Catfight – Review

It’s amazing how time can change so much. The people we consider our friends one day could easily become barely an acquaintance in a matter of years for all sorts of reasons. This is particularly the case with people we meet at school and at university. As we grow up into the adults we become, we begin to associate more with people who we share values with rather than those we’re forced to be with in the confines of a classroom. Distance usually just results in the dissolution of the friendship unless one were to reunite. Anything can happen at the point of reunion whether it’s renewed friendship, an unexpected romance, a seething hatred or more.

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This is something explored in Catfight. Directed by Onur Tukel revolves around Ashley and Veronica who were friends at college but find themselves at the same event: Ashley the waitress and Veronica the host. Despite the verbal pleasantries, the whole thing turns into a brawl and the rivalry  escalates in front of everyone. Can they mend the burnt bridge and look past their difference and find friendships?

The comedy comes off as very awkward and quite dark to fit in with not only the growing tension between the two main characters but also in the ways that fortune turns for both of them in a near blink of an eye and in the outside world’s increasing doom. It’s clear that that the film is shooting for dark comedy but it comes off as being rather mean spirited, throwing in eccentric and bloody battles between the pair just for kicks. It’s rather difficult to build a rapport with the main two characters especially Ashley because they are both so instantly unlikeable. Viewers will just feel bad for the surrounding characters for having to be anywhere near their toxicity. It doesn’t make for an enjoyable watch. It’s just painful. The narrative and the title is a bit of a mismatch.

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The synopsis suggests that there would be a lot of screen time between Oh and Heche’s characters but they’re barely on screen together. If anything, the story is more of a portrait of two very different women with one minor connection. If they connected to each other a bit more then their fighting it would’ve made for a more interesting experience. As it stands, it just seems to be two women going about their lives who seem lodged to fight at random intervals as per the plot.

Whilst this wasn’t the most enjoyable watch, what did keep me going was Sandra Oh’s performance. Her ability to go through the spectrum of one human’s downfall is really compelling. She uses what she has to work with in the script and makes it her own. This isn’t to say that the rest of the cast aren’t up to standard. Far from it, all of the cast are great but they’re overshadowed by Oh’s performance.

A dark comedy that forgot to be funny, Catfight is an unpleasant misfire of a film.


Catfight is out on DVD now! 

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – Review

To celebrate an intriguing chapter on the ever-evolving career of David Bowie, Picture House have re-released Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The film captured a concert of David Bowie’s sci-fi themed persona, Ziggy Stardust and his band, The Spiders from Mars in London, on 3 July 1973. Although the group had toured extensively and gained a loyal following Bowie declared this concert to be their last and retired his Ziggy front man and band, without telling them beforehand.

This re-release features a new intro and interview between Mojo Editor and Chief, Phil Alexander and the last remaining Spider, Woody Woodmansey. With the publication of his autobiography, Spider from Mars: My Life With David Bowie Woodmansey was ready to set the record straight about the rise and end of the loved act. This new intro and book offers insight into Bowie’s creativity but also the harsh reality of his actions towards the band.

The opening introduction is an easy and light one on one chat between Woodmansey and Alexander. The former Spider drummer reminisces about his early days and love of rock music. He was into Classic Rock while Bowie was associated at the time as a Folk artist. He remembers giving up a secure job when an opportunity to work with Bowie came along. He moved with the rest of the chosen band into a flat in London and began working on what would be The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. An extensive tour followed the album’s release, traveling to Asia as well as across America. The final show of the tour was to be played in London at The Hammersmith Odeon. Pioneering documentary filmmaker, D. A. Pennebaker set out to capture the show, which remains legendary not just due to the bands success but Bowie’s onstage revelation that he would retire the band. Woodmansey remembers the shock of the announcement and reveals that later he received official word from Bowie’s manager that his services were no longer required.

With the interview over the film begins with the eager crowd outside the London venue waiting for the show. We see the band and Bowie getting ready before taking to the stage. Many of Bowies greatest tracks are performed and captured from Moonage Daydream to Starman. The film intercut sections of the behind the scenes world of the show. Bowie changing costumes and the impressive entourage (Ringo Starr) he surrounded himself with. Whether this interrupts the energy of the film and show, is a matter of taste but these are peeks into a fascinating world.

Continued criticism of the film and footage is the way the sound was captured which is honestly not well done. Against the visuals and passionate crowd, it feels flat. It does not capture the rawness of the performance despite the brilliance of the music.

What must be addressed is that although no one ever questions Bowie’s creative genius or musical ability his actions at the concert and after paint the man in a less than flattering light. To many Bowie remains a hero, immortalised due to his talent and untimely death but did his creativity excuse his actions? Despite its sound flaws and the inconsolable sensation Bowie’s announcement creates in audiences, (knowing his band were unaware) the film still beautifully captures a time and tone in music. The images and looks of the crowd speak of an emerging generation of music lovers.

An intimate look at a pivotal period in the career of David Bowie. With its added introduction we see an unsympathetic side to the Thin White Duke but the concert is proof of his musical genius.

The Love Witch – Review

If you’ve ever wanted to get revenge on an ex, this is the film for you.

OK, so I say that with tongue in cheek, a little bit. This is the story of a woman who just wants to find love, but her magic spells all go awry. Sound a little bit like Bewitched or Bell, Book and Candle? Well, it’s kind of like those, but when Elaine (Robinson) casts a love spell, people tend to die.

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The best part about this film is that I can’t decide whether it’s incredible or awful, just that I really got a kick out of watching it. The attention to detail, the sets, costumes, the way it’s shot, this film could be from the 60’s or 70’s. It’s veins bleed retro. It often feels stylised, like the scenes in a women’s tea room, where everyone wears pink, or the opening sequences where Elaine tells us about her thoughts and feelings in voice over, her innocuous voice punctuating the images of her polished nails, driving her convertible along winding roads with her matching luggage in the back seat. And this stylising also extends to the performance style, which seems to be deliberately a bit over the top, much like 60’s B movies. So it’s a good bad film? Maybe.

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Elaine herself is really fascinating to watch. She has been described as some kind of evil Stepford Wife, and that’s partly true. She tells us that she’s had a destructive, abusive relationship in the past, and that she was mentally ill for a time, but she’s better now, and on her way to a new life and to find true love. But the body count starts to stack up, as her spells reveal unattractive weaknesses in her lovers, which turn her off, before it kills them. She’s not really a good person, but she has this 60’s, soft, trance like quality, a fragile desperation and she’s quite stunning (who knew blue eye shadow could look that good?), so you playfully want to see what she’ll get up to next. And what she’ll be wearing when she does.

Whether you love or hate the style of the film as a whole, it’s an incredible piece of work, and a real credit to Anna Biller, whose attention to detail, writing and directing style make for something incredibly unique, and often darkly humorous. It’s a beautiful homage to all those cute and fun old 60’s films about witches, but it takes them to a different conclusion. Rather than women giving up their power as they usually did in those old witchy romantic comedies, here it’s all about claiming it.

Unapologetically too.


The Love Witch is out 10th March 

The Void – Brand New Trailer!

The 80’s were the perfect time for horror films. The combination of practical effects, gore and budding CGI slowly making its way into the mainstream, albeit in a tiny capacity at the time, meant that there was plenty to exploit in the fears of the public in a time of political tension and the advent of some fear-mongering articles beginning to show up in newspapers. It feels like since then, we’ve been struggling in vain to recreate the formula that gripped audiences some thirty years ago.

The latest trailer for The Void looks set to drag us back into that era of horror, even if it must do it whilst we’re kicking and screaming in fear.

The trailer shows us all the aspects that you could want from a horror film; Creepy cult? Check. Paranormal phenomena? Check. Weird and creepy abominations that are vaguely reminiscent of humans, but are bastardised monstrosities? Double check!

If you’re a fan of the genre, The Void will almost certainly scratch that deep-seated itch which has been gnawing at you since your first found out Freddy was coming for you.


The Void is out in cinemas March 31st!

Buy your tickets here!

Fargo Season Three – Brand New Teaser!

The film to TV series adaptations have worked incredibly well so far, be it Hannibal’s food pornography that makes you consider cannibalism just for a taste of that succulent looking leg or Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’s utterly ridiculous and hilarious prequel. Quite possibly the best of all these adaptations, however, is Fargo, reinvigorated from the already fantastic Coen Brothers’ film of the same name.

The series is now entering its third season, and FX have just released their first teaser for the gripping drama featuring a chubby and balding Ewan McGregor at a diner with Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The teasers are a scant thirty seconds in length, and doesn’t reveal anything about the plot. But it’s fantastic and amazing all the same.

As long as it keeps the tension of the first two seasons, there will be absolutely nothing to worry about.

 


Fargo Season Three starts April 9th!

Mary Poppins Returns: First Look

We don’t have much in the way of glimpses at Mary Poppins returns just yet, but from what we do have it looks like Emily Blunt has found her calling as she steps in to the shoes of history’s most magical nanny. Alongside the not even slightly overrated Meryl Streep, Blunt heads a cast of pure talent, featuring Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Dick Van Dyke, and Angela Lansbury (told you, talent.)

Set in 1930s London, the sequel draws on all seven of the books that followed the original Mary Poppins. Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks children, now adults themselves, to help them rediscover the wondrous-ness of life.

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If you’ve been following the production closely you’ll notice I’m missing someone. My editor told me I couldn’t turn this announcement into a gushing love letter, but I’ll be damned if he’s not getting his own paragraph.

World-renowned songwriter, actor and freestyle-extraordinaire – and winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant, which proves definitively that he is a literal genius – Lin-Manuel Miranda (yes the guy who wrote 9 time Tony winner Hamilton, based on a book he picked up on holiday, injecting new live into this generation’s love of both musical theatre and hip hop), joins the cast as an optimistic street lamplighter named Jack. His sneaky tweets reveal that he will be donning an English accent a la Van Dyke in the original, and pretty much everything he touches turns to solid gold so we should all be excited, okay?

The film is due to arrive in cinemas on Christmas Day 2018 – and crews have been spotted out and about in the square mile getting the on-location scenes.

Ps. Lin-Manuel Miranda is the best.