Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Support the Girls, or: Double Whammy

Small business owners, determined managers–we really expected Feminist February to uplift and inspire us.  However, both of our first picks this months have been something of a bummer.  You’ll see what I mean with this week’s pick, in which even a title with a clever double entendre fails to deliver on the promise of lighthearted fun.

The Film:

Support the Girls

The Premise:

The caring manager of a sports bar experiences a hellish day that forces her to reevaluate her priorities.

The Ramble:

To say Lisa isn’t having her best day ever is an understatement.  The manager of the struggling bar Double Whammies–a local twist on the Hooters franchise–begins the day with the news that thuds emanating from the attic are those of an attempted burglar who got stuck in the building’s vents.

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Today is the day of a big fight that the sports bar is counting on making big business.  Before the real work begins, Lisa squeezes in a car wash fundraiser to “support the girls” that isn’t quite approved by the bar’s owner.  After receiving the news that one of her former girls is in trouble after running over her boyfriend in a rage, the caring Lisa is determined to help her out with the funds raised in the car wash.

Lisa is incredibly protective of her girls, treating them more like family than employees.  She is especially close to cool and collected Danyelle and bubbly Maci, both hardworking ladies who are equally willing to support their boss.

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As you may imagine, some of the customers are creepy, hostile, rude, aggressive, or all of the above.  Lisa suffers no fools and is quick to throw out anyone caught behaving inappropriately.  The regular customers bring challenges of their own, including overly nosy and observant lesbian Bobo (but personally I fucking love Bobo).

Complicating things further, the cable at the bar is suddenly cut off.  Despite Lisa’s best efforts, the cable provider doesn’t seem inclined to speedily restore service.

When owner Cubby arrives on the scene, not only does he lecture Lisa about the cable, but he also points out the questionable legality of the car wash fundraiser.  Cubby seems determined to burst Lisa’s bubble as he shows her the location of a soon-to-be-opened competitor that could close down Double Whammies.  After a road rage incident and a fight in which Cubby fires Lisa (yet again), she decides to finally accept the termination of her job.

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Luckily, Lisa’s husband is willing to pick her up and take her back to work to get her car.  Unfortunately, the car ride will also involve a rather serious conversation about their future together as a couple.  While her husband is depressed and seems to have more or less given up, Lisa is a workaholic and fails to make time for their relationship.  Prognosis?  Not good.

Finally, Lisa receives disappointing news about Shaina, the girl she worked hard to raise money for at the day’s earlier car wash.  The disillusionment is final and thorough.

Will Lisa swallow her pride and go back to the bar or step forward into an uncertain future?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I really expected to like this one more than I did; however, I may have myself to blame.  Given the double entendre title, the movie posters with confident-looking Regina Hall, and perhaps just wishful thinking, I expected a positive, upbeat comedy about the ladies of Double Whammies banding together through tough times.

The film takes a much darker and more realistic approach to the emotional toll of treating employees as family and allowing work to consume your life.  While Lisa cares deeply about the girls she employs, the owner doesn’t share her concern, and this emotional investment disadvantages her.  Ultimately, it makes Lisa much more inclined to fight losing battles that cost her a lot personally and emotionally–battles that even the owner doesn’t seem invested in.  And honestly, her efforts to support her employees in tough times aren’t always appreciated; Lisa’s good intentions as a manager tend to go too far.

The bond between Lisa, Danyelle, and Maci is great, though.  And Bobo 4 life; would watch a sequel about these 4 ladies.

Would my blog wife support this one or let the ladies hang freely?  Find out here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Bookshop, or: Shelf-Employed

Hallelujah, it’s Feminist February! Not only is this month a celebration of ladies in film, but it’s also the birth month of the Blog Collab! This week, we vicariously fulfill our dreams of opening the quaintest fucking bookshop ever to exist.

The Film:

The Bookshop

The Premise:

A woman in 1950s England faces local opposition to her plans to open and operate her own smalltown bookshop.

The Ramble:

Recently widowed Florence Green is devastated by her husband’s death. However, as stiff upper lip is the English way, she tries to make the best of things by achieving her lifelong dream of opening a bookshop.

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In order to do so, Florence must overcome a surprising amount of opposition from the members of her sleepy coastal town. Only one person in town seems to be much of a reader, so the bank finds little reason to believe her venture will be a solid investment. This leaves Florence to rub elbows at fancy rich people parties which, in true book nerd fashion, she is painfully terrible at carrying off.

Unwittingly, Florence’s bookshop plans have set up queen bee of the town Violet as her archnemesis. Violet has grand plans of her own for the historic building that happens to be Florence’s home: she envisions a grand arts center, despite the small town not having much art and culture to go around.

Even with the scheming of Violet and her toady Milo, Florence manages to convert her home into a cozy little bookshop. The shop is a true labor of love as Florence is the only employee until she hires an assistant, 11-year-old Christine. Though Christine gives zero fucks about reading, she’s nevertheless a dedicated and hardworking employee. The two bond over their determination to keep the bookshop alive and thriving.

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Meanwhile, Brundish, the only reader in town becomes more and more invested in Florence’s success. In addition to being the only game in town, Florence has the knack for tracking down the perfect book for Brundish. After introducing him to Ray Bradbury, she asks for his opinion on selling Lolita in her shop despite its questionable morality.

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Deciding to go all-in for Lolita, Florence stocks 250 copies and scandalizes the entire town. Has she finally gone too far? It seems likely when Florence is forced to close the doors on the shop. Though Brundish stands up for her against Violet, in a tragic twist, Florence ends up losing her last remaining ally.

Is there any hope left for Florence and her little bookshop?

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

As a feminist being into it when ladies are small business owners, I wanted to like this. As a book person, I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to like this. Florence is basically living my dream life here with her small bookshop in a beautiful little coastal town. But honestly, most of this movie is boring AF and I couldn’t even get invested in the whole cute little bookshop fantasy. And this time it’s not the chemical inbalances in my brain because I have pills for that.

The characters are not super compelling either. Even Bill Nighy’s character is just kind of blah, and that makes it difficult to invest in any of the character relationships. The relationship between Florence and Christine is supposed to be the heart of the film, but it falls flat and fails to create the wistful ending it aims for.

Not to be too spoiler-y, but this film could also be called Christine: That Escalated Quickly.

The landscape and adorable little shops and cottages are lovely, though.

Would my blog wife invest in this one or scheme to shut it down? Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Princess Cyd, or: Is It Too Late to Say Soirée?

I’m sad to wrap up Feminist February…even though, let’s be real–in this Blog Collab, it’s always Feminist February.  We’re back in our indie groove yet again for a film centered around female relationships and the ways they shape our leading ladies.

The Film:

Princess Cyd

The Premise:

A teen visits her novelist aunt for a summer, leading to discoveries about herself and several of the women in her life.

The Ramble:

Cyd, a seemingly well-adjusted teen living in South Carolina with her father, is currently driving everyone up the wall.  Under the pretense of checking out Chicago’s colleges, Cyd goes to stay with her aunt Miranda for a few weeks in the summer.

Miranda, a successful novelist, lives a relatively quiet life in the house where she grew up with Cyd’s mother.  Since Cyd’s mother died violently nearly 10 years before, the family has drifted out of touch.

Though Cyd has a boyfriend at home, she is immediately attracted to a barista she meets after getting lost on a run around the neighborhood.  When the barista, Katie, invites Cyd out for a walk, they later have to slow dance on a balcony for art.

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Meanwhile, Cyd has deep conversations with her aunt about life, religion, sex, and death.  You know, polite family small talk.  Cyd encourages her aunt, who frequently writes about single, divorced, or unhappily partnered people, to date a longterm friend.  However, Miranda seems pretty keen on maintaining her solitary but fulfilled life.

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Sexual tension or awkwardly trying to get out of a conversation that just won’t end?

The two women get into the routine of sunbathing in Miranda’s garden, though initially Miranda claims she doesn’t even own a bathing suit.  Cyd, despite not being a reader, picks up Miranda’s books and starts to gain some insight into her aunt’s life.

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Everyone in this film always looks at least this flawless.

If the film can be said to have a structured plot, it’s all about Miranda’s soirée, a word she repeats approximately 4,835 times.  Cyd decides to make a splash at the party by borrowing a tux from Katie–damn, grrrrrrrl.  She pulls off the look.  She really fucking pulls off the look.

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If Idris Elba isn’t the next James Bond…Cyd?

After the party, Cyd and Miranda get into a fight about Cyd’s actions, but it quickly delves into deeper philosophical and spiritual realms.  They are snapped back to reality when Katie experiences a crisis with her brother’s friend, and Cyd and Miranda are there for her.  It is through Katie that we learn the meaning behind the film’s title, as well as discover what really happened to Cyd’s mother (spoiler alert:  it’s really sad).

Will Cyd and Miranda allow the summer to change them or is it better to keep the past in the past?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

First off, the aesthetic of this film is beautiful.  Jessie Pinnick (Cyd) is gorgeous, so there are tons and tons and tons of close-ups on her face.  At times this gets uncomfortable and starts to feel voyeuristic to me.  I do like our main 3 ladies a lot and enjoy that they all have unique perspectives and approaches to life that complement each other rather than conflict.

The thing I really appreciate about the dynamic between Cyd and Miranda is that they influence each other and draw out the best rather than transforming.  Cyd is incredibly direct and unafraid to ask questions, but she learns to do so in a way that’s inquisitive without diminishing viewpoints different from her own.  Miranda, in the act of sunbathing in her backyard with Cyd, embraces some of her carefree attitude and confidence in her body.  If this were a generic rom-com, Cyd would set Miranda up with her friend.  But instead, Cyd learns to accept her aunt’s independent, aromantic life is not equivalent to an empty existence.

Confession time:  while I liked the ideas and themes here, I did find the plot very meandering.  There was something that didn’t quite click for me–maybe since my last pick was a Disney film I was expecting bigger drama and more sentimentality.

Would my blog wife attend a soirée with this one or annoy it with a series of overly personal questions?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Irreplaceable You, or: Christopher Bird Watchin’

What do you do with a terminal cancer diagnosis?  Get angry, despair, feel shock?  If your answer is to plan out your significant other’s romantic life without you, you may belong in this week’s film.  You may also want to reevaluate your choices, but hey–do what you want.

The Film:

Irreplaceable You

The Premise:

A young woman with a rare form of cancer decides to find a partner to care for her fiancé after her death.

The Ramble:

Pulling no punches, narrator Abbie immediately tells us she is no more; she has ceased to be; she has passed on; she is dead.  Sadly, Abbie was only in her 30s when she passed away.  Though she seems to be at peace, she worries about the future of her fiancé, Sam.

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I am obsessed with Abbie’s button dress.

After growing up together, Abbie and Sam are finally ready to tie the knot when it seems that Abbie is pregnant.  However, the gods are such fucking assholes, and it turns out the growth in Abbie’s stomach is a malignant tumor.  The wedding plans are decidedly off, though initially the two try to carry on as usual.  Sam continues to teach in his role as a TA, while Abbie keeps working as something or other to do with children’s publishing?

Abbie does join a support group that crochets together, where she meets Christopher Walken, Kate McKinnon, and Steve Coogan.  I thought Kate and Steve were completely wasted here, as 90% of what they do is sit around in a circle and crochet.  Tami Sagher plays one of the supporting characters in the group, and I think she has much funnier lines here (though Kate does have a good one about Catholic yoga).

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If it works for Kate, it’s good enough for me.

The dynamic between Abbie and Christopher Walken (Myron) is great as the two bond immediately, discussing life, rare birds, and ugly vests.  Myron tries to help Abbie accept things as they are and spend more time focusing on the present–advice that is largely ignored.

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Birding or filming a low budget version of Rear Window?

While Abbie undergoes treatment, she doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  She begins to worry about what will happen to Sam when she’s no longer around to help him.  Will he be able to take care of himself?  Will he go through a “slut phase” as Christopher Walken predicts?  To ease her fears, Abbie begins scoping out women for Sam to date after she dies.  This is both incredibly morbid and cringingly anti-feminist as Abbie judgmentally dismisses cat ladies, sluts, and general weirdos.

Just when Abbie is ready to give up, she meets a waitress who really clicks with Sam.  However, Abbie isn’t as up for all of this as she thought she was and realizes getting what she wants may be the worst possible outcome.  After Sam finds out about Abbie’s plan, he’s upset about her scheming and attempts to control his life.  Will the couple make up before it’s too late?

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

My biggest problem with this one is the uneven tone–I never totally understood if this was supposed to be funny or tragic because it fell flat on both counts.  There was a moment between Abbie and her sassy nurse that felt genuine, but many of the other emotional moments felt empty to me.  It’s also confusing to see so many comedians in roles that aren’t that funny, though Christopher Walken is great, of course.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Abbie does well despite lack of interesting material–both leads are pretty bland.  Abbie is a bit of a nightmarish type A stereotype, while Sam is so devoid of personality he’s practically a blank canvas for Abbie.

There were a couple of other issues that occurred to me throughout the film.  For one, how are Abbie and Sam not concerned about money?  They seem to be existing on a TA’s income, paying for expensive treatments, and (spoiler) later planning a wedding.  The other thing that really bothered me was Abbie’s narration as a…ghost?  This is never explained, and Abbie does admit she’s having trouble leaving Sam behind, but this isn’t necessarily the focus of the film.  This part of the story feels like an aside and gives us a rather unsatisfying ending.

That being said, Abbie and Sam’s apartment is fucking perfect and what my filthy hipster dreams are made of.

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Drooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.

Would my blog wife find a partner for this one or let it die alone (too soon)?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Queen of Katwe, or: The Chess Version of Billy Elliot

Feminist February may be in its 3rd year(?!?!?!), but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for firsts.  This week’s film is our first Disney feature on the Blog Collab, first set in Uganda, and first (and probably last) all about chess.  Definitely not the first to make me cry an embarrassing number of times.

The Film:

Queen of Katwe

The Premise:

The true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl who rose quickly to become a chess master.

The Ramble:

For those of you, like me, who always want to know what a title means–Katwe is a slum in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, where Phiona grows up.  One of four children, Phiona takes care of her younger siblings and sells maize to support the family.  Since her father died, Phiona’s single mother, Nakku (Lupita Nyong’o!!!), struggles to keep the family together and under a roof.  Phiona’s older sister, Night, has had enough and takes off with her scooter riding boyfriend.  After this act of rebellion, Night helps the family financially but is essentially dead to her mother.

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You kids get off my lawn!

Meanwhile, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo!) is an engineer searching for a job in Kampala.  When he discovers all of the engineering jobs are completely about who you know rather than what you know, he must settle for a part-time gig as a coach with a small ministry.  Luckily, the family has a second string as his wife Sara is an elementary school teacher.

In Robert’s chest beats the tender heart of a chess nerd, and his passion project with the ministry is trying to get all the kids hooked on chess.  He hopes to develop the talents of his pupils in order to show the privileged what they can achieve.  No unresolved childhood issues there at all.

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Yeah, you’ve already lost me, dude.

Enter Phiona, stage right.  When she stumbles upon the chess club in action (and gets free food–possibly the only reason I’d ever stick around for chess), Phiona decides to try playing despite some of the kids being little assholes who tease her for being dirty.  Though initially confused by the many rules of the game (I’m there with you, girl), with practice Phiona learns to master the game–even winning against the group’s current champion.  In a scenario that feels way too real, Phiona actually feels bad about winning and apologizes for it.

Soon, Robert figures out a way around the snobby prep school’s efforts to exclude the team from a chess championship.  However, it turns out stuck-up rich kids are the least of his problems when Phiona’s mother finds out what she and her brother have been up to.  Suspecting ulterior motives and fearing her children will be unable to earn money for the family, Nakku forbids them from playing chess again.  That is, until Robert promises he will find a way to get them into school if they’re allowed to play.

I think it’s no spoiler to tell you that the rich kids are absolute douches and Phiona wins against the smug little assholes.  Still, she doubts her abilities and believes she only won because her opponent let her.

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NERDS.

Nevertheless, things seem to be falling into place until Phiona’s brother is in a terrible accident, the family is left without money, and they are evicted from their home.  Phiona also starts to realize the injustice of the chess world.  Though she has beaten players with the world-class mentors, she goes back to a dissatisfying existence where mundane chores take precedence over the exciting(?) game of chess.  Despairing of her life, Phiona belongs neither in Katwe nor among the wealthy.

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If the prize for winning a chess championship were fries and ketchup, I might be a bit more inclined to make an effort.

After a series of wins, Phiona is determined to continue playing chess–and, vitally, to make money from it.  She and Robert travel to Russia to compete professionally, which may help her earn a stipend to support her family.  However, things do not go as planned, and a disappointed Phiona is ready to give up.  When the rainy season washes away their home, the fraught relationship between Nakku and Night reaches a boiling point, and Robert faces a difficult career decision, does this mean the end of Phiona’s dreams?

Clearly not or it wouldn’t be a Disney film.

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I wouldn’t call this a new favorite, but it has a stellar cast, a fairly action-packed plot (for a film about chess), and a genuine heart holding it all together.  Thematically, this has a lot in common with Billy Elliot, though the PG rating and Phiona’s set of challenges take a different angle (and there are significantly fewer songs by the Jam in this one).  I am ridiculously susceptible to crying at inspirational speeches, and David Oyelowo has more than his share.  Damnit, dude.

Phiona (and Madina Nalwanga in her first film role?!??!) in particular is a wonderful character to watch, with a quiet determination tempered with a realistic amount of self-doubt, commitment to duty, and frustration.  We are of course rooting for her the whole time, but the film doesn’t gloss over the limitations that poverty, gender, and geography place on her ability to succeed.  Nakku is also incredibly sympathetic as a mother whose concern is the survival of her family–even if that means settling for a less than ideal future.  As a single mother with no interest in remarrying, Nakku is fucking fierce and a genius at survival.

I want Lupita Nyong’o to adopt me and David Oyelowo to be my life coach.  Or I could just bring them coffee, whatever.

Was this a checkmate for my blog wife or did she enjoy it about as much as a game of chess IRL?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Frances Ha, or: Things That Look Like Mistakes

This month is one of the most fun on the Collab, returning for its third year!  Welcome to Feminist February 3:  The Revenge.

The Film:

Frances Ha

The Premise:

A young woman seeks a place to live and a direction for her life after moving out of her best friend’s apartment.

The Ramble:

In her late 20s, unattached, and easily gliding past responsibilities, Frances is living happily with her bff in Brooklyn and quite content to keep things as they are.  (As a side note, bless people who name their movies after their lead protagonist because it’s the only way I ever remember character names.)

Anyway, you know a change is coming.  After breaking up with her boyfriend when she doesn’t want to move in with him, Frances gets the bombshell that her roommate, Sophie, is buying an amazing apartment in trendy Tribeca.  A struggling dancer with a talent for choreography, Frances couldn’t even afford one square foot in the apartment and must quickly find a new place to live.

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Friends who smoke together…are broke together?

When she goes on a date with Adam Driver, Frances unknowingly meets her new roommate.  Frances moves in with Adam Driver (whose character name I will never remember) and Benji.  Though AD is basically a walking, talking sex drive and Benji constantly reminds Frances that she’s hopelessly undateable, she gets along well with her roommates.  Benji and Frances bond over music and movie nights, while AD brings ladies back to the apartment and walks around in a towel.

Frances is eager to show off her new place to Sophie, who comes across as overly critical and perhaps a bit jealous.  Throw in the added drama of Frances’ disdain for Sophie’s boyfriend, and it’s clear there are some tensions rising beneath the surface of their friendship.

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Of course we’re all having a wonderful time and not secretly hating each other!  Why do you ask?

After heading home to Sacramento for the holidays, Frances returns to New York and moves in with one of the dancers in her troupe/I don’t really understand how dance works.  While she pretends nothing is wrong, Frances has actually been cut from the Christmas show and is too proud to accept a secretarial role open at the…dance office?  Again, not something I’ve ever been even remotely interested in.

During a horrible dinner party, Frances learns that Sophie is moving to Japan with her boyfriend.  Impulsively, she decides to spend the weekend in Paris, though absolutely nothing works out while she’s there.

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On the bright side, doesn’t actually fall into the Seine?

Upon returning to the States, Frances works for her alma mater in Poughkeepsie over the summer as a server during donor events.  Sophie, who met Frances while in college, is attending one of the events with her boyfriend and reveals she is engaged.  Unable to contain her shock, Frances catches Sophie’s attention and the two bond in a dorm room just like the good ol’ days.  When Sophie confesses her reluctance to stay in Japan with her fiancé, Frances jumps on the chance to persuade her to return to NYC.  Will the two be reunited for good or settle for always having Poughkeepsie?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Like Frances herself, this film lends itself to meandering.  Gerwig is great in this and I see some strong parallels to themes and characterizations in Lady Bird.  However, it’s a bit loose and unstructured for me–more of a slice of life film than one with a dramatically unfolding plot.  The relationship between Frances and Sophie is central here and, though strong, is evolving in ways that are bittersweet and uncertain.  It’s rough to see the contrast between their life stages and maturity taking a toll on their friendship.

There is some really excellent, funny dialogue, though.  The entire argument between Frances and her boyfriend surrounding moving in together and adopting hairless cats is great.  I also love the opening scene of the film depicting Frances and Sophie roughhousing in a public park.

My favorite of Frances’ lines is the deceptively simple “I like things that look like mistakes.”  While there are perhaps flaws in this one, the search for direction and challenge of growing yet holding on to close relationships ring true.  Just maybe with a teensy bit more of a structured plot next time.

Would my blog wife let this one crash on the couch or send it packing from her glam apartment?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Feminist February: Paris Is Burning

Feminist February is going out with a bang.  We’re crossing off classics from our movie bucket lists, unintentionally synchronizing our film choices when we’re not even trying, and posting on 2 films for the price of 1.

The Film:

Paris Is Burning

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Uncondensed Version:

This is a classic documentary now, filmed 30ish years ago and giving a mainstream audience the inside story of drag balls in NYC.  Classically for drag queens to dress up in a Vegas showgirl style complete with feathers and sequins, ‘80s balls expanded to many categories giving attendees the chance to strut their stuff in military uniform, business suits, school girls, jockeys, realness…there’s virtually no limit to the number of possibilities.

Our first introduction is through Pepper LaBeija, who considers herself reigning queen of Harlem balls (even though not everyone would agree with this characterization).  In her own words, “I never felt comfortable being poor, and being middle class doesn’t suit me.”  Balls give participants a taste of glamour and fame they otherwise wouldn’t get.  One participant calls it a high that won’t hurt you.

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I really feel my captions can add nothing of value to this moment.

Another theme that weaves throughout this film is the family found in ball culture—and the houses that pop up and feud with each other.  Many of those interviewed share their stories of being loved but not accepted—or completely rejected by their families.  Each house has a mother who leads the family and takes care of them, while unapologetically calling bullshit.

Feuds between houses means a LOT of shade gets thrown, and really aggressive voguing takes place.  Willi Ninja is an absolute master of voguing—a dance-off involving moves and poses inspired by fashion magazines like Vogue.  His take-down of his opponent revolves around pantomiming applying his own makeup, holding up an invisible mirror, and pretending to apply makeup to his competitor.  If you watch nothing else of this, watch that clip.  Later, Willi ends doing really well for himself, popping up in music videos, modelling, and doing choreography left and right.

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Venus Xtravaganza is a transwoman who participates in balls and desperately wants to earn enough money for sex reassignment surgery.  She works as an escort and seems to enjoy the sweetness of some of her clients.  Devastatingly, however, we find out Venus was later strangled and found 4 days after the fact.  I couldn’t help thinking immediately of the number of transwomen who have already been murdered this year and wonder how much has really changed.

Dorian Corey is one of my favorites—an older and somewhat more cynical drag queen who wanted to be Lena Horne when she was younger.  She wraps things up for us with her aloof realism.  She had so many dreams when she was younger, but eventually aimed lower.  You may want to make a mark on the world when you’re young—but you’ve left a mark if you just get through it.  (This is especially badass if you Google Dorian Corey and the MUMMIFIED body found in her apartment after her death.  WHERE is the Lifetime movie version of this.)

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The Rating:

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I wasn’t going to go with 5 b/c I feel that’s almost the equivalent of saying “Casablanca is a really good movie,” but there’s no other option.  This is a fascinating but balanced glimpse into a culture discriminated against by race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.  Even as balls bring them together, they feud and toss insults at each other.  Those interviewed are deeply sympathetic but don’t shy away from their flaws and disagreements.  Some want sex reassignment surgery, while others speculate those who opt for it may regret it later.

There are lines throughout that are incredibly poignant, especially in light of many featured in this film dying quite young.  The subjects of this film are extremely socially aware as well, since most are black, LGBT, and economically disadvantaged in a system that wants to keep it that way.

I don’t think I can review this without at least mentioning that several of the participants felt they were owed money by the filmmakers.

Is this the mother of my blog wife’s house or would she throw some serious shade at it?  Find out here!

BONUS ROUND:  I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Since we both watched (and loved) this film over the weekend too, a few words about it.

There’s something slightly Coen brothers-esque about this one–it’s very funny with hints of violence beneath the surface that suddenly bubble up and spiral out of control.  So many bodies pile up for a movie about a depressed woman finding her grandmother’s stolen silverware with the help of a neighbor who overestimates his martial arts skills (Elijah Wood [with a beard and rat tail?!?!?!]).  Though, of course, that’s not what this movie is really about at all.

This film captures how confusing and deeply disturbing it is to be alive, especially if you are seeking either reason or compassion from your fellow humans.  Ruth doesn’t realize how quickly her life can become a (wo)man vs man vs nature struggle, and how easily the lizard part of our brains can take over.  I related so hard to Ruth’s feelings of despair about humanity and the world we live in, and her determination to find meaning in the face of really horrible existential questions.

That being said, it really is very fun to watch and has some great comedic moments.  Melanie Lynskey is perfect in this role–she looks and acts the way a normal human woman would rather than suddenly absorbing assassin skills while wearing 6 inch stilettos (though I’d watch that movie too).  IOU a longer review, IDFAHITWA.