Climax

Climax (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

TW: Violence, pregnancy, suicide.

Gaspar Noé and I share a complicated relationship. I just love to hate him and all because of the terrible, over-sexed Love (my review of it here). I always feel like he’s done more than just that to warrant this reaction but he really hasn’t.

Irreversible (2002) is not a bad film, however brutal and difficult it is to stomach and those, until this morning, were the only Noé films I had seen. 

And now there’s Climax.

I bloody loved it!

It still sports all the classic Noé trademarks: the hyper-real dialogue, the not very likeable characters, the rapid descent in madness and Hell – but it’s brilliant. I’ve rented it on Amazon Prime and I’m tempted to go back for another watch because honestly, I was gripped from the get go.

I don’t want to give anything away because – and I say this a lot within my ‘reviews’ – I went in with little to no knowledge of the plot. My lovely friend Matt and I listen to a podcast called Evolution of Horror and during their 2018 horror movie review, the host Mike Mucher and guest discussed their favourite movies of the year. Climax was one of them.

All I remember about it is that they compared it to Suspiria (2018) and coined the term Dance Horror, a sub-genre I am very much here for.

In 1996, 20 French urban dancers gather in an abandoned dance school (familiar?) for a three-day rehearsal before they embark on a tour of the US. In high spirits and gagging for a party to celebrate their hard work, the collective enjoy a night swilling sangria and getting crazy. As there are so many characters it does get quite challenging to keep up with who’s who and more importantly, who’s banging who. As you’d expect, all those writhing nubile bodies need somewhere to connect and so there’s a whole lot of coupling going on.

David (Romain Guillermic) is with group leader Selva (Sofia Boutella) but boasts that he’s fucked every other woman in the troupe on the side. One of dancers ‘jokes’ that he must be riddled with STDs. He’s literally the worst (a classic Noé fuck boi) and the way he talks about women makes me look forward to all he’s got coming to him.

Gazelle (Giselle Palmer) has been dating Omar (Adrien Sissoko) for nine months, much to the disgust of her older brother who maintains that just ‘cos he can have his dick sucked any time he likes, it doesn’t mean she gets to suck any. (This is just a slice of the kind of conversation you can expect from the group, it’s coarse, misogynistic AF and rife with double standard).

We also have Emmanuelle (Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull), a single mum with her son Tito in tow, secretly pregnant dancer Lou (Souheila Yacoub) who has no clue who the father is and young Riley (Lakdhar Dridi), who’s determined to get his cherry popped tonight, preferably by David.

Psyche (Thea Carla Schott) and her lover Ivana (Sharleen Temple) are a couple on the rocks while Daddy (Kiddy Smile) watches over the flock, a grinning teddy bear on the decks. There are many other side characters and nobody here is all that relateable or nice. However, I did feel small mounts of sympathy when things get real quickly. Even David warrants some later on, however fleeting.

Climax works beautifully. It descends into horror and chaos quickly, after a very healthy intro. In fact, the actual opening title sequence starts around halfway through the film (while the closing credits appear at the beginning, and the title card at the very end). The dance sequences are enjoyable and much more accessible that the artistic moves of Suspiria. There’s a lot of Vogue-ing going on and all those limbs! These kids can contort in ways I never knew possible.

Later these shapes and movements will come back to haunt us as grotesque background pieces. Again, without giving too much away, shit kicks off and the troupe quickly begins to unravel. Former alliances crumble as distrust grows and pack mentality wins out. People are punished for imagined crimes (horribly) while others are pressured into taking their own action.

As the horror escalates we follow Selva and friends through the gateway to twenty personal nightmares. Things become disorientated, camera angles turn on their head. The use of colour is very effective, and reminiscent of a lot of Noé’s work – and just adds to the feeling of control slipping through our fingers, even as viewer.

Each room in the school becomes it’s own grimy vignette and you don’t know what’s coming next, what you’re walking into. And the sound – the screams and the yelling as they echo around the building – they hint at unimaginable horror.

I can imagine that anyone going into this with the expectation of traditional horror might be disappointed. I’ve read a few reviews that suggest that apart from some clever camera work not all that much happens. I disagree and the more I think about it the more I love it. It might not follow the rules of your average slasher nor submit to a supernatural narrative but that in some ways makes it worse. The dark side of human nature is terrifying and in this claustrophobic setting, with the lights off and the doors locked – what could be worse than losing control of all your senses?

I wouldn’t say I’m a newly converted Gaspar Noé fan but I suppose I’ll be open to what he does next. I still don’t think I’ll ever be ready for Enter the Void (2009) though.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

 

The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders (2018)

If I’m perfectly honest the real star of this movie is Bubbles’ (Maya Rudolph) wardrobe. Sis can really dress. The rest of it is… not brilliant. The jokes don’t often land, it’s gross for the sake of being gross and shocking – and it just doesn’t have the heart it thinks it does. That said, I didn’t hate it and I get what they were trying for.

Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) is a disgraced LAPD officer turned private dick. Living in a puppet/human where puppets are washed up and mostly disregarded by society, he’s doing what he can to stay afloat. When a series of murders are committed on puppets, it soon becomes clear that there’s something fishy going on.

Phil himself is present at the first hit where he has the misfortune of bumping into his ex-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). This brings up lots of old memories about the fateful day that ended his career – and ultimately their partnership. But there’s a murderer at large who seems to be knocking off a very specific list of puppets, including Phil’s actor brother – can our frenemies work together once more to get to the bottom of the case?


Meanwhile, Phil has an even more personal investment in the case because of his former lover Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the only human on the list of potential victims. Will he be able to protect her?

There are some scenarios that I didn’t hate and some jokes did make me laugh but they aren’t consistent and if I’m honest, it’s mostly forgettable. McCarthy is always my favourite in everything but this doesn’t showcase her talent too well. I feel a little bit torn by all the sex jokes, like they don’t work here but could they have if the rating had been higher and Director Brian Henson (Jim Henson‘s son) had gone all out? Here they feel out-of-place and clunky – and cheap.

I was a fan of Rudolph’s Bubbles though and it wasn’t quite as bad as all the reviews would have me believe. Which really isn’t saying much.

My Rating

2.5/5.

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 Art of Loving (Film) Review

Free for all month and we start June with this biopic of awesome polish gynaecologist Michalina Wislocka, a sex campaigner who rocked the sex lives of polish women forever. My new favourite heroine basically.

*Spoilers*

The Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Michalina Wislocka, the most famous and recognized sexologist of communist Poland, fights for the right to publish her book, which will change the sex life of Polish people forever.

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My Review

Michalina Wislocka was a well-respected gynaecologist and massive influence over the sex lives of women living and loving in Poland under communist rule. An activist for sex ed for all, we meet her (played perfectly by Magdalena Boczarskaat the beginning of this biopic as the author of a new book entitled “The Art of Loving”.

Unfortunately, she faces a hell of an opposition from the communist party, the censors and the church because of her frank talk and non-academic way of phrasing things so everyone can understand them. Plus the mostly male objectors just don’t care much about women’s pleasure (who knew?). As she battles to get her tome published, without sacrificing any of its vital content (including the chapter on the female orgasm), we learn how she became the great woman she was.

TAOL takes us from current day (the seventies) back to the birth of Michalina’s forward thinking ways during the war and to her first marriage to a biologist that ended in a long-term love triangle with her best friend Wanda. Wanda is brought into the domestic mix so that Michalina doesn’t have to shag her husband, whom she loves dearly but doesn’t fancy (or rather, she finds sex painful). The relationship comes to a head (pnar) many years and two children (by different mums) later when her husband decides he loves Wanda and Wanda angrily demands the right to be loved too.

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Following the bust up of her family life, Michalina throws herself into her work and research and this eventually brings her to meet a new lover. Sex becomes a thing of pure joy and opens up a whole new world to our heroine. While the relationship is ultimately doomed from the start, it’s valuable lessons certainly contribute to Micalina’s success.

Will she get this damn book published and see it reprinted a further billion times* in her lifetime?

I really enjoyed this film, which marries serious subject matter with a wry sense of humour. Boczarska is magnificent as Michalina. She plays her part with relish and is completely believable as a warrior for women’s sex rights. It’s also poignant as fuck when she finds out her old lover has passed away years later. 

I’m quite cross with myself that I didn’t know more about this incredible woman before now and I definitely recommend this film, which in parts sort of reminded me of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) – must be because of the threesomes!

SZTUKA KOCHANIA  - © Fot Jaroslaw Sosinski / Watchout

My Rating

4/5. Sex-tastic!

What did my sex pot think of this? Would she censor the fudge out of it or send it a lifetime supply of johnnys? Find out here.

*Not actual figures.

Permission (Film) Review

April already and time for a new Collab category but do you think we can think of anything? Can we fuck. So it’s a Free for All again and I’m not mad about it. I’m mad about this week’s film however but that’s another story.

*Spoilers*

Permission (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend.

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My Review

Will (Dan Stevens) and Anna (the luminous Rebecca Hall) are childhood sweethearts blissfully in love and happy in life. Anna’s some sort of academic while Will makes tables, and in his spare time renovates a home for the two of them to live in. Once completed the plan is that they’ll move in, get engaged, have the babies, all that jazz.

This is all well and good but you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? On the night of Anna’s 30th birthday, one of their friends (more on this arse clown later) mocks them for being boring and ponders how they can possibly be happy never to see anyone else’s junk. The couple is initially bemused by this reaction but it triggers a conversation that leads to an agreement that they will in fact sow some oats with other people before they put a ring on it. They’re strong enough, right? And it’s all just physical – RIGHT?

*Raised eyebrow*

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Well, straight off the bat Anna gets down with sexy Dane who she meets in a club when she’s with Will. Will’s all for the union and Anna enjoys herself, despite the initial butterflies. Will in turn is not short of offers and soon afterwards gets it on with Gina Gershon (who’s the best thing in this film). When Anna finds out, she pushes Will to see her again because she wants to spend more time with Dane. And here’s where things start to unravel… like, what? I get that no strings loving can be hard to do if you’re not that kind of person but you’re not looking for new relationships, guys. Or…?

It should be said that they also each make a questionable sexual decision in addition to Dane and Lydia, and this might be why they go running back into the safe arms of their initial conquests.

Running parallel to the main relationship woe is the slow disintegration of Reece and Hale’s relationship. Reece is the jerk friend who suggested Will and Anna’s way of life was a problem in the first place. Hale is desperate for a child and Reece won’t even discuss it with him. He’s happier to cast judgement on Will for shagging around – DESPITE THE FACT HE’S THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! These dudes are the worst with Hale being incredibly passive and annoying – and Reece just generally being unbearable.

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While I appreciate the premise of this film, I definitely expected it to be a lot more fun. Forgive me for expecting a movie with this central cast to be a witty sex comedy. Instead it was bleak and stupid. The ending is really frustrating – and I’m no fan of the cavalier and selfish way in which both Will and Anna treat the new people in their lives. Anna more so.

Permission does get points for being good looking, as is Rebecca Hall who is always head and shoulders above anyone else in her movies. It doesn’t give us the happy, sickly ending we were expecting (I was certainly expecting it), and I liked that even though I shouted at the screen because it was also kind of bitchy. I felt bad for one of the parties.

Gershon is a fucking gem, always and her divorcee Lydia was probably the most fun I had throughout. I can’t tell you how bored I was by the secondary “Waaaaah-can-we-have-a-baby” drams.

I don’t know, I’m not sure what the message is supposed to be: Good, healthy relationships are bad and boring, so nobody should have one? I’d say it should be: if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it but what do I know?

My Rating

3/5. Meh.

What did Jill think of this one? I think I know because we messaged back and forth about our mutual frustrations. But officially, would she dump this to bone other films or prefer to live monogamously for the rest of time? Find out here.

Filth (Film) Review

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Jillian’s choice for our Free For All Fortnight and cor blimey it’s a good ‘un. If you like cocks, swearing, vomit, spit, shagging, cross dressing, cocaine and violence that is.

Luckily, I live for that shit!

All that really matters here is that I’m not watching If I Stay and being bored to tears so right away Filth has the upper hand. I’ve actually seen this film before but I don’t have to be asked twice to spend a few hours with Jame McAvoy, even if he is a git of the highest order here.

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Scream if you want to go faster!

I’m a big Irvine Welsh fan but haven’t actually read the novel Filth yet, though it is on my shelf. I’m told it explains parts of the film much better than the film does, but I’ll have to reserve judgement until I actually pick it up. Getting into the way Irvine Welsh writes can sometimes seem like a chore, though once you’re there it is well worth it.

To the film!

As always *Spoiler Alerts!*

Filth (2013)

Director: Jon S. Baird
Stars: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan

IMDB Synopsis: A corrupt, junkie cop with Borderline Personality Disorder attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own borderline-fueled inner demons.

My Review:

Bruce Robertson is a bit of a mess, truth be told. Junkie, corrupt, alcoholic, arsehole – any one of these words and more could be used to accurately describe our friend. Yet, he’s happily married with a child and being considered for a promotion, from Detective Sergeant to Inspector.

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Haven’t you ever been tempted? (All the effing time)

Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that things aren’t as they seem with this guy and that he’s suffering from a personality disorder. He’s not a nice person really, displaying all the traits of someone you would move heaven and earth to avoid (aka. my ex) yet, not everyone is onto Bruce yet.

Despite his secret campaign to bring down pretty much everyone he’s ever met, including his work colleagues (and competition), Bruce still has one true friend, Clifford Blades. This doesn’t make Bruce soft, however as he has a unique way to thank Clifford for his loyalty, and it ain’t flowers and chocolate.

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“No thanks, I’ve already eaten.”

The film begins with the unfortunate murder of a Japanese tourist, witnessed by a mystery blonde in a leopard print coat. The kids responsible for beating this poor boy to death are startled away when they realise they’ve been spotted.

Later, we find out this is the case Bruce is working on. The appearance of the glamorous blonde is significant as she bears more than a passing resemblance to Carole Robertson (Shauna Macdonald), Bruce’s wife. This may be the reason Bruce fails to mention her as their main witness to the rest of the team.

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Inception but with bras

As Bruce and his colleagues start to look into the murder case, he starts to lose it big time, suffering from severe hallucinations, not helped by the copious amount of drugs and booze he’s consuming. Bruce is haunted not only by these terrifying illusions but it seems also by a small ghost boy called Davey. What’s that all about, hmmm?

Bruce is obviously a troubled soul who might not be worth saving but he’s obviously arrived at this place through a serious of tragedies. We soon learn Carole has left for another man and taken their daughter with her, leaving Bruce bereft. Can he get this promotion and win back his family? (Don’t worry, questions section to follow!).

In the midst of all this trauma, comes a sliver of hope in the form of Mary (Joanne Froggatt), a recently widowed young mother. Bruce was there when her partner suffered a heart attack in the street and tried to save his life – so Mary thinks Bruce is a good person.

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The new Wetherspoon’s had gone very avant garde with its new decor

I feel like I don’t want to give too much away on this film as it is a bit of a caper, leading you down, down, down to rock bottom and beyond. He makes prank phone calls to Clifford’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson) then frames Clifford; steals, lies, cheats and manipulates until there’s nowhere else for him to go.

Let’s just say Bruce fucks over people without prejudice, has violently abusive relationships, shags everyone and hurts the people who care for him the most. Admittedly, this list of loved ones is dwindling quickly.

But where will he go from here and can he get any lower?

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Jame is being very mean in this scene

Want some questions? I got questions! Is there a good person at the core of Bruce? Will he get his family back, or will he start a fresh elsewhere? Will he ever make it up to adorable Clifford, the one true friend he has?

Will Clifford ever get a decent pair of spectacles? And will he ever get anywhere with his perpetually unimpressed bride?

Will Bruce pull it together and get the promotion, or at the very least will he solve the murder? Who’s the mystery blonde, and where can I get her coat?

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My Thoughts:

Phew. This isn’t for the faint-hearted which is exactly why I liked it. I love James McAvoy and appreciate his diverse CV. I even fancied him in this which is pretty hard to do since he’s repugnant.

I must admit to watching this with redemption in mind, I mean most awful human beings in films (only films alas) end up redeeming themselves somehow, if not undergoing a complete moral turnaround. I can’t say if I was right to hope for this but I can say that I’d forgotten the ending until it started playing out again, and it hasn’t lost its impact.

BTW this film stars one of my all time favourite actors, Eddie Marsan who plays Clifford. He’s such a nuanced actor and recently moved me to near hysterics in a low-key film called Still Life (2013), which I really recommend.

All in all, I don’t have much bad to say other than a lot of things have happened to Bruce to make him who he is and it could get a bit all over the place if you weren’t paying attention. The surreal sessions he shares with his psychiatrist (Broadbent) get a little grating after a while.

Also, the bit I mentioned above that is elaborated on in the book (apparently) does not come through in the film at all.

My Rating: 4/5 (5/5 for Jame McAvoy, any day of the week)

What did Jill think? Pop on over for a look-see shortly!