Tag Archives: Female Director

Little

She woke up like This.

Little (2019)

A woman is transformed into her younger self at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear.

Starring: Regina Hall • Issa Rae • Marsai Martin

*Minor spoilers*

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Blessed image

A modern day, female-centric Big? You got me. This is a fun concept and it stars Insecure’s creator Issa Rae – what else do I need?

Sure it doesn’t have any real surprises but it does also have Regina Hill as ‘big’ Jordan Sanders running around being a complete bitch. It’s horrible obviously but also comedy gold.

When she pisses off the wrong person, Jordan finds herself cut down to size. Literally. Waking up the morning after as her pre-teen self, she is forced to bring reluctant assistant April Williams (Rae) in on the tee – that she’s half the woman she was the day before (in stature anyway).

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“One Venti cup of steaming bitch juice. STAT.”

Through a comedy of errors, Jordan finds herself back in school and April running Jordan’s high-flying company, which is at risk of going under if they can’t impress their biggest client with a new product. What japes!

Well, you can already guess how this will pan out but sometimes there is comfort in that and I did find it funny. Little is written and directed by Tina Gordon, a WOC and you can tell. While she hasn’t done masses yet, I am looking forward to seeing more from her.

Meanwhile, Issa Rae is a dream to watch on the screen, and both her and Hall are actresses I want to see way more in film and TV. Hall’s mega bitch Jordan is deliciously bad, having formed this persona after high school to ensure she never gets bullied again.

Bag ladies but in like, the best way

Special shout out to the true star of the film, little Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) who knocks her part out of the ballpark. She’s all sass and rocks her scenes, particularly in the classroom (her flirt-fest with her highly reluctant teacher – played by Justin Hartley – is a scream). And she’s never better than when she’s sticking up for her underdog new friends – who are also totally adorable.

This is a film about black girl magic, female friendship – and opening yourself up to the best things in life, like well, magic and female friendship.

And I appreciate it for that.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 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.

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

And Breathe Normally

Lesbians in Iceland! Sort of. Maybe not as cheerful as that, sadly. However, Free for All Month focusses itself this week on a subtle examination of poverty, homelessness and the search for asylum. It’s bleak AF frankly but kind of sort of beautiful.

And Breathe Normally (2018), or Andið eðlilega (original title)

Two women, Lára (Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir) and Adja (Babetida Sadjo) find their lives and troubles colliding in this slow but impactful film.

Lára, an apparent former addict and her son Eldar (Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson) are on the verge of hitting rock bottom. Things are shaky as we meet them but when the pair are evicted (along with their new rescue cat), they find themselves sleeping in the car and eating free supermarket samples for dinner.

Lára manages to dress this up as an adventure to Eldar who is remarkably chill for a kid and actually, is quite sweet. Lára isn’t jobless though, she’s a trainee Immigration Officer trying to become permanent and you get the impression there’s quite a lot of competition for a job like this. Accordingly she is very thorough, so when Adja comes through passport control on her way to North America with a dodgy passport, Lára clocks it – and so begins Adja’s personal hell.

Adja it turns out is seeking asylum from her country Guinea-Bissau and is travelling with her sister and young daughter, both of who get through security and arrive at their intended destination: Canada. When she is detained, Adja claims to be travelling alone and although Lára realises otherwise, she keeps schtum. Unfortunately for Lára, she is rewarded for her eagle-eyed skills by being permitted to sit in on the initial interview with Adja. Which is all kinds of awkward.

Adja is send to a half-way house with the threat of deportation hanging over her. The refugee center isn’t great and is filled with people in similar situations. Adja witnesses one of the tenants being forcibly removed by Immigration in the middle of the night and this understandably freaks her the fuck out.

One day by chance, the two women find their lives entwined once more. Adja meets Eldar when his cat runs away – and off the back of this Lára is forced to show her kindness. This is not something she lacks, it’s just that Lára is very conscious of the consequences her actions have had for Adja. Gradually though Adja twigs that the duo have their own issues and offers them shelter in her tiny, temporary room. She also offers to babysit Eldar while Lára goes to work. This is something that seems to bring her comfort in light of being separated from her daughter, who she can only chat to on the communal payphone.

Eldar and Adja bond and it is through this interaction that we get a little insight into Adja’s life. During a conversation with her legal support, we learn she is fleeing her country because of her sexuality. With Eldar she opens up about her ‘friendship’ with her lover, who seems not to be with us anymore. While there are hints of trauma in both the women’s lives, the film does not fully go in on them and somehow the simple suggestion of them feels worse.

In the end, a decision is made about Adja’s future and she is forced to consider some very drastic action. Luckily for her she now has a new friend to look out for her – and I’m sorry but the ending of this film made me feel all the feels. These women deserve better than the hands they were dealt and hopefully, they both finally get it.

While it is bleak and cold to look at (lots of frosty tarmac surrounding the airport Lára works in), the performances are great and it is a nice story. It’s proof that you never really know what other people are going through until they show you.

The men in this movie are mostly secondary, with the exception of Eldar and I like that. Lára’s bosses are largely unsmiling and authoritative, while Adja’s fellow (male) residents are portrayed (unfairly?) as people doing what they need to do to survive (e.g. wheeling n’ dealing). At one point Adja is approached and offered sex work. But this is about the struggle and these women find common ground in one another without the usual cliché of your typical odd-couple pairing.

“Get in bitch, we’re going shopping…”

Lára is also gay and our protagonists are not thrown together sexually for the titillation of the viewer and I’m here for that (I’m also here for titillation but you know what I mean). It’s no surprise that this was written and directed by a woman, Isold Uggadottir. In her hands it is a thoughtful study on immigration and more importantly, it humanises both sides of the coin. Refugees are people with lives and loves who don’t deserve the negativity they receive, particularly in the press (shock horror!) and Lára is a human being too, just trying to do the right fucking thing.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my beloved think of And Breathe Normally? Would she deport it from her memory right away or help it escape its own nightmare? Find out here.

Patchwork (Film) Review

Horror month rumbles on and I for one am as happy as a clam about it. This month is something of a mish mash of horror ideas which is ironic given the premise. Shall we?

Patchwork (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A bombastic throw-back horror-comedy that follows three young women who go out partying one night and find themselves Frankensteined together in one body. Now they must put aside their differences so they can find who did this and exact revenge!

My Review

Blimey. This week’s pick is not what you’d call a pretty picture – we do get three (sort of) Final Girls for the price of one though so I’m not really mad at it.

Jennifer (Tory Stolper), Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci) are three individual women. To start with. Via a series of flashbacks we learn that each were present in the same bar on the night they became one. Thanks to a maniacal gentleman known only as The Surgeon (Corey Sorenson), who splices them together in the same body, our trio are quickly and reluctantly acquainted.

All conscious and babbling at once, the girls share one body and three minds which proves challenging but also fucking awesome when they pool their skills to solve the mystery of what happened to them.

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We’ve all been there, amirite?

Jennifer is a billy no mates who, after a lack luster birthday party returns home to wait for her married lover. Here she is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, she’s not alone. She is joined by ditzy party girl Ellie and quiet girl Madeleine – as mentioned above, in the same mangled body.

Luckily, all three are on the same page regarding vengeance and the film is at its best when they go on a rampage for the truth, revenge and hopefully, a cure. Along the way they meet geeky Garret (James Phelps) who may have a big thing for bitchy Jennifer, and scene by scene they kick arse and take names (because even if half the men in this bar are not The Surgeon, they are THE WORST and therefore guilty of something).

Jellileine (lol) dispose of date rapists and pervs, cheats and generally douchy arseholes like pros – which is joyful because girl power but also… is there a secret lurking deep down within one of them?

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You’ve got red on you

My Thoughts

When we learn more about the motivations of one of our heroines I felt like it was trying to say something about the societal pressure of being a woman and trying to be perfect, but that falls apart for me quickly.

This film tries so hard to be kooky and falls short. It could be great if they dialed down the hamminess and stuck with the feminist theme. I enjoy the fact that each of the women has their own issues and when they start to bond it made me happy, like they’d finally found each other. But that feeling didn’t last long and I got bored quickly.

All the male characters are dreary and terrible – and this is proof that yet again comedy/body horror is so hard to get right. Which is shame because I really wanted to like it.

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Where’s your head at?

My Rating

2.5/5. A mish mash of ideas that never really come to anything, sadly.

What would my sweet think of this one? Would she surgically attach herself to it forever or… not so much? Find out here.

Bar Bahar or In Between (Film) Review

Fuck knows what our theme is anymore but who cares because next week we start the best month of the year: Halloween! So there will be tonnes of movie nastiness all over the blogs soon – but let’s not jump the gun quite yet, as we sign off September with a feminist delight.

*Minor spoilers*
*TW: rape*

Bar Bahar (or In Between) (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

Three Palestinian women living in an apartment in Tel Aviv try to find a balance between traditional and modern culture.

My Review

Leila (Mouna Hawa) and Salma (Sana Jammelieh) are progressive Palestinian girls who live and party hard together. They also look fucking cool smoking all the time – add this film to the Hot Women Smoking Hall of Fame STAT.

When their old flat mate’s cousin Noor (Shaden Kanboura) comes to live with them, they are bemused by her traditional get up and values. Leila soon starts dating Ziad (Mahmud Shalaby) while Salma gets to know Dounia (Ahlam Canaan).

Smooookin’

Noor is also involved – she is engaged to controlling fiance Wissam (Henry Andrawes) who hates the fact she now resides in Tel Aviv and that she insists on getting a job after they’re married, rather than staying home, barefoot and pregnant as scripture recommends. A fucking dickhead in other words.

The women slowly start to bond, first Salma and Noor over a hypnotic dance party in the front room, then the three of them when something awful happens to Noor at the hand of the man who supposedly loves her. Let me tell you here that the scene in which the girls tend to and comfort Noor is extremely touching.

Wissam believe that Noor has been corrupted by her forward-thinking roomies and refers to them charmingly as whores. When they find out what he’s done to their friend, they hatch a plan to rid her of him once and for all – which is a relief because she has never loved him and seems to be coming round to a less-traditional way of thinking.

I haven’t love a trio this much since We Are The Best

While Noor tries to deal with the fall out of what Wissam has done to her, Salma struggles with her family’s attitude towards her sexuality – and Leila confronts Ziad who appears to be ashamed of her and reluctant to introduce her to his family. And all the while the women grow closer and make me fall in love with each of them a hundred times over.

Will each of our heroes chose the right path for themselves, despite the consequences they may face?

My Thoughts

Man, I really liked this. It starts of kind of slow and I wasn’t sure for a split second – but then the girls start to bond and it was game over for my heart. This is all about sisterhood despite their differences, despite their circumstances – proof that kindness towards our fellow sisters is universal and it’s beautiful.

“Hi, I’m looking for Seymour Butts…”

Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, it examines the contrast between traditional and modern cultures – and honestly, the men are so secondary in this – they’re just obstacles in our trio’s way.

That said when Noor calls off her wedding and comes clean to her dad, he’s a total sweetheart and tells her not to shed a tear on her horrible ex-fiance. That was a feeling moment too. I definitely recommend this, it was empowering and fun and lovely – now where’s my fucking sequel?

My Rating

4/5.

What did my angel think of this one? Would she dance in the front room with it or hide it from her family? Find out here.

Beach Rats (Film) Review

I’m beginning to think I should be banned from picking movies for the The Blog Collab because my last few have been ambulating snoozefests with a puffed up sense of their own importance. This week is no exception and even though you might be able to argue that it’s art, it’s not the kind of art I want any part in.

Gay July has been good in many ways but this is a wet fart of a swan song and I’m sorry, Jill.

Beach Rats (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

A Brooklyn teenager spends his days experimenting with drugs and looking online for older men to meet with.

My Review

If your bag is watching wayward teens wandering up and down the boulevard with their tops off then this is the movie for you. Unfortunately, these adolescents don’t get into enough japes to be interesting, instead they smoke weed and gawp at girls as they walk by and sometimes rib each other.

Frankie (Harris Dickinson) is one of the boys, a hot piece popular within a peer group that seems to look to him for leadership. By night he trawls gay chat rooms where he talks to older men. At first he says he doesn’t do any meeting up but this changes later in the movie.

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One evening on the boardwalk, Frankie meets Simone (Madeline Weinstein) who is only too eager to make him her guy. Things are very awkward between them from the start and he continually lets her down. To the men on the internet he is a guy who ‘has sex with men’, not bi-sexual or gay – but his family, friends and Simone have no inkling of his secret life.

Frankie prefers to keep the having sex with men part of his life separate from everything else and chooses older men so they are less likely to move in the same circles as his friends. As his ability to hide this part of himself starts to become increasingly difficult, his two worlds collide in a surprisingly lackluster but horrible way.

And… that’s about it.

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There’s not that much to say. The performances are fine, it looks nice with a pleasing aesthetic that focuses a lot of time grazing over the bodies of our teen cast. The ending is a little bit shocking and maybe on reflection more shocking because it’s so mundane in its execution. The only, and I pretty much mean the only part I thought was even mildly touching was the bit where Frankie’s mum begs him to tell her what’s going on after the ‘horrible act’ has happened.

There are shades of Harmony Korine (especially Kids) which I think are very deliberate but not much effort been made to make us like any of the characters. I simply didn’t care about Frankie and his struggles. I was bored silly.

Roll on August!

My Rating

2/5.

What does my love think of this one? Would she mug it for weed or take it for a moonlight stroll? Find out here.