Funny Cow

Funny Cow (2018)

Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: Maxine Peake, Stephen Graham, Paddy Considine, Diane Morgan, Lindsey Coulson

IMDB Synopsis

A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April, directly after Beast
Snacks: Homemade Victoria sponge cake, Cawston Press Rhubarb

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Funny Cow isn’t really the comedy you’d expect. Shot through with tragedy and pain, it’s more a clawing to the top of the comedy game by way of a lifetime of disappointment, violence and regret.

Maxine Peake (one of the UK’s greatest treasures) plays the titular Funny Cow, a working class Northern lass dragged up with her brother by a troubled single mother following the passing of her violent father.

Her mother, in ‘present day’ is played by Eastender’s Carol Jackson (Coulson) which frankly feels like genius casting and the role of Funny Cow’s Mum is a poignant one. She’s all at once deeply frustrating and utterly vulnerable – you want to slap and protect her at the same time. And her scenes with Funny Cow are among the best.

As Funny Cow grows up and leaves home to starting building a nest of her own with her future husband, the years pass by in a flash and things are never quite as grand as she’d hoped. Trapped in a violent relationship that echoes that of her parents’, Funny has ideas above her station but little outlet to realise them. Not if her imposing husband Bob (Tony Pitts) has anything to do with it, either.

The years flutter by and Funny suffers punch after slap after kick at the hands of her so-called partner. One day she catches Lenny’s (Alun Armstrong) stand up routine at the local club and this drives her forward on her quest to perform comedy.

Lenny himself is an unlikely mentor, an old-skool blue comedian who tells Funny she’s better off removing her clothing than trying to be funny, because well, women aren’t. This somehow doesn’t put Funny off and the two develop an odd-companionship.

At one point Funny makes it to a talent contest under threat of a broken nose but when faced with an open mic and opportunity, she sadly freezes up. This doesn’t make the ensuing violence at Bob’s hand worth it but does finally give her the push she needs to leave him.

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Pretentious book seller Angus (Considine) is on hand to rescue this damsel in distress and things are better for a while, Funny moves into his grand home and they share a life free of violence and distress. But his apparent need to My Fair Lady her becomes unappealing and Funny finally goes out on her own, free from men and ready to embark on the career she wants.

I really loved this because of the central performances. Paddy Considine never lets me down and Peake is such a talented, nuanced actress. While Funny Cow leads a hard life, she never once presents as a victim. She’s a bit of a shit-stirrer actually, even from childhood and you get a sense at times that she’s trying to see the funny side of all of that turmoil, even enjoying it. There’s a scene where she visits her brother and his family, and simply relishes winding up his wife.

All of Funny Cow’s comedy stems from her own experiences (I guess as with most comedians) and while this film is unlikely to have you laughing out loud, it will cut straight to your heart-strings.

The violence is hard to stomach and some of the jokes told on the circuit come straight from the Bernard Manning school of comedy, so are offensive af and not funny at all but I found the conclusion really heart-warming as Funny Cow is able to offer closure to her mother and find a slice of peace for herself.

I liked.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Beast

Beast (2018)

Directed by: Michael Pearce
Starring: Jessie BuckleyJohnny FlynnGeraldine James

IMDB Synopsis

A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April
Snacks: Latte, hallumi & pesto toasted sandwich on sourdough

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Moll (Buckley) lives on a somewhat isolated Jersey island with a controlling and snobbish mother (James). There’s a distinct hint that she has something dark in her past that her family won’t let her forget but when we meet her she just seems lonely and over-shadowed by her perfect sister and her perfect life.

When Moll skips her own birthday party to go dancing in town, she inadvertently kick starts a series of events that will change the course of her life for good. All this to the back drop of a series of murders being committed on the island, which is even harder to stomach when you consider the tiny population. One of their own is raping and murdering girls – and it could be any one of them.

When Moll meets the hot but mysterious Pascal (Flynn), she feels as though all her Christmases have come at once. But their bliss does not last long before vicious rumours come out of the woodwork and she learns that he’s a person of interest in the killings. Could this be simple local hearsay or is there something more to it?

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I think what begs the question here is, what does that bring out in Moll herself? As she comes to her own conclusions about Pascal, she learns an awful lot about herself and her own motivations too. In many ways it’s an absolute joy to watch Moll rebel against the restrictive confines of her life, to witness her pissing off her family and stirring up shit. I caught myself a couple of times reminiscing about unhealthy yet fun flings I’ve had in the past that have been a terrible idea but made me feel alive at the time.

It’s a pretty intense ride and a dilemma I hope none of us ever find ourselves in, however it makes for a compelling movie. I really enjoyed this one, from the way it looked – the lighting is heavenly and the scenery utterly breathtaking – to the intensity of the did he/didn’t he plot as it unraveled.

The performances are great, particularly Jessie Buckley who demands your undivided attention and there’s no doubt that this is all about her. Pascal is a major part of her own self-discovery but the metaphor of the beast lies firmly with her.

Recommend.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

Motivated May

I am hereby renaming this coming month Motivated May and vow to post at least three times a week for the month.

I have so many book reviews and half-completed drafts in my folder that I’d love to finally publish – plus, it won’t hurt me to have a think about the posts I write for a while. Film reviews are great and I love doing them with Jill but I have more in me, I swear.

In other news, I’ve started a film blog over at Thursday Night at the Movies where I talk solely about films I’ve seen in the cinema. It’s going pretty well and encouraging me to go to the theater as much as possible and see things I might not normally. Have a glance, if you’re into it.

So, a busy month ahead, which is good because I’m never happier than when I’m watching movies, blogging and podcasting.

See you soon!