Brittany Runs a Marathon, or: Feeling Good As Hell

This week we review a film that I’ve seen twice now and honestly really love. Spoiler alert – I’m going to be doing minimal snarking about this one because actually it’s quite lovely. And Jillian Bell is a knock out who should lead more films. Just sayin’.

Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

A young woman decides to make positive changes in her life by training for the New York City Marathon.

Director: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Stars: Jillian Bell

*Spoilers*

Brittany is not in the best place. She’s a greeter on the door of a Broadway show and lives with her narcissistic social-media loving BFF Gretchen (Alice Lee). The pair party hard, and B abuses Adderall, drinks heavily and makes poor personal choices. She lacks focus in her own words and when she visits the doctor, to get her hands on her own Adderall prescription, he tells her her BMI is too high and he’s worried about her blood pressure. Off the back of this visit to the GP, B is tasked with losing around 55lbs, which she cracks is “the weight of a Siberian husky.”

NOTE: This film is definitely triggering. There is a lot of focus on diet and losing weight to become a better, more successful person.

“You want me to pull a medium-sized working dog off of my body.” ~ Brittany

When she tries to join a gym, she realises how expensive it is and decides to try running outdoors because it’s free. After her first attempt she breaks down in tears and receives a visit from her neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins), nicknamed Moneybags Martha by B and Gretchen.

Despite Catherine’s attempt to bond, the visit doesn’t go well and B resents being pitied by her neighbour who, in her eyes, has a much easier life than she does. Nevertheless, when Catherine mentions a running group she’s part of, B reluctantly shows up.

At running club, B becomes (kind of but not really) friends with Catherine and also makes an ally in Seth (Micah Stock) who, like B, isn’t a natural athlete and is only really running to make his son and husband proud. After a successful 5k, the trio make a pact to train for and then run the New York City marathon together the following November. As she gets better at running and the pounds start to drop off, B finds a second job, starts dating and meets fellow dog/house-sitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who curates her dating profile for her.

B also finds herself drifting apart from Gretchen who doesn’t really support the changes she’s been making. In fact she is continually belittling our girl and trivialising her new interests. When Brittany declines a night in on the booze and ice cream, Gretchen lashes out at her telling her she’ll always be a fat girl.

Jern and Brittany start banging – and things are pretty good – until B doesn’t get a place in the marathon and has to raise the money herself. When Catherine presents her with a cheque for a place on the starting line, Brittany freaks out and rejects the offer as ‘charity’, something she just can’t abide.

She starts avoiding Catherine and Seth so can’t even turn to them when she puts on weight and suffers a stress fracture from pushing herself too hard trying to shift it. Her doc tells her she definitely won’t be able to run in the marathon or do anything too physical for at least six weeks.

This throws her into a panic as she laments returning to her fat self. As she grows increasingly distant from her new friends and her fuck-buddy-or-is-he-more Jern, Brittany gets fired and retreats to her sister’s home in Philadelphia to lick her wounds.

At a birthday party for Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery), her sister’s husband and the man who pretty much raised her, Brittany behaves abysmally towards a fat woman and her thin boyfriend. Full of regret in the morning, Demetrius gives her what for, making her see that she needs to learn to let people help her – and to stop blaming all her problems on her weight.

Can Brittany learn this valuable lesson and sort it out once and for all? I think, with a little help from the people who care about her, she just might…

Again, Jillian Bell is brilliant – and makes Brittany very real and likeable. Even when she’s being a brat and a bitch, you can understand her pain.

My favourite part is the bit in which the large woman Brit’s been mean to gets in touch and explains that she understands where she’s coming from – but has made the choice to be happy. It made me cry. I also shed a few for Brittany as she finally gets to live her dream and is encouraged not to give up by her cheering squad.

I really like this film and it does try to be sensitive about fat and body positivity in some ways, it’s just a shame that Brittany follows the typical weight loss journey to finally realise her potential. It would have been nice if she’d run the marathon as the bigger version of herself or bucked the notion that being thin makes her worthy.

There’s a lot to unpack from this one based on the fat issue but I still liked it.

4/5

What does my favourite Jillian think of this one? Would she shame it for having love handles or encourage it to the finish line? Find out here.

Four Films, One Week

Last week was a busy movie week for me and I managed to fit in not one, not two but four films, all of which were little bangers. Not a turkey amoung them which is nice to report. One of them may even qualify for my Top Three of the year.

I’m being a little lazy reviewing them all in one post but this Blogtober has been quite movie heavy in itself and I’d like to write about some other stuff if I can. So here goes:


Ad Astra

Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

I was surprised at my strong reaction to this movie. I really loved it – and space isn’t really my thing, unless Ripley is running around in it. It’s very beautiful to look at, reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey (incidentally, one of my father’s favourite movies) and I really responded to the daddy issues at the core of Roy’s story.

It is a very long film and it does concentrate a lot on Brad Pitt’s beautiful mug – so I can understand why a lot of reviews have not been kind. I was suitably gripped though, curious to find out if Roy would find his father and what the fuck had been going up there on Jupiter. Maybe not for everyone but I started my movie week on a high, frankly.

Film details: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth NeggaJames Gray
IMDB Rating: 7/10 • My Rating: 4.5/5


The Goldfinch

A boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Another cracker, this one adapted from the novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. The very same novel that’s been sitting on my shelf for three years, completely untouched.

I found this one pretty interesting with a stellar cast, including Kidman, Sarah Paulson and the beautiful Jeffrey Wright – but I think it belongs to the kid actors. Fegley is really compelling to watch while Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard brings the cool humour – and simultaneously reminds me of my step son, which makes me warm to him even more.

The story itself is a sad one but trauma’s never looked so good against the stunning backdrop of NYC/Amsterdam/uh, Nevada – I’m looking forward to finally picking up the book to compare the two.

Film details: Oakes Fegley, Ansel Elgort, Nicole KidmanJohn Crowley
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 • My Rating: 4/5

Joker

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”

The big boy of the list and probably the most controversial film of the year, for good reason. Honestly, it’s not often a film lives up to hype but this is a masterpiece. Obviously Phoenix brings his A game to the role but more than that he physically inhabits it – and I’m afraid there isn’t a moment I don’t feel sympathy for poor Arthur Fleck. Which in turn leaves me deeply conflicted.

Maybe I will branch off with a separate full review but really I’ve spoken about it so much already and I don’t think there’s much more I can bring to the table in terms of opinion. If you haven’t already, just watch the shit out of it. Please.

Film details: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie BeetzTodd Phillips
IMDB Rating: 9/10 • My Rating: 4.5/5

Judy

Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

*Minor spoilers*

Focusing on some of Garland’s lesser known history (to me anyway), Judy is a snapshot of her time in London, near destitute and struggling to cope with the demands of single-motherhood.

I grew up with Judy very firmly in my heart so this was a real treat for me. Zellweger absolutely smashes the role and honestly, I wasn’t expecting her to be this good. When she sung THAT song at the end I completely lost it. Like A Star is Born (2018) lost it. It’s very sad and the damage done to Judy by MGM and its studio head Louis. B. Mayer is shocking – not as shocking a losing the woman herself just six months after these concerts ended, aged 47.

Beyond SOTR, my favourite part is when Judy goes home with her superfans, two lovely gay gentlemen. When she sings Get Happy to Dan (Andy Nyman), that was my cue.

Lovely.

Film details: Renée Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn WittrockRupert Goold
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 • My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

Ladies in Black

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Madeleine St John, Ladies in Black is an alluring and tender-hearted comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney.

Ladies in Black

Sydney, 1959. A time of change, and opportunity.

*Spoilers*

My Review

Centering around a Sydney department store in the late 50’s, Ladies in Black follows the lives of a handful of employees as they deal with marriage issues, further education and matters of the heart.

Lesley (or Lisa as she prefers to be known) is hired as a temporary sales assistant at Goode’s over the Christmas period. A smart cookie, she has aspirations of smashing her exams and getting a scholarship to her chosen university. She and her mum just have to be careful around her father who can be difficult, and is certainly not your most open-minded of blokes. In fact, he just can’t get his head around why a woman would need advanced education at all.

Lisa (Rice) quickly makes friends with Fay (who’s a little narrow-minded herself), Patty (Alison McGirr) and Slovenian Magda (Ormond), who owns a little designer boutique within the store. Lisa falls in love with the beautiful gowns Magda peddles, in particular a dress that nobody seems to want to buy. Increasingly marked down in price, Lisa is waiting for the day she can actually stretch to it herself.

Patty struggles to get her husband to pay attention to her so one day buys a sexy pink nightgown to seduce him, which goes down exceedingly well. So well, in fact that he freaks out and leaves her for the season, without a word. Meanwhile, Magda takes Lisa under her stylish wing and introduces her to all her continental pals.

One of those pals is Rudi, a Hungarian immigrant looking for an Australian wife. Initially he asks Magda if she knows anybody, which she says she doesn’t but Lisa suggests Fay (Taylor) might be the perfect fit. So Fay finds herself romanced by the handsome Hungarian with the intense life stories.

Lisa of course does better than anyone imagined in her final exams and easily gets into Sydney University, though Dad is still on the fence about granting his permission. Encouraged by Lisa’s new European friends, her mother starts introducing more exotic fare into her husband’s diet and it seems to be broadening the man’s mind. When Lisa’s family finally meet Magda, Lisa’s dad and Magda’s husband get on like a house on fire.

Patty’s husband finally comes home and Rudi pops a serious question to Fay, who was once rather snooty about immigrants. What’s her opinion now, I wonder?

And what about Lisa’s dream dress? Is it meant to be for the pair of them?

My Comments

This is a nice film with good performances and a lovely vintage aesthetic. I won’t think of it again though, it just didn’t have the oomph I hoped for. I really enjoyed Lisa’s segment. She fully believes in her own potential and bloody goes for it, despite her father’s lack of understanding. The final scene, in which she celebrates her success and ponders what she’ll become one day – actress, poet, author or all three – is lovely.

But the rest of it is all quite meh. Fay gets engaged and immediately hands in her notice at the store because I guess women in the 50’s didn’t work and plan weddings/be wives. Which is sad. The tagline promises new opportunities and yes, it’s cute that she loves her fiance but there’s more to life than just the endgame of marriage, isn’t there? Though I guess true feminism is about choice and she makes hers.

As for Patty’s husband’s reason for skipping town, well that just seems ridiculous to me – honestly, it makes zero sense. He has a meltdown because they had passionate sex one night? I honestly thought they were leading up to him being gay so the big reveal was a bit confusing.

The stand out is definitely Julia Ormond as Magda but even she doesn’t get my pulse racing in this pretty wholesome, not-bad-for-a-Sunday-afternoon-with-a-cuppa-drama. Maybe I’m just broken on account of all the twisted shit I prefer to watch on the regs?

Film details:

Starring: Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor
Director: Bruce Beresford
Year: 2018
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my lady in black think of this one? Would she ban it from attending university because it’s a woman or buy it a little apartment of its own? Read Jill’s much more considered review here.

Hustlers

Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

Hustlers

“This city, this whole country, is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money, and people doing the dance.” ~ Ramona

Inspired by a True Story

*Spoilers*

My Review

Destiny (Wu) is a mediocre stripper at best when she meets the legendary Ramona (JLo). When the pair meet on a rooftop late one night, Ramona graciously takes her under her chinchilla clad wing and agrees to show her a thing or two. The pair form a seemingly unshakeable bond which leads to a sassy double act that puts them both in an incredibly lucrative position.

Bouyed by the moves Ramona teaches her, Destiny is finally in a position to give her grandma the life she deserves. And although all Destiny really cares about is making Nana comfortable in her twilight years, she makes so much lovely money that she can afford to be a little bit extra. When she falls pregnant however, everything changes.

Losing contact with Ramona and her former lifestyle to become a mother takes its toll but when she hits rock bottom and bumps into her old friend again, it all comes back together. Ramona opens up her home to Destiny and her daughter – and things more or less return to normal. Until the great Wall Street crash.

In the wake of these tough times, the club becomes a ghost town and the girls are one by one replaced by a new breed of dancer. What are they to do when they’ve got bills to pay and kids to provide for?

Well, you kind of have an inkling of what comes next I imagine, given the trailer for this movie and the synopsis above. Ramona and two of her colleagues, Mercedes (Keke Palmer) and Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) cook up a scheme to bring more business through the strip club doors. They’ll drug their most obnoxious clients and rinse them for all they’re worth. They bring in Destiny and the outfit is pretty darn slick. Especially since the ‘victims’ can hardly go to the police, even if they do suspect something’s amiss.

“We’re a family now. A family with money!” ~ Ramona

Everything is rosy until they bring in outside help, jealousies arise and the workmanship gets sloppy. Destiny suffers a massive loss and the friendship is rocked when the law comes knocking. Is there any way back to the glory days? More importantly, is there any way back for the girls?

My Comments

I loved this. The rise and fall of the central characters is fascinating and it tells the true crime story in an effective way. I bought the friendship between Destiny and Ramona, which is more or less an unconventional love story. And despite their hurdles, despite their differences – I believe the love never died.

The movies is quite balanced in the sense that on one hand it justifies the actions of the women – who begin with only targeting their really disgusting clients – but on the other, lets us in on the consequences of their actions. One particular victim is pretty tragic and it is only when we meet him that I started to consider what they’re doing is very wrong. Also, I guess you can’t go round drugging people either, even the creeps.

The whole story unravels via an interview with journalist Elizabeth (Stiles) who has visited Destiny after the events are done and dusted. As her Dictaphone runs, so does D’s mouth as she tells her side of the story. But there’s sadness there and unfinished business – and it is very touching.

There’s an art house feel to Hustlers, the performances are top notch, the male characters are all secondary and it’s a lot of fun. The cameos are delicious, with an impressive turn from Cardi B and Queen of the moment, Lizzo – and Jennifer Lopez has never looked better. Sure, it’s no Showgirls but we all know nothing is.

Film details:

Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10
My Rating: 4.5/5

What are you watching?

Handsome Devil

A heartwarming tale of owning who you truly are this week – by way of an Irish boarding school and loads of rugby.

Handsome Devil

Ned and Conor are forced to share a bedroom at their boarding school. The loner and the star athlete at this rugby-mad school form an unlikely friendship until it’s tested by the authorities.

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Ned is something of a loner at school. All but abandoned by his father (O’Hanlon) – who has married a much younger women following the death of Ned’s mother – he’s dumped unceremoniously at boarding school for the new term while they fuck off to Dubai.

Bullied by the rugby team and head wanker Weasel (Ruairi O’Connor), Ned finds comfort in music and staying out of the way. When enigmatic (and quite beautiful) Conor Masters (Nicholas Galitzine) shows up to share Ned’s personal space, things take a turn. A rugby star at his old school, Conor was expelled for excessive fighting but his new team are all over him, eager to start winning their games again. He is heavily persuaded to stay away from Ned though, who is gay. Because gay equals infectious, obvs.

At the same time intriguing new English teacher Mr Sherry (Fleabag 2’s Andrew Scott) shows up to replace the last one, who has just pegged it. Mr Sherry is a tough nut who actually expects authenticity from his students. Ned likes him immediately but is called out in front of everyone when he tries to pass off somebody else’s work as his own. Naughty.

And, despite the initial cool temperatures in Ned and Conor’s dorm room, the pair start to bond. Both share a love of music – and Mr Sherry convinces them to enter a talent contest at the local girl’s school. The pair will perform an acoustic song together.

When Ned secretly witnesses Conor going into a gay bar one evening, he realises they have more in common than he thought. In the same location, Conor learns that he shares something in common with Mr Sherry, who is spotted being affectionate with his ‘friend’. On the way home the pair agree not to talk of this for their own reasons.

Alas, the rugby coach isn’t having Conor’s interest taken away from the main event – so he has one of the boys do a little digging into why their star player was expelled. When Conor is given an ultimatum – ditch the music and Ned for rugby glory – his actions aren’t all that surprising.

Ned is crushed and back to being bullied. When he lashes out at Conor for ‘getting away with being gay’ while he is punished – he instantly regrets it. Can he make it up to his only friend? And as for Conor, can he have rugby and be himself after all?

We’ll see.

My Comments

This is a nice film with nice messaging. The performances are lovely and it’s a good story. There’s not much more to say about it. Despite the rage, the homophobia and the punched noses on the rugby pitch, it’s gentle and heartwarming – and my favourite bit is when Mr Sherry introduces his boyfriend to the school’s headmaster.

This isn’t a love story, it’s a story about friendship and yes, speaking in your own voice, whatever you have to say.

Film details:

Starring: Fionn O’Shea, Ardal O’Hanlon, Amy Huberman
Director: John Butler
Year: 2016
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my wife think of Handsome Devil? Would she punch it in the face on the battlefield or out it in school assembly? Find out here.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

I’ve slept on this review because I just haven’t been sure about what to say. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this movie experience, quite the opposite. It’s by one of my favourite directors* so there’s a lot to love and I did enjoy it overall, I think it’s just that – there’s a lot to unpack.

All I’m really sure about is that I need another viewing STAT and next time probably in the comfort of my own home. Without two drunk Aussies sitting directly in front of me waving their arms about.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

The 9th Film from Quentin Tarantino.

*Spoiler*

My Review

Ageing movie and now TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is having a crisis of career confidence. Relegated to bad guy of the week guest spots, he’s reluctant to take his seasoned talent to Italy’s spaghetti westerns as suggested by big shot casting agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino). His long time stunt double and now personal assistant Cliff Booth (Pitt) drives him around wherever he needs to go and that’s about it. When Dalton gets him a stunt gig on his latest project, Booth fucks it up by beating up the talent. The talent being one Bruce Lee (Mike Moh).

This leaves Booth at a loose end so it’s no wonder he ends up in the company of a prepubescent hippie girl at Spahn Ranch, home of the Manson Family. Meanwhile, Dalton’s next door neighbour, rising star Sharon Tate (Robbie) is on her own journey.

On the surface of it, that’s about it – except that we’re all familiar with the story of the Tate murders and this adds to the ambience. Plus its a QT movie so that’s never just it. As Robbie’s luminous Tate lights up the screen it’s with trepidation that we following her arc – knowing how it all ends. I honestly didn’t know what to expect or where they were going with the Manson connection and although the outcome was deeply satisfying, I’m still a little on the fence. Maybe because this isn’t the first film I’ve watched lately that tries to re-imagine that fateful night – The Haunting of Sharon Tate literally sets her up as a psychic who saves them all just in the nick of time.

OUATIH is infinitely better than the above-mentioned Hilary Duff vehicle obviously but I can’t help it coming to mind in relation. I’m also happy I finished Helter Skelter when I did. Spahn Ranch and the girls were exactly as I pictured them. While this Hollywood homage isn’t quite as steeped in QT’s signature flourishes, he does capture the essence of actually being there.

The performances are top notch, DiCaprio rarely gets it wrong but he’s absolutely brilliant as washed up Rick Dalton. Brad Pitt too plays his part with relish. Booth is an enigma really, followed through Hollywood by the rumour that he murdered his own wife but, apart from a brief flashback, we never find out more. This is clever on the director’s part as we never really know where we are with the seemingly good Booth. What matters here though is the friendship between the two male leads – and their chemistry is really something.

“Hey! You’re Rick fucking Dalton. Don’t you forget it.” ~ Cliff Booth

Some of my favourite scenes are between child actress Trudi (Julia Butters) and Dalton. I can’t understand how a kid can be that accomplished yet believable an actress but she’s incredible. She’s a little Margot Robbie in training.

“It’s official, old buddy. I’m a has-been” ~ Rick Dalton

My Comments

All of the above but also, I enjoyed the inclusion of the real Sharon Tate on the cinema screen when our Tate goes to watch herself. It was poignant and sad, Tate being such a sympathetic beauty by default. When I first watched this I thought anyone could have played Tate but I was wrong. Lovely Margot Robbie is so effervescent and gorgeous, she absolutely nails the sixties zeitgeist.

Like most people I’m more than a little interested in True Crime, so I was mostly here for Charles Manson, the central performances and because I can’t imagine not being intrigued about what Tarantino does next. Interestingly, Manson is only spied once for just a moment and this only adds to his mystique. The Family, more or less run in Manson’s absence by Gypsy (Lena Dunham), are intriguing enough in their own right. Booth’s meeting with George Spahn (Bruce Dern), under the watchful eye of Squeaky (Dakota Fanning) is very tense but hilarious.

Finally, while the climax is shocking in its sheer violence – even by my standards – now I’ve had a chance to sit with it, I kind of love the concept of a moment in time changing history forever. It ends on a hopeful note and that is kind of beautiful.

Shit, turns out maybe I loved it more than I originally thought.

Film details:

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
My Rating:
4/5

What are you watching?

*Problematic fave

Valley of the Dolls

This week we hang out with three show-business babes, all with very real issues. I read the book a long, long time ago when I was travelling and was really into the sixties vibe. Since then this movie has been kicking around on my wish list and I can’t believe it’s only now I’m finally committing to it.

Film version of Jacqueline Susann‘s best-selling novel chronicling the rise and fall of three young women in show business.

Barbara ParkinsPatty DukeSharon Tate

Dolls to put you to sleep at night, kick you awake in the morning, make life seem great – instant love, instant excitement, ultimate hell!

*Minor spoilers/TW: suicide*

Valley of the Dolls follows the rise and fall of three best friends, Anne Welles (Perkins), Neely O’Hara (Duke) and Jennifer North (Sharon Tate). Anne is new to NYC, having left the bosom of New England for a job as a secretary. Her boss is a theatrical lawyer which seems potentially fortuitous but for now affords her the opportunity to accompany him to his show business appointments.

One of her first experiences is meeting the diva Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), a legendary actress and performer. She’s there in fact, when plucky talent Neely is fired by a jealous Lawson. Ms Lawson is not having anyone threaten top billing on her show of all things. Luckily, the firm’s attorney Lyon Burke helps Neely get work and she swiftly becomes a rising Hollywood star. Neely and Anne also become firm friends – and Jennifer, another actress of limited talent makes three.

The young women share their experiences as their stars ascend – and men come in and out of their lives. Anne herself is having a relationship with the not very nice Lyon and is driven to drugs to deal with his affairs. Neely is a wild card who starts to display erratic and brattish behaviour, the more famous she gets. Her drug use drives a wedge between her and her husband, Mel and she has an ill-advised affair with a fashion designer.

Jennifer meanwhile, follows Neely to Hollywood and meets sexy nightclub crooner Tony Polar, whom she marries quickly and then gets preggo. Unfortunately, Tony falls ill and his domineering sister Miriam reveals that he has a nasty hereditary condition. His mental and physical health takes a nosedive and he’s sent to a sanitarium to rest. Funnily enough this is the same institution that Neely is sent to to dry out. When they bump into each other, the pair share a sweet moment in the common room – and Neely is inspired to get better – and get her career back on track.

Alas, Jennifer starts to crack under the pressure put upon her by her own mother – and this situation with her husband. Fearing for the safety of their unborn child, she has an abortion. She also takes some work in some French “art films” to keep the money coming in. When she’s diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s the last straw and rather than turn to her mum – who’s outraged about what her friends will think of Jen’s soft-core porn career – she takes tragic action.

I have to get up at five o’clock in the morning and SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE! ~ Neely O’Hara

Neely has an affair with Lyon, yes the same Lyon that was also seeing Anne – and has a cat fight with Helen Lawson which I enjoyed immensely. When she hits rock bottom a second time, who will be there to help her up? And what will become of pretty Anne? When she quits the dolls and leaves New York for a quieter pace of life, things start to look up again. Will she give it all up for cheating Lyon, who chases her down to propose to her?

Well, I like the ending of this film but I felt very sad about Jennifer’s story line. Maybe it’s because of who plays her, I’ve never seen Sharon Tate in the flesh in an acting role and it’s kind of hard to look at her. Jennifer’s pure heart makes her vulnerable and her own admission that without her body she’s nothing is heartbreaking but also kind of true by Hollywood standards. The plot cuts her absolutely no slack and I’m furious about it. I wanted her to have the happiest ending of all.

All the women are great though. I have to admit that I had severe white man blindness throughout this movie – all the husbands and lovers looked identical to me. As a result I didn’t follow who was who as closely as I should have. Honestly, while there are choice moments and the central performances are good, this is quite a long movie and it’s boring in places. However, it’s sixties aesthetic is chic as fuck and I’m going to stockpile black kohl tomorrow, let me assure you.

As for the feminist angle, I guess it is a pretty interesting study of three different types of women. Anne is liberated sexually and not after a husband thanks, while Neely finds her validation in the attention of men. In turn, Jennifer is the epitome of femininity but struggling to find her more than. If she’s reduced to just being a gorgeous body and then loses that – what the hell does she have left?

Again I wish I’d been more into this, as it is I’m glad I’ve seen it now and I’ll probably think of the girls fondly but it’s not life-changing.

Film details:

Valley of the Dolls
Year: 1967
Director: Mark Robson
IMDB Rating: 6/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my living doll think of the Dolls? Would she chase them down with a hearty gulp or go cold turkey? Find out here.

Two Brilliant TV Shows

I’ve been so good at regularly posting here so I thought I’d keep up momentum and talk about a couple of things I’ve been watching lately. One sexy thriller with two feisty leads, one horribly unsettling interpretation of what could happen to the country if we’re not careful – and both currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

*Minor spoilers*

Killing Eve (2018-2019)

After a series of events, the lives of a security operative and an assassin become inextricably linked.

KE is everywhere at the moment because Season 2 has just been released – and I’ve just rinsed all of it in about three days. It’s just highly watchable – and its leads are life itself.

In fact, both women have always been high on the list. Sandra Oh has been a dream always – while Jodie Comer has been impressive in both My Mad Fat Diary and Doctor Foster. As Villanelle the Assassin, she’s just so much FUN. I don’t want to give anything away but I just enjoyed myself so much.

As Villanelle and Eve’s lives become more and more entwined, the attraction between them grows. The easily bored V likes attention, high-drama and even higher-end fashion, while Eve has an unhealthy obsession with female assassins. While hot on the heels of Villanelle, who has done a lot to gain Eve’s full attention – and killed a lot of people – our operative risks everything; her marriage, her sanity – her job – just to see this through to the end.

It all comes to a head in Season 1 – and then kicks off again right away in Season 2. Is Eve all that different from Villanelle really? And what is this toxic infatuation that keeps them not quite together? The fact they’re now sort of working together doesn’t help abate the obsession TBH. Supporting characters Carolyn, Kenny and sexy Konstantin are all great too.

While Season 1 was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the second is not – and I think if you really examine it, you can tell the difference. It’s still excellent television though and V still has the gumption to shock us (and Eve) when she feels like it. I have no idea where we go from here but the BBC has just announced a third series – so BRING. IT. THE. FUCK. ON!

Years and Years (2019)

The show follows a busy family from Manchester with their lives converging on one crucial night in 2019.

Russell Tovey, Emma Thompson and Jessica Hynes lead this compelling BBC drama which follows the lives of a family as they navigate the world following a dramatic – and truly terrifying night in 2019.

While I’m only three episodes in, I am fully invested in the Lyons’ and their everyday existence. Edith (Hynes) is a political activist living with the fallout of that aforementioned night while Daniel is fighting for asylum for his boyfriend Viktor, a Ukrainian refugee. Meanwhile, Celeste and husband Steven are being forced to downsize to save money. Their daughter Bethany has just come out as trans-human and is searching for a way to download her consciousness to ‘the cloud’, and ditch her body. Things are about to get a whole lot more challenging for Stephen and co too, as the banks start to topple like dominos and they lose almost everything.

In contrast, controversial politician Vivienne Rook (Thompson) is doing pretty well. Vowing to actually DO SOMETHING about the country, she’s attracting followers in their droves – including, surprisingly, sisters Rosie and Edith Lyons.

And that’s just about where I had to pause it this morning. All I know from here is that my friend Helen messaged me about episode 4 saying she hasn’t been able to get over it- and I’ll be on that one soon. I’ll be smashing the rest of it over the end of this week – and trying not to freak out as it shows us things that surely can’t be that fair outside the realms of horrifying possibility.

EEK.

What are you watching?

The Perfection

Ummmmmmmmmm. I have A LOT of thoughts about this movie, though it will be really hard to explain it – because it is one of the weirdest rides I’ve ever been on. I think maybe going into the movie with no idea what you’re in for would be the best way to enjoy it – so maybe hold off this review until you’ve seen it? Your call obviously.

When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte seeks out Elizabeth, the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.

Allison WilliamsLogan Browning

*Spoilers*

Charlotte (Williams) is a supernaturally talented cellist, forced to leave the prestigious Bachoff music academy to become a carer for her terminally-ill mother. When her mum passes away a decade later, Charlotte gets in touch with Anton (Steven Weber), the academy’s director. She’s invited to join him and his wife Paloma (Alaina Huffman) in Shanghai, where they are selecting their next musical prodigy.

Here she meets Elizabeth Wells (Browning), Anton’s star pupil and Charlotte’s replacement. Lizzie is, of course, an incredible talent and has already achieved enviable international success – but she’s also really cool. The girls hit it off and soon become very close. Very close indeed.

That night they end up in bed and Charlotte admits that Lizzie is the first person she’s ever been with, what with all the caring she’s been doing throughout her adolescence. Lizzie has decided to take some time off from music for once in her life and plans to do some travelling around China. It makes sense that she invites her new friend…

So the girls jump on a rickety old bus into the middle of nowhere, despite the fact that Lizzie is nursing the hangover from hell. Luckily, Charlotte is on hand to administer Ibuprofen and water every four hours.

When the pills don’t make Lizzie feel any better it becomes clear that there’s something very seriously wrong with her…

Honestly, from the bus ride onwards, all bets are off in this truly bonkers, grimy, fucked up masterpiece. I say this with love – the movie is one of the most bizarre I’ve seen in a long time and I loved every trashy moment. Just as you think you’re getting to grips with what the fuck is going on – you’re wrong. So very wrong.

I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say, if you have the instinct that Charlotte can’t be trusted then you’re onto something – or are you? As this whole tale pans out, nobody seems to be who they say there are – least of all Anton and Paloma – and Bachoff might just be a front for something other than nurturing the musical talent of tomorrow.

There are some grisly horror moments that work very well indeed, and are somewhat unexpected – and there’s a really jarring stop-rewind-play plot device that didn’t work for me but adds to the melodramatic tone.

It’s a rip-roaring, crazy, limb flying, stomach churning adventure for which you’re going to have to suspend your disbelief – but hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. That climax though – the last shot is, well, perfection.

WTAF.

Film details:

The Perfection
Year: 2018
Director: Richard Shepard
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot

We’re back on our bullshit with a Free-for-all month, which if I’m honest is kind of my favourite theme outside of Halloween. This week we spend 90 minutes (and a bit) with one of the most elegant men in cinematic history.

A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

Sam ElliottAidan TurnerCaitlin FitzGeraldLarry Miller

*Spoilers*

Calvin Barr (Elliott) is living out his twilight years in modest surroundings. With his faithful hound in tow, he’s getting by but also feeling his age.

Via the medium of flashback we learn that the young Calvin (Turner) was once the handsome beau of Maxine (FitzGerald), until he was called away to war. Undercover as a Nazi, Calvin was the man who put a bullet in Adolf Hitler’s head. Since it was a secret mission, the government covered it up – and history played out as we know it now.

Unfortunately, as Calvin recounts later, the assassination didn’t stop the Nazi agenda and he became a murderer for nothing. The FBI know who he is though and this is an important point for later on.

In present time, our boy still has the moves – as he fends off a group of muggers when they try to take his car. He’s also being tailed by a couple of mysterious men. So life’s not all dull.

As Calvin laments his lost love and we find out more about their love story via his memory bank, it seems the world isn’t done with him yet. The American and Canadian FBI to be exact want him for one last job – to kill a disease-ridden Bigfoot before he infects more people and causes the destruction of all humankind.

Right.

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There’s a lot about this film that just seems incredibly pointless. When Jill suggested it, I assumed from the title that I was in for a B-movie/exploitation adventure. While this is quite the bizarre premise, it’s also very slow and ponderous. I don’t mind that but this film has a fucking Yeti in it and somehow just doesn’t come through.

If anyone but my love Elliott was playing Calvin, I don’t think it would have worked as well. He manages to portray a vulnerability that breaks your heart at the same time as being a total badass. That wry smile of his gets me everytime.

Obviously Aidan Turner is a total piece as the young protagonist who just wants to propose to Maxine. Alas, duty calls and it keeps the young lovers apart, as it turns out, forever. I also enjoy the scenes between Calvin and his younger brother Ed (Miller), who never really had a traditional relationship but are working on it now.

I have to admit that the Yeti bit is fun but it’s a little random. It doesn’t really have any bearing on the story – and at the end, Calvin is presumed dead and there’s a funeral. I can’t work out why they thought he was dead unless he wanted them to – and then he comes back…

Anyway, I didn’t hate this, it just wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

Film details:

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot
Year: 2018
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my queen think of this one? Would change history by murdering it or let it live in the wilds of North America instead? Find out here.