An Evening with Aubrey Plaza 💜

This week we hosted movie night at our place and the title of choice was the long-awaited (by us), An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn. We had James and Gary over because the three of us went to a Q&A session with the film’s director Jim Hosking back when he released his first feature, The Greasy Strangler so it’s fast becoming a tradition of ours.

The film itself was wonderful and weird but my main takeaway is how bloody fit Aubrey Plaza is. So this is my tribute post to the woman herself (and of course the sublime style of her BLL character, Lulu Danger). 

My favourite AP moments to date:

Child’s Play (2019)

The CP franchise is one of my all-time favourite things and the original Chucky is my homeboy – so I’m in two minds about next year’s reboot. HOWEVER, it does feature Miss Plaza and also Brian Tyree Henry so I am going to remain open-minded. 

I haven’t seen too much by way of teaser images from the movie yet but what I have seen snatched from behind-the-scenes looks positive. AP plays a young mother who gives her son a cute doll for is birthday and absolutely nothing whatsoever goes wrong. Ever.

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

IGW is one of the bleakest movies I’ve seen in recent times wrapped in the perfect Instagram filter. AP is the titular Ingrid, a troubled woman with a tendency to stalk her prey relentlessly. When she stumbles across Insta famous Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), she is no exception. Ingrid moves to Cali to befriend her and will stop at nothing to get the girl. With consequences. 

Well, this might so far be Plaza’s best role as she unravels before our very eyes, a grieving messed up protagonist who makes you assess your own social behaviours and never really learns her lesson. I actually feel like watching this again today (and I probably will) but it is very far from a feel-good movie and not the Christmas classic I had envisioned for my afternoon of present wrapping. 

*Shrug*

Legion (2017-2019)

Don’t expect me to explain any of this show to anyone at any point because I don’t think I really understood it but Lenny Busker (Plaza) is my stand-out.

BFF of lead character David Haller (Dan Stevens), A LOT of shit goes down for her and I haven’t seen Season 2 yet so there’s a heap I still don’t know. All I know is that when AP is onscreen, I don’t really care about anyone else – and that’s a super power in itself. 

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018)

Lulu Danger is dead pan AF but underneath her stony exterior lies a woman on a mission. A mission to get back to her former lover, the mysterious Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson). Teaming up with love-sick Colin (Jemaine Clement), Lulu runs away from her horrible husband Shane (Emile Hirsch) to track down and confront BLL, a man presumed dead years before. 

Lulu isn’t particularly pleasant to anybody but she rocks the dopest outfits and has a heart underneath it all. Will she end up with her former beau Beverly, return to her douche bag husband or start a new life with a new prospect? All that matters is Plaza tbh but the film is hilarious, treading a very fine line between oddball and hysterical. 

Cue the slideshow, bitches.

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What are your favourite Plaza moments?

Citizen Ruth (Film) Review

Nothing ushers in the festive period like a film about a well-publicised (fictional) abortion tussle.

Although I should say, it’s my fault this one falls on what should be the beginning of Christmas Movie Month. Unfortunately, my social calendar stopped me from viewing and posting this film on time last week (boo hoo). Both Jill and I agreed we weren’t quite ready for Xmas though so who honestly cares?

*Spoilers*

The Movie

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Director

Alexander Payne

Cast

Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Kay Place

IMDB Synopsis

An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.

“I don’t wanna go back to jail again. Least not for more than a week or two.” ~ Ruth

My Review

Ruth doesn’t lead what you would call the traditional life. In fact, if we’re being blunt, she lives quite a pitiful existence and has little to call her own. She’s addicted to any substance she can get her hands on, does not have a fixed address and has four children she never sees, split across three different homes. I’m not judging her at this point, these are just facts.

When she’s arrested for “illegal inhalation” for the nth time (who’s counting?), she hits an extra snag. She finds out she’s pregnant again and the judge, who’s had enough, decides she should be tried for “felony criminal endangerment of a fetus” – a much more serious charge that will carry substantial jail time. It is ironic then when he pulls her aside later and tells her he’ll be much more lenient on her if she gets rid of the problem instead.

Well, Ruth is on the same page but in clink she meets a band of “Baby Savers” who have been kicking up a stink outside some abortion clinics, and shit starts to get real. Taken under the wing of The Stoneys (Kurtwood Smith and Mary Kay Place), it soon becomes clear what their agenda is. They provide a comfortable home and board but at what cost, eh Ruth?

Things are nice and cosy for a while but Ruth soon finds their son’s modelling glue and well, you can guess the rest…

Good clean fun

So family friend Diane (Kurtz) steps in to help out with the care of Ruth (who has lapsed spectacularly more than once). She quickly reveals herself to be an undercover spy for the Pro-choice brigade, working the Baby Savers from the inside. Which is great, right? Well, nobody really comes off well in this movie, even the ones I naturally agree with.

Ruth finds herself swept away by Diane and her moon-serenading girlfriend Rachel (Kelly Preston) to a remote home in the woods, where they are protected by Harlan (M.C. Gainey) a sort of volunteer security guard. With both sides fighting hard to keep her onside, what the fuck is messed up Ruth supposed to do?

And when the cash offers start rolling in – first of all from the Baby Savers, then Harlan’s personal bank account to even the playing field – Ruth gets even more twisted. The woman has nothing and will take direction from the highest bidder, surely?

I guess the most immediate question is: Will Ruth go through with the termination or change her mind at the last minute?

I need this t-shirt. STAT.

My Thoughts

I don’t really know what to feel and I really don’t know how to talk about what this film really means. I mean, it’s an abortion ‘comedy’ which is always going to be a hard one to carry off but I like it for that.

It speaks bluntly about women’s choices and the autonomy they should have over their own bodies – but it’s also a look at fanaticism and the dehumanisation of the subject when it comes to the war of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Both sides are very keen to tell Ruth what to do and aren’t really concerned with what she thinks or feels.

I’m gonna stay here. and I’m gonna have that abortion like I wanted. ‘Cause I’m a citizen and… and I got my rights to, um, PICK! ~ Ruth

I don’t like anybody in this movie, least of all Ruth who is frustrating in so many ways. She’s a mess and nobody is really offering her the help she needs, if she even wants it, which I don’t think she does. There isn’t one character anyway I feel the need to cheer for and that’s an odd feeling.

“Cheer up love, it might ne… oh.”

However, I really enjoy the fact that there is no redemption arc for Ruth. It would be forced and disingenuous for her to finally become a decent person at the end of all this. The movie’s climax is perfect and feels authentic, even if it is bleak AF.

Also, Laura Dern is The Queen.

My Rating

3/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she boycott it or let it make its own decisions in life? Find out here.

Shirkers (Film) Review

Free for all month and I went a little rogue this week, pulling this delightful documentary from my Netflix list. I didn’t really know what to expect but I’m glad I chose it to be honest as it is a delight.

I will say though that I find reviewing documentaries slightly harder than your average film and I’m not sure why. I guess it’s harder to snark on real life experience? Who knows.

*Spoilers*

The Movie

Shirkers (2018)

Director

Sandi Tan

Cast

Sandi Tan, Sophia Siddique HarveyGeorges CardonaJasmine Kin Kia Ng

IMDB Synopsis

In 1992, teenager Sandi Tan and her friends Sophie and Jasmine shot Singapore’s first indie-a road movie called “Shirkers” with their enigmatic American mentor, Georges Cardona. Sandi wrote the script and played the lead, a killer named S. After shooting wrapped, Georges vanished with all the footage!

Please be my BFF

My Review

It’s 1992 and Sandi Tan and her two friends Sophia and Jasmine are shooting Singapore’s first indie road movie, a film called Shirkers. Focusing on pro/ant-agonist serial killer “S”, the film is a oddball ride full of spirited amateur performances, dream-like imagery and a Technicolor palette. Buddy Ben has composed a companion soundtrack and things are looking good for our budding film makers, not least Sandi whose lifelong dream has been to make a movie.

With the help of their director, the much older Georges Cardona, the film is finally completed but not without its issues. Just before shooting ends, Georges runs out of cash, and Jasmine and Sandi are forced to pool all their savings to save production. But they get there and as the movie wraps, the trio return to their respective international universities, leaving Georges behind in Singapore.

Sandi waits patiently, day after day for the finished film to makes it way to her in Canterbury, England where she attends school. What arrives is a voice cassette from Georges in his usual enigmatic style, not explaining much regarding the film. Later she receives what she thinks is the film but is actually completely blank footage (not even more like constant static snow). All the blood sweat and tears the friends have put into their project seems to have been for nothing – and they never see or hear from Georges again.

Fuck you, Georges

Shirkers the documentary picks up 20 years later, when Sandi receives an email from Georges’ widow (ten years after he’s passed away), saying that she’s in possession of all the footage minus the audio tracks. Following this bombshell, Sandi decides to take the footage and use it differently, by making this documentary and unraveling its unknown history. The story is an intriguing one after all.

As she interviews her pals and the original cast and crew of Shirkers, we’re treated to a full picture of who they were and particularly the person Sandi was and is now. At times her friends describe her as kind of an asshole something she accepts as the truth. This project it turns out has bonded the friendships in a way nothing else has but has also tested them to their limits. All three women are successful in their fields and there’s no surprise there – these are 18 years olds that wrote, acted in and produced their own movie. Basically, I want to be them and if not then at least a hanger on, they’re brilliant.

We also learn more about their relationship with Georges, Sandi’s super-shady mentor. The man is odd AF and there’s a sinister air to a lot of the film where he’s concerned. It’s never really clear what his intentions are and I don’t know about you but it makes me feel funny when I see an older man hanging around with young women, especially when he takes one of them on a road trip across America.

Dog days aren’t over

We never really find out why he did what he did but by piecing together a collection of people with similar Georges experiences, it soon becomes clear that he was a jealous man who sabotaged his proteges when they started to get successful. And personally I find that motive incredibly interesting.

My Thoughts

This film won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award and I’m not surprised. It is an intriguing tale of stolen dreams and regret, and of determination. It has an ominous tone that makes you wonder where it’s going to go and when the story does unfold, it’s pretty mental. I really admire the girls, particularly when it transpired that they forced all the women in their film to smoke cigarettes for the aesthetic. This is something Jill and I would undoubtedly do if we made our own movie.

My Rating

3.5/5.

What does Jill think of this little mystery? Would she steal it and store it in her basement for 20 years or just let it live? Find out here.

Don’t Talk to Irene (Film) Review

Things are feeling a little gloomy all round (on both sides of the Atlantic) so Jill chose this charming little underdog indie to cheer us both up. Frankly, any movie that starts with Heart & Soul by T’Pau and has Geena Davis as a spiritual guide to our protagonist is going to be A-OK with me. Continue reading “Don’t Talk to Irene (Film) Review”

Hold The Dark (Film) Review

Jill and I have settled on a Free for All month for November because December will most likely be Shit Christmas TV Movies month. Look, we’re not machines and thinking of themes every month is hella difficult. So movies from our wish lists it is.

My pick this week is by one of my favourite directors and the screenplay is by Macon Blair so colour me pretty excited. Continue reading “Hold The Dark (Film) Review”

Blogtober 2018 – Round Up

Not my finest Blogtober but it wasn’t a complete disaster by any stretch. I managed 28/31 posts and that’s okay with me. I had two Halloween parties and lots of other October engagements, what’s a gal to do?

I do really love writing a post every day though, it really inspires me to think outside the box when it comes to content and the Halloween theme is delightful. I’m already psyched for next year.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Late Night Lady DJ
  2. Autumn Projects
  3. Veronica (Film) Review
  4. America Horror Story Rewatch
  5. Autumn Book Recommendation: The Little Stranger
  6. Autumn Bucket List
  7. 3 Contemporary Horrors
  8. CopenYAYgen
  9. The Scariest Tale of All
  10. Patchwork (Film) Review 
  11. American Horror Story Rewatch: Part 2
  12. Final Girl Friday: Helen Lyle, Candyman (1992)
  13. Autumn TV Recommendation: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
  14. Horror F(r)iends
  15. The Monday Feeling
  16. Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)
  17. Ouija: Origin of Evil (Film) Review
  18. 3 Witchy Horrors
  19. Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2
  20. Autumn TV Recommendation: Haunted
  21. Autumn TV Recommendation: The Haunting of Hill House
  22. Fall Anthems
  23. You Can’t Handle the Tooth
  24. Horror & Anxiety
  25. Spooky Podcasts
  26. Final Girl Friday: Laurie Strode, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II
  27. Autumn TV Recommendation: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  28. The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (Film) Review

It’s been real. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Until next time!

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (Film) Review

Or La femme la plus assassinée du monde (original title)

Not much preamble today but I will say this. This film is very French and very confusing. Beautiful though.

*Minor spoilers*

The Most Assassinated Woman in the World (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Paula Maxa is the Parisian Grand Guignol Theatre’s leading lady, famous for being murdered on stage every day. But is there a link between the theatre and a series of gruesome real-life murders?

My Review

Um. Let’s not rely on anything I say here in this review, I may well have the wrong end of the stick. Paula Maxa (Anna Mouglalis) is a beloved by some, hated by a lot actress at the Grand Guignol Theatre in good old gay Paree. She’s been slaughtered on stage more times that she’s had hot dinners and relies on stage-hand Paul (Jean-Michel Balthazar) to make it look as real as possible.

The theatre itself is run by some right oddballs who seem to have a very bizarre arrangement in place. Although the shows they put on nightly seem to do alright there is a very real threat on the horizon: the birth of cinema.

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Rattle dem bones

When journalist Jean (Niels Schneider) arrives to interview Paula, a friendship is formed and there’s possibly something more a-brewing, though our girl is rather closed off. Via Paula’s own mouth we learn about the terrible secret that haunts her – the very driving force that keeps her screaming night in, night out. Meanwhile, there seems to be a plot to turn Paula over for real to a mysterious gentleman who might have a connection to her past… What the devil is that all about?

TMAWITW is gorgeous looking. It seems to capture the time period perfectly. All the costuming is wonderful and Paula’s supporting actresses are a lot of fun. Mouglalis is soulful as Paula, a haunted woman with a sad story, one that revolves around the death of her sister at the hands of a very bad man – and her inability to do anything to save her.

Guilt is a powerful emotion and it eats at Paula, who stays at the theatre as some sort of penance. Here she can scream as much as she likes, something she failed to do to save her sister’s life. When Jean arrives to offer her a way out, she’s torn. Can she leave this place and make it in Hollywood?

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Oggly boggly

The ending is a little bit confusing, I won’t lie. But it doesn’t really matter. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this movie, which has some suspenseful moments and really is wonderfully OTT. The murders on stage are gloriously bat-shit and the audience laps it up. They come complete with bibs to capture the splashes of blood that coats everything around them.

Ooh la la!

My Rating

3/5.

What does my leading lady think of this one? Would she beg it for an encore or slit its throat? Find out here.

Final Girl Friday: Laurie Strode, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II

Lots of horror fans refuse to acknowledge Rob Zombie‘s place in Halloween history. Lots of people are torn about the man himself and honestly, I really get it. Personally, I’m a fan and have loved most of his movies. While Halloween & Halloween II don’t really work the way John Carpenter‘s original did*, they do at least try to explore the story from a fresh angle and I appreciate that.

This week I thought I’d pay tribute to the second most famous Laurie Strode in cinematic history, played by Scout Taylor-Compton, an actress with a couple of cool roles under her belt.

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Laurie, Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

The Situation

This one probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. The character of Laurie Strode is probably one of, if not THE most famous final girl of all time. But just in case, Laurie is the adopted daughter of The Strodes. She is also the baby sister of serial killer Michael Myers who killed their elder sister Judith when he was six years old.

In this version, we meet a young Michael Myers who on the night he kills his sister, also kills her boyfriend and his mum’s horrible boyfriend. This isn’t really in keeping with the original story but never mind. He’s also ten when he commits these atrocities. Anyway, Laurie is really Angel Myers but she doesn’t know it (yet). |Her secret history is just dying to creep out and slap her around the face, thus changing her life forever. How will she handle it?

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In less stabby times

The Final Girl

This Laurie is cool because she takes on all the characteristics of the original character but she also has to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her adoptive parents, after Michael slaughters them. She’s super young and has dealt with so much, having lost most of her friends, the only parents she’s ever known and now, some of her marbles.

Halloween does what is says on the tin (with a little embellishment here and there, including more focus on Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie), mother of Michael), but Halloween II examines Laurie’s PTSD in more detail. Following the events of that first night, Laurie now lives with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie, who is Laurie’s BFF. The two girls have barely made it out alive but here they are and their relationship is shaky at best. Laurie finds it hard to look at her friend’s badly scarred face without recounting that night and that is driving a wedge between them.

Laurie seeks out faster friends, alcohol and drugs like any normal teen would. But she’s a fighter still and although she’s haunted by the truth once it’s outed, she comes out kicking. Michael’s MO is to find Angel and rejoin his mother in the afterlife, a fucked-up family for all eternity. But you didn’t think it would be that easy did you, Mikey?

The ending of HII suggests that Laurie has completely lost it (and perhaps compelled to take on Michael’s role) as she ends up in an institution but I feel as though there is more to her story. I don’t think of her as the same girl played by Jamie Lee. She’s a contemporary anti-victim and a pretty good FG too. A terrible screamer though.

Final Girl Rating

3/5. I like everything but the scream. 

*For the record I think these movies are too gory (I know, right?) and they take away the things that made the first so iconic. We’re not supposed to know anything about MM, that’s the point. He’s evil personified and we don’t really know what’s going on in his head. But they are kind of fun too.

Spooky Podcasts

The other night I stayed behind at work to do some overtime. I was seeing a movie with Glynn at 8.30 anyway, so it made sense just to stay at work until I could go and meet him, and get paid for the privilege.

Well, throughout the afternoon we’d been talking (my team mates and I) about the best ghost stories we’ve ever heard. Heather told a story about a gypsy stalking a woman via google maps and I nearly shit my pants. By the time they left me alone for the day, my skin was crawling so I thought I’d treat myself while I worked the remainder of the shift.

I put on the Evolution of Horror podcast and skipped to the Slender Man episode. SM is one of my favourite folk tales and I often fall down a rabbit hole reading stories about him on Creepypasta, so it was a no brainer. As the episode unfolded I learned more about a web series called Marble Hornets that tells the story of a couple of protagonists being stalked by a Slender-like figure.

My friend Matt has recently been watching it and trying to get me in on it. As it started to get darker and darker in the office, with all the lights around my pod automatically going off , I started to freak myself the fuck out. Every small noise became the footsteps of Slender Man walking towards me. Every slight chill was his breath on the back of my neck.

God, I love that feeling.

So to my favourite creepy podcasts for those times you just need to feel scared. In no particular order, a couple of fitting little listens to enjoy in the lead up to Halloween.

Evolution of Horror

Presenter Mike examines the way horror films have changed and evolved over the last hundred years – with a little help from his guests. I’m new to this podcast but I bloody love it. This week I’ve been working my way steadily through the folk horror episodes but there are also ghosts and slasher movies in the back catalog to look forward to. Rumour has it zombie movies are next. Basically this is a must-listen for any horror fan which will give you a new appreciation for the films you already love and inspire you to get on to the ones you haven’t.

Best episodes to far: Folk Pt. 11: Kill List (2011), Sightseers (2012) & A Field in England (2013), Folk Pt. 13: Slender Man (2018) & Viral Folk Horror

You can find Evolution of Horror on any podcast app, just type in the name and GO.

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The Last Podcast on the Left

This one is heavy on the jokes and at times that can take you out of the episode. The rapport of the three presenters (Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski) is fun but can also be jarring for that reason. However, they do examine truly interesting subject matter, from fairies to the suicide of Kurt Cobain, to the ongoing feud and subsequent deaths of Biggie & Tupac. Pretty much everything you can think of has been covered and if it hasn’t, you can be confident it will probably crop up at some point.

Best episodes so far: Episodes 279 & 280: The Enfield Poltergeist (fucking TERRIFYING)

Sword & Scale

This is the best true crime podcast I’ve heard so far with stories that go in deep on horrible crimes committed by ‘ordinary’ people. The tag line “The worst monsters are real” has never rung truer.

Best episodes so far: All of them

What are you listening to?

Horror & Anxiety

There have been loads of studies about how watching horror movies can actually sooth anxiety sufferers. I had never really thought about putting the two things together but it actually makes perfect sense – it also explains a lot. To me, about me.

I’ve always loved horror. When I was 18 I got my own TV in my bedroom. It was like a gateway to a new world and I fell in love with the movies right there and then. I found horror movies for the first time played late at night and I would stay up way past bedtime getting to know the big boys. Jason, Michael and pals. But I also learned about different sub-genres of horror, how they don’t all have to follow the same formula.

Now I rinse as many horror movies as I can, all the time. I just love them. Obviously there are great horror movies and there are terrible ones, and I generally feel as though there’s a place for most of them. Even the terrible teen ones that play their hand way too soon – I just need to be involved. Looking at you, True or Dare.

My favourites tend to be the psychological ones that get under the skin and fuck with your mind. I loved Hereditary this year because it took me to the darkest place imaginable. It gave me something that’s been done before but in such a different way. It shocked me, gave me feels and nightmares at the same time – and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

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Not your average feel good movie

I like smaller “anti” horrors that offer a slow burn with a massive pay off at the end the best. I like the horrors that feel real. They make me forget my own anxieties but could also totally happen in real life. It’s almost as if watching something like Hush, a home invasion movie about a deaf protagonist terrified in her own home is something that could so easily happen. While I myself am not deaf, I can put myself in her position. In a twisted way it makes me face up to what I might do in the same situation.

Anxiety for me is about questioning every little detail of my life, living with a constant paranoid fear that I’ve done something wrong and everybody hates me. But it’s also about fearing the very worst case scenario, for instance that my love ones will go out one day and never come back. These are the things I cannot control, the things that could happen but are unlikely. When I see a horror film it either makes me forget my own woes and focus all my feelings on the main character – or makes me stare at my own mortality face on – like I’m the final girl and the worst has already happened, so here I am: ready to fight.

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This is why you always sit with your back to the wall

I found a forum about this very topic on Reddit and user coffeeallthetime said it better than I can:

My rationale: Anxiety is your body being ready for an immediate threat that doesn’t (currently) exist, like a fight or flight response. Watching or reading horror gives a face to this “threat” and lets your mind live out the scenario, giving you a catharsis of sorts, and relieving the anxiety. Kind of like how listening to the song you have stuck in your head all the way through is supposed to help it get unstuck in your head. At least that’s how I think of it.

It’s hard to explain I guess just what I get out of these movies. They excite me, they make me tap in to my dark side, my fascination with the human psyche and how frightening human nature can be. I like the adrenaline shot I get what Laurie Strode fights off her brother – and it makes me feel like I could fight too. Let’s face it, in reality I’m more likely to be the wuss hiding under the bed but you just never know.

So to make myself feel better, I like to forget myself with horror and gore, final girls and ghosts. If it’s horrible, I want in please.

What about you?