Category Archives: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2018

Hurricane Bianca (Film) Review

… or If You Can’t Love Yourself, How in the Hell Are You Gonna Love Anybody Else?

This week’s pick is mine and *disclaimer* it is self-servicing AF. As a disciple of Ru Paul’s Drag Race (and let me tell you, there’s nothing more extra than a new convert), of course I was going to get round to reviewing Hurricane Bianca eventually.

So without further fanfare, let’s get lost in Bianca Del Rio‘s world.

*Spoilers*

Hurricane Bianca (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

A New York teacher, who moves to small town Texas where he’s fired for being gay, returns disguised as a mean lady to get revenge on the nasty town.

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My Review

Poor old Richard (Roy Haylock) is having a shitty time of it. His teaching career isn’t exactly molding the future of the next generation, while his part-time entertainment gig has just crashed and burnt to the ground. His best friends Bailey (Willam Belli) and Stephen (D.J. ‘Shangela’ Pierce) love him dearly and are willing to bail him out but he’s had enough.

When he’s offered a teaching role in small town Texas, Richard packs up and leaves the Big Apple hopeful of a fresh start. Well, a new beginning is exactly what he gets but not quite in the ways he expects. For a start, the kids in his class are all arseholes. The halls are terrorised by mean bitch Deborah Ward (Rachel Dratch) and her fake ho daughter Carly – and the locals aren’t exactly welcoming either. Guess the school just isn’t ready for a gay chemistry teacher, eh?

Luckily for Richard he quickly meets kind-hearted radio DJ Karma Johnstone (Bianca Leigh), a trans woman who understands him only too well. She introduces him to the town’s LGBT community and when he is outed by the locals and subsequently fired for being homosexual, an idea is born.

Richard returns to the classroom as fierce bitch Bianca Del Rio (nobody knows she’s Richard in drag) – and boy are things about to change.

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Let me make something very clear TO YOU, Debbie. I’m fuckin’ this cat. You just hold the legs. ~ Bianca Del Rio

Bianca takes no prisoners and quickly makes an impression on the school, in more ways than one. She has a sharp tongue and a wicked way with words, plus she tells everyone that Cher is her cousin and Gaga is her best friend so they’ll like her.

There’s a loose story line about a mystery female teacher taking male students’ virginity and a Teacher of the Year competition but really this is a showcase for Bianca’s one liners as she licks her students into shape, tackles in-class bullying and tries to help her new BFF Karma with her family issues. All the while taking down that awful c**t Deborah.

Hurricane Bianca isn’t by any means a perfect movie but it is fun and I think Bianca Del Rio has real stage presence – and those dimples! While it could be funnier, there’s enough in it to make you want to watch and in the end its message is a good (if simplistic) one. Evil will not win and small-mindedness will not to be accepted.

At times it does turn very dark (Richard/Bianca is kidnapped by a bigoted neighbour) and that’s not an easy watch. Luckily in this instance it doesn’t come to anything more sinister but it probably does play quite close to the bone.

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The appearances by Del Rio’s fellow queens are joyful though. I’m a big fan of Shangela and loved seeing her on-screen. Alyssa Edwards is also wonderful as Ambrosia Salad. They might not be the most seasoned actresses but I don’t care, I want more Drag Queen movies please!

My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my QWEEN Jill think of Bianca? Would she leave her out in unstable weather or award her Drag Queen of the Year? Find out here.

Permission (Film) Review

April already and time for a new Collab category but do you think we can think of anything? Can we fuck. So it’s a Free for All again and I’m not mad about it. I’m mad about this week’s film however but that’s another story.

*Spoilers*

Permission (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend.

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My Review

Will (Dan Stevens) and Anna (the luminous Rebecca Hall) are childhood sweethearts blissfully in love and happy in life. Anna’s some sort of academic while Will makes tables, and in his spare time renovates a home for the two of them to live in. Once completed the plan is that they’ll move in, get engaged, have the babies, all that jazz.

This is all well and good but you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? On the night of Anna’s 30th birthday, one of their friends (more on this arse clown later) mocks them for being boring and ponders how they can possibly be happy never to see anyone else’s junk. The couple is initially bemused by this reaction but it triggers a conversation that leads to an agreement that they will in fact sow some oats with other people before they put a ring on it. They’re strong enough, right? And it’s all just physical – RIGHT?

*Raised eyebrow*

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Well, straight off the bat Anna gets down with sexy Dane who she meets in a club when she’s with Will. Will’s all for the union and Anna enjoys herself, despite the initial butterflies. Will in turn is not short of offers and soon afterwards gets it on with Gina Gershon (who’s the best thing in this film). When Anna finds out, she pushes Will to see her again because she wants to spend more time with Dane. And here’s where things start to unravel… like, what? I get that no strings loving can be hard to do if you’re not that kind of person but you’re not looking for new relationships, guys. Or…?

It should be said that they also each make a questionable sexual decision in addition to Dane and Lydia, and this might be why they go running back into the safe arms of their initial conquests.

Running parallel to the main relationship woe is the slow disintegration of Reece and Hale’s relationship. Reece is the jerk friend who suggested Will and Anna’s way of life was a problem in the first place. Hale is desperate for a child and Reece won’t even discuss it with him. He’s happier to cast judgement on Will for shagging around – DESPITE THE FACT HE’S THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! These dudes are the worst with Hale being incredibly passive and annoying – and Reece just generally being unbearable.

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While I appreciate the premise of this film, I definitely expected it to be a lot more fun. Forgive me for expecting a movie with this central cast to be a witty sex comedy. Instead it was bleak and stupid. The ending is really frustrating – and I’m no fan of the cavalier and selfish way in which both Will and Anna treat the new people in their lives. Anna more so.

Permission does get points for being good looking, as is Rebecca Hall who is always head and shoulders above anyone else in her movies. It doesn’t give us the happy, sickly ending we were expecting (I was certainly expecting it), and I liked that even though I shouted at the screen because it was also kind of bitchy. I felt bad for one of the parties.

Gershon is a fucking gem, always and her divorcee Lydia was probably the most fun I had throughout. I can’t tell you how bored I was by the secondary “Waaaaah-can-we-have-a-baby” drams.

I don’t know, I’m not sure what the message is supposed to be: Good, healthy relationships are bad and boring, so nobody should have one? I’d say it should be: if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it but what do I know?

My Rating

3/5. Meh.

What did Jill think of this one? I think I know because we messaged back and forth about our mutual frustrations. But officially, would she dump this to bone other films or prefer to live monogamously for the rest of time? Find out here.

Roxanne Roxanne (Film) Review

Funny how our March Madness Month has been more or less focused on films by and about fucking fierce women, isn’t it? Guess we weren’t quite ready to hang Feminist February back in the wardrobe, which is f-i-n-e fine with me.

To this week’s film which is no different, a neat little Netflix Original charting the rise of teen rapper Roxanne Shante.

*Minor spoilers*

Roxanne Roxanne (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

In the early 1980s, the most feared battle MC in Queens, New York, was a fierce teenage girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

My Review

Shante (Chanté Adams) and her family live in an overcrowded apartment in Queens. Things seems to be looking up as the women, Shante’s mother Ms. Peggy (Nia Long) and her daughters get set to move out and into a bigger home.

Ms. Peggy and her man have been planning a new life for the family while Peggy has been saving every last penny, finally stacking up 20 gees after years and years of hard work. Shit takes a turn when her boyfriends ups and leaves one night with the money in tow. Who fucking knew?

Throughout this movie it seems the girls’ are destined to learn than men are rubbish and never worth the effort. They hang around waiting for a father than never shows and suffer the wrath of their hard-working single mother who loves her girls dearly but has no time to suffer fools, because men. It’s actually the relationship between Shante and her mother that I liked the most about this film – Ms. Peggy is a force to be reckoned with but she ain’t taking no prisoners.

Following a rough patch at home, Shante moves out and in with a male friend (couldn’t work out if this was a friend or cousin actually). She shoplifts to order for a small gang and this is how she makes the benjamins to live. This set up can’t last forever and Shante learns the hard way that adulting is not easy and has no choice but to return home.

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Shante, the hero of this story, has shown a unique talent for rap battling from an early age and earned herself something of a local infamy. Because of this she finds herself regularly challenged to battle by snot nosed neighbourhood boys.

One day – in between laundry shifts – Shante throws down a couple of verses on a neighbour’s track and before she knows it, has blown up on the radio. Popularity though comes at a price and she finds herself growing apart from her school friends and family. She also meets Cross (Mahershala Ali), a charismatic older man keen to hitch his wagon to her rising star.

I found the older man/16-year-old thing really icky to watch even if it a true representation of what happened to the real Roxanne Shante. When Ms. Peggy confronts him for sleeping with her daughter I cheered. Although Mahershala Ali is one of the most exciting actors around at the moment, he plays sleazy Cross just a little too well. I hated him and I hated the violence he rains down upon the person he supposedly loves.

When Shante and Cross take their relationship to the next level, all sorts of Hell breaks loose. Will Shante survive to become the Queen of Rap, or what? You know what to do.

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My Thoughts

God this was boring. I mean, I love a rags to riches tale and I loved Shante but why did it feel so long when it was only 90 mins? It didn’t show me anything new, didn’t really inspire me to feel anything at all – and Shante has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it birthing scene that I thought I’d imagined. As a bridge across time I got its purpose but it didn’t work. There’s not that much character development either.

Nia Long and Adams are the stand outs in this, they’re brilliant with what they have to work with – and I would have been delighted with more one on one between them. All in all this movie just isn’t all that, sadly.

My Rating

2/5.

What does my Queen think of this one? Would she challenge it to a rap battle or take it on tour? Find out here.

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Atomic Falafel (Film) Review

A comedy about potential nuclear havoc this week – and you might be asking, where’s the LOL in that? Well, you’d be surprised.

Another prime example of Jill picking a film I’d never choose for myself – and me thoroughly enjoying myself.

*Spoilers*

Atomic Falafel (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Two girls from nuclear towns in Israel and Iran spill their countries most valuable secrets on Facebook while trying to prevent a nuclear crisis.

My Review

What do you get when you place a general, the minister of defense, a commander and the chief intelligence officer together in an underground bunker in Israel? Apart from a load of middle aged men blowing hot air around, that is?

You get conversation about how to deal with the threat hanging over them by Iran, obviously. Complete with strategic sandbox props. And the brigadier general Partosch figures, since the world is against Israel anyway, that the only solution is to hit Iran with a fuck off great atomic bomb in seven days’ time.

However, when the International Atomic Energy Agency rock up, things take a turn. Among the IAEA is German Oliver Hann (Alexander Fehling), a hot piece who immediately catches the eye of lovely Mimi Azrian (Mali Levi), our local falafel van driving activist. Oli is highly and deathly allergic to uranium which makes him kind of useful to have around, in the context of tracing nuclear weapons at least.

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Mimi’s daughter Nofar (Michelle Treves) meanwhile, is hellbent on getting laid by her boyfriend, computer whizz Meron. They get distracted however when they get hold of a military command disc and decide to fuck shit up.

Nofar also meets teenage rapper, Iranian Sharareh (Tara Melter) online and their blossoming friendship has a lot to do with their ongoing campaign for peace between the countries. Oh and Mimi’s late husband, and Nofar’s father, was also Iranian.

Oli stays in Israel much longer than his original duties require when he starts to fall hard for Mimi – obviously, you can’t just walk away from excellent falafel. As the seven days draw to a close and the kids get themselves into more trouble with the authorities, will peace actually be achieved?

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I’ve left out a lot of nuance from this review. It’s really charming and has a real attention to detail. While it paints some of the military big wigs as buffoonish, it also places a lot of responsibility in the hands of our brilliant teens. Nofar, Meron and Sharareh are joyous to watch and I can quite believe that they have the power to bridge peace between the two warring factions. Plus, Sharareh is freaking cool and talented as well.

That said, our heroes are also afforded the time to be concerned about teenage things such as losing their virginity, getting decent grades at school and uploading content to social media.

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My Rating

3.5/5.

What did wifey think of this one? Would she feed it extra spicy sauce or leave it to be blown up? Find out here!

The Fits (Film) Review

Welcome to March Madness (a week late, sorry) – basically an excuse to do whatever the fudge we want, like we’ve ever needed an excuse.

*Spoilers*

The Fits (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

While training at the gym 11-year-old tomboy Toni becomes entranced with a dance troupe. As she struggles to fit in she finds herself caught up in danger as the group begins to suffer from fainting spells and other violent fits.

My Review

There’s been a bit of a trend over the last couple of years for films that don’t bother to explain themselves. They are what they are and what you make of them is up to you. The Fits definitely falls into this camp. This dreamy, sometimes nightmarish amble through adolescence and friendship is at times fascinating, even brilliant – and just a tad boring.

Toni is a quiet, hard-working child dedicated to her boxing training and helping out her older brother at the gym he also trains in. One day she becomes enamored with a female dance troupe. To begin with she watches them from afar but eventually, with the encouragement of her brother, joins the squad.

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The main draw of this troupe seems to be their unswerving confidence and although this does not appear to come naturally to our silent protagonist, she puts the work in to improve her dance skillz – and even make a friend or two.

Things take an unusual turn when one of the dance leaders suffers an unexplained seizure. It’s shocking but as she recovers quickly and without consequence, it is soon forgotten. Until the next girl suffers ‘the fits’- then the next. Slowly but surely this phenomenon spreads through the group and Toni and her pals fear becoming the next victim. Fear, however, soon turns to something else. The fits come with a certain badge of honour and most of the girls want to be part of the rising hysteria.

It soon becomes clear that Toni is being left behind because she hasn’t suffered an attack yet, will she lose her grip on everything she now holds dear? Or will life just kind of take care of business for her?

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My Thoughts

This isn’t really your average beginning, middle and end movie. It’s more of a happening, a feeling – a rumination on puberty and of coming of age in a sometimes hopeless place. Royalty Hightower is enigmatic and lovely as our heroine. Toni barely speaks so dialogue is light and to bring such heart to a character through facial expression and mannerisms is impressive, particularly at such a young age.

It does border on dull a few times but there might be method in that madness because when I got to the climax I was blown away. It’s surreal, it’s stunning and it brings everything back together. It’s all a metaphor, innit? I recommend if you’re into this kind of dreamy film-making and aren’t afraid to unpack it all yourself.

My Rating

3/5.

What did the queen of the dance troupe in my heart think of this one? Would she leave it to her own devices in an abandoned corridor or film it on her iPhone? Find out here, obvs.

Princess Cyd (Film) Review

The last film of Feminist February and as far as I’m concerned we’ve signed off with a bang. A slow and subtle Indie bang but a bang nonetheless.

And, last week’s bland sniffle-fest aside, I think this month has been a success.

*Spoilers*

Princess Cyd (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.

My Review

We begin Princess Cyd with a 911 recording played over the opening credits, depicting the death of a woman while her child is in the house. This is a blunt introduction to the character of Cyd Loughlin, who we meet 16 years later as a young adult.

Cyd has been sent by her depressed father to stay with her aunt Miranda, the novelist sister of Cyd’s late mother. Miranda has not seen or heard much from Cyd since she was a small child and since she lost her mother so is a little nervous about how things will go. She’s also very comfortable in her own routine.

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When Cyd first arrives, both the women are very polite and although there’s some nervousness, Cyd is curious and asks a lot of questions. While Miranda is an open book, some of the topics broached take her outside her comfort zone. She embraces this though and starts to relax in her niece’s company. Cyd challenges Miranda’s religious beliefs, her sex life and the way she leads her solitary (but not lonely) life. This shakes Miranda up, forcing her to look inward.

Cyd is quite taken with the idea of Miranda and her friend Anthony (James Vincent Meredith) getting it on but Miranda insists this isn’t on the cards. Anyway, Anthony is sort of married.

And while Cyd is settling into her new (temporary) life in Chicago, she meets Katie in a coffee shop and there’s an immediate spark. During a literary gathering at Miranda’s home, Cyd also bonds with Ridley (Matthew Quattrocki). She disappears into a bedroom with him and this causes some mild consternation between our new housemates, even though she doesn’t bang him.

Miranda swears she’s not going to be the person who nags Cyd about her life choices but when Cyd makes a snarky comment about her aunt substituting sex with food, Miranda lets her have it.

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It is not a handicap to have one thing, but not another. To be one way, and not another. We are different shapes and ways, and our happiness is unique. There are no rules of balance. ~ Miranda Ruth

Katie meanwhile finds herself in an awful situation at home and is rescued by Cyd and Miranda. Miranda is kind and understanding, something both young women need and she welcomes Katie into the fold without question. Cyd and Katie get closer and closer; as do niece and aunt. Basically, this is what life looks like without the interference of arsehole men. Even nice ones are not needed here – and as Cyd prepares to go back to her own life, Miranda has her own decisions to make.

What will she decide?

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My Thoughts

Ultimately, this is the sweet tale of a young woman reconnecting with her mother through someone who knew and loved her too, while fulfilling her own need. It’s about the craving for maternal love and it is a love story in many ways, just one of your unconventional, familial ones.

The performances are realistic, warm and convincing – and all three women are likable. At no time is Cyd the destructive mess you might expect her to be, though she has a fucking right. She might be direct at times but she means well. She seems wiser than her sixteen years.

Don’t come into this expecting a rip-roaring ride, because you definitely won’t get that. What you will get is a beautiful rumination on adolescence and learning to do you.

My Rating

4.5 – Gentle and sweet.

What does my very own princess think of this one? Would she let it stay the summer or send it back to daddy? Find out here.

Until next year my pretties #feministfebruary.

Irreplaceable You (Film) Review

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Is there anything more baller than fixing up your loved one with his next love interest before you pass on? I think not. It might be a bit dubious given freedom of choice but the thought is there.

This is the premise we’re faced with this week and I’ll warn you, this is not an easy watch, especially if you have a frame of reference around The Big C. I know, right, who hasn’t? Here we go.

Irreplaceable You (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A couple who have known each other since 8 are destined to be together until death do them apart.

My Review

This is not a film that would have interested me that much had Christopher Walken and Kate McKinnon not been in it. It was the bit with the support group that sold this to me in the trailer and I’m not sorry. It’s as sweet and weepy as expected. Is it breaking molds and pissing all over boundaries? It is not but I can’t expect that of all films, all the time.

Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman, Daenerys’ fuck piece in Game of Thrones) have been together since they were kids. They’re destined to be together basically and everything is amazing until they mistake a tumor growing inside Abbie for a foetus. That’s right, that old bastard malignant cancer has come to devastate yet another set of lives and there’s little anybody can do.

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Of course Abbie is gutted but she gets on with treatment as best she can. She bonds with her nurse Dominic in the treatment suite (Timothy Simons) and joins a local support group, run by Mitch (Steve Coogan). Here she meets a band of unlikely allies; Glass Half Full Kate (McKinnon), Myron (Walken), Mean Phil and some others. She also learns that crocheting is a metaphor for… getting on with shit? Death?

At first our protagonist is not keen to mingle in this new environment but after a few choice words from Myron, she decides to return. A solid friendship is also born between this unlikely pair and honestly, it’s one of the best things about the film.

During a conversation however, about how Sam is likely to go through a slut phase when Abbie is gone, an idea is conceived: Abbie will pick her replacement now, saving him the job. Our girl is convinced her man is going to be such a hot commodity that he won’t stand a chance against the women of the world – and that his inexperience with the opposite sex will not serve him well either. Oh ye of little faith.

In a distinctly un-feminist montage, Abbie interviews a whole slew of supposedly unsuitable ladies she’s stalked in Tinder, deeming none of them right for Sam. They’re all either too mental or attached to their cats for Sam but then she meets cute barista Sally who wholeheartedly embraces this unorthodox plan and even helps Abbie out a couple of times. That there’s a bit of an unexpected spark between Sam and Sally when they meet does not go unnoticed by Abbie or us, the dear viewer.

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Well, as with any cutesy plan, a flaw usually comes along to derail it and in this scenario it’s Sam himself. Horrified that Abbie thinks so little of him being able to take care of business himself, he gets mad and says something hurtful he can’t take back. The pair start to show signs of strain and decide to spend some time apart.

In this time, Abbie suffers a great loss and makes a couple of life-changing decisions for herself. What will become of our lovers, The Plan and everyone close to Abbie? Well, you know the drill.

My Thoughts

You know right away how this one ends up, so there’s no will she/won’t she. Despite its depressing outcome it has some minor laughs and both leads are likeable if a little bland.

As mentioned, the supporting characters are the ones that keep this engine ticking over. I really found Glass Half Full Kate’s honest monologue touching and relateable. Her world view is basically the same as mine and if she was a real person I would have grabbed her in a bear hug and never let go.

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Cancer fucking sucks and it ruins lives. It take our loved ones without prejudice and I hate it but being able to talk about death and loss and love , well it’s healthy and real. Unavoidable some might say. But it’s the love and the light and all the cliches that are what matters ultimately and this is what the film says. Again, no surprises just a nice film with some good bits.

My Rating

3/5. Pass the tissues.

What did my Queen think of this one? Would she meet it in group or run away never to return again? Find out here.

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