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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.

Level 41

It’s that time of the year again. Time to gaze into the navel of my birthday and give thanks to the past year. This isn’t quite as epic a milestone as last year obviously but it’s still been a pretty sweet ride. 

40 has been good to me. I’ve done a lot of cool things, including two trips, fallen in love with Margate and spent a lot of time with a lot of good people. I’ve made some great new friends, enjoyed time with old ones – I’ve had fun at work, put myself forward for a new role which didn’t work out (but I’m quite pleased about that). I’ve been creative, I’ve been lazy – I’ve spent a lot of money, faced some fears, cried some tears. It’s been a well-rounded year and I’m grateful for it. 

I love my life and even when I put myself down for being old (every single day of my life), I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a wise woman with a wealth of life experience and better still, I’m still learning every day. I might be who I am but there’s always room to undulate and grow.

Here’s to reaching Level 41 tomorrow. I can only hope that it’s as eventful and as fun as the last. 

 

 

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.

A to Z of Advice

I’m not too proud to admit I turned to the internet for inspiration this week. It’s not that I don’t have my own ideas or experiences to chat about but sometimes it’s good to branch out a little and take your lead from someone else. Hence this little bad boy, which was actually fun to fill in. I found it via a blog called A Grande Life. Continue reading “A to Z of Advice”

Plan B

Blogging has been sparse since the wonderful #blogtober wrapped up and I don’t really like that, so I’m setting myself some writing goals for the next couple of months.

November is half done of course so I’ve been slack as usual but it’s never too late to pull it together. I’ve got plans for #blogmas too, my own take on bloggers fave #vlogmas. Continue reading “Plan B”

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”