Tag Archives: Romance

Yes or No?

 

A slice of Thai LGBTQ dramarama this week, courtesy of Netflix, which boasts an impressive selection of gay world cinema if you ever fancy it. The main thing I have taken from this viewing experience is the fact I have little to no patience and should probably take a step back and try to enjoy the sloooooooow burn. Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out, loves.

Yes or No? (2010) Yes or No: Yaak Rak Gaw Rak Loey (original title)

Pie is a sweet girl who moves into a new college dorm room where she finds out that her new roommate Kim, is a tomboy who looks and dress like a boy. As their friendship develops, Pie and Kim begin to wonder if the feeling they feel for one another is just an ordinary friendship…

Starring: Sushar Manaying • Supanart Jittaleela • Arisara Thongborisut

*Spoilers*

Uh despite what the synopsis above says, Pie (Sushar Manaying) ain’t that sweet. Not to begin with anyway. She changes dorm rooms at university because she can’t handle the drama from her friend Jane (Arisara Thongborisut), a pretty lesbian who falls in love more often than she changes her knickers.

So, full of excitement for her new start in a new room, she’s peeved to learn her new roommate is a ‘tomboy’. That’s a girl who lacks femininity, dresses like a dude and dates girls if you’re not au fait. Kim (Supanart Jittaleela) isn’t so sure this is what she really is, given that she’s never fancied a boy or a girl but Pie has already taken against her. She quickly sets out clear boundaries, instructing Kim to keep to ‘her side’ (in case dyke germs are contagious) and screaming at her not to make any noise.

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Like I said, kind of a twat. You see, Pie is influenced heavily by what her mother thinks and unfortunately ma is a monster with a very narrow mindset. Kim is a cutie and doesn’t deserve the shit she keeps getting thrown at her so it’s nice when Jane develops a crush on her. But, love is complicated and you’ll never guess who she really has heart eyes for… really, you’ll never see it coming.

Slowly but surely Pie and Kim begin to bond much to Jane’s dismay. Pie also has an on-off love interest skulking around in the shape of mum-approved Van, a dude who constantly turns up unannounced with flowers and tells everyone that he’s Pie’s man.

Honestly, there isn’t an awful lot to this story. Pie and Kim are attracted to each other but Pie is scared and confused by her feelings because of her bitchy mother and her friends, who might take the piss. Kim seems pretty comfortable in her own skin to be honest, as she wraps her head around her feelings for Pie. And she’s forever bringing her slices of cake so she’s definitely a keeper.

“How much can you bench?”

When it all becomes too much and the two lover/friends reach the point where they need to make a decision – yes or no FFS? – will they both have the courage to see it through?

Well, this is the angstiest film I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like an extra, extra long episode of Home and Away from my teen years. I’m not against it for this at all, in fact once I’d got into the groove with the main characters I was enjoying myself. It’s just that it took us nearly two hours to reach any sort of conclusion – and there’s only so much will they/won’t they I can stand. You’re not Tim and Dawn from The Office, guys (UK edition).

I also really hated half the secondary characters. While I wasn’t supposed to agree with anything Pie’s mum had to say – about sexual abomination and going against nature – I expected her to come around for the love of her daughter. Perhaps she did off camera or will in the sequels (of which there are two on Netflix, no less) but I stayed mad at her as the credits rolled.

Pie and Jane’s crew include a grouchy girl named Nerd and the token boy called… Boy. Boy is a highly-sexed oddball who propositions every man or boy within spitting distance and I kind of love him for it. He also sports the exact same haircut that I had in secondary school.

Justice for Jane

My main beef though, pace not included, was that Kim never tells Jane she’s not interested and I feel she deserved better. I mean, yes she falls for a new love every other week but she’s a romantic, give her a break. Also, there’s a really unfortunate rape joke thrown in about two thirds in and a clunky attempted suicide scene which isn’t very sensitive. Don’t play these two things for laughs guys.

I’m here for lesbian love stories though and it’s always refreshing to enter an almost entirely female space so I’m not mad. It’s not very good, the acting is shaky at best and it’s so OTT I felt like throwing my own tantrum just so I didn’t feel left out – but at least it isn’t Peppermint.

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What did my lady love Jill think of this angst-fest? Would she banish it to the other side of the room or push their beds together? Find out here.

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.

Adrift

Adrift (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A true story of survival, as a young couple’s chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

Yikes – this is not an easy watch if you’re terrified of water like me. That it is based on the true story of Tami Ashcraft and her fiance, Richard Sharp makes me all the more determined to always stay on dry land. 

When Tami and Richard (Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin) meet they quickly bond over a love of the ocean. Richard has built his own boat from scratch, while Tami claims not to be a sailor but does pretty well regardless. 

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The pair plan to sail around the world together and get engaged quite quickly but things take a turn when Richard is offered a lot of cash to sail his friends’ boat back to America. He wangles two first class tickets back to their island paradise once the task is done and Tami agrees to sail with him because they’re young and in love – and why not, eh?

The trip starts well but when the pair get caught in the eye of a crazy storm, their idyllic adventure quickly turns into a fight to the death. With Richard badly injured, it falls to Tami to get them to Hawaii and safety – can she keep them fed and sheltered at the same time as keeping them on course?

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Adrift was a lot better than I’d expected. I found the experience incredibly stressful and it was lucky there were only a handful of people watching in our theater because I couldn’t stop fidgeting and shaking my fists/head at the screen. The film is played in flashback and starts with the aftermath of the accident so you’re always aware of how shit things get – but the getting to know you stuff between the couple is sweet.

Shailene Woodley is amazing as Tami and has a presence on-screen that is really something to behold. Sam Claflin is okay but there’s something about him that irritates me and I’m not sure it’s him or the way he plays Richard.

It doesn’t really matter though because this is Woodley’s film and she commands the attention, bringing this story to life almost single-handedly. It also makes you wonder how you’d do in the same situation.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

 

Book Club

Book Club (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.

I’m a sucker for a silver surfer movie and have reviewed a couple already for this blog. If Keaton/Dench/Mirren is in it, take my money and my time, and let me into their world, stat.

Book Club is a more glamorous take on women of a certain age, centered around four golden oldies with varying issues in their personal lives.

Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent(ish) widow whose children are desperate to move her closer to them, even though she’s perfectly cool doing her own thing. Vivian (Jane Fonda) is the hottest mama in town, enjoying liaisons as and when she fancies without any emotional connection – and that’s perfectly fine, right? 

Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a Supreme Court Judge whose husband has left her for a younger model. And Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is happily married but not enjoying a pro-longed dry spell in the bedroom.

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When our Fantastic Four come together at their regular book club they’re able to come clean to each other about these issues. But when Vivian introduces everybody to Christian Grey, something ignites and each begins a new journey of her own.

Well, there’s a lot to like here. Innuendo is a go-go while the performances are great as expected from such Hollywood royalty. It might be hard at times to relate to the glossiness of their lives – so much luxury! – but it’s also escapism and the fantasy of imaging myself as Diane Keaton when I grow up is no bad thing.

It’s so important to be seeing older women on the big screen too – and while the plot does revolve around their interactions with men – and is very rich and white – I take away that this is an ode of sexuality and owning that.

Support from silver foxes Andy Garcia and Don Johnson is fun too and I’m here for it all.

My Rating

3.5/5.

 

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Directed by: Mike Newell
Starring: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Matthew Goode, Katherine Parkinson, Penelope Wilton

IMDB Synopsis

A writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war.

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Monday 30th April
Snacks: Macadamia and white chocolate cookies from Subway (#obsessed)

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Somewhere, at some point I turned into a little old lady with a penchant for period dramas and particularly, films about books and book clubs. I put off seeing this momentarily because of the title. Honestly, it’s explained in the film but it is terrible and deeply unappealing. Which is a shame because this is a good movie, especially if you love the above things as I do.

It’s 1946 and Juliet Ashton (James) is a fairly successful author on the cusp of an exciting national tour. Her latest book is written under the pen name Izzy Bickerstaff and is a compilation of fun stories about life during WWII. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy American (Glen Powell) and has a dope best friend, her agent Sidney (Matthew Goode). One day she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams (Huisman) who happens to have picked up a book Juliet used to own (and has inscribed with her name and previous address).

Somehow the book has found its way to Dawsey by way of his local book club – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (or TGLAPPPS). The society was formed on the hop a few years before the correspondence between Juliet and Dawsey begins. Guernsey at this point is/was occupied by the Germans and life is/was truly miserable for everyone on the island.

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The pen pals start to bond (who knew?) and it’s not long before Juliet and Dawsey are exchanging their stories. When Juliet invites herself to Guernsey to meet the group – and potentially write an article about them – she finds herself embroiled in all their lives, for better or worse.

Guernsey (fuck that title) is a soft and pretty period piece with a bite, thankfully. As Juliet unravels the truth about the book club and its members, she learns that things have not been easy as the years have passed by. The war has claimed many loved ones (not to mention Juliet’s own parents) and still has its claws in Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), a spirited idealist still being kept in a prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany.

The film doesn’t shy away from some brutal scenes and this saves it from being too whimsical. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of soft focus and fannying about Guernsey in dynamite frocks, damn you Lily James but it does have a slight edge.

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The romantic element is no surprise but it’s fun and photogenic – and sometimes that’s not a bad thing. As for talent, national treasure Penelope Wilton is ace as the prickly (and who can blame her) Amelia Maugery, the matriarch of the group who has lost almost everything to the war.

Katherine Parkinson’s hippy dippy Isola Pribby is also a delight and she lives in my actual dream home. James is a likeable leading lady too and although she’s incredibly wholesome, this did illustrate just how wasted she was in Baby Driver (a film not exactly celebrated for it’s female characterisation).

So I do recommend this nice film which could have just as easily been a BBC drama shown on a Sunday night (not a bad thing). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to book a solo jaunt to Guernsey. It looks like actual Heaven.

My Rating

4/5.

God’s Own Country (Film) Review

Here at Collab HQ (it’s more of a state of mind than an actual place given that we’re camped on separate continents), we love to devastate ourselves. Sometimes we favour fluff just to get over the utter weep-fests we’ve put ourselves through.

Although this week’s movie might not have had that exact effect on me, it did leave me with a heavy lump in my chest. It was a movie I felt profoundly and I’m so glad we finally got round to it. Thank you Netflix for coming through.

*Spoilers*

God’s Own Country (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

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My Review

Johnny (Josh O’Connor) lives with his dad and gran on a cattle farm in Yorkshire. Rural life is fucking tough, his father isn’t that well and Johnny dulls his pain and loneliness with booze and secret liaisons with boys down the local (I feel ya, Johnny). Delivered home puking most nights by furious cab drivers, Johnny’s folks just think he’s irresponsible and don’t understand him at all. This just exacerbates his feeling of isolation and when he does bump into friends from his past, he’s bitter because they’ve moved on and left him behind.

When it becomes apparent that the farm will need more help during lambing season, they hire Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who quickly becomes a god send, much to Johnny’s irritation. The pair doesn’t hit it off immediately and Johnny burns bridges in the first few days by referring to Gheorghe as ‘gyppo’.

While Gheorghe pretty much just gets on with it, even around the awkward energy between Johnny and his family, he doesn’t take kindly to Johnny’s racist attitude and nips it in the bud quickly. One weekend, away from the farm but very much on farming duties, the boys come head to head and the friction that’s been building between them explodes. What begins with a fight, ends in rough sex in the mud.

After this encounter, the two barely speak about it though there has been an unmistakable shift between them. Later that night, they fuck again, this time with a little more tenderness.

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Back at the ranch, the sex continues but it also becomes more than that. Johnny invites his lover to share his bed in the farmhouse but he declines, preferring to stay in the caravan.

As Johnny and Gheorghe get closer, Johnny’s father suffers another stroke and the future of the farm is placed in Johnny’s calloused hands. When he discusses the prospect of Gheorghe staying on and permanently running the farm with him, Gheorghe expresses some concerns, namely living and working together simultaneously.

This sends Johnny into a tailspin and he acts out enough to send Gheorghe packing. Gheorghe also suffers some predjudice in the pub which doesn’t help.

Johnny’s nan Deidre (Gemma Jones) blames him for fucking up again and wonders how they’ll manage now. When Johnny goes to see his father about the future, he’s surprisingly understanding and gives his blessing for Johnny to do what he needs to to be happy – can you guess what that is?

Will Johnny do the right thing and make a success of his future finally? What do you think?

This film is gorgeous to look at but it’s all in the glances our lovers share, in the secret looks and the slightest of gestures. It’s in the loneliness, the isolation and the ache of not being able to be open to who they are – until they can be open with each other and I really felt it all.

The performances are heartfelt, while the pace of the film is quite slow which I didn’t mind. Not once did this feel like a slog and I think there’s a skill in that kind of film making. The movie very subtley addresses the topic of homophobia but more so in the fact that it isn’t talked about and everything has to be secret. While I don’t remember any out and out prejudice, this is only because Johnny’s not out publicly.

It was heart-warming to learn that perhaps Johnny’s family knew more than he thought about his ‘secret’ and that in their own sweet way they just wanted what was best for him. As for Gheorghe, we get little insight into his own life in Romania, something I would have liked but I understand wasn’t strictly necessary.

All in all this is a nice love story that felt authentic – and yes, it almost finished me.

My Rating

4.5/5.

What did my love think of this one? Would she take it down the local for a fumble or toss it out with the cold bath water? Find out here of course.

Irreplaceable You (Film) Review

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Is there anything more baller than fixing up your loved one with his next love interest before you pass on? I think not. It might be a bit dubious given freedom of choice but the thought is there.

This is the premise we’re faced with this week and I’ll warn you, this is not an easy watch, especially if you have a frame of reference around The Big C. I know, right, who hasn’t? Here we go.

Irreplaceable You (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A couple who have known each other since 8 are destined to be together until death do them apart.

My Review

This is not a film that would have interested me that much had Christopher Walken and Kate McKinnon not been in it. It was the bit with the support group that sold this to me in the trailer and I’m not sorry. It’s as sweet and weepy as expected. Is it breaking molds and pissing all over boundaries? It is not but I can’t expect that of all films, all the time.

Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman, Daenerys’ fuck piece in Game of Thrones) have been together since they were kids. They’re destined to be together basically and everything is amazing until they mistake a tumor growing inside Abbie for a foetus. That’s right, that old bastard malignant cancer has come to devastate yet another set of lives and there’s little anybody can do.

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Of course Abbie is gutted but she gets on with treatment as best she can. She bonds with her nurse Dominic in the treatment suite (Timothy Simons) and joins a local support group, run by Mitch (Steve Coogan). Here she meets a band of unlikely allies; Glass Half Full Kate (McKinnon), Myron (Walken), Mean Phil and some others. She also learns that crocheting is a metaphor for… getting on with shit? Death?

At first our protagonist is not keen to mingle in this new environment but after a few choice words from Myron, she decides to return. A solid friendship is also born between this unlikely pair and honestly, it’s one of the best things about the film.

During a conversation however, about how Sam is likely to go through a slut phase when Abbie is gone, an idea is conceived: Abbie will pick her replacement now, saving him the job. Our girl is convinced her man is going to be such a hot commodity that he won’t stand a chance against the women of the world – and that his inexperience with the opposite sex will not serve him well either. Oh ye of little faith.

In a distinctly un-feminist montage, Abbie interviews a whole slew of supposedly unsuitable ladies she’s stalked in Tinder, deeming none of them right for Sam. They’re all either too mental or attached to their cats for Sam but then she meets cute barista Sally who wholeheartedly embraces this unorthodox plan and even helps Abbie out a couple of times. That there’s a bit of an unexpected spark between Sam and Sally when they meet does not go unnoticed by Abbie or us, the dear viewer.

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Well, as with any cutesy plan, a flaw usually comes along to derail it and in this scenario it’s Sam himself. Horrified that Abbie thinks so little of him being able to take care of business himself, he gets mad and says something hurtful he can’t take back. The pair start to show signs of strain and decide to spend some time apart.

In this time, Abbie suffers a great loss and makes a couple of life-changing decisions for herself. What will become of our lovers, The Plan and everyone close to Abbie? Well, you know the drill.

My Thoughts

You know right away how this one ends up, so there’s no will she/won’t she. Despite its depressing outcome it has some minor laughs and both leads are likeable if a little bland.

As mentioned, the supporting characters are the ones that keep this engine ticking over. I really found Glass Half Full Kate’s honest monologue touching and relateable. Her world view is basically the same as mine and if she was a real person I would have grabbed her in a bear hug and never let go.

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Cancer fucking sucks and it ruins lives. It take our loved ones without prejudice and I hate it but being able to talk about death and loss and love , well it’s healthy and real. Unavoidable some might say. But it’s the love and the light and all the cliches that are what matters ultimately and this is what the film says. Again, no surprises just a nice film with some good bits.

My Rating

3/5. Pass the tissues.

What did my Queen think of this one? Would she meet it in group or run away never to return again? Find out here.

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