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?

Big Screen Girl Gang 

I stole this idea from last month’s Cosmopolitan, not going to lie. It was lying around in the gym last night and I take my inspiration where I can get it. Cosmo’s version has more of a single girl flavour though, choosing to celebrate the solo babes of cinema in line with the release of Bridget Jone’s Baby.

I’m just picking the 8 movie women I’d most like to hang with and why, because why wouldn’t I? It’s an awesome plan.

In no particular order:

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Who? Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Why? Look, Lisbeth isn’t exactly warm and fluffy, I know this. Hugs might be a little light on the ground but when it comes to loyalty, there’s nobody more so. I’m all about that and appreciate it in friends. Plus, if I accidentally ever send a dodgy email to somebody, who better than Lisbeth to intercept it before it gets read?
What she’d teach me: How to actually use my laptop for more than just streaming Netflix and buying toot.

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Who? Beatrix Kiddo AKA The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2)
Why? She’s just very cool and focused. I could use inspiration like that in my life. She also has the whole revenge thing down pat so I know, if anyone ever really hurt me, she’d have some tips on how to deal.
What she’d teach me: How to be handy with the Japanese steel, or failing that, a stick from the park.

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Who? Alabama Worley, née Whitman (Patricia Arquette, True Romance)
Why? Alabama is sweetness personified with, like me, a love of martial art movies and pie. She also believes in true love and girl, you got me there. Love is the only thing that really matters in life as far as I’m concerned, be it romantic, parental, whatever – there’s a reason it makes the world go round.
What she’d teach me: How to be creative and strong in a fight, whilst rocking the shit out of leopard print and candy-coloured Lycra.

My tribute to Alabama, here.

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Who? Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary)
Why? Mary would be the hot friend I had a bit of a thing for. She’s an academic but she’s also open to trying new and bizarre things. The desire to accompany her on these adventures would hopefully rub off on me. She’d likely be the most open-minded of the gang and ferociously feminist, which is fine by me.
What she’d teach me: To express myself better. How to be braver when I get piercings.

My review of the film, here.

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Who? Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbusters)
Why? She’s so fun and smart, and rocks a boiler suit like nobody’s business. She’s also not afraid to fight for what she believes in (ghosts), even when the rest of the world is rolling their eyes at her and her team. She’d probably make me look cleverer just by association.
What she’d teach me: Sciencey shit and how to wield a proton pack (like I wouldn’t ask to try it).

My review of the film, here.

Gilmore Girls TV Series starring Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann as Emily and Richard Gilmore - dvdbash

Who? Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop, Gilmore Girls)
Why? Not technically a ‘big screen’ character but Emily stays. (She was in Dirty Dancing and a load of other films, what more do you want from me?). Em might seem like a controversial choice with a few decades on the rest of us but man is she good fun. Appreciates a damn good drink, always comes through for her loved ones and is the sassiest person in the Stars Hollow area (yes I know she’s a way out of town). You’d always be drunk and/or laughing your arse off round Emily’s.
What she’d teach me: How to burn my haters with the flick of my tongue (not like that, you pervs).

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Who? Margaret (Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins)
Why? Why not? She’s so adorable. A bit bumbling but then so am I. She’s a hooker in the loosest sense of the word and one could argue, the worst of all time which just makes her more endearing. Margaret would most certainly be the ‘Bad Sex’ storyteller of the group. TBH I’ve just been reminded of the single best quote in cinematic history, uttered by Margaret about her plus size vagina to “The Mumbling Erotic Accessory Salesman” trying to sell her a merkin.
What she’d teach me: How to be resourceful when I’m down and out.

My review of the film, here.

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Who? Barb Holland (Shannon Purser, Stranger Things)
Why? Barb’s another small screen sensation but I was hardly going to exclude her from my dream girl gang, was I? Every squad needs a sensible type and Barb’s not a great drinker, is the designated driver and will worry about my morals for me (although p. sure that ship has sailed and circled the globe several times already). I’d keep her away from pools and beer cans though, she’s a bit of a liability.
What she’d teach me: To make the right decisions. Maybe. Probably not. But she’d try.

My tribute to Barb, here.

~

Who do you choose for your Girl Gang? ❤

The Final Girl

American Mary
American Mary (2012)
I realised the other day, in the horror movie of my past life, that I am the Final Girl.

I’d already typed this post up a few times but when I read back my words they felt so clinical, nowhere close to what I wanted to say. It might be construed as unhealthy to look back on bad points in time but I do it to show myself how far I’ve come. Like, gurl, you survived that all on your own (with a little help from my friends, obvi).

So I’m retyping this from the heart because a) I want to pay homage to the Final Girl (and myself) and b) I think it’s important to revisit every now and again. Kind of like a modern-day Ghost of Lives Past. But first, to the Final Girl theory and what it all means.

If you’re any sort of a Horror fiend like me (and I’m starting to believe I really know nothing compared to some of the horror-heads in my life), you will already be well-versed in the Final Girl as a concept. If you don’t recognise it as a traditional horror trope, you will know, and probably love, plenty of final girls.

Halloween (1978)
Halloween (1978)
In my own words, the Final Girl is a Horror movie euphemism most dominant within slasher films, such as Halloween (1978) (God bless you Laurie Strode). It refers to the last woman left alive to face her antagonist, usually to tell the whole bloody tale.

It is important to point out that the Final Girl may be the last survivor of the horror but she doesn’t always live happily ever after (or at all). She is usually seen as more morally sound than the rest of her peers, often brunette in contrast to her blonder friends (not saying this is right or fair), sometimes academic, sometimes the only stability in another character’s life, a sibling or a parent. What makes her stand out from ‘the rest’ is the fact these moral standards never slip.

Sometimes she may veer away from the good girl stereotype (and don’t be mistaken, she’s not always a recognisably ‘good’ character). She may take on questionable characteristics in her fight to the bitter end but the back bone of what she believes will remain.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
When I think of the Final Girl, I always think first of Sally (Marilyn Burns), only survivor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Bloody, limping and semi-naked, this FG runs for dear life through the brush and only just escapes as Leatherface (whose weapon of choice is rather obvious) dances maniacally behind her.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) of the aforementioned Halloween movies may be the best known Final Girl but there are lots of just as interesting ones.

Most notable for me are: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, the Scream movies), Mia (Jane Levy, Evil Dead remake), Sarah (Shauna Macdonald, The Descent), Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence, Hellraiser I & II), Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara/Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and sequels, as well as the books) and Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle, American Mary), who’s own arc takes her from victim to perpetrator quite quickly, turning the whole issue of moral code on its head. This doesn’t stop her being one of my very favourites (I just fucking love the film, okay).

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Don’t Breathe (2016)
I recently watched Don’t Breathe (2016) which has a great example of the Final Girl at play (thanks Meghan Lightle). While the film for me was a little disappointing and messy – *SPOILER ALERT* – Rocky (Jane Levy, who also plays Mia in ED (2013)) is a fine Final Girl, rough around the edges, sure but with a strong sense of family (lovely younger sister, hateful mother, dreams of escape).

Of course this doesn’t excuse her actions but it does make you want her to get out and, once the true horror of her situation unravels, you root for it even more. Whether she gets out clean to start her new life with her kid sis is for you to find out but she’ll damn well give it a go.

She might not be the most empowered horror heroine I’ve ever seen but strength is conveyed in different ways (see the contrast between Game of Thrones’ current FGs*, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Aria Stark (Maisie Williams) for a good illustration of this) – and sometimes the proof is in the pudding.

You see where I’m coming from with the Final Girl analogy, right? We are all final girls, or we can be. For a minute there I almost succumbed to surrender, to waving the white flag and accepting my fate: not actual death but the not living either equivalent. I wanted death, prayed for something, anything to stop the pain and then one day it did, turns out it was my own squeaky voice. The fight, when it comes, is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

To all the Final Girls onscreen and all the Final Girls IRL, I feel you. ❤

Wikipedia’s take on the Final Girl is here.

*LOL

Please note, this is supposed to be a lighthearted(ish) look at the end of a shit relationship. A lot of women don’t escape their own horror and I’m thinking of them too. ❤