Loveless

Loveless (2017)

Directed by: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring: Maryana SpivakAleksey RozinMatvey Novikov

IMDB Synopsis

A couple going through a divorce must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments.

*Minor spoilers*

Fuck me. This movie was so enthralling, so bleak and so genuinely moving that it’s taken me until now to properly unpack it. I went on a whim late one evening and sat between two old ladies, one of whom spent most of the show with her head on my shoulder. (So she could read the subtitles she claimed but I’m not convinced – I do give great shoulder).

Alexey (Novikov) is caught between two warring parents and things are far from great. Virtually invisible, he gets to listen to Zhenya and Boris (Spivak and Rozin) argue about who gets to take him when they finally sell their apartment and split for good. That is, Zhenya doesn’t want custody and neither does Boris.

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Both parents have already started to move on. Zhenya has been dating a wealthy older man, while Boris has already impregnated the lovely Masha (Marina Vasileva). While he has to keep his rocky marital status to himself at work, due to a devoutly Christian boss with an idealistic attitude to family life, he splits his time between Masha and her mother’s apartment and the sofa at ‘home’. 

This all means that Alexey is largely ignored and one day, he just doesn’t come home. This forces the parents to come together again to find him, which will prove difficult since they don’t seem to know him at all. The film focuses on our two leads as they battle to put their past and their differences behind them to locate their only son before it’s too late. How the hell will this pan out?

Loveless is so devastating, genuinely with plenty of truly cutting dialogue. Young and beautiful Zhenya violently resents her soon-to-be-ex husband Boris and in turn, regrets ever having Alexey. She has a wicked way with words and doesn’t mince them. Will she live to regret her scathing language when it comes to her son?

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Technically, this film is breathtaking – with lots of sweeping shots of a frozen urban landscape, it feels cold and bleak. Perfect for a film this sad. And in the search for Alexey we get to explore abandoned buildings and forest floors for clues, which is right up my street.

Will we find Alexey? Well, one things for sure – you’ll be tsking at the utter selfishness of his parents whilst sort of sympathising and feeling conflicted about that. I recommend this film hard but it’s no fairy tale, believe.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed by: Andy NymanJeremy Dyson
Starring: Andy NymanMartin FreemanPaul WhitehouseAlex Lawther

IMDB Synopsis

Arch skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.

*Minor spoilers*

Man, I love me an anthology and this British horror ghost collection is no exception. It’s fucking weird though, which is hardly surprising given the involvement of The League of Gentleman co-writer Jeremy Dyson.

Skeptical Pro Goodman (Nyman) makes his living debunking all manner of supernatural goings on. If there’s a dodgy séance going on in a chilly church hall, he’ll be there to expose it for what it really is: a pile of steaming bull crap. Straight up, the Pro does not believe.

When he receives a mysterious summons from an old inspiration, he’s tasked with uncovering the so-called truth about three so far unexplained ghost sightings. These stories revolve around a night watchman (Whitehouse) in an abandoned asylum (what good could ever come of those words, I ask you?), a beastly haunting in the woods and a pesky poltergeist.

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Will these stories chill Goodman’s blood and turn his head forever – or will he see the strings and disprove them once and for all? Well…

I saw this early as part of Odeon cinema’s Scream Unseen and I was pretty stoked about it. Based on the stage play of the same name, also by Nyman and Dyson, it’s genuinely creepy in places. It’s also bat shit crazy and plays with structure, keeping the traditional format fresh.

Unlike most anthologies, it keeps things tight with no truly weak links. I think my favourite setting is the asylum (which comes down to personal taste) – and Paul Whitehouse blew me away as the rattled former night watchman who has no explanation for what he saw one fateful night.

We also meet Simon Rifkind (Lawther), a young man too scared to sleep after an altercation in the woods with something inhuman. Lawther to me is one of our best new actors, catching my attention in the deeply distressing Shut Up and Dance episode of Black Mirror and most recently in The End of the F***ing World. His Simon is borderline deranged and can you blame him?

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Lastly we spend time with banker (and new dad) Mike Priddle, who lives in a grand old house in the country. He tells the story of his own personal haunting and it’s a dozy, obviously.

Each of the segments display the sense of humour you’d expect from this team and the climax is pretty special. It might not be for everybody but I appreciate it for what it is – a ghost story that plans to stick in the mind, not fade from memory seconds after the credits roll.

I hope people will see this and love it. It’s just so nice to see something on the big screen that’s brings something new to the table. There are so many mediocre American horror films being churned out – sometimes you just need a little injection of something new.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Weekly Digest – TV Special

Easter holidays means time off work for me this year (yey) and that obviously means it rains everyday and I get to nest indoors watching my shows.

This is what I’m currently digging…

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Ru Paul’s Drag Race – Season 10

I’m not blown away by anyone in the line up yet but then I’m only two episodes in and Netflix is releasing episodes week by week, so I can’t just rinse it in one sitting.

I think there’s potential for drams between Miz Cracker and Aquaria, and I’m kind of into The Vixen – but other than that we’ll just have to see.

Alongside Season 10, I’m also playing catch up on Season 5 and All Stars Season 2, which is a different kettle of fish altogether. Season 5 had so many stand-out queens – Alyssa Edwards, Alaska, Jinkx Monsoon, DETOX – that it’s almost unfair to all the other seasons. Anyway, I’m having the most fun.

Who’re your fave queens? Mine are Kim Chi, Detox and Adore Delano!

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Mr. Robot

I’ve only seen one episode but man, it was a banger. I’m now obsessed and can’t wait to dig in further. It has a sort of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vibe with Rami Malek‘s socially anxious Elliot Alderson working for ‘Evil Corp’ by day and hacking shit by night.

He’s just met Christian Slater and done something dramatic that will set in the motion a series of events that will change his life – and society – forever. Presumably.

Eek!

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The End of the F***ing World

Everyone’s been gushing about this since it appeared on Netflix but I just wasn’t that into it. The two main characters – played by Black Mirror’s Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden – are kind of hard to love.
But I got there and then I really enjoyed myself. It’s quite bleak but also sweet with a great supporting cast, including Steve Oram and gorgeous Gemma Whelan.

What have you been watching?

Roxanne Roxanne (Film) Review

Funny how our March Madness Month has been more or less focused on films by and about fucking fierce women, isn’t it? Guess we weren’t quite ready to hang Feminist February back in the wardrobe, which is f-i-n-e fine with me.

To this week’s film which is no different, a neat little Netflix Original charting the rise of teen rapper Roxanne Shante.

*Minor spoilers*

Roxanne Roxanne (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

In the early 1980s, the most feared battle MC in Queens, New York, was a fierce teenage girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

My Review

Shante (Chanté Adams) and her family live in an overcrowded apartment in Queens. Things seems to be looking up as the women, Shante’s mother Ms. Peggy (Nia Long) and her daughters get set to move out and into a bigger home.

Ms. Peggy and her man have been planning a new life for the family while Peggy has been saving every last penny, finally stacking up 20 gees after years and years of hard work. Shit takes a turn when her boyfriends ups and leaves one night with the money in tow. Who fucking knew?

Throughout this movie it seems the girls’ are destined to learn than men are rubbish and never worth the effort. They hang around waiting for a father than never shows and suffer the wrath of their hard-working single mother who loves her girls dearly but has no time to suffer fools, because men. It’s actually the relationship between Shante and her mother that I liked the most about this film – Ms. Peggy is a force to be reckoned with but she ain’t taking no prisoners.

Following a rough patch at home, Shante moves out and in with a male friend (couldn’t work out if this was a friend or cousin actually). She shoplifts to order for a small gang and this is how she makes the benjamins to live. This set up can’t last forever and Shante learns the hard way that adulting is not easy and has no choice but to return home.

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Shante, the hero of this story, has shown a unique talent for rap battling from an early age and earned herself something of a local infamy. Because of this she finds herself regularly challenged to battle by snot nosed neighbourhood boys.

One day – in between laundry shifts – Shante throws down a couple of verses on a neighbour’s track and before she knows it, has blown up on the radio. Popularity though comes at a price and she finds herself growing apart from her school friends and family. She also meets Cross (Mahershala Ali), a charismatic older man keen to hitch his wagon to her rising star.

I found the older man/16-year-old thing really icky to watch even if it a true representation of what happened to the real Roxanne Shante. When Ms. Peggy confronts him for sleeping with her daughter I cheered. Although Mahershala Ali is one of the most exciting actors around at the moment, he plays sleazy Cross just a little too well. I hated him and I hated the violence he rains down upon the person he supposedly loves.

When Shante and Cross take their relationship to the next level, all sorts of Hell breaks loose. Will Shante survive to become the Queen of Rap, or what? You know what to do.

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My Thoughts

God this was boring. I mean, I love a rags to riches tale and I loved Shante but why did it feel so long when it was only 90 mins? It didn’t show me anything new, didn’t really inspire me to feel anything at all – and Shante has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it birthing scene that I thought I’d imagined. As a bridge across time I got its purpose but it didn’t work. There’s not that much character development either.

Nia Long and Adams are the stand outs in this, they’re brilliant with what they have to work with – and I would have been delighted with more one on one between them. All in all this movie just isn’t all that, sadly.

My Rating

2/5.

What does my Queen think of this one? Would she challenge it to a rap battle or take it on tour? Find out here.

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Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow (2018)

Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling

IMDB Synopsis

Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

*Minor spoilers*
Dominika is a highly respected prima ballerina until the day she suffers an unfortunate (and career-ending) accident. With her dreams over and a very sick mother at home to care for, what’s a girl to do? Particularly when her manipulative uncle is in town, whispering in her ear, telling her he’s got just the thing to help everyone concerned.

Well, he isn’t about to set her up with a Saturday job in the local bookshop, you know what I mean? He recognises something in Dominika that’s about to change her life forever – and not necessarily in a good way. Dependent on your views on espionage, murder and honey trappery, that is.

But before all that, D must go to spy school and I think it would be safe to say that if these are the best years of her life then… maybe it’s time to hang up her pencil skirt and skip town. Double maths suddenly doesn’t seem so harsh.

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This is a film I went into with no expectation and ended up having a good time. It tries to be clever with its twist and turns, and it’s not that smart or complex really. Jen is insanely hot as expected and the camera just adores her. It’s good to see her stretching herself in new ways, this and Mother! seem like departures from her more vanilla/pretty face roles. I want more of that please, Jen.

I did find quite a lot of the sexual violence hard to stomach, naturally. It’s never a nice or comfortable thing to witness. That said, there’s a lot of violence to go around everyone and I feel in some ways as though this would have been a better film had it received an 18 certificate. Sometimes it felt like it was holding back and I wanted more: more arse-kicking and definitely more time spent at spy school. It feels like having Charlotte Rampling on the bill and not doing much with her was a wasted opportunity – and we only get a snap shot of the curriculum and the other students.

All in all, this was not the trash I expected. Sure, it might not remain in my mind for long but JLaw’s turn was pretty knockout given the material she has to work with – and I’m excited for more of that. And if I barely mention anyone else then that’s because I was fixated on Jen the whole time – her wardrobe is TDF.

Mary-Louise Parker is pretty satisfying though as Stephanie Boucher, the treacherous (and drunk) chief of staff for a U.S. Senator. There were also lots of men, white men everywhere and, perhaps apart from Schoenaerts, could have been played by anyone. Even you, Jeremy Irons.

My Rating

4/5.

You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts

IMDB Synopsis

A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

*Minor spoilers*

Fuck. Me. Can I start with that? There is no way I’m going to be able to capture everything this movie is but I will try to explain why I love it.

Joe is a former FBI agent and veteran, haunted by the ghosts of failed missions and the terrible things he’s seen (and done). His current line of work is to track down missing girls and return them home, using any means necessary.

When he’s not off on assignment he lives at home with his sick mother, who he looks after as best he can. There’s an easy chemistry between mother and son and although there’s obviously a lot of history between them, they muddle along well. The juxtaposition between gentle Joe at home and his uber-violent professional hit man is interesting to unpack.

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“McCleary said you were brutal”
“…I can be.”

YWNRH focuses on Joe’s fragmented thought process and past trauma. He’s overcome with guilt, for the lives he wasn’t able to save and the mistakes he’s made. The memory of his own violent upbringing follows him and he fantasises about taking his own life, in increasingly inventive ways. He gets pretty close too but when he’s roped into a new job – to rescue a senator’s daughter from an underage sex ring – things get real again, real quick.

I came out of this film feeling all the things and not really having the words to express my appreciation. First off, it’s incredible to look at. Lynne Ramsey is one of my favourite directors and as far as I’m concerned, she delivers every time. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) is a firm favourite, a stunning and deeply powerful adaptation of Lionel Shriver‘s shocking novel – while Morvern Callar (2002) was brilliant in its simplicity.

Ramsey has an attention to detail that sets her apart and can conjure incredible performances from her talented leads. Tilda Swinton has never been better than in Kevin, likewise here, Phoenix is great. He brings a gentleness to Joe that makes him seem vulnerable and Jesus, is he. He’s broken – barely able to function in the world and it’s hard to watch.

It’s this vulnerability that works so well in contrast to his killing scenes – and the disconnect between Joe and the real world helps him get the job done. A few of the incredibly harsh murder scenes are reflected back to us via cracked mirror and CCTV footage, lending it a dreamy, fragmented vibe. It’s brutal but it doesn’t shove it in your face – and there’s a beauty to it too. During one scene, Joe bonds with a victim of his own hand and it’s both heart-warming and tragic.

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I fancy JP in this so much, physically he’s a bear of a man – a former beefcake run a little to fat and it is soooo hot. He doesn’t have the most dialogue either and carries himself like a truly haunted soul. I’ve never seen him work the screen better, in fact I’ve never really liked him, so consider me a convert.

The film’s ending is really powerful and if I’m honest it’s left me flip-flopping back and forth on what it all means. It is left wide open to interpretation, baby – and I love that. I can’t wait to see what Lynne does next.

My Rating

4.5.

Atomic Falafel (Film) Review

A comedy about potential nuclear havoc this week – and you might be asking, where’s the LOL in that? Well, you’d be surprised.

Another prime example of Jill picking a film I’d never choose for myself – and me thoroughly enjoying myself.

*Spoilers*

Atomic Falafel (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Two girls from nuclear towns in Israel and Iran spill their countries most valuable secrets on Facebook while trying to prevent a nuclear crisis.

My Review

What do you get when you place a general, the minister of defense, a commander and the chief intelligence officer together in an underground bunker in Israel? Apart from a load of middle aged men blowing hot air around, that is?

You get conversation about how to deal with the threat hanging over them by Iran, obviously. Complete with strategic sandbox props. And the brigadier general Partosch figures, since the world is against Israel anyway, that the only solution is to hit Iran with a fuck off great atomic bomb in seven days’ time.

However, when the International Atomic Energy Agency rock up, things take a turn. Among the IAEA is German Oliver Hann (Alexander Fehling), a hot piece who immediately catches the eye of lovely Mimi Azrian (Mali Levi), our local falafel van driving activist. Oli is highly and deathly allergic to uranium which makes him kind of useful to have around, in the context of tracing nuclear weapons at least.

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Mimi’s daughter Nofar (Michelle Treves) meanwhile, is hellbent on getting laid by her boyfriend, computer whizz Meron. They get distracted however when they get hold of a military command disc and decide to fuck shit up.

Nofar also meets teenage rapper, Iranian Sharareh (Tara Melter) online and their blossoming friendship has a lot to do with their ongoing campaign for peace between the countries. Oh and Mimi’s late husband, and Nofar’s father, was also Iranian.

Oli stays in Israel much longer than his original duties require when he starts to fall hard for Mimi – obviously, you can’t just walk away from excellent falafel. As the seven days draw to a close and the kids get themselves into more trouble with the authorities, will peace actually be achieved?

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I’ve left out a lot of nuance from this review. It’s really charming and has a real attention to detail. While it paints some of the military big wigs as buffoonish, it also places a lot of responsibility in the hands of our brilliant teens. Nofar, Meron and Sharareh are joyous to watch and I can quite believe that they have the power to bridge peace between the two warring factions. Plus, Sharareh is freaking cool and talented as well.

That said, our heroes are also afforded the time to be concerned about teenage things such as losing their virginity, getting decent grades at school and uploading content to social media.

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My Rating

3.5/5.

What did wifey think of this one? Would she feed it extra spicy sauce or leave it to be blown up? Find out here!

We’re All Born Naked

I know Drag Race isn’t perfect. I understand that sometimes it gets it very wrong – fat suits, dubious slang, controversial hot takes on trans issues – there aren’t excuses for these things. However, I am slowly working my way through the show on Netflix and I keep falling in love with contestants, again and again. New problematic fave it is then.

I’m sickeningly behind and only started at Season six so I better #werk to get it all in – but woah, how much fun?! I’m currently on Season eight – the Kim Chi Season – which friends have said is one of the weaker runs but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.

Here are my highlights:

*minor spoilers*

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Kim Chi everything

God, Kim Chi is so bloody relateable. Clumsy, lumbering, gentle – and insanely, magically talented – Kim Chi broke my heart more than once as she revealed that her family don’t know she’s a drag artist yet, and that as a child she always struggled to fit in. Although I can’t imagine what she’s been through obviously, a little bit of me can identify with the feelings of awkwardness and the inability to move that body without falling down a lot. I cried and cried in the episode where she broke down in front of the panel talking about how she’d finally found her place in the world. Damn, girl.

Kim can’t dance and she’s not the best actor but she is head and shoulders above the rest in the costuming/make-up stakes – and my favourite contestant to date. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Best Looks

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Kim’s signature look is massive manga eyes, cartoon silhouettes and bold colour everywhere. Let’s not forget her music video look:

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Best Quotes

“I came to DESTROY EVERYONE, with my make-up.”

“Donut come for me!”

“I came to chop suey the competition!”

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Acid Betty‘s Sea Creature Look

As far as I’m concerned, the show doesn’t get any better than this. I’m sure it does really and I will eat my words but of what I have so far witnessed in this Season, between Acid B and Kim Chi, I’ve never seen such creativity. It’s next level theatre and probably the main reason I’m here. I might stay for the shade and the character growth but I’m here for the looks – and Betty serves it up like a queen.

I’m was very disappointed when Betty was eliminated so early in the show. She was a stone cold bitch but I loved that about her and I also loved that she’d just started to open up about how little she fit into the NYC scene. She had so much more to bring to the table – luckily for me she’s prolific on social media so I can always get myself a fix when I need one.

Best Looks

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Betty’s Season eight finale look was FIYRE while her unique take on the Madonna theme, based on the Bedtime Stories video may have fallen flat with the judges, I was a fan of its dreamy Marie Antoinette vibe.

Best Quotes

“No need to adjust your TV sets. This acid trip is all real!”

“I do freaky drag… the drag scene should not be homogenized, and not everyone should look the same.”

“Acid Betty, out!”

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Team New York

In Season eight, Team NY was comprised of the aforementioned Acid Betty, Bob the Drag Queen and Thorgy Thor – a formidable threesome who may have loved each other but also knew exactly how to wind each other right up.

At the beginning of the episode, in which Team NY band together on a challenge, the trio strive to plant doubt in the minds of the other teams. But things take a hilarious turn when Bob and Thorgy rub each other up the wrong way and almost implode with their bickering.

Thorgy is a unique and interesting queen who I also enjoyed watching every episode – and I liked that she was neurotic and anal about the challenges she faced. I think the competition was a little poorer after she left too. Of all the queens in Season eight she was most like a character that could fit into Rent – and I loved that.

Thorgy’s Best Looks

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Lichtenstein meets Studio 54 by way of a Crayola box – Thorg wasn’t scared of being ugly at times and there must be such a lot of freedom in that. Especially in contrast to all that sterile perfection…

Thorgy’s Best Quotes

“Don’t borrow anything from Thorgy, because it has voodoo. You will go home, or lipsync for your life if you borrow something from me.”

“Witty catchphrase, you know what I mean?”

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Bob the Drag Queen

I can’t not mention BTDQ in her own right because I really enjoyed her turn on this season. The comedy element could grow tired at times but in general I love it when a contestant brings something else to the table and humour is a big thing in a sea of similarly glamorous drag artists, some of whom could be D-U-L-L af. (Looking at you Derrick Barry).

Bob of course had her own story and the humour hid a lot of his pain but I’m so glad he saw it through to the end *spoiler*.

Best Looks

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Rocking Madonna’s boy scout look from the 2013 GLAAD Awards, bringing Orange is the New Black realness to the Snatch Game and blinging it up. Fun all the way!

Best Quotes

“Purse first! Purse first! Walk into the room purse first! Clack!”

“Why y’all gagging, I bring it to you every episode!”

“Find something about you that you like and focus on that. If I don’t like my face, if I don’t like my skin, if I don’t like my weight. I think to myself ‘I have a nice teeth.’ And it may just start with that one tooth. Look at that tooth. That’s a nice tooth, man. And then once you can accept that little thing about yourself, you can just accept you for who you are.”

So those are my standout observations about Season eight. I can’t promise this will be a regular thing, these are just some of my thoughts on something I’m currently digging.

What are you watching/loving – thoughts on Drag Race?

The Fits (Film) Review

Welcome to March Madness (a week late, sorry) – basically an excuse to do whatever the fudge we want, like we’ve ever needed an excuse.

*Spoilers*

The Fits (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

While training at the gym 11-year-old tomboy Toni becomes entranced with a dance troupe. As she struggles to fit in she finds herself caught up in danger as the group begins to suffer from fainting spells and other violent fits.

My Review

There’s been a bit of a trend over the last couple of years for films that don’t bother to explain themselves. They are what they are and what you make of them is up to you. The Fits definitely falls into this camp. This dreamy, sometimes nightmarish amble through adolescence and friendship is at times fascinating, even brilliant – and just a tad boring.

Toni is a quiet, hard-working child dedicated to her boxing training and helping out her older brother at the gym he also trains in. One day she becomes enamored with a female dance troupe. To begin with she watches them from afar but eventually, with the encouragement of her brother, joins the squad.

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The main draw of this troupe seems to be their unswerving confidence and although this does not appear to come naturally to our silent protagonist, she puts the work in to improve her dance skillz – and even make a friend or two.

Things take an unusual turn when one of the dance leaders suffers an unexplained seizure. It’s shocking but as she recovers quickly and without consequence, it is soon forgotten. Until the next girl suffers ‘the fits’- then the next. Slowly but surely this phenomenon spreads through the group and Toni and her pals fear becoming the next victim. Fear, however, soon turns to something else. The fits come with a certain badge of honour and most of the girls want to be part of the rising hysteria.

It soon becomes clear that Toni is being left behind because she hasn’t suffered an attack yet, will she lose her grip on everything she now holds dear? Or will life just kind of take care of business for her?

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My Thoughts

This isn’t really your average beginning, middle and end movie. It’s more of a happening, a feeling – a rumination on puberty and of coming of age in a sometimes hopeless place. Royalty Hightower is enigmatic and lovely as our heroine. Toni barely speaks so dialogue is light and to bring such heart to a character through facial expression and mannerisms is impressive, particularly at such a young age.

It does border on dull a few times but there might be method in that madness because when I got to the climax I was blown away. It’s surreal, it’s stunning and it brings everything back together. It’s all a metaphor, innit? I recommend if you’re into this kind of dreamy film-making and aren’t afraid to unpack it all yourself.

My Rating

3/5.

What did the queen of the dance troupe in my heart think of this one? Would she leave it to her own devices in an abandoned corridor or film it on her iPhone? Find out here, obvs.

Games Night

Game Night (2018)

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Jesse Plemons

IMDB Synopsis

A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.

*Minor spoilers*

Games Night is something you don’t always get with an ensemble cast: it’s solidly great. Honestly, there isn’t a weak link when it comes to this friendship circle or the side characters, they’re all marvelous together and in their own moments. I laughed out loud a lot and man do I like to belly laugh (it’s just about the only work out my abs get).

Max and Annie are a couple united by their love of competition. Together they’re a deadly team, winning at all the games nights they host at home, or attend at their groups’ houses. Beneath all the competitiveness however, this couple is trying to have a baby and move life on to the next level.

Unfortunately, things aren’t falling as easily into place with the baby making and it might be stress related. Max’s to be precise. Annie puts it down to Max’s jealous rivalry with his own brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), the better looking, more successful sibling – something Max strenuously denies.

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When Brooks arrives back in town and rents a house near his brother, Max is forced to face his feelings towards his brother and his hopes for his future with Annie. But first, there’s always time for a game.

This game is different however and one concocted by Brooks to up the ante of games night. Someone will be taken by kidnappers during the course of the night and the others have to find them. The prize? Brook’s fancy sports car.

What a perfect opportunity for Max to finally show his brother, eh? Well, things take a turn and that’s about all there is to say about that.

It’s really hard to pick highlights from the performances because they’re all so good but I would say Jesse Plemons’ oddball neighbour Gary steals the show. The scenes in his home are priceless and he plays heartbroken weirdo like a total pro. There’s also a perfect turn from Chelsea Peretti. Sharon Horgan adds a certain intellect to proceedings when she rocks up as Ryan’s atypical games night date, while I love McAdams whose comic timing is seriously on point.

The rest, including Billy Magnussen and Lamorne Morris do a fine job of bringing up the rear. I have to mention Jason Bateman because my relationship with him is complicated. I’ve grown tired of his straight man stick but I didn’t mind him so much in this. I guess McAdams really brings out the best in him because I bought their chemistry as a couple and enjoyed them together immensely.

Sure, the story is far-fetched and not the main draw of the film – but this was overall a lot of fun and sometimes that’s really all you want.

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My Rating

4.5.