April 2016 Roundup

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Bits and bobs or things that made me happy:

-The teaser trailer for Rogue One dropped and I, among many others, cannot wait until December. Felicity Jones has been a favourite of mine for ages so I’m really happy to see her in something like this. There were also other trailers for Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts, both of which I’m looking forward to. (As well as one for The Birth of a Nation, I think, or was that March? Time is a strange thing).

-Apparently Warren Beatty is thinking about a Dick Tracy sequel at some point which is…interesting. Dick Tracy is one of my favourite films and I’d certainly welcome a sequel if it was as colourful and bizarre as the first.

-A couple of people created a census or survey of dialogue in a whole heap of movies looking at how many words are spoken by men vs women, and so on. The results aren’t surprising but the more data there is about the imbalance in representation, the better.

-These polaroids from the set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show are incredibly cool and fun.

-This seriously adorable photo of Doris Day with her dog on her 92nd birthday gave me the warm fuzzies. That’s about it for this section!

Favourite April watches:

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I managed to watch 15 new-to-me movies for April (two of which were shorts), which isn’t as many as I’d hoped but still a pretty good effort. My favourites were probably Jesus Christ Superstar (pictured above), Shock to the System (pictured below) and Zootopia (the only I saw at the cinema). Despite my love of musicals, it never occurred to me to watch Jesus Christ Superstar before, which was very remiss of me. It’s an outstanding film and I thoroughly loved it. I couldn’t stop listening to “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” for a few days after that.

Shock to the System had been on my radar for a while, and was the last of the Donald Strachey films I’d yet to see. It’s nothing outstanding in terms of mysteries but Donald and Timothy are great characters and, in a genre where minority characters are often only victims or killers, it’s nice to see them better represented (though they are largely white).

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I also watched four Mario Bava films (The Girl Who Knew Too Much (pictured in the top banner), Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Lisa and the Devil, and Kill Baby, Kill). Objectively, I’d say Kill Baby, Kill was the best but my favourite was The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Hatchet for the Honeymoon (pictured below) was a close second merely in terms of the way it looked. Bava’s films are very striking.

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I only got to the movies once in April but I’m glad it was to see Zootopia. It’s a lovely, delightful film.

Resolutions updates:
Watch more movies made by women.

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I watched five movies directed by women in April: Æon Flux; Somewhere; Dating the Enemy; Crossroads and Saute ma Ville, as well as rewatching The Brady Bunch Movie.

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The best was definitely Somewhere but I enjoyed Dating the Enemy the most. I found that Crossroads wasn’t anywhere near as bad as most people make it out to be, nor was Æon Flux. The Brady Bunch Movie is one of my favourites and I think it’s totally bizarre and completely underrated.

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Watch more Australian films.

DATING THE ENEMY, Guy Pearce, Claudia Karvan, 1996. ©Umbrella Entertainment

The only new-to-me Australian film I watched in April was Dating the Enemy (pictured above) which, while silly, was very enjoyable. I love Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce and it was a very easy watch. I also rewatched Strictly Ballroom (pictured below), which will always be a favourite of mine.

I wasn’t well enough to get to the cinema to see any of the Australian films I mentioned last month but I’m crossing my fingers that I get around to seeing them before they leave cinemas. A Month of Sundays, which is one of them, is Anthony LaPaglia’s first film in Adelaide, his hometown! (Warning for auto-play video in that link).

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I was happy to read that Girl Asleep, which I stupidly missed at last year’s Adelaide Film Festival, has been picked up internationally and will be released here in Australia in September.

Write (and read) more!

I think I will take out this section, from next month. It’s really more of a personal thing, which extends beyond wanting to write and read more about cinema. Having this section in the roundups doesn’t seem to have helped me keep on track, so I’m not really sure it’s that necessary. I will think about it, though. I suppose it could be a good place to post links of what I have written during the month, which would make it more useful than just me waffling on about whether or not I’ve written anything.

April reading recommendations:

Oscar Isaac on ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’: ‘It feels like we’re making an independent film’ at The LA Times

Jessica Chastain: ‘It’s a myth that women don’t get along’ at The Guardian

The Bury Your Gays Trope Hurts Real Queer People & it Needs to End at Her Campus

‘I Will Survive!’: Australia’s 10 best LGBT Films at The Guardian

Hollywood’s upcoming films prove it loves Asian culture – as long as it comes without Asians at Media Diversified

Celebrating the Sly Subversiveness of ‘Josie and the Pussycats’, 15 Years Later at Flavorwire

Sofia Coppola and the Silent Woman at Bitch Flicks

On the Road Again with Thelma & Louise at Harper’s Bazaar

How non-white Aussie actors are struggling for recognition at Daily Life

Anti-Vaccine Doc ‘Vaxxed’: A Doctor’s Film Review at THR

Roger’s Favorites: A Table of Contents at RogerEbert.com (so far I’ve read the Sally Potter post)

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.

February 2016 Roundup

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Well, another month of 2016 is gone (eep!) and that means it’s time for another roundup!

Bits and bobs or things that made me happy:

-This video of Saiorse Ronan showing Americans how to make a proper cup of tea is delightful. “Just to make it extra Irish, I have my own potato.”

-Amy Adams has been cast as the lead in the television adaptation of Sharp Objects – while I know that’s not cinema related, Adams is one of my favourite actresses because of her film performances so I decided to include it. I am incredibly excited by this news. Sharp Objects is a great book and I think Adams will do the role of Camille justice.

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-Final images of the Mattel dolls for Batman v Superman were released, and I was pretty impressed with them. I had already seen Wonder Woman last year but the Batman and Superman dolls weren’t revealed until last month. (The dolls are all now available to buy). Batman looks a bit off but Superman looks very good. I ordered a Wonder Woman to add to my collection. (And she arrived!)

-There is a new issue of Filmme Fatales out! Huzzah!

-There were a whole heap of cool announcements in February, but here are a few that I found particularly exciting: Mary Harron is directing a Manson-followers movie and Ava DuVernay is directing A Wrinkle in Time; Constance Wu will star in the feature debut of Jennier Cho Suhr, Jessica Chastain will star in Woman Walks Ahead and Taraji P. Henson will play history-making math genius.

-J.J. Abrams has said that Star Wars will (possibly) get an openly gay character. I hope it’s someone with a fair amount of screen time (someone we’ve already met, or someone not yet introduced) and I hope it’s more of a certainty rather than a possibility.

-I‘ve started using Tumblr again, so feel free to follow me as I often reblog movie related stuff.

Favourite Februrary watches:

PLL 00045My movie viewing slowed down in February, partly from energy, but largely because I’ve finally started watching Star Trek TOS (my first foray into the world of Star Trek at all) and I don’t want to watch anything else (or talk about anything else, for that matter). It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the show and I really don’t want to break that.

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But I watched more than enough to pick some favourites. I think my absolute favourite was The Phantom (pictured at top of section) and the best was The Misfits. Phenomena (pictured above) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying were my favourites from an aesthetic standpoint (the lighting in Phenomena and the colours in How to Succeed!!!). And Mistress America (pictured below) was probably the one I related to the most.

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I think I’m sick, and I don’t know if my ailment has a name. It’s just me sitting and staring at the internet or the television for long periods of time, interspersed by trying to not do that and then lying about what I’ve been doing. And then I’ll get so excited about something that the excitement overwhelms me and I can’t sleep or do anything and I just am in love with everything but I can’t figure out how to make myself work in the world.

Resolutions updates:

Watch more movies made by women.

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I’m still on track with my 52 Films by Women pledge: I watched six new-to-me movies directed by women in February (The Holiday – pictured above, Real Women Have Curves, Looking for Grace, TiMER, Real Genius, Smithereens – pictured below) as well as two rewatches (Josie and the Pussycats and The Hairy Bird).

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I was admittedly quite disappointed with Real Genius and TiMER as I had thought I would love them but they didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t like the characters in either film and I just found myself bored. I did love the popcorn scene at the end of Real Genius, though. I wrote a longer than usual review of TiMER on letterboxd.

One that surprised me was The Holiday. Romcoms aren’t really my thing (I keep saying this, and then I keep ending up loving romcoms, so who knows) but this was just such a charming, funny movie and it made me feel so good. Jack Black felt very out of place but he was the only aspect of the film I felt wasn’t quite right.

And my favourite was probably Real Women Have Curves, which I’ve already written about here.

Watch more Australian films.

I only managed to see one Australian film in February, which was also the only film I saw at the cinema: Looking for Grace, directed by Sue Brooks. You can read my letterboxd review here but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Odessa Young was just brilliant as Grace, and I’m looking forward to seeing her in The Daughther, too. There’s an article over on The Screen Blog where Young talks about her experience making both films.

On the subject of Australian films, my favourite from last year, The Dressmaker, cracked $20 million at the box office! Huzzah!

Write (and read) more!

I struggled a lot with writing in February. I felt very energised in January, but then all my energy was drained last month. I still managed to post quite a bit on the blog and start some private writing (which is not yet completed). I’ve set up another blog for anything I want to write publicly that doesn’t fit on here – there’s nothing there, yet, but at least I have the space if I need it. I get easily frustrated with myself for being a slow writer (especially when it comes to my dabbling in fiction) but I can only keep practicing. And I’ve managed to write at least a sentence or two for everything I’ve watched on letterboxd, which doesn’t sound like much to be proud of, but it is for me.

When my energy is low, I struggle with reading, as well. I want to focus more on reading reviews and different kinds of articles (like more in-depth ones) in the future.

February reading recommendations:

Very heavy on diversity/inclusion related articles, which isn’t surprising considering the conversations happening, right now.

Oscars: Women receive less than 1 in 5 nominations in non-acting categories (study) at Variety

10 Black Female Directors You Need to Have on Your Radar at Decider

These 6 female-directed films rocked Sundance, but are still waiting for distribution at Film School Rejects

Last year saw more leading roles for women in top-grossing films, study finds at THR

Jessica Chastain tired of waiting for Hollywood, launches female production company at HitFix

Lupita Nyong’o discusses #OscarsSoWhite, inclusivity, and progress at Buzzfeed

Oscars so very incredibly racist: investigating 88 years of Academy Awards for acting at Autostraddle

10 female directors you need to watch in 2016 at Mashable

What it’s really like to work in Hollywood* (*if you’re not a straight white man) at The New York Times

Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t acted in a movie directed by a woman in 2 decades at Cosmopolitan**

The Original Six: the story of Hollywood’s forgotten feminist crusaders at Pacific Standard

If you don’t really mean inclusion — shut the f% up! at Huffpost

This is why we can’t have nice things: “The Witch” and horror fandom’s gatekeepers at Medium

This Indigenous film is like nothing you’ve ever seen at Buzzfeed

Endearing interracial romance in ‘Flirting’ at Bitch Flicks

The feminine grotesque #2: mirror, mirror – on Bette Davis in ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ at Vague Visages

**The headline is a bit Oscar clickbait-y but the article is really interesting, and basically about which top leading men have or haven’t worked with women directors.