Emo the Musical

Welcome to our Oddballs and Weirdos month, in which we root for the underdog and fight for the freaks. Last time we did this, we called it Films About Fuck Ups and included the gem Welcome to Me, so who knows where we’ll end up this year? Hopefully uncovering some new heroes. As Jillian says though, most of our films could fall into this category anyway. We’re big fans of the weird and the wonderful round these parts.

Onward!

Ethan, a sullen high-school student whose life is defined by what he hates, finds love with a blindly optimistic Christian girl Trinity, much to the annoyance of his angst-filled band mates and her evangelistic brethren.

Benson Jack AnthonyJordan HareRahart Adams

High school sucks.

*Minor spoilers/TW: suicide attempts*

Ethan (Anthony) has been kicked out of school for trying to kill himself in the very public courtyard. Forced to downgrade from his posh private school to a new rundown one, Ethan makes it his business to get in with the Emo kids and into school band, Worst Day Ever. The only trouble is, he looks like a square so when he makes his intention to try out clear, the band mates scoff.

Led by dangerous (and sexy) Bradley (Adams), the band also consists of Roz (Lucy Barrett) and a blond kid who’s name I didn’t bother to learn (Jay. It’s Jay). After a successful audition, in which Ethan confides that he’s been expelled for trying to hang himself, he’s accepted into the fold – if only for his backstory. So begins his journey into full-on Emo-ness, all black eyeliner and over-sexed girlfriend (the predatory Roz).

On his first day, Ethan also meets Trinity (Hare), a Christian babe keen to convert him to Jesus’ way of thinking. Ethan’s not into it obviously but the pair form a bond anyway. Kicking it with Trinity – and forming rival band the Christian Hope Group are; Isaac (Jon Prasida), secretly pregnant Jamali (Geraldine Viswanathan) and closeted Peter (Craig Hyde-Smith), who’s (also secretly) madly in love with hot jock, Josh (Kevin Clayette).

Obviously, we need a bit of action round about now and it’s clear that there’s more between Trinity and Ethan than is socially acceptable. When they’re paired together by the school’s only teacher, Mrs Doyle (Bridie Carter) on a project to write a love song, things start to hot up. Ethan is able to open up to his new friend, despite all their differences. Could they be Romeo et Juliette for the modern day?

As they get more involved, it becomes harder for Ethan to keep up the Emo lifestyle. He’s maybe not the apathetic misery guts he’s made himself out to be. In turn, Trinity starts to question her attitude towards her sexuality and where it fits in with her faith. But how will Worst Day Ever take the news of the two of them together? Well, since Bradley’s most hated thing is other people pushing their agendas and optimism, I’m guessing not well.

Roz meanwhile has a filthy secret of her own, while the father of Jamali’s unborn baby is rumoured to be a very preachy member of the Christan Hope Group. Interesting. When a fire starts in the school, the rivalry between factions heats up quite literally and the bands battle to the death. Will our lovers learn valuable lessons along the way? Well, what the hump do you think?

And, incidentally, will Bradley’s Emo idol, Doug Skeleton (Dylan Lewis) live up to his lofty expectations? Well, they do say never meet your heroes…

This isn’t the worst film in the whole world but I really wish it was better. It is a musical and a couple of the lyrics raised a smile but can you imagine this done by the brains behind Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? The songs would have been 7000 times cleverer. As it is the best song is Trinity’s ‘Would Jesus’:

Do you think Jesus smiled all the time?
I don’t think so, I don’t think so
You think he locked himself in his room and cried
I think so, yes, I think so
Do you think there might have been a chance
he liked my Chemical Romance?
Yes, I think so
Could Jesus have been an emo?

His blood it fell in crimson shades
His crucifix a razor blade
Was Jesus an emo?
He felt the pain of all mankind
but emos do that all the time
Was Jesus an emo?

Which totally would have been better had it been a duet between the two lovebirds. But what do I know? It means well, it’s sweet enough but it’s not as smart as it could be, which is a shame.

Film details:

Emo the Musical
Year: 2016
Director: Neil Triffett
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my Emo princess think of this one? Would she lend it her favourite black kohl or cover it in honey and throw it to the Christians? Find out here.

Rocketman

A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John‘s breakthrough years.

Taron EgertonJamie BellRichard Madden

I would happily of swerved this biopic had my friend Helen not been so excited about it. Her anticipation rubbed off on me, what can I say? I’m delighted that she changed my mind.

Kingsman hottie Egerton plays Elton in this tribute to one of our greatest treasures, king of the banger, Mr John. Which is no mean feat when your subject matter is still alive and will be watching your portrayal for themselves. Luckily, his performance is spot on (but more on that in a bit) – and his voice, well it’s really something. Who knew?

We begin where most good stories do, at the start. Elton, born Reginald ‘Reggie’ Dwight to a cold mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) and disengaged father (Steven Mackintosh), is an ordinary boy. Until he sits down one day at the family piano and duplicates a piece of music note for note. Grandma Ivy (Gemma Jones) encourages his parents to get him piano lessons and the rest is history. Except of course there’s way more to it than that.

Our boy attends the Royal Academy of music and discovers Elvis, which whets his appetites for all things rock n’s roll. Worst Dad of all time Stanley meanwhile finally leaves Reg and his mum – and starts a new more palatable family.

Reggie’s life changes forever when he supports a band on tour and gets the inspiration he needs to pursue a solo career. He approaches Dick James (Stephen Graham) and gains representation with James’ assistant, Ray (Charlie Rowe). Despite James’ initial negativity towards Reggie (now Elton John), Ray takes a chance on the young upstart and inadvertently sets him on the path towards his greatest ally, amateur songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell).

When Bernie and Elton meet magic happens – and they’re soon on their way to superstardom. Bernie supports Elton in every aspect of his life – and Elton boasts that they have never had a cross word.

Elton eventually meets and falls in love with music producer John Reid (Madden), who makes an even bigger star of him and encourages him to live a little larger. Which he does very well indeed, leading him to massive issues with drug, booze and shopping addiction.

Throw into the mix a crumbling personal life – John turns out to be a total scumbag – a still disinterested father (despite all the success) – and cruel words from his mother when he finally comes out to her – and Elton is on the road to self-destruction.

Will he ever be loved properly? Will he forgive the emotional crimes of his parents and save himself before its too late?

Rocketman is stunning with top notch costuming, as you’d expect. Every aspect of the movie looks good and I loved the performances. I cried a lot – particularly when Egerton sang Your Song and Tiny Dancer – his voice is powerful as hell.

While I loved his performance I have to be honest and say, I never once saw him as Elton. He’s just too damn attractive. That’s not to say I wasn’t engaged – I really enjoyed it. It just feels like a tribute performance to the man himself, rather than an uncanny reimagining (as with Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody).

As for the surreal elements of the storytelling, I don’t think it could suit the main character more. It’s magical. And no, I haven’t been able to stop humming Rocketman since I left the theater last week.

Film details:

Rocketman
Year: 2019
Director: Dexter Fletcher
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
My Rating: 4/5

What are you watching?

Five Tiny Film Reviews

These are the last five movies I watched in 2018 and have been too lazy to post about – with micro reviews:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

The film itself is fine but this is one of the weakest stories in the series (the first not written by Steig Larsson but David Lagercrantz). However, it does offer us a brand new Lisbeth Salander and that’s the real reason I rushed to see it. Claire Foy does a good job. I was curious about her ability to rock the look and she aces it, bringing her own grace to the character. Throw in some sweet Lakeith Stanfield action and a sadistic, vengeful little sister – and I enjoyed myself. Probably a little forgettable but I’m interested to see where this franchise might lead.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Creed II (2018)

Creed was amazing and this is good too, with strong performances all round. Tessa Thompson steals the show from everyone as the world’s most understanding girlfriend Bianca. If I were to pick on it I would say it’s a little heavy-handed on the sentimentality and the abrupt turn around at the end by Dolph Lundgren‘s Ivan Drago might be touching but it is a little barf-worthy. I didn’t hate it though and I’m always going to be there for Michael B. Jordan and any training montage he wants to share with me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Aquaman (2018)

I’ve never been so aroused and pissed off at the same time. Unfortunately, while Jason Momoa may be the hottest human man on Earth, this film is a pile of steaming garbage and there’s no getting away from that. The dialogue is cheap, it’s light on laughs and is also boring in places, perhaps it’s biggest crime. It does have warrior sharks though so most of the rating I give is for them.

Back to the drawing board again, DC – or maybe given Patty Jenkins a call?

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Marvel, meanwhile knocks it out of the park again with this animated treat. Into the Spiderverse is fun, stylish and has a soundtrack to die for. While it’s silly in places, it works well and the blend of darkness and light works perfectly. My highlight is Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir but there’s excellent voice work from Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali and Hailee Steinfeld too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

While this does border on just a little too saccharine for me (balloon scene particularly), it was magical in many ways. Emily Blunt rocks Poppins while bringing her own sarky tone to proceedings, the kids don’t make me want to punch them and Emily Mortimer is dreamy AF (as always). I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to see this if it hadn’t been just before Christmas but I’m glad I did. Is it as good as the original (as most people have asked)? Hard to say, I was never a Poppins purest (more of a Bedknobs & Broomsticks kinda girl) but it is a strong sequel. Definitely worth a watch if you’re not adverse to musicals and uber tweeness.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What have you been watching?

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I avoided this film for weeks. Not because I don’t love Freddie or the dad rock anthems of the band Queen but just because I wasn’t feeling it.

Although I love films that make me cry, I don’t like the ones that seem out to get me from the offset (The Theory of Everything for instance). If I feel like I’m being deliberately manipulated emotionally then consider me out. But this movie isn’t like that thankfully and I enjoyed every toe-tapping, arse-wiggling moment.

Rami Malek‘s central performance is honestly exceptional. While it took a moment to get into his rhythm (just me?), before long I believed him completely. The Live Aid performance particularly showcases just how hard he must have worked to nail the perfect Freddie.

Rhapsody follows Freddie as he meets his band mates for the first time, falls in love with Mary (Lucy Boynton), becomes the most famous front man in history and then some. While it touches upon the last years of his life, I was heartened by the fact that this is not the focus. He lead a fabulous life and that’s why we’re all here, am I right?

There have been criticisms about the movie though and I can see why. As Freddie comes to terms with his homosexuality, he enters a world of drugs and debauchery which could be viewed as a negative take on the gay scene. The relentless focus on our leading man is also awkward and takes away a lot of the rest of the band’s contribution to their history. Now I’m not the world’s leading Queen historian but it’s been suggested that some of the timeline is off and that the story is embellished in places for creative license. SHOCKER.

All these things are legitimate criticisms and I respect them, however I got what I wanted from Bohemian Rhapsody. While the rags to riches/pride before a fall narrative is nothing new, it works for me. I got a kick ass Freddie, some genuine laughs and one of the best soundtracks of the year – so colour me happy.

Rami for an Oscar nom this year or I walk.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you seen Bohemian Rhapsody? What are your thoughts?

A Star is Born

A Star is Born (2018)

 

UGH. This movie, I loved it so much. Don’t even get me started on the climactic scene – it nearly destroyed me.

Charting the rise of singer Ally’s (Gaga) success following a chance meeting with seasoned rock/country legend Jack (Cooper), the fourth version of A Star is Born is gorgeous with a heavenly soundtrack.

If you’re wondering how Gaga could possibly keep her end up in place of the Garlands and Streisands of this world, just fucking watch her. She’s mesmerising at the best of times but in this role she is next level. If Oscar doesn’t come knocking in the Spring, then there is no God. Or there is but he’s a man with no taste.

I think if you aren’t familiar with the story, you might still have an inkling of how this might play out but the ending is very sad and the heartbreak is palpable. It’s one of those story lines you wish you could change for the better, even as you watch it veer dramatically off course.

I don’t want to give anything else away but I will say this is one of my favourite movies of this year so far and I can’t stop thinking about some of the songs. They’re outrageously good.

Oh, and the surprise appearance of Shangela and Willam was fun. God, I want to watch it over and over again.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Holy Camp! (Film) Review

Or, ‘”Girl”, he said,”at least you didn’t get crucified.”‘

SPOILERS!! If you want to go in clean then skip my intro and move straight into the review.

A user on Letterboxd said this about Holy Camp!:

I never knew I needed a Spanish, Catholic gay musical but here I am.

So you know it’s got to be good. Though perhaps having the heads up that it’s a gay film might ruin the reveal when it comes – because when it does come it is glorious and sweet and I don’t even care about the massive age difference because it is so pure. But don’t let me get carried away now, read away my pretties!

Holy Camp! (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

María and Susana, two rebellious teens spend their summer in a catholic camp. With music as their common denominator, teen rebellion and ecclesiastic order will collide, creating a hymn to freedom and first love.

NJ7B2037

My Review

First off this film is gloriously female and I love it for that. We’re offered four really fantastic and well-rounded characters to root for and it feels so refreshing – and while I guess you could say the story line revolves around a man (God), it’s all about these relationships, about love, friendship and searching for your calling in life, whatever that may be. I had all the feels, all the way through.

So María and Susanna (Macarena García and Anna Castillo) are at Catholic Camp for the Summer but they’re not letting that cramp their style. Party animals to the extreme they sneak out at night, take narcotics and dance the hours away to Latina electro in the club. Just watching them brings me out in hives but their clubbing experiences seem joyful. The girls are full of life and hope – but a few cracks begin to show when Susana meets a hot shot music producer who’s interested in meeting with the girls and potentially working with them (they’re a pop duo too).

María doesn’t feel as though their talents are ready for public consumption and when faced with meeting the producer for the first time, she bails, heading back to the camp alone. Oh and even before all of this, María is woken up by an elderly white guy singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ to her – so our girl is already feeling confused about life. Can’t blame her, eh?

Side note: If this film doesn’t make you want to rewatch The Bodyguard immediately, then are you even human?

Susana is not that stoked about being ditched but has set up a meeting at a big party with the producer for a later date. The pair unfortunately fall out when María tells Susana she’s delusional and that their group is immature and bound to make a fool of them. It’s time grow up basically.

It is heartbreaking to see the girls fight but it’s a necessary evil given the course both our central characters are on.

NJ7B0702-2

With the friendship on a rocky path, María continues to see the same old man, each time serenading her with Whitney songs and becomes convinced that she’s seeing God. Susana confides in Sister Milagros (Belén Cuesta) about the producer and this leads the lovely nun to ruminate on her own talents/unfulfilled potential. In a conversation with the awesome drug-dealing cook we learn that Milagros was on the cusp of her own singing success but it didn’t work out.

Milagros fantasises about her own moment in the spotlight via a surreal and wonderful sequence in the basement, which is overheard and witnessed by Susana, who is smoking outside. Meanwhile, both the girls have appeared on the radar of ferocious new Mother Superior (?) Bernarda (Gracia Olayo). She’s determined to whip these little troublemakers into shape, much to their chagrin. This changes a little when she learns that the girls are into music and she opens up to María about a flash mob she’s choreographed.

Side note: One of the best scenes features Bernada and Milagros singing and dancing together – and one of the lyrics made me snort out loud. It’s the one I used above as my ‘alternative’ title. I love these two so, so much.

la-llamada-nueva

María, in response to Bernada’s dance overtures, confides that she’s been seeing God. At first Bernada is quite in agreement that he is all around but when María insists that she is actually SEEING HIM, B sets about training her to find out what he wants from her in the best way possible. In contrast, Susana is shown making out with her boyfriend and showing off her own dance moves, presumably in preparation for the big party rapidly approaching.

When God appears again and María prays to him just as B has shown her, he scoffs at her and disappears. This devastates María and in the kerfuffle, her secret is outed to the other two women. While Milagros phones the Vatican, she laments her failure to connect properly with God. The girls sort of touch base about the party, with Susana saying she doesn’t want to go without María – and that they’re in it together but the truce doesn’t last long.

Milagros goes out of her way to try and convince Susana not to waste her one opportunity but when she tries a similar pep talk on María, trying to talk her out of all this God business, Susana goes ballistic. Revealing that she’s secretly in love with a certain singing nun – she wonders how Milagros dares try dissuade her best friend from her calling – even if that calling seems so far-fetched. If she, Susanna can be gay and in love with a nun, then why can’t Maria be in love with God? Which is a fair point. As Susanna says, to each their own.

Shocked by this outburst, Milagros is even more stunned when Susana kisses her and meanwhile, off camera I whooped. Could Mialgros feel the same way about Susanna? How will the girls get back in God’s graces?

More importantly can we all just bury the hatchet and be best friends forever with no more cross words ever uttered?

My Thoughts

You know last week’s sub-par cock fest? This is the antidote to that. Where Love was pretentious, dull and full to the brim with misogynistic rhetoric, Holy Camp! is fun and touching – a study on friendship and the support women give unflinchingly when they love one another, romantically, platonically, whatever.

It looks great, the songs are brilliant – a mixture of Whitney classics and original songs, all of which are uplifting and hilarious. Plus the final number is ridiculously joyous.

Holy Camp! does look at religion but it does so in such a way that it doesn’t judge and that must be very difficult to pull off. In fact I take from it that to each their own also applies to faith which is a brilliant, simple message that I completely buy into.

Both central girls are gorgeous but they’re also warm and I feel their chemistry radiating off the screen. Particularly in the cabin scene, in which Susana declares her unwavering loyalty to María and her God dilemma. As mentioned though, this film has four vital corners and that includes Bernada and Milagros. Seriously, I love a mostly female cast and this is one of the most likable I’ve seen in a while.

My Rating

4.5/5.

Also, have some animated GIFs as a special treat. You are welcome.

What does my holy angel think of this one? I already know but if you want to find out if she’d pledge her love to it eternal or renounce it forever, find out here.