a woman with a tumbler of alcohol sits in a chair, holding a cigarette and looking ahead
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Frida, or: Cry Me a River(a)

Our experiment with biopics and films based on true stories draws to a close!  This week, we break away from the subtheme of dirtbag men…and yet still manage to get our share of dirtbaggery.  We’re talking about women in the art world, after all–specifically, a painter who is now one of the world’s most renowned.

The Film:


The Premise:

This biopic follows the life of Frida Kahlo from her school days through relationship with muralist Diego Rivera and her own success as a painter.

The Ramble:

In the 1920s, a young Frida is a free-spirited student.  Close with her family, and especially so with her father, Frida boldly proclaims she will never marry.  Posing for her sister’s wedding photos in a men’s suit, it’s clear from the start this is a woman determined to live on her own terms.

Tragically, Frida’s schooling is cut short when a streetcar accident leaves her temporarily paralyzed and in chronic pain for the rest of her life.  Though she is eventually able to walk again, Frida’s time confined to her bed changes the path of her life–the only thing she is able to do all day is paint self-portraits.

a woman lies on her back in bed while painting a self-portrait

With medical bills piling up, Frida is determined to contribute to the household.  In a fateful move, she demands acclaimed muralist Diego Rivera critique her work and tell her if it’s good enough to make a living.  Impressed with her painting, Rivera quickly takes her under his wing and brings her into the Communist party crowd.  And I mean party in multiple senses of the word.

Both Frida and Diego drink a LOT.  While Diego gets angry and argumentative at parties, Frida opts for flirting with ladies in slinky dresses.  Even as Diego agrees he and Frida will be friends only, the two begin a sexual relationship.  Despite neither believing in marriage, it’s not long before the two have said their vows (and almost everyone in their circle places a bet on how long their wedded bliss will last).

a woman drinks alcohol straight from the bottle as another woman looks at her

Not long, is the answer.  Frida is furious when she learns Diego’s ex lives in the apartment above theirs while she finds a place of her own.  After an angry confrontation, Frida ends up with a new friend who teaches her to make the mole Diego loves.

Though Diego sleeps around, he promises loyalty to Frida if not fidelity.  The two get into SO MANY fights that often end with broken kitchenware, but they always make up.

Meanwhile, Diego faces critique from members of his own party for the government-sponsored murals he paints.  Diego argues his murals spread a socialist message for the people, though other Communists believe painting for the government makes him complicit in their policies.

With an unfinished mural on the wall behind them, a woman holding a bottle of alchohol sits next to a man covered in paint

Tired of this fight, Diego accepts an invitation to New York for an exhibition of his work.  Frida travels with him as she learned from Diego’s ex to never leave him to his own devices.  However, Frida instantly hates the idolization of wealth and ambition she encounters in the States, and the false smiles on every face.  Diego, on the other hand, loves the praise, admiration, and number of women always on his arm.  When Diego pushes things too far by including Lenin in a commissioned mural, the couple finally returns home to Mexico.

two women husk corn at a table, while a monkey sits beside them, and two children in the background play with a dog

Frida’s spirits lift, but Diego falls into a deep depression.  When he has an affair with Frida’s sister, who has recently left her abusive husband, Frida is finally sick of this shit and moves away.  She once again drinks A LOT, both alone and at parties.

That is, until Diego, who has agreed to host the exiled Trotsky, asks for her help in welcoming him to the country.  This plan works a little too well when Frida begins a relationship with Trotsky.

Eventually, Frida and Diego make up (IDK if this counts as a spoiler?), though her mobility and overall health decline.  Bedridden when she finally has an exhibition in her own country, Frida is determined to be at the opening.  What’s an artist to do?

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I just love Frida.  Truly, has a more fascinating human ever existed?  Salma Hayek captures her energy, intelligence, and charisma here.  The film blends some surreal elements with life in a way that feels very Frida, and frequently weaves her paintings into the story.  Since her paintings are so personal, placing her work in the context of her life gives us a greater understanding of the pain behind them.

The film doesn’t shy away from Frida’s chronic pain, bisexuality, or infamously turbulent relationship with Diego.  I enjoy that other characters sometimes directly ask why Frida stays married to Diego in spite of everything, and the non-judgmental approach the film takes in response.  Whether we as a contemporary audience understand or accept her reasons, as a human of flaws and contradictions, they are her own.

I will say the one thing I do really like about this film’s portrayal of Diego is his encouragement of Frida’s art.  She constantly dismisses her own talent, but Diego frequently tells her and others what a skilled painter she is.

I’m obsessed with this film and its subject, even as it proves that behind every great woman is a dirtbag man.

Would my blog wife paint a beautiful portrait of this one or throw a plate at its head?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Brass Teapot, or: What Is Pain?

Prepare yourself for Extreme Makeover: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab Edition. This week introduces themes for our bad movie fest! We’ve been striking out with our last couple of films, so we decided to switch things up a bit and watch something besides our usual horror. The next two films will be Sci-Fi/Fantasy, starting with Christa’s pick for this week!  Check out her review here!

The Film:

The Brass Teapot

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A newlywed couple faces all sorts of ethical dilemmas when they discover a teapot that gives them money for their pain.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

So the beginning of this movie is your basic Intro to Art History: weepy women and serious dudes with ruffs edition. What do all of these images have in common? BRASS FUCKIN’ TEAPOT.

But our story isn’t (entirely) about people glaring in paintings throughout history; it’s about John and Alice (Juno Temple), impoverished newlyweds in smalltown ‘Murica. John works very unhappily as a telemarketer, while Alice struggles unsuccessfully to find a job (TOO REAL).

It becomes apparent pretty quickly that this entire town is a giant high school divided into the popular clique and the loser clique. The only friends Alice and John have are similarly broke nerds whose names I have already forgotten.

Alice and John’s luck suddenly changes, however, when Alice sees THE BRASS TEAPOT at this little antique shop and steals it. She discovers money appears in the teapot whenever she hurts herself. Though John has just gotten fired, it seems all of their financial woes are over as long as both are willing to hurt themselves. Least favorite is having dental work done with no Novocaine. That scene made me realize that is probably one of my phobias.

In complication #1 of many, John takes the teapot on The Antiques Roadshow. I don’t know why—I really don’t.

an appraiser and a young man look at an ornate teapot on the set of the show The Antiques Roadshow
Also the appraiser values this ancient magical teapot at $5,000. HOW.

This brings the teapot to the attention of that Asian guy in movies who always shows up and warns people they’re in danger. In this one his name is Dr. Ling.

Also, as a side note, Kenneth from 30 Rock is Alice’s brother-in-law. To be honest, Jack McBrayer deserved a bigger role in this movie, but I will inevitably say that about every movie. True to type, Kenneth grins a lot and works for a nonprofit saving tree snails.

a man and woman sit at a table, with the man passing a bowl of salad to his left

Another complication: the lady who owned the antique shop dies, and her grandsons come looking for the teapot, which she saved from the Nazis. So yeah, there’s a scene where Hasidic Jews beat up John and make threats over A TEAPOT.

John and Alice conduct some serious research at the library (libraries in popular culture!). This involves, of course, a librarian shushing them (I have never shushed anyone in my life). All of this stereotype-busting aside, I’m really upset Alice TEARS A PAGE OUT OF A LIBRARY BOOK. AND it’s because she doesn’t want John to access information about the teapot’s unsavory effects, which is CENSORSHIP. In the library world, this is the equivalent of being a genocidal maniac. Shame on you, Alice. SHAME.

a woman wearing glasses shushes people in a library
QUIET, THIS IS A LIBRARY…is a thing librarians are no longer allowed to say.

So anyway, since she’s now rich and successful, Alice gets her popular girl makeover and throws popular girl parties she invites Alexis Bledel to.

Dr. Ling crashes their party to warn Alice and John about the teapot’s dangers, but obviously they ignore him.

The situation escalates when the two realize they can make money just by watching people get hurt. Another way to achieve the same result is to become an insurance sales agent, or perhaps that’s overly cynical (it’s not). Additionally, hurting each other emotionally is a valid option. Next step = hurting other people emotionally/airing their dirty laundry.

A man and woman walk down a suburban street. The woman is carrying a teapot.
Apparently sudden wealth turns you into a yuppie hipster.

Alice is becoming increasingly obsessed with the teapot and wants to go for one big score, which will involve killing a drug dealer or pedophile. John says it’s me or the teapot, essentially, and later throws himself from the second floor of their house with the teapot. Immediately after Alice promises to get rid of the teapot, someone breaks in and takes it.

Should I tell you about the ending? I’m going to tell you about the ending, if only so I can bitch about it.

The creepy landlord, Arnie, is the one who took the teapot, and Alice and John have to retrieve it as they’ve basically given Sauron the ring.

John attempts to fight Arnie with a rolling pin; however, the Hasidic Jews come in demanding the teapot. When Arnie refuses, they shoot him and his girlfriend but LEAVE THE TEAPOT SITTING THERE. PLOT HOLES.

Alice (who is suddenly pregnant) and John give the teapot to Dr. Ling and leave town.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we basically get the Titanic ending for the teapot in that it is thrown into the ocean, never to be seen again.

The Critique:

Biggest problems with this movie were the number of plot holes, the attitude towards nerds (plus in general the bland, stereotyped characters), and the ending. I will spare you my complaints about the plot holes, but just know that I’m not going to let it go that the grandsons committed double homicide for the teapot AND THEN JUST LEFT IT. THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE.

On stereotyping, especially of the nerd variety, John kept referencing LOTR and Alice kept teasing him for being a nerd as a result. Is that really a nerd thing to do? If you ask me, that is a HUMAN thing to do because seriously, those movies are fun to watch, and if you say otherwise I think you’re lying to yourself.

Also, EVERYONE kept saying the teapot would turn on them and unleash its terror, but that never actually happened. Alice stole a fucking cursed object and nothing bad really happened to her or John??? Someone could’ve at least lost a pinky.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 3/5

I considered a lower score because I’m still hung up on how much I hated the ending.

I’m starting to sound like the Duke in Moulin Rouge, but I don’t care. I can live with that.  LET ZIDLER KEEP HIS FAIRYTALE ENDING.

gif of a man with a moustache saying "I don't like this ending"

…but I like to read Christa’s thoughts on her blog!  (I think you can say your blog is endorsed by a duke now, Christa.)