.

Final Girl (Film) Review

Week 2 of Films That Remind Us of Each Other and Jill chose this. Which I was kind of excited about – my girl gets me.

Men suck and some even more than others. Predatory men for instance, which is all too topical at the moment. That makes this an interesting pick for reasons beyond me being into the Final Girl Trope. But is it good though? Find out below!

*Spoilers*

Final Girl (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A man teaches a young woman how to become a complete weapon. Later she is approached by a group of sadistic teens who kill blonde women for unknown reasons. The hunting season begins.

My Review

Veronica is five when her parents pass away. It’s at this age that she meets a mysterious (creepy) man called William. When he questions her about their deaths, her pragmatic approach impresses him. When she displays total recall memory skills during a couple of tests, he recruits her for a special project for a special person. He also reveals that his own family were killed by a Very Bad Man, which one would assume is his raison d’être though it is never mentioned again so who knows, eh?

It’s all very enigmatic (and creepy, did I say creepy?).

Fast forward 12 years and Veronica is now a young woman with an impressive collection of prom style dresses. She’s also in love with William but we’ll come back to that later (boy will we). There are a handful of training montages which are somewhat satisfying as I live for a training montage.

We witness several hardcore exercises William puts his protégé through in order to mold her into the ultimate killing machine. In the last test, he injects her with a truth serum/DMT cocktail that reveals her darkest fears. Her nightmare turns out to be letting down William by not being good enough. Aw and also Grrr.

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Training to be a Badass 101: How to look good in questionable headgear

Done with training and finally ready for action, William and Veronica rock up in a small town where some teenage turds have been ‘hunting’ women in the woods. You may wonder how the fuck they know this is going down but let’s suspend our disbelief for the sake of this review for a moment.

Before we go into all that though, I need to mention the icky atmosphere between V and William. In a hotel room before the action gets started, V asks if she can lie on the bed next to him (she’s wearing a towel, he’s being all brooding). William says no until he begrudgingly (but with little persuasion) says yes and might I remind everyone that that the girl was five when they first met.

WEIRD and FUCKING CREEPY.

Back in small town America, and gang ringleader Jameson and his fuckhead buddies Daniel, Nelson and Shane are luring pretty blond girls into the woods and then hunting them down. Each of these heinous douche bags are literally the worst and you will hate them with the fire of a thousand suns and it’s okay – they won’t last long.

Veronica, predictably, goes down like pizza on a Monday night with the boys and arranges a date with Jameson for the following evening. He tells her to wash her hair and wear red lipstick. How she refrains from stabbing him in the neck right here is beyond me.

V also finds time to meet Shane’s girlfriend at the diner, a sad brunette who she really seems to bond with. The two discuss love and relationships over vanilla milkshakes. Alas, this might be a film with a Girl Power-esque message but, apart from a very brief chat between the two women,  Veronica never interacts with any other live female (maybe a waitress). I wish that had been different.

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Toot toot, all aboard the dickhead mobile!

Anyway, the rest you can imagine, I’m sure. Veronica is driven out to the woods by Jameson and his dick swinging pals and even though she knows full well what they have planned for her, it is very uncomfortable to watch. I felt protective of V despite the fact I already knew she could kill a man with her bare hands – these bastards!

Once the group gets to the woods, they play Truth or Dare and enjoy a beverage, thoughtfully provided by V. Jameson refrains from partaking as designated driver. T&D is a tiresome affair with no surprises – but after a couple of rounds the real games begin.

One by one the tables are turned on each of the boys, as it becomes clear they’ve ingested the very concoction Veronica herself has previously taken (SHOCKER). Each of their worst nightmares come to life and it doesn’t end well for any of them. They have underestimated the power of a small blond girl and that is their ultimate downfall. Oooooooooh!

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Axe yourself if this is where you want to be on a Saturday night, V

Until the very final battle between V and Jameson, there is very little to note about these scenes. It looks pretty, as does V but it’s a very by the numbers ‘thriller’ without the thrills. As Veronica and Jameson square up to each other for the climactic scene, it seems each has met their match.

Will Veronica complete her mission and get justice for all the dead girls, despite this not really seeming to be her main objective? Or will she join the ghosts of the deceased right there in the woods?

You know what to do.

What’s black & white and creepy all over?

My Thoughts

I really did find the so-called sexual tension between William and Veronica weird. Although William didn’t make moves on her, he definitely didn’t put up barriers between them and that’s icky. In the final scene (*Spoiler*) it feels like something shifts between them, suggesting that they do move their relationship forward. EW.

Everything that he has done to her over the years, the robbing her of a fucking childhood and life of her own is repugnant and at no point do I truly believe in either of them. If it had been for something, some dramatic yet justified cause then maybe, but it is not enough for them just to be adopting the vigilante lifestyle because they lost people once. V lost her parents in sad but a non-suspicious way, while William alludes to the bad man but never elaborates on it ever again. So I’m at a loss to understand or care about their motivations.

It’s a misogynistic film that tries to pull out the strong female lead card which is all well and good, but not really when she’s been groomed from such an early age to be just some dude’s machine. Like Jill said in a message to me, it would of been good if she’d turned around and killed William, finally freeing herself. I’d have been pleased if she’d followed that by running off with Jennifer, the girl from the diner truth be told.

The film itself is nice looking but the plot is so full of holes I can’t take it seriously. It’s deeply disappointing as in the right hands, under the right circumstances this premise could’ve been great. I can’t look beyond the cringe of it all.

Abigail Breslin was okay but not great. And that’s about it.

FUCK THE FUCKING PATRIACHY

My Rating

2.5/5. Nope. Not much to write home about.

What did my Final Girl Jillian think of this one? Would she chase it through the woods or kicks everyone’s arse to save it? Find out here, yo.

Madame Bovary (Film) Review

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Jill and I are trying something new this month. Picking films that remind us of each other. Which is harder than you think, even when you feel like you know the other person pretty well, even when you have similar tastes.

Ideally I would have found a film that combines our love of sharks and lesbian sex workers but until Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Margaret is made (and it needs to be), I’m shit outta luck. Instead I’ve tapped into Jillian’s love of period dramas and literature (‘cos she’s a librarian, innit?) and chosen this one. I know, right, I’m a genius.

The fact it stars some of the most exciting actors of our generation (Ezra Miller, Mia Wasikowska) and is based on one of my favourite books has nothing to do with it, I swear!

*Spoilers!*

Madame Bovary (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

Bored in her marriage to a country doctor and stifled by life in a small town, the restless Emma Bovary pursues her dreams of passion and excitement, whatever they may cost.

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Confessions of a Shopaholic

A lifetime ago a guy I worked with gave me a dog-eared copy of Madame Bovary and said that I reminded him of Emma. I thanked him, not knowing the full story yet and that was that. Until I read it. That comparison had not been complimentary!

I’ve since revised my feelings on this, as I’ve got to know myself better. I do see myself in Emma Bovary in a very profound way, good or bad and I think it’s okay. It’s human nature to want more from life and although she’s an extremist in many ways, she’s an intriguing character and I love her.

 “I will not remain inert, standing in a fever of despair.” ~ Emma Bovary

My Review

Emma (Wasikowska) has just been married off to the handsome Doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) and although the union seems initially promising, it soon transpires that the new bride has a lot expected of her by way of customary behaviour.

The Bovary’s home is a pretty one but it is modest (not by my standards obviously) and Emma seems initially let down by the prospect of her new life here. There’s only so much plink plinking on the piano and needlepoint a person can take. The Doctor is largely absent, both physically and emotionally – and it doesn’t take Emma long to cast her gaze outward.

To begin her desire for something greater manifests itself in her shopping habits (I hear you, girlfriend). When the slick Monsieur Lheureux (Rhys Ifans) comes a-knocking with his fine Parisian wares, promising generous credit, what’s a bored woman to do?

All fun and games until someone loses their line of credit

From here, Mrs B’s wandering eye finds itself trained on young idealist Léon Dupuis (Miller) who waxes lyrical about travel and his love of music. Literal heart eyes are exchanged but when push comes to shove, our heroine cannot see it through and rejects him. Which sees Dupuis fleeing from their small town and onto better things presumably.

Dismayed, Emma focuses once again on material possessions and doing up the house, accepting more and more credit from Lheureux. Meanwhile, Charles either doesn’t notice or chooses not to and Emma is left to her own devices. When she meets the dashing Marquis d’Andervilliers (Logan Marshall-Green), sparks fly again for our caged bird – and an affair begins (but only after he pressures her into it first. RED FLAG, Ems).

Drunk in love (or lust) and with fantasies of a richer lifestyle, Emma plans to run away with the Marquis but predictably, at the nth hour, he loses momentum and abandons her instead. Because MEN. Emma is beside herself and you guessed it, shops her cares away.

Hat’s off to you, Marquis

A chance meeting in the city brings The Bovarys and Mr Dupuis back together, and now much worldlier after her first affair, Emma manipulates her way back into Léon’s heart. Charles trusts his wife so sees no harm in leaving her in Dupuis’ company overnight and that proves a mistake for all parties involved.

Meanwhile, debtors are calling on Emma and she is struggling to keep her affairs both in order and secret from her husband. Charles’ father dies and leaves him a considerable nest egg, which Lheureux suggests could be the answer to all her financial woes. Emma’s not so convinced and goes to the Marquis for money, which he refuses her.

Léon too starts to regret his part in this romance and, choosing his career over his mistress, leaves Emma again. Caught up finally in all her lies, Emma takes drastic action. If you know the story, you know.

Same

My Thoughts

Goddamn it. This could be my life story. You know, without all the sexy liaisons and needlework. I love my life but have the worst shopping addiction – although it’s more or less in check now – I have definitely sought solace in new things to add colour and magic to my life in times of stress and uncertainty. Emma’s motivation might be more extreme than mine but she definitely exists within me.

This film looks good, Mia’s central performance is great but it’s a little lackluster if I’m honest. The costuming is sumptuous too. That purple ensemble Emma wears to a funeral is rocking. But the movie itself didn’t set my world on fire.

I think this story is very dismissive of the female right to have her own dreams. Emma is cast as the villainess of the piece for her selfish actions but I don’t see her that way. She’s not particularly likeable maybe but FFS what was she supposed to do? Pretty sure I’d be doing the same if I wasn’t afforded the freedom I have to do whatever the fuck I like.

My Rating

3/5. Mostly for Ezra Miller’s cheekbones. 

How did Jillian feel about this period piece? Would she rack up debts just to impress it or jilt it? Find out here of course.

Night of the Living Deb (Film) Review

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The last in our Halloween month for another year and I’m feeling blue about that. But there’s not a lot of time for crying when there’s a film review to be done and this week’s pick looks set to be fun if nothing else.

Here’s hoping.

*Spoilers*

Night of the Living Deb (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

After a girls’ night out, endearingly awkward Deb wakes up in the apartment of the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine. She’s thrilled, but she can’t remember much of what got her there….

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Same, sister

My Review

Deb (Maria Thayer) is an awkward redhead and therefore hugely relateable (though it turns out she’s an idiot savant, so not so average after all). While out sinking jars at the bar with her best friend Ruby, she’s cajoled into talking to a hot guy, despite her self-doubt. Although said hottie is in a relationship, the two hit it off enough to spend the night together.

In the morning, Ryan (Michael Cassidy) is eager to get Deb out of his apartment, claiming no memory of their one night stand. Despite Debs’ best efforts, she is forced to concede defeat when Ryan fails to fall for her charms again. She takes his hints finally but there’s a snag in the pair’s goodbye: zombie apocalypse.

While they’re been doing their thing it seems that most of the town has been overrun by bloody lusty zombies. Ryan might be something of a dickhead but he does allow Deb back up to his to think about their next move. That she has a car makes her suddenly more appealing to Ryan and together they hatch a plan to drive to his father’s estate, where an escape route has already been mapped out.

The new unlikely companions share a little family history on their way to Frank Waverly’s (Ray Wise) and Ryan is patronisingly surprised to learn that Deb has basic local knowledge of who Frank is because of her job as a news network camera person. He also reveals that his father runs the most ethically unsound business ever (water treatment of some sort) and therefore goes against everything he personally stands for. (Ooooh, foreshadowing!).

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“Wait a minute. This isn’t the Bake Off audition…”

Frank is reluctant to welcome a stranger into the fold, given that their escape helicopter (rich people, amiright?) is only prepared for four. But Ryan insists that Deb stay. This is pretty awkward given that his girlfriend Stacy (Syd Wilder) is also at the house – and she’s not the fluffiest of souls. Brother Chaz is a douche bag too, secretly in love with his brother’s girl who he’s also been sleeping with.

Anyway, there’s some misunderstanding and Deb decides to leave the Waverlys to it. Along the way she uncovers the cause of the zombie breakout (remember the foreshadowing) and this leads to a dangerous altercation with the military. Frank Waverly turns out to be willing to lay his life on the line for his son and that kind of makes him okay in my book.

There’s loads of zombie shenanigans and our plucky pair begin to bond (who knew?). Deb opens up about her dream of becoming a news anchor and Ryan is actually so bland, I can’t even remember what he talks about.

Then Deb has a brainwave and our new heroes peg it to the news station to make a satellite broadcast to the rest of the world about what it going on in their town (and has been covered up by the government).

Will they survive this end of days? Will they get it together despite their massive differences as human beings?

Will you care? 

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Running from their decisions to make this film

My Comments

Meh. Horror comedy is pretty difficult to smash out of the ball park and this definitely doesn’t do that. It isn’t terrible, it’s just instantly forgettable and kind of boring. Which is a shame as I wanted to like Deb.

Why did she have to be so boy-obsessed though and then secretly smart and cool? It’s kind of patronising. I get that it’s a comment on one night stands and never really knowing them until you take the time to but still.

It seems a bit dated for a 2015 movie, I guess is what I’m getting at. I get that we women have needs and are allowed to like men but the ditzy boy-crazy heroine seems a little 80’s and not in a John Hughes charming way.

Also, genuinely, justice for poor Ruby!

My Rating

2.5/5. Missed the mark for me. 

What did my darling wife think? Would she eat it’s braaaaaaaains or put a bullet in it’s head no questions asked? Find out here.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (Film) Review

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Not much preamble this time around – just a whole lot of paranoia in a super-seventies setting. Hurrah!

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

IMDB Synopsis

A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.

My Review

Jess (Zohra Lampert) is elated to be out of the institute she’s been residing in. If she’s haunted by her time there, it doesn’t show, at least not initially. She seems very optimistic, even child-like in her excitement to be ‘free’.

She’s on the road with her husband Duncan (Barton Heyman) and his hippy friend Woody who’s along for the ride for some inexplicable reason. The couple (and their third wheel) are driving in a hearse toward their new life in remote Connecticut.

Which, horror fans, could never go wrong. FYI Jess is still seeing things, in the form of a young blonde woman trying to get her attention but to save face, she’s keeping that to herself for now.

When they arrive in their new town, they’re bemused to find a not-very warm welcome awaiting them. The pretty much all male community are openly hostile, guess they just don’t like out-of-towners. Our rag tag trio laugh it off, even when the ferryman to their tiny island mumbles something ominous under his breath. (Seriously, have these people not heard of red flags?).

Things get freakier when they arrive at the house and Jessica sees a strange woman on the porch. She thinks she’s losing her shit again but it soon transpires that the others can see her too and when they chase her down, she reveals herself to be Emily (Mariclare Costello), a drifter who’s been squatting in the house while it’s been empty. Liberties.

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Riding in hearses with boys

Jess sees something of a kindred spirit in Emily and invites her to stay the night. DON’T DOOOOOO ITTTT! Sensing that Woody is into her, Jess then persuades Duncan to let her stay indefinitely. HONESTLY, DON’T! I would say for a woman who has previously been treated for her fear and paranoia of literally everything, Jess is very trusting and non-suspicious. I think this makes me love her but also want to stab anyone who wrongs her – and strange girls in remote locations seldom turn out to be baggage free, not in the movies, just saying.

Anywhoo, the gang become quite tight and all is well and good for a while, until Jess is grabbed from below the water by what looks like a dead lady during a swim. She understandably freaks de fuq out but nobody believes her and this irritates me. I mean, I get it but at least try and be kind guys, could you?

Duncan and Jess decide to sell some of the antiques in the house to a local dealer. The dealer is a little friendlier than the others and tells the couple a horrifying story about a girl who drowned in the lake behind their house just before her wedding day in the 1800s. Rumour has it the body was never found and that she roams the island as a vampire (sure). Duncan gets shirty about this, fearing it will freak out his wife but she tells him his constant worrying is the thing making her ill. You go, Jessie.

Meanwhile, Jess can sense the sexy tension between her husband and Emily – and she does not like it one bit. It comes to a head when she goes grave rubbing (exactly what it says on the tin), sees the blonde girl again and is lead by her to a rather macabre scene. Her so-called friends do not believe her about the body she’s just uncovered (yeah, the macabre scene is the body of the antiques dealer) but they do see the girl. So at least there’s that. The girl runs off when she sees Emily… hmm.

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Jess was not a Free Hugs kind of gal

Later Duncan suggests that Jess goes back to the city (AKA hospital) and she makes him sleep on the couch. GOOD. While here Duncan does something he will live to regret and I don’t care anymore. If you’ve seen one douchey husband in film, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

Anyway, lots of awful things happen from hereon-in. Jess is made to feel like she’s a liability and she finally puts two and two together about her new frenemy, Emily (even though we’ve arrived here ourselves already) – and it all goes to Hell, quite literally. The fact Jess is a supposed nut-job goes against her so hard at the end.

As usual though this is a lesson in stranger danger. The mental health element could be worse but is still clunky and annoying. I find Duncan quite quick to disbelieve his wife who is a joyous person. In my version of this film Jess would get sick of the bland men and start a new life with super-vixen Emily while the townsmen do their evil bidding instead. Now that would be a GREAT film.

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Who run this island?

My Thoughts

I won’t pretend that this is the scariest movie of all time, or even the most dynamic. However, it is atmospheric and builds up the feeling of paranoia well. Most of the characters are the worst (not you, Jess) so I don’t really care about their outcome. It bothers me that a mouse gets elaborately murdered halfway through the film (I had to cover my gerbils’ eyes). Otherwise, there’s a nice 70’s sheen to this movie.

Fin.

My Rating

3/5. Eery.

What did my love think of this one? Would she bite in the neck and turn it into something inhuman or take it for a ride in her hearse? Find out here.