Work Blogging Across the Universe

I’ve started writing for my work blog and the results have been interesting. I’ve had some really genuine and lovely feedback from people I don’t know very well (as well as close colleagues and friends) – and I’ve had more than a couple of moments of pure and utter anxiety about whether I’ve said too much.

I never want to hide who I am, even in a work environment but laying it all on the table, for instance talking about anxiety or telling an anecdote from my adolescence is different.

That’s who I really am, no messing, it’s me laid bare and it takes a lot to say you don’t mind sharing it with people you pass daily on the stairwell, who might stand behind you to buy a cup of coffee in the morning, knowing you’ve never really grown out of your teenage insecurities. (I greatly over exaggerate how many work mates read my words!).

It might make me second guess myself but it also feels real and that’s a weird one to define. I think it feels good to say you know yourself enough to share it with others. To write a post about your life long journey to accepting yourself for what you really are: perfectly imperfect, fucked up, damaged but still crawling, sometimes back up on two feet, sometimes running as fast as you can without looking back.

So yes, it feels good but I still have the fear. I guess I’ll either learn to put that aside or die trying*.

*Stop writing.

Happy Sunday, all.

Margarita with a Straw (Film) Review

An Indian coming-of-age tale this week and it’s a pretty nice one really. Certainly more joyful than the fucking miserable Duck Butter from last week. Thank God because I was not down for that much introspection again, not for a while anyway.

*Spoilers*

Margarita with a Straw (2014)

IMDB Synopsis

A rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.

My Review

Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a rebellious songwriting teen who attends Delhi University. She also happens to have Cerebral Palsy. She writes music for an indie band which results in her falling in love with the lead singer. Unfortunately, when he doesn’t feel the same way about her, she is left devastated.

Determined to move on from her first real heartbreak, Laila fortuitously receives word that she’s been accepted on a scholarship at New York University. While her father (Kuljeet Singh) thinks it’s too far away, Laila’s mother (Revathy) is determined that she do what she wants and she moves with her daughter to Greenwich Village.

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Almost immediately Laila meets a hottie called Jared (William Moseley) who helps her in her creative writing course. At the same time she also meets young activist Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a blind girl of Pakistani-Bangladeshi descent. Enamored by Khanum’s passion and general badassery, as well as her attitude toward her own disability, she quickly falls in love and the two embark on a relationship. They also gladly take on caring duties for one another.

While Khanum seems cool with who she is, Laila finds it much harder to be free as the daughter of a very traditional mother. One who freaks out when she accidentally discovers Laila has been watching porn.

Laila is further confused when she doesn’t just stop being attracted to boys (especially Jared) and things become even more complicated when she has sex with him, something she immediately regrets. Not telling Khanum, the two return to Delhi together for Winter break to stay with Laila’s family. Shubhangini (Mum) still has no inkling of the true nature of their relationship and when Laila tries to broach the topic of her bi-sexuality with her, it backfires.

Will she muster the necessary courage to come out to her parents and find peace in who she is? And will she mess it up with Khanum?

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Unfortunately, the family are forced to come to terms with a situation far larger than any of them and this momentarily puts all their differences aside. There are some really touching moments in this movie, not least the ending where Laila takes herself out on a fancy date.

The central performance is amazing and Keochlin plays Laila very well but I was kind of disappointed to find out that she wasn’t really disabled. I’m not sure if this is the right reaction but for a moment there I got excited about true representation of disability on the big screen. When you think about this it’s no different to Daniel Day-Lewis starring in My Left Foot but I hoped we’d moved on a bit by now.

Laila is lovely and joyful though and it does have a very positive attitude. The film is not about disability really, it’s about a woman owning her sexuality, coming of age and gaining independence, and she just so happens to be disabled. I love that.

My Rating

3/5.

What did Jill make of this one? Would she lock it in the closet or help it to fly free? Find out here.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A father goes to great lengths to save his family from a burning skyscraper.

*Spoilers*

This film does exactly what it says on the tin. Dwayne Johnson is Will Sawyer, a security expert (with a past) who is currently consulting in Hong Kong for ambitious Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) on the tallest skycraper in the world. It really is well tall.

His family are with him and staying in a luxury suite in the as yet not open Pearl tower. Sarah (super babe Neve Campbell) is a former military nurse and the couple have two adorable rugrats, Georgia and Henry (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell).

All is looking good until über-villain Kores Botha (Roland Møller) decides to fuck shit up and Will is forced to rescue his loved ones from the burning skyscraper, while also being accused of the terrorist act in the first place. What’s a guy to do though but roll up his sleeves and scale the building?

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It’s ridiculous of course but in the hands of The Rock it would be impossible not to enjoy the ride. Some of the lines are laugh out loud terrible and there is literally no realism to be had anywhere but that’s so overrated anyway.

The scale is awe-inspiring and the scenery looks great – so grab the popcorn and enjoy this bad boy for exactly what it is: pure, unadulterated, unabashed escapism.

My Rating

3/5.

The First Purge

The First Purge (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

After the rise of a third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, an experiment is conducted, no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one must stay during the experiment yet there is $5,000 for anyone who does.

*Spoilers*

So this is where The Purge began, huh? As an experiment introduced by rich white folk into a low income mostly black and Latino neighbourhood where the majority of residents can’t really turn down $5k (if they agree to stay home on Purge night), even if it could cost them their lives. Brilliant.

Marisa Tomei is The Architect, a psychology professor who came up with the idea of The Purge and brought it to fruition with the help of the New Founding Fathers of America. She swans about with a smug expression and swears down that it’s a good thing for society actually. Nobody’s really convinced of that, are they?

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Nya (Lex Scott Davis) strongly disagrees and isn’t afraid to make her voice heard above the buzz on Staten Island but is it enough to change things? Is it even enough to keep her younger brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade) from wading in on Purge night? I think you can guess the answer to that.

While she holes up with half the community in the local church to ward off attackers, Isaiah vows to seek petty revenge on deranged nemesis Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) on the streets. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood Big Dog, Dmitri (Insecure‘s Y’lan Noel) struggles with Nya’s rejection of everything he stands for (drugs/violence) and also with in-gang betrayal. All this before he’s even considered what’s going on outside.

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We all know how Purge night goes so you don’t need me to explain that, let’s just say that it’s going to be a long night for all involved and if I were there, I wouldn’t be there at all, I’d have been on the first bus off the island, before the experiment had even been announced. Nope, nope, nope.

Anyway, I went into TFP with zero expectation except maybe that it would look cool and I was pleasantly surprised. One of my movie buddies saw it and really hated it, so I went in expecting the worse. Lucky for me I have a high threshold for trash and a fondness for the franchise, and that helped. Plus, I think it did look cool and had something to say about White Privilege, the manipulation of the poor and America as we know it right now.

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Although this isn’t set in modern day, it does address issues that seem incredibly relevant today and some of the imagery (the KKK/Nazis/US Po Po) is chilling AF. It’s also interesting to watch The Architect lose her cool as the Purge participants react in ways she hadn’t anticipated and also lose control of her position of power over the NFFoA – who are not to be trifled with.

Will Dmitri find a way back into Nya’s good books and do right by his community? Will Isaiah make it through the night? And this crazy arse experiment can’t possibly become a thing, can it? (Lol).

Only one way to find out.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Marrowbone

The Secret of Marrowbone (2018) or Marrowbone (original and much better title)

IMDB Synopsis

A young man and his three younger siblings, who have kept secret the death of their beloved mother in order to remain together, are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

*Spoilers*

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something gentle and spooky, much like the Gothic novels I like to read in the Autumn.

Marrowbone is perfect for these occasions and ticks all the creepy boxes nicely. It also offers up a genuinely moving tale of loss, secrecy and familial loyalty which plays out in the hands of a good-looking young cast, which includes The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy, Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton and A Cure for WellnessMia Goth.

When the family matriarch (Nicola Harrison) passes away after an illness, eldest son Jack (George MacKay) is left to keep the family afloat. Having promised his mother on her death-bed to keep her passing a secret from society, lest the children be split up, Jack keeps his siblings mainly indoors. This arrangement is far from satisfactory to Jane (Goth), Billy (Heaton) and little Sam (Matthew Stagg) but needs must and all that.

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Especially when the family harbor more than just this secret. Comfort and normality does come to the children however, in the form of the lovely Allie (Taylor-Joy) who befriends them instantly and becomes a joyful part of their every day life. But, as the romance between Jack and Allie deepens, love rival Porter (Kyle Soller) becomes dangerously jealous – and this in turn threatens to bring the true story of the Marrowbones out in the open.

And what’s with all the weirdness going on at the house while we’re at it?

What I like about Marrowbone is that for a long time we can only feel the tension and the fear as it manifests itself around the family home and for a contemporary ghost/horror not to play its hand so soon makes it stand out more to me. You can’t accuse this of being scary really but it has some effective moments and I enjoyed it as a thriller that sometimes has the vibe of a Sunday night BBC drama. (Not necessarily a bad thing).

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As the story unfolds it leaves you feeling more and more sympathy for the family and the climax is a bit of a corker, in a heart wrenching way. It also looks at mental illness from an interesting perspective and in a way I haven’t seen that much before on film.

Not bad at all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

*Spoilers*

This film has a crazy cool cast which doesn’t hurt it one bit.

While our leads, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin are supported by the mighty Catherine Keener, some of the best performances come from the younger cast members, namely Isabela Moner and Elijah Rodriguez (both of whom I suspect we may see again in this very franchise).

I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would and I think that’s because this time around it takes us under the skin of Del Toro’s Alejandro, who we first met in Sicario

Where Sicario focused on the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico, Day of Soldado examines the evolution of drugs trafficking into smuggling terrorists over the border. Which is distressing to watch anyway but in the current climate, it is brutal. One of the first scenes follows a handful of ISIS suicide bombers as they enter a supermarket and let’s just say the scene is devastating.

As a result of this particular bombing, the US government enlist the services of CIA Agent Matt Graver (Brolin), who is given permission to use any means necessary to combat the Mexican drug cartels (who are the ones doing the smuggling). AMN really means extreme measures and who better to call on for help than Black Op Alejandro Gillick (Del Toro) himself?

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Graver and the Department of Defense figure the best way to solve their problem is to start a war between the cartels, and Gillick is just perfect for the mission. First he murders a high-profile cartel lawyer in Mexico City, then the team kidnap the daughter of a rival kingpin (played by Isabela Moner) – and man does it all kick off from there.

Not everything goes according to plan though (go figure) and we follow both sides as the tale unravels. Gillick finds himself in a protective role as he and Isabela (the daughter) are accidentally separated from Graver and team.

As relations between the US and Mexico reach breaking point (following an explosive head to head between the team and Mexican police), the US government grow keen to distance themselves from the whole operation. Graver is forced to put Gillick in a tough position, and as choices are made and lines are drawn, the friendship is tested to the extreme.

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While all this pans out, we also follow Miguel Hernandez (Rodriguez) as he becomes more and more embroiled in his role as a Mexican-American “coyote” (people smuggler). What will become of Graver, Gillick and the rest of this crazy bunch?

Sicario: DotS may not be technically as brilliant as Denis Villeneuve‘s Sicario (it’s not very far behind though) but I found myself enjoying it just as much. While we don’t witness the war through the eyes of Emily Blunt‘s idealistic FBI agent this time around, we do have Isabela, whose peepers are forced firmly open when she learns of the crimes of her father.

I’ve got a theory that we’re going to meet Isabela in the next installment and that her story will run parallel to Miguel’s. Good and bad, if you will – the light versus the darkness.

I can’t wait. 

My Rating

4/5.

I fancy Brolin and De Toro SO MUCH. Damn, boys.

Hereditary – Second Viewing

*Slightly spoiler-y*

I’ve already reviewed Hereditary here but I managed to catch it again last week, just before it left the theaters in Brighton.

I absolutely love it and more so on second viewing. It is such a unique experience and while it isn’t perfect (what the hell is?), it’s a brilliant achievement for Director Ari Aster and his team. 

If Toni Collette isn’t nommed in next year’s Oscars for her performance then I might have to boycott. She’s mesmerising as increasingly unhinged matriarch Annie, who’s barely holding the remainder of her family together following a series of tragic (and, we soon find out) preordained events.

My second viewing really unravelled a lot of the elements I didn’t catch the first time and further reading has helped me get my head around the folklore that entwines the entire narrative. It’s fucking terrifying too, even when you know what’s coming – but it’s frightening in a way that’s difficult to define. It’s gets under your skin and it lingers there for a long time afterward.

I need more horror just like this, please!

Whitney

Whitney (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

An in-depth look at the life and music of Whitney Houston.

There’s not a lot to say by way of a narrative here. Most of us have a rough idea of the life story of one of the most famous stars of all time – and it’s a tragic one, obviously.

What Whitney does is fill in a few blanks and gives us an impressive collection of early documentation to pour over – as well as a lot of private video footage. Spliced with current day interviews with Whitney’s mother, brothers and various loved ones, it has the tendency to slip into dullness – during the lower key parts, one of my movie buds started to fall asleep! That said, it isn’t bad at all – and is a must see for anyone who grew up on the sounds of this phenomenal woman.

My personal favourite Whitney period, apart from 80’s Whit is The Bodyguard Whit, and it’s really sad to think about what else she could have achieved if things had been different. She lights up the screen whenever she’s on it – and has so much charisma, it’s almost supernatural.

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Whitney isn’t a fluffy watch by any means and it goes in hard on addiction by showing Whitney’s painful public interviews at the height of her sickness, as well as behind-the-scenes clips of her acting strangely while under the influence of drugs.

Her relationship with Bobby Brown is examined closely and echoes in some ways the journey of Amy Winehouse in Amy. Both were troubled women let down by, and heavily influenced negatively, by the men in their lives. We also learn that Whitney, along with at least one of her brothers suffered abuse as a child, which serves to explain at least a part of her later issues.

This is also cited as one of the reasons Whitney wouldn’t let her daughter out of her sights, even on tour. Some of the footage of poor Bobbi Kristina over the years is hard to stomach – and the later knowledge that she met her own tragic end just a few years after her mother is truly heartbreaking.

All in all a good documentary with a few details most of us might not have known. It does leave you feeling very bummed out though – all three of us left the theater feeling pretty low. But the music – OBVS – is wonderful.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Ps. I rewatched The Bodyguard the day after and it is perfect.

Duck Butter (Film) Review

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am really not a fan of ‘the disintegration of a relationship’ movies – or Doom Coms™?

This probably says an awful lot about me, that I can’t handle the truth, but there it is. Blue Valentine had me cringing and praying for it to end and there have been many films of the same ilk since. Duck Butter falls into this camp as far as I’m concerned and now I feel like I need my mummy and a big cuddle.

*Spoilers*

Duck Butter (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Two women, who are dissatisfied with the dishonesty they see in dating and relationships, decide to make a pact to spend 24 hours together hoping to find a new way to create intimacy.

My Review

Alia Shawkat is one of my favourite actresses at the moment so it is truly a joy to see her face whenever and wherever it pops up. In Duck Butter, as actress Naima, she meets the soulful (?) Sergio (Laia Costa) in a club and the two quickly hit it off. Somewhere during this evening together the two discuss spending the next 24 hours together, the plan being to shag every hour on the hour in order to create a super intense intimacy. Phew.

Initially, Naima backtracks a little because she’s just taken a new job making a film with The Duplass Brothers and this upsets Sergio.

Side note: the whole film within a film, Naima working with Mark and Jay who are playing themselves thing is so fucking meta that it actually hurts a little bit.

But when she is fired for ‘creative differences’, she persuades Sergio to pick up where they left off – and so begins 24 hours in the life of Naima and Sergio.

Well, there’s not all that much to say other than it starts hot, heavy and sexy, and then the ugly aspects of each of the characters begin to show and the love slowly but surely dies. Perhaps a relationship doesn’t need so much fucking examination all the time?

Naima is obviously still stinging from her professional rejection, while Sergio has a complicated relationship with her mother. Both women are creatives and this lends itself to a passionate and fiery joint temperament. Honestly, I must cop to not really remembering much of the nuance, this is more like a walking nightmare. By the end credits I felt as though I’d gone through my own breakup and I felt sad and battered.

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Both performances are hyper real and it is easy to forget you’re not peeping in on an authentic relationship. Neither are that likable either with needy traits (that lord knows I have when I’m in the midst of a anxiety attack). I think it’s sometimes hard to watch because the viewer will see so many aspects of themselves mirrored back at them. At least that’s how I see it.

There are plenty of awkward moments including a very forced orgy instigated by Naima to mark the end of the relationship Sergio doesn’t seem to want to end. Honestly, I was keen for the end credits to roll – and it was a beautiful release when they did.

I can’t say the performances were bad and aesthetically it’s a hipster’s dream, it just didn’t have the something I expected. I felt no true sympathy for anyone and also, how cheated are we that we only get Mae Whitman for a few measly scenes? It’s a total liberty.

While reading up on this I did find out that this was originally written about a hetero couple. Apparently, the extended sex scenes made Alia and her male co-star uncomfortable so it was rewritten for two women – thank god for small mercies, eh?

My Rating

2.5/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she last 24 hours with it or would she kick it to the kerb within 90 minutes? Find out here.

Sun Bores

If there’s one thing worst than melting in the middle of a Great British heatwave, it is having to deal with all the people with Opinions™. If it’s not being bitchy about what people should wear (whether they be too fat, too thin, too pale, too leathery, too made up), it’s what they choose to do to keep cool. Honestly, can you just fuck off?

You might love the beach but some people are ginger and that means practically vampyric. Does the sunlight really seem like a good idea to you? Also, the beach is deathly boring and I’d rather be under a tree in the park or even better, at home on my bed under a fan wearing nothing but a smile – that’s how I deal with my Summer.

If I have to go out I’ll seek out the shade and I’ll wear what I want thankyouverymuch. If my eyeliner runs, that’s my business. If I want to go to the cinema in the middle of a scorching day, I will. If I want to wear black, guess what? Black it is.

Bellies out, arms out, ten Twister lollies in a day, shade, no shade, indoors, outdoors: whatever it is, it is.

The thing is, this heat is not typical for us, none of our houses are equipped to deal with these temperatures and we need unsolicited advice from others like a hole in the fucking head. We should be doing anything we can to get comfortable.

So this year, if you feel like sharing your thoughts on how others are doing Summer: just don’t.