Tag Archives: Reviews

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story


Is there a point were you outgrow boy bands? This is just one of several questions posed by director Jessica Leski in her debut film as she attempt to explore not only the appeal of boy bands but also what sparks such devotion in their fanbases. This she achieves by following four intergenerational women who all consider themselves to be obsessed fans of their chosen boy band.

First up we have Elif who s the youngest of the particpants and an obsessed One Direction fan to the point were she went viral when a video of her breaking down during the announcement of their concert DVD was posted online. Next we have Daria an obsessed Take That fan, we also have Sadia representing the fans of the Backstreet Boys and finally we have Susan who at 64 and still an obsessed Beatles fan even being one of horde of Beatles fans who descended on Southern Cross during their tour of Australia. Each of them bring something different to the table and as their stories unfold especially with what the bands mean to them and the effect they had on their lives.

Starting off with a charming feeling of innocence as each of the women talk about how they discovered their chosen boy band and what it was which sparked their interest which unsurprisingly stems from them finding one of the members cute accompanied by charming animated sequences playing out their fantasies with the members which range from Elif playing tag with Zayn to Sadia being taught how to swim by Nick. How they choose to celebrate their favourite boybands though is were the film really gets interesting especially for the likes of Daria and Sadia whose Xenial fandom antics have a fun nostalgic glow to them with Sadia talking about sending out a Backstreet Boys News letter using the family e-mail or Daria living out in sticks passing time at the weekend obsessionally learning the dance routines off a concert video incase she should ever be called up to stand in for one of the members. Compared to Elif who with the power of the internet can speak to her fellow Directoners all over the world to track their every movement to the point were they refer to them as “Their Boys”

At the other end of the spectrum Susan and her Beatles obsession provides another interesting angle to the film, especially when looking through her memorabilia collection and seeing how much of it is replicated over the years with band being swapped out for the latest chart topper. However while the boybands might be changed out over the decades Leski skips over the controversy that the bands suffered or how their break up instead choosing to present them in the same perfect light their fans view them in even though it does feel like a missed opportunity to see how Zayn leaving One Direction effected Elif and how Daria was effect by any of the major scandals which rocked her fanbase from Robbie Williams leaving, their controversial image change or her beloved Gary from Take That being caught up with his fellow members in an off shore banking scandal.

Thanks to choosing such fascinating and knowledgable subjects for her film Leski is able to avoid any use of voice over or cut aways to pop culture experts and psychologists and instead lets the quartet compile their stories in their own word soley even having Daria breakdown the boy band formula from what sort of roles the band members have to play and styling requirements which when laid out on the white board is actually kind of surprising to see how they all fall into the template she has just laid out.

Interestingly the film spends the last half hour of the film five years on from when Leski began following the woman and in doing so find many of them having entered into a phase of transition away from the boy band obsessions with a trip on the Backstreet boys cruise…..yes that is actually a thing and Leski has the footage to prove it! However for Sadia it’s almost a wake up call for their biggest fan as faced with a mirror vision of herself x1000 she realises that there is more for to achieve on her own including learning to swim. Elif also finding herself in a similar situation as with her parents refusing to let her pursue music at college also kills her love for One Direction to be replaced with a love for Jazz. Ultimately the documentary ends in a good place for all four of the participants though the same can’t be said for their fan status but despite this the documentary maintains the sweet tone which carries throughout the film as Leski clearly isn’t trying to judge any of the fans but more understand what drives their obsessions.

One of the great things about documentaries is the ability to take a subject and turn it into the most surprisingly engrossing experience and certainly Leski’s film does exactly that as for those of us who were never part of the boyband hysteria are given an insiders view while providing a sense of nostalgia for the devoted. Regardless of if your a boyband fan or not this is a facinating look at fandom in it’s purest form.

Rating: 4 / 5

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Movies and Tea #24 – The Beguiled

Season 3 and our re-evaluation of the Sofia Coppola filmography comes to a close with her remake of The Beguiled.

Using the Civil war as her backdrop Coppola with The Beguiled continued her evolution in style with a remake of Don Siegal’s original 1971 film only this time shot from the women’s point of view than the man’s as the arrival of Colin Farrell’s solider of fortune at a girls school begins to stire feelings in both the students and teacher alike.

The film being viewed by Coppola as a way to cleanse herself after 2013’s The Bling Ring from what she terms was “Such a tacky, ugly world”

We also discuss her use of the “Female Gaze” aswell as the changes that shooting from the girls perspective brings to the story aswell as highlighting our favourite, worst and hidden gem of Coppola’s filmography

Further Viewing

The Virgin Suicides
The Others
Pride and Prejudice
The Guest
Needful Things
Black Narcissus
Stoker

 

Music on this episode

Phoenix – The Beguiled Opening theme
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club – Anna and the Apocalypse + Rollercoaster

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Elwood’s Pick – Rollercoaster (1977)

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A film probably best known for its rather spectacular opening roller coaster crash than the film the footage was actually taken from this would be one of the few feature films that James Goldstone directed spending most of his career directing TV Pilots for Ironside and the original Star Trek were his work was not only noted for its momentum but also the “fifteen-minute cliffhangers” he brought to them. This is a film equally noteworthy for being one of the four films which Universal presented in “Sensurround” were selected theatres were low-frequency bass speakers were used to create vibrations at key moments, which ultimately proved to be so successful that it cracked the plaster of some of the theatres which choose to use it.

Despite the impressive opening crash this is surprisingly a much more subtle film than you might expect as Goldstone instead here chooses to craft a tense thriller with the rest of the film plays off the tension of not knowing were the bomber has hidden his next device let alone the mind games between Timothy Bottoms unnamed bomber and George Segal’s Safety inspector Harry. Bottoms however was criticised for being too boring as a villain in reviews for the film when it was originally released but here he gives a performance reminisant of Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Seven which here really works for the film, especially when he is spending the majority of the film taunting Harry over the phone or a walkie talkie, all the time knowing that he holds the power in this situation with Harry left to play the unwilling puppet in the proceedings.

Segal meanwhile is an engaging leading man as the frustrated safety inspector he works in humorous subtle digs at his incompitant bosses while also having to work with the local police chief and Richard Widmark’s tough FBI agent. While it might seem that his talents are perhaps alittle wasted here seeing how he spends most of the film talking to the Bomber over the walkie talkie while moving through a variety of amusement rides which for theme park fans provides its own enjoyment with the film being shot on location at Ocean View Park, Kings Dominion and Six Flags.

The Cinematography throughout is extremely impressive especially with the rollercoaster footage were large portions are shot from the front of the carriage creating that simulator feel of being on the ride which is a nice touch especially when Goldstone isn’t planning on giving the audience any more crashes. The fact that they are shot from so many angles including some impressive profile shots is really add to the excitement, especially during the finale were the cat and mouse games are played out on the opening of the six flags Revolution the world’s first coaster to use a clothoid-shaped vertical loop and more fun against the backdrop of a Sparks concert a gig which had rumoured to had been offered to both the Bay City Rollers and KISS the later turning it down in favour of doing KISS Meet The Phantom of the Park. Sparks would later recall doing the film as one of the worst things they have ever done which I had to wonder if this was before or after they did their 2006’s album Hello Young Lovers. Despite what they feel about it, the high energy performance here really play well against the tension of this final game between the bomber and police.

While it might initially be a little disappointing to see what seems to be setup as another disaster movie dissolve into a thriller it ultimately proves to be the right move here, especially with Segal’s performance certainly able to carry the film so that such shocks are never required even though the film had originally been planned to be a lot more gruesome with both the opening crash and how the bomber ultimately meets his demise, a plaque for which can still be found on the rollercoaster at Six Flags. While perhaps not a film that rewards repeat viewing it’s one still worth checking out especially for the opening crash as you wonder just how they pulled it off.

Kim’s Pick – Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

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Mixing genres is a lot of fun and nothing quite sells like the idea of mashing zombies, musical and a Christmas setting together and its one of the reasons that 2017’s Scottish film Anna and the Apocalypse first landed on anyone’s radar during its festival circuit. While the idea sounds a bit odd, just like Shaun of the Dead worked out, Anna and the Apocalypse is very much a teen horror comedy musical. Its not very scary but does offer a lot of alternate Christmas and zombies elements.

Starring a fairly unknown young cast, Anna and the Apocalypse works because it does what it needs well. The first is the musical numbers. The music itself is a lot of fun, probably more for people who like musicals but there’s a lot of entertaining moments in the songs and the background. There are some downright ridiculous moments and yet because it’s a musical, it does work. Second, the friendship element and character bonding here also delivers. The characters really are known more through how they react and are and gives space for them to grow. Third, the pacing and execution is pretty fast-paced because of its compact run time that gives time for things to just keep happening and not spend a lot of time on the dramatic things like dwelling on past issues.

Overall, Anna and the Apocalypse is a movie suitable for Halloween and Christmas and is surprising entertaining with some very addictive songs and fun numbers. The characters are few but all are quite endearing especially with their different personalities. Its rare that the “bad boy” Nick, played by Ben Wiggins is not repulsive but while he starts that way, he also has quite a nice presence here along with main lead Anna, played by Ella Hunt (who suitably is now part of the Apple TV show Dickinson) as well as the fairly awkward presence of their friend, Steph, played by Sarah Swire, who is really witty and a great character in the film as a whole. Catchy tunes, fun characters and zombie apocalypse breakout during Christmas is a really great mashup that’s well worth a watch.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Movies and Tea #23 -The Bling Ring

“The Bling Ring” saw Sofia Coppola drawing inspiration from the Vanity Fair article The Suspects Wore Louboutins here as Coppola joined the mini-trend of movies based of magazine articles alongside Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain”. The film would also mark Coppola’s first experiment with shooting on digitial as she charts the crime spree of a group of teens who broke into and robbed the homes of thier favourite celebrities.

Norman from Flick Hunter joins us once again to the discuss the film aswell as question Emma Watson’s rumoured Oscar nod, reveal our favourite Coppola soundtracks aswell as a voicemail from The Vern (Cinema Recall Podcast )plus much more!!

Further Viewing

Spring Breakers
Marie Antoinette
The Fanatic
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Mean Creek
Bully

Music on this episode

Sleigh Bells – Crown On The Ground
M.I.A. – Bad Girls
Aphex Twin – Anvil 14
Aphex Twin – jynweythek ylow
Death In Vegas – Girls
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club – Antisocial + Perfect Blue

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Hi folks and welcome to another edition of The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Antisocial (2013)

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Canadian film company Black Fawn Films is known for its filmography of independent horror films. With a good number of films under their belt, there is no doubt that the team themselves have a great love for horror and in their films, a lot of homage is given to the various subgenres of horror. However, what gives them a unique twist is not only their vision of creating something new of their own while also mixing it up in terms of various subgenres together. While some viewers might view this as “been there done that” and feeling very familiar with its content, especially with the film today, it’s still has some refreshing elements especially paired up how the films are usually executed.

Antisocial is a 2013 horror film set during New Year’s Eve focused on a house with five university students partying it up when an epidemic spreads throughout the world. As they barricade themselves in the house, they also start rummaging around the Internet to find out the cause of the epidemic. Slowly, they each become both scared and filled with paranoia. Taking a bit of the digital world epidemic like Pulse and blending it into a science fiction-esque story and then adding in some zombie elements here, this film is a nicely-paced movie. Its mystery of the epidemic unravels itself. At the same time, while the 5 characters here might not be fully investigated, making them slightly more shallow, the film never forgets its focus is not on all the character drama but rather on the urgent situation at hand. There are some truly tense moments and they do ramp up to a memorable climax. Antisocial is not perfect but its straight forward and not always predictable.

It’s a revisit on our part that has held up a lot of its initial appeal. And if this film is your cup of tea, Antisocial 2 did also happen. While its pacing is different from the first one, its story is set some time after Antisocial ends.

Elwood’s Pick – Perfect Blue (1997)

MoxieStaffPicksPerfectBlueSatoshi Kon’s directorial debut is Hitchcock-esq thriller following Mima , a member of a J-pop group “CHAM!” decides to pursue a career as an actress, displeasing her fans especially her stalker Me-Mania (Okura). Now finding herself the target of threatening fax’s and mail bombs, things only get stranger when she discovers a website call “Mima’s Room” documenting her life if she was still with the band, as Mima finds her world being turned upside down as she is pushed to the brink of her own sanity.

A griping film throughout, the film though is a lot deeper than your usual psychological thriller, as while most thrillers would be content to just play off the mystery of “Mima’s Room”, here Kon’s focus on the changing personality from Virginal pop idol to driven actress willing to do more and more to ensure that she makes it as an actress, even if it means shattering the image her fans about her as she inturn starts to slowly reveal her much darker side.

 

At the same time Kon shows equal attention to the supporting characters who all provide their own piece of the puzzle, from Mima’s office Manger Tadokoro (Tsuji) who pushes Mima into increasingly risque situations which he convinces is for the good of her career regardless of the pressure it puts on her already fragile psyche through to the obsessed  and grotesque stalker Me-Mania who plasters his walls with images of Mima’s pop idol form which in one memorable scene even speak to him. Kon though is equally mindful of the smaller details which often prove as a result to be just as memorable, such as an actor involved in filming the rape scene apologising to Mima during a break between takes.

The animation is crisp and clean throughout, with Kon choosing to avoid the more traditional large eyed anime style, instead for a more realistic style as seen with the wide range of character designs and while it might not have the wow factor that many have come to expect thanks to the releases of Studio Ghibli this is still visually a nice anime to look at, with the movement of the characters being especially spot on as especially highlighted during the ice pick murder sequence involving a length chase around the victims apartment.

A benchmark in Japanese animation aswell as also providing the inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, as it’s slowly earned the same recognition as the likes of the legendry Akira or Ghost In The Shell.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Movies and Tea #22 – Somewhere

After the mixed reception to Marie Antoinette returned with Somewhere a film similar in style to Lost In Translation while also working memories of her own childhood growing up on her father’s sets as she here we follow Upcoming badboy Actor Johnny as he reconnects with his daughter Cleo and perhaps in turn finds what’s missing in his own life.

Further Viewing

Wonder Boys
Nowhere
The Rules of Attraction
Jersey Girl
Definitely Maybe
We Bought A Zoo

Music on this episode

Phoenix – Love Like A Sunset Part I
The Police – So Lonely
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

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Friday Film Club – Balto + Kitten With A Whip

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Hi folks and welcome to the The Friday Film Club where both myself and Kim will be highlighting a film which we feel is worth checking out. At the same time we would love to hear your own selections whether your choosing to just name them in the comments section or join us in arguing the case for your film on your blog, let us know and we will share it below.

Kim’s Pick – Balto (1995)

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Loosely based on the true story of a dog of the same name who helped save children in Alaska, Balto has some live action scenes in Central Park of an elderly woman recounting his story and what makes Balto a hero. Most of the movie aside from the beginning and ending is animated filled with not only a group of sled dogs in Alaska but also with a Russian goose called Boris and polar bear brothers Muk and Luk who are terrified of water and of course, Balto who is an outcast and expected to be dangerous because he is half Husky and half wolf. An unexpected grouping but an effectively funny one that gives it the cute and fun adventure with a bit of drama.

Balto is a family adventure animated film. At the same time, it has those added elements of romance between Balto and Jenna where Jenna’s affection is trying to be won over by the top dog called Steele who doesn’t want to admit defeat when he fails at bringing home the medicine to save the children in Nome during the storm. It is a story of triumph, danger, friendship and romance. At the same time, Balto is a character that has to learn to embrace his own differences and use those differences as what helps him to succeed in this journey. Its an inspiring little animated film.

Voiced by some great talent like Kevin Bacon as Balto, Bridget Fonda as Jenna, Bob Hoskins as Steele and Jim Cummings as both Muk and Luk, there’s a lot to love about this film as they bring on some great fun times and totally one that didn’t get its recognition as its release collided with the much more successful Toy Story but that doesn’t stop the greatness that this animated film deserves.

Elwood’s Pick – Kitten With A Whip (1964)

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Despite the S&M title this home invasion thriller is alot less sleazy than the title would have you believe as Ann-Margaret in an attempt to rebrand herself as a serious actor stars as the young runaway Jody who breaks into the house of upcoming politician David (John Forsythe) while his wife is out of town. Initially he attempts to help the young girl as he buys her new clothes and puts her on the bus with money to help her out. Unfortunately for David she just turns up at his house again not only refusing to leave but also bringing with her a group of beatniks who only further throw David’s life into chaos.

For fans of MST3K this might already be a familiar title seeing how it received their peanut gallery treatment but enjoyed in its original form this is actually a pretty effective thriller especially during its first half with David trying to be the good person while Jody soon is revealed to be hiding more than her share of dark secrets and soon is threatening to damage David’s political aspirations by twisting the reality of their situation.

While the first half of the film is fantastic thanks to the strong chemistry between the two leads which is a little lost once Jody’s friends turn up including amatuer philosepher Ron (Peter Brown) and quick to anger Grant (Richard Anderson) and turn the situation from mind games to more physical threats all while you wonder if Beatniks are worse than Hippies as certainly Ron and his musing certainly make you wonder who buys into this tosh. Thankfully you the unclear allegiance of Jody keeps things interesting as your never sure if she trying to help David or if it’s another of her mind games. When we get to the finale the film also randomly shifts location to Tijuana in search of a shady doctor though it really seems to be just an excuse to work in some light titillation via a burlesque club which has nothing to do with the plot as we build to a climactic car chase.

Despite being MST3K fodder this is still a fun throw away watch with some fun twists even if it loses its way in the second half it’s brisk runtime and tight pacing means that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

So you’ve seen our picks for this week’s double feature but what are your movie watching plans this weekend?

Let us know in the comments section below.