Author Archives: Christa Bass

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Hellboy

Demons Have Demons Too.

Hellboy (2019)

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

Starring: David Harbour • Milla Jovovich • Ian McShane • Sasha Lane

*Minor spoilers*

Hellboy-Still-6

“Who are you calling ‘Helmet’?”

Who are you calling a monster, pal? Have you looked in the mirror recently? ~ Hellboy

This movie has received a lot of negative reviews. Milla Jovovich herself was asked what she thought of all the bad press and she responded that it will be a cult classic instead – and fuck the box office (to paraphrase). Which is possibly the best answer ever.

Having now seen it for myself, I can safely say… I completely agree with her.

Nobody is more surprised than me to learn that I loved this. I adored del Toro‘s HB movies more than cocoa puffs. BUT – I had a high old time with the new Hellboy (though admittedly it took me a moment). David Harbour might not have been my first choice to fill Ron Perlman‘s boots but I’m glad he’s here now.

The addition of psychic conduit Sasha Lane to the cast – as well as a fine turn (as always) from Ian McShane and a little help from a wild and wonderful new friend – and this does have the makings of a film you’d revisit again and again. Screw the people who didn’t like it.

milla-jovovich-blood-queen-in-hellboy-2019-p3

Yaaaaaas (Blood) Kween

Directed by Dog Soldiers’ Neil Marshall, it is extremely gory – with limbs flying and eyeballs exploding left and right. It is bloody for the sake of being bloody in places – and I am down for that.

Sure, some of the dialogue is utterly laughable but in that 90’s action movie way, particularly the one liners. In fact, most of the things this movie has been criticised for are the things I loved about it. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There’s a wonderful and grotesque segment inside Baba Yaga’s walking house which I adored – and the story itself, while stupid in place, is firmly grounded in old English folklore so what’s not to like.

Jovovich plays it pretty straight as super villainess Numue the Blood Queen but has a comedic sidekick in the form of pig faced Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham). And while we failed to stay for the post-credit scenes (rookies), this does climax with a hint to what could follow in the Hellboy universe and I’m there with bells on.

Yeah, I probably would

Glynn and I were pretty much the only two people in the cinema enjoying ourselves but I’m not mad about being in the minority – come see me when this is the ultimate cult classic in 25 years time and I’ll tell you – I told you so.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Pet Sematary

Sometimes Dead Is Better.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Starring: Jason Clarke • Amy Seimetz • John Lithgow

*Minor spoilers*

Which way to certain doom?

She won’t come back the same ~ Jud

Hmmm. I waited a long time for this updated adaptation and now it’s here, I’m not sure.

I mean, it looks good – let’s start there. There are a couple of really sweet SK nods that I appreciate. The house and the setting of the cemetery itself is spot on. I love the Wicker Man aesthetic of the local children in masks (even though they aren’t used at all, which is a shame).

John Lithgow‘s Jud is magnificent – but there’s a lot of character development missing for me. While they go in quite hard on the Zelda/Rachel story arc (which pays tribute subtly to another SK classic), they don’t pad out the family enough for me to give much of a damn.

Louis: loving life

Jason Clarke (good-looking Piers Morgan) is Louis, the tormented father with the power to bring his dead child back from the dead. He’s alright but I do feel the character could have been played by any slightly hot dude of a similar age. Rachel (Amy Seimetz) is actually quite good at times as she deals with the PTSD of her sister’s illness – but as with a lot of female characters in King’s stories, she isn’t given that much to do beyond look stressed out. A modern adaptation could of had her kicking more arse? (Just me?).

I also have issue with how easily Louis resurrects his daughter, Ellie (played by Jeté Laurence). In the book there’s much more examination of his moral quandary – and how much the decision plays on him. The film is only 101 minutes so we don’t have the luxury of spending too much time with the to and fro but still. I think perhaps having the book so clearly in my mind (I read it in the last year and loved it) hasn’t helped but slightly hindered my enjoyment.

There he is

I have to mention the trailer too! It gives so much of the film away that it really damaged things for me. Yes, I get that this is a story that most people know, either from the book or from the 1989 film but this version offers a different take on the story (sort of) by choosing to kill off a different kid. Had we not known that this was the case then ‘the scene’ would have packed quite the punch. While keeping our eye on Gage, we would have completely dropped the ball on Ellie.

I suppose the ending is different and it deserves a nod for that. It’s pretty dark and maybe I would have liked a bit more time to sit with that rather than just have it end. I can’t help think how good this might have been had they made it into a series instead.

All of the above said, Glynn and Matt enjoyed it much more and for some of the reasons I didn’t – so it really is down to a matter of taste. My verdict is: not terrible but ultimately, what was the point?

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Truly Oddly Deeply

*Drag Race spoilers*

While Drag Race doesn’t always pack the punch it used to (IMHO), I am always fully on board. I mean, it’s still extremely addictive television and more fun than most things, even at its least inspiring (and sometimes problematic).

Season 11 hasn’t been too bad so far and has a couple of standouts for me, including larger-than-life Silky and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (Vaaaaaaanjie!).

I’m quite relieved Ra’Jah O’Hara has gone now (even though she was interesting to watch) but I’m disappointed we didn’t get more from Scarlet Envy (booted out in Episode 6). But honestly, this season is allllll about one queen for me and that is the wonderfully strange, gorgeous and controversial gob-shite… Yvie Oddly.

I always love the arty oddballs and Yvie is no exception. Here are just a few reasons she’s set to become one of my all time faves:

Drama Llama

Yvie so far has been involved in the most drama due to her inability to sugarcoat the tee. Most likely to call it like it is, she maintains she was brought up by parents who were brutally honest with her and has grown up with the same quality.

“You think being safe every week is going to get you somewhere?” ~ to Silky

While she is what she is, she has more than once claimed to be working on her delivery and it’s when she shows these flashes of vulnerability that I fall for her more and more.

Doing s*it you could not dream of

My queen lives with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3 which affects the tissue in her skin and bones. She has hyper flexibility as a result (which she uses to its full potential on the stage) but joints can pop out-of-place and cause a lot of serious pain. This has come up in the competition when Yvie has hurt herself during some of the tasks.

“I’ll dance circles around your ass.” ~ to Silky

But do you think this has kept her down? Yvie uses her body in an incredibly effective way and her long limbs throw shapes nobody else can. She’s a trouper who takes umbrage to being told she should leave because she’s hurt or that she can’t do what the others can. And that my friends, is badass as Hell.

A for Authentic

Yvie is also authentic AF (a word thrown around the work room A LOT) and true to who she is – working her uniqueness into even the most broad of categories – e.g. Sequins on the Runway. She’s shown time and again that she can turn it up AND keep her freak flag flapping – and I love her for it.

“I am Denver’s commodity of drag oddity.”

Genuinely, I just want to see what she’s going to wear every week and when she’s on the stage, I don’t care about anyone else. She has been mostly consistent in the quality she brings to the tasks and the runway, with the exception of The Snatch Game (eek!) – and I am backing her all the way.

So there it is – Yvie Oddly is my favourite from this season and puts me in mind in some ways of a young Acid Betty.

She might not have the polish of my ultimate queen Kim Chi but she does have the sense of humour to join her in Christa’s DR Hall of Fame (along with AB and Detox) – so even if she doesn’t win, Yvie will always have that.

Who’s your favourite?

True Story

Yes or No_ (30)

More based on a true story action in the form of this murder mystery starring a man I want to cuddle and a man I want to slap the shit out of.

Let’s see if you can tell which is which from my words.

“I just called…”

True Story (2015)

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into a game of cat-and-mouse.

Starring: James Franco • Jonah Hill • Felicity Jones

Michael Finkel (my boo Jonah Hill) is a promising NY Times journalist with ten cover stories to his name. He’s riding high and expecting a Politzer nom when he’s called into his boss’ office to discuss his last story – an expose on modern slavery.

Unfortunately, rather than picking up a prize, he’s soon clearing his desk when it becomes obvious he may have embellished quite a lot of the story. Claiming he must have got mixed up, his bosses believe he’s used a composite character as the focus of the article. Breaking the rules of Journalism 101, you naughty boy.

Returned from NYC back to his wife (Felicity Jones) and home in Montana, Finkel is finding it predictably difficult to find work, given the accusations leveled at him. But things pick up when he receives a call from the editor of The Oregonian, asking for a quote on the Christian Longo story. Longo (eternal douche pony James Franco) stands accused of murdering his wife and three children – and is in clink awaiting trial.

Franco was not a fan of Christa Bass’ NY Times article, “Ten Things I Hate About James Franco”.

Well, Finkel apparently doesn’t keep up with news these days as he has no idea about the case. When he asks the caller why he should have a view on the story, he is told that when arrested, Longo was pretending to be Michael Finkel. Of the New York Times.

Oooooh!

What follows is a bizarre friendship blossoming between the two men, who figure they have more in common that they could ever have imagined. And Finkel’s career looks set to take an upturn when he decides to make Longo’s story into a book – one that the pair will write together.

The main question throughout True Story is – did Longo do it though?

Well, I won’t reveal the ending but I will say that the relationship between the men is complex and it puts a strain on Finkel’s marriage to Jill. Jill obviously can’t get her head around the need to understand the inner workings of a(n alleged) killer’s mind.

“No way is Franco coming over for tea…”

Finkel wants to believe in his new friend but Longo isn’t always frank and there are some curve balls thrown on the way to uncovering the ultimate truth…

Well. This is kind of dull really, though the story itself if quite explosive. What a shame. Jonah can’t be blamed for this one as he puts in a solid turn as disgraced journo Finkel who looks super cute in his glasses.

I am biased towards Franco, I can’t deny it but he really phones in this performance. I get as a character he’s quite closed off to the truth but he just looks smug the whole way through. I guess in some ways this does work for the character, who shows little remorse or feeling throughout, but a little bit of nuance would have been nice.

The women in this film are just side pieces – supporters and victims – and that’s quite annoying. The result, without proper padding of the relationships of the men, is rather flat.

There are flashbacks to happier times for Longo and his wife MJ (Maria Dizzia), with devoted father montages threaded throughout but these are just aftershocks and don’t fully paint a picture or a motive. Therefore you never really give a damn about either of the men but Longo even less.

It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have the oomph I would have liked.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my girl Jill think of True Story? Would she lie to it or write a book about its innocence? Find out here.

Us

Us (2019)

A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o • Winston Duke • Elisabeth Moss 

*Spoiler free, I promise*

I’ve seen Us twice in the cinema so far and it is hands down the most interesting film I’ve seen all year.  I understand that it might not be everybody’s cup of tea but it really is mine.

Reviewing it is not going to be easy because I could never do it justice but I’m going to try.

In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas is momentarily separated from her parents at a Santa Cruz fairground. Drawn to a hall of mirrors, Adelaide encounters a doppelgänger of herself and is scarred by the experience. Her parents try everything to get her to speak (she has been rendered mute), including dance and art therapy.

In present-day, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). We meet them as they head back to her families beach house in Santa Cruz on vacay.

While Ade is apprehensive given her connection to the beach, she allows Gabe to take the family anyway, where they meet up with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker) – and their teenage twin daughters. Gabe is eager to impress the couple, who are rich AF but clearly despise one another.

All is well until Jason disappears for a moment – and Ade panics. While temporarily missing, Jason sees a man in a red jumpsuit with blood dripping off his hands. He chooses not to tell the others, given Ade’s current mood.

ABBA had started to do PAs in people’s homes

Later, back at the holiday home, the family are stalked by a family in their drive way. It is here that things become frigging sinister and I don’t want to give the game away. I can say that the ‘visitors’ are the Untethered (as well as doppelgängers of the entire family) and they do not come in peace.

What follows is a story of fairy tale proportions, of parallel worlds and of mystery. Adelaide and family must fight to protect each other at all costs – and in the process Ade must face up to the trauma of her childhood, which is finally starting to make sense.

Cutting crew

This film is stunning with incredible double performances by a solid cast. Lupita in particular is mesmerising as Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. Support in the form of Moss is also satisfying – while Duke brings a welcome comic relief. The kids are outstanding – the bickering siblings really come into their own when they’re required to fight their own doubles – and I love their scenes.

The imagery, the music, the story – in the hands of the mighty Jordan Peele it just works brilliantly. On second viewing I noticed far more foreshadowing and clues to what is going on, and I genuinely love this movie. It’s frightening and beautiful in equal measure with an insane final sequence between Adelaide and Red. The dance/fight choreography is pure perfection.

Art Attack’s new presenter was proving really popular

I cannot wait to see what Peele does next. And with new Twilight Zone episodes and a writing credit for the 2020 Candyman remake, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.

⭐⭐⭐⭐  out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Juices

Every so often (very often) I become a master procrastinator. I may have a list of 78 things that simply must be done RIGHT NOW but there I am gazing at my navel and wondering who would play me in the cinematic biopic of my life (Philip Seymour Hoffman is no longer with us so I guess… Bette Midler?).

I’m in a creative rut just now and it does not feel good. I am all for being engaged with something that gets those creative juices flowing – whatever it is. For me it’s writing, watching movies (and talking about them) – and reading.

I’m reading a very heavy book at the moment about the Charlie Manson murders and while it is fascinating, it’s also very courtroom-heavy. Who knew when it was written by chief-prosecutor for the trial, Vincent Bugliosi? It’s great and right up my street as a true crime obsessive – however it’s getting me down too. All that murder and mind-control will do that to you.

As a result I have recognised areas in which I can make small changes to pep myself up again and get that creativity back in my life. Which I’ll share now because I need to beef this post up somehow.

Here are a few of my favourite things to do to try and ditch the blues:

Walk This Way

I haven’t actually started this yet because I’ve had a lot of late nights this week and no way am I walking home alone at night in this cold – but now that it’s lighter in the evenings and relatively bright, there’s no excuse not to get stomping from A to B. Or is it Z? I guess it depends how much you have to do.

Exercise is always name-dropped in relation to well-being and the proof is in the pudding. Nothing feels better than getting those lungs pumping and that fresh air in through your nostrils. You don’t have to be bench pressing 120 kgs to be getting the benefits. To accomplish this (which admittedly after a hard days work I’m not always up for), I add another well-being favourite to the mix.

Podcasts

Yes I like a lot of dark stuff, namely horror movies and true crime – but there are other podcasts I listen to sometimes about relationships, books, body image, mental health… to be honest by now there must be a podcast for every topic imaginable (something I must research one of these days).

Slapping on a new episode and leaving the flat on a dry day has wonderful benefits, both physical and mental – plus you get to learn interesting and obscure information you never even knew you needed to know. It’s like college on the move.

Graffiti

This is something that really makes me appreciate life. When I walk around Brighton I’m naturally drawn into the secret corners of the city. If I’m going anywhere by foot you can bet I got there via a maze of unloved alleyways and side streets.

Brighton has amazing street art and graffiti, you just have to keep your eyes open for it. I wish I had even a quarter of the talent these artists have. There’s quite a famous saying that goes something like “Those who can’t, take pictures of it and share it on Instagram.”

Just Say No

This is probably the hardest item of the well-being list to keep to because even though I’m a hermit-at-heart, I also suffer from FOMO. But saying no is important sometimes.

Honestly, I’ve only learnt how to do this quite recently in the grand scheme of my life – and it’s empowering AF. “Do you want to come to a BBQ this week with all my work friends?” ~ No thank you very much! See? So satisfying.

I Think We’re Alone Now

This is so fricking important, I can’t emphasise it enough. If I don’t get sufficient time alone during the week, I turn into Godzilla, fiery breath and all. I just can’t be around people all day every day and yes this can be a challenge when you live with someone. Luckily, my husband understands (and doesn’t want to be around me just as much) so we make it work.

I also take myself on dates from time to time, mostly to the cinema but anywhere I feel like going. It’s the best – and I get to eat all the sweets without judgement.

Nailing It

Self-care in the form of pampering is probably the most recognised form of well-being – and there’s a reason for that. It’s good to take some time out and make yourself feel good – be it a posh bubble bath (with lashings of Mister Matey) or a full body tissue massage – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

My Thing is getting my nails done so I feel extra fancy. Luckily my place honours the above point and completely ignores me beyond asking me what shape and colour I want. I LOVE IT. No chit chat – and I’m in and out with new claws within 45 minutes. I love looking at my horrible fingers with coffin shaped talons stuck to the ends- I feel like I’ve really earned them.

Kiss

Not actual snogging (which is fine) but the song Kiss by Prince. There’s a law about not wiggling your butt when this song comes on and it carries a heavy sentence, so it’s best just not to risk it.

See also: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot, Hey Ya by Outkast.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

(This is a post I wrote for my work blog but I thought I’d share it here too).

Shazam!

Shazam! (2019)

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.

Starring: Zachary Levi • Djimon Hounsou • Mark Strong

*Minor spoilers*

Sure, Shazam! is a little less dark than your average comic book movie but it has its moments. We went with Beau at the weekend and we all left with a smile on our faces – so yes, good clean family fun all round.

Billy (Asher Angel) is a fourteen-year-old tearaway with one objective – to find his birth mother. Running away from every foster home he’s ever had, all he cares about is reuniting with the woman who lost him when he was a little boy.

It’s all about faaaaaaamily

When Billy takes this quest one step too far, he’s placed by his exasperated social worker into a new home with foster parents Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans). This is his last chance saloon but to say he’s thrilled by the arrangement would be a damn lie.

His eye is still on the prize and he’s not there to make friends, despite the efforts of his new foster siblings; Freddy, Mary, Darla, Eugene and Pedro.

When he accidentally meets The Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) – there’s a whole convoluted intro to the wizard which I’m leaving to you, the viewer – he inherits crazy powers and begins his journey toward hero-dom.

For, when Billy says the magic word – it escapes me now – he becomes the very adult Shazam (Zachary Levi).

Capes are out, didn’t anyone tell you?

With the help of new friend/bro Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy begins to figure out his new super skills. But with bitter super-villain Dr. Thaddeus Silvana (Mark Strong) on his tail and after the powers for himself – he’s going to need more than just lightning fingers to keep the city safe.

The message here is a sweet enough and it’s actually quite upsetting when Billy (as himself) finally meets his mum. I know I cry at everything but I did get a lump in my throat. Billy just wants what we all want: love and acceptance.

One of these things is not like the others

The Vasquez’s are heavenly with a wholesome but firm parenting style – and the kids aren’t annoying at all, not even once. The more I think of this silly film the more I realise I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I went and I definitely would have avoided it had my step-son not wanted to go.

The effects are great – the seven deadly sins are brilliant – the ‘training’ montages are a scream and Mark Strong makes a fine villain.

I’m looking forward to the sequel which is rumoured to be starring Dwayne Johnson. Bring it.

Just kiss already

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?