Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Black Christmas (I Gave Unicorn My Heart)

The Christmas Collab, truly the highlight of my December, has one last hurrah this week. Christa picked, so you know it’s going to be a good one.

The Film:

Black Christmas

Where to Watch:

Youtube

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.

The Uncondensed Version:

So the girls of Made-Up Sorority X, the Real Name of Which I Can’t Remember are having the annual sorority Christmas party. And by that I mean standing around looking 30 and soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ‘70s.

a woman with oversized glasses embraces a man with an afro and a moustache who is seated on a floral couch
So ’70s.

Meanwhile, we’re getting a lot of weird camera angles/creepy breathing, so you know this party is going to end so very badly. Plus, I mean, this film is called Black Christmas.

It’s all fun and games until the sisters get an incredibly creepy phone call that sounds like dying/choking/masturbating, and quite possibly all of the above. The girl who picks up the phone, Jess, puts up with all sorts of rude suggestions and death threats until Barb, clearly the rebel of the group, responds sarcastically and hangs up.

That was an example of Barb using her sarcasm wisely; for an instance in which Barb is a sarcastic jerk who manages to piss off all of her friends, see the part where she makes fun of Clare’s alleged inexperience. Clare, who will be going out of town with her boyfriend, goes upstairs to pack. She never finishes packing (I mean, does anyone ever except by virtue of the ride leaving in 20 minutes?) as she is attacked and suffocated by the creepy murderer.

The next day, Clare’s father becomes concerned when she fails to meet him on campus as they’d planned. He asks the house mother, Mrs. Mac, (or whatever she is…I’ve never claimed to understand how sororities work) where Clare could be. Mrs. Mac is a cat lady who likes to swear. I connect to her on a spiritual level. STILL no one realizes Clare is sitting in a rocking chair in the sorority house, dead (honestly, might not have been a rocking chair, but that’s a much more effective image, isn’t it?).

With all of this shit going on, Jess has more to deal with as she is planning to get an abortion. She tells her boyfriend, Pete, as he is practicing piano? Even when you take into account the odd timing, Pete’s reaction is disproportionately jackass-y. He asks if she ever considers anyone but herself and asks if she has any idea how important his pending audition is. The moral of the story being fuck that guy.

a woman stands in front of a piano, talking to a man with a feathered hairstyle
Shut UP, Pete.

Finally someone files a missing person’s report for Clare, Jess asks if Clare’s boyfriend has seen her (no b/c she’s dead AF), and Barb has a total meltdown over driving Clare away. I seriously think this film started “Go home, you’re drunk” as one of the girls says, “Barb, you’re drunk. Go to bed.”

a woman with a tired expression stands in a dimly lit room
I’M NOT TIRED!

So anyway…the police and members of the community form a search party for Clare, which is just such a mistake. People start dying left, right, and center.

To remind us that it’s Christmas, Jess opens the door to kids sing carols, which personally would creep me out so fucking much. In other creepy news, Pete asks her to marry him so he and Jess can raise the baby together. Ugh, no.

AND perhaps the greatest moment of this film occurs when death by glass unicorn happens. They’re dangerous.

The police begin to suspect Pete b/c he’s a fucking psycho, but did he do it? Maybe you should watch the damn movie and find out.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Because I hated Pete.

And I know it was the ‘70s, but there was quite a lot of casual misogyny and offhand remarks about rape. However, this is quite a progressive horror film, esp. as there is frank discussion of abortion in a way that doesn’t attempt to demonize it.

I was also legitimately creeped out by this film at several intervals, which is impressive as I’ve watched so much bad horror as to be virtually immune to this kind of thing.

Does Christa agree or will there be a fight to the death with glass unicorns? Find out by reading her review here!

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Christmas Collab: Icetastrophe

Guys, I would never claim to be brilliant at the sciences, but there are moments of this feature in the Christmas Collab when I had to make a concerted effort to turn my brain off. Absolutely none of this film makes sense and it hurts.

But what of it? Just another day in Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2015. This week was my pick, so I am entirely to blame.

The Film:

Icetastrophe; alternately, Christmas Icetastrophe

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A meteorite’s collision with Earth causes an…ICETASTROPHE.  In Canada?

The Uncondensed Version:

I picked this film based on title alone (sorry, Christa) without realizing half of the cast of Continuum is in this movie. Let’s not pretend that makes up for how terrible this film is, but damn…Carlos (Charlie in this feature) is a really good-looking dude. His love interest is Betty from Continuum, who is kind of obsessed with him in the show, and his son is Julian, who will become the mastermind behind an international terrorist organization by 2077.

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Oh, Carlos. Is there a man in existence with more perfectly groomed facial hair?

BTW, there are some Continuum spoilers in this review, so you may want to stop reading if you plan to watch any or all eps of the show (if you have, PLEASE FREAK OUT WITH ME).

Everyone is basically playing the same role as in Continuum, except maybe Julian (though he does still like to blow things up in this film). He’s also in a really stupid forbidden romantic relationship that somehow still matters even amidst the, uh, icetastrophe. TBH, their families are probably just sick of how insufferable their relationship is—they’re 17(?) and they use the L word. Who does that???

Betty (Alex in this film, but I can’t not think of her as Betty), meanwhile, is a nerd working on her dissertation when she discovers a meteorite heading towards Earth. Her douchey male coworker says it’s probably nothing. Famous last words.

2
ICETASTROPHE.

So the meteorite hits the small town where Carlos and his son live, which causes everything to freeze immediately and exploding ice crystals to erupt from the ground (seriously). As it turns out, the meteorite split in half and changed colors, which means…Carlos and Betty have to find the two halves and put them back together?  What the actual fuck. I’ll be honest—I wasn’t paying the most attention ever to the plot of this godawful film.

I was trying really, REALLY hard not to over-analyze the science of this film, what with:

  1. The meteorite causing instantaneous freezing that everyone had to outrun
  2. Meteorite/ice storm causing a bizarre snow volcano/snow vortex
  3. Ice crystals exploding from within the Earth
  4. Dynamite being used to blow up the snow vortex?
  5. Each half of the meteorite having a different effect and balancing each other out
3
New meaning to the term “polar vortex.”

I KNOW it’s not supposed to make sense, but I needed it to have a teensy bit of logic. IT’S JUST WHO I AM.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Scientific flaws aside, plot/characterization/special effects were all pretty terrible.

Plus all of these Continuum characters made me sad that Alec and Kira were absent and also drove home yet again that Carlos and Kira are never going to hook up.  And he didn’t even hook up with Betty either.

I’m sorry this is less of a review of Icetastrophe than me obsessing over Continuum. Whatever, it’s my blog and I’ll cry about Continuum if I want to.

BTW, there’s also a film called Snowmageddon, which is not available for streaming on Netflix. Sadly, that will not be Christa’s next pick unless the gods of Netflix love us (hate us?). The next best thing is to read her review of Icetastrophe here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Christmas Collab: The Mistle-tones!

Second feature in the Christmas Collab, and I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping. I will do that…eventually. THANK GOD Christa brought made-for-TV movies into our holiday theme. It makes me wonder why we don’t watch bad TV movies all day, every day b/c I could. I really, really could.

See if Christa is in agreement on her blog!

The Film:

The Mistle-tones!

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Tori Spelling and Tia Mowry are in this and it’s an ABC Family original movie. This immediately appeals to you or repulses you—there is no in between.

The Uncondensed Version:

Tia Mowry has the cringe-worthy name Holly, which is, coincidentally, the name of all women in made-for-TV Christmas movies. So Holly is auditioning for the Snow Belles, a sort of holiday glee club(?). IDK, guys, this film made me realize how limited my knowledge of song-and-dance group terminology is.

Biggest point of interest at this point is that Holly has a cat who is, naturally, an asshole.

1
Okay, but as we learned from Meet the Parents, it is actually impossible for a cat to flush a toilet.

Due to cat-related obstacles, Holly is late for auditions, and Tori Spelling is not an understanding Snow Belle. You know she’s going to be a bitch because she has a tiny dog and winks a lot.

3
See also: Cruella DeVille-esque hat.

On a side note, it’s really weird to see Tia without Tamera. At this point I Googled the Mowrys, and holy shit, Tia and Tamera are 37?!??!? They look half that age. And apparently Tamera is too busy hosting a talk show to do made-for-TV Christmas features.

5
Thought: If Tia and Tamera Mowry decided to switch lives, how would anyone know???

So Holly gets rejected from the Snow Belles and decides to start her own holiday-themed group so she, too, can feel that sense of fulfillment when she and her group get to perform at the mall. It’s somewhat refreshing that this is a film about, among other things, setting achievable goals.

Except the part about dating your boss (which I’ll get to later).

Holly asks the manager of the mall for the honor of singing in the mall, which leads to his brilliant idea of holding American Idol-style auditions in ONE WEEK. This sounds like an absolute nightmare to coordinate, especially if he already has a group booked for whatever holiday event this is. I just feel this is probably a misrepresentation of mall leadership and really any leadership, which takes the path of least resistance when at all possible.

But let’s put that aside. Holly recruits all of the office nerds to join the group, but they are missing that certain je ne sais quoi. Luckily, she stumbles across a karaoke bar, where she discovers serious boss man Nick embracing a free-spirited karaoke persona. It’s like a really tame version of Coyote Ugly with comparable levels of shame—Nick fears anyone at work ever knowing his terrible karaoke secret.

7
BUT REALLY.

Holly blackmails Nick into becoming the group’s…project manager, essentially. All he really tells them is that they have to work together and sell their performance. Basically things you can take away from watching Wall Street for 10 minutes.

This part of the movie is like watching Glee with worse dancing but a more believable plot. As indicated earlier in this review, there is a developing relationship between Holly and Nick, which if not in violation of policy is probably frowned upon by the company.

All of this is complicated when Tori offers Holly a spot in the Snow Belles, Holly and Nick make out at the staff Christmas party, Nick receives a promotion to the Southeast Asia division, and the Snow Belles perform a rather convincing rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

In terms of the ending, it’s approximately 30x cheesier than you are imagining. If you made a grilled cheese entirely out of cheese slices, and put more cheese on those slices, it could not be cheesier than this film’s conclusion.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

It’s like any high school movie ever made except no one stops drinking wine.  Which pairs nicely with cheese, so I’m not complaining.

Undoubtedly Christa’s review would make the Snow Belles. Read it here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Christmas Collab: A Very Murray Christmas

I promised Christa and Hayley Christmas films would happen even though I am, in my heart, a thoroughly Grinchy human being. We’re shaking things up a bit with the Bill Murray Christmas special, which is not exactly a film but is really the only way to kick off the Christmas Collab.

For a potentially less Grinchy review, see Christa’s blog!

The Film:

A Very Murray Christmas

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

I feel the concept here is self-explanatory. Bill Murray. Christmas. Merriment ensues.

The Uncondensed Version:

We set the tone on this one with Bill Murray singing about the Christmas blues with accompaniment from Paul Shaffer. I like to think this is basically what an ordinary day looks like for Bill Murray (from here on, referred to as BM even though, confusingly, those are also my cat’s initials).

a man wearing an antler headband in a hotel room sits with another man
Also approximately as thrilled about wearing festive headbands as my cat.

BM is, of course, super misanthropic—as if he’s stepped right out of Lost in Translation. Since this Christmas special is directed by Sofia Coppola, I suppose that’s not altogether surprising. What is surprising is how nice his voice is. I can’t recall any film roles in which he sings, at least?

So BM’s managers arrive at his apartment to psych him up for the live Christmas special he will be starring in despite NYC being shut down due to a blizzard. However, none of their cheer catches, and BM goes on stage weeping, abruptly walking off stage.

a man looks up to the ceiling in frustration as he holds a microphone onstage in the spotlight
This is my face every time I have to get up early.

Just before getting stuck in one of those nightmarish revolving doors, BM runs into Chris Rock, and persuades him to perform an incredibly awkward turtleneck-ed duet with him in the special. BM is soon off the hook for the special, though, when the studio loses power. Paul and BM are free to lounge around a bar and drink.

At this point I got distracted when my sister dropped this bomb: “I’m not sure how much of a fan I am of Bill Murray.” We almost got into a fist fight.

I had to list off all of the American classics BM has given us: Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Tootsie, What About Bob?, Lost in Translation and essentially every Wes Anderson film.

Also my mom thought he was Canadian. The shame consumes me.

To return to the matter at hand…there’s not a whole lot of plot in this special. There are more cameos than you can shake a stick at, and we get a subplot with BM trying to save a wedding. Mostly there are Christmas songs. Lots and lots of Christmas songs, but I can deal since it’s BM.

After the singing, there is drinking, followed by song-and-dance dream sequences.  I forgot to screenshot this part of the special, so I apologize.

There are a few numbers with George Clooney and Miley Cyrus, which we’ve been building to for the duration of the special.

What I like about this special is BM being a bit of a Scrooge and pulling himself out of it. It’s quite admirable.  He has a bit of prompting from Ghost of Christmas Past-type figures with a modern twist, and he finds meaning for himself.  Plus as a Grinch type, misanthropic Bill Murray is the Bill Murray I most identify with.

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I could’ve done without so many goddamn Christmas songs, but overall I liked it.

Is it just me, or do you really feel like watching Tootsie now? Just me?

Christa? You should probably find out for yourself what Christa thinks about this one in her review here.

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The Wolfpack, or: Cereal Boxes and Yoga Mats

Christa has decided to ramp up the classiness of the blog collab with our first foray into documentary. Bear with me as I’ve never reviewed a documentary except maybe as a school assignment.

You will probably want to read Christa’s review here.  Not required reading, but it should be.

The Film:

The Wolfpack

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

In a small apartment on the Lower East Side, seven siblings who aren’t allowed to go outside live under the rule of a controlling father. This is almost a fairy tale, isn’t it?

The Uncondensed Version:

Homeschooled and permitted to leave their apartment on rare occasions (under adult supervision), the Angulo siblings reenact their favorite movies to pass the time.

four teenage boys sit in folding chairs laughing, with one holding a steering wheel and pretending to drive
Exhibit A: Reservoir Dogs

It’s quite impressive, as they have little access to technology and equipment. One of the brothers writes down every line as he watches films and types out scripts on a typewriter. He also makes a Batman costume from cereal boxes and yoga mats and talks about the magic of film. It’s quite adorable.

a teenage boy looks out of an apartment window, dressed in a detailed Batman costume
Seriously…cardboard and yoga mats.

Their parents are free spirits, giving the children Sanskrit names, long hair, and the sense of being a tribe. Or, as one of the brothers puts it, it’s like a prison. The tribal mentality seems to come from a rejection of the world and their father’s belief in his own enlightenment. This would be cooler if he weren’t so controlling and abusive to their mother.

However, the siblings use the power of film to escape until they begin to venture out on their own when the eldest is 15. As you might expect, the decision to go out exploring leads to some big changes in the way they see the world. The Angulos try to balance their longing for new experiences with the fear of strangers and the outside world instilled in them for the entirety of their lives.

I think the power of this documentary rests with getting to know the Angulo siblings and admiring how genuinely sweet and introspective they are, so I’m going to stop.

Also they have a cat.

a boy holds an orange and white cat
Cat!

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Quite moving, and those siblings are so adorable it hurts.

It’s so hard not to want to punch the father in the face, esp. when he starts talking about Jesus and forgiveness in the context of him being the Jesus figure, essentially.  It is the absolute worst part of this film.

Thankfully, this documentary focuses on the siblings and their creative power, which is really much more interesting than yet another controlling, emotionally manipulative middle-aged dude.

Does Christa agree? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

The House on Telegraph Hill, or: Cold (Stare) War

Let’s be honest: The Man Who Never Was let me down in terms of noir-y elements. This edition of Blog Free or Die Hard is an attempt to find a better film noir as Christa and I agree the genre is pretty fab when done well. Melodrama, flawed/awful human beings, and old time-y swearing are crucial elements of a film noir. Did my pick deliver this time? Read my review or, better yet, Christa’s.

The Film:

The House on Telegraph Hill

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

A Polish survivor of the Holocaust steals another woman’s identity in order to immigrate to the US. Complications arise in the form of the woman’s family members, the fate of a rather large inheritance, and serious bitch face.

The Uncondensed Version:

I was trying to figure out what nationality the lead actress was, and I finally just Googled it. Italian. She looks and sounds a bit like an Ingrid Bergman knock-off, honestly.

However, for the purposes of our film, our protagonist, Victoria, is a Polish Holocaust survivor. This film is approximately 800x darker than I expected it to be, even for a film noir.

After losing her home and husband in the war, Victoria is a refugee. The Americans want to help her return to Poland, but Victoria is quite resourceful. She has stolen the identity of Karin, a friend who died in the camps, and who happens to have wealthy family in San Francisco. Family = son who was sent away before the war for his safety + Aunt Sophie, matriarch of the family.

However, Aunt Sophie dies, leaving everything to Karin’s son. Victoria is quick to realize she stands to gain safety, an opulent lifestyle, and a damn nice house, if only she can put up with raising this admittedly quite irksome child as her own.

The pieces fall into place quite nicely when Chris’s guardian, Alan takes an interest in her. He is rather shadily only related to her through marriage, which makes it okay. From a legal standpoint, anyway.

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It’s really unfair how well she pulls off the beret.

After like 3 days, BOOM, Karin/Victoria and Alan are married. Karen finally gets to meet her son, Chris, for whom she demonstrates a healthy level of disdain. She obviously hates playing catch with Chris and looks so incredibly uncomfortable when he calls her mom.

I think this is actually a remarkably well thought-out plan, but remember how this is film noir? Shit’s about to go horribly, horribly wrong.

Karin, who is haunted by guilt, wakes up one night to find Alan having a heated argument with Margaret, the governess. Alan, obv, makes up some really unconvincing lie, so you know there’s way more to that story than you really want to know.

Karin and Alan have a party one evening, and who should arrive but Mark, an American major who helped Karin get to the US. Mark and Alan are the original frenemies and do this annoying territorial douchebag thing with Karin.

In an effort to bond with Chris, Karin brings him ice cream from the party even though he isn’t supposed to eat after 8:00. As soon as he utters these words, it’s like Margaret is magically summoned, and the two ladies have a fucking face-off over this ice cream. Ultimately, Margaret is the master of mind games and plays the trump card by allowing Chris to make his own decision.

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Make your own decision, Chris.  But if you eat that ice cream, you’re dead to me.

Karin makes one last attempt to outmaneuver Margaret when she discovers there was an explosion in the playhouse years ago that could’ve killed Chris. Margaret apparently knew about this but kept the details to herself. Proving herself the queen of the disdainful Bette Davis bitch face, Margaret gives zero fucks when Karin fires her. The following day, Alan reinstates Margaret as governess.

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Tell me I’m fired one more time…

After a confrontation with Alan about the explosion, Karin’s has a brush with death when someone cuts her brakes. She realizes Alan is trying to kill her and confides this in Mark. He actually sort of believes her, which leads to several tension-filled outings all 3 attend. Plus they start having an affair.

The rest of the film is ridiculously full of tension as certain facts come to light about the attempted murder of Karin as well as the death of Aunt Sophie.

I don’t want to completely ruin the ending because it’s so suspenseful and got really annoyed when I realized it was time for lunch and had to pause the film for approximately 3 minutes while I reheated a burrito. The end is quite like fucking Notorious but without the terrifying German mother-in-law: full of suspense and nasty things in drinks.

Suffice it to say everything comes to a rather dramatic conclusion and there’s a refreshing moment of female solidarity at the end.

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I loved this one. It’s not necessarily a new favorite, but I’m so glad Christa and I experienced this one together. Margaret’s bitch face is something I will probably never master, but I will try damn hard to do so.

I wish there were way more film noir options on Netflix b/c this would be noir blog all day, every day.

Does Christa agree or will we have to wax our brows, apply some bright red lipstick, and stare each other down? Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews, Uncategorized

3 Women, or: 2 Hours of Really Dramatic Pool Scenes

Blog Free or Die Hard, take two! This is Christa’s pick, which is nothing if not ‘70s-y. I’m…not sure what else I can politely say about this film. But hey, if I can pick Monkey’s Paw, then 3 Women is also fair game. Commence the brutally honest part of the review.

The Film:

3 Women

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Sissy Spacek is pretty obsessed with Shelley Duvall until she suffers an unfortunate accident.

The Uncondensed Version:

I don’t know where to begin with this one.

Our film opens as Pinky, played by Sissy Spacek, starts working at a spa for the elderly. Millie (Shelley Duvall) is her mentor, and takes her through the job, which is mostly walking around a pool with the patient.

Pinky is a little on the creepy/watchful end of the spectrum, but I choose to interpret her as mostly just awkward. Idk if I was really supposed to like her that much considering how neurotic she is; however, I am always going to identify with the awkward girl who makes everyone slightly uncomfortable.

So Pinky is kind of obsessed with Millie and ends up moving in with her. Surprisingly, this doesn’t end up taking a Rosemary’s Baby turn…though, in retrospect, it probably would’ve been better if it had.

a woman lies on her side in the dark, eyes open
Not watching you sleep…just sleeping with my eyes open.

It becomes obvious that Pinky and Millie are at very different life stages, or they are at least very different types of people. Millie takes Pinky to an Old West-themed bar so she can pick up cops, but Pinky just thinks beer foam is the most fascinating thing.

two women sit at a bar with pints of beer
It’s pretty nuts when you stop to think about it, though. Right???

Also of note is the lady who paints murals and sand paintings and shit around the bar. Mostly because she paints a pool with Aztec penises and such.  As the title of this post suggests, there are LOTS.  Of dramatic pool shots.

I admit Pinky could get annoying, but Millie is disproportionately bitchy about minor things like leaving the milk out, which could seriously happen to anyone. Esp. as it becomes clear that no one really likes Millie as much as she thinks they do. This becomes apparent when she decides to throw a dinner party, but her guests completely blow her off. I honestly feel this has more to do with the fact that Millie was serving cheez whiz on crackers at her dinner party. I have to remind myself that it was a different time—the ‘70s were a different time.

spreadable cheese is squeezed onto a cracker on a plate
SHUDDER.

Millie, of course, blames everything that went wrong with the dinner party on Pinky. In response, Pinky jumps into the pool, falls into a coma, and the two women experience a dramatic role reversal. I feel that’s all I should say. Frankly, that’s all I care to say about this film anyway. This is a weird one, guys. W-E-I-R-D.

The Rating:

Christa describes this one as “atmospheric.” Take that as you will. You either like this one or you don’t. I fall into the latter category.

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Prob 1 realistically, but I threw in an extra PPH for Sissy Spacek’s crazy eyes.

What other insights does Christa have about this…er…unusual film? Find out by reading her review here!