Tag Archives: Biopic

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

Things aren’t going great for Lee Israel. Once a lauded writer, her last book – a biography of Estée Lauder – has been a commercial and critical flop. Her agent is avoiding her calls, she’s behind on her rent and she’s just been let go from her job.

Struggling to stay afloat and keep her sick cat from death’s door, Lee sells a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to a local bookseller. Coincidentally, while researching her pet project, another biography this time on Fanny Brice, she finds a letter from Brice to an unknown recipient. Lee sells this to the same bookseller, a lovely woman called Anna (Dolly Wells).

Something Anna says gets Lee to thinking, if the letter contained better content it would no doubt be worth more. An idea is born and Lee begins to forge letters from some of the most prolific deceased writers of all time – Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker – embellishing little details to make them seem more realistic and interesting.

This soon becomes quite the booming business and Lee’s damn good at it. Unfortunately, after one of her Noël Coward letters is sent to a collector who once knew him, it draws suspicion for its openness about his sexuality. Coward was not one to talk so freely about his gayness. In an attempt to keep a low profile and still bring in the coin, Lee calls in a favour from her new friend, drug dealer Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) who agrees to sell the letters for her.

But how long can the pair keep it up when the world of literary collectibles (and the FBI) are on high alert?

I adored this. McCarthy is wonderful as Lee, a woman with immense talent and a drink problem. I find her situation unbearably sad and as things unravel – and she revisits old wounds AND turns away from new opportunities, it hurts to watch. One particular scene made me cry like a baby and it wasn’t dramatic at all, just supremely relatable.

The friendship between Jack and Lee is also lovely if incredibly tempestuous. Jack’s flamboyance contrasts well with Lee’s reluctance to add any sort of colour or frippery to her life. She’s a no-nonsense broad with a mission and has little time for other people, while he’s determined to rinse every ounce of joy out of life before it’s too late – and damn the consequences.

But there are always consequences, aren’t there? – and our pair are about to learn them. I can’t imagine anyone not having a good time with Jack and Lee but it’s a must for any fan of literature and masses of gumption. Loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I avoided this film for weeks. Not because I don’t love Freddie or the dad rock anthems of the band Queen but just because I wasn’t feeling it.

Although I love films that make me cry, I don’t like the ones that seem out to get me from the offset (The Theory of Everything for instance). If I feel like I’m being deliberately manipulated emotionally then consider me out. But this movie isn’t like that thankfully and I enjoyed every toe-tapping, arse-wiggling moment.

Rami Malek‘s central performance is honestly exceptional. While it took a moment to get into his rhythm (just me?), before long I believed him completely. The Live Aid performance particularly showcases just how hard he must have worked to nail the perfect Freddie.

Rhapsody follows Freddie as he meets his band mates for the first time, falls in love with Mary (Lucy Boynton), becomes the most famous front man in history and then some. While it touches upon the last years of his life, I was heartened by the fact that this is not the focus. He lead a fabulous life and that’s why we’re all here, am I right?

There have been criticisms about the movie though and I can see why. As Freddie comes to terms with his homosexuality, he enters a world of drugs and debauchery which could be viewed as a negative take on the gay scene. The relentless focus on our leading man is also awkward and takes away a lot of the rest of the band’s contribution to their history. Now I’m not the world’s leading Queen historian but it’s been suggested that some of the timeline is off and that the story is embellished in places for creative license. SHOCKER.

All these things are legitimate criticisms and I respect them, however I got what I wanted from Bohemian Rhapsody. While the rags to riches/pride before a fall narrative is nothing new, it works for me. I got a kick ass Freddie, some genuine laughs and one of the best soundtracks of the year – so colour me happy.

Rami for an Oscar nom this year or I walk.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? What are your thoughts?

Amy (Film) Review

Amy_Movie_PosterWhenever I know how a film is going to end, I always watch with hope in my heart. If I can just want it enough, surely I can singlehandedly change the outcome? Alas, my heroic parallel futures only ever occur in my head and the endings inevitably happen just as their creators intended, or in this case, just how they did in real life.

Amy (2015)

Director: Asif Kapadia
Stars: Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson

Amy is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Poignant, funny in places, sad, infuriating, joyful. Above all, it is pure heartbreak.

Constructed from video footage collected throughout Amy’s life, it lets us in on the life of one of the world’s greatest talents. Charting the rise and fall, we learn more about Amy’s aversion to fame, more about her destructive relationship with Blake; her lifelong battle with depression, her best friends and the people who surrounded, and loved her to her final day.

It’s really hard not to be mad though by the end. How could this have happened? Why didn’t her family stop her? How could she be gone when she’d finally cleaned up; finally begun to fight back? It’s not fair and that’s the kicker, isn’t it?

I’m not going to go into too much about the film because I hope you see it for yourselves but I will say that it’s beautifully presented, that Amy is treated respectfully throughout. Even in her lowest moments I feel she is portrayed as the vulnerable girl she was, not the punchline to some terrible joke.

It’s easy to click your teeth and want to throw your popcorn at the screen at certain points, particularly when Blake shows up. What I wouldn’t give to smack his face and blame him for everything, especially when he smugly declares on camera that he can do better than Amy, after everything they went through together. But the story isn’t that cut and dry, is it?amy-asifkapadia-photo2

Mitch too. When he tells Amy’s managers that she doesn’t need rehab, it just doesn’t seem like he’s all there. There’s something about him that has never sat right with me but that personal opinion, innit? I’ll never meet him.

It’s not all bad though. It was a real pleasure to spend my rainy Sunday afternoon back in Amy’s company. When Frank was released in 2003, it really struck a chord. Stronger Than Me has been my fighting anthem for over a decade and at different periods, it’s been Winehouse’s vocal that has spurred me on.

Highlights of this documentary are: all of it really. Amy is hilarious. When she succeeds on screen you’ll want to jump up and clap. When she’s performing, you’ll want to dance. When she’s finally gone, I dare you not to feel completely bereft for quite some time afterwards.

Please see it, she deserves to be remembered for so much more than those negative tabloid stories.