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”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
What does my leading lady think of this one? Would she beg it for an encore or slit its throat? Find out here.
Netflix is currently in the throes of a rom-com renaissance. Finally giving us smart new romantic movies, directed mostly by women, we’ve been spoilt lately with the mighty To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) and to a lesser extent Claire Scanlon’s Set It Up (2018). Both movies are better than most films of this nature and I am loving it. So when I heard about Sierra Burgess starring my one true love Shannon Purser I got super excited.
SBIAL is not directed by a female director though and it’s also sadly not nearly as good. Are the two connected?
Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)
A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.
Sierra Burgess sets itself up in the usual way, establishing roles early on and leaving us in no doubt of who’s who in the social hierachy. Sierra (Purser) is the daughter of a famous literary father and a self-help guru mother (Alan Ruck and Lea Thompson) and ‘isn’t like other girls’ – or at least she prides herself on being one of the only girls who doesn’t care about her appearance. She’s smart basically and not distracted by such trivial things. (Yes there’s a slightly superior air to her but why not when she’s treated like literal dog shit by some of her peers?).
Veronica (Kristine Froseth) by contrast is a stone cold fox but a shitty person. She’s super mean to anyone ‘less’ and pretty horrid to her friends too. She absolutely has her sights set on humiliating Sierra just for the pure fun of it – which is how this whole tale begins.
Let me tell you that I will always root for the underdog. Sierra isn’t always likable but she is motherfucking Barb from Stranger Things and therefore, I’m her homegirl for life. She isn’t ugly by any stretch but I get that we’re supposed to consider her the lowest of the low on the looks and body beautiful scale (e.g. she’s completely normal). When Veronica pinches some of Sierra’s tutoring flyers and gives out her number to a hottie Jamey (Noah Centineo) who believes it’s Veronica’s – well, you’ve got yourself a modern-day retelling of Cyrano.
You didn’t think Sierra could pull this off on her own with her hideous ginger face and oafish stature did ya?
Sierra starts romancing Jamey by text very quickly but soon hits a wall when he asks her to face time. Being the resourceful brainiac that she is, she quickly sees a window of opportunity and goes for it. Veronica, you see is trying to impress a college boy who thinks she’s a dummy. If only someone were on hand to school her in the ways of the ancient philosphers in exchange for a borrow of her face and body for a couple of hours?
So our unlikely duo team up to pull the wool over the eyes of their boy crushes – and fall in love with each other instead. Well, sort of, unfortunately not in the way I was cheering for – but in the friendship sense. For me this is the most important relationship to come out of the film, who needs boys?
Sierra quickly learns that Veronica’s picture perfect life is very far from it (her mother, played by Chrissy Metz, is bitter, miserable and extremely hard on Veronica) which doesn’t excuse her behaviour but does explain some of it. Meanwhile, Sierra suffers for the pressure placed upon her by a brilliant and famous dad. She’s also just found out that she can’t just walk into her chosen college with straight As – she needs to stand out.
As the girls scheme and Jamey falls deeper and deeper for the Veronica/Sierra hybrid, things get increasingly elaborate (and stupid) – and Sierra’s friend Dan (RJ Cyler) implores her to come clean. Look, I don’t buy most of this and although I want to believe that the geek can get the hot guy (because I know it happens), this set up just doesn’t ring realistic at all. The cat fishing is creepy and nobody is as good and pure as Jamey is. We’re supposed to examine teen stereotypes here and realise that that’s all they are but surely the dishonesty would render forgiveness impossible – or at least never as quickly as it pans out onscreen? I know that’s a boring take but sue me.
Anyway, there’s a bit where Sierra pretends to be deaf and it’s really stupid. Then she does something horrible to Veronica proving that she’s no better than the school mean girls. The film is not terrible but it just isn’t in the same league as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and I resent it for that.
The final prom scene is very much a homage to John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink, down to the music and Sierra’s frock but it’s still not a good enough vehicle for my babe Shannon.
Justice for Barb (still)!
What does my girl think of this one? Would she catfish the fudge out of it or remain honest and true throughout? Find out here.
Bianca is back and she’s better than ever – is she though? Has this thinly worn narrative hit rock bottom now? I mean let’s face it, the first movie although kind of cute in places, wasn’t a game changer. And apart from the heavenly one-liner: “I’m fuckin’ this cat. You just hold the legs”, I don’t recall that much. Although I do know I had fun – can this deliver at least a little bit of same LOL action?
Sequel to the 2016 comedy ‘Hurricane Bianca’.
This time round our Bianca is tucked safely behind closet doors and Richard (Roy Haylock) is getting on just fine without her. Still teaching in Texas that is and maybe life is a little drab but it’s fine. Things are not going quite so well for Bianca’s arch nemesis Deborah Ward (Rachel Dratch) who has just served hard time for the seduction of half her student class.
She just about to get out of jail and you best believe she’s bitter about how everything went down. Comforted by murderous daydreams about Bianca, Deborah is ready to get out in the world and on with realising her ultimate revenge.
When Stephen (D.J. ‘Shangela’ Pierce) rocks up to visit with their friend Rex (Doug Plaut) in tow, Richard’s life suddenly becomes a lot more dramatic, especially when the duo trick him into bringing Bianca out to play. And when he then gets an invitation to receive a Teacher of the Year award in Russia (as Bianca), what’s a girl to do? Pack up Rex and get her booty to Moscow, I guess.
Will Deborah get even – and will her dippy daughter Carly (Molly Ryman) get the replacement boobs she’s been promised for going along with the frankly ridonculous plan? Well you could say there’s a lot of adventure in store for our enemies, as both sides find themselves on the wrong side of the law and Svetlana Zlopasnost (Dot-Marie Jones) herself, the new Minister of Homosexual Propaganda for Russia.
Will they come together when it matters to save their loved ones from being banished to Siberia? And will they find LGBT+ back up in the most unlikely of places? Sure they will!
This film is a goddamn trash heap but it’s still fine by me. This time around we get more Queens for our buck as we enjoy cameos from The Lady Bunny, Mrs. Kasha Davis and Darienne Lake. Not to mention the truly divine Katya Zamolodchikova who’s actually lovely and not too shocking in front of the camera. Shangela seems more relaxed this time around, while Bianca is still the Queen of acerbic wit.
The character of Rex starts off incredibly tiresome but actually grew on me through his interaction with Carly. When Carly starts to get to know Rex, she starts to question why she’s expected to hate the gays and starts pushing back at her mother as a result. I know this is a stupid film but the message is buried in there somewhere and it’s nice to know.
Look, HBFRWH is not likely to find itself on any Best Films of 2018 lists or stick in your memory for long – and it’s rarely funny – but I’ll probably still be first in line for the third installment should we be gifted with one so I say: bring it on.
What does my prison bitch think of this one? Would she gladly share a cell with it or throw away the key forever? Find out here.
We start September with a new horror currently featured on Netflix. It tackles one of the most prolific afflictions (?) of our generation (as I type that I realise that we’re not actually talking about MY generation but the one beneath it, maybe even further down that that. God, I’m ancient).
Selfie from Hell (2018)
After her cousin comes to visit and falls ill, a woman starts to receive strange cell phone messages.
We all know that selfies are bad and anyone who partakes might as well be murdered horribly as punishment, right? I think we can all agree. Obviously that isn’t the message here and I jest but one of my pet peeves is people who hate on social media even though its all part of evolution and the world we live in – and is generally a positive thing, sue me.
Anyway, this film doesn’t really do anything by way of a message which might be where it falls down. Perhaps if it had been making a comment on social media on the whole it would have been stronger but the result is all just very… so?
Hannah (Alyson Walker) is a good girl because she’s clean and pretty and conscientious. When her cousin Julia (Meelah Adams) comes to stay it is immediately apparent that something is majorly off about her. She looks dog rough for a start and this isn’t being mean, it’s the truth – the girl is clearly not well.
On arriving at Hannah’s, she soon falls into a stupor which leads her cousin on a dubious mission to find out just what the fuck is actually going on.
I might be a little hazy on the order of the day here as I was distracted (by social media, go figure) but Julia is from Germany and has traveled to the US to visit her cousin, Hannah. Back in her home country, Julia is a vlogger (popular enough to have a couple of conspiracy theories about her posted on the web but she’s no Zoella).
Before we even meet Hannah I believe there’s a spooky selfie taking sequence that reveals a nasty surprise for Julia – whenever she snaps a cheeky duck face, it is revealed that she is not alone. Fuck that, honestly – that would probably be the only way to deter me from taking pictures of my own beautiful face.
Back in the US with Julia in a catatonic fug, Hannah is desperately worried and determined to figure shit out. She first of all starts digging around Julia’s laptop which clues her in on some of her cousin’s recent vlogs. Or one, namely Selfies from Hell, Part 1. But where is part 2…? Ooooh.
Watching Part 1 doesn’t answer any of the questions Hannah has so she does what any sensible heroine would, she googles how to access The Dark Web. Is it that easy honestly? She also recruits her cyber/Skype love interest Trevor (Tony Giroux) who is a dab hand with a hard drive (pnar) who gives her just one piece of advice: don’t give out any personal information on The Dark Web. So she doesn’t and everything works out just fine. SYKE.
Obviously she gives out her personal email address within 17 seconds of speaking to someone – Trevor’s big plan is to go onto TDW and ask anyone if they know anything about these mysterious 13 selfies Julia’s been banging on about (apparently it’s a video which is kind of confusing and not what a selfie is but NVM. If you watch all 13 selfies then you’re basically in BIG TROUBLE).
Hannah gives her deets to user F34R3473R (fuck typing that more than once), gets sent first a nasty message, then receives several pervy phone calls. Who knew? During her Nancy Drew investigations, Hannah also uncovers multiple articles surrounding Julia’s mysterious death – but hang on a minute, she’s asleep upstairs in the spare room, non?
From here we loose grip on the narrative as Hannah finds herself in a sticky situation with the pervert stalking her, Trevor watches the 13 selfies (duh) and the evil entity reveals him/itself. I can’t really remember what happens at the end except to say there’s no happy ending for anybody concerned.
One interesting thing about Selfie from Hell is that main actress Meelah Adams produced a short by the same name (which then became this film) as part of her bachelor thesis on the effects of viral videos. I want to like it more for that reason alone. Unfortunately, it’s not very good beyond the deeply relateable premise.
It isn’t horrible, apart from not making the most sense, it’s just instantly forgettable. And let’s face it, there can’t be a more interesting playground to explore that The Dark Web so how is it so boring? I mean, apparently you can buy a raccoon on there – what’s not to love?
Performances aren’t great, the production values are not great and it isn’t that scary – however, the selfie scenes are creepy, I’ll give them that.
What does my girl think of this one? Would she add it to her Instagram story or delete that shit forever? Find out here.
Welcome to Alien August! Jill and I have decided to explore the genre of science fiction, starting with this bat-shit but charming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story of the same name.
Who knows where the month will take us?
An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon.
It’s 1977 and Enn (Alex Sharp) and his pals are into punk and girls. When they find out from Croydon’s punk matriarch, Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman) that there’s a secret house party going on at a local address, the boys are determined to crash it and soak up as much life experience as they can.
And boy, do they get more then they bargain for.
Accidentally gatecrashing the wrong house and the wrong party, Enn meets beautiful and mysterious Zan (Elle Fanning) while his friends are soon otherwise engaged (sex tour/dance party), and thus begins a wonderfully weird love affair that will span the universe. Sort of.
What Enn is quick to realise is that Zan isn’t like other girls. In the literal sense because she is very much not human and part of a cannibal/child eating commune of alien life forms currently touring Earth. Zan is a rebel at heart though which might be why she takes to punk culture like a duck to water.
She seems to be the only member of her group to vocalise her concerns that they all act like tourists but fail to experience real life like the locals do. When she meets Enn she decides to take a chance and let him teach her more about the ways of Punk for the remaining 48 hours she has on Earth.
While the young lovers experience all the planet has to offer, Zan’s alien crew tsk and tut about all the rules she’s breaking. But they follow her anyway in a bid to make sure she doesn’t miss her ticket off Earth. This leads them all into hilarious japes as Zan meets Boudicea, becomes a punk star and picks up her own on-board passenger along the way.
There’s also some dubious sexual assault by alien (it’s meant to be light-hearted but made me feel icky), the convoluted cannibal story-line and a hard decision for Zan to make about her future and the future of… well, you’ll see.
Will Enn end up heartbroken or does this relationship have legs? Also, are Punks harder than aliens in a fight?
If truth be told I wasn’t as focused as I could of been on this. It was fun fluffy goodness with a wonderfully bonkers premise and I enjoyed it. I didn’t really follow a lot of the alien philosophy, something about the fathers eating their children but it doesn’t matter – it’s one long getting-to-know-you montage and I’m here for that. I’m also extremely here for Nicole Kidman as a punk Queen and would like to move into her artists’ loft STAT.
Elle Fanning is a dreamy one and her chemistry with Alex Sharp was believable. I enjoyed Enn’s friends, John (Ethan Lawrence) and Vic (Abraham Lewis), the latter of whom is anally probed against his will. This later happens to another character too. This shit didn’t happen down the bus stop in Bexhill town, let me tell you. Although, I would like to go to that weird arse house party.
So yeah, it was fun and nice and looked good with attractive cast members – but I haven’t really thought of it since and the pregnancy story-line is a little cheesy. The very ending is cute though, when we meet a grown up Enn in the nineties.