While I consider myself an open-minded person, I am very much a creature of habit. For this reason, I’ve accepted I will never actually watch Ben-Hur or The Tree of Life or The Human Centipede (it’s difficult to decide which of these films would be most torturous to watch). But keeping the Blog Collab going for 5 years means I’ve watched my share of films I’d never in a million years choose myself, whether they fall outside of my usual genre or off my radar. Whether I’ve expected to or not, I’ve ended up enjoying many of the films I’ve been less than thrilled to watch.
So let’s take some time to appreciate a few films–good and bad–that I never would have watched without the Blog Collab and enjoy the times we manage to step ever so slightly outside of our comfort zone.
The Premise: A young Persian American woman deals with the aftermath of a breakup and loss of her job while keeping that she’s bisexual a secret from her family.
I may have never discovered the work of Desiree Akhavan without the Collab, and what a damn shame that would be. Or perhaps I would have, as she’s gone on to work on films like The Miseducation of Cameron Post. One thing’s for sure: I’m glad we watched this offbeat comedy together, with its dry wit that brought us such memorable lines as “I’m looking for the grown-up underwear of a woman in charge of her sexuality and not afraid of change.”
The Premise: 3 Palestinian women sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv attempt to navigate the forces of tradition and modernity on their lives and future plans.
Like so many of my favorite films on the Blog Collab, this tale of unlikely friendship focuses on feminism and women supporting each other through harrowing challenges. The women in this film learn to love each other as they realize the divisions between them are largely artificial. Even though this broke my fucking heart, I’d do it all over again.
The Premise: An unknown creep stalks and murders the members of a sorority house during Christmas in the 1970s. And it reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally looks like the ‘70s.
GLASS. UNICORN. MURDER. Those are the only words that matter to me in connection with this film. Everything else about this “classic” horror film is largely forgettable (except for, of course, the strong ’70s vibe), but the inventive murders really steal the spotlight here.
The Premise: Two members of the LAPD–one orc, one Will Smith–team up to prevent the prophesied return of the generic medieval fantasy-type dark wizard.
Considering how much Christa and I loved Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, we expected the bonkers premise of this film to come together into a story so bizarre it somehow worked. However, much like writer Max Landis himself, Bright turned out to be horrible and disappointing. Rather than an imaginative twist on the buddy-cop drama, this film was a boring police procedural with fairies thrown in, but I wear the experience of watching this like a badge of honor.
The Premise: Teens in Paris are determined to make money by any means possible to escape their tough neighborhood and family dysfunction.
Sometimes I need a push to watch a serious drama, especially when living in our world from day to day feels dramatic enough. However, I never regret a compelling drama that brings me outside of my everyday routine and gives me the perspective of a character whose life is so different from mine. The tough but determined teens in this film share a beautiful but heartbreaking friendship that made me ugly cry. No regrets, though.
The Premise: Pinhead returns (again) in past, present, and future timelines to end the bloodline that created the original demon Rubik’s cube.
I would have missed out on some quality(?) Hellraiser sequels if we hadn’t decided to sit down and enjoy the questionable (but actually quite perfect) Hellraiser/Ewan McGregor theme of our own invention. That includes this gem, which plays with timelines in a very confusing manner, but does give us an unexpected Pinhead appearance in 18th century France. You know I love a period drama, so combining Hellraiser and the French Revolution can only ever yield positive results in my opinion.
The Premise: Teen bffs at a religious summer camp must contend with secret parties, the crushing of their dreams, visits from an unexpectedly glittery God, and attractive nuns.
Teens at summer camp coming of age, realizations about budding sexuality, Whitney Houston songs sung by a rather campy God…this film should not work. Its premise is completely insane and has the potential to devolve into a sickly sweet after-school special. However, the humanity of its characters–teens, nuns, novices, God–turns a mish-mash of cliches into a fun and genuinely moving story that affirms love in all of its forms.
The Premise: A successful choreographer becomes young again (not just in spirit) and tries to sabotage her daughter’s wedding.
I have watched more horrible made-for-tv rom-coms in the past 5 years than I have in my entire fucking life, I swear. I try not to dismiss entire film genres (especially as B-movies are so much fun to watch), but I admit that I frequently throw shade at these Hallmark-style cheese fests. Guess what: even sappy TV musicals can surprise you. Though not particularly memorable in itself, this film’s commentary on ageism in Hollywood and our culture as a whole reminds me that even light entertainment can have some depth.
The Premise: This loose modernization of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” features much more gore, cabaret numbers, and fangs than most adaptations.
Honestly, one of the more insane films we’ve watched for the Collab, period. Part horror, part musical, and entirely odd, this is yet another concept that shouldn’t work. However, we loved this film and its dark little heart, complete with creepy songs with mistranslated lyrics. The Lure is certainly not short on creativity or vision, and is satisfyingly feminist in a sort of “burn it all down” sense.
The Premise: Climate change has submerged nearly the entire Earth in water, transforming the world into…the planet of the sharks.
Is this the best shark B-movie out there? God no. All I know is a woman screaming in rage while kabobing sharks with a spear is my aesthetic, and I thank the universe for the divine inspiration that brought Shark Month into being.