Tag Archives: Netflix Original

Unicorn Store

Unicorn Store (2017)

A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

Starring: Brie Larson • Samuel L. Jackson • Joan Cusack

*Minor spoilers*

A real quickie on Brie Larson‘s directorial debut, which appeared on Netflix this weekend. Reuniting Samuel. L with his Captain Marvel co-star, Unicorn Store is as whimsical and abstract as they come.

Kit (Larson) is a woman-child not doing so great. Failing at art school (at least in the eyes of her beloved professor), she finds herself back home, living in her parents’ basement. Her parents are well-meaning enough (played by blog favourite Joan Cusack, and Bradley Whitford) but are distracted by their new pet project and employee, Kevin (Karan Soni).

Adopt me please, Joan

Channel-hopping one day, Kit stumbles across an ad for a temp agency and decides to join the rat race as a new and improved version of herself. One who dresses appropriately for the office and drinks coffee.

Kit does pretty okay at her new assignment, particularly when her quirky nature catches the attention of her (creepy) boss – but her focus soon shifts onto more magical things when she receives a series of mysterious invitations to a secret location.

Someone didn’t get the memo about Wednesdays

At The Store, Kit meets The Salesman (Jackson) who puts her through a series of tasks to prove she’s ready for the ultimate challenge – to care for a real life unicorn. Yep, I told you it was whimsical.

Kit, you see, has been dreaming of this since she was a child and there’s practically nobody else more qualified for the role. Still she has to prove she can keep it fed and surrounded by all the love she can, which means making sure her relationship with her family is in tip top condition.

When she hires Virgil (Mamoudou Athie) to help her build a unicorn stable, it seems like she might be opening herself up for a different kind of connection but how’s he going to take news of the unicorn?

Virg(il)ing on the ridiculous

While this is sweet enough and I did appreciate it, it’s perhaps just a little bit too cutesy for me. I stan Brie Larson so I was on board with the character of Kit – and I do appreciate a surrealist indie. I really enjoyed Virgil too, a somewhat reluctant partner-in-crime who soon gives himself over to the concept of adventure.

Larson’s increasingly flamboyant wardrobe definitely deserves a mention as does Kit’s assistant Sabrina (Martha MacIsaac), who harbors her own dream – to open an Etsy store selling jewellery shaped like miniature food.

Will Kit get her unicorn – or is all an elaborate con?

US is abstract but really it’s about putting away childish things and accepting adulthood – while still keeping just a little bit of magic back. Which is a cool message and one I personally endorse.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

The Dirt

April is now officially Biopics (or Based on a True Story) month, which I admit I only suggested so I could shoehorn in this movie this weekend. It’s been getting mixed reviews all over the shop so Lord knows what to expect. If nothing else at least it will be debauchery central up in here.

The Dirt (2019)

The story of how Mötley Crüe came to be one of the most notorious rock ‘n roll groups in history.

Starring: Douglas Booth • Iwan Rheon • Daniel Webber • Machine Gun Kelly

*Minor spoilers*

When a movie more or less begins with a female ejaculation scene (not portrayed nearly enough outside porn), you know you’re in for a ride. Whether it’s a good one or not is for you to decide for yourself though.

This is the rags-to-riches tale of how Mötley Crüe came to be pretty much the most rock n’ roll band ever to have lived (after S Club, obviously).

We begin with the metaphorical birth of Nicky Sixx (played as an adult by pretty boy Douglas Booth) – born into the world as Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. Barely a teenager, sick of his mother and done with an endless parade of deadbeat step-dads, he frames her for assault and takes off on his own, stopping in only to officially change his name forever and burn Frank’s ID.

Sofa-hopping and just about getting by with his current band Sister, one night he meets a fan in the form of drummer Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly). The pair soon form a new band (and friendship) – and recruit surly lead-guitarist Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon) and lead-singer Vince Neil (played superbly by Daniel Webber).

Beetlejuice’s new look was pretty well received

Tommy Lee – in contrast to Nicky – comes from a harmonious home, supported in his creative endeavours by happily married parents. This leads him on a quest to recreate their whirlwind magic for himself, which explains the multiple marriages in his history (no shade).

Mick meanwhile, is hiding a secret health condition which is slowing him down big time, while Vince is the charismatic front-man with the world (and all its babes) at his feet. As the band sign to a label and begin to take the world seriously by storm, their trouble really begins – and I can’t imagine being able to resist half the temptations afforded to them myself.

This scene is pants

In short drugs, booze and broads are the order of the day but at what cost? AT WHAT COST?!

You can kind of imagine most of it but key moments include the 1984 vehicular manslaughter of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle (Max Milner) at the hands of a drunk driving Vince (and subsequent super lenient jail time), touring with Ozzy Osbourne (Tony Cavalero) and the near-death of Nicky Sixx by heroine overdose.

Tommy loses the love of his life Heather Locklear (Rebekah Graf) because he can’t keep his T-bone in the pantry – and Mick finally has hip surgery. There’s rehab, there are arguments and relapse – and there’s a life-altering event in Vince’s life that is even more prolific than the car accident.

The question is, after everything they’ve been through can our rockers pull it together and see it through to the end – or will they burn out like the brightest star?

That shit is bandanas

The Dirt is entertaining, I’ll give it that. I liked the brief time we spent with Ozzy who I think was cast really well. I know for a fact I was here for those infamous rock n’ roll shenanigans and watching him licking up his own piss and snorting ants was fucking disgusting but also the kind of wildness I expected.

However, while there are loads of sex and drug scenes, it didn’t go quite as far as I wanted. I *think* in some ways it’s because of the casting of the band. While Machine Gun Kelly is a pretty solid Tommy Lee, he makes the character seem almost wholesome. And Nicky is positively baby faced. I don’t buy them as seedy adults, I’m sorry.

I hardly know anything about the band apart from Tommy & Pammy’s sex tape – and the fact my horrible ex really fucking liked them – so maybe I’m wrong about that. There’s a chance they’re perfectly cast and I just don’t know it but honestly, I don’t think so.

Women do not get a good deal in this movie. They play either mothers or whores (sometimes both simultaneously) and that says a lot about the mindset of the group at the time. I suppose, even though I don’t like this one bit, it’s to be expected.

Always time for a cheeky Nando’s, even when you’re uber famous

I would have liked to know more about the crash if I’m honest and seen more evidence that it played on Vince Neil’s mind at all. From this portrayal it isn’t clear. However, I think he was played beautifully and I felt a lot when bad things happen to his family (even though wife and daughter are incredibly 2D).

I HATE the breaking of the fourth wall though, it’s so overused these days. The interruption every now and again to correct a so-called storyline fact is supposed to be cute but it’s just grating. So yeah, I had fun but that’s about it. It’s quite average really and that’s a shame considering the collection of true characters in the band.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my rock star think of this one? Is she ready to follow it around the globe in a halter neck or would she rather drop it from the label? Find out here, fuckers.

Cool Things on the Internet #1

Welcome to my new series of cool things I have recently found/seen/read on the internet. I don’t suppose we need anymore introduction than that, do we? Continue reading

Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

*Minor spoilers*

This is a film I really wanted to love based on its cast and premise. Unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well as it could. 

Set in the pretentious and fickle world of art, it centers around a gallery – Haze – run by former punk-rocker, Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo). One evening, lauded art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) attends an exhibition at the gallery with his friend, Josephina (Zawe Ashton), who also works there.

Morf is in a relationship with Ed but is deeply unhappy so he starts up with Josephina instead. Around the same time, Josephina returns home to her apartment block to find one of her elderly neighbours dead after a fall. The neighbour, Vetril Dease is a painter and J sneaks into his apartment after the fact to discover a vast collection of brilliant paintings.

On thin ice and recently demoted by her boss Rhodora, this is J’s opportunity to re-balance the scales and score big on the art scene. So she presents herself as Dease’s representative and a post-humous star is born. Unfortunately for Josephina, there’s more to Dease and his work than meets the eye and eery shit kicks off.

Rhodora, obsessed with the paintings, exhibits a small collection immediately and orders J to put the rest in storage. As desire for Dease’s art grows, including massive interest from art curator Gretchen (Toni Collette) and artist Piers (John Malkovich), Rhodora seeks to ensure the rarity of his paintings by hiding most of them away. Sadly this is not done fast enough and one by one our collection of central characters begin to suffer terrible accidents.

Velvet Buzzsaw is a thriller/horror with a supernatural edge. Although it is not as good as I wanted it to be, it is interesting. There are multiple deaths that really go to town creatively and I loved them. There a couple that really spoke to me as they incorporate two of my biggest loves, graffiti and tattoos.

Although this is heralded as a horror and it does have explore some overt horror themes, it isn’t that scary. It has a creepy tone that I did enjoy, and all the darkness of Dease’s apartment and paintings is stark in contrast to the bright light surfaces of the gallery interiors.

The whole scene in fact is wonderfully pretentious which I also dig. A little bit of pretension never hurt anyone I always think. It sends up the art world well and there’s a definite tongue-in-cheek dig at the eccentrics who inhabit it. Almost all the film’s characters are the worst – Morf and Josephina absolutely included – but you can kind of respect them for their hunger. Stranger ThingsNatalia Dyer pops up as poor gallery employee Coco who always seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, although this isn’t director Dan Gilroy‘s best work – that would be the mighty Nightcrawler (2014) – I’m still interested to see what he does next.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Maniac

Maniac (2018)

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, a depressed computer, a series of mind-bending simulations and a seemingly predestined shared destiny – what’s not to love?

Honestly, not much. While everyone seemed to be tooting on about this when it first dropped on Netflix, I had a hard time getting past the first few episodes. But I wanted to give it a fair go, given its cast and I’m so glad I did.

I found it to be thoughtful, beautiful, funny and heartbreaking all at once. Like, honestly so profound in places that I thought my own heart might burst out of my chest and jump across the floor.

I don’t know how well I can describe it but Maniac focuses on Owen (Hill) and Annie (Stone), two quite damaged individuals who find themselves part of a new and potentially life-changing drug trial, run by Dr. Muramoto (Rome Kanda) and his colleague, Dr. Azumi Fujito (Sonoya Mizuno).

Both our protagonists have their own battle ahead. Owen Milgrim lives with severe mental health issues. He is also due to testify on behalf of his brother (Jesse Magnussen) in court, after he commits a felony. Increasingly, Owen disconnects from the world and from his family, struggling with suicidal notions.

Annie Landsberg grieves the death of her younger sister in a car accident and is driven to take extreme action to face what’s become of her life since. And so the two find themselves loosely acquainted, both test subjects in Muramoto’s lab. The tests are surreal and immersive, not to be discussed with the other patients but to be dissected at length after the fact.

When Muramoto drops dead suddenly, seemingly an addict of his own experimental drug (and the very pill the subjects have been taking prior to their simulations), Azumi calls in Dr. James Mantleray (Justin Theroux) to take his place. James it seems was one of the founders of the experiment, which is set to address and then fix all the misery of the world.

You didn’t think it would be that simple though, did you? Well of course it isn’t, as the project is plagued with issues. In fact, the only thing that seems sure in this whole trippy scenario (and all the wonderfully vivid simulations) is that Owen and Annie will find themselves together, their lives somehow entwined. Which isn’t supposed to happen.

The rest is up to you but it’s a Technicolor study of loss and life and love and mental anguish. Of accepting your limitations, of taking a leap of faith – of not being ‘normal’ and doing it all anyway. I adored it and by the last episode I actually felt deflated. Maniac has lit up this dreary week and engaged me fully. I want it back.

Have you seen Maniac? What did you think?

TAU

The Blog Collab is back and ready to rock with a Free For All January. Thanks for bearing with us while we took our Christmas break. Both Jill and I were having trouble getting into the festive spirit and agreed we didn’t want to do Christmas movies this time around so we had a rest instead.

Welcome back!

*Minor Spoilers*

TAU (2018)

The premise here is quite neat. ‘Streetwise’ (read: slutty, unlikely to be missed) people are kidnapped by an amoral scientist and harvested for their brains for a ground-breaking, game-changing AI project. When Alex (Ed Skrein) kidnaps Julia (It Follows’ Maika Monroe), he bites off more than he can chew. This girl values her life and she’ll fight hammer and nail to get it back. Fuck you, Alex, you Nicholas Hoult-looking loser.

With the help of the Artificial Intelligence system that runs his space age home – TAU (voiced by Gary Oldman) – and multiple drones/a massive clunky robot, Alex is able to strike fear into Julia. To a point. As our plucky girl realises her value to Alex she begins to negotiate a deal with him – give her back some of her home comforts and eventual freedom, in exchange for her co-operation. For a while it seems a kind of pseudo-harmony could be possible but Alex is under pressure from his investors and is also a cold fish who doesn’t suffer fools, so the pair soon fall out.

Meanwhile, Julia seems to have found another way. She’s found a chink in TAU’s armor and the more time the AI and the girl spend together, the more she works her way beneath it. TAU, you see, appears to be the victim of an abusive domestic situation and Julia can use that. By convincing TAU he’s human like her, and honing in on his love of music/growing curiosity about the world outside, the more she can get him onside. It’s a game of wits and it’s quite sweet. But will Alex notice this and put paid to Julia’s games before she escapes? Or will he use her and then erase her as he has so many before her?

Well, despite the quite charming narrative, this film is not great honestly. It has such potential and I really enjoyed Julia as a character but it doesn’t have quite the oomph I expected. Maika Monroe is one to watch after It Follows and the gloriously trashy The Guest and she’s definitely the stand out here, I just wish she’d had worthy material to work with.

I’m also glad they made the central relationship about Julia and TAU and not Julia and Alex, who frankly was a wasted character. I get that he’s supposed to be a man with his eyes on the prize but we never get anything from him. He’s so 2D it’s offensive and maybe that’s the point, that the creator of such advanced AI would end up being less human than his pet project.

While we’re here though, should such sophisticated Artificial Intelligence be that easy to manipulate? As far as I can see, Alex has one job and if he can’t even keep his home in order…

All in all, not a disaster but not amazing either. Poor old Netflix seems to be in a rut churning out mediocre Sci-fi originals at the moment and I hope that changes soon. I should have chosen Mary Shelley instead (and will in the coming weeks).

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my beloved think of this bad boy? Would she save it from itself or prefer to erase all memory of it? You can find out here, as always.

Autumn TV Recommendation: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I’m four episodes into this show and I’m feeling a lot of things. It’s not perfect by any means. Like Riverdale, it’s taken a story we know and love, and given it a dark modern twist. I guess it’s aimed at a YA audience and that might be why I don’t love it as much as I want to. Yet, anyway.

That said I’ve only dipped my foot in so far and there are a lot of things I do like, so I’m going to keep on going. The upside is that it’s come out at just the right time of year – and it’s a show my husband will actually willingly watch with me.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic.

Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) isn’t like most girls. She’s half-witch, half-mortal for a start and as her 16th birthday approaches, she must make a decision that none of us have ever had to make: sign herself over the the Dark Lord himself in exchange for unimaginable power or… not.

Meanwhile, there’s the issue of her boyfriend Harvey, and friends Susie and Rosalind (Lachlan Watson and Jaz Sinclair) to consider. How’s she supposed to leave them all behind to start a new life at witch school? Especially when Susie’s being horribly bullied.

Can she conceivably live a normal mortal life or will her magical side win out? These are the things Sabrina is working through with a little help from her aunts and her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). I think he’s her cousin.

I adore Zelda and Hilda. Ambrose too is delicious and a welcome addition to the Spellman household. Salem, Sabrina’s familiar so far is mute which I find disappointing but I guess it’s to be expected in this contemporary retelling. Still, it’s disappointing as he always used to get the best lines in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Sabrina-Characters-featured

I’m also quite enamored with Mary Wardell (Michelle Gomez), Sabrina’s teacher who is currently possessed by a demon who feasts on male flesh (yay). Although there is sure to be more drama afoot, at the moment she is an ally of the girls’ at school, advocating their women’s group and now, their banned books club.

And finally, the Weird Sisters, the mean girls who rule witch school. They’re so gloriously bitchy and wonderful. I expect big things from them. So yes, there is a lot to love so far and with so many TV shows, it’s more about the supporting characters than the main ones. I’m not quite sold on Sabrina the protagonist yet but there is time.

I’d like more magic, more bitchiness and less romancing Harvey. I want less school unless it’s about the feminist women’s club and I want more Madam Satan.

This show is proving to be very inter-sectional and feminist, I can only hope that continues. There have been some great lines while the whole concept of Sabrina not handing over her freedom to the devil, even if he can give her all the power and magic in the world is an interesting one. It’s bold to say no to the big man himself, and Sabrina is ruffling feathers left and right.

As she says herself, she wants freedom AND power. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. I, for the record, would grab power and sign over my name in a heartbeat.

le-terrificanti-avventure-di-sabrina

What are you watching?