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
Both Jill and I have been surprised by how lack-luster our choices have been so far this Feminist February, so I wanted to go for something I knew would be guaranteed fun. How can it not be with this cast? Plus, although I don’t always appreciate Ellen Page in her movies, I like her politics in the real world – so I chose this also because of that. Plus DREW BARRYMORE.
Whip It (2009)
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a teenage misfit in the small town of Bodeen, Texas. Pushed into local pageant life by her former-beauty queen mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden), she is expected to conform to certain ladylike ideals. When she rocks up to one of the competitions with blue hair, Brooke is suitably disappointed.
Bliss’ heart just isn’t really in it, you know? She feels stifled by small town life. Luckily she has a cool best friend in the shape of Pash (Alia Shawkat), who is all too willing to be roped into side adventures. The pair also work together at The Oink Joint where the specialty is something called “the Squealer”.
During a shopping trip with Brooke to Austin, Bliss sees a couple of derby girls handing out flyers. Under the guise of going to see a football game, she and Pash go back to Austin on their own to witness the derby for themselves. During the show the Holy Rollers defeat the Hurl Scouts and Bliss falls in love with the sport.
After the show she meets Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) who persuades her to come to the next team try out. Lying about her age, she does and – lo! – discovers she has natural agility on the rink. Unfortunately her skill also catches the attention of mean girl Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) who’s naturally threatened by this new kid on the block (I feel you girl). She also meets wannabe rock star Oliver (Landon Pigg) who quickly, and predictably becomes her love interest.
Bliss is forced to lie again when she tells Oliver she lives with roommates in Bodeen. The two quickly become an adorable couple but Bliss, now with the stage name Babe Ruthless, is heading for a fall. And exactly how long can she keep up this double life anyway?
Her parents think she’s signed up for extra SAT classes while Oliver thinks she’s an upwardly mobile badass of the world, something’s got to give, right? Well, when Maven gets her mitts on the truth, she has just the leverage to get Ruthless out of her life and off the team for good.
This is a lovely coming of age movie with a dream cast. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. She also plays Smashley Simpson and is the most accident prone of the group. Support includes Eve as Rosa Sparks, Ari Graynor as Eva Destruction and Zoë Bell as Bloody Holly.
I’m supposed to buy you shoes from a… a head shop? Does that really strike you as responsible parenting? ~ Brooke Cavendar
I really like this movie, which I have seen before. I was really happy to revisit it and I think what I enjoy most about it is the mother/daughter element. While Brooke projects her own issues onto her daughter, despite her obvious reluctance to be part of the pageant scene, it’s hard to watch. And when Brooke lashes out and disses the derby girls, despite their kindness towards Bliss, she’s lashing out at a different way to be a woman, one she just doesn’t understand.
This film does not rely on men, all the men are secondary, even Oliver who fucks up as soon as he goes on tour. He doesn’t break Bliss nor does he feature again once she’s burnt his jacket and told him she’s not going to be the girl hanging about waiting for him at home.
The derby girls are fucking great. While Maven is outwardly hostile she eventually gets over herself enough to admit why Babe sticks in her craw so much. But everybody else is welcoming and supportive, sticking two fingers up at the notion that women should always be competing. Sure, they are on the rink but beyond that, it’s a different take on a real and loving family.
This is wonderful sisters doing it for themselves stuff, it’s about following a dream, even if it’s just a dream for now. It’s about getting smashed in the face multiple times and getting back up. It’s about understanding your own needs and going out there and nourishing them. And it’s about looking fucking cool in knee pads.
I’m inspired to be more me when I think about it, even at this ripe age and although my answers probably won’t be found on the end of a pair of skates, it’s nice to know there might be something out there for me too.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What does my derby girl think of this one? Would she trip it violently or be on hand to patch it up, no questions asked? Find out here.
Feminist February continues with this Regina Hall-led movie about a Hooters-style sports bar and it’s staff and customers. Sounds pretty good, huh?
Support the Girls (2018)
Lisa (Hall) is general manager of a breastaurant called Double Whammies. Over the course of one patience-testing day, her eternal optimism’s challenged to the max.
Den mother to a collection of eccentric characters, including vivacious Maci (Haley Lu Richardson) and single-mother Danyelle (Shayna McHayle) – she is also deeply underappreciated by Whammie’s owner, Cubby (James Le Gros). Her boss is a racist pig-dog who doesn’t allow more than one African-American staff member on shift at any one time (or Latina, etc).
Despite continual threat of being fired, Lisa is dedicated to her job and to Whammies but more importantly to her girls, who she protects from inappropriate attention from the male patrons. She will do anything for them in fact, including raising money via a saucy car wash for one of the girls when she runs over her abusive boyfriend with her car.
Cubby is raging because a similarly-themed bar/restaurant called Mancave (pathetic) is just about to open round the corner. Positive-thinking Lisa tries to help him see that this could be a good thing but he’s not open to being swayed.
While Lisa handles Cubby and prepares Whammies for big game night – despite the fact that the cable is out and she’s in the midst of interviewing new recruits – she also has to take care of former employee Krista (!) (AJ Michalka), help struggling Danyelle and keep an eye out for Maci, who’s banging one of their much older customers. All this and her own relationship with husband Cameron which is strained to the point of trial separation.
When all this and more proves too much for our resilient girl, she decides to quit Whammies and go spend time with Cameron, despite the girls and the bar and all she’s put into it.
What will come of Lisa and her girls?
Well. I’ve been hearing good things about Support the Girls and it isn’t bad. It’s just not as fun as I expected it to be. It’s very low-key and real, like you’re sitting at a real bar listening to people with real issues and concerns.
It’s all about the women who work there and their respect for one another. Regina Hall is brilliant as always. Lisa is a lady who gets shit done while being continually shit upon by people (men) who should know better. To be honest I don’t really understand why Cubby is so down on her when she keeps the wheels of the bar so well oiled – because she is a woman and a WOC at that?
Most of the men aren’t that great. Lisa comes up against a rude biker patron who upsets one of her staff without hesitation (and police back up). Cubby obviously is an arse while Cameron has his own issues and seems unwilling to work at their marriage.
The movie is very quick to talk about fatness and that always puts me off. I can understand in an industry where looks matter so much being anything less that a perfect 10 could be a problem but I don’t want to hear it. It’s okay to be fat, you fuckers.
Anyway, the ending is empowered and testament to Lisa’s Whammies legacy. As the girls realise it’s going to be harder than they thought to get on without her, they take drastic action. And I love the cathartic closing scene very much.
⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What does my supportive girl think of this one? Would she throw a car wash for it or pull on a turtleneck instead? Find out here.
It’s Feminist Feb on the Collab, y’all and it’s pretty much my favourite month of any year apart from Halloween. This means lots of strong and courageous women being strong and courageous all over the place like goddamn Queens. Something I will always be here for.
Alas, I’m not sure about my first pick for February. It undoubtedly encompasses the spirit of this month, however it was also deeply dreary and for this I am sorry, Jill.
The Bookshop (2018)
Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) is a widow living in a small East Anglian village in 1959. Against all advice and perhaps common sense, she decides to open a bookshop on the high street. It’s a lovely notion but you get the idea that not many of the locals are big readers, with the exception of the reclusive Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy).
This doesn’t dissuade her from her #goals however and she’s even less inclined to give up when local lady, the politically connected Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) decides to start messing with her. Florence stands tall against an onslaught of annoying obstacles, all thrown her way by Violet who has her heart set on the old house-turned-bookshop. In Violet’s opinion, there are much better uses for the property than a lowly bookshop – namely an arts centre. You get the impression that V just wants to make life difficult for Florence and I can’t blame her, small time life seems rather dull.
Luckily, Florence finds an unlikely friend, cheerleader (and potential love interest?) in the gruff Mr Brundish. Brundish is a massive reader and Florence quickly gets into his good books (lolll) by sending him poetry and other assorted tomes. The two bond when Flo asks Brundish to read Lolita and tell her if it’s any good (spoiler: it is).
She wants to sell it in her shop but worries it might be too risqué for the villagers (spoiler: it does get her in trouble with Violet) . When Brundish invites Flo to tea, an invitation that V and her husband, the General have been vying for for years, their friendship grows. And so does V’s rage.
Brundish btw is the victim of village gossip, a widower (or is he?) who lost his wife in a variety of creative and brutal ways. Fortunately, Florence’s appearance in his life affords him the opportunity to be truthful about who he really is – and the real story ain’t half as fun.
I guess the main question here is: will the bookshop succeed?
Well, I love love love the premise and I love that this gives us a strong female protagonist of a different kind. She’s not a sassy, finger-clicking broad. She’s wall-flowery. However, she will not be moved and she’s not frightened to take on the glamorous (and bitchy) Violet, not for a minute. This examines a different type of strength, the quiet type that doesn’t feel the need to shout about it every five minutes. This is important. It also looks at female competition by pitting two very different women against one another.
Unfortunately, there was quite a lot about it that grated on my nerves. First off the narrator. I get what they were going for but for god’s sake can we not? Anyone viewing a movie like this probably has the basic grasp of narrative, so don’t bother. Florence is realllllllly boring, like she has no oomph and although I don’t doubt she’s strong at the core I do wish she had a little more personality (which might be contradictory to what I’ve just outlined above). I suppose this is a period piece so I can’t expect her to be going around sassing everyone out as it wasn’t the done thing in 50’s England but still. I would have liked her to be less of a wet blanket around her friends at least.
Bill Nighy’s character is sweet but I don’t buy the fact that Florence would be tempted to get romantically involved with him, even if he is Bill Nighy. There’s an awkward encounter on the beach and it was so cringey. There’s also not nearly enough of delicious Violet which smarts, frankly. Patricia Clarkson is an absolute legend.
There is interesting potential support in the form of Frances Barber and James Lance but I didn’t find myself getting attached to anyone. Something really dark happens which was emotional and even more emotional when Florence reacts to it but all in all this is just a very bland experience.
Christine (Honor Kneafsey), the child that Florence misguidedly hires to work in her shop is about the only character I thought had any chutzpah and maybe that’s because she does something absolutely crazy at the end of the film that I admire, in a Liza ‘Left-eye’ Lopez kind of way. The ending is actually very dramatic and it saves the movie for me.
Apart from all that I can definitely see myself running a bookshop somewhere remote. And you’re damn right I’d stock 250 copies of Lolita.
⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
What does my love think of this one? Is she a fan of The Bookshop or would she campaign to have it shut down using any means necessary? Find out here.
P.S. I’m told by a reliable source (Jill) that our FOUR YEAR Blog Collab anniversary comes up on the 16th of Feb. This is longer than most of my adult relationships and some of my friendships and I cannot believe it. To celebrate, I’ll write something but also, we’ll be returning to our original posting day of Sunday. Over the years due to other commitments (and sometimes, my laziness) we have put it back further and further. No more!
So I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do, and if not – it doesn’t matter one bit… because we love it.
I was going to gush about Kathleen Hanna in the intro to this review but every time I read it back I sounded like a school girl, and I! Just! Wanted! To! End! Every! Sentence! With! An! Exclamation! Point!
You see what I’m working with here? Though I think, pondering it, that is exactly how one of the co-founders of the Riot Grrrl movement should make you feel. Empowered, excitable, unafraid to feel the way you feel!
I love her. I do. I didn’t find her soon enough in life but I found her and that’s the main thing. Obviously, it’s never too late to be a Riot Grrrl and I’m convinced there are 40,000 different ways to be a Riot Grrrl (if not more) – but I think I might have been a different woman had I grown up kicking life in the face with my DMs.
Anyway, this wonderful documentary tells Kathleen’s story and throws in a lot of information I didn’t know, which kept it fresh and interesting at all times. I was honestly as happy as a clam throughout – it made me laugh, cry and pump my fist on more than one occasion.
I will say this is our first documentary so far in our Blog Collab so I’m not sure how this is going to go. Could be rocky, could be as fluid as Bailey’s running through a peep toe stiletto, we shall see.
I guess you should be prepared for *Spoilers* as with any review, you know just in case.
The Punk Singer (2013)
IMDB Synopsis: A look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s.
So you think you know Kathleen Hanna? I’m pretty sure I knew only the bare bones and this documentary has padded them out, offering me insight into an incredible character, one who has taken her voice and used it to empower a whole generation (and then some) of women.
Taking pain and trauma and turning it outward, refusing to be silenced for a second, Hanna became the poster girl for feminism, which you can imagine came with its own price.
We open with Hanna at a spoken word competition. She’s reciting a piece about rape and we later learn a little bit more about what influenced that. Hanna herself has been a victim of sexual abuse but often refers to other women’s experiences as far worse than her own.
Hanna receives a piece of advice that sees her move from spoken word poetry to punk rock, and she forms Bikini Kill with her college mates.
Bikini Kill was a band that kicked, screamed and refused to go quietly. Hanna commanded her stage, shouting for the men in her audiences to move to the back so the women could come to the front. She sang about abuse, incest, patriarchy, sexuality; drawing from personal experience and that of her sisters.
She also coined the phrase “Smells like teen spirit” and was best friends with Kurt Cobain, the only person she could turn to when she was sexually harassed by a man (who else). Since she was fast becoming the very voice of feminism, she felt she couldn’t seek help for this situation and Kurt helped and believed in her.
Not wanting to ask for help seems to be common theme running throughout this documentary and comes back to Hanna around 2005, but after Bikini Kill she went at it alone as Julie Ruin, recording an entire album alone in her bedroom.
We cover the beginning of her romance with Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys, her activism and how that affects, and indeed fits in with the musical ideals of her now husband.
After Julie Ruin we move into Le Tigre territory and this is where I know Hanna best. I love love love Deceptacon. Alas, after a series of big successes and a world tour, Hanna starts to lose her voice and knows in her heart that something just isn’t right.
She eventually tells her band mates that she has nothing left to say and doesn’t want to do music anymore. She tells us now that that was all a lie.
For five years Hanna lives with an undiagnosed illness that turns out in the end to be Lyme disease. We witness footage of Adam caring for his wife and the side-effects of her medication as she fights the disease.
And the final act sees The Queen working on new material with The Julie Ruin and getting back into music, slowly but surely. Her way though, always.
No questions per se but why can’t Kathleen Hanna be my best friend?
I’m sorry this review isn’t better because I loved every moment of The Punk Singer. I’m just not that good and was distracted with my own raging thoughts of fucking the patriarchy while I watched. (Not literally).
The contrast between young, raging Hanna and her older, sicker self – both beautiful, both strong AF just in vastly different ways – is really something to consider. As usual it makes me think about strength and how is manifests itself in different ways for different people.
I’m not going to gush anymore but I am going to say that this is a brilliant piece of art and well worth a view.
I realise as well that I’ve failed to mention anybody else but all the interviews are great and it’s inspiring to hear so many women were inspired and went on to continue Hanna’s teachings.
What a fucking woman. Then and now.
My Rating: 5/5. Fucking perfect in all its imperfections, much like the woman herself.
What did wifey think? Let’s bust on over to her place and see.
NB: This is actually our second documentary. The first one was The Wolfpack.