Little Voice (Film) Review

t24417

This is exactly the sort of movie you want to be snuggling down to on a Sunday afternoon (the time I tend to view all our films). It’s gentle Sunday subject matter with just the right amount of Northern Grit but it has swears in it too so it’s not exactly The Sound of Music (1965), which I abhor with every fibre of my being.

That said, and I will elaborate further down the line, I had seen this movie before and remember thinking it was on the just-a-bit-too-cheesy side and therefore not for me. Would a re-watching bring about a change of heart or would it cement my original assessment, I wonder? Read on my friends to find out for yourselves which camp I’m in. (I know right? Thrilling!)

Oh, and this is McGregor Vs. Pinhead Month (last week’s review here) so expect some fine Scottish beef in this review. Sadly, Pinhead does not appear propped up against the bar at Mr. Boo’s, and perhaps that’s just as well as Mari Hoff would make him look like Hello Kitty in comparison.

As always *beware spoilers!*

Little Voice (1998)

Director: Mark Herman
Stars: Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent

IMDB Synopsis: The pathetically shy LV lives the life of a recluse listening to her late father’s old records in her room and in the process driving her abusive, loud-mouthed mother, Mari Hoff, to distraction. At night, however, when her father’s ghost visits, LV sings the songs of the great divas such as Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Bassey.

My Review: 

This film has a very satisfying villain in the form of Mari Hoff. Brassy, brazen and horrible, Mari spends her entire existence screaming at the top of her lungs, having it off with inappropriate men and resenting her hermit of a daughter, LV (aka Little Voice) for whatever reason she can think of.

Things are starting to look up for Mari as she’s just started seeing showbiz veteran Ray and thinks he’s the catch of the century. Mr Hoff, LV’s father, has been dead for some time and this is part of the reason for LV’s reclusive lifestyle.

Little_Voice1998c2
“I really love this remix by Old Dirty Bastard.”

It’s down to her enduring love for her father that LV is obsessed with his old records, all by the likes of the divas; Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Shirley Bassey. She locks herself in her room and seeks solace in the voices of these empowering women – which of course drives her mother even more mad.

Things could be on the up for LV too in the form of awkward Billy (our boy), who meets LV on a routine BT telephone installation at Mrs. Hoff’s house. Shy LV isn’t the greatest communicator but this doesn’t deter Pigeon Enthusiast Billy, who finds weird and wonderful excuses to visit (bordering on unacceptable I would say, Ewan, if it were anybody but you).

Incidentally, The Hoffs reside above a former record shop and the whole place is shot to shit. The electrics alone would turn my hair white and like The Hoff Family, the building is falling apart from the inside.

Also becoming a regular at the house is Ray, who one night overhears LV singing to herself and is blown away by her talent. Part good singer/part impressionist, Ray is eager to hitch his wagon to LV’s before she is snapped up by someone else. Plus, it seems Scarborough isn’t exactly teeming with it’s own untapped talent (Take Fat anyone?).

little-voice
“I can see right up your robe, not a lot of people know that.”

The next morning Ray pulls out all the stops to build a connection with LV, who can actually speak it turns out. She seems to be starting to trust him and clearly enjoys the ego stroke, though it looks unlikely showbiz is the next stop.

Or is it? Ray gets Mr Boo, who owns the local nightclub, round to The Hoff House to check out LV, though she refuses to perform. Following an altercation with Mari, however, Little Voice starts to sing (she’s infused inside a reverie about her dead father) and Mr Boo lose his mind too.

What follows is a brief audition at the Club (LV dragged almost kicking and screaming) which ends exactly as you’d imagine. It seems everyone’s dreams are dashed.

Little-Voice3
How I enter all rooms

Or are they? Somehow Ray manages to talk Little Voice into a One Night Only performance at the Club (old fashioned emotional manipulation, that’ll do it). One preparing-for-the-show montage later and there she is, on stage in front of a packed out audience. Rather than completely fuck it all up, LV imagines her father in the crowd and absolutely nails it. She proves so popular that it’s a given that this is it, next stop Vegas.

Nobody bothers to ask Little Voice what she wants though and she clams up, jeopardising the next nights performance, to which a big talent scout has been invited.

Amidst the excitement of a catatonic LV, Ray finally loses his rag with clingy Mari, punches out Mr Boo and embarrasses himself onstage at the Club. What’s more there’s a dangerous incident that changes life for Mari and LV forever.

“Only the very best promotional materials for my girl.”

Questions:

What will happen to Mean Old Mari and her softly spoken daughter? Will there ever be calm between then?

Will Billy ever get LV alone? Will LV ever find her one true voice?

And will you care? I suppose that’s one of the most important questions to ponder.

My Thoughts:

This is a nice British film about finding the confidence to stand up and be counted. It’s also about grief and moving on, and that’s quite touching. Personally LV annoys me and the cabaret scenes leave me cold, like the singing bits in Glee but there’s enough in this for me to have enjoyed it. Brenda Blethyn is an amazing actress that lends even Mari a little sympathy, although she’s pretty heinous.

Although my loins burn bright and true for McGregor, and always shall, this is not the place. Pigeon botherer Billy is a wet blanket and no mistake. Sweet and perfect for LV though.

My Rating: 3/5. Nice but not amazing.

Did Little Voice make Jill want to sing from the rafters or did she want to Gin soak her sorrows down the Club with Mr Boo? Find out here, yo.

Iris (Film) Review

Iris_posterThe last film in our Feminist February series, a theme I hope we come back to as it’s been rather eclectic and inspiring, frankly – if a little odd at times. A fine cinematic choice by Jillian to round out the month but also a highly upsetting one.

Let’s just say *this guy* cried “Green Mile” tears and was a snotty mess way before the end credits rolled.

We have mighty plans for March which I can’t wait to get to grips with but let’s do this wonderful film justice first, shall we?

As always, *Spoilers*!

Iris (2001)

Director: Richard Eyre
Stars: Dame Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville

IMDB Synopsis: True story of the lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from their student days through her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

My Review:

Only 15 years late on this one!

Iris Murdoch was often described as the enfant terrible of the literary set for her novels, which explore themes such as good and evil, sex and relationships, morality and a whole lot of other ‘not very conventional, particularly for a woman’ topics.

We meet Iris as an elderly woman. She’s started to repeat herself and forget things. Her loving husband John is doing the best he can to care for her, doting is what he does best after all but things are spiraling out of their control, leaving them both frightened.

Luckily, we have the luxury of the flashback here and are afforded a look back at the beginning of Iris and John’s relationship, which is sweet and heart-warming. They meet at Oxford University, where Iris is wild and brilliant and John is a stammering virgin with less obvious charms (still adorbs though).

He is in awe of all that Iris is and rightly so, though there are jealousies over her libertine spirit. Iris likes to swim nude so you know she’s serious about this wild child business. See also: cigarettes in cafes and raised eyebrows when asked if she sleeps with ladies.

iris-2001-06-g
Cigarette just out of shot

Thankfully, true love prevails and they become a couple after a long friendship. Young Iris (played by my favourite Kate) and her beau live a long and happy life, until the spectre of Alzeimer’s (that old bastard) appears to threaten everything they hold dear. Honestly, this film is heartbreaking AF.

Back in the present day, John is faced with becoming sole carer of his brilliant wife. He can’t help but be frustrated and grows increasingly concerned as Iris starts to wander off. At one point Iris disappears for hours, only to be found by a family friend in Tesco.

During this time it becomes apparent that John’s domestic skills aren’t strong enough to keep the house in check at the same time and he is urged to seek help, which he is reluctant to do. His attitude is decidedly head in the sand, as it’s always been just the two of them.

judith_dench_iris_1600_900
This is how much I enjoy the beach too, Dame Judi

John continues to take Iris to the water and to the beach as she’s always been a total water baby. She can no longer swim as she once did though, as it now freaks her out. On one occasion they visit the beaches in Suffolk to spend time with an old university chum, Janet (Penelope Wilton) and she’s shocked to see the decline in Iris. The couple later lose Janet to an illness and this does nothing for Iris’ condition.

I don’t really want this review to be all this happened, then in the past this happened, and then back in real life this happened I really don’t and it’s almost unavoidable. The timeline sways back and forth in the most wonderful way, making you fall deeply in love with Young Iris while feeling protective of her declining elder self.

John hasn’t changed a bit, growing into a bumbling but lovely old man, so madly in love with his Iris that at one point, in the midst of a particularly stressful period, he berates her as she sleeps for her past promiscuity. I can understand this completely irrational jealously more than I care to admit.

Eventually, of course, it all gets too much and John has to make a choice.

a21945757f61141762-a02
Glynn Bass’ favourite scene

Questions:

What will become of Iris and John? Will this film make you cry more than you did at The Green Mile?

My Thoughts:

UGH! Now I cry at almost everything and daily too but this brought out a special calibre of sobbing.

Dementia is the most heartbreaking thing I can think of and Iris made me want to call every single person I know to tell them I love them. I cried thinking about how I would feel if this happened to my mother. I cried thinking about how I would feel if my beloved started to forget me, or how he’d cope if it happened to me. A very introspective (and melancholy) reaction indeed!

I loved it because it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because John loves Iris so much and he tries to see the beauty in the condition, in those tiny slivers of lucidity. He loves her to the end and then he honours the woman he’s loved all his life. It’s a very ordinary ending for a unique talent, without fanfare or fireworks and for that it’s all the more devastating.

6
Stick a fork in me, I’m done

UGH. Have tissues to hand.

From a feminist point of view, Iris is about a successful and controversial artist whose partner plays second fiddle to her career and that’s refreshing. Iris is accused at one point by a former lover of using her friends to gain stories for her books and I like that about her, although it’s behaviour she denies. It’s very unbecoming for a ‘lady’, right? Which makes it fucking awesome!

I also love that Iris enjoys sex so unapologetically, although she is made to feel somewhat guilty when she’s disclosing her ‘magic number’ to John. Let’s just put that down to the fragile male ego. Again, I also liked that she has a Don’t Tell policy when it comes to her dalliances with the lesbians.

My Rating: 5/5. I can’t give anything less, it would be against English law.

Did Jillian love this one as much as I did? Was it swimming naked in a lake great or freezing your nips off on a grey old beach bad? Find out here.

Filth (Film) Review

1d46a164ef39e9197f2677d6d127608c

Jillian’s choice for our Free For All Fortnight and cor blimey it’s a good ‘un. If you like cocks, swearing, vomit, spit, shagging, cross dressing, cocaine and violence that is.

Luckily, I live for that shit!

All that really matters here is that I’m not watching If I Stay and being bored to tears so right away Filth has the upper hand. I’ve actually seen this film before but I don’t have to be asked twice to spend a few hours with Jame McAvoy, even if he is a git of the highest order here.

James-McAvoy-in-Filth-2237257
Scream if you want to go faster!

I’m a big Irvine Welsh fan but haven’t actually read the novel Filth yet, though it is on my shelf. I’m told it explains parts of the film much better than the film does, but I’ll have to reserve judgement until I actually pick it up. Getting into the way Irvine Welsh writes can sometimes seem like a chore, though once you’re there it is well worth it.

To the film!

As always *Spoiler Alerts!*

Filth (2013)

Director: Jon S. Baird
Stars: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan

IMDB Synopsis: A corrupt, junkie cop with Borderline Personality Disorder attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own borderline-fueled inner demons.

My Review:

Bruce Robertson is a bit of a mess, truth be told. Junkie, corrupt, alcoholic, arsehole – any one of these words and more could be used to accurately describe our friend. Yet, he’s happily married with a child and being considered for a promotion, from Detective Sergeant to Inspector.

filth_2690571k
Haven’t you ever been tempted? (All the effing time)

Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that things aren’t as they seem with this guy and that he’s suffering from a personality disorder. He’s not a nice person really, displaying all the traits of someone you would move heaven and earth to avoid (aka. my ex) yet, not everyone is onto Bruce yet.

Despite his secret campaign to bring down pretty much everyone he’s ever met, including his work colleagues (and competition), Bruce still has one true friend, Clifford Blades. This doesn’t make Bruce soft, however as he has a unique way to thank Clifford for his loyalty, and it ain’t flowers and chocolate.

filth-1
“No thanks, I’ve already eaten.”

The film begins with the unfortunate murder of a Japanese tourist, witnessed by a mystery blonde in a leopard print coat. The kids responsible for beating this poor boy to death are startled away when they realise they’ve been spotted.

Later, we find out this is the case Bruce is working on. The appearance of the glamorous blonde is significant as she bears more than a passing resemblance to Carole Robertson (Shauna Macdonald), Bruce’s wife. This may be the reason Bruce fails to mention her as their main witness to the rest of the team.

FilthBairdInterview4-1024x576
Inception but with bras

As Bruce and his colleagues start to look into the murder case, he starts to lose it big time, suffering from severe hallucinations, not helped by the copious amount of drugs and booze he’s consuming. Bruce is haunted not only by these terrifying illusions but it seems also by a small ghost boy called Davey. What’s that all about, hmmm?

Bruce is obviously a troubled soul who might not be worth saving but he’s obviously arrived at this place through a serious of tragedies. We soon learn Carole has left for another man and taken their daughter with her, leaving Bruce bereft. Can he get this promotion and win back his family? (Don’t worry, questions section to follow!).

In the midst of all this trauma, comes a sliver of hope in the form of Mary (Joanne Froggatt), a recently widowed young mother. Bruce was there when her partner suffered a heart attack in the street and tried to save his life – so Mary thinks Bruce is a good person.

filth-film-movie-2013-james-mcavoy-imogen-poots-jamie-bell-eddie-marsan-joanne-froggatt-shirley-henderson-jim-broadbent-emun-elliott-iain-de-caestecker-kate-dickie-martin-comps
The new Wetherspoon’s had gone very avant garde with its new decor

I feel like I don’t want to give too much away on this film as it is a bit of a caper, leading you down, down, down to rock bottom and beyond. He makes prank phone calls to Clifford’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson) then frames Clifford; steals, lies, cheats and manipulates until there’s nowhere else for him to go.

Let’s just say Bruce fucks over people without prejudice, has violently abusive relationships, shags everyone and hurts the people who care for him the most. Admittedly, this list of loved ones is dwindling quickly.

But where will he go from here and can he get any lower?

filth-2 (1)
Jame is being very mean in this scene

Want some questions? I got questions! Is there a good person at the core of Bruce? Will he get his family back, or will he start a fresh elsewhere? Will he ever make it up to adorable Clifford, the one true friend he has?

Will Clifford ever get a decent pair of spectacles? And will he ever get anywhere with his perpetually unimpressed bride?

Will Bruce pull it together and get the promotion, or at the very least will he solve the murder? Who’s the mystery blonde, and where can I get her coat?

filth-poster

My Thoughts:

Phew. This isn’t for the faint-hearted which is exactly why I liked it. I love James McAvoy and appreciate his diverse CV. I even fancied him in this which is pretty hard to do since he’s repugnant.

I must admit to watching this with redemption in mind, I mean most awful human beings in films (only films alas) end up redeeming themselves somehow, if not undergoing a complete moral turnaround. I can’t say if I was right to hope for this but I can say that I’d forgotten the ending until it started playing out again, and it hasn’t lost its impact.

BTW this film stars one of my all time favourite actors, Eddie Marsan who plays Clifford. He’s such a nuanced actor and recently moved me to near hysterics in a low-key film called Still Life (2013), which I really recommend.

All in all, I don’t have much bad to say other than a lot of things have happened to Bruce to make him who he is and it could get a bit all over the place if you weren’t paying attention. The surreal sessions he shares with his psychiatrist (Broadbent) get a little grating after a while.

Also, the bit I mentioned above that is elaborated on in the book (apparently) does not come through in the film at all.

My Rating: 4/5 (5/5 for Jame McAvoy, any day of the week)

What did Jill think? Pop on over for a look-see shortly!