Jillian & Christa's Great Blog Collab 2018, The Movies

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.

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Feminist February, Jillian & Christa's Great Blog Collab 2018, The Movies

Queen of Katwe (Film) Review

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I’m not above admitting that sports movies are not the one for me. Especially chess movies. And yet here I am, gasping and weeping and cheering in all the right places as our 14-year-old heroine kicks the arse of a woman twice her age at the beautiful game. GO PHIONA!

A fine choice by Jill for Feminist Film Week.

*Spoilers*

Queen of Katwe (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

My Review

Phiona Mutesi (Madina Malwanga) lives with her family in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. Times are fucking tough and she’s expected, along with her brother Brian (Martin Kabanza), to get out there and help earn the money to keep them fed and housed.

One day Brian gets talking with a local football coach Robert (David Oyelowo) who notices him sitting on the sidelines of a match being played by the other boys. Brian is adamant that football is dangerous and therefore not something he’s up for. Coach Robert mentions another game that might be more his speed, especially when utilised to drift rich city boys out of their gold watches. Yes, he’s talking about chess – bet you never thought of it in such glamorous terms?

Brian goes along to the local youth center to learn how to play under Robert’s tutelage. Shortly afterwards, Phiona follows and at first is mocked by the other children for her less than hygienic appearance. Girl’s been working, you pricks, cut her some slack. Much to Robert’s delight, Phiona doesn’t run away, instead she beats down the instigator of the teasing and returns the next day freshly showered and ready to learn.

Over the course of several years Phiona proves herself to be a talented and forward-thinking player, able to think eight moves ahead, something only the very great masters are capable of. Shit isn’t easy in Katwe though, not for anyone, not even coach himself.

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Robert earns peanuts teaching sports to underprivileged kids and is ashamed his Engineering degree still doesn’t make him the main breadwinner in his family. His lovely school-teacher wife and baby love him though and frankly, Sara (Esther Tebandeke) is a saint. She embraces Phiona immediately and teaches her to read the chess books Robert has in his collection. The couple get both Brian and Phiona into school on scholarships – and are probably the greatest living humans on this planet.

Phiona’s mother Nakku (Lupita Nyong’o) is a ferocious tigress, struggling to keep her family afloat without resorting to prostituting herself like some of the other ladies in the village. (I’d have cracked on day one personally). She’s also at loggerheads with her stubborn eldest daughter Night, who has run off with the local bad boy.

Nakku is torn between letting her daughter grab opportunity where it’s presented – and being a stone cold realist. And when Phiona, fresh from a string of successes in various tournaments starts showing signs of cockiness, she is eager to shut it down. Will she come round to Phiona’s dreams or will she put her foot down once and for all?

Will Phiona perform as well as she thinks she will in big competition or is it too soon for her? And will the family ever settle in their own home, no longer dependent on the tolerance of indifferent landlords?

Only one way to find out!

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My Thoughts

Sometimes it’s just really nice to watch a feel-good movie. Films like this often pass me by because I prefer my entertainment a little grimier, but I guess the whole point of collaborating with a partner is to try things I wouldn’t normally and I was pleased with this.

A Disney movie, this was always going to be on the wholesome side but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an edge. Lupita is a highlight for me, she is such a star. Malwanga too carries this film with such tenacity that you’re continually rooting for her. I love the chemistry between all the kids in fact.

My Rating

3.5/5. Check flipping mate!

What does the Queen of My Heart think of this one? Would she take it to competition or throw the board in the river? Find out here.

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Feminist February, Jillian & Christa's Great Blog Collab 2018, The Movies

Frances Ha (Film) Review

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“Ahoy, Sexy?” ~ Frances

Welcome to the second best Collab month of the year: Feminist Film Month! And what better way to kick it off than with a film starring one of my all-time fave women in film? The original double G. What a gal.

This movie could possibly be one of the best representations of the hipster cliche too and I only 80% covet the exact same life for myself. (83%).

To the review!

*Spoilers*

Frances Ha (2012)

IMDB Synopsis

A New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment) apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer) and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as the possibility of realizing them dwindles.

My Review

Dance company understudy Frances (Gerwig) is in a long-term friendship with Sophie, her BFF and roommate (Mickey Sumner). Things are blissful until France’s boyfriend buys two hypoallergenic cats and asks her to move in with him. Her reluctance to let Sophie down derails the relationship for good and Frances returns to their grainy best friend montages with barely a backward glance.

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Patty Cake: the most hipster of hipster sports

Things change though when Sophie suddenly decides to move into an artists’ house in a different neighbourhood. Gradually she begins to spend her time with other people, including her boyfriend Patch (Patrick Heusinger) and some girl called Lisa (who’s a cunt apparently).

In turn, Frances moves in with her new friends Benji and Lev (Michael Zegen and my boy Adam Driver). Lev is a casual womaniser, while Benji is more to Frances’ speed, a decent Sophie replacement, especially after the two women have a blazing row about Patch.

In the aftermath of their fight, Frances finds herself not really dancing (aka working) and flitting between apartments. For a while she lives with another dancer, who doesn’t share her passion for rough and tumble play-fighting like Sophie does.

When Frances finds out secondhand that Sophie is moving to Japan with Patch, she starts to lose her grip – and on a whim decides to visit Paris for two days. Thus begins one of the most lonely weekend breaks I’ve ever seen committed to the big screen, as Frances tries to hook up with an old friend but keeps missing her and explores the city of lights alone.

During a phone call with Sophie, who’s finally called to tell her the news about Japan, it seems as though the women work it out but Frances’ optimism is manufactured to make Sophie feel better and it makes me want to sob uncontrollably.

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The little matchstick girl, but with books

Back in NYC, Frances loses her position as apprentice with the dance troupe but is offered work in the office instead. She declines and takes off to her old university for the Summer to be a camp counselor (or something similar). Here she bumps into Sophie and Patch of all people and it soon transpires that the pair are back in the US for Patch’s grandfather’s funeral.

Sophie and Frances have a drunken heart to heart in which Sophie admits she isn’t going to marry Patch (the two have gotten engaged) and that she hates Tokyo. She vows to leave Tokyo – and Patch – to return to New York for good and live in the same neighbourhood as Frances but in the cold light of the next morning, she loses her resolve.

After this, Frances slowly starts to pull her own life back together, first accepting the job at the dance company and then taking advice from her former boss, by choreographing her own show. The show is a modest success and Frances receives positive feedback. She finally finds her own apartment and there’s even a hint of romance on the horizon for  her and old friend Benji.

Things are looking up but will she ever get her friendship with Sophie back on track? I’ll leave that for you to find out.

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What Insta filter is this?

My Thoughts

What a zingy script this film has. Frances’ relentless riffing is joyous and clever but also hugely relatable to anyone who has ever felt wildly out of control of their own life. (All of us at one time or another I’m willing to bet).

There are so many quotable lines from this film that it’s almost impossible to pick a favourite. I’ll list a selection at the end.

My favourite thing about this film is that it’s a love story between two friends. Men come and go but the real focus is whether Sophie and Frances will make it. I love it for that. There’s a tragic inevitably to everything too – that whole concept of being left behind while everyone moves on and grows up, it’s terrifying.

All in all this is one of my favourite films and I can even dislike it for how cool and pretentious it could appear to some people. It’s just beautiful and hopeful  and smart. So there.

My Rating

5/5. Ace of base. A real joy of a film from start to finish.

Feminist Rating

4.5/5. ‘Cos it’s about a central female friendship complete with a wonderful reading/knitting scene. Would have been 5 if Sophie had dumped her boyfriend.

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“Hey, Sophie – you’re a ledge-end!”

Fave Quotes

Benji: Are you still undateable?
Frances: Oh yes, very undateable.

Frances: Don’t treat me like a three-hour brunch friend!

Sophie: It’s just this apartment is very… aware of itself.

Frances: But your blog looks so happy.
Sophie: I don’t think my *mom* would read it if it were about depression.
Frances: My mom would.

What did my good lady wife think of Frances Ha? Would she film it flatteringly in B&W or move to Tokyo to get away from it? Find out here.

 

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A Voluptuous Mind, This is 40

40 Women

40 women I admire – in real life, in literature, music, film and from afar.

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Mum // Björk
Lisbeth Salander // Wonder Woman
Maya Angelou // Tora Richardson
Meghan Lightle // Madonna
Kathleen Hanna // Dawn French

Untitled design (22)

Becky Saunders // Lynne Ramsay
Marilyn Monroe // Lady Gaga
Madeleine Martin // Sofia Coppola
Debbie Harry // Sarah Waters
Kathy Burke // Rihanna

Untitled design (23)

Victoria Wood // Pam Grier
Uma Thurman // Jane Goldman
Jillian Sandy // Barbra Streisand
Melanie Lynskey // Winona Ryder
The Wachowskis // Yayoi Kusama

Untitled design (26)

Ana Lily Amirpour // Beyoncé
Tatjana Frankland // Bae Doona 
Dolly Parton // Amy Jump
Julie Newmar // Rosario Dawson 
Carrie Fisher // Kristen Wiig 

Untitled design (25)
All women always ❤

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A Voluptuous Mind, Feminism

Anger

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The other day someone (a dude) asked me why women are so pissed off these days. Instead of punching him in throat and screaming “Because of you motherfuckers!!”, I took a breath and told him to look around him. Predictably I didn’t finish my sentence before my piece was derailed by a #notallmen remark and I’m quite certain none of my points got through his thick skull. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying though.

I feel like I’m angry all the time these days. Angry I have to get a bus home after dark for fear of walking home alone, angry I can’t finish a sentence without being interrupted. Angry every time I pick up a paper or log onto Twitter and read another story about another man abusing his position. Angry for every one of the women I know who has a #metoo story.

I’m pissed about all my own experiences. For the time a man told me he could rape me if he wanted to outside Sydney bus station when I was 20. For being followed home more than once but most recently in my own sleepy hometown. For last Christmas when a stranger grabbed my arse at our works do and squeezed it really fucking hard, like it was his right.

I’m angry for all the times my nasty ex told me I was lucky he wasn’t the type to hit a woman. For all the times he told me I needed psychiatric help and my mother agreed with him (she didn’t obviously but he wanted me to believe she did, as if they were in cahoots. As if). And for the time he bullied me into going topless on the beach in Barcelona and simultaneously poisoned my memory of that beautiful city.

Most of all I’m fucking furious he made me hate and blame myself for letting it happen, and for making me question my place on this earth.

I don’t hate men but they make me angry. Of course not all fucking men but every single man has a responsibility to be better and that is a fact. They might not directly hurt women but laughing when their friend makes a Harvey Weinstein joke is part of the problem (and so much more besides). We can all be better and I know I’m not perfect either. I’ve turned a blind eye many times in the past just so I don’t come off as a rabid feminist killjoy.

No more. I will be better and so will the men in my life. I demand it.

What are you angry about today?

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Blogtober 2017, Girl Power

International Day of the Girl Child

Yesterday was International Day of the Girl Child and also, World Obesity Day. The latter as you can imagine divided the internet and a lot of the fat babes I follow on Twitter claimed the hashtag for themselves as a form of celebration. I was there for it as always, as were the usual boring trolls and health police. YAWN.

All I can say in response to the usual BS comments online is that every person, whoever they are and whatever they look like, even if they offend your eyes or make you feel concerned for their personal welfare, are deserving of love and respect. And you have no right to comment on anybody else’s body – ever. Do you.

In the meantime, twirl on those haters, ladies.

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Anyway, I’m here to talk about GIRLS. I often think about how sad it is I will never have a girl child of my own. Which might sound stupid given my strong stance on not having children – like, never ever – but that doesn’t mean I have taken my decision lightly.

There are many personal reasons for not wanting to be a mother and this is not the time to discuss them but I do think about what it would be like to have a daughter to mirror the great relationship I have with my own mother. I can just imagine a ferociously grouchy little riot grrrl with my hair.

Despite there not being a daughter in my future, I have such amazing women in my life – and amazing women to come, in the shape of nieces (hopefully), future friends and future children of friends. They are all my daughters, sisters and mothers and that is what I’m here to celebrate today.

So a shout out to the women in my life, and these lovely bloggers below.

Jill 

Wifey for life. A talented, beautiful babe who just understands that sometimes people are the worst. Life is better knowing this one is only ever a message away, even when life is busy.

Meghan

This guy, man. This guy is the greatest, and if you read her blog, you’ll see why. The sharpest writer and the baddest motherfucker in town.

Belle of the Bluegrass

Lydia is such a beautiful writer and her blog is a gorgeous space to hang out. A dream girl online and IRL, I’m a massive fan.

Ponderous Pieces

I love Hannah’s PP and particularly enjoy the Bae Watch series. And pretty much everything else that she publishes, I won’t lie.

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And to every single woman or girl who comes by here, every woman I know – I appreciate you and all that you are.

Always.

Who are your Girls? 👩🏻‍🎤💃🏼👯

Right, no more International or World Days of anything! Back to horror best tomorrow.

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Stuff I Dig, Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest #4

What I’m digging this week.

Stranger Things Season 2 Trailer & Poster

Season Two is coming around Halloween and could there be a better show to hunker down with as the nights draw in? I don’t think so.

So damned excited.

Fat Girl (2001)

This film, man. I can’t believe I’ve only just picked up on it (via the medium of Letterboxd, naturally).

It tells the tale of two sisters, the youngest of whom spends most of her time jealously watching her sibling as she gives in to adult desire. Oh, she’s also fat and constantly eating so right away I’m with her. It’s not at all what I was expecting but it is a satisfyingly accurate study on adolescence, teenage desire and the rivalry between girls.

It’s also one of the most shocking films I’ve seen recently – make of that what you will.

Darling (2015)

Another bloody gem.

Blissfully disgusting, genuinely creepy and stunning to look at, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea as it sometimes veers into hammy territory but I loved it. Very fucking cool.

Both this and Fat Girl will be coming to a podcast episode near you soon!

The 13th Doctor Who & the Men Who Can’t Stand It!

I’m not a regular Doctor Who viewer: I dip in and out sometimes because my step son likes it. Despite this, I could not be more stoked for the first female doctor!

Even though I was holding out for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, I’m happy with the choice made. From what I know of Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Adult Life Skills) she’s cool and more than capable of making the role her own. She must feel incredible right now. I think I might start watching again.

As for the men, I know I should be cross about all the misogynistic comments about having a woman Who (and I am) but they’re just so pathetic. Like, honestly, get over yourselves. This is Ghostbusters all over again and you’re turds.

These memes are fucking fantastic, though.

What are you digging this week?

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