Things are feeling a little gloomy all round (on both sides of the Atlantic) so Jill chose this charming little underdog indie to cheer us both up. Frankly, any movie that starts with Heart & Soul by T’Pau and has Geena Davis as a spiritual guide to our protagonist is going to be A-OK with me. Continue reading
The last film of Feminist February and as far as I’m concerned we’ve signed off with a bang. A slow and subtle Indie bang but a bang nonetheless.
And, last week’s bland sniffle-fest aside, I think this month has been a success.
Princess Cyd (2017)
Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer.
We begin Princess Cyd with a 911 recording played over the opening credits, depicting the death of a woman while her child is in the house. This is a blunt introduction to the character of Cyd Loughlin, who we meet 16 years later as a young adult.
Cyd has been sent by her depressed father to stay with her aunt Miranda, the novelist sister of Cyd’s late mother. Miranda has not seen or heard much from Cyd since she was a small child and since she lost her mother so is a little nervous about how things will go. She’s also very comfortable in her own routine.
When Cyd first arrives, both the women are very polite and although there’s some nervousness, Cyd is curious and asks a lot of questions. While Miranda is an open book, some of the topics broached take her outside her comfort zone. She embraces this though and starts to relax in her niece’s company. Cyd challenges Miranda’s religious beliefs, her sex life and the way she leads her solitary (but not lonely) life. This shakes Miranda up, forcing her to look inward.
Cyd is quite taken with the idea of Miranda and her friend Anthony (James Vincent Meredith) getting it on but Miranda insists this isn’t on the cards. Anyway, Anthony is sort of married.
And while Cyd is settling into her new (temporary) life in Chicago, she meets Katie in a coffee shop and there’s an immediate spark. During a literary gathering at Miranda’s home, Cyd also bonds with Ridley (Matthew Quattrocki). She disappears into a bedroom with him and this causes some mild consternation between our new housemates, even though she doesn’t bang him.
Miranda swears she’s not going to be the person who nags Cyd about her life choices but when Cyd makes a snarky comment about her aunt substituting sex with food, Miranda lets her have it.
It is not a handicap to have one thing, but not another. To be one way, and not another. We are different shapes and ways, and our happiness is unique. There are no rules of balance. ~ Miranda Ruth
Katie meanwhile finds herself in an awful situation at home and is rescued by Cyd and Miranda. Miranda is kind and understanding, something both young women need and she welcomes Katie into the fold without question. Cyd and Katie get closer and closer; as do niece and aunt. Basically, this is what life looks like without the interference of arsehole men. Even nice ones are not needed here – and as Cyd prepares to go back to her own life, Miranda has her own decisions to make.
What will she decide?
Ultimately, this is the sweet tale of a young woman reconnecting with her mother through someone who knew and loved her too, while fulfilling her own need. It’s about the craving for maternal love and it is a love story in many ways, just one of your unconventional, familial ones.
The performances are realistic, warm and convincing – and all three women are likable. At no time is Cyd the destructive mess you might expect her to be, though she has a fucking right. She might be direct at times but she means well. She seems wiser than her sixteen years.
Don’t come into this expecting a rip-roaring ride, because you definitely won’t get that. What you will get is a beautiful rumination on adolescence and learning to do you.
4.5 – Gentle and sweet.
What does my very own princess think of this one? Would she let it stay the summer or send it back to daddy? Find out here.
Until next year my pretties #feministfebruary.
Noël Wells is a triple threat apparently. Cool AND talented in writing, directing and acting? Fine. It’s totally fine. Good for you, Noël.
I don’t know much about the film going in so I can’t really preempt it with anything insightful. All I know is that I’m expecting a sort of Tiny Furniture/Lena Dunham vibe – which could go either way.
After a loved one falls ill, struggling comedian Emily Martin returns to her college town of Austin, Texas and must come to terms with her past while staying with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
Emily Martin (Wells) is a struggling comedienne living in LA. Things aren’t going great for her truth be told and they turn worse still when she receives distressing news from home.
Since Emily dumped her ex-boyfriend Eric (Nick Thune) for the bright lights of the big city via a telephone call, things are set to become super awkward on her return. Not least because she’s coming back to say goodbye to their shared cat Mr. Roosevelt, who has just coughed his last fur ball.
Eric still lives in their old house with his new (perfect) girlfriend, Celeste Jones (Britt Lower) – and in Emily’s absence, Celeste has taken on Cat Mom duties. This doesn’t rest easy with Emily but she has little choice under the circumstances. Things become even more uncomfortable when Celeste and Eric offer to take Emily in while she’s in town.
Nope. Nope nope nope.
During a group dinner, Emily suffers a minor melt down, brought on by insecurity about her career – and befriends waitress, Jen (Daniella Pineda), a girl she met once at a party. Jen proves to be a welcome distraction as Emily gets her head around several changes in her life, including losing her day job back in LA, the passing of Mr. Roosevelt, her relationship with Eric – and trying to deal with her growing resentment towards the perfectly together Celeste.
They go to the beach and get their boobs out. Emily also hooks up with a hot but disheveled hipster. Meanwhile, she is dismayed to learn that Eric isn’t doing music anymore and changing quite a lot of who he is for his new relationship. During a party the two bond again over their shared love of performance.
Emily’s most popular YouTube video is also outed at the party and she gets all pissy thinking this is the only thing she will ever be known for (it’s a video of her in a bath tub full of spaghetti). Personally, who cares? But Emily does.
When Celeste steps on Emily’s toes more than once when it comes to celebrating Mr. Roosevelt’s life, things come to an angsty head.
The question is: Meh. Will the cat get the burial he deserves? Will Emily sort her fucking life out? Is Celeste a robot or does even she have her own insecurities/idiosyncrasies? Hmmmm.
FACT: I have a friend called Celeste Jones and she is way, way cooler that this Celeste Jones. I wish she’d been in this film.
I found this super boring and I feel bad about it. I just didn’t care that much for Emily. She comes off as completely self-involved but without the charm of say, Shirin in Appropriate Behaviour (reviewed here).
The big difference is that AB was zingy and snappy in its dialogue, while this was a wishy washy offering that just sort of bumbles along.
Things I did like: It looks quite nice and the scene is which Celeste unravels slightly (*SPOILER*) to reveal she’s a normal human being is quite heart-warming. This film is as strong as its female relationships – and I would have liked much more of that.
Also, more cats.
2.5/5. Not for me. Weirdly.
What did Queen Jill think of this one? Would she throw a pretentious wake for it or bury it in the garden? Find out here.
This week’s film has been on both our lists for a while. Filmed entirely on a freaking iPhone, it’s bloody remarkable if you ask me, with a bleeding heart beating within.
However, I did watch without subtitles so I feel as though I may have missed a substantial chunk of dialogue between Razmik the taxi driver (Karren Karagulian) and his family. Oopsy.
A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.
Over an iced ring in the local Donut Time, she’s about to reveal some exciting personal news when her BFF accidentally reveals that Sin-dee’s boyfriend (and pimp) Chester has been stepping out on her while she’s been inside.
What’s more, Alex reveals he’s been doing it with a local working girl whose name begins with a ‘D’. With not much more than that to go on, Sin-dee goes ballistic and thus begins a whirl wind day in the life of a woman scorned. Alexandra in contrast is the voice of reason, begging Sin-dee not to bring the drama. I think you can guess that our heroine isn’t the passive type.
Alongside the misadventures of Sin-dee and Alex, we follow cab driver Razmik as he goes about his daily business. His story soon intertwines with Alex’s (and then some) plus we also meet his family, waiting for him patiently at home on this eventful Christmas Eve.
Sin-dee is on a mission to find her love rival, D and eventually, through the power of intimidation and elimination, manages to track her down. D is Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan) and I definitely wouldn’t want to be in her shoes.
Dragged kicking and screaming from one end of town to the other in search of Cheating Chester (James Ransone), Dinah claims she doesn’t know what the hell is going on. On the way the women stop off to support Alexandra while she sings in a bar and narrowly miss Razmik, who has abandoned his domestic duties to pursue Sin-dee, on whom he has a crush.
During this respite from Sin-dee’s errand, the enemies almost bond, though it’s a flimsy connection. Meanwhile, it turns out that Alexandra has paid for the privilege of performing her set to a handful of people. Her only true and genuine fan is Sin-dee who backs her all the way.
The girls eventually run into Chester who reacts as perhaps you’d expect a pimp to react (is that fair?). He explains that he and Sin-dee are actually engaged to be married. Turns out he proposed just before she got locked up, after taking the rap for his crime. Yep, now I don’t feel so guilty for pigeon-holing this pimp.
While the two lovebirds work towards resolving their differences right there in Donut Time, Razmik is followed by his pissed off mother-in-law who busts him trying to score with Sin-dee and then, in desperation, Dinah. She’s soon followed by Razmik’s wife and young child. There’s really no easy way to talk your way out of a situation like this but Razmik tries. Though as mentioned, I couldn’t follow most of it. There’s a lot of shouting and things don’t well, which is the gist.
Sin-dee also learns something telling about Alexandra in the fracas that threatens to completely derail their rock solid friendship, but I’ll let you unravel that one for yourselves.
Tangerine is a gem. It’s a touching tale of love and loss but above all, friendship and support and I really enjoyed myself. None of the woman have it easy and this paints a bleak picture of life for working girls in this neighbourhood. It’s comforting to know that at the least, these women have each other. When shit hits the fan and all hope looks lost, sometimes all you can count on is your girl, even if she’s done something really shitty.
It’s witty too, with some hilarious dialogue and side characters. Some of Razmik’s passengers are a true pleasure to meet, even for the few moments they’re on-screen. As for the way it looks, well that’s better in some shots than many movies shot on gargantuan budgets.
Definitely check this out if you get the chance, that’s my advice!
4/5. Fun & fierce. One for drama lovers.
What did Jillian think of this one? Would she run around looking for this one or kick it to the curb? Find out here, of course.
Blimey. We don’t half think outside the box on some of our choices, eh?
This one could be considered one of our most art-housey perhaps, though it’s not as strange as I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, nor is it anywhere as quirky as the amazing The Foxy Merkins (which I realise I only gave a 4/5 rating which seems like a travesty in hindsight as I think of it fondly, and often).
However, I’m glad it was chosen as this is not something I ever would have picked of my own volition, so thank you for that, Jillian.
We’re regrettably nearing the finish line of Feminist February and I think it’s been a corker. I now feel some pressure to chose well for next week (checking the calendar shows me that we actually have two more feminist picks before we round it up, so there’s still hope of going out with a bang).
But for now, to the movie. As always, take care of *spoilers*.
Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (2013)
IMDB Synopsis: Vic + Flo Saw a Bear is a darkly mysterious tale of two lesbian ex-cons, Victoria and Florence, trying to make a new life in the backwoods of Quebec.
Victoria has evidently just been released from prison, having received a life sentence. I could be wrong but I’m sure whatever it is she did is never revealed (I might have been texting).
While this may be the sentence she’s received, Victoria is not destined to spend all that time behind bars. Instead she has moved to the back-and-beyond of rural Quebec to live at her brother’s place, a former sugar mill.
Her brother is not really around but does pop in once to see Victoria, who has taken it upon herself to take over the primary care of her Uncle Émile Champagne (Georges Molnar), much to the annoyance of his current carer, Charlot Smith (Pier-Luc Funk) and his horrible father, Nicholas (Olivier Aubin). Émile is in a wheelchair and cannot communicate at all.
Vic also receives bi-weekly visits from her parole officer, Guillaume who means well but is rather serious and by-the-book (but also super cute). While Victoria adjusts to her new life in the sticks, where she gets from A to B by golf cart, she pines for her lover Florence.
One day Florence arrives at her new abode and to say she’s a little underwhelmed by the amenities would be an understatement. She’s unimpressed with almost everything and it soon becomes painfully apparent that this woman has a touch of the Madame Bovary about her.
Flo visits the one local bar and goes home with a man she meets there (they don’t play Scrabble, knowwhatI’msayin’?). It’s a fleeting liaison (because it turns out he’s not available either) but it still happened. She also starts to make Vic paranoid by talking about how hot Guillaume is (true, but still). Vic begins to worry that she isn’t enough for Flo and although Flo says the right things, she doesn’t try that hard to convince Vic.
Meanwhile, Uncle Émile is moved into ‘proper care’ following a complaint about the level he’s been receiving at home from Vic. This comes from The Smiths, who have it in for Vic, possibly because of her previous conviction. So Émile moves on and the women are left alone in the woods.
Guillaume has come round to both women since meeting Flo and is happy with the progress they have made, even if he does expect more in the way of integration into the ‘community’.
He needn’t worry too much though as Vic makes a friend called Marina St-Jean (Marie Brassard), who is a little over-familiar but overall quite fun. She takes a shine to Vic and goes out of her way to help her nurture her garden (not a euphemism, but you do wonder). She also asks permission to ride her quad through Vic’s land when she needs to. Vic says it’s cool.
Did I mention that Vic is 61 and Flo is considerably younger (like, late thirties maybe)? This has a lot to do with why Vic is worrying so much about losing her girlfriend, who evidently, like most girls, just wants to have fun.
One day, Marina awkwardly brings up with Vic the fact that Flo owes money at the bar. It turns out Marina also manages it when she’s not working for the Canadian version of the council (which is how she originally meets Vic). Vic pays Marina the £215 Flo owes and although she’s annoyed, she doesn’t think much of it.
Flo doesn’t let it slide quite so easily and storms down to the bar to confront Marina. Trouble is, there is no Marina and no unpaid bar tab. So what does that mean? Well, it turns out Florence has something of a past of her own and it seems to involve a woman called Jackie (who Vic knows as Marina), still following?
Jackie is hench as fuck and has her own henchman (Ramon Cespedes), who doesn’t even have his own name on IMDB, just ‘Jackie’s Assistant’. We don’t know what Flo did but it involved some sort of betrayal a decade before (pretty sure they don’t tell us what she did, could be wrong again). Perhaps she broke Jackie’s heart?
Eventually, Jackie catches up with Flo and the main thing I felt about this is disappointment that Marina/Jackie is horrible and therefore not the perfect match I hoped she’d be for Vic. But hey-ho. Jackie, or rather her assistant then does something terrible to Flo which renders her immobile for several weeks.
Vic doesn’t absolutely hate this development as it means Flo is unable to go seeking something better and she reacts accordingly, more affectionate and loving, etc. Flo picks up on this because she’s a smart cookie and the couple fight. Flo can’t understand why Vic can’t live more in the moment which basically means, stop questioning her and let her do whatever the shit she wants, when she wants.
Poor Uncle Émile doesn’t fare too well in this film and The Horrible Smiths pay Vic a visit to shout at her for being shit after he passes away. I don’t really think this is that fair as Vic did look after him. Sure, she’s not really a hearts and flowers type but she isn’t cruel, that I can see.
The pair go on a day trip with Guillaume to see some trains and some fish, and while Vic goes for a smoke (of course, another smoking flick!), G and F discuss Vic, and their relationship. Flo says she’s going to take Vic down to the lake for ‘a talk’. Guillaume tells Flo that Vic reminds him of his mother.
Flo gets better, things start to look up and then something really horrific (and weird) happens to the pair. I won’t give absolutely everything away but it’s fucked up. Let’s ponder some questions instead, shall we?
What will become of our lovers? Will they end up together, or will Florence spread her wings and fly far away? These questions will be answered I guarantee it, whilst even more will pop up and slap you in the mush while you’re trying to figure what the fudge is going down.
Hm. This was surprisingly compelling for a film that doesn’t contain that much action. It’s basically a meditation on love and desire, and wanting something you’re so terrified of losing that is stops you from really living and enjoying that thing. PHEW.
The central performances are fine. Vic is all chocolate eyes and frown lines, and I sort of identify with her fear of ageing and leaving her lover behind (or being left behind). I mean, not literally but ageing is a big thing on my mind of late and there’s nothing anyone can do to slow it down.
The ending is crazy and almost jars against the slow pace of the rest of the film, but actually it works okay. It’s very dark and I sort of adore Jackie. I wish we got more of her.
From a femme POV, all the men apart from Guillaume are completely ineffective or steaming pieces of shit. Or they’re completely disposable sex objects (excellent). This is a woman’s film but it’s anything but sweet and fluffy – it’s hard, thought provoking, ugly, poignant and sad.
My Rating: 3.5/5. Odd and by no means terrible.
So where does Jillian come in on this? Is she trapped in a wooded clearing of indifference, or is she so happy she could restart the sugar mill and live happily ever after in virtual isolation? Find out for yourself here, bitches, don’t make me get my assistant onto you.
This week we were going to go for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation to guarantee maximum schmaltz and romance with a capital ‘R’. Because both our forays into the Romance genre so far have proven very telling about the human beings that we are, e.g. more into the anti-romance.
That’s until Netflix, the bastard (I love you!), decided to axe The Last Song without so much as a I-don’t-know-what, maybe a call or something wouldn’t have gone amiss? I mean, I was looking forward to enjoying the chemistry between Miley Cyrus and her once real-life beau, the younger Hemsworth brother. But no. Not to be, much like the doomed love affair between these annoyingly attractive young ‘uns. So no The Last Song for us.
Instead I used this opportunity to pick a film from my Netflix queue and one that has come up several times over the last few weeks. I’ll talk about it in a wee bit but first, the review.
You know the drill: *It’s a spoiler MINEFIELD*
In a World… (2013)
IMDB Synopsis: An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé.
Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in this film, about a voice coach called Carol who wants in on the male dominated world of voiceovers. Following the death of the ‘Godfather of Industry’, Don LaFontaine (real person), there are a few big hitters waiting in the wings to take over, including Sam Sotto (Carol’s father) who’s kind of a BIG DEAL himself and his protégé, Gustav Warner (Burning Love‘s, Ken Marino).
The biggest gig in voiceover land is, of course, the LaFontaine coined phrase, “In a World…”. That’s like the great white whale of jobs basically. One day, on an assignment to help turn Eva Longoria into a convincing cockney slag (“Is that what you think, you stupid slapper?”), Carol steps in for Gustav on a temp trailer for a ‘romantic comedy for children’ (he has a throat thing see). She, of course, nails the job. Then she gets some other good gigs following that, despite the lack of support from her father, who thinks Carol should stick to accents as the industry “does not crave a female voice.”. Her specialty? Her Russian Star Wars thing.
Not knowing who Carol is (especially as she doesn’t share Sam Sotto’s stage name), Gustav pursues her romantically, and then harder when he learns that she’s stealing jobs from underneath him. Sam is his partner in crime, not knowing that the graphic details of Gustav’s night of passion with this woman is with his own daughter.
Meanwhile, Louis (Demetri Martin), the studio engineer where Carol is working with Eva, gently and awkwardly woos her too (and let me tell you, he is ADORABLE). Throw in a couple of sub-storylines, including a would-be affair between Carol’s sister, Dani and a hot Irish guest at the hotel she works at; and troubles with their father, Sam and his 30-year-old girlfriend, Jamie (Alexandra Holden); plus some hilarious minor characters, and you’ve got a pretty good film, thankyouverymuch.
Will girl power prevail in the end and see Carol snatching the “In a World…” gig from Sam and Gustav, despite the fact she’s a fucking WOMAN? Will she fall for the right guy? and where can I actually see this Amazonian quadrilogy starring Cameron Diaz? I mean, it’s basically Mad Max: Fury Road Redux but I would be all over it like creeping ivy, man.
You can see for yourself because this movie is out there for the taking.
I liked this movie a lot because, after horror, these are exactly the kinds of movies I crave. I bloody love a quirky, Indie comedy and I like it even better when they give me a protagonist I can actually imagine talking about cocks with. In short, she’s likeable and almost like a real person, and that my friends, is a very good thing.
There isn’t much I don’t like about In a World…, it gave me laughs and it also gave me a couple of lump in the throat moments, particularly when Jamie the Bimbo Trophy Wife proves she’s much more when she bollocks her jealous boyfriend and tells his to go and be a good father, or else. There may have been real tears when he dedicates his Lifetime Achievement Award to his daughters too. But that’s just me: a sucker for a daddy moment.
I did wonder why the hell two men were in the running for a voiceover for a quadrilogy about Amazonian women though. It genuinely makes no sense to me from a marketing POV to use a male voice. And since they wanted Carol for this very reason in the first place, to ‘inspire’ the millions of girls who would flock to see it, I do not understand why they suddenly get excited about Sam Sotto, when he decides to compete for the job too. Just me?
All in all I am enamoured with Lake Bell. I think her romance with Louis is adorable and she utters to him possibly the greatest line in movie history after a night singing Ice T at the karaoke: (to paraphrase) “Have you got any of those sleeping pills? It’s going to be really hard to fall asleep after you kiss me”.
4/5 – a nice film, with some funny bits. I want LB’s wardrobe please (5/5 for that).
One day I’ll complete a podcast without a siren interrupting me, I swear. Special snaps to www.bensound.com for my cheeky intro music.
Also, if you want to know more about mumblecore movies, as mentioned in my podcast, this explains it better than I do.