Support the Girls

Feminist February continues with this Regina Hall-led movie about a Hooters-style sports bar and it’s staff and customers. Sounds pretty good, huh?

Support the Girls (2018)

Lisa (Hall) is general manager of a breastaurant called Double Whammies. Over the course of one patience-testing day, her eternal optimism’s challenged to the max.

Den mother to a collection of eccentric characters, including vivacious Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) and single-mother Danyelle (Shayna McHayle) – she is also deeply underappreciated by Whammie’s owner, Cubby (James Le Gros). Her boss is a racist pig-dog who doesn’t allow more than one African-American staff member on shift at any one time (or Latina, etc).

Despite continual threat of being fired, Lisa is dedicated to her job and to Whammies but more importantly to her girls, who she protects from inappropriate attention from the male patrons. She will do anything for them in fact, including raising money via a saucy car wash for one of the girls when she runs over her abusive boyfriend with her car.

Cubby is raging because a similarly-themed bar/restaurant called Mancave (pathetic) is just about to open round the corner. Positive-thinking Lisa tries to help him see that this could be a good thing but he’s not open to being swayed.

While Lisa handles Cubby and prepares Whammies for big game night – despite the fact that the cable is out and she’s in the midst of interviewing new recruits – she also has to take care of former employee Krista (!) (AJ Michalka), help struggling Danyelle and keep an eye out for Maci, who’s banging one of their much older customers. All this and her own relationship with husband Cameron which is strained to the point of trial separation.

When all this and more proves too much for our resilient girl, she decides to quit Whammies and go spend time with Cameron, despite the girls and the bar and all she’s put into it.

What will come of Lisa and her girls?

Well. I’ve been hearing good things about Support the Girls and it isn’t bad. It’s just not as fun as I expected it to be. It’s very low-key and real, like you’re sitting at a real bar listening to people with real issues and concerns.

It’s all about the women who work there and their respect for one another. Regina Hall is brilliant as always. Lisa is a lady who gets shit done while being continually shit upon by people (men) who should know better. To be honest I don’t really understand why Cubby is so down on her when she keeps the wheels of the bar so well oiled – because she is a woman and a WOC at that?

Most of the men aren’t that great. Lisa comes up against a rude biker patron who upsets one of her staff without hesitation (and police back up). Cubby obviously is an arse while Cameron has his own issues and seems unwilling to work at their marriage.

The movie is very quick to talk about fatness and that always puts me off. I can understand in an industry where looks matter so much being anything less that a perfect 10 could be a problem but I don’t want to hear it. It’s okay to be fat, you fuckers.

Anyway, the ending is empowered and testament to Lisa’s Whammies legacy. As the girls realise it’s going to be harder than they thought to get on without her, they take drastic action. And I love the cathartic closing scene very much.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my supportive girl think of this one? Would she throw a car wash for it or pull on a turtleneck instead? Find out here.

Green Book

Green Book (2018)

While there aren’t really many surprises here, certainly in terms of structure (we’ve all seen this narrative before: two very different people are thrown together and gradually, against all odds, become firm friends). I don’t care about that if it’s done well and boy is this done well.

You get the impression, and I’ve read a few things to this effect, that some of the elements are embellished for creative license but that’s to be expected. In the film adaptation of my life you can be confident I’ll be exaggerating the fudge out of most of my experiences.

I found this a really pleasant and lovely viewing experience. I’m fact, another solo cinema-goer, who just happened to sit himself in front of me, guffawed all the way through the film and it made me smile a lot. That kind of cinematic joy is infectious and one of the things I enjoy the most about the movies.

Green Book is very funny in the broadest sense and the central performances are truly magical. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali bounce off each other delightfully and their chemistry is palpable. MA is one of my favourite working actors today with an energy that commands the screen, even in lesser works like Alita: Battle Angel (review coming soon) and I’ll drink up anything he appears in. As classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley he treads the line perfectly between sad and haughty, a refined and cultured gentleman with a profound loneliness to him.

Tony Lip (Mortensen) in contrast is a brash Italian-American with a potty mouth and dubious views – but maybe also a heart of gold. His ignorance is not acceptable but he’s open to personal growth even if he wouldn’t admit it. When he finds himself temporarily out of work, he has little choice but to take Dr. Shirley’s job offer – to drive him around the deep South as he embarks on his piano tour. With the permission of his lovely wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini), Tony hits the road with his new associate – with mixed results.

The title comes from the green book thrust into Tony’s hands by Dr Shirley’s record company – a black traveller’s resource outlining all the motels and hotels that accept black guests. It’s bleak af and not something I knew existed (in my own white ignorance).

Of course the pair start off rocky (with vastly different views and opinions) but as the tagline confirms, from this trip a true friendship is born and I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved every single minute of it.

It’s classic Oscar bait (and obviously a strong contender for this year’s Best Picture) and although I’d love Black Panther to win out of principle (it won’t) and The Favourite (just because it is the best film in this category that I’ve seen) – it’s definitely up there.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Glass

Glass (2019)

*Minor spoilers*

I suspect one of the reasons I’m not that great at reviewing films is that I sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. Rather than veering toward the difficult to please stance of most purists, I usually lap up most of what I’m given because I have such a bias towards the characters I love. It’s hard for me to be critical sometimes.

I loved Unbreakable (2000) so much. It’s part of my regular catalog of movies that never fail to make me feel something. Often I hear the criticism that it doesn’t have enough oomph but that to me is what makes it perfect. It takes the concept of heroes and villains, and humanises it. It’s my favourite of M. Night‘s canon without question.

Split (2016) was enjoyable, particularly when you consider James McAvoy‘s mind boggling performance(s) but where UB was low-key and moody, Split was turned all the way up to bonkers and seldom lets up. Glass is more of the same and honestly, it’s messy but I liked it.

I may be in the minority. I thought what they did was interesting, threw us more than one curve ball and satisfied me. I didn’t buy all of it and found myself a little irritated by some of the bits that seemed clumsily tacked on but you can’t win ’em all. I’m trying hard not to drop major spoiler here – one of the girls at work dropped a massive clanger in front of my colleague after she’d seen it and I’m still giggling/traumatised by the experience.

Let’s talk about what I did like. I loved coming back to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his now grown up son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). Now co-running their own security company with David moonlighting as The Overseer (to name but a few of his publicly considered nicknames), the two stalk the police radio airwaves for potential trouble.

All this has lead to multiple newspaper articles about the mysterious rain slicker-wearing hero and the feds getting antsy about vigilante justice. Joseph warns his father to keep a low profile for a while but where’s the fun in that?

When he sniffs out a new ‘case’ – a quartet of missing cheerleaders at the hands of a very familiar character – he bites off way more than he can chew.

The trailer is very clear about what happens next so no surprises. Dennis (and friends) join David Dunn and one other blast from the past, the titular “First name: Mister. Last name: Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson) in some sort of institution, where Sarah Paulson‘s Dr. Ellie Staple is on hand to talk each of them out of their superhero delusions.

But nothing’s ever that simple and the result is… well, the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s action, there’s Mr Glass and there are conclusions drawn and connections made.

Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cook, the sympathetic protagonist from Split and she’s lovely. A somehow calming influence over The Beast and his twenty-plus disciples, she fights his corner and humanises him too. I must say James McEvoy seems to have refined his performance since Split and is the strongest character here. I expected to be blown away at the return of Glass and Dunn, but it’s Dennis & Co who kept me in.

From the sidelines there is strong support too from Joseph and from Mrs. Price (Mister Glass’ ma played by Charlayne Woodard), the trio of secondary characters who actually care about the outcome of our central trio. Which is more than can be said about the crew apparently taking care of them from here. Paulson doesn’t shine quite as much as she usually does and I’m guessing this is because her particular strand is my least favourite (and the flimsiest). I wonder what it might have been like had they been left to their own devices.

I’ve already said too much but I did enjoy the look, the performances and the way it all clicks into place. The institution setting is one of my favourites and the use of colour is eye-catching and effective.

Will there ever be more? Well, it is suggested that this could all go off on a tangent in years to come – I’m not sure I want to be part of it though. (Who the hell am I trying to kid?!).

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

The Bookshop

It’s Feminist Feb on the Collab, y’all and it’s pretty much my favourite month of any year apart from Halloween. This means lots of strong and courageous women being strong and courageous all over the place like goddamn Queens. Something I will always be here for.

Alas, I’m not sure about my first pick for February. It undoubtedly encompasses the spirit of this month, however it was also deeply dreary and for this I am sorry, Jill.

The Bookshop (2018)

Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is a widow living in a small East Anglian village in 1959. Against all advice and perhaps common sense, she decides to open a bookshop on the high street. It’s a lovely notion but you get the idea that not many of the locals are big readers, with the exception of the reclusive Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy).

This doesn’t dissuade her from her #goals however and she’s even less inclined to give up when local lady, the politically connected Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) decides to start messing with her. Florence stands tall against an onslaught of annoying obstacles, all thrown her way by Violet who has her heart set on the old house-turned-bookshop. In Violet’s opinion, there are much better uses for the property than a lowly bookshop – namely an arts centre. You get the impression that V just wants to make life difficult for Florence and I can’t blame her, small time life seems rather dull.

Luckily, Florence finds an unlikely friend, cheerleader (and potential love interest?) in the gruff Mr Brundish. Brundish is a massive reader and Florence quickly gets into his good books (lolll) by sending him poetry and other assorted tomes. The two bond when Flo asks Brundish to read Lolita and tell her if it’s any good (spoiler: it is).

She wants to sell it in her shop but worries it might be too risqué for the villagers (spoiler: it does get her in trouble with Violet) . When Brundish invites Flo to tea, an invitation that V and her husband, the General have been vying for for years, their friendship grows. And so does V’s rage.

Brundish btw is the victim of village gossip, a widower (or is he?) who lost his wife in a variety of creative and brutal ways. Fortunately, Florence’s appearance in his life affords him the opportunity to be truthful about who he really is – and the real story ain’t half as fun.

I guess the main question here is: will the bookshop succeed?

Well, I love love love the premise and I love that this gives us a strong female protagonist of a different kind. She’s not a sassy, finger-clicking broad. She’s wall-flowery. However, she will not be moved and she’s not frightened to take on the glamorous (and bitchy) Violet, not for a minute. This examines a different type of strength, the quiet type that doesn’t feel the need to shout about it every five minutes. This is important. It also looks at female competition by pitting two very different women against one another.

Unfortunately, there was quite a lot about it that grated on my nerves. First off the narrator. I get what they were going for but for god’s sake can we not? Anyone viewing a movie like this probably has the basic grasp of narrative, so don’t bother. Florence is realllllllly boring, like she has no oomph and although I don’t doubt she’s strong at the core I do wish she had a little more personality (which might be contradictory to what I’ve just outlined above). I suppose this is a period piece so I can’t expect her to be going around sassing everyone out as it wasn’t the done thing in 50’s England but still. I would have liked her to be less of a wet blanket around her friends at least.

Bill Nighy’s character is sweet but I don’t buy the fact that Florence would be tempted to get romantically involved with him, even if he is Bill Nighy. There’s an awkward encounter on the beach and it was so cringey. There’s also not nearly enough of delicious Violet which smarts, frankly. Patricia Clarkson is an absolute legend.

There is interesting potential support in the form of Frances Barber and James Lance but I didn’t find myself getting attached to anyone. Something really dark happens which was emotional and even more emotional when Florence reacts to it but all in all this is just a very bland experience.

Christine (Honor Kneafsey), the child that Florence misguidedly hires to work in her shop is about the only character I thought had any chutzpah and maybe that’s because she does something absolutely crazy at the end of the film that I admire, in a Liza ‘Left-eye’ Lopez kind of way. The ending is actually very dramatic and it saves the movie for me.

Apart from all that I can definitely see myself running a bookshop somewhere remote. And you’re damn right I’d stock 250 copies of Lolita.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my love think of this one? Is she a fan of The Bookshop or would she campaign to have it shut down using any means necessary? Find out here.

P.S. I’m told by a reliable source (Jill) that our FOUR YEAR Blog Collab anniversary comes up on the 16th of Feb. This is longer than most of my adult relationships and some of my friendships and I cannot believe it. To celebrate, I’ll write something but also, we’ll be returning to our original posting day of Sunday. Over the years due to other commitments (and sometimes, my laziness) we have put it back further and further. No more!

So I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do, and if not – it doesn’t matter one bit… because we love it.

Enjoy the Silence

I’m a big fan of the PMA meme. I choose to believe that a fair bit of being able to get through life is to maintain a positive attitude (where possible, obvs). I don’t really like to thrive on negativity or be around bad energy – the odd bitch about a colleague is one thing but I don’t enjoy being dragged into drama, my own or someone else’s.

What I’m trying to say is that here on the blog I might have a gentle moan but most of how I’m feeling is filed away in the “being handled” cabinet, and that is that. But that’s not always realistic and sometimes I just get very, very tired with everything. Not in a sinister way, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s more about getting fed up with slapping a happy face on and going about my day all the time.

Of course most of us are doing that – it’s life – we’re fighting the good fight but sometimes all the relentless positivity, all the Go girl/You got this memes, the very memes I subscribe so heavily to, start to annoy me. What if I don’t got this? What if I can’t pick myself up and dust myself off? Obviously I can and I will eventually but what if the effort of this is too much because sometimes it is. Sometimes I feel so numb I don’t feel anything. Of course there’s always love for my husband, family and friends – it’s not that, it’s something else this numbness. It’s a bone tiredness that sucks the joy of life and the excitement out of the future.

On the other hand sometimes, when I let my meds slip (which isn’t often), I might go the other way. My brain literally buzzes and it feels as though all the nerve endings inside this head of mine are live wires. I feel overwhelmed and out of control. That’s the worst feeling in the world and almost worse than the depression.

I don’t reveal all this because I’m special or that I want to be treated differently, I share it because it’s true and a part now of who I am. We’re told all the time it’s important to talk about these things and it is, we shouldn’t be scared by fact and by the so-called negative things that make us human. I wouldn’t change this about myself, I believe honestly that it makes me a better person somehow, that my anxiety and depression attunes me to others and I can spot a person struggling and act accordingly. I will never shy away again from being sensitive, even over-sensitive – this is me.

I just think it’s important to acknowledge that the fight is tiring and that sometimes I want to give up. Genuinely, I think often of getting on a bus and disappearing, starting a new gentler life somewhere alone. My reclusive nature goes into overdrive and it seems so appealing. Imagine not having to speak to anyone for as long as I wanted! Sounds like bliss. In reality it would be lonely and isolating and it would make me feel so much worse.

I’m not going to do that. I have everything I could ever possibly need right here but sometimes, just sometimes I need to allow myself to feel these things. Then I’ll pick myself up and get on with it.

How are you?

No Shopping Update #1

As you know, I’ve embarked on my own personal challenge of not shopping for clothes until the Summer (or more specifically August 1st).

For me this is a massive undertaking and although nobody but me is holding me accountable, I have to admit here that I’ve already slipped a couple of times. I don’t mind being transparent, I bought a bag I thought I desperately needed in the BooHoo sale. It was cheap and cheerful – and I hated it so it’s going back.

I then simply had to have a pair of tartan print paper bag trousers because of course I do. Those are staying because they’re super cute.

This morning I bought a £15 puffa jacket to arm myself against the rising chilliness and a sweatshirt I’ve had on my wish list for donkey’s. That was £7. So not exactly breaking the bank and also needed but still, I feel bad I’ve already stumbled at the first hurdle.

I have to remember I’m human and breaking a habit of a lifetime so I will have minor blips. The security team at work asked me if I was okay the other day as there have been no packages since Christmas and I’ll take that as a small win. I might have caved a couple of times but I’ve still mostly avoided the sales and given my debit card most of the month off.

I know I can do this and I’ll be flipping the bird to the people who thought it would be too hard for me come August.

Starting again from NOW.

Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit

The world of competitive cat shows this week and a documentary, no less.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve already forgotten all the human names and I can’t be bothered to go back and catch them so they will hereon out be referred to as Bobby’s Mum and Oh La La’s Mum. Of course I remember the star cats names.

Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

Catwalk takes us into the gritty underworld of the cat show, something I have never thought about before and might not afterwards. Apparently it’s kind of a big deal in the US and probably elsewhere, again I haven’t done my research. Sue me.

Bobby is current king of cats, best in show. He’s a beautiful white boy described as ‘muscular, not fat’ by his mum. She might as well be describing Chris Hemsworth the way she’s going on but one look at Bobby and you can’t really blame a girl. He’s mostly nonplussed about the adoration and just gets on with what he’s required to do which is to be a good boy in competition. Via the power of a rather cute info-graphic we can see that Bobby is head and tail above all the other cats on the circuit and heading for world domination.

Burning ball of straight fiyah

Alas, Bobby’s (or more accurately Bobby’s mum’s) confidence is knocked by the arrival of one Ginger Queen, the formidable Oh La La, a Persian fluff ball with attitude. Oh La La rocks up and easily scoops Best in Show but it’s okay because it’s a one off show right? If Oh La La and her owner take their victory and bow out on a high, never to be seen again, Bobby and Mum don’t have to worry, see? Shame then that Oh La La’s mum gets the cat show bug and decides to keep going.

OOOOOOOOOPSY.

Thus starts a competition to rival Bette and Joan’s. Relax, it’s never that bad, there are no broken legs a la Tonya Harding but there is some ‘jokey’ attitude as Oh La La’s Mum ponders whether Bobby’s has sabotaged an entire airline to stop Oh La La arriving to a particular show. Bobby’s meanwhile keep saying things like “Anything can happen… Oh La La’s Mum could fall ill…” and you wonder how far these women are willing to go to come out on top.

The cats, again, are not that bothered but Oh La La in particular goes through a rigorous regular routine of beauty and pain. Personally, I think she’s kind of a bitch and that’s why I like her so much but I do feel a little sorry for all the other cats that get sidelined for The Big Two.

I feel like there is a special indignity in watching cats of all creatures being manhandled by judges. For the most part, these cats don’t really want to be there and would much rather be sleeping or roaming about, surely?

At one point Bobby throws up a collection of grotesque hair balls on the judging podium, and I cheered. His mother looks on with a pained expression of not anger so much as disappointment. I like Oh La La’s mother far more than I like Bobby’s because she at least seems genuinely cheerful. Bobby’s seems to have an underlying coolness to her but in the end the two owners are kind of friends, and at least they understand one other.

As Oh La La continues to thrash the competition, Bobby’s ma seems to resign herself to the fact she can’t catch up and she actually seems to relax visibly. She has another cat in show, who is probably my favourite and who’s name I can’t remember. She decides to focus a little more time on this cat and helps him pump up his competition points. This is quite a triumphant segment to be honest.

I just think it’s a shame sometimes that the fun seems sucked out of the shows when all they’re worried about is winning. Bobby’s mother in particular seems obsessed with the idea of the perfect cat and anything that isn’t first place doesn’t count to her.

In my opinion all cats are perfect. This doc is an eye opener. It’s shocking how much commitment goes into the pursuit of perfection and I had fun with this documentary. The personalities and the facial expressions of the cats are the best thing about it as well as the barbed ‘jokes’ between the two main cat mums.

You’re the cat’s pyjamas

I really hope that Bobby and Oh La La do/did (Oh La La is now retired) enjoy their cat show times as much as their owners believe they do/did. I suspect they don’t give a fuck either way.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What did my kitty cat think of Catwalk? Would she vote it Best in Show or throw it out with the hair balls? Find out here obviously.