Directed &/or written by women, April 2016

My reading comprehension seems a bit off, today, so I hope I haven’t missed any releases. Please note that these are Australian release dates.

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Films directed/co-directed by a woman opening in April 2016:

Wide Open Sky directed by Lisa Nicol, release date 14th of April 2016 (via Palace Cinemas)

Finding Mr Right 2 directed by Xue Xiaolu, release date 28th of April 2016 (via Hoyts)

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Films written/co-written by a woman opening in April 2016:

The Boss co-written by Melissa McCarthy (directed by Ben Falcone), release date 14th of April 2016 (via Palace Cinemas)

Mother’s Day co-written by Lily Hollander and Anya Kochoff (directed by Garry Marshall), release date 28th of April 2016 (via Hoyts)

Check below for where the films are screening:

Palace Nova; Hoyts; Wallis; Greater Union; Capri Theatre; Odeon Star; The Regal Theatre/Trak Cinemas.

Also, I’m just one (forgetful and easily overwhelmed) person and can sometimes miss things so, as always, please let me know if I have! I think doing these once a month means I sometimes miss films that pop up unexpectedly but I don’t think I could manage doing them more frequently, just yet.

Note: information correct at time of publishing.

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Designer Spotlight: Sandy Powell

Picture heavy post.

This post is even shorter again than the last; I had planned to post it in February but completely forgot to finish it, so it’s a little slapdash. It’s also formatted a little differently and I’ve left out so many of the films I’ve seen that she’s worked on, because I got a bit overwhelmed.

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The third post in my ‘Designer Spotlight’ series is focused on Sandy Powell OBE. Born in 1960, Powell is a British costume designer who has won three Academy Awards (for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria) and worked with directors such as Derek Jarman (Caravaggio is her first film credit), Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes.

Like Colleen Atwood, Powell often collaborates with one of my favourite directors – this time, with Todd Haynes. She designed the costumes for one of my all-time favourite movies, Velvet Goldmine, a glam-rock faux biopic which marries the career of David Bowie with the narrative structure of Citizen Kane. Naturally, the costumes are a vital element of the film, aiding in the construction of the central character Brian Slade and all those around him.

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This is my absolute favourite costume of the entire film. It’s like a fop and a glam-rock star had a baby. The contrasting textures and competing patterns should be overwhelming but they’re tied together with the colour palette, lilac being used as an anchor throughout. You can see the costume in action in this video.

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The feathered neck piece is so dramatic, which works perfectly for this scene: the ‘death’ of Brian Slade, which turns out to be a hoax. The silver bodysuit is the perfect colour to show up the bright red blood.

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Again, the contrasting textures are eye-catching and the costume recalls 18th and 19th century men’s fashions.

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This scene is a lot of fun and there are so many fabulous costumes in it. Mandy’s dress in the first screencap above is easily my favourite: I love all the colours, the oversized hat and the gorgeous platform sandals.

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I love how everyone in Brian’s entourage sort of has a theme with their costumes. Mandy has her leopard print for one, seen here in this magnificent skirt suit.

I apologise for the quality of the Velvet Goldmine screencaps. I have a really old copy of the movie and the resolution is clearly not that great.

Continue reading

Griff the Invisible, 2011

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Griff the Invisible, directed by Leon Ford, centres on the titular Griff, an awkward office worker who plays superhero by night; his goal is to make an invisibility suit. He lives alone and has no friends, but is sometimes visited by brother, Tim, who tells him about his new girlfriend, Melody. Eventually Griff meets Melody, a strange woman, full of random facts, who has a theory that we can pass through solid matter if the spaces between our atoms align properly. The two are obviously kindred spirits and, inevitably, they fall in love. While it follows rom-com conventions, it is quite unique and it’s definitely not a standard superhero flick. It is, to use an overused word, ‘quirky’ but it’s not entirely light or fluffy as that may suggest.

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I related to this film in a lot of ways. I don’t experience life exactly how Griff does (or Melody) but I’ve never really fit in anywhere. Even in those places us outcasts are meant to band together and find our niche, I don’t really fit in (though I’m lucky to have found a few friends I feel at ease with). Finding characters I can truly relate to in movies is like finding my place in the world for a little while.

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“I live in a bubble that no one – no one – gets into. I feel like an alien. I live in a completely different world to the one everyone else is in. I can’t communicate with anyone. I can talk to them but I cannot communicate.”

This is a really sweet film but it doesn’t entirely shy away from the ugliness of being neuroatypical/neurodivergent (as Griff and Melody undoubtedly are) – from the blatant cruelties of bullies like Tony to the more subtle ones of Griff’s brother who is desperate for Griff to be ‘normal’. (When he told Griff ‘I know you’re normal underneath’ my heart broke a little).

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It is its sweetness, though, that made this an instant favourite for me. It’s nice to see a love story where both parties are ‘freaks’ (in Melody’s own words) and they can find solace and acceptance in each other.

I liked the design of the film, too – there’s a lot of yellow and there are a lot of ‘retro’ looking elements that I enjoyed.

It’s definitely a little strange but it’s about two people who embrace their weirdness, so I don’t think it should be anything else.

Originally posted on letterboxd; slightly modified for posting here.

Star Trek update

My journey into the original series, and subsequent films, of Star Trek has come to an end (for now). I’m taking a break before I get into The Next Generation, and so on, but I did say that I’d do a second post once I watched the last three films.

This is neither as long, nor as picture heavy, as my first post – I got a bit burnt out on writing after all of that. I want to challenge myself with my writing, so that the quality improves, but some days it’s not a matter of writer’s block, so much as being completely empty. These are all tidied up from the letterboxd reviews I dashed off after viewing each film.

The Voyage Home dir. Leonard Nimoy, 1986

“Oh, him? He’s harmless. Back in the sixties, he was part of the free speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS.”

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That awkward moment when you’re terrified of whales but are determined to watch all the original Star Trek movies…including the one about the whales. At least I knew that going in, though. Part of me was thinking ‘whales, why’d it have to be whales?’ this whole film but, well, the environmental message wouldn’t really be the same without them.

Terrifying sea dwelling mammals aside, this is a whole lot of fun. It’s very silly (I love silly movies) and charming. The whole ‘do you like Italian?’ exchange was one of my favourites – I had to pause the film to catch my breath. I also enjoyed Scotty talking into the computer’s mouse, Spock trying to swear and Uhura and Chekov asking all those people on the street where to find nuclear ‘wessels’. I just couldn’t pick a favourite funny moment.

Most of the tears shed in this film were tears of laughter, but I did get a bit choked up at the end (Spock with Sarek, the crew seeing the new Enterprise).

Anyway, silly, funny and fun and exactly what I needed when I watched it (except for the whales).

Edited from letterboxd review, which can be read here.

The Final Frontier dir. William Shatner, 1989

“I thought you said men like us don’t have families.”
“I was wrong.”

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I’ll say one thing for this film: it sure left me speechless!

Plenty of people have written about what a mess it is so I won’t go into it too much. There are a couple of nice moments between Spock & Kirk and Spock, Kirk and Bones, some properly funny bits and there are elements I liked but that does not a good movie make.

There are some truly absurd choices made in this movie – Uhura’s fan dance springs to mind as one of them.

I have definitely seen far far worse films, films that were harder to get through, but this was still just…odd. And gave me a lot of secondhand embarrassment.

Going in having read some terrible reviews, I lowered my expectations so much that I will admit I had fun in some parts. But I think my overwhelming impression of the film is that it’s baffling, rather than anything else.

Edited from letterboxd review, which can be read here.

The Undiscovered Country dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1991

“Captain’s Log, stardate 9529.1. This is the final cruise of the Starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun, and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man… where no one has gone before.”

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This was a bit of a heavy one for me. Don’t recommend watching it when you’re feeling seedy after a long night of dancing.

It’s a movie about ageing and feeling obsolete, which I feel doesn’t often get explored in these types of films (not that it never does, but I feel like it’s not common); in a youth obsessed culture that’s not surprising.

I want to say something about ending with a quote from Peter Pan/a reference to Neverland. Is it suggesting Kirk refuses to accept what Spock had posited earlier: Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness? A one last adventure thing? You’re only as old as you feel?

It’s possible that it was just a throwaway reference but I’m not sure.

I am still unable to sort out my thoughts and feelings about this one (I think I liked it but I’ll have to watch it again in a different mood) but I want to keep this post brief compared to the last one.

Edited from letterboxd review, which can be read here.

To boldly go…

Where millions of others have gone before, actually.

This is a long and picture heavy post.

Screencap of Mr Spock played by Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek The Original Series. He has black hair cut in short bangs, pointed ears and one eyebrow raised. He is wearing a light blue shirt, the same colour of the walls behind him, and is holding a black cat.

As I mentioned in my February roundup, I’ve finally delved into the world of Star Trek, starting with The Original Series. Having finished that recently, I decided to jump right into the following movies.

When I started the show I was not at all prepared for how deeply attached I would become to these characters. I just don’t usually feel so invested in characters from older TV shows for some reason but I’m so in love with them. Especially Spock.

Sometimes I get frustrated with myself for not writing about movies more ‘intellectually’ or critically, but I respond to movies on an emotional, instinctual level above all else. I’ve voiced this concern to friends, before, who have assured me that there is more than enough room for a more emotional perspective on cinema and I honestly think that’s what I’m best at. What I’m saying is, be prepared for a lot of emotional rambling here and some sloppiness in my writing where I omit actor’s names and the like. I’m going to write about the first three movies together, and then there will be another post for the next three when I’ve watched those.

The Motion Picture dir. Robert Wise, 1979

“This… simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension.”

A screencap of Dr McCoy played by DeForest Kelley and Admiral Kirk played by William Shatner from The Motion Picture. McCoy has short brown hair and a beard, he is wearing a cream shirt with a v-neck, a gold medallion pendant and is standing with his arms by his side. Kirk is seen from the side a slightly behind. His dark blonde hair is short and he is wearing a blue-ish shirt with Starfleet insignia. His right arm is extended toward McCoy.

Given what I said above, it is not surprising that I spent half of this film crying. Only forty minutes in I’d already cried at least four times. (When Kirk meets Scotty, when he sees the Enterprise, when he meets the bridge crew, when he meets Bones again.) But I didn’t get properly emotional until Spock and Jim are reunited.

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The film has some interesting things to say but the scene that will stick with me the most is Kirk grasping Spock’s hand, and Spock saying “This…simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension.” I actually had to pause the film because I was crying so hard. It’s such a beautiful moment between them and the end of Spock’s journey, started on Vulcan.

The parallels between V’Ger’s journey and Spock’s were fairly obvious, but I loved what the film said through them. It’s about the search for meaning and identity – the search for knowledge in general – that nearly all of us can relate to in some way, or another. Spock comes to realise he must embrace all of who he is, pesky emotions included, for a fulfilled life when he sees the emptiness of V’Ger, an actual machine devoid of feeling. One can experience emotion but still value logic. That struggle with emotion was particularly relevant and personal to me.

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One of the most obvious themes to me seemed to be love. It’s clear that Ilia and Decker were romantically involved at some point prior to the film and, while the end – with Decker merging with the Ilia probe – could be seen as purely about evolution or creating new life, the way they look at each other shows that it’s done out of love, too. There is also the relationship between Kirk and Spock – ‘this simple feeling’ that Spock speaks of could be many things but whether it’s friendship or brotherhood, it all boils down to love.

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Before I finish, let’s take a moment to appreciate the design of this film. The scene with Spock inside V’Ger is utterly beautiful. One shot reminded me of the dream sequence in Vertigo (pictured above) but a more obvious, and likely, comparison is to 2001: A Space Odyssey (pictured below).

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Even when the Enterprise entered warp speed for the first time my eyes popped out of my head. And the lighting in that final V’Ger scene was beautiful.

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Robert Wise clearly spent a lot of time showing off the special effects and design; I can’t be mad about that because they are so pretty.

It’s a fairly contemplative film and, as such, could be seen as slow but it honestly didn’t even feel like 2+ hours to me. bluedionysus on letterboxd called the pacing ‘graceful’ and I couldn’t have described it better myself. If you’re expecting a fun space romp like so much of TOS was, it would probably be disappointing, but a friend had prepared me so I knew what I was in for. The show wasn’t without seriousness but there’s more adventure than there is here. Some of the ideas that are in the film are definitely present in TOS and it obviously draws a lot from ‘The Changeling’, which has a similar premise, but it’s a huge tonal shift from the series.

I know there’s more to this film than what I’ve said but I can’t focus on everything from one viewing alone so I may read a bit about it and watch it again before I attempt any further writing.

Edited from letterboxd review, which you can read here.

The Wrath of Khan dir. Nicholas Meyer 1982

“Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”

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I may not have cried as many times as in TMP but I think the intensity of my crying at Spock sacrificing himself made up for it. The look on Kirk’s face was completely heartbreaking and then, later, his voice breaking just before he choked out ‘human’ in the eulogy. My heart!

This is a really solid, fun sci-fi flick and I can definitely see why it was better received by audiences than TMP (I think I liked TMP a bit better, or maybe just differently). It’s interesting that the conflict is conducted largely at a distance. I don’t think Kirk and Khan came face to face or, if they did, I missed it while I was checking twitter (a habit I’m trying to break). That just stuck out to me.

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There’s a lot of interesting elements (themes and ideas – ageing, for one, comes to mind) to unpack but I spent most of my energy writing about The Motion Picture and I’m still feeling very emotional about the end of this film, so I need a little distance before I think about those. It’s not as though no one else has ever written about it, though.

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Edited from letterboxd review, which you can read here.

The Search for Spock dir. Leonard Nimoy 1984

“If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.”

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I enjoyed this slightly less than the first two but it was still great. It’s a film about friendship and how far we’d go for the ones we love. What we’d risk. That sort of thing always appeals to me.

My favourite aspect, aside from Kirk et al risking everything for Spock, was Bones with Spock’s katra – sometimes Bones’s attitude toward Spock frustrates me but beneath it all, it’s obvious he cares deeply for him. Even before he said this to the unconscious Spock, it’s there:

“I’m gonna tell you something that I…never thought I’d ever hear myself say. But it seems I’ve… missed you. And I don’t know if I could stand to lose you again.”

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It was also just fun to see DeForest Kelley acting like Spock but still being Bones at the same time. I can’t remember the exact quote but in the bar he says someone is ‘illogical’ and calls them an ‘idiot’ in the same sentence. That bar was very cool in general (the scene made me think of A New Hope, when Ben and Luke are looking for transport).

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“My father says that you have been my friend. You came back for me.”

The main reason it was slightly less interesting than the first two is because I enjoy it best when Spock and Kirk are together (and Bones, too, of course), even though it’s still a story motivated by those relationships. They seem to be the heart of the series, for me. (And, I know, many others).

It was nice to see Sarek again and to see Vulcan, too. That shot of the ceremony area just before the fal-tor-pan was really beautiful.

I could easily sit through this again (and undoubtedly will) – I just found it a little harder to write about!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering: I cried.

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Edited from my letterboxd review, which you can read here.

I just love these characters and I could spend all the time in the world with them. I am a little apprehensive about watching IV, though, as I’m rather terrified of whales.