Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Filth, or: Remarkable Levels of Desensitization

Last week of free reign until mindless gory horror month begins in…2 days?!?!?!?! 2 DAYS. So ready.

My pick this time around is Filth, which I have been meaning to watch forever but have been avoiding (STUPIDLY) because I didn’t want to watch Jamie Bell act like a complete sleaze bucket. Billy Elliot is one of my favorite bad day films, and I didn’t want to watch it at some point in the future and think about Billy snorting coke and visiting prostitutes a few years down the road.

Christa beat me to the punch on this one, but she was cool with watching again b/c she’s in general a cool human being. You can find her thoughts, various and sundry, here.

The Film:


Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

James McAvoy plays Bruce Robertson, corrupt cop, backstabber, and all-around scumbag scheming for a promotion in Edinburgh.

The Uncondensed Version:

This is tricky because I have a lot of things to say about this film, but it’s reasonably important not to give everything away.

I’d say there are essentially a series of mysteries surrounding Bruce’s character, the main one being whether or not he will land the big promotion that he’s doing his best to lie and manipulate his way into. According to some kind of bizarre scenes with Bruce’s wife, the promotion is the only thing that can fix whatever has happened between them and make her respect him again. When Bruce is assigned to a murder case, everything hinges on whether he can catch the skinheads who brutally murdered a Japanese student.

Right off the bat it’s clear that (1) James McAvoy is beautiful and I forgot how perfect his voice is, and (2) Bruce has issues. With anger, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual relationships (and, in fact, all human relationships), lying, and feeling absolutely no remorse. He tells us how great Scotland is while looking absolutely disgusted with humanity and making small children cry. Needless to say, this film made a great impression within the first 15 minutes.

A man covers his ears as he passes another man playing bagpipes on a street corner
Not a fan of the bag pipes. The shame.

Bruce introduces us to his coworkers (including Jamie Bell/Billy Elliot and Billy Elliot’s dad!), all of whom he is actively trying to sabotage in order to guarantee his promotion. So Bruce works on the murder case, but it really takes a backseat to having affairs, spreading nasty rumors, and making everyone uncomfortable.

Just to emphasize what a shitty human being Bruce is, we have Cliff, his best and only friend. Bruce is making anonymous calls of a suggestive nature to Cliff’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson wearing a shitload of make up). Since Cliff is a prominent accountant, the case is supposed to get Bruce’s first priority…and it does. Just not in the way his superiors probably intended.

A man and woman look across at each other from opposite ends of a white sofa. Behind them is a large painting of a lion attacking a zebra.
Have I mentioned I want their living room??? Because I want their living room.  THAT PAINTING.

This is all going reasonably well for Bruce until he tries and fails to revive a man who collapses on the street. After this incident, Bruce seems to be genuinely disturbed as he’s haunted by visions of a dead child. It also becomes clear that things aren’t as great on the home front, esp. as we never actually see Bruce interact with his wife and child.

For the remainder of the film, Bruce just continues to lose his shit while experiencing increasingly vivid hallucinations of various people as animals. Also his psychiatrist, Jim Broadbent with a an Australian accent, who reminds him only winners get laid and that you should trust no one, especially not yourself. So basically the same thing any psychiatrist would say, right?

A man in a labcoat gestures to a framed picture of worm-like creatures
IDK if you guys have ever done therapy, but this is exactly how it went for me.

Okay, that’s all I’ll say because if you enjoy films in which absolutely everyone is despicable, the humor is pitch black, and the protagonist is certifiably insane, you may want to actually watch this one. Or at least stare at James McAvoy’s beautiful face. Either way, I don’t want to ruin this film for you.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Even though this movie was disgusting and depraved, it’s really hard to shock me any more (which I attribute to Wetlands).  Have I just become so desensitized that nothing disturbs me any more???  Is our blog collab taking that much of a toll on my mental health???  I’d like to see you prove that in a court of law.  Still…I think more disturbing than the scenes designed to repulse viewers is how remorselessly Bruce manipulates everyone to get what he wants.  Also how attractive James McAvoy is even as the sleaziest dirtbag ever.

Not a perfect film, but James McAvoy losing his shit is the best kind of James McAvoy. All of the acting in this one was spot-on, honestly.

The only down side is I really, really want to watch Trainspotting again now. It’s on Netflix, Christa! Eh, eh, eh?

Speak of the devil…you know Christa has a lot of delightfully snarky things to say about this film. Why are you still here when you could be reading her review here?

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101: I Know You’re Just Here for the Food (and/or Cats)

This prompt I’ll do even though it included a quote from a fortune cookie (please tell me you rolled your eyes too, Christa).

Based on my poll, all 3 of you who read this blog are evenly divided between the topics of cats, books, and food.  It’s like you’ve kept hanging on with this blog because we have something in common.

Under more typical circumstances, I would be happy to talk about books, but stress brain is making it impossible for me to concentrate on reading.  Or really anything, but at least I have reliable coping mechanisms that require little concentration:  bothering Bertha Mason (and, indirectly Joey [who now gets the dubious honor of being The Other Cat]), stress baking, and throwing things away.

I’m really tired of writing about me, though, and I don’t understand how you guys aren’t sick of hearing about me.  You must be extremely patient souls.

Let’s combine the subjects of cats and food by talking about a cat who loved food, Cowboy (named for his black-and-white spots rather than a familial obsession with the western genre or the Dallas football team).  Cowboy was the cat who was around for most of my childhood and with whom I had a love/hate relationship. He was a terrible cat, you guys. Terrible. I was afraid to sleep because Cowboy attacked my hair and liked to murder sparrows and hide under my bed growling like a maniac. Fucked up when you’re 7, right? I also lost a friend because Cowboy chased her down a hallway during one of my birthday parties. Seriously, she never spoke to me again.  Thanks, cat, but I do well enough embarrassing myself in social situations without your help.

Cowboy was a feral cat, so he never really settled down until he was too old to care (and had to have most of his teeth taken out because he would never let the vet look at his rotting teeth). Basically he was afraid of nothing and motivated only by food…which I can respect.

Action shot!
Action shot!

Let’s make a list of things Cowboy ate that he shouldn’t have because why the fuck not:

  1. My hair (see above)
  2. A plant I was supposed to grow for a science project (and really plants as a whole)
  3. Loaves of bread left out on the counter
  4. Brownies my friend JG made when she visited from New York
  5. Barbie feet (though, in retrospect, I probably should thanked him for his hostility towards the patriarchy)
  6. All things dairy even when they made him vomit
  7. Cardboard
  8. Rubber bands
  9. Catnip (the only normal cat thing he ate, but it made him extra aggressive)
  10. Basically all non-fruit objects

Truly, I admired his spirit.

One lonely person who voted for books, I will make a real effort to do another book review. I promise. Hopefully The Heart Goes Last.

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101, or: I’d Rather Talk About Margaret Atwood

Blogging prompt I was supposed to use some time last week (Thursday maybe?  Let’s say Thursday):  Recreate a single day.

Remember Saturday? How I ate a lot of cheese and expertly hand washed my sweaters?

Way ahead of you, Writing 101. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of you.

So I’m just going to write about Margaret Atwood instead, who is incredibly ahead of us all.

I wasn’t really aware Margaret Atwood had written yet another novel until about a month ago, or at least it was buried deep in some hidden corner of my brain. Ever since, I have been obsessed with The Heart Goes Last, and I’m dying to read it. I keep telling myself I’m going to wait for a library copy, but it will be published tomorrow, and I’m kind of leaning towards the “Fuck it, I need this now” option. Prime is the great enabler of my terrible financial decisions.

All I know is this novel is about a married couple agreeing to spend alternate months serving a prison sentence (for reasons I don’t know), which is bound to be so very bitter and bleak and darkly funny. And in this interview with the goddess herself, she says it’s about sex robots. (I really feel you should read the interview. It includes a brilliant 5-word Margaret Atwood story: “Wanted him. Got him. Shit.”)

Have you read the MaddAddam trilogy? Please, please do. I’m hoping for more of the absolutely dismal picture of humanity MA gives us while writing women characters who are so enviably strong and capable. Mostly Toby from Year of the Flood.  I can’t think of anyone who writes as beautifully sarcastically as Margaret Atwood, who has given us “Say about others what you would have them say about you. In other words, nothing.” Also “There were a lot of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything.” And probably my favorite of Margaret Atwood’s: “People cry at weddings for the same reason they cry at happy endings: because they so desperately want to believe in something they know is not credible.”

Because I don’t get to brag about this a lot, this is my fancy signed copy of The Handmaid’s Tale. Seethe with envy, reader(s).

Day 14 Image

Blogging 101, Writing

Writing 101: The Fashion Blog You Never Knew You Needed

I can’t pretend I’m even a little bit interested in the prompt for today (and by today I mean Wednesday). One of the suggestions: a series of vignettes connected by drinking your signature drink. This would be easier if my signature drink wasn’t tea and sadness. And by that, of course, I mean tea brewed with my tears and sweat. (Ugh, I’ll stop, I promise. I don’t want to be responsible for you being unable to drink another cup of tea again.)

So let’s talk about what I’ve been doing with my thrilling weekend. Today’s task (besides getting caught up with blogging, cooking, and watching Filth): sorting out my closet/making room for my nice new professional wardrobe (ha).

Honestly, I really, really like throwing things away. I have too much stuff, largely comprised of books, kitchen gadgets (you will pry my brûlée torch from my cold, dead fingers), and clothing. I also have a large collection of Beanie Babies in the basement that I was completely ready to donate, but my mom didn’t want to get rid of them (you’re part of the problem, Mom).

Since I know this sounds like the most fun ever, let’s play a game where you guess if I kept that piece of clothing, threw it away, or denied all knowledge of its existence (as in went back into old photos and edited it out, Stalin-style). Except not really a game because I’ll tell you immediately what decision I made. It’ll be more like I invited you over and told you we’d have a fun afternoon, but instead you got stuck with me interrogating you about my wardrobe decisions (and then completely disregarding everything you suggest).

We’ll start with an easy one:

Keep. Obviously.
Outfit I wore for the freshman dance in high school. Throw away. Why do I even have this still?
Outfit I wore for the freshman dance in high school. Throw away. Why do I even have this still?
This one was hard because the fish are so cute, but the shirt is a bit on the short side. Throw away.
This one was hard because the fish are so cute, but the shirt is a bit on the short side. Throw away.
Felt weird about throwing away since I'll be working for my alma mater in a few short days (4!). Keep even though I have never in my life worn spirit wear except when gardening/cleaning. As my mom helpfully observed,
Felt weird about throwing away since I’ll be working for my alma mater in a few short days (4!). Keep even though I have never in my life worn spirit wear except when gardening/cleaning. As my mom helpfully observed, “You could wear it when you’re outside. Welllllll, you’re never outside, are you?” Thanks, Mom.
I have no recollection of ever wearing (or buying) this. Why on earth do I have anything with such a large bow in my wardrobe? Throw away. Really not a bow kind of person.
Much as it pains me, throw away. Those owls are adorable, but this shirt is much too short.
Much as it pains me, throw away. Those owls are adorable, but this shirt is much too short.
Keep. Duh.
Keep. Duh.
Bertha Mason passed judgment on this one, so throw away.
Bertha Mason passed judgment on this one, so throw away. “I call this a statement piece. It makes the statement ‘I have no taste in fashion.'”

How did you do?  And, more importantly, how did I do?  In 10 years am I going to look back and think my life could’ve been completely different if only I’d kept that dress with the giant ass bow?

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101: Word Count

Let’s talk about being clear and concise in writing.  Yeah, not my strong suit.  I have a lot to say, guys, and you should be honored that you have the privilege of listening to my opinion on such a regular basis.

That being said, my posts are (usually) under 1,000 words, so I do spare you the entirety of my stream-of-consciousness.  I’m challenging myself to make this post under 100 words (which I’ve already gone over).  150 then.

This is flash creative non-fiction, you guys.  Under 50 words.  Prepare to be blown away.

Things I did to avoid this blogging assignment: took a walk. Cleaned the cat litter. Went shopping for more cat litter. Made a casserole. Threw away old copies of National Geographic. Moved heavy pieces of art into the basement. Now there’s nothing left but to write.  Or wash dishes.

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101: My Fabulous Life

Fuck it, guys. I’m just barely hanging on in terms of Writing 101. Instead of motivating each other to keep going, Christa and I have fallen into a black hole of negativity that we just keep pulling each other further into. I’m cool with that—it’s what we do.

“What do you do when you’re not writing?” is the question I’m addressing. Which I interpret as “What did you do today?” in a way that isn’t just polite—you really want to know every minute detail of what I did today.  Here it is, guys.  My fabulous life:

After I woke up, I found 2 lip balms under my night stand. I decided today was going to be a good day since I’ve gone from known locations of 0 to 2 (of 4) lip balms, BERTHA MASON.

Obviously the first thing I did with intent was make a cup of tea. Day will be off to a bad start without a cup of tea. This is approx. 7:30 am, btw. I can’t sleep in anymore, which is pretty upsetting when you consider how much I love sleep. I sat around for a while trying to convince myself to work on this post. Didn’t happen.

After about 2 hours of debating if I should do something more productive with my morning, I made a hash brown casserole. Then I remembered how terrible I am at waiting and ate pumpkin waffles with apple cider syrup for breakfast instead. (That casserole took AN HOUR to cook, you guys. It was really good and contained way more cheese than any other ingredient, but AN HOUR.)

I decided to take my (brisk) walk for the day after breakfast. Bertha Mason helped with resistance training by sitting on my leg as I stretched.

If anyone doubts my commitment to the care of my sweaters, I hand washed not one, but TWO sweaters. And by that I mean I kind of swirled them around in the bathroom sink with some laundry detergent and then let them sit for a few minutes. They’re clean now, right? Super fucking clean.

At this point I kind of forgot I was working this afternoon, so I had to run around simultaneously putting away groceries, finding business casual-y clothes to wear, and speed eating lunch (a little bit of hash brown casserole and a little bit of lo mein. It was fusion cuisine).  Bertha Mason once again offered her assistance by running after me and trying to bite my ankles.

After work, my mom and I made veggie soup with grilled brie, turkey, and cranberry sandwiches. Have I mentioned I’m ready for Thanksgiving food? Because I am.

Since then, I’ve been working on this post and drinking a lot of tea. My goal is to keep blogging…but you know me too well to believe that’s going to happen. I’ll probably be watching Star Trek: TOS and eating cheesecake.  What I feel you should take away from all this is that, on a typical day, I eat a lot of cheese, drink a lot of tea, watch a bit of sci-fi, and lose some blood to Bertha Mason.  If it’s a good day.

Blogging University, Writing

Writing 101: No

Okay, guys.  Here’s the deal.

Writing 101 seemed like a really good idea at the time…but I forgot how much I hate other people telling me what to write/how to spend my free time.

Write an open letter to someone?  Write a life update in the form of a coffee date???  Coffee date is the lowest form of dating, is it not?  It says, essentially, “I want to avoid any confusion about who’s paying for what and completely dodge the possibility of having to pay for a fancy dinner.  Also I want to be able to get the fuck out and not have to wait for the check in case things go horribly, horribly wrong.”

Even if this is a casual coffee meet-up…I’m sorry, I’d rather be watching Netflix.

So I’ll play along and update you on my life, but I’m not pretending I’m anywhere besides sprawled on the couch with my kitten Bertha Mason.

What’s going on?  Not much, just freaking out about starting a new job in less than 2 weeks.  You know, going from 3 jobs in the past year (simultaneously for a much longer period than I would’ve liked) to one full-time university library job. I’ll be a supervisor for the first time ever, and it makes me want to run away and hide.

When good things happen to you, do you immediately wonder how long it will take for you to utterly fuck everything up? Do you suspect that someone must have been blackmailed to offer you this position and feel you are really not worthy? I’m positive this is a feeling everyone gets, but I’m equally confident that feeling like the most irrational/neurotic human being ever goes hand in hand with this state of mind.

On the bright side, I got this excellent piece of jewelry that I’m never taking off.

Day 10 Image