To my sheer undiluted joy, I joined Netflix this January. The month that calls for tightening of purse strings, Lidl shops and nae booze welcomed the free one month trial. I intended to spend all my dark and cold evenings in bed with my laptop on my, well lap. As the days turned into weeks I was beaming as I steaming streaming and adding a lot to the personal 'my list' scrolling bar. Then I ventured to the row below and it had a new very lengthy titled genre. 'Dark Films with Strong Women Leads' huh? I could hear the ghostly voice of Netflix whispering in my ear "It's all for you Nicola, it's chosen for yoooou!" Not really phased by the abstract nature of the idea of a dark film - Netflix didn't just mean horror, it was more the strong women part.
Back in 2009 director Gillian Robespierre made a little 20 minute film, a rom-com no less, called Obvious Child about a woman called Donna (played by Jenny Slate of Marcel the Shell fame) who has an encounter of the genital kind (please begin to refer to sex like that, it's what 2014 is going to be all about) with a guy called Peter that results in an unwanted pregnancy. It's not too much of a spoiler to tell you that hijinks and abortion ensues.
What? Yeah, a storyline featuring an abortion. I know what you're thinking, she regrets it yeah? The film must be constructed of flashbacks about the mildly traumatic termination of her pregnancy which she regrets forever. Or it all goes tits up like in Dirty Dancing and somebody's doctor father has to come and administer an unexplained injection. OR she almost goes through with it but then falls for the unlikely information that while she has yet to develop a bump that blastocyst is ready for its manicure, a la Juno.
Hathaway as Fantine in Les Mis
Because she's famous and because she has a film coming out Anne Hathaway has been carted out a lot in the press lately. I have been aware of Hathaway but other than seeing The Devil Wears Prada and her hilarious Sisters song on Saturday Night Live I can't say I have ever really paid much attention to her. I was made very aware of her extreme diet in order to play the emaciated Fantine in Les Miserables thanks to various media outlets and I was given no reason to believe (post Vati-Con scandal) that was not the most interesting thing about her.
Hathaway didn't really talk about her weight loss because it was done in order to emulate a starving woman driven to sex work in revolutionary France. YAWN. There were only so many articles to squeeze out regarding her cropped hair (her character sells her hair and teeth), what to do, what to do?
Image: Lori Joan
I cannot tell you how much I love the Oz stories. I love Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz film, I love Miriam Margolyes's more faithful reading of the Wizard of Oz on the Story Teller cassette tape and book series only my sister and I seem to know about and I love the film sequel (or fauxquel I suppose, as it had nothing to do with the original film other than the adoption of ruby slippers) Return to Oz.
This fondness for the Oz stories began in childhood, which is my quick disclaimer as to why Wicked and Enchanted are not listed under my Oz loves. Unless L. Frank Baum had something to do with the plot I don't want to know. Smoosh the characters Mombi and Princess Langwidere together in Return to Oz all you like – just don't think you know the strange motivations behind the witches and their actions.
Or is it..? Image: Harshlight
Perhaps because the princess features so little in it, even though she's supposed to be the main protagonist, Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite Disney films. Maleficent is of the same school of Snow White's evil queen step mother, devastatingly beautiful, elegant and bloodily glamorous. These Disney films probably inspired little girls not into a life of worthy drudgery awaiting their prince but to dream of the day they would be allowed to wear blood red lipstick and have minions.
At least we know what happens to the villainesses in Disney films. OK they die but they die doing what they love and how many people can say that (not many and not just because death is more than a Facebook status). This is probably why Maleficent is now being portrayed by Angelina Jolie in a new film all about her. She's the star! It's the princesses I feel sorry for, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Death could be sweet but they've got the task of living happily ever after with a man they've had one effing duet with.
He's behind you...
She’s a scream! My Halloween horror film heroines
Happy Halloween everybody! I hope you’ve had the chance to dress up this Halloween, it’s always fun to wear a Freddy Kruger Jumper, a Scream mask or even a William Shatner mask painted white. Yes Michael Myers galore but not one person dressed up as the girl who outsmarts him. How many Laurie Strodes do you see? None. The Halloween (1978) character played by ‘Scream Queen’ Jamie Lee Curtis is known as the leading lady of this genre but I want to introduce you to some other horror heroines. Ok, they aren’t the greatest fancy dress options but you can watch them take on the forces of evil instead!
Today Nottinghamshire police are being criticised by the IPCC for their handling of a domestic abuse turned murder case in 2010. The body of 21 year old Casey Brittle was found last year in New Basford, Nottingham. Mother of one Brittle had suffered severe head injuries at the hands of former partner, 27 year old Sanchez Williams. Nottinghamshire police had responded to 11 calls from Brittle regarding domestic abuse, yet they had not passed on this information to the domestic abuse unit.
Sometimes I am asked what feminism is, or I’m informed it’s not needed now, it’s no longer relevant. It seems rather churlish to bring up the subject of domestic abuse with someone you’ve just met at a party; we all know feminists are hairy killjoys already. So I am always full of admiration for those who bring the subject of domestic abuse (I realise women are not the exclusive victim) to the forefront.
The wax Duke and Duchess of Windsor Photo: Herb Neufield
When Squeamish Louise and I started this website one of the, frankly stifling rules, set was ‘No Snarking’. Today I break this rule and we refine it to ‘No Body Snarking’. The other rule was ‘Don’t Write Crap’, I leave it to you to decide when or if that’s gone out the window.
Madonna’s biopic (I use the term loosely) of Wallis Simpson has been pretty comprehensively trashed. It was unlikely to be popular, all Madonna’s projects outside of pop have been panned and with Wallis Simpson as her subject for this foray why should this one be different. Hoping to emulate the anachronistic style last seen in Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Madonna has instead created a Wallis Simpson meets Carrie Bradshaw vehicle. I have mentioned before I hate anachronisms and value accurate period details so you can probably guess what I think about Wallis Simpson leaping up and dancing to The Sex Pistol’s Pretty Vacant.
Movie monsters can act as metaphors for the horrors lurking just beneath the fabric of society. Or, they can act as popcorn-fodder, and that's what we're looking at today. We are going to dust off the crystal ball and ask: “what’s next?”
Vampires and zombies are the old stalwarts of horror, and won’t die off any time soon (ba-doom-tish). But despite the appearance of sparkly vamps and dextrous zombies, there’s no getting away from the fact both groups are starting to look a little tired. Vamps have been sinking their teeth into us since the early days of cinema, and zombies are everywhere now – they’re so passé, darling.
There must be other creatures of the night out there, waiting for their big break…