Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

45 Years, or: Wuv, Twu Wuv

Another week, another film picked because we do what we feel.  And coincidentally, I do feel like I’ve aged significantly in the last 6 months.

The Film:

45 Years

The Premise:

A couple’s 45th anniversary preparations are interrupted by memories of an old romance.

Where to Watch:

Netflix UK, apparently

The Uncondensed Version:

Kate is a retired teacher who has been married for 45 years(?!?!!?!).  She’s all geared up for a big celebration as the 40th anniversary party was cancelled due to her husband’s poor health.

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The cuddle monster will make it all better.

While she’s deciding on venue and a million little details that would make me lose my mind, husband Geoff has received news of significance from the Swiss Alps.  The body of his ex, Katya, has finally been recovered after decades.

This prompts Geoff’s sudden and urgent desire to go to the Alps even though he’s not well enough to travel such a distance, let alone climb a mountain.  Kate and Geoff more or less return to things as usual, except that he’s not picking up her calls and has taken up smoking again.

That is, until Geoff reveals he was the next of kin for Katya, hence the notification from the Swiss authorities.  Geoff explains he and Katya simply told the Swiss they were married to avoid the scandal of being an unmarried couple staying together.  But if Geoff was hiding one thing about Katya, how much else has he kept hidden?

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Say what now?

By and large, Kate keeps her doubts to herself and continues to go about the couple’s regular routine. They do share some genuine moments of love and connection reminiscing about the past, and they still have a sexually active relationship.

On the other hand, Geoff seems as determined to dwell on his past with Katya as he is to keep its true nature a secret.  After finally confronting Geoff about how he felt about Katya and its impact on their own relationship, she gets fed up and no longer wants to even hear the name.

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Ah, the melancholy stare out the window shot.

Kate decides to go up to the attic (never a good decision on film) and look for more clues about who Katya was and her relationship to Geoff.  After discovering a bombshell, Kate doesn’t know what to think of their relationship and whether their 45 years of marriage meant anything.

Are Kate and Geoff going to make it to their 45th anniversary celebration?  And if they do, will there be anything left worth celebrating?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I only started to warm to this one about halfway through, at which point it becomes great in a heartbreakingly tragic sort of way.  The focus here is rightly on Kate/Charlotte Rampling, whose heartbreak we can see in her face if not in words. It is very reflective on marriage and the ways people can still very much hide things about themselves after years and years. I can tell I’ve watched too much horror because I expected Geoff to somehow be involved with Katya’s death even though this is not that kind of movie at all. The latter half is really great, but for me it took a long time to get there.

Would Christa stick with this one or leave it for dead in the Swiss Alps?  Find out here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab Top 10

Happy anniversary, Christa!  The Blog Collab is officially 18 months old!  Slightly older than Bertha Mason (but the Blog Collab has drawn way less blood)!

In honor of the occasion, my blog wife and I have come up with a top 10 list of our favorites from the past year and a half.  Our blog collab has truly been one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’m really proud of us for sticking with it even when we thought we couldn’t stand to watch yet another wasp sting to the eye or nightmarish wax baby (thanks, Stung and Hellraiser II, respectively).

Without further ado, here are my 5 picks (of 10)!

Blog Collab Top 10 (in no particular order):

1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Maybe slightly in order because this is my favorite of all the films we’ve watched, except We Are the Best!  You won’t see another film like this one, described as the first Iranian vampire Western.  The dialogue is sparse, the vampire remains aloof yet seems very human, and the black-and-white footage is beautiful.  And there’s a cat plus terrifyingly specific threats to skateboarding children, so I approve.  Love the slow build and clever subversion of what you may expect to happen when a girl walks home alone at night.

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2. We Are the Best!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of our favorites have been quirky independent foreign films.  Like the previous film, the love is reflected in the making of this one, focusing on 3 Swedish girls forming a punk band in the ‘80s.  Haters tell them punk is dead, but the girls hold on to their convictions and support each other in the pursuit of punk.  This film is such a great ode to girl power, and I wish I had been even half as cool as this girl band when I was 13.

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3. The Punk Singer

Any discussion of punk and feminism would be incomplete without Kathleen Hanna.  Founder of the Riot Grrrl movement and all-around badass, of course she had to deal with sexist critics airing her dirty laundry and accusing the members of Bikini Kill of having no musical talent.  What is amazing is her dedication to feminism and music despite battling Lyme disease for many years.  The subject of this documentary is truly inspiring, and this is another film where you can feel the love it was made with.  You’ll be singing “Deceptacon” forever if you watch.

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4. Grabbers

Alien tentacle monsters attack a small island along the Irish coast, and you expect some unbearably awful B movie, right?  But you get several things you might not expect from this type of film:  gorgeous Irish landscapes, reasonable special effects, grumpy old Irishmen, and that self-awareness that’s now almost a prerequisite for monster movies.  This film is surprisingly funny and suspenseful, and it’s impossible not to get attached to the characters, even the ones whose thick small-town Irish accents are virtually incomprehensible.

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5. The Foxy Merkins

If you’re looking for plot-driven film, this probably won’t be your cup of tea.  What this comedy has going for it is bizarre, deadpan dialogue, well-drawn memorable characters, and sharp satire.  The very loose plot follows 2 women who become lesbian prostitutes, which involves a surprising number of Talbots gift cards, merkin salesmen, and being busted by the police (but only as a fetish, of course).  Also worth mentioning:  Madeleine Olnek’s other feature, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, and her upcoming Emily Dickinson comedy starring Molly Shannon (cannot WAIT).

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See the remaining 5 over at A Voluptuous Mind!

Worst:

Monkey’s Paw

There’s a reason it was easy to pick the absolute worst film we’ve reviewed.  SO bad.  Nothing redeeming about this—effects, dialogue, acting, plot, and characters are all abysmally awful.  If you’re not familiar with the idea of the monkey’s paw, it’s basically a cautionary tale about unintended consequences.  None of the unintended consequences are particularly interesting or seem designed with the characters in mind; they could be happening to literally any human anywhere in the world.  It’s just a cookie cutter device in a cookie cutter movie.  Not even close to being good bad.

Honorary Mentions:

12 Days of Terror/Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark

These are realistically only getting a mention because we watched so recently during Shark Month.  Both surprisingly good considering they are made-for-tv shark movies.  12 Days of Terror is the only shark period drama I can think of, and Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark is one of the few I can think of that actually makes an effort in terms of plot and character (and feminism!).

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Housebound

New Zealand horror-comedy that’s more funny than creepy about Kylie, a woman under house arrest who realizes her childhood home is haunted.  Really fun to watch, and there are some great quirky supporting characters.  Kylie’s mother is great and appears in colorful sweaters (apparently she’s been typecast as the mom who wears weird sweaters, as she does so in the excellent Hunt for the Wilderpeople as well).

Ravenous

Worth watching for the beards of Robert Carlyle and Guy Pearce alone (sweaters are an added bonus).  I will always support horror period pieces—this one rather originally takes place in a 19th century military outpost in California.  Plot is a bit shaky, and this isn’t one of my highest ratings, but the creepiness of Robert Carlyle’s bloody smile and the chemistry between the 2 leads is insane.  I have never wanted 2 men to cannibalize an entire military fort together so much.

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Lovestruck:  The Musical

I wasn’t going to include this one, but my entire post felt like a lie without it.  An ABC Family original movie starring Jane Seymour, this is a pure cheese fest with some unintentionally deep commentary about ageism in Hollywood sneaking in there.  Some of the musical numbers are incredibly cringe-worthy, and the original songs are schmaltzy, but this was one of my favorite TV movies we watched.  It allowed me to feel warm and fuzzy and cynical all at the same time.

Mermaids!  Teen angst!  Duct tape Batman costumes!  All of this and more in my blog other half’s post!

What I’m trying to say is go visit Christa’s blog for the rest of this list and some important honorary mentions I’ve neglected.

Here’s to another 18 months…and who knows, maybe even 18 years!