Tag Archives: CInema

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family (2019)

A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

Starring: Florence Pugh • Dwayne Johnson • Lena Headey • Vince Vaughn • Nick Frost

*Minor spoilers*

I love an underdog movie and the true story of Paige the WWE diva is a really satisfying watch. Sure, there aren’t many surprises and the narrative is pretty formulaic – but there’s a comfort in that.

If I’m honest I didn’t expect to love it as much and I think that’s mostly down to the casting. Saraya Knight AKA Britani Knight AKA Paige is played by the lovely Florence Pugh – an actress who first blew me away in Lady Macbeth.

Hands up if you love Florence Pugh!

As Saraya – or Ray to her family – tackles minor success and then the absolute brutality of what fame and fortune really requires from her, Pugh takes her through every emotion. Elation, guilt, despair – determination. She is an absolute joy to watch.

Ray’s family are a dream too – in the form of Mum Julia (Lena Headey) and Dad Ricky (Nick Frost) – and brother Zak (Jack Lowden), her wrestling partner-in-crime. The unit live and breathe the sport and run their own, barely surviving wrestling gym. Both Ray and Zak teach the community kids and generally keep them out of trouble and off the streets.

The kids and all the side characters peppered around the gym are really fun, as are the appearances of Hugh (director Stephen Merchant) and Daphne (Julia Davis) – straight-laced parents of Zak’s baby mama. The dinner party scene really made me chuckle a lot.

Adopt me, please.

When the siblings finally get the opportunity of a lifetime to audition in front of WWE trainer (Vince Vaughn), it has massive consequences for the family and Ray – and more so for the relationship between brother and sister. In both good and bad ways.

Ray travels to Florida to try out with the big boys and girls – and the standard could not be more different. Can she embrace who she really is and find her own place in this world?

There are some really interesting themes explored here – not least the devastation of being left behind felt by Zak. As his sister lives out their shared dream, he has to come to terms with focusing on a new one and it takes him a while.

In happier times…

Ray has to decide how much she really wants to be part of the WWE’s main roster and – who knew – the girl also has a lot of growing up to do. Well, she is only EIGHTEEN.

She (now going by Paige) struggles with the other girls, making lofty assumptions about them because they’re mostly models and dancers. Her illusion that they deserve their places in try-outs less than she does her no favours. Can she claw it back with these women and make a couple of much-needed friends along the way?

“Think we’re gonna need some Girl Power in this joint ASAP…”

Well, thankfully there’s a shift in both perspective and fortune for Paige – and I loved it. As soon as the girls start working together, it gets better for all of them. They’re even there are the end when Paige inevitably overcomes all her self-doubt, her guilt and her demons to absolutely smash it.

FWMF is funny, sweet, touching and very good. I’m a fan of the feel-good and now I want to know everything there is to know about the real Paige.

I definitely recommend catching this while it’s still in the theater.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Party Girl

I’ve really been hankering after the 90’s lately, particularly after Captain Marvel and its outstanding soundtrack. If I could go back for a weekend with no consequence or effect on my present day life, I so would.

So, with this in mind, this week’s film is perfectly placed and I might be *am* #obsessed with the fashion, the whole aesthetic and our leading lady.

Party Girl (1995)

Mary is a free-spirited young woman with a run-down New York apartment and a high fashion wardrobe. She calls her godmother, a librarian, for bail money after being arrested for throwing an illegal party. To repay the loan, she begins working as a library clerk.

Starring: Parker Posey • Omar Townsend • Donna Mitchell • Liev Schreiber

*Minor spoilers*

Mary (Parker Posey) is your average NYC party girl. More or less unemployed with an insane designer wardrobe, moving from coolest club to cooler club and getting off with Liev Schreiber in the street. When she’s booked by New York’s finest for throwing an illegal party, she is forced to call upon her godmother Judy (Sasha von Scherler) to bail her out.

Judy – tough but fair – does it but she also lectures Mary on responsibility. To pay back the bail money she gives her goddaughter a job as a clerk at the library where she works. Mary is not stoked to be there and spends more time outside talking to the falafel vendor, Mustafa (Omar Townsend), who she digs.

When we meet Mary she has a boyfriend, Nigel (Schreiber) but he’s dumped when he admits he’s peed in Mary’s shower again. This frees up our free-spirited heroine to flirt with Mustafa, who is in competition with a rival vendor, on the same corner of the street. Mustafa reveals he used to be a teacher in Lebanon.

“I like you a falafel lot…”

For a while Mary gets by at the library but she’s still preoccupied by the party scene – and she doesn’t really get the filing system. One day Judy has enough and reams her out, telling her that even a monkey could have learnt how to file by now. These stinging words obviously get to Mary as she chooses to stay overnight at the library that night to get her head around the Dewey Decimal System, rather than going to da club, where her BFF Leo (Guillermo Díaz) has just got his first gig.

His new boss Rene (Donna Mitchell) is an absolute queen I have to say and hard as nails. My favourite side character by far.

“Book ’em, Danno.”

After this Mary becomes pretty fucking good at her job but Judy still won’t really trust her, citing the irresponsibility of Mary’s mother as one of the factors. Sounds fair.

Unfortunately, Mary fucks up one last time when she bones Mustafa in the library and some books get damaged. Judy fires her and she falls into a downward spiral, fighting with her new man, doing drugs and almost getting raped by Nasty Nigel. She and Leo are also evicted and the worst thing that could happen happens – she is forced to sell her wardrobe to stay afloat.

A mood

All this serves as a wake up call and Mary finally makes a decision about her future. But she needs Judy on board – is it too late to convince her?

PG is honestly very charming and also not nearly as fluffy as I was expecting. It’s all the more endearing for it too. Posey is dreamy at the best of times but as Mary, she manages to keep you invested at all times. Even when she’s in self-destruct mode.

I love the juxtaposition between both worlds – the frivolous and the responsible. I haven’t really much more to say about it other than I love the 90’s ballroom scene vibe, the spectacle and the attention to detail.

You better werk

Posey’s wardrobe isn’t just cute, it’s a work of art and an expression of the character. This is a cool article about some of the outfits she puts together.

In my mind I hope she becomes the most successful librarian in NYC but also remains prolific on the party scene. She shouldn’t have to give up one for the other if she doesn’t want to.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my favourite librarian think of Party Girl? Would she fire it unceremoniously or believe in her all the way? Find out here of course.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Jude Law

*Minor Spoilers*

Vers is a Starforce member on Hala, the Kree Empire’s capital planet. Under the tutelage of her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), she is learning how to become a fine warrior. Which is all well and good but she’s haunted by nightmares that she doesn’t understand and a past she can’t remember.

Bestowed with special powers given to her by the Kree, Carol is urged by the Supreme Intelligence to think less with her emotions and more with her head, something she very much struggles with because she’s a fucking woman and what are we? That’s right: too sensitive.

“We have to arm wrestle, it’s the Law.”

During her first mission with Starforce, shit hits the fan when the team stumble into a Skrull ambush and Vers is taken hostage by their kingpin, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Skrulls FYI are alien shape-shifters and the Kree’s arch enemy.

Anyway, Vers manages to escape their evil clutches and plunges to Earth where she promptly meets a very familiar face, Shield agent Mr. Nick Fury. While he’s skeptical about Vers’ very honest account of what she’s doing on this planet, he soon sees enough evidence for himself that she might just be telling the truth.

Carol was a pro at staring

What follows is a cute road trip for two as Fury and Vers search for the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) who seems to hold the key not only to what the Skrulls are after but who Vers might really be.

I really enjoyed The Carol Danvers story. It’s female-centric in a way none of the Marvel movies have been so far (although there have been moments) but its done really well, without hammering the point home. I buy Brie Larson completely as a pilot and I absolutely love her chemistry with Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Girls 4 eva

She’s a competent, likeable hero who can kick arse with or without her fiery fists – and she’s true to herself, learning that it’s okay to think with your heart and not your head if you damn well please. This is a battle I have constantly with myself so I really connect with that aspect of the narrative.

There are a few surprises along the way and it’s genuinely touching to follow Vers/Carol as she pieces together the life she had before she ended up on Hala. While I don’t want to give too much away to those who haven’t caught this movie yet, there is a ‘twist’ you can see coming a mile off. If I’m honest as soon as I saw Jude Law’s goddamn beautiful face, it was already planted in my mind. But I don’t think it ruins anything really.

Green with envy over that big gun

Comic relief in the form of Goose the cat (played by no less than three stunt kitties) is fun and there are moments it veers into Guardians of the Galaxy territory with its humour (which could never be a bad thing). I really like both Maria Rambeau and her daughter Monica (played respectively by Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar).

There’s such sadness in Maria, who believed her best friend to be dead and now has to come to terms with the fact that she’s alive and doesn’t remember their former life and adventures together. But there’s hope too, of course and yey for that.

Flame emoji forever

Okay so this might not be the very best Marvel film ever made and sometimes it’s just little too spacey for my personal taste – I much prefer the fish out of water on earth aspect of the story – but it’s a strong start and a pleasing introduction to a character I knew little about (DC Girl, innit).

Carol’s presence in End Game is going to be very welcome and I’m extremely excited for next month.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Update: I can’t believe I hit Publish on this post without gushing about the soundtrack. It’s 90’s perfection and every tune is a bop. Special mention to the mighty Just a Girl by No Doubt which was my teen anthem.

Goose: the best Avenger?

Isn’t it Romantic?

Sometimes I just need broad humour to battle a chronic earache and period pains – and do you think I feel guilty about it? Hell no.

This week we look at one of the oldest movie templates in history – the Rom Com – from a cynical standpoint. Will we somehow learn a lesson by the time the credits roll? Probably not but there’s a sing/dance off so I’m in, whatever.

Isn’t it Romantic? (2019)

A young woman disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy.

Starring: Rebel Wilson • Liam Hemsworth • Adam Devine

*Minor spoilers*

My relationship with Rebel Wilson is complex. On the surface I enjoy watching her but I find her a little one note. It’s probably not even her fault but I’d like to see her break the mould and play a completely different type of character in the future. The constant gurning gets on my tits too.

Anyway, problematic tastes aside, this film is a no-brainer and exactly what I needed on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I’ve actually already seen it but felt I needed another watch because I’d forgotten most of it.

Same tbh

As a child, Natalie (Rebel Wilson) was all about the romantic comedy, until her mother (Jennifer Saunders) burst the bubble. Claiming that sort of story wasn’t for the likes of them and only the Julia Roberts’ of this world, Natalie grew up and became a cynic.

Twenty five years later and Natalie is not exactly open to finding love. A junior architect with big ideas but a lack of confidence, she spends her days feeling invisible and is oblivious to all the good around her. Friends Josh (Adam Devine) and Whitney (Betty Gilpin) try to get her to see things differently but it’s almost impossible to shift her perspective.

One day, after bombing a big presentation by being mistaken for the coffee bitch by new client Blake (Liam Hemsworth), Natalie is mugged on the subway. Hitting her head, our hero wakes up in hospital and – worse – inside her own nightmare AKA romantic comedy land.

Rebel girl

Shiiiiitt.

Everything in her new world is beautiful and harmonious. Men look her in the eye and call her adorable every time she trips (ew). Natalie’s previously run down neighbourhood has been gentrified and her shabby apartment is suddenly seventeen times bigger and full of everything good in the world. Most importantly, when Blake hits her with his car, he is instantly smitten with the baffled (and completely unrumpled) Nat.

Not everything is in Nat’s favour though. Whitney has become her bitchy rival at work and she can’t bleeping swear without having it bleeping bleeped out.

“Uh, do you have a brother?”

When she realises she’s woken up in a parallel universe (OBVIOUSLY), our girl figures the only way to get back to real life is to hit her head again. When that doesn’t work, her only option is to make Blake fall in love with her so she can be free. DUH.

Which isn’t too shabby when you consider he’s a Hemsworth. Alas sex isn’t something that actually happens in rom coms (not this one, anyway) so Nat is left largely unfulfilled. Logic is not something you need to worry about for the next 90 minutes, don’t worry.

Meanwhile, Josh rescues yoga ambassador Isabella (Priyanka Chopra) from choking in the park and they fall quickly in love. But something just doesn’t add up, despite how unbelievably perfect everything is. Can you guess what that is guys?

Should’ve worn a brighter colour, love

When the penny finally drops, Natalie has to figure out a way to sabotage the happy couple AND get back to the way things were. Luckily, she has GBFF and neighbour Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) on hand to help her scheme.

Will Natalie learn from all this? Will she be proven right, that as a strong independent woman she doesn’t need a dude to complete her – or will she see that actually – if she lets herself be open to it, she can have it all if she really wants it?

This isn’t M. Night Shyamalan and there are no surprises here. There are a couple of amusing bits (the telephone number on the petals, the karaoke sing-off) but it’s not that smart. It’s just another paint by numbers, the very kind of movie that Natalie despises in the first place.

The saccharine ending is sweet (sickly sweet) but it might have been nice if she had been offered it all and decided to stick to her single girl guns. I don’t know, I just find the messaging a little muddy.

“This is a dance off, bitch”

Rebel is gorgeous and it irritates me that she would ever be considered invisible. She’s a goddamn knock out. Yet again we’re being sold a can only be found attractive in a parallel universe narrative and I’m bored. Yes this is supposed to be a comment on society and the bullshit of the commercial world women exist within but for fuck’s sake can we move on now? (See also I Feel Pretty).

Can we just have diverse female characters who don’t fit the cookie cutter mold but do have normal, happy lives and don’t have to defend themselves/play up to a stereotype/be extra-kooky to disguise all their hideous flaws?

I don’t hate this by any stretch, I just wanted more from it. As Jill says, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend did a romantic spoof episode a while back and did it way better.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my love think of this one? Would she take it to the ice cream shop or challenge it to a Karaoke-off? Find out here.

The Aftermath

The Aftermath (2019)

Post World War II, a British colonel and his wife are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction, but tensions arise with the German who previously owned the house.

Starring: Keira Knightley • Jason Clarke • Alexander Skarsgård

*Minor Spoilers*

I always know I’m going to have a good time when Keira Knightley is wafting about in period costume. It’s just something I enjoy, sue me. Is she the greatest actress of our generation? Hell no but she looks good doing it and I like her, so there.

In this she is Rachael, the wife of a colonel stationed in Hamburg after World War II. On arriving at her new home, a grand house commandeered from a German man and his daughter, Rachael is shocked to see what the war torn city actually looks like.

Cheer up, love

She’s uncomfortable in her new digs which isn’t helped by the fact her husband, Lewis (Jason Clarke) is largely AWOL, leaving her alone for long stretches. She’s further aggrieved when Lewis decides to let widower Stefan (super babe Alexander Skarsgård) and his teenage daughter Heike remain in the house instead of moving to the camps.

Heike is understandably fucked off to be banished to the attic of her own home and enjoys rebelling against polite behaviour. Lewis for the most part is a compassionate man who feel sympathy for the Germans while still having to bring the 88 (Nazi Party) to justice.

Stefan just misses his dead wife and wants life to go back to the way it was, while Rachael is fighting her own battle, the loss of her son who was killed in a London air strike. It soon becomes clear that Lewis has been throwing himself into work instead of comforting his wife (and facing his own grief), giving us more of an understanding of what’s bubbling beneath the surface of their marriage.

“I’ll have you know I give great head…”

When Lewis is required to go away for an extended period, Rachael begs him to stay for once in his life – to sort out their differences sure but also to nip her burgeoning attraction to Stefan in the bud…

In the meantime, Heike is getting into her own mischief, involving herself with the worst kind of bad boy, a Nazi sympathiser. You just know that can’t end well.

The Aftermath looks amazing obviously, while the chemistry between Keira and my boy Alexander is hot AF. As the two do a very poor job of fighting their attraction to one another, they also bond over their respective losses. Is this enough though for them both to start over?

Well, I expected there to be more of a twist if I’m honest. There’s quite a bit of hinting about Stefan’s own affiliation with the Führer and I wanted there to be more to the story than there was. However, the ending is sweet and hopeful, and although Jason Clarke seriously reminds me of a young, better-looking Piers Morgan, I was rooting for him.

Just one of the swishy dresses on display

This is a pretty looking lament on grief and seeing things through to the bitter end. It won’t be particularly memorable but isn’t the worst way to spend a couple of hours. Plus, KK wears at least three iconic frocks which will stick fondly in my memory. So there is that at least.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Hell Fest

Hell Fest (2019)

A masked serial killer turns a horror-themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

Starring: Bex Taylor-Klaus • Reign Edwards • Amy Forsyth • Tony Todd

*Minor Spoilers*

Some movies are just perfect to watch around Halloween. Hell Fest would definitely be one of them. I couldn’t wait until October though and treated myself this afternoon because there’s nothing better than a Saturday afternoon horror sesh in bed with the lights off.

Hell Fest isn’t truly original but it is fun and centers around six actually quite likeable young people, including Taylor (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus, who I loved in both The Killing (2013) and Scream: The TV Series (2015)).

When scholarship student Natalie (Amy Forsyth) returns home to visit her BFF Brooke (Reign Edwards), she’s bummed to learn that her former roommate has replaced her with Taylor, a girl she doesn’t really like. To cheer her up, Brooke persuades Nat to come to Hell Fest, sweetening the deal with talk of Gavin (Roby Attal), her long-time crush being there – and asking after her to boot.

What could possibly go wrong?

Along with Taylor and their boyfriends, the six meet and agree a plan of action for Halloween Night’s activities – go hard or go home. Even Taylor and Natalie start to get on as they navigate the Hell Fest park, but Nat is a cynic and not easily frightened.

Things change when she witnesses ‘a murder’ that feels very real and the perpetrator, a very committed park employee (or is he?), starts stalking the group. Convinced something’s not right and that some of the effects are just a little too realistic, things take an even darker turn when Gavin disappears and one by one so do the rest of the gang…

What’s the mask-wearing stalker’s deal though and is most of it in Natalie’s head? *Spoiler – of course fucking not*

Don’t lose your head

I thought the setting of this was fantastic and has forever cemented my resolve not to return to Shocktober Fest for the fourth year running (they wanted us to put sacks over our heads last time, nothankyouverymuch). It’s relateable because I can remember what it feel like to be followed onto the Haunted Hayride by a dude with a chainsaw.

There’s a special vulnerability to being frightened in the dark but also trusting that everything you see is an illusion – and then finding out that it’s all a lie – and I like the way this is used. There’s a really tense scene in a ghost train which I really enjoyed, it takes me back to all the rides I’ve ever enjoyed. And hated because they were shit.

The kills are imaginative and disgusting for the most part and as mentioned above, as I actually like the kids I care about them when they’re knocked off and cheer when they get away. I think the ending is interesting too in a sort of Michael Myers/unexplained mystery of the human psyche kind of way.

Scream if you want to go faster

And of course, a cameo from horror legend (and my personal fave) Tony Todd could never hurt. I dug it – and will definitely be revisiting come October.

It’s already been added to my 30 Horrors list for 2019.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

The Breaker Upperers

A little New Zealand banger this week and what a joy it is too. If it had been fifteen minutes long and just consisted of the last scene, I still would have been delighted with it. Continue reading