Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Wild Rose, or: I Och the Line

It’s February on the Blog Collab, meaning all month long will be dedicated to feminism on film! Kicking things off is a tale of that smooth Nashville sound in…Glasgow?

The Film:

Wild Rose

The Premise:

An aspiring country singer dreams of starting over in Nashville as she struggles to balance her hopes for the future with her responsibilities in the present.

The Ramble:

After serving out a prison sentence, Glaswegian Rose-Lynn is intent on one thing only: making it to Nashville to prove her talent as the rising country music star she knows she is.

Too bad Rose has a couple of considerations that need her attention first: specifically, her young children, Wynonna and Lyle. Those pesky kids! While incarcerated, Rose’s children have been living with their grandmother, Marion. And you know she’s a fierce, no-nonsense woman because she’s played by Julie Walters.

A red-haired woman blows out the candles on her birthday cake, sitting between two young children and an older woman with white hair.

Having burned her bridges, Rose’s efforts to reclaim her spot on the stage of Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry fail miserably. In need of a day job where she can earn money and meet the curfew set by her ankle monitor, Rose finagles her way into a position cleaning the home of a wealthy family (conveniently leaving out her past trouble with the law).

It’s not long before mom of the family Susannah learns of Rose’s gifts as a musician. Rose has an almost non-existent sense of shame, asking Susannah outright for the money to send her to Nashville. Though Susannah declines this request, she does help her get in contact with BBC radio DJ Bob Harris, who is impressed with her style.

A woman stands onstage with the members of a band playing string instruments, percussion, and the accordion.

Though Rose’s children seem to fall somewhere in the middle of her list of priorities, she does begin to make a serious effort to make amends. Cleaning the house and fixing breakfast earn her some credit, and reading through their accomplishments at school has her almost caught up on the time she’s missed.

After an invite to London to meet with Bob, Rose works with her lawyer to have the ankle monitor removed. Tellingly, she insists that her crime of attempting to smuggle heroin wasn’t her fault, and the person to blame in all of this is the judge. In keeping with her past behavior, Rose gets drunk on the way to London and ends up losing her bag. Though she receives encouragement from Bob to write and perform her own songs, the meeting brings Rose no closer to Nashville.

A middle-aged African-American woman stands outside in a garden, facing a white woman with red hair.

Susannah, on the other hand, offers a solution. Rose will perform at her 50th birthday party. The upper-crust guests, instead of bringing gifts for Susannah, will sponsor Rose’s trip to Nashville. The catch? Rose will need to rehearse during the week prior, which incidentally is the week she promised her children a trip to the beach.

After disappointing her children, Rose reveals the truth about her past to Susannah, thus dashing her dreams of a future in Nashville. When she finds a proper job, it seems Rose is ready to settle down and let go of her dreams. Is this really the life that will make fiery Rose happy?

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Julie Walters could have just scowled disapprovingly throughout this entire film and I still would have loved her. Luckily, she does much more with the tough character she plays here, showing the frustration for her daughter comes from a place of love.

Jessie Buckley is also phenomenal in her role; Rose is very often a difficult character to root for. She absolutely will not take responsibility for her life during most of the film and seems pretty comfortable with disappointing the people around her–especially her children. But her gritty determination, as well as her growth as a character, come through beautifully. And I am obsessed with her voice; there’s so much soulful country sadness there. I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me you weren’t a weepy mess during Rose’s final song, a lovely ode to home and family.

Did the three chords and the truth here speak to my fierce blog wife or would she skip to the next song ASAP? Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Filth, or: Remarkable Levels of Desensitization

Last week of free reign until mindless gory horror month begins in…2 days?!?!?!?! 2 DAYS. So ready.

My pick this time around is Filth, which I have been meaning to watch forever but have been avoiding (STUPIDLY) because I didn’t want to watch Jamie Bell act like a complete sleaze bucket. Billy Elliot is one of my favorite bad day films, and I didn’t want to watch it at some point in the future and think about Billy snorting coke and visiting prostitutes a few years down the road.

Christa beat me to the punch on this one, but she was cool with watching again b/c she’s in general a cool human being. You can find her thoughts, various and sundry, here.

The Film:

Filth

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

James McAvoy plays Bruce Robertson, corrupt cop, backstabber, and all-around scumbag scheming for a promotion in Edinburgh.

The Uncondensed Version:

This is tricky because I have a lot of things to say about this film, but it’s reasonably important not to give everything away.

I’d say there are essentially a series of mysteries surrounding Bruce’s character, the main one being whether or not he will land the big promotion that he’s doing his best to lie and manipulate his way into. According to some kind of bizarre scenes with Bruce’s wife, the promotion is the only thing that can fix whatever has happened between them and make her respect him again. When Bruce is assigned to a murder case, everything hinges on whether he can catch the skinheads who brutally murdered a Japanese student.

Right off the bat it’s clear that (1) James McAvoy is beautiful and I forgot how perfect his voice is, and (2) Bruce has issues. With anger, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual relationships (and, in fact, all human relationships), lying, and feeling absolutely no remorse. He tells us how great Scotland is while looking absolutely disgusted with humanity and making small children cry. Needless to say, this film made a great impression within the first 15 minutes.

A man covers his ears as he passes another man playing bagpipes on a street corner
Not a fan of the bag pipes. The shame.

Bruce introduces us to his coworkers (including Jamie Bell/Billy Elliot and Billy Elliot’s dad!), all of whom he is actively trying to sabotage in order to guarantee his promotion. So Bruce works on the murder case, but it really takes a backseat to having affairs, spreading nasty rumors, and making everyone uncomfortable.

Just to emphasize what a shitty human being Bruce is, we have Cliff, his best and only friend. Bruce is making anonymous calls of a suggestive nature to Cliff’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson wearing a shitload of make up). Since Cliff is a prominent accountant, the case is supposed to get Bruce’s first priority…and it does. Just not in the way his superiors probably intended.

A man and woman look across at each other from opposite ends of a white sofa. Behind them is a large painting of a lion attacking a zebra.
Have I mentioned I want their living room??? Because I want their living room.  THAT PAINTING.

This is all going reasonably well for Bruce until he tries and fails to revive a man who collapses on the street. After this incident, Bruce seems to be genuinely disturbed as he’s haunted by visions of a dead child. It also becomes clear that things aren’t as great on the home front, esp. as we never actually see Bruce interact with his wife and child.

For the remainder of the film, Bruce just continues to lose his shit while experiencing increasingly vivid hallucinations of various people as animals. Also his psychiatrist, Jim Broadbent with a an Australian accent, who reminds him only winners get laid and that you should trust no one, especially not yourself. So basically the same thing any psychiatrist would say, right?

A man in a labcoat gestures to a framed picture of worm-like creatures
IDK if you guys have ever done therapy, but this is exactly how it went for me.

Okay, that’s all I’ll say because if you enjoy films in which absolutely everyone is despicable, the humor is pitch black, and the protagonist is certifiably insane, you may want to actually watch this one. Or at least stare at James McAvoy’s beautiful face. Either way, I don’t want to ruin this film for you.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Even though this movie was disgusting and depraved, it’s really hard to shock me any more (which I attribute to Wetlands).  Have I just become so desensitized that nothing disturbs me any more???  Is our blog collab taking that much of a toll on my mental health???  I’d like to see you prove that in a court of law.  Still…I think more disturbing than the scenes designed to repulse viewers is how remorselessly Bruce manipulates everyone to get what he wants.  Also how attractive James McAvoy is even as the sleaziest dirtbag ever.

Not a perfect film, but James McAvoy losing his shit is the best kind of James McAvoy. All of the acting in this one was spot-on, honestly.

The only down side is I really, really want to watch Trainspotting again now. It’s on Netflix, Christa! Eh, eh, eh?

Speak of the devil…you know Christa has a lot of delightfully snarky things to say about this film. Why are you still here when you could be reading her review here?