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Juliet, Naked

Our so-called fuck up this week is incredibly easy to relate to so I probably like this film more than I would normally because of that. Also, Rose Byrne is such a gifted comic actor, I want to be her.

Juliet, Naked is the story of Annie (the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan) and her unlikely transatlantic romance with once revered, now faded, singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, who also happens to be the subject of Duncan’s musical obsession.

Chris O’DowdRose ByrneEthan Hawke

What if you met the man of your man’s dreams?

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*Minor spoilers*

Annie (Byrne) still lives in her hometown and is the curator at the local museum. She lives with her long-term boyfriend Duncan (O’Dowd), even though the relationship is pretty threadbare. It isn’t helped by Duncan’s all-consuming obsession with the music of singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe (Hawke). Crowe’s last work was released 25 years ago but this doesn’t stop him running a dedicated fan site.

When a surprise package arrives at the couple’s home, Annie opens it first and discovers a collection of acoustic covers of Crowe’s seminal masterpiece, “Juliet”. The new work is called “Juliet, Naked”. Duncan is none-to-pleased to arrive home and find his girlfriend has already listened to it. He’s even less thrilled when she tears it apart. This leads to a huge argument and Annie leaves a negative review of the demo on his website.

When Annie later receives a response to her critique from someone purporting to be Tucker Crowe, things start to get interesting. He thanks her for her honesty and it soon becomes clear that it really is the man himself. The pair quickly begin a regular correspondence, updating each other on the intimate details of their lives. Annie ends up being very candid about her sadness at not being a mother, while Crowe shares his regrets about being a bad father to five kids, by four different mothers.

Meanwhile, Duncan bangs a teacher at his school and his relationship with Annie conveniently comes to an end. Round about the same time, Crowe – who lives in America to be near his youngest son, Jackson – has to travel to London for his daughter Lizzie (Ayoola Smart) who’s about to give birth to her first child. Of course he arranges to meet Annie in London but stands her up.

She forgives him when she learns he’s had a heart attack and the pair finally manage to meet, though the small hospital room in which she finds him is soon full of ex-wives and children. She stays for a beat then excuses herself, never to be seen again. Kidding. Crowe invites himself and Jackson to Annie’s to recuperate and get to know her better.

Which is lovely and all but how will she explain the shrine to Tucker Crowe that still lives in the house? Indeed, how will Duncan take his first – and subsequent – meetings with his idol?

It’s all very idyllic but what will become of the new couple when reality comes a-knocking and Crowe has to return to the US?

Well, this is a slow burning quite lovely little lament on regret and new beginnings. It may please you to note that Annie does what she wants to do finally – and follows her own dreams, regardless of other people’s demands on her. I think in the hands of someone else I would have been bored but the small-town seaside setting feels authentic and both Byrne and Hawke put in good, low-key performances. I cannot abide Chris O’Dowd if we’re being honest but he brings the infuriating character if Duncan to life by default.

While I enjoyed this, I don’t have that much to say about it. Not that much happens. I do however understand the pressure of waking up in your forties and being nowhere near the person you thought you would be. There’s a sadness and some hope in there somewhere, depending on how you look at it.

Film details:

Juliet, Naked
Year: 2018
Director: Jesse Peretz
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 4/5

What does my girl think of Juliet, Naked? Would she set up a very niche fan site for it or send it back to obscurity forever? Find out here.

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Study Buddy

I’ve started my Wicca diploma and let me tell you, I am not a natural academic. I find studying super hard, not least because it is so easy to get distracted.

I often thank my lucky stars I grew up and went to school when I did. Had I had to contend with my phone and the pressures of social media, I’d never have got the handful of GCSEs that I did. Even then it was hard enough, I’m not a good exam taker and my ability to retain information has never been brilliant. That’s only gotten worse over the years.

And yet, this is why I want to do the course in the first place. In addition to learning to be a good, strong witch obviously. It’s about challenging myself. I think I’ve worked hard to believe myself that not all intellect can be measured by a piece of paper. Some of the brightest and most interesting people I know didn’t go to uni and that includes me. I might not be the sharpest tool but I know I have emotional intelligence and that counts in life. Sometimes more than anything.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to achieve academic things though and this online course might not even class as academia itself – but it matters to me.

So here I am. Even the first section of this diploma has not been easy. I’ve read it over several times and have still had to dip back in to answer the questions in my first assessment. I don’t want to do it by halves and it’s okay that it doesn’t come naturally or easily. Nothing worth having ever really does.

I think I’ll be okay once I set aside some proper study time. Plus, cute stationery. I’ve already got a witchy notebook and some nice pens, and the note-taking is coming along swimmingly. That’s the main thing, right? I’ll keep it up because it is very interesting and something I’ve always wanted to learn more about.

I’ll be my own best study buddy, you’ll see. I got this.

Academics, what’s your creative/study process?

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Sun Shirking

I really wish I was someone who could relax into the Summer. What I wouldn’t give to be one of those people clearly born to be free and easy in the warmer months. They come alive as soon as the temperature rises, smile all the time and waft about in light fabrics, never complaining – only wishing for more heat, please. I am not one of these people. I don’t waft so much as flail about, red faced and crotchety, sweaty fringe and I against the world.

I am a child of the Autumn. Give me a cardigan and a cool breeze any day of the week and I’m deliriously happy. The sun has always been my nemesis and it’s not surprising. Gingers and the sun have long enjoyed a complex relationship. There may be fellow gingers who feel differently but I don’t know them. I would like to know their secrets though. The majority of us are practically vampiric, seeking shade as soon as the sun rises or we’ll burst into flames. I only have to glance out of a window at bright blue sky and I start to feel angsty.

Stepping out the door usually results in heat rash, sun burn or sun stroke – so I don’t really bother anymore. I’ll be indoors under the fan, enjoying the darkness thank you very much. I wish it were different. I wish I could be ethereal and sweat free more than anything but I know my limitations – and 34 degree heat is it.

There’s a certain level of shaming that happens when the weather turns nice. I get it, we have about two weeks of sun before it’s gone for another year, so why wouldn’t we make the most of it? But anyone not out and about tends to be told to get outside. Some of us are better left indoors or under a massive umbrella, doing Summer our way, believe me.

It’s just safer for everyone.

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Annabelle Comes Home

While babysitting the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, a teenager and her friend unknowingly awaken an evil spirit trapped in a doll.

Vera FarmigaPatrick WilsonMckenna Grace

Annabelle

Welcome To The Home Of The Conjuring Universe.

*Minor spoilers*

This film is exactly what I expected it to be. I have a real fondness for the Conjuring Universe though and by default that means I can’t hate on it too much.

We begin in the company of Lorraine and Ed Warren (Farmiga & Wilson), driving home after picking up pesky Annabelle, a doll prone to being a conduit for evil (same TBH). As I would imagine with every trip the couple took together, it ends with some spooky shit. When everything creepy starts happening at once, they realise they must lock her up and throw away the key. They place Annabelle in a holy glass cabinet, have her blessed by a priest and leave her to gather dust all her ownsome for all eternity. Or so they plan.

It’s the doll, Ed. It’s a beacon for other spirits.

When the Warrens go away for the weekend – don’t go! – they entrust their precious daughter Judy (McKenna) to sensible babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). The pair plan to bake a cake for Judy’s upcoming birthday and enjoy being the most wholesome people on the street. Mary Ellen’s BFF Daniela (Katie Sarife) has other ideas however. Having heard about the Warrens and their supernatural antics, she decides to sneak into their dangerous oggly boggly artifacts room, where Annabelle also happens to reside…

Well, no prizes for guessing what follows, as all the evil nicely contained escapes into the house, causing havoc for our three ladies. Help is – kind of – on hand in the shape of lovesick Bob Palmeri (Michael Cimino), who lives on Judy’s street and has a massive crush on Mary Ellen. But all in all it’s a bad scene, man.

The thing is that there’s too much going on. There are some lovely effects and the film itself has a gorgeous vintage aesthetic but it’s very messy. I do enjoy the urban legend of The Ferryman but we have a haunted samurai, a werewolf and Annabelle’s ugly mug to contend with and its hard to keep up. Oh, there’s also a possessed wedding dress that causes anyone wearing it to become deadly violent, that’s kind of cool actually.

It really doesn’t have the oompf to carry it through and I hate the saccharine ending so much. ACH reads like a slightly more adult version of Goosebumps but nowhere near as charming. There’s also a very patronising smoke that announces the arrival of absolutely every spooky moment which kind of spoils it. Hope you like cheap thrills and jump scares, yo.

You need to give her a soul, dear. SHE WANTS A SOUL!

I do appreciate Daniela’s heartbreaking motivations (even though it’s all her stupid fault) – and there’s not one Noel Fielding sighting which I’m grateful for. It turns out, conversely, that I like The Nun more than I liked this which I’m surprised about. The setting was just more exciting and honestly, Judy gets on my tits. She’s just a bit wet for a Warren, though in fairness as she starts to display her own gift maybe she’ll shoulder her own spin off and that could be good. Who am I trying to kid? I wish I knew how to quit these movies!

You know what else is cool? This is a movie driven almost solely by three young women who don’t need anyone to rescue them. I should be ecstatic about that. I just wish Lorraine and Ed were around more.

Now to the million dollar question: when does the damn wind-up monkey get his standalone movie?

Film details:

Annabelle Comes Home
Year: 2019
Director: Gary Dauberman
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
My Rating: 3/5

What are you watching?

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Horror Friends

It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence and solitude. ~ H.P. Lovecraft

neonbrand-A59lWOrZVnw-unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Ever since I read this article, I’ve been thinking about adult friendships. I’m lucky to have a selection of people I can make plans with when I want to (and who understand when I don’t) – but I realise it isn’t always easy to make new friends or meet people who are into the same things as us.

Ages ago my friend Matt ventured the idea of signing up to the Meetup app and setting up our own horror club because he’d noticed there was a gap in the market in Brighton. We never got around to it because procrastination and Christmas won out but now I’m thinking we should try it again. Why can’t we combine our love of horror with meeting new people?

So I’m going to start looking into the feasibility of doing it. It will be like a book club but with horror movies. I’m thinking we’ll set homework two weeks before each monthly meet and then discuss it in a group in the pub. There are no hard plans. As you might be painfully aware, I’m not a details orientated person unless it comes to writing. I’m happy for it to start light and loose, and evolve into something more solid depending on the response.

I think it sounds cool though. What I am conscious of is that I’m a big follower of several meetup groups on Facebook and so far I’ve been too anxious to attend any of them on my own. So I should probably start being braver about doing those too. I don’t want to be a nervous host at my own meetup!

If you’re part of something similar, a book club, etc – what do you like/dislike about it? What would you like to see? If you’re in Brighton, would you join my club?

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Jaws (2019)

I doubt this movie needs much of an introduction but just in case:

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Roy ScheiderRobert ShawRichard Dreyfuss

Amity Island had everything. Clear skies. Gentle surf. Warm water. People flocked there every summer. It was the perfect feeding ground.

Spielberg’s seminal masterpiece Jaws is the same age as me. 42 years old this year and boy, is it looking good. I was able to catch in on the big screen on Monday night and I’m so happy about it.

The film, with its exquisite tension building, is practically perfect in every way – and I’m reminded once again, a) why I love it so much and b) why I never go in the water. Again, it really needs no introduction but Amity Island Chief of Police, Brody (Scheider) is dismayed when a young woman’s mangled body is found on the beach after what appears to be a vicious shark attack.

Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women. ~ Quint

When his fears are confirmed by the authorities, he jumps into action quickly, moving to shut down the beaches and get people out of the water STAT. Unfortunately, Amity Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton ) thinks he’s jumping the gun and the coroner goes back on his original diagnosis, stating the death was in fact caused by a drunken boating accident.

Brody is still on high alert but concedes that they are probably right – but when another victim is claimed, this time a young boy – all hell breaks loose. Not only does his grieving mother hold him personally responsible, Brody is also up against a stubborn Vaughn who refuses to close the beach on upcoming 4th of July weekend. Summer money is what keeps the island ticking over after all. When the boy’s mother reveals that she’s willing to pay a healthy reward to whoever catches the killer shark, there’s an influx of optimistic fishermen on the water.

My husband tells me you’re in sharks. ~ Ellen Brody

They catch the Tiger shark responsible and life goes back to normal for everyone. Oh, except Jaws is a Great White and he’s still out there, snacking on the general public. The arrival of the Cutest Little Marine Biologist™ Hooper (Dreyfus) confirms that the victims were taken down by something with a much bigger bite – and, with the help of salty ol’ seadog Quint (Shaw) – the three of them set off to find and destroy him. Which might all be too much for water phobic Brody. (I hear you, hun).

Tell them I’m going fishing. ~ Chief Brody

The whole film is a trip with an ominous tone that doesn’t let up, not ever but particularly when something bad is ushered in with John Williams’ theme. We always know when Jaws is about to strike but it never fails to make me jump out of my skin. Later, in the show down in deep water there is less signposting and I shrieked aloud a few times, even though I knew what was coming.

By far my favourite parts are between the three men, particularly the scene in which Hooper and Quint compare scars on the Orca. Up until this point there has been a real sharpness between them, with Quint looking down on rich kid Hopper with his ‘city hands’. This cements a friendship that could have (sea)legs if only they could all get to land safely. Unfortunately, our fast fish has other ideas and he’s due one last snack before bedtime…

Quint also reveals he was on the USS Indianapolis and lost a lot of friends to feeding tiger sharks, which explains an awful lot about his motivations. The man dedicates his life to the culling of these man-eaters but the sadness is his eye as he regales his new friends is truly heart-breaking. The central three are all great, well rounded characters but Quint is legendary.

You’re gonna need a bigger boat. ~ Brody

It was such a treat to revisit this and to view it on a proper screen. I paid attention in a way I never do at home and it’s still firmly in my top ten of all-time favourite movies. I’m quite tempted to work my way through the rest of the series, even though they get progressively worse. I always had a soft spot for Jaws 2, anyway.

Film details:

Jaws
Year: 1978
Director: Steven Spielberg
IMDB Rating: 8/10
My Rating: 5/5

What are you watching?

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Weekly Digest: Five Articles (#3)

A handful of articles I’ve enjoyed recently. In no particular order.

The best podcasts by women to listen to in 2019

It’s no secret I bloody love a good podcast. There are a few on this list I’ve heard of and one I listen to on the regs, the others are untapped but already added to my must listen list. Guess I better take myself for some long strolls, STAT.


Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

Learning to Be Ugly in South Korea

I’ve recently been coming to terms with my own unprettiness, so this resonates. Particular this bit, which in context will make more sense:

In that moment, it occurred to me that perhaps I was the worst blasphemer of all. To be so willing to blame my own face — an amalgam of those who’ve loved me — for all the upsets I’ve encountered in this alienating motherland. To ruin my health out of malice and vanity. To be so weak against this world of self-policing, senseless binaries, and beauty standards.

Fuck being a woman is hard.


Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele’s ‘Candyman’ Will Begin Filming This August in Chicago

Oh my! Yes, I’m incredibly biased about this news and yes, I’m fully invested given Peel’s involvement AND WOC director Nia DaCosta. I don’t think much has been revealed about what this will bring to the table, however IMDB says this:

A “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film ‘Candyman’ that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood where the legend began.

I can’t wait to see it. I’m relieved that it won’t be retreading familiar ground because frankly, you can’t improve on what is already perfect.


Ari Aster Describes the Spiritual Connection Between ‘Hereditary’ and ‘Midsommar’; Trilogy Planned?

You got me. I’m obsessed with Ari Aster’s Midsommar and if it’s true, if there is a trilogy planned then consider me first in line to be part of it. Fuck me up, Ari!


Not All Women Are Meant to Be Moms

This is another article currently speaking to me. I’ve often spoken about how I’m not going to be a mum but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes question myself. Am I doing the right thing? I know I am but it’s not a light and airy topic, it’s not clear cut and it isn’t a decision made without serious thought.

I’m 100% that I will never change my mind but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about what I’d be like as a mother, what my kid would be like, etc. Thankfully I understand that I can still be nurturing without being maternal.

What are you loving this week?

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The Dead Don’t Die

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.

Bill Murray • Adam Driver • Tom Waits

Ugh. I’m so annoyed by the meta elements of this stupid movie that I can’t bring myself to do a very long review. There are elements to like for sure but there’s not enough good to stop this being a huge disappointment. I hate how up it’s own arse it is and how knowing.

The cast is wonderful and in small segments, they do fair work. Tilda is dreamy as the town’s weird new undertaker with a penchant for samurai swords, which is nothing if not convenient. I was also excited to see Chloë Sevigny but her character is given little to do but cry, puke and become hysterical. Yawn.

The movie’s slow deadpan comedy style is all well and good in general but for the most part it doesn’t work here. It just has no oomph and falls flat for me. I do enjoy how well the film conjures up a George A. Romero flavour though and the small town setting is reminiscent of classic Stephen King.

My favourite character besides Swinton’s Zelda Winston (see what they’ve done there?) is Caleb Landry Jones‘ Bobby Wiggins, who runs the local gas/comic book store. His film referencing gives me life but alas, he doesn’t stick around for long. Neither do the three out of town hipsters who pass through Centerville and find themselves in the middle of all the drama.

Their story arc – and that of the three juvenile detention kids who are forced to escape their prison – lead absolutely nowhere. Tom Waits’ Hermit Bob seems to be central to the whole tale but that doesn’t pan out either. The whole film is a mess really, and even the anticipated (by me) chemistry between Murray and Adam Driver didn’t quite get there.

One things for sure, Officer Ronnie Peterson’s (Driver) ominous mantra of: “This is going to end badly” was bang on the money.

Film details:

The Dead Don’t Die
Year: 2019
Director: Jim Jarmusch
IMDB Rating: 6/10
My Rating: 2.5/5

What are you watching?

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Valley of the Dolls

This week we hang out with three show-business babes, all with very real issues. I read the book a long, long time ago when I was travelling and was really into the sixties vibe. Since then this movie has been kicking around on my wish list and I can’t believe it’s only now I’m finally committing to it.

Film version of Jacqueline Susann‘s best-selling novel chronicling the rise and fall of three young women in show business.

Barbara ParkinsPatty DukeSharon Tate

Dolls to put you to sleep at night, kick you awake in the morning, make life seem great – instant love, instant excitement, ultimate hell!

*Minor spoilers/TW: suicide*

Valley of the Dolls follows the rise and fall of three best friends, Anne Welles (Perkins), Neely O’Hara (Duke) and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate). Anne is new to NYC, having left the bosom of New England for a job as a secretary. Her boss is a theatrical lawyer which seems potentially fortuitous but for now affords her the opportunity to accompany him to his show business appointments.

One of her first experiences is meeting the diva Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), a legendary actress and performer. She’s there in fact, when plucky talent Neely is fired by a jealous Lawson. Ms Lawson is not having anyone threaten top billing on her show of all things. Luckily, the firm’s attorney Lyon Burke helps Neely get work and she swiftly becomes a rising Hollywood star. Neely and Anne also before firm friends – and Jennifer, another actress of limited talent makes three.

The young women share their experiences as their stars ascend – and men come in and out of their lives. Anne herself is having a relationship with the not very nice Lyon and is driven to drugs to deal with his affairs. Neely is a wild card who starts to display erratic and brattish behaviour, the more famous she gets. Her drug use drives a wedge between her and her husband, Mel and she has an ill-advised affair with a fashion designer.

Jennifer meanwhile, follows Neely to Hollywood and meets sexy nightclub crooner Tony Polar, whom she marries quickly and then gets preggo. Unfortunately, Tony falls ill and his domineering sister Miriam reveals that he has a nasty hereditary condition. His mental and physical health takes a nosedive and he’s sent to a sanitarium to rest. Funnily enough this is the same institution that Neely is sent to to dry out. When they bump into each other, the pair share a sweet moment in the common room – and Neely is inspired to get better – and get her career back on track.

Alas, Jennifer starts to crack under the pressure put upon her by her own mother – and this situation with her husband. Fearing for the safety of their unborn child, she has an abortion. She also takes some work in some French “art films” to keep the money coming in. When she’s diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s the last straw and rather than turn to her mum – who’s outraged about what her friends will think of Jen’s soft-core porn career – she takes tragic action.

I have to get up at five o’clock in the morning and SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE! ~ Neely O’Hara

Neely has an affair with Lyon, yes the same Lyon that was also seeing Anne – and has a cat fight with Helen Lawson which I enjoyed immensely. When she hits rock bottom a second time, who will be there to help her up? And what will become of pretty Anne? When she quits the dolls and leaves New York for a quieter pace of life, things start to look up again. Will she give it all up for cheating Lyon, who chases her down to propose to her?

Well, I like the ending of this film but I felt very sad about Jennifer’s story line. Maybe it’s because of who plays her, I’ve never seen Sharon Tate in the flesh in an acting role and it’s kind of hard to look at her. Jennifer’s pure heart makes her vulnerable and her own admission that without her body she’s nothing is heartbreaking but also kind of true by Hollywood standards. The plot cuts her absolutely no slack and I’m furious about it. I wanted her to have the happiest ending of all.

All the women are great though. I have to admit that I had severe white man blindness throughout this movie – all the husbands and lovers looked identical to me. As a result I didn’t follow who was who as closely as I should have. Honestly, while there are choice moments and the central performances are good, this is quite a long movie and it’s boring in places. However, it’s sixties aesthetic is chic as fuck and I’m going to stockpile black kohl tomorrow, let me assure you.

As for the feminist angle, I guess it is a pretty interesting study of three different types of women. Anne is liberated sexually and not after a husband thanks, while Neely finds her validation in the attention of men. In turn, Jennifer is the epitome of femininity but struggling to find her more than. If she’s reduced to just being a gorgeous body and then loses that – what the hell does she have left?

Again I wish I’d been more into this, as it is I’m glad I’ve seen it now and I’ll probably think of the girls fondly but it’s not life-changing.

Film details:

Valley of the Dolls
Year: 1967
Director: Mark Robson
IMDB Rating: 6/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my living doll think of the Dolls? Would she chase them down with a hearty gulp or go cold turkey? Find out here.

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I’ll Be There For Jen

I’m currently working my way through Friends for the 77th time in my life and, while it has not aged well in its attitudes to certain things (toxic masculinity + slut-shaming + fat-shaming + Ross being a decent person) – I still love it. The most prolific thing I take from this current re-watch is that Rachel was so well-suited to Joey – and I wish they’d ended up together. In Paris, living their dreams with Emma in tow.

Anyway, it has also stoked the Jennifer Aniston fires and I am fully entrenched in a massive crush on her right now. Which is both good and bad. Great because what a handsome babe she is, a deeply likeable actress with superb comic timing. Also terrible because she’s in a lot of movies that aren’t always worthy of her. Which doesn’t stop me watching the fuck out of them, obviously but I’m mostly watching for my girl.

These are the JA vehicles I’ve (mostly) enjoyed recently:

Meet the Millers (2013)

Jen plays stripper Rose who teams up with her dodgy neighbour David (Jason Sudeikis) to pull off a drug-smuggling mission across the Mexican border. They rope in a couple of local kids to help them pose as an ordinary family on vacation – with hilarious consequences. Sort of.

This film has a really good cast, including Emma Roberts, Kathryn Hahn and Will Poulter so it’s not all bad. If you’re watching mainly for Jennifer then there’s nothing to be disappointed about. While there are moments of slut-shaming Rose’s chosen career path which are not cool – and there’s a scene set up just so Jen has to strip for a bunch of sleazebags – her character proves she’s more than just a tight bod and good hair. There have been better showcases for her comedic skills, which we’ll look at below but I will give it:

3 swishy Rachel cuts out of 5

Office Christmas Party (2016)

Did you know America’s Sweetheart is very good at playing super bitches? In this Christmas movie, she is hard-faced Carol, sister of company boss (and fuck up) Clay (T.J. Miller). Hellbent on shutting down the Chicago branch of family business Zenotek, she gives Clay one night to seal his final deal – if they can get financial wizard Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) to sign with them, the branch is safe.

Little does she know they’re doing it by throwing the year’s biggest and best party, something she’s expressly forbidden. Luckily, Carol’s safely on her way to London so will never know… right?

Jen looks amazing and really gets her chops around the film’s snarkiest character with some amazing lines. Sorry but one of my highlights is her saying “Fuck you” to a kid in the airport lounge. As Carol loosens up somewhat and slowly comes round to Clay’s way of thinking, she’s even better. Don’t even get me started on her single-handedly taking down an army of Russian henchmen with her bare hands.

This film also boasts a who’s who of American comedy gold AND the ethereal goddess Olivia Munn but it’s all about Carol for me.

3.5 swishy Rachel cuts out of 5

Murder Mystery (2019)

Audrey Spitz is a hairdresser married to NYC police officer Nick (Adam Sandler). She enjoys salon gossip and murder mystery novels – and dreams of the European break her husband has been promising her since they tied to knot. On their 15th wedding anniversary, Nick presents her (in a panic) with her fantasy honeymoon – and things take an intriguing turn when Audrey makes the acquaintance of Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) on their flight.

When Charles invites the couple to join him and his fucked-up family on their yacht for the weekend – and there’s a brutal murder – the Spitz’s find themselves embroiled in a real life mystery that they must solve or have it pinned on themselves.

I bloody loved this film and I’m not sorry. As with so many Adam Sandler flicks, it’s not the purest form of comedy but it has heart. Sandler and Ms Aniston have decent chemistry and I’ll go into that more below but this is a fun romp which features one of my fave movie tropes – amateur sleuthing.

4 swishy Rachel cuts out of 5

Just Go With It (2011)

If I believed in guilty pleasures, which I don’t, this would be one. Since I believe in owning everything that you love, I stand by my absolute adoration for this stupid movie, which is my favourite of the bunch. Jen is Katherine, assistant to man-child plastic surgeon Danny (Adam Sandler, again).

Danny, meanwhile hooks the ladies by pretending to be unhappily married to a made-up wife who abuses him (I know, it stinks). When he meets much younger (I know), much hotter Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), he decides he wants to make it a more permanent thing. He tells his new beau that he’s divorced which would be fine, except Palmer is a good girl who wants to meet the ex-wife to make sure everything’s cool.

In steps Katherine as fake ex-wife, Devlin. Her two children, Maggie and Michael also negotiate themselves into the melee and Danny finds himself with an instant former family. Fake Devlin of course has the best wardrobe ever and is also faux-bitchy – and I love it, especially when they accidentally bump into the real Devlin (Nicole Kidman), Katherine’s frenemy from college.

No prizes for guessing what happens in this rather obvious romantic comedy but I’m game. And, while so much of it is problematic – and Sandler films in general are often the same – it reminds me why films like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates worked so well. He is capable of being a sympathetic character when he wants to be and I wish he’d bear that in mind.

Again, I think the chemistry between the two of them is convincing and realistic, even if the plot isn’t. And I root for them to get together every time.

4.5 swishy Rachel cuts out of 5

So that’s my mini Aniston-retrospective. I just think she’s very cool and she’s getting better every day. Her recent turn in Dumplin’ was really touching and frankly, I can’t wait to see what she does next. So much has been written about Jen in the media and I think it’s so unfair that it still follows her around – I think she’d be fascinating to get a drink with and I wouldn’t even bring up Angelina.

What are your favourite Aniston moments?

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Solo

One of the most important things in this life, as far as I’m concerned, is me time. It sounds cliché, especially when you frame it in that popular self-care meme kind of way but boy, is it true.

I get incredibly angsty if I don’t have at least an evening or weekend day a week to myself, doing whatever the fuck I fancy. I also strongly advocate solo dates because honestly, nobody gives good date like I do. My main jam is the cinema date for one.

You get to see what you want, sit where you want and eat what you want. You can do more than one movie and nobody moans about it. Sometimes, on very special days you can do a hat trick. I just love to spread myself out and lose myself in whatever is unfolding on screen.

That’s not to say I don’t bloody love going with my film buds, which I do all the time but the lone wolf viewing is something I do at least once a week if I can.

I struggle a lot being around too many people – and around people too much of the time – so I often have to excuse myself for a breather. Even if it’s just 30 minutes with my book or a long old soak in the tub. It wasn’t always this way, a lot of the time I was alone growing up, even when I first moved to Brighton wasn’t by choice. I had friends but I was in no way as outgoing as I am now. I was scared to go out a lot of the time – my social anxiety crippled me to the point I’d make myself ill. As a result I was a lonely person, alone a lot and not enjoying it the way I do now.

Thankfully a few things have changed in that department and I’m not sure how, I guess I stopped giving such a shit about socialising. I don’t worry as much about every little thing and I’m sure that’s a comfort that comes with age. Plus, I surround myself with people who understand me – if I’d done and my social battery is running low, they just accept it.

I think I’ve found the balance. Now I thrive on the peace and quiet of my own company but I also enjoy being out and about. Finding the right balance is the key to my optimum mental health – and I always feel it when I’ve been overdoing it. The quickest and easiest solution to that is to take myself to the movies. On Monday, I’ll be spending a few hours with Bruce. The shark from Jaws, that is.

What are your thoughts on going solo?

Dreams

Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them ~ Edgar Allen Poe

There’s one absolute constant in my life and that’s the fact that I will always dream big. Every single night I dream* and sometimes they’re so vivid, I need a moment to figure out where and who I am when I wake up. I’m not sure why I dream so deeply (and so bizarrely) but I suspect it’s because I watch so many things that promote nightmares.

Last week Midsommar did not help and ever since Stranger Things returned to Netflix, I’ve been enjoying particularly weird and wonderful dreams. However, there are a few things that haunt my nights that have nothing to do with Ari Aster and pals. Usually unpleasant visions of bumping into Horrible Ex™, or becoming friends again with my old best friend. This one brings with it a lot of guilt. After we establish ourselves as friends again, I always have to break it to my friend Tora (Panda) and then I wake up before I know her true response.

Funnily enough it turns out I’ve talked about these dreams before, and also totally coincidentally (I swear), exactly one year ago today.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had reoccurring dreams. I remember as a child dreaming repeatedly of a man made of electricity coming to our house and the whole family having to hide, at the same time every night. It was always the most frightening experience as invariably I would hide inside an old toy box and he’d find me. As he was lifting the heavy lid, I’d wake up and always before I saw his face or found out what he wanted with me.

Now I dream a lot of running along the sprawling corridors of crumbling houses, usually very old ones. These houses have hundreds of nooks and crannies, designed it seems specifically for hiding. They remind me of an old house my school friend Heather used to live in, which had an attic with secret panels that lead here, there and everywhere. Perhaps this is why I dream of similar houses.

I find our dreams so fascinating and it’s hard not to read something into them. The tooth dream is one that pops up occasionally; I think we all have that from time to time. Apparently it can represent any of the following:

  • Representation of anxiety
  • A costly compromise or decision
  • Radical change
  • Starting a new project or phase in your life

Since any one of those could ring true at any given time who actually knows? I swear somewhere else it says it’s something to do with pregnancy. Whatever our dreams mean, I think it’s fun to ponder and try to decipher for ourselves.

Meanwhile, my night time antics, while sometimes terrifying, at least keep me on my toes.

Night night x

*Apparently, we dream every night and it has been estimated that more than 2 hours out of each night’s sleep are spent dreaming or in a dreamlike state. It’s long been believed that we only dream during the rapid eye movement, or REM, cycle of sleep. Fact fans.