Girl Gang: Christmas Edition

Inspired as always by my girl, it’s your festive edition of the Girl Gang series. Obviously.

Barb, Black Christmas (1974)

Oh, why don’t you go find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge.

I have a real soft spot for the festive sub genre of Christmas horror movies and Black Christmas is no exception. While it offers up a traditional slasher narrative, it is also very sad. I also love it for the progressive tackling of its abortion story line and its delivery of super messed up characters, particularly Barb (played by the late, great Margot Kidder).

By rights I suppose Jess (Olivia Hussey) should be the standout for this gang, given her position as the level-headed Final Girl but Barb pips her to the post and I’ll tell you why. Sure, she’d be quite the challenge as an actual friend, her drinking is very damaging but the girl needs help damn it. She’s sassy, she’s mean (but funny) and she’s also quick-witted AF (particularly when snarking out an obscene telephone caller).

Every GG need a blunt and dynamic member and Barb’s our girl, though maybe someone needs to have a word with her about getting kids drunk. I hate that Barb isn’t the sole survivor of Billy and his murderous tendencies but if you’re going to go out, why not take death by crystal unicorn? ICONIC.

Let’s be honest that Den Mother, Mrs Mac (Marian Waldman) totally has an open-ended invite to join this group too – what a dame. You can read my review of Black Christmas here.

Bridget Jones, Bridget Jone’s Diary (2001)

Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss like that.

Inviting Bridge to the party seems like a pretty obvious move and I’m not sorry. BJ is a sweary hot mess who makes poor decisions and messes up a lot but she also takes risks and isn’t afraid to make a tit of herself. I can honestly say that there is nothing more appealing to me than a person who can embrace their goofy side (my friend Heather is a shining example of this).

Bridge is somewhat normal and when I’m hanging out with girls I want to feel comfortable and never judged about my own dubious choices. BJ would never shame me and she’d be down for whatever, ride or die to the end. I think she’s inspirational too in so many ways, while she’s fucking up she does also learn and eventually realises her worth isn’t dependent on validation from Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

If we were friends though I would have to have a very stern chat with her about her constant diet talk and calorie counting – do it on your own watch, Miss Jones for the love of God.

Iris, The Holiday (2006)

I’m looking for corny in my life.

Oh, Iris, let me count the ways in which I love you.

The Holiday, I would say is on par with Love Actually it terms of quality but that’s not to say I don’t fucking adore it. But, while Cameron Diaz skips through snowy fields with Jude Law, I’m always dying to get back to Iris (Kate Winslet) in the city of Angels.

Iris is a perpetual romantic with her heart set on the ultimate bad boy (Rufus Sewell) – been there, done that. The thing is, she’s just about done with his games and her apartment swap is the first step in a long journey to getting the fuck over it. Step in Jack Black and arguably the much more important leading man, Arthur (Eli Wallach).

Iris is a good, kind woman and she’s a laugh. She’s into movies and she’s into banter and I want to have a drink with her in a bar so bad – and then I want to go home and watch old videos with her into the early hours and laugh about all the rat bastards that have ever broken our hearts.

Selina Kyle, Batman Returns (1992)

Honey, I’m home. Oh, I forgot. I’m not married.

Sure, lonely but lovely Miss Kyle becomes one of Gotham’s greatest villains/heroes of all time following a terrible ‘accident’ at the hands of her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) – but even before that she was an interesting person and I want Selina on my team.

While she’s portrayed as a bit of a door mat, I don’t see her that way. Selina’s ambitious and damn good at her job. While the men around her only see her as a lowly secretary, the woman holds everything together (familiar?). Our girl is gorgeous and sweet – and what’s more, nothing can keep her down. Not even death and certainly not Batman or Shreck – or the pervy Penguin.

Selina evolves from self-deprecating loser to mischievous minx to the sassiest adversary Gotham’s dark knight has ever seen and the arc is beautiful. PLUS, I want her apartment and her entire wardrobe SO BAD. SUE ME.

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Selina Kyle: so good she deserves her own slideshow…

Who’s in your gang?

Weekly Digest

This week I am digging:

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Search Party, Season Two

One of my favourite shows is back and I found out BY ACCIDENT! So I spend a whole weekend rinsing the second season and it was dark and funny – and a perfect reminder of how much I love the characters in the first place.

I’m going to give this show a post of its own so won’t go into too much detail but this season picks up right after the shocking events of the last, and sees our intrepid foursome dealing with some very hard truths in the cold light of day.

Love, love, love.

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The Mountain Between Us

I thought this film would be cheesy as all hell and it is. But there’s something kind of old school and wholesome about it – and I enjoyed the ride. The obvious thought here is who wouldn’t want to be stranded up a mountain with Idris Elba, even with a broken leg and certain death just round the corner? But I will not be that predictable.

Kate Winslet for the record is still a problematic fave. I like and respect her but I just can’t really get my head around the defending Woody Allen thing. Like, she’s allowed to have her own opinion but I’m surprised by it.

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Little Fires Everywhere

When artist Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in Shaker Heights, everything changes. Not least for the Richardson family who rent a duplex to the new arrivals. Mia promises Pearl that this time is different, that this time they won’t leave after six months for the next town that feels right – and Pearl starts to plant roots, starting with new best friend Moody.

Things are idyllic for a while but then something happens and the two families find themselves on opposing sides of an argument that threatens to split the perfect community in two. Secret pasts unravel, loyalties are tested and hearts are broken.

LFE is beautifully written by its author, Celeste Ng. The characters are vivid and wonderful. A good read for a cold Sunday afternoon, or anytime really.

What are you digging this week?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.