The Firefly (Film) Review

Jill and I settled on Gay July because we’ve always had pretty good success with LGBTQIA films within the collab – and there are some great ones on Netflix at the moment. So let’s kick back with this Colombian love story, shall we?

*Spoilers*

The Firefly (2013) or La luciérnaga (original title)

IMDB Synopsis

After the sudden death of her estranged brother, Lucia accidentally meets his fiancée and falls in love with her.

My Review

Lucia (Carolina Guerra) is estranged from her brother Andres (Manuel José Chaves) because he failed to attend his own father’s funeral. There’s A LOT of family turmoil going on since he also believes he killed their mother (she died giving birth to him). As a result, the siblings have not seen each other for three years and Lucia is unaware that her brother is marrying Mariana (Olga Segura).

On the day of the wedding Lucia has no knowledge of, Andres decides he can’t go through it without her and jumps in the car to go and get her. On the way he is killed in an accident and neither marries the love of his life, nor reconciles with his willful sister.

On learning of Andres’ accident, both women are devastated. Mariana flees the wedding in her dress and collapses in the middle of a busy intersection, while Lucia takes to her bed and is unresponsive for days afterward. Her husband Adrian (Andrés Aranburo) is present to a point but he doesn’t seem particularly sympathetic.

The beginning of the film tells us that Lucia is going to break up with him anyway so he’s already marked as surplus to requirements, so don’t worry. Mariana tells her family she is going to Mexico and holes up in Andres’ apartment – which is fortuitous as Lucia has the same idea. The women meet here for the first time. YAY!

The movie comprises a heap of flashbacks to build a picture of Andres’ past relationship with his sister, up until the point they fall out, and how he met and fell in love with Mariana. Which is happy/sad to behold, particularly when Andres ruminates the loss of his sister to Mariana.

Healing is painful but together they are able to take the time they need to start the process. This involves drunken dance parties and Lucia writing a letter to Andres seeking his forgiveness. Mariana then makes her burn it. They also visit the graveside.

Little by little the bond the women share begins to turn into something stronger and it’s bloody amazing. Mariana is surprised when she learns that Lucia is married because she’s never thought to mention it. Neither did she mention the fact that she can’t get pregnant despite their many attempts to do so.

When Lucia tells Mariana her relationship status is complicated, she cryptically asks her: isn’t life too short for that? You’re damn right, M – it bloody well is. This rhetoric is further bolstered when Adrian fucks off on a business trip right in the middle of Lucia’s grieving process and she realises it’s over.

MV5BNTI2MTE0NDQtNzc5MC00NDZmLTlmYTktYTk5MGZlYTYyZDQ1L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjI0OTczMjc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,888_AL_

M asks her to move into Andres’ apartment but Lucia suggests a mini break instead. Well, that trip changes everything forever but again it isn’t plain sailing because Lucia is seriously confused. Which you can kind of understand.

Will she follow her heart and take all this as meant to be? And why is Mariana throwing up all the time? Hmmmmm.

My Thoughts

The Firefly is lovely but man is it melodramatic. There are times it plays out like a telenovela – my God, ladies CHILL. Mariana’s Miss Haversham-esque few days swanning around in her wedding dress may be understandable, but it’s a bit over-dramatic. And there aren’t really any surprises here, the tale plays out by numbers. I’m not necessarily criticising it for that, it’s just an observation.

What I do criticise is the fact that Andres’ best friend knew he’d gone to find his sister on his wedding day and as far as I can tell, never tells her. You’d think that would be kind of a big deal to hear, non?

The strength of this film, as with any love story, lies in the chemistry between our leads. The hand holding and the loaded looks, the pool kisses and the fun they have together is lovely to witness – and it doesn’t help that both women are warm and so bloody beautiful. So, sure it’s a little bit all over the place but its heart is in the right place – it’s a good take on grieving and growing, of loving again as though you’ve never been hurt and of grabbing those fresh starts when you can. I’m all for that.

The Firefly 5
“I know you’re sad, but we need to talk about that horrible cardigan…”

What does the Queen of my Heart think of this one? Would she buy it dubious knitwear or leave it by the side of the road in the rain? 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.

A009_L002_1020RZ

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.

LOVE_4-e1438841761142

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.

5587bebd-af5e-4cc9-8f47-d000fb5888cd

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.

maxresdefault

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

Barbara (Film) Review

Barabara_Plakat_07_Layout 1Welcome to our first collaborative review of 2016! Last year’s Collab was a blast as far as I’m concerned, featuring many, many films I never would have picked to watch myself but I’m glad I’ve seen. Yes, even the really awful ones.

I’m excited to see what this year will bring in terms of hidden gems, heinous mistakes and everything in between.

We’ve agreed that this period is about doing whatever the fuck we want, so I think it’s a bolder version of Blog Free & Die Hard. Blog Free & Die Even Harder, if you will (and in lieu of anything more imaginative, it’s been a really aggy day.)

This week we’re watching a German film (Jill’s choice) and I have high hopes for a decent rating. Let’s see shall we?

Barbara (2012)

Director: Christian Petzold
Stars: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock

IMDB Synopsis: A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital.

My Review:

Barbara is a chain-smoking doctor, recently moved to a rural town having just been released from being incarcerated.

Incarcerated?! I hear you cry. Well, because I’m quite dippy and was texting at the beginning of this movie (bad Christa), I missed why she was locked up and thought it was for some dark and twisted reason. In fact, according to Barbara’s Wikipedia page, she was punished for applying for an “Ausreiseantrag” – an official request to leave the country, and specifically, East Germany. I never knew of such a thing, so I’ve learnt something new here. Oo-er.

Anyway. Barbara is treated like scum by local police officers who continually hang around her home and randomly search her premises, looking for contraband and anything they can pin on her. They also subject her to humiliating cavity searches, seemingly for their own shits ‘n’ gigs. It’s all very perverse and these man are pigs, unsurprisingly.

On her first day at her new hospital posting, Barbara stands out, and not in a particularly good way. The other doctors mutter things about that being “Berlin” for you and basically they think she’s a stuck up cow. Maybe she’s just sick of shit and wants to be left the fuck alone, you bitches.

La-scelta-di-Barbara
“I am smokin’ a faaaaaaaag.”

My first observation about Barbara is superficial AF: she dresses cute and I like her accessories. She also looks cool smoking, which is a bad message but I don’t care. If I thought I looked as good, I would start myself (but probably with candy cigarettes).

B quickly catches the eye of nice Doctor André Reiser who tells her she shouldn’t stay so “separate”. This unwarranted advice does not go down very well (and rightly so, mate). Plus, he lets slip while giving her a lift home that he already knows where she lives, and therefore everything else about her.

Our heroine warms somewhat when a young patient called Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) turns up, thus demonstrating she isn’t the Ice Queen we all think she is (or rather the hospital team think she is).

Stella has meningitis and is also pregnant. B goes out of her way to ensure she’s taken care of, until she is rudely dragged back to the labour camp in which she’s being kept. Stella’s options in life are rather limited it would seem: if she decides to keep the baby and stays in the country, she will have it taken away from her, no questions asked.

“Most people text their dick pics these days, love.”

In the midst of the drams, Barbara correctly guesses that Doctor Reiser is reporting back to the authorities on her behaviour and has been tasked with trying to get her to change her mind about leaving Germany. He tells her a horrific story about boiling babies in an incubator (accidentally) to explain why he’s agreed to do this.

He’s also obviously smitten with her but too much of a wet blanket to do anything about it. There are lots of lingering looks and secret smiles, and at one point he sends over a piano tuner to fix her piano. Barbara is not impressed with the unexpected surprise.

I would think André was fit if he didn’t so resemble Brendan Fraser who does zilch for me. There is a frisson between Barbara and André though, espesh when he talks to her about art and literature. Hey, she plays the piano and came from a prestigious hospital before this one, okay? She’s cultured, innit.

Up to no good but looking fucking fabulous

But Babs already has a West German lover called Jörg (Mark Waschke) who sends her money and gifts, and sometimes meets her for secret rendezvous’ in woodland clearings and hotel rooms. I’m not really sure what or who he is but he’s trying to smuggle B out of the country so they can be together.

One night, in a motel room, Jörg explains that the following Saturday night, Barbara must be at a certain meeting point on the beach, (between a big boulder and a small boulder). There she will be picked up by a sailor who will take her to Denmark, where he’ll be waiting.

Barbara also meets a prostitute on the same night which has little bearing on the story, other than to emphasise the fact that even if she marries her lover (Jörg’s friend Gerhard (I think) played by Peter Benedict), he still can’t save her from East Germany politics. She also assumes B is a hooker*.

“I loved you in George of the Jungle…”

Barbara is surprised at how fast everything is moving but is prepared to roll with it. She books the weekend off work with Doctor Reiser, telling him she will be doing up her flat. Thing is,  the hospital has just admitted a new patient, a failed suicide, and the doctors are reluctant to operate on his head injury unnecessarily. Having monitored him for several days, however it becomes clear that they have no alternative but to crack him open like a walnut.

André asks B to be the anesthetist on call the night they operate. And what night will that be, do you think? Hmmmmm.

Meanwhile, Stella escapes from boot camp again and runs off to find her old friend Barbara… Gonna park this here, but not before a round of you-know-whats!

“We’re all going on a Summer Holiday…”

My Questions: 

Does Babs dig the Doctor really? What will become of Stella? Will Barbara abandon her new duties in favour of a new life with Jörg?

What will happen to the head patient Mario (Jannik Shümann)? And will you care by the end of it all?

*At one point the prostitute, Steffi (Susanne Bormann) enters Jörg’s hotel room, not realising Babs is under the covers in bed – and sniffs his suits. I took this in my suspicious mind to assume there might have been something between them, or at the very least that Jörg isn’t that trustworthy. Was that just me, Jill? 

My Thoughts:

This wasn’t a bad film to start the year on. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped either. The performances are good. I find Nina Hoss quite fascinating. All in all I expected more.

My Rating: 3/5. Bit dull TBH but it means well. 

Does Jillian agree or she more sophisticated than me in her cinematic tastes? Find out here.

The Way He Looks (Film) Review

Foreign cinema again but this time with a LGBT vibe, which I think might be the direction our next films will be taking.

Netflix has quite a few interesting offerings in this genre so who knows, the world is our oyster! This film is Brazilian with subtitles in Portuguese – Jillian’s pick.

*Beware spoilers*

the-way-he-looks-poster

The Way He Looks (2014)

Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Stars: Ghilerme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim

IMDB Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.

My Review: 

Leo is blind. He’s also a hot-blooded teenager who fantasises about his first kiss, which he wants to be perfect (e.g. not with the school slut). Except he doesn’t believe anyone will ever want to pash on with him (oh honey, just you wait!). His best friend Giovana is a tad protective (maybe a little into him too) which earns her the nickname ‘human walking stick’ from the school bullies which, I feel, needs some work.

45049f1bb64443cd337607cff585ad59
*insert witty caption here* ‘cos I’ve got writer’s block

Every day she walks out of her way to see him to his gate, because that’s what good BFFs do. Leo takes this in good spirit but is less patient with his parents who are more than a little anxious every time he goes out, comes home to an empty apartment or breathes.

Leo also gets the piss ripped out of him by the obligatory school fuck heads, who mock his loud braille typewriter and imply that he’s gay. Pretty standard bully stuff really, but the kid’s blind, man. There has to be a special section in hell cordoned off for douche bags like Fabio (Pedro Carvalho) who, incidentally is the most irritating character in cinematic history; and not even a very good bully at that.

But back to Leo. One day, on the day he’s having to deal with stupid Fabio, in rocks Gabriel who takes the seat behind him. Before long, Giovana, Leo and Gabriel are thick as thieves, happily hanging out as a threesome but not in that way, obvs – this is a coming-of-age flick not a porno.

hoje
“And again… Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye (say goodbye)…”

While the new friends bond, Leo floats the idea of going abroad with a foreign exchange programme. Even before Gab arrives, Leo has convinced himself that he wants out, to live somewhere alone and gain a bit of independence away from his overbearing family. The Exchange Programme woman is helpful but tells Leo he has to get his parent’s consent plus as a blind person, needs to find a family who’s down with that too. Not that he’s mentioned it to anyone besides Giovana, mind – right now it’s just a thought.

“What do you use to make your hair so curly (I mean not that I can see it)…?”

When the boys are paired together on a school project on Sparta (just watch 300 (2006), yo!), they start to become closer and Giovana feels excluded. More than that, she feels like she’s been completely abandoned. One day when they fail to wait for her after class, she goes mental and refuses to speak to either of them.

Leonardo
Trapped in a glass case of emotion

This only pushes our Romeos closer together. Leo starts to get feelings for Gabriel but doesn’t really know what to do with them. Well, I mean he knows what they mean, but doesn’t push the fact with Gabriel until one night at a party, Gabriel unexpectedly gives Leo his first kiss. N’aw.

THE-WAY-HE-LOOKS (1)
I’ve kissed way worse, don’t worry, Leo

This is after Fabio and his crew have tried to play a cruel trick on Leo whilst playing spin the bottle, which is thankfully twarted by Giovana. This leads to another row, but Giovana doesn’t tell Leo what they’d been planning to save his feelings. (See, good BFF!).

way-he-looks1
“Course I’m not going to draw a giant cock and balls on your back later…”

After the party, Gabriel tells Leo he was super drunk and remembers nothing, apart from having a row with Giovana (who also kissed him but he declined). Later, on a school trip, it becomes clear to us (but not Leo), that Gabriel is having sexy feelings too, though he doesn’t say anything, just looks angsty.

For the rest of the trip, gossip is rife about Gabriel and the school ho-bag, Katrina (Isabela Guasco), who’s a bundle of fun frankly (and unfairly labelled, I think. There’ll be no slut-shaming in this review). It seems apparent, from all ‘the signs’ that they’ll be getting it on later that evening.

Giovana and Leo make up thankfully, and Leo takes the opportunity whilst they’re alone and drinking to confess that he thinks he’s in love with Gabriel. Giovana does not react well and stomps off, though a few days later comes back and apologises, saying that she thinks they’d make a cute couple and that she just needed to get her head around the idea of him being a great big gay (to paraphrase).

Later, Gabriel and Leo are alone and they talk about the kiss and then… lalalala I’m not telling you! 

wayhelookssunshine
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

To the questions section… Will our heroes admit their true feelings to one another? Will Giovana ever get over her jealousy? Will she meet her own special prince? Will Fabio just fuck off already, please?

Will Leo’s parents ever let him go abroad on his own? And will he still want to?

How fit is Leo’s dad? And finally, ain’t love just grand? (Especially young, innocent, boy love?)

My Thoughts: 

Meh. While this is a sweet film, I found it all a little bit after school special. I mean, I like the91yaVuqQJuL._SL1500_ characters and all, I like the angst but there just wasn’t enough oomph for my taste. God, has Wetlands ruined me for nice, gentle and romantic films now? I sure hope not.

There is an innocence about The Way He Looks that’s refreshing but it needed an extra push to take it from okay to great. I’m not sure what my suggestion would be. Just a bit more attitude I think; some sass.

That said, Ghilherme Lobo is really good as Leo. I’m pretty sure from the half-arsed research I did for one minute that he isn’t blind irl, which makes him a bloody acting genius in my eyes, as he was very convincing.

The theme of independence that runs throughout it is also quite a touching one. How frustrating it must be to want freedom so badly but have all control held just out of your reach. This is something I remember from being a teenager, but the added challenge of being blind must amplify the resentment.

Leo’s parents mean well and they’re nice, loving people who care. Leo’s grandma is also a big part of his life (even though I’ve failed to mention her until now) and she’s pretty cool too. When Gabriel picks Leo up to go and work on their assignment, she just knows, you know?

There are some really nice moments, some light comedy and all in all, it’s perfectly fine. Not something that will stick with me, even given the final scenes, which are very, very adorable.

My Rating: 3/5 – *shrug*

What does my partner in crime, Jillian make of this little number? Find out here soon!

Wetlands (Film) Review

feuchtgebiete_ver4After a week’s break, Jillian and I are back with a bang. A finger bang if you will.

I should say here if you don’t want to hear sexual talk from me then you should probably skip this post altogether as it’s going to be very hard not to sound crude whilst reviewing a very graphic film indeed. This week was my choice and we’re still in international waters, with a critically-acclaimed (?) German film.

As always *spoilers!* – also, let’s slap a little *NSFW* on here too, so you’re under no illusion.

Off we go!

Wetlands (2013)

Director: David Wnendt
Stars: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse

IMDB Synopsis: The adventures of an eccentric girl who has strange attitudes towards hygiene and sexuality longs for the reunion of her divorced parents.

My Review:

wetlands-carla-juri1
You know she’s eccentric ‘cos she’s got a skateboard

Underneath all the masturbation, dirty underwear and anal fixation lies a heart. A broken one, but a heart nonetheless.

Helen is 18 years old, sexually ‘creative’ and a little lax in the hygiene department. Considering her mother’s OTT attitude to orifice cleanliness this is hardly surprising. Having to present your butt hole for inspection before bed every night as a child must surely take its toll.

She also has hemorrhoids which presents its own challenges. We open with Helen walking barefoot into a public toilet that makes the loo in Trainspotting look like Mariah Carey’s en suite. It’s the kind of place people are regularly murdered but this doesn’t bother our heroine, who’s only there for the momentary relief offered by a tube of Anusol (or Germany’s version).

wetlands
This looks like my first hostel in Vancouver

Helen immediately reveals herself to be a game girl with her own strong attitude towards sexuality and her own body. Reluctant to wash very often, she’s not afraid to recycle the same pair of knickers for who knows how long. This doesn’t scare away the boys; quite the opposite in fact, Helen believes her personal aroma attracts potential mates. She’s probably right there, we ain’t nothing but animals after all.

I’m going to try to avoid bullet-pointing every sexual act one by one because I don’t want this review to read like a list, but there’s plenty to be had here, something for everybody if you will. Though, despite the graphic nature of the film and its content, looking back I don’t remember that much full sex and I think that’s quite telling. Perhaps I’m over thinking it but I’m sure that’s a comment on our protagonist.

Anywhoo. There are scenes involving root vegetables (that GO BACK IN THE FRIDGE!), a brothel, lesbian undertones (and overtones), casual wanks in the park; the list goes on and on.

Wetlands-5
“Billy Elliot, you’ve sure grown up!”

But what Helen wants more than sexy sex is for her parents to get back together. Like badly. Like so badly that she’s got a plan to force them to live together miserably in the same bed until they die, chained together like prisoners. Funnily enough, neither parent is really up for this arrangement, so it looks set to remain firmly in her fantasies.

We’re given lots of flashbacks that show Helen as a youngster, which act to give us a painful insight into the breakdown of her parent’s marriage. Helen’s father (Axel Milberg) is largely absent and sometimes hurts her without even registering it, while her mother (Meret Becker) comes across as a bit of cold fish, one who’s turned to Christianity and a round of douchey boyfriends since the divorce. She’s obviously deeply depressed and following the birth of her second child, Toni (Ludger Bökelmann), things don’t look any better.

BUM BUM BUM BUM... BUM!
BUM BUM BUM BUM… BUM!

One day Helen suffers a shaving injury that exacerbates her hemorrhoids issue and she has the option to either bleed all over her classroom or take herself to the hospital; luckily she chooses the latter. Here she formulates the plan to bring her parents back together over her sickbed – what could possibly go wrong?

Incidentally, one of Helen’s more adult flashbacks has us meeting Kanell (Selam Tadese), who has a shaving fantasy but considers Helen too young to actually sleep with. Admirable perhaps?

Wetlands_704
All the lols

We also meet her best friend Corinne, a cute blonde who earns a reputation early on for granting her boyfriend a dubious sex wish. It doesn’t really matter what the Mean Girls say though, as long as our BFFs have each other.

Back to hospital and Helen has come round from surgery and is entertaining herself by flirting with Robin, her nurse, much to the annoyance of his girlfriend Valerie (Peri Baumeister), also a nurse.

Wetlands
New definition of the #belfie

And since her parents can’t follow instructions and turn up at the same designated time (thus continually missing each other), Helen pretends she hasn’t had a bowel movement (even though she does have a rather messy, secret one) so they keep her in. This ensures that she has plenty of time to ruminate on her internalised sadness, but also bond with Robin (who’s pretty damn cute, tbh).

We find out what really happened between her parents and also, how it came to be that Corinne hasn’t visited her bestie in hospital (spoiler: Helen has been kind of a bitch). There’s a particularly messy flashback in which our friends demonstrate their own unique version of the blood sisters ritual which is equal parts hilarious/heinous.

Wetlands-6
“You’ve got red on you.”

I’ll leave this here because it’s a film worth seeing, if you can get past the squirm factor. It’s both anally and orally fixated, unafraid to share bodily fluids and has more equal opportunity nudity than you can shake a stick at. I’m cool with all those things, though I had to look away during the pizza scene (which is probably one of the tamer but still turned my stomach).

_1410466278
OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!

Before we’re done though, Helen has one final trick up her gown. So she can stay in hospital to wait for her parents to meet, she makes the ultimate sacrifice and it’ll have you wincing for a long while after the credits stop rolling, I’m pretty sure.

Questions? Do you want some questions?! Will Mutter and Vater get back together? Will Robin ditch Valerie and run away with Helen? Will Helen ever put her orange pants in the wash? What happened between Helen and Corinne? And more importantly, will I ever look at a knob of raw ginger in the same way again?

You know the drill.

My Thoughts:

You'll be itching to see this film. Maybe.
You’ll be itching to see this film. Maybe.

Jizz, poo, cum, spit, blood etc all gets a bit dull after a while and I do get the feeling a lot of the time that it’s only been included to shock me. I mean, I’m all for no holds barred film making and uncharacteristically disgusting (yet still aesthetically perfect, natch) female leads who challenge the stereotypical female trope.

Though, thinking about it, I don’t believe this is about me at all, this film is taking the piss out of the easily shocked, the viewers who have a problem with menstruation (men) and sexual debris. Which kind of makes it brilliant. It goes on about half an hour too long though and somehow seemed considerably longer than the whole of Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & Vol. II (2013), which, combined, is four fucking hours long.

Carla Juri btw could be the love child of Ally Sheedy and Meg Ryan; and is really very good. She does vulnerable kook well and in the end I’m sure you’ll root for her, even if her dream is misplaced and self-serving. Once you’re privy to just what the family went through, you can kind of forgive her.

Funny she’s so uncannily Sheedy, as the film’s climax is decidedly John Hughes. You know, if John Hughes made anal sex jokes.

My Rating: 3.5/5 – as above, it’s a bit too long and all gets a bit much. Well worth a look though.

What did Jillian think, I wonder? Go have a look for yourself shortly!

We Are The Best (Film) Review

14004_JACKPOT_QUAD_AW.indd

We’ve decided to stick to Foreign Cinema for the time being, for no other reason really than because it’s awesome. This week’s pick, by Jillian, is no exception. I mean, it’s a film about an 80’s teen punk band FFS, what more can you want?

Incidentally, the most dominant thought I take away from this is: should I cut my hair über short?

As always, *spoilers!*

We Are The Best (2013)

Director: Lukas Moodysson
Stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

IMDB Synopsis: Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band — despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead.

My Review:

Bobo and Klara are BFFs who take great comfort from their friendship, while the world around them seems to reject their ideals.

Classmates (right out of Sparkle Motion) taunt them for the way they look – that old “You’d be so pretty if only you…” chestnut – and maintain that punk is dead. The girls are secure enough in themselves to push back against this nonsense, they know punk still has a pulse and one day, whilst trying to drown out the sound of the local youth group band, Iron Fist (how original), they set about trying to prove it.

“What do you mean this feels like that scene in Napoleon Dynamite?”

Sadly, enthusiasm alone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an instant hit and they must look outside their twosome for a solution to success. Enter Christian good girl, Hedvig, who plays mean guitar. Can the girls open Hedvig’s mind and show her ideas beyond her God, whilst simultaneously smashing the shit out of patriarchy via the medium of P-U-N-K? Hopefully!

This film does have a lovely feminist undertone. The girls get called ugly constantly by their male peers, and maybe this is why I liked it so much, as it really hit a nerve. All three girls are at a point in life where they’re questioning their own desirability, while actively making a pact not to conform to what’s expected of them, hence the reason the boys think they’re hideous. Bobo and Klara agree not to wear make-up and have punk haircuts maintained by themselves, in their respective bathrooms at home.

The girls have loving families by the way, though Bobo’s mother embarrasses her at parties, has relationship issues and sometimes men over. As a result, Bobo often comes across as the adult in their relationship. Her dad does come around from time to time, but is largely absent.

“So… going anywhere nice this Summer?”

Klara’s family are even more hideous in that they’re encouraging and want to jam with the girls, which goes down like a lead balloon with Klara. When the girls fall out of favour with Hedvig’s highly religious mother, by persuading Hedvig to cut her very long blonde hair, Klara’s father finds it hilarious. He also spends a fair amount of his time wandering around in his pants in polite company and this makes his A-OK with me.

As the girls get better at music, under the tutelage of Hedvig, and polish their anti-PE anthem (my kind of girls), they also explore their blossoming interest in the opposite sex.

We-Are-the-Best-2-e1384356272598
Say no to Scrubs

Bobo has a crush on Klara’s brother, sixteen year old Linus who’s quite nice to her, even when she gets drunk and pukes on his precious record collection. But there’s trouble ahead when the girls meet a fellow punk band, and Bobo and Klara set their sights on the same dude. Awkward.

Ovaries before Brovaries, Klara, c'mon
Ovaries before Brovaries, Klara, c’mon

All this coincides with a small gig the girls are booked to play with Iron Fist, organised by their local youth club.

On reviewing this film back, it could be said that not much happens action-wise. However, the beauty of this story lies in the relationship between the three girls, and between them and their families. Also, in the band sticking it to the man and learning to love themselves (basically the most important lesson you can ever learn, and some would argue, you never stop learning).

Friendship is good
Friendship is good
Friendship is the best
Friendship is the best

To the questions section! Will Bobo and Klara survive getting off with the same boy, in time to kick some serious musical butt? Will they ever prove that they’re the best? Will Hedvig renounce Jesus forever? Would a mohawk suit me?

And most importantly, will the band rock the shit out of their first real gig, proving without a shadow of doubt that Punk is still alive and kicking? All this and more will be revealed*.

“You did not just ask me if I know Wannabe!”

My Thoughts: I have to apologise for a slightly all over the place review, I’m in a bit of a daze after a busy weekend and a late night (more to be revealed about that soon!). Our internet also decided to go down on Friday, so I was forced to view this via the Netflix app on my phone. Which was fine but a little more laborious that normal.

But I always try to deliver on my promises, hence completing this week’s assignment, like a boss.

I really liked We Are The Best and I liked it because of the central characters. I love them together and I wanted them to do well. I think they all played their parts really brilliantly and made me believe in them, which is no mean feat, especially when the characters are so young.

I also wish I’d had friends like them when I was 13. Lots of the time I completely identified with how they were feeling about themselves. Had I had a punk group to focus on back then, maybe I would have been less inclined to eat my lunch locked alone in a toilet cubicle every day.

Also, in all their awkward dealing with boys I will eternally be on the same page. It’s heartbreaking when the boy you like likes your friend and you just feel perpetually shit about yourself. Bobo almost breaks me when she’s trying to be nonchalant about her feelings.

Bobo, I was you and I still am sometimes
Bobo, I was you and I still am sometimes

All in all, this was a joy. I loved one scene in particular, when the girls gain access to an electric guitar and the well-meaning youth club workers quite condescendingly (but kindly) give Hedvig some pointers on how to play. She wipes the floor with them, despite never having picked up an electric version before.

The underlying message of friendship is gorgeous and the climax is hilarious. Watch it.

My Rating: 4/5 – Highly recommend.

So what did Jillian make of her choice this week? Go see for yourselves!

*We may never know the answer to one of them. Then again, never say never.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Film) Review

agwhaan_cd_front_1400x1400_1024x1024
Image from the cover of AGWHAAN OST CD

World cinema is fun! And this week is definitely no exception, although sometimes the fun gets a little bogged down in different emotions, such as pity, rage, despair, hope and triumph.

My choice this week and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Incidentally, this film has been on my list for a while but became more pressing when I read this review. I mean, any review that talks about fuck boys is always going to be alright with me.

But to my own thoughts.

*Beware SPOILERS*

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour (who also wrote the film)
Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh

IMDB Synopsis: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

My Review:

I’m kind of sad that the synopsis of this film and also the original film poster mentions that this is a Vampire movie. I mean, it’s not a shock when this is revealed, but I think it might have been a nice touch to go in not really knowing much about The Girl. Not that we know anything, mind, beyond her penchant for thick black eyeliner (my kind of girl), lipstick and Breton stripes.

a_girl_photo3
Rebel with a Cause, we just don’t know what yet

Anyway, that’s a minor thing. We begin the film gazing at James Dean-alike Arash as he leans against a fence, slowly smoking a cigarette. For the uninitiated, I am a massive sucker for this aesthetic on men or women, shoot it in black and white and I’m yours forever.

Arash is standing around and I can’t be sure of his motivation, though he does either steal or rescue a cat and walks off into the next scene with it slung happily over his shoulder. I don’t blame you cat.

Next stop is Arash’s home, where an old man sits in a grubby front room area and injects something into his toes. He doesn’t look like your average junkie so there might be a rational explanation for this but when The King of the Fuck Boys* (presumably) walks in, we are illuminated to just how bad the old man’s condition is. He’s also Arash’s father and owes Saeed (Fuck Boy) a lot of money.

Saeed plays threateningly with the cat for a bit then makes a speech about how Hossein is just a ‘normal man’ who needs ‘medicine’ to get through life. Riiiiight. Then he takes Arash’s car which is his pride and joy and Arash punches a wall.

Alas, this is life and Arash must keep on swimming so off he goes to his landscaping job. He’s called indoors to tune in the TV by the attractive daughter of his employers and under the guise of being gentlemanly, he ushers her out of her bedroom (because being alone would be inappropriate). Really, he’s clocked a nice pair of diamond earrings that might just get him his car back…

Meanwhile, Saeed meets with The Princess, a beautiful prostitute called Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo) and surprisingly, doesn’t treat her very nicely. He also rips her off for her cut of earnings like a true pig. While being a dick in Arash’s car, he spots something out of the corner of his eye and freaks out, even though he doesn’t know what it was. We know though, we know it good, it’s a figure in a hajib and it looks kind of serious.

thumbnail_20079
Dance like nobody’s watching

We follow the figure and it leads us down into a basement room where a fucking cool girl is dancing. I mean there are few things I love better than black kohl eyeliner (yes, even at the advanced age of 37) and this chick rocks it. She’s effortlessly cool and at first glance I already know she’s going to be one of my favourite movie heroines in recent years.

A-Girl-Walks-Home-Alone-At-Night-1
Fuck the no make-up look. Fuck it all to Hell

It will also become clear soon that this is our mystery figure and I like this scene because she’s painted as a normal person with normal interests, like music, fashion and pop culture. I also like that we get to witness The Girl making up her face. Now I’m quite sure most women would identify with the ritual of meticulously applying the warpaint before going out to do business, be that an ordinary day at the office, a date or vigilante justice.

Walking back to his apartment later on, Saeed bumps into The Girl. First of all there is a face off and we can’t be sure where it’s going to go but Saeed does what most men do when faced with a female in almost any situation, assumes she wants sex. So she goes home with him under the illusion he’s about to get some.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night _saeed
SNIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Things don’t quite pan out the way Saeed planned and I’m not going to go into the ins and out. This film is very much worth a viewing of your own but let’s just say we now have an idea of what The Girl is and how she rolls.

In the aftermath of Saeed’s meeting with The Girl, Arash gets his car back, plus a case full of drugs and cash. Which is helpful. The Princess, meanwhile, is being hassled by Hossein, who seems to have a soft spot for the ladies as well as H. Oh, and don’t think The Girl hasn’t noticed Hossein’s behaviour, because she totally has.

AGirlWalksHomeAloneAtNight
Why did the Vampire cross the road? To fuck up the dude on the other side… obvs

It’s a shame Hossein is such a dick nose, because Arash is actually not a bad guy, despite appearances. This isn’t immediately apparent when he’s selling X in da club to rich kids but he is. Honest. He also crashes and burns with the rich daughter from earlier on, who rejects his advances.

On the way home, Arash meets The Girl for himself and is so charming in his drugged up state that he seems to throw her intentions completely. I mean, I expected her to eat him there and then. What follows is a scene so heart wrenchingly beautiful that I’m not even going to talk about it.

GirlNightThroat
Courting, Vamp style

The Girl has also commandeered a skateboard from a future fuck boy (not after she’s finished with him though), and there’s a shot of her skating down the street with her hajib flowing out behind her that blew my tiny mind.

I might leave the rest up to you now, to be honest but along the way Arash and The Girl form a stronger bond; The Princess meets The Girl and TG inevitably ends up dishing out more nuggets of vigilante goodness, which may or may not send the course of Arash’s life crashing in a completely unexpected direction.

You’re interested though, aren’t you?

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night_the cat
“We’re all going on a… Summer holiday…”

To the questions section! Because no review of mine is complete without a series of wills/wheres/hows and whys, amiright?

So… Will TG and Arash live happily ever after? Will Hossein sort himself out for his son’s sake? Will anyone ever truly appreciate that poor damned cat? How did The Girl even become a vampire?

Should I buy myself a new Breton top because it’s such a chic, crisp look? Also, should I get a long-board? Some of these questions will be answered, some will be left open to your own interpretation and some simply don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Enjoy!

CdqiD12
Alternative poster by Levente Szabo

My Thoughts: This film is the nuts. Written and directed by a woman, which shouldn’t be a thing of note in this day and age, but still totally is, it’s a feminist piece, in that all bad men get what for. Even the young lad skirting around a future in douche baggery is handed his arse. The title is great, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – think about it, have you ever walked home from the pub on a Friday night and feared for your personal safety? Of course you have and that’s what The Girl is, she’s the saviour that cleans the streets so you don’t have to feel that way. Brilliant, non? It’s poetic, inspiring and I fucking loved it.

Yes, I can be very generous when it comes to rating the films I watch, sometimes for the flimsiest reasons (like I love Simon Pegg) but honestly, this is a true work of art. It has been very well received because it’s beautifully filmed, fantastically acted and it’s lack of gratuitous violence and gore is a massive plus, if you ask me (even though I love that shit). It could be the B&W aesthetic that lends it the subtlety. Whatever it is, it works like a (bad) dream.

There are several stand out scenes that will stay with me for a long time – two of which I have mentioned above. I also like the main characters and love that even the good guy is flawed. They’re both good at heart but capable of terrible behaviour and the final act, which I shan’t spoil for you, is extremely hopeful and romantic.

Can we just quickly talk about the cat? She’s a terrible actor, staring out of shot at the action going on behind the scenes, almost derailing the whole film. At one point I swear she strains her neck to sniff at the boom engineer or something. Go back to acting school, cat!

My Rating: 5/5 – an absolute must see.

I wonder what Jill thinks of this one? Let’s go see shall we?!

*I’m going to stop saying fuck boy now.