Permission (Film) Review

April already and time for a new Collab category but do you think we can think of anything? Can we fuck. So it’s a Free for All again and I’m not mad about it. I’m mad about this week’s film however but that’s another story.

*Spoilers*

Permission (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend.

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My Review

Will (Dan Stevens) and Anna (the luminous Rebecca Hall) are childhood sweethearts blissfully in love and happy in life. Anna’s some sort of academic while Will makes tables, and in his spare time renovates a home for the two of them to live in. Once completed the plan is that they’ll move in, get engaged, have the babies, all that jazz.

This is all well and good but you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? On the night of Anna’s 30th birthday, one of their friends (more on this arse clown later) mocks them for being boring and ponders how they can possibly be happy never to see anyone else’s junk. The couple is initially bemused by this reaction but it triggers a conversation that leads to an agreement that they will in fact sow some oats with other people before they put a ring on it. They’re strong enough, right? And it’s all just physical – RIGHT?

*Raised eyebrow*

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Well, straight off the bat Anna gets down with sexy Dane who she meets in a club when she’s with Will. Will’s all for the union and Anna enjoys herself, despite the initial butterflies. Will in turn is not short of offers and soon afterwards gets it on with Gina Gershon (who’s the best thing in this film). When Anna finds out, she pushes Will to see her again because she wants to spend more time with Dane. And here’s where things start to unravel… like, what? I get that no strings loving can be hard to do if you’re not that kind of person but you’re not looking for new relationships, guys. Or…?

It should be said that they also each make a questionable sexual decision in addition to Dane and Lydia, and this might be why they go running back into the safe arms of their initial conquests.

Running parallel to the main relationship woe is the slow disintegration of Reece and Hale’s relationship. Reece is the jerk friend who suggested Will and Anna’s way of life was a problem in the first place. Hale is desperate for a child and Reece won’t even discuss it with him. He’s happier to cast judgement on Will for shagging around – DESPITE THE FACT HE’S THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! These dudes are the worst with Hale being incredibly passive and annoying – and Reece just generally being unbearable.

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While I appreciate the premise of this film, I definitely expected it to be a lot more fun. Forgive me for expecting a movie with this central cast to be a witty sex comedy. Instead it was bleak and stupid. The ending is really frustrating – and I’m no fan of the cavalier and selfish way in which both Will and Anna treat the new people in their lives. Anna more so.

Permission does get points for being good looking, as is Rebecca Hall who is always head and shoulders above anyone else in her movies. It doesn’t give us the happy, sickly ending we were expecting (I was certainly expecting it), and I liked that even though I shouted at the screen because it was also kind of bitchy. I felt bad for one of the parties.

Gershon is a fucking gem, always and her divorcee Lydia was probably the most fun I had throughout. I can’t tell you how bored I was by the secondary “Waaaaah-can-we-have-a-baby” drams.

I don’t know, I’m not sure what the message is supposed to be: Good, healthy relationships are bad and boring, so nobody should have one? I’d say it should be: if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it but what do I know?

My Rating

3/5. Meh.

What did Jill think of this one? I think I know because we messaged back and forth about our mutual frustrations. But officially, would she dump this to bone other films or prefer to live monogamously for the rest of time? Find out here.

Best Films of 2017: A Voluptuous Edition

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I’ve read a few comments from people bitching about how shit 2017 has been for the movies and I could not disagree more – this is the year I got not one but three Wonder Woman movies (with varying degrees of success) after all. I’ve been having a blast!

2017 has been the first year I’ve paid for a cinema card and it’s opened me up to a lot of movies I might not have caught otherwise. I also got myself a Duke of York’s membership in the Black Friday sales so now have all my bases covered when it comes to the cinema.

Without too much more waffle, here is a guide to my favourite films of 2017.

My Top 11

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Wonder Woman

There are so many things I should say about this movie that just can’t do it justice. Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman is everything, from the costuming to the story to the shaping of the character herself. It’s taken us a long long time to get here, to get Diana of Themyscira on the big screen and the reality of it was so much better than I could of dreamed.

To see her pushed back to square one in Justice League just a few months later doesn’t bear thinking about but the future of Wonder Woman is bright, I have hope in my heart about that.

My film of the year and my review here.

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The Disaster Artist

While nobody will ever accuse me of being that into James Franco, in this he cannot be faulted. His portrayal of the mysterious Tommy Wiseau is nothing short of miraculous and his dedication to the part never falters.

TDA is hilarious and joyful and weird and respectful while endearing the viewer to the wonderful Wiseau world view. It doesn’t pull punches when it comes to how awful he could be during the filming of The Room but it also doesn’t make him out to be a total arse either. And the friendship element, between Tommy and Greg Sestero, is genuinely heartwarming in places.

A very fun viewing experience.

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The Handmaiden

My favourite director meets my favourite author. There was no way this wasn’t going to make the list.

The Handmaiden is gorgeous, sexy, horrifying and brilliant while the story twists and turns to the bitter end. In Chan-wook Park‘s hands the tale is coated with an extra veneer of mystery and even knowing how it would end from reading Fingersmith, I was pleasantly sated.

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A Ghost Story

I often wonder how this film caught me so unawares. For a start it stars someone I really dislike and although he’s not visible for very much of the film, by rights that should have put me off. It hasn’t though and this film did something not many films are able to do – it got right under my skin.

The story is relatively simple: a young couple lives together until one of them dies. Trapped as a ghost in their home, the man is caught in limbo after his widow moves on. Will he ever be able to leave this realm?

Did I cry? Not until the end credits and then I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. My friend Becky had the same reaction which made me feel better, like I was justified in being so invested. For now I’m avoiding a re-watch so the initial impact can’t wear off.

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Moonlight

Another film I felt, which sounds all kinds of icky but is true. This is a masterpiece in longing and I loved it.

All the actors that play Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes) at three stages of his life are flawless but I think it might be the final scenes between Black and Kevin that seal the deal for me on this one. They’re everything.

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Get Out

Next to Wonder Woman, I think this might be my favourite film of 2017. The experience we had while watching it was amazing, for once the audience participation wasn’t a problem – as people cheered and booed and clapped all the way through it.

Daniel Kaluuya will always be Tealeaf to me but it’s really good to see him in big screen productions. He doesn’t disappoint as Chris, the African-American boyfriend of Allison Williams‘ Rose Armitage, who takes him home to meet the folks one weekend only for things to take an extremely sinister turn.

What was great about this is that it kept its sense of humour throughout, approaches white privilege, cultural appropriation and racism from a fresh angle – and wasn’t the film I’d come to expect from the trailer. Which can only ever be a good thing.

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Call Me By Your Name

What a lush and wonderful slice of perfection this is! Armie Hammer was so good I felt guilty for ever having underestimated his talents.

Set during the heady Summer of 1983, 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls in love with his father’s American research assistant Oliver against the backdrop the sumptuous Italian countryside. Simple though this sounds this film, like Moonlight in some ways, is the perfect study in all-consuming, forbidden desire.

And the scene between Elio and his father towards the end is so touching, it’s one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This isn’t exactly what you’d call a comfortable watch but there is something appealing about the mind of Yorgos Lanthimos‘. I loved Dogtooth and The Lobster, so went in with high hopes for TKOASD. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s fucking weird alright, has a twisted black sense of humour and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, all of which I approve of. All performances are great here, particularly sinister af Barry Koeghan as the vengeful Martin.

As for the plot, it’s extremely satisfying to witness the collapse of Doctor Steven Murphy’s (Colin Farrell) perfect life because he’s a careless arse – but you can’t help feeling for his privileged wife and kids. It probably isn’t for everyone but I liked it a lot.

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Lady Bird

Man, I loved this. It nails the complex relationship some women experience with their mothers perfectly, and even for someone who hasn’t experienced it to the same level, it’s so relateable.

Both Saoirse Ronan (the titular “Lady Bird”) and Laurie Metcalf are so believable as mother and daughter. There’s a scene in the dressing room while Lady Bird tries on prom dresses that is so perfect it brings up a lot of emotion (or did for me). Ah mums, gotta love them, right?

Note to Greta Gerwig: you’re a bloody clever woman – and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I won’t defend my decision to include this movie on my top list because I shouldn’t have to. Lots of people hated on it and that’s totally fine too but it did what I wanted and needed it to, and some of the big reveals, they make sense (on reflection).

It’s by no means perfect but a Star Wars film is always going to be head and shoulders more exciting than most films because it’s a Star Wars film – and I’m all in.

The things I loved (*with minimal spoilers*): all Carrie Fisher scenes, the introduction of Rose Tico, #spacedernCaptain Phasma, the crystal foxes, Lietenant Connix, the entire salt planet sequence, the fish nuns, Dameron Poe‘s face, PORGS! THAT scene in the red room with the ninja sabres… I could go on.

I’ll definitely be seeing this again as soon as I can because there is an awful lot going on and I’m very much looking forward to it. See you soon Rey & co.

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

A last minute entry into the Top 11, I can’t be sure if my total enjoyment of this film was down to its subject matter (let’s face it probably) or whether it’s just because it was totally dope. I’m going to say 50/50 and call it a day.

I thought this was just lovely, giving us insight into the man behind the Wonder Woman character and the very real women who inspired him. It’s one of my very favourite stories anyway and to see it brought to the big screen was so much fun.

I loved Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston and very much enjoyed the ménage à trois relationship between the three leads. So worth a watch if you can get to see it, sadly I think this has had a very limited release in the UK.

Other films of note

I also totally loved:
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Blade Runner 2049

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Spider-Man: Homecoming / Paddington 2 / Thor: Ragnarok

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The Big Sick / Tom of FinlandRaw

Most mind boggling and frustrating film of 2017

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mother!

At the very least you can’t accuse Aronofsky of producing boring work. While mother! is many things, it’s not dull. There’s a lot about it to process and I still can’t really work out if I hated it with a passion, didn’t get it – or if it’s actually brilliant.

So rather than getting my worst film vote, it gets most memorable but not necessarily in a good way.

Worst film of 2017 (AKA The Swiss Army Man Award)

Day 22

Colossal

I reacted so bizarrely to this film and have never really been able to compute why. I guess you can’t win them all but I am baffled about it.

Really it should have been everything I wanted but the controlling aspect of the central relationship/friendship caught me off guard and I couldn’t enjoy it. I guess the after-effects of a shitty relationship can seep into anything without warning, even all these years later. So it’s a nope from me, sorry Anne. You had a GREAT fringe though.

What did you love/hate/enjoy this year?

Christine (Film) Review 

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Something a little somber this week – somber but powerful.

Oh, and our Gorgeous Lady of the Blog Collab is Rebecca Hall for this very relatable and amazing turn as a depressed woman in desperate need of mental support.

*Beware spoilers*

Christine (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

The story of Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter struggling with depression and professional frustrations as she tries to advance her career.

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This post is likely to be light on witty captions

My Review

Christine Chubbuck (Hall) is a 29 year old TV reporter living in Sarasota. Her speciality is human interest pieces with a positive spin that don’t go over too well with her boss Michael (Tracy Letts), who’s constantly trying to up the ratings with juicier stories.

In between arguments with Michael, Christine spends most of her time secretly in love with her co-worker George (Michael C. Hall), who seems well-meaning if a little slippery. She’s also suffering from crippling stomach pains which she spends a lot of time ignoring. When she finally faces up to her health issues, she’s told she needs to have an ovary removed which will significantly reduce her chances of falling pregnant – and is probably not what most women want to hear in Christine’s position.

Back at work, she learns that the owner of her TV station is looking for talent to poach and take to the much fancier Baltimore (where I would live if I lived in America, thank you, John Waters). This prompts her to take Michael’s advice, buy a police scanner and go all Nightcrawler on everyone’s arse.

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Studio totty

She does a little bit better and gets kudos from her workmates but Mike’s still not blown away by the calibre of her stories (some dude accidentally burning his house down three times), which leads them to have a fiery argument. When he chooses to go with a piece by Christine’s friend and colleague Jean (Maria Dizzia) instead of something Chris has been working on, she goes ballistic and brings up some personal stuff about Michael’s wife that almost gets her fired.

Did I mention through this that Christine lives with her mother, Peg (J. Smith-Cameron)? Well she does and there’s tension between them too, especially when mum takes a new lover. In a particularly heated exchange, the women discuss Christine’s past breakdown. I have a lot of time for Peg, who genuinely loves and worries for her daughter.

Things are looking pretty shitty for Christine but her luck takes a turn when George finally asks her on a date. She goes with a hopeful heart and thaws slightly, admitting to her crush that there are times she finds it hard to open up. The date goes well but takes an intriguing turn when George introduces Christine to a group therapy he himself swears by.

To Christine’s credit, she agrees to give it a go and finds herself opening up to a random woman from the group. The main take home from this is that Christine is still a virgin but has a desperate desire for biological children and a husband she loves.

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Dear Diary, I hate everyone right now

On the drive home, George breaks it to Christine that he’s been chosen to go to Baltimore. She’s surprised but being a doer, comes up with a plan to persuade the TV station’s owner, Bob Andersen (John Cullum) to take her too. Pretending to get a flat tire outside his home (genius), Christine gains access before revealing who she is.

She learns from lovely old Bob that George has already vouched for another colleague to join him in Baltimore – and it ain’t our girl.

Not one to be kept down, Christine heads back into work the next day and asks for her boss’ permission to do a very special story. He agrees and Christine takes to the Anchor’s desk, delivering her lines with a tragic and explosive ending.

My Thoughts

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Rebecca Hall as Christine

This is a sometimes slow burning study on depression at a time when there weren’t many resources for people to combat their mental issues. Depression and mental illness still had a stigma attached and this can only have contributed to Christine’s situation, one that is desperately sad, there’s no two ways about it.

It seems in Christine’s life, she had many people around her that cared but none of them knew how to help her and I’m just sorry about that.

I didn’t know anything about the real Christine so I can honestly say I didn’t see the ending coming. I was as open mouthed as her colleagues. All I can say is that she seemed like an interesting woman with very real frustrations and I wish things had been different for her.

Rebecca Hall is very good in this role, she made Christine likeable and relatable, which goes a long way in giving a shit about the story.

Again, this isn’t always the most dynamically paced piece but it’s fitting for the story and I enjoyed it.

My Rating

4/5. I like this even if it is quite ploddy at times. I think films like this need to be made, the conversation surrounding mental health issues should never be silenced.

What did my beloved think and feel? Would she put it down or help it live? Find out here.