Tag Archives: Film

Holy Camp! (Film) Review

Or, ‘”Girl”, he said,”at least you didn’t get crucified.”‘

SPOILERS!! If you want to go in clean then skip my intro and move straight into the review.

A user on Letterboxd said this about Holy Camp!:

I never knew I needed a Spanish, Catholic gay musical but here I am.

So you know it’s got to be good. Though perhaps having the heads up that it’s a gay film might ruin the reveal when it comes – because when it does come it is glorious and sweet and I don’t even care about the massive age difference because it is so pure. But don’t let me get carried away now, read away my pretties!

Holy Camp! (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

María and Susana, two rebellious teens spend their summer in a catholic camp. With music as their common denominator, teen rebellion and ecclesiastic order will collide, creating a hymn to freedom and first love.

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My Review

First off this film is gloriously female and I love it for that. We’re offered four really fantastic and well-rounded characters to root for and it feels so refreshing – and while I guess you could say the story line revolves around a man (God), it’s all about these relationships, about love, friendship and searching for your calling in life, whatever that may be. I had all the feels, all the way through.

So María and Susanna (Macarena García and Anna Castillo) are at Catholic Camp for the Summer but they’re not letting that cramp their style. Party animals to the extreme they sneak out at night, take narcotics and dance the hours away to Latina electro in the club. Just watching them brings me out in hives but their clubbing experiences seem joyful. The girls are full of life and hope – but a few cracks begin to show when Susana meets a hot shot music producer who’s interested in meeting with the girls and potentially working with them (they’re a pop duo too).

María doesn’t feel as though their talents are ready for public consumption and when faced with meeting the producer for the first time, she bails, heading back to the camp alone. Oh and even before all of this, María is woken up by an elderly white guy singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ to her – so our girl is already feeling confused about life. Can’t blame her, eh?

Side note: If this film doesn’t make you want to rewatch The Bodyguard immediately, then are you even human?

Susana is not that stoked about being ditched but has set up a meeting at a big party with the producer for a later date. The pair unfortunately fall out when María tells Susana she’s delusional and that their group is immature and bound to make a fool of them. It’s time grow up basically.

It is heartbreaking to see the girls fight but it’s a necessary evil given the course both our central characters are on.

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With the friendship on a rocky path, María continues to see the same old man, each time serenading her with Whitney songs and becomes convinced that she’s seeing God. Susana confides in Sister Milagros (Belén Cuesta) about the producer and this leads the lovely nun to ruminate on her own talents/unfulfilled potential. In a conversation with the awesome drug-dealing cook we learn that Milagros was on the cusp of her own singing success but it didn’t work out.

Milagros fantasises about her own moment in the spotlight via a surreal and wonderful sequence in the basement, which is overheard and witnessed by Susana, who is smoking outside. Meanwhile, both the girls have appeared on the radar of ferocious new Mother Superior (?) Bernarda (Gracia Olayo). She’s determined to whip these little troublemakers into shape, much to their chagrin. This changes a little when she learns that the girls are into music and she opens up to María about a flash mob she’s choreographed.

Side note: One of the best scenes features Bernada and Milagros singing and dancing together – and one of the lyrics made me snort out loud. It’s the one I used above as my ‘alternative’ title. I love these two so, so much.

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María, in response to Bernada’s dance overtures, confides that she’s been seeing God. At first Bernada is quite in agreement that he is all around but when María insists that she is actually SEEING HIM, B sets about training her to find out what he wants from her in the best way possible. In contrast, Susana is shown making out with her boyfriend and showing off her own dance moves, presumably in preparation for the big party rapidly approaching.

When God appears again and María prays to him just as B has shown her, he scoffs at her and disappears. This devastates María and in the kerfuffle, her secret is outed to the other two women. While Milagros phones the Vatican, she laments her failure to connect properly with God. The girls sort of touch base about the party, with Susana saying she doesn’t want to go without María – and that they’re in it together but the truce doesn’t last long.

Milagros goes out of her way to try and convince Susana not to waste her one opportunity but when she tries a similar pep talk on María, trying to talk her out of all this God business, Susana goes ballistic. Revealing that she’s secretly in love with a certain singing nun – she wonders how Milagros dares try dissuade her best friend from her calling – even if that calling seems so far-fetched. If she, Susanna can be gay and in love with a nun, then why can’t Maria be in love with God? Which is a fair point. As Susanna says, to each their own.

Shocked by this outburst, Milagros is even more stunned when Susana kisses her and meanwhile, off camera I whooped. Could Mialgros feel the same way about Susanna? How will the girls get back in God’s graces?

More importantly can we all just bury the hatchet and be best friends forever with no more cross words ever uttered?

My Thoughts

You know last week’s sub-par cock fest? This is the antidote to that. Where Love was pretentious, dull and full to the brim with misogynistic rhetoric, Holy Camp! is fun and touching – a study on friendship and the support women give unflinchingly when they love one another, romantically, platonically, whatever.

It looks great, the songs are brilliant – a mixture of Whitney classics and original songs, all of which are uplifting and hilarious. Plus the final number is ridiculously joyous.

Holy Camp! does look at religion but it does so in such a way that it doesn’t judge and that must be very difficult to pull off. In fact I take from it that to each their own also applies to faith which is a brilliant, simple message that I completely buy into.

Both central girls are gorgeous but they’re also warm and I feel their chemistry radiating off the screen. Particularly in the cabin scene, in which Susana declares her unwavering loyalty to María and her God dilemma. As mentioned though, this film has four vital corners and that includes Bernada and Milagros. Seriously, I love a mostly female cast and this is one of the most likable I’ve seen in a while.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Also, have some animated GIFs as a special treat. You are welcome.

What does my holy angel think of this one? I already know but if you want to find out if she’d pledge her love to it eternal or renounce it forever, find out here.

Love (Film) Review

Love: or What the fuck did you expect, Murphy?

This week’s pick has a very high opinion of itself which at least makes one of us. It is definitely NSFW, not that you’d be watching French-Belgian art house at your place of work but you know what I mean: lots of private parts and shagging. You have been warned.

*Spoilers*

Love (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Murphy is an American living in Paris who enters a highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship with the unstable Electra. Unaware of the effect it will have on their relationship, they invite their pretty neighbor into their bed.

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My Review

Murphy and Electra (Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock) are a highly-sexed couple. He is an American film student, while Electra is some sort of artist (who never seems to do any art but who am I to judge?). Their relationship is rather turbulent if truth be told but we don’t explore that until after they’ve broken up.

When we first meet Murphy he is living with his wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and their new baby. Murphy receives an email from Electra’s mother who tells him that she hasn’t seen her daughter for months. Presumed missing, this sends old Murphy into a tailspin as he contacts their old friends to try to locate his ex – while reminiscing about the love they let get away.

Via non-linear flashback we learn that the couple asked their then neighbour Omi to join them for a cheeky threesome, only for Murphy to get her pregnant behind Electra’s back after their original night together. This causes the break up of the relationship and although it’s not easy to follow the timeline, leads Electra deeper into the world of drugs.

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Their love affair has already proven over-dramatic, rife with infidelity, drug abuse and fighting but it has also been rooted in a sort of love, an idealistic ride-or-die mentality that does not ring true in the end. Murphy fucks strangers at parties (which gets confusing because he has a penchant for attractive dark-haired Europeans) while Electra is unfaithful with her sugar-daddy ex.

They talk about having babies and dying without each other but can’t seem to get it together to be kind to one another. Murphy screams insults at his lover while she spirals out of control on drugs and lord knows what.

In present day, Murphy longs to go back to a ‘better’ time before he fucked it all up with Electra – and resents Omi and their child, who I think might be called Gaspar? It’s a miserable scene, man as Omi knows only too well that Murphy is pining for his past.

Meanwhile Murphy’s whiny as fuck inner voice calls his wife a bitch for tricking him into family life which just made me want to bash his head in.

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Will Murphy atone for his cavalier attitude towards Electra (and all women really) or will he make the most of his new life with Omi? And will he ever stop being such a grade A fuck boi? I think we all know that answer to that last one.

The problem with Love is that I hated everyone. Even my sympathy for Omi wore paper-thin (something about her pompous Pro-life speech on her first date with the couple sealed that). Murphy is a deeply unlikable guy with such a casual attitude towards the women in his life, realistic maybe for a young student but it doesn’t bode well for his likability factor – I hated him. I hated the way he cheated on his girlfriend, how he spoke to both Electra and Omi, basically everything he did. There’s a scene where he almost has sex with a trans prostitute and I didn’t like his homophobic attitude there either. Like, just fuck off Murphy.

Electra is a complex(ish) creature but there’s not much character development and we never get any answers. As for the erotic elements, it soon becomes tiresome to see so much fucking.

I kept leaving the room for ages and coming back to the same extended scene. I’m no prude but this is trying to be shocking for shocking’s sake and it’s pretty whack. Plus, sex is never that well-lit, I’m sure of it.

This is nowhere close to Gaspar Noé‘s Irreversible, which is a very hard watch but also a heartbreaking look at the after effects of sexual assault on the victim and their relationships.

My Rating

0.5/5. I hated everything about this.

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What did my love think of this one? Did she want to bang its brains out or in with a brick? Find out here.

Overdue Catch Up & Weekly Digest

I thought I’d do a general catch up and a Weekly Digest in one today because it’s been a while. Lucky you, eh?

The last few weeks have been pretty busy catching up and actually socialising in the sunshine for a change, something I am resolutely against (kind of). I’ve been blessed with the people in my life who actually make me feel cooler and younger by proxy. So that’s been nice.

A few weeks back we went to Margate for my brother’s birthday and I can honestly say I’m in love – to the point I’ve been googling jobs there. It’s not a viable option but boy would I love to live in Margate – it’s just got a vibe I can see myself embracing and I want in. Again, it’s pie in the sky but it’s nice to have a dream, right? – and you just never know!

Much as I love Brighton I do worry about the lack of bang for your buck, rent is astronomical (as with a lot of places outside London I know) and even if we are ever lucky enough to buy our own place, it will be hard to find a good deal. So sometimes I do fantasise about starting a new life in other towns, I’m sure that’s quite normal. Anyway, for now Margate has my heart and maybe the novelty will wear off, maybe it won’t – all I know is that it feels good right now!

And this leads me seamlessly into the things I am currently digging.

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Dreamland, Margate

The happiest place in the South of England? Possibly. And a great venue – I’m really interested in seeing Roni Size in August – either way I’ve been once and I’m obsessed.

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Mom Jeans

I’m so into Mom jeans right now. High waisted is apparently the style I’ve been seeking all my life and now it’s here I can’t stop. Any wardrobe should boast multiple pairs though so it’s practical if nothing else to stock up. Right?

L-R: Blue mom jeans, £30 ~ Blue/Black wash mom jeans, £16 (in sale) ~ Washed Black mom jeans, £32

REVENGE

Revenge (2017)

I’m not super crazy about rape revenge and this is exactly that, however I was pleasantly surprised by Revenge. I thought Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz as the abused Jen was really interesting to watch and while of course this is horrible, it’s quite an aesthetically pleasing body horror with a soundtrack and imagery reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino.

Honestly, some of the colours and shots are spectacular.

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CYO This Line’s A Keeper Semi-permanent Eyeliner

This liquid liner does not budge and it’s a fine replacement for Seventeen Tattoo Me Eyeliner, which was brutally discontinued recently. Shame I spent £16 on the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner before I found this beauty, eh? The trials and tribulations of a riot grrrl, eh?

What are you digging this week?

I Am Not a Witch (Film) Review

Or: Witches be cray.

We round out May-hem Month with this beauty from Rungano Nyoni, Zambian-born turned Welsh national and first time film maker. I don’t know how Jill feels about this one yet but I can certainly say this may be the jewel in the crown as far as this month is concerned, and it’s been a pretty eclectic month.

I Am Not a Witch (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft.

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My Review

8-year-old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) wanders around her local village silently and apparently aimlessly. As she doesn’t appear to have any family, friends or home – and appeared out of nowhere one day, the locals are convinced she’s a witch. Especially since they claim that odd things started happened as soon as she arrived. When a local woman falls down whilst carrying a bucket of water and blames Shula, she is taken away to a government-funded witch camp (which sounds kind of fun actually).

To give you an idea of the kind of court ruling we are dealing with here: the determining factor of whether Shula is a witch or not is the dance of a dead chicken, conducted by a real life witch doctor. If he dies inside a small circle of salt, Shula is not a witch, if he dies outside, well you get the picture.

The camp itself is part work camp, part tourist attraction where holiday makers snap pictures of the witches who gurn good-naturedly for the cameras. Each witch is strapped to a spindle of ribbon that keeps them from flying away. When they fly they go killing according to local lore.

Shula tries to run away on the first day but that night is welcomed by the other witches via the medium of song and is given a choice – cut her own ribbon and risk being turned into a goat or stay grounded and accept that she’s a witch. A no-brainer you could say. So Shula adapts and even seems happy when some of the more seasoned witches take her under their wings. One even lectures her on the importance of education and teaches her how to eavesdrop on lessons being taught at the local schools.

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Shula is nameless until she meets the other witches – they give her this moniker because it means ‘uprooted’. Just as our girl is getting her bearings, she is taken away from her new community and on the road by a government official. She is required to use her witchy powers to point out the guilty party in minor legal disputes and make TV appearances, among other duties.

The same official also allows her into his home and reveals something of a secret to her at the same time, that his own wife is also a witch who has gained respectability through marriage. The official’s wife makes it clear that if Shula desires the same life then she has to do as she’s told at all times.

Well, it might please you to learn that Shula does not roll that way and slowly but surely starts to push against these new responsibilities. Her rebellion drives her new ‘guardian’ mad and as she refuses to make it rain (literally) and shows him up in front of an important ‘white man’, both Shula and his wife are threatened with being cast back to where they came from.

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Will Shula return to whence she came or does the universe have something more divine in store for her? Well, this is a five-star movie in my opinion so it would be cool if you saw it yourself but let’s just say that the ending is stark and incredibly haunting – and I sort of felt destroyed afterwards.

IANAW is by no means a bleak and brittle piece though. It is handled with a sense of humour that works incredibly alongside the severity of Shula’s story. Her tale if you think about it is completely farcical, with these women condemned on hearsay alone but it is also based on actual stories of witchcraft in Zambia.

There’s a lot to be said about the treatment of women here too, of how flimsy the evidence is against them and of how they are treated by society. While some are lucky enough to be ‘rescued’ from their fates, they must conform to a very strict code in order to stay saved and the ultimate goal is respectability. A very boring goal indeed.

The film looks gorgeous and the performances are wicked. Especially Maggie Mulubwa as Maggie, a non-actor who nails her soulful performance with hardly any dialogue. We never really get to the bottom of her true story but the ending suggests that perhaps there is something in the folklore after all.

Basically I loved every minute, it’s fucking brilliant.

My Rating

5/5.

What did my own little witch think of this one? Would she turn it into a goat or take it for a ride in a big orange lorry? Find out here.

The Transfiguration (Film) Review

Love, loss and vampires? Where do we sign, right?

*Spoilers*

The Transfiguration (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

When troubled teen Milo, who has a fascination with vampire lore, meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to blur Milo’s fantasy into reality.

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My Review

Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a weirdo, sorry but there it is. A loner in a lonely world, he sees a regular councilor and stares out of the window in class. He’s also obsessed with vampire folklore, with vamp literature and film – and lives at home with his brother Lewis (Aaron Moten).

The boys live unaccompanied as both their parents have shuffled off this mortal coil, their mother more recently by suicide. Lewis has stopped hanging with the local gang and he’s also been to prison, hence the turnaround. Now the boys for the most part live together in harmony, if you don’t count their endless financial strife, Milo’s secrets and the constant bullying he is forced to contend with. Plus Lewis does not seem to understand Milo and his persistent staring at all.

Milo, for the record is not just interested in vampire culture but is intent on becoming one. He pieces together his own book of ‘rules’ and a concept of what he considers ‘realistic’ vampire behaviour – and this sometimes takes him to a very dark place. Like the darkest place imaginable. Vampires, after all can’t function without bloodshed.

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When Sophie (Chloe Levine) shows up at Milo and Lewis’ apartment block to stay with her grandfather, she and the vampire-botherer quickly but tentatively develop a connection. Milo has no friends and spends the majority of his time alone so this new friendship is meaningful. Sophie has also lost both of her parents and is physically abused by her awful new guardian. Her escape is Milo and they bond over their traumatic lives, their sense of loss and Sophie’s self harm.

Milo shares his favourite vampire movies with Sophie and she tries to get him to read Twilight, something he’s reluctant to do since he doesn’t think it will fit in with his picture of what vampires really are (e.g. sparkly vampires seem just that one step too far). Also, don’t do it Milo, it’s unbearable.

As the friendship deepens, so does Milo’s desire to turn himself. He’s dappled in the past. In fact, the film opens with a little neck sucking action which is so matter of fact it’s almost forgettable. When Milo leads a white tourist into a dangerous situation that ends in the worst possible way, he finds himself on the wrong side of the neighbourhood gang, the very same dudes who taunt him with names and enjoy roughing him up.

How is all this going to pan out for our anti-hero and his new love interest? Will the boys ever escape the grasp of their less-than-stellar environment? And will Milo be successful in his quest to become a modern-day Dracula? Only one way to find out!

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My Thoughts

Well, I think this film is actually great in many ways but isn’t the most pleasant viewing experience. There are a lot of loaded stares and extended silences and although they have meaning, that isn’t always the most comfortable watch. Lewis seems to despair of his brother when he actually just looks like he could do with a hug but Milo doesn’t help himself with his bizarre behaviour.

Milo’s fantasies could well be a symptom of his unprocessed grief, especially as we learn that he found his mother’s body after she had slashed her own wrists. Although, the fact that he tastes her blood as it congeals is also a cause for concern and might suggest that he already had a macabre obsession with the undead before all this happened.

The Transfiguration is good-looking and quite a fresh take on the vampire sub-genre. The film is soaked with sadness and the feeling of loss permeates everything. The fact that we rarely meet an adult character adds to the sense of neglect and it does feel as though nobody really cares about anybody (a metaphor for the lower classes?). Milo’s loneliness hangs heavy and while a lot of his behaviour is seriously dubious (in one scene he slaughters a child), it’s hard not to feel for him.

The ending is pretty crushing too, a brutal comment on the flimsiness of life and I can’t deny it’s stayed with me ever since I saw it on Sunday. Personally I also seriously enjoyed all Milo’s referencing of classic vamp movies, from Nosferatu to Near Dark and Let the Right One In. Kid’s got fine taste, there’s no question there.

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My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my vampire queen think of this bad boy? Would she turn it in a heartbeat or leave in on the street like yesterday’s news? Find out here.

Motivated May

I am hereby renaming this coming month Motivated May and vow to post at least three times a week for the month.

I have so many book reviews and half-completed drafts in my folder that I’d love to finally publish – plus, it won’t hurt me to have a think about the posts I write for a while. Film reviews are great and I love doing them with Jill but I have more in me, I swear.

In other news, I’ve started a film blog over at Thursday Night at the Movies where I talk solely about films I’ve seen in the cinema. It’s going pretty well and encouraging me to go to the theater as much as possible and see things I might not normally. Have a glance, if you’re into it.

So, a busy month ahead, which is good because I’m never happier than when I’m watching movies, blogging and podcasting.

See you soon!

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?