Blogathons

Girl Week 2020: Female Directors of 2020

For 6 years now, one of my favourite movie buffs Dell at Dell on Movies has hosted his Girl Week blogathon, celebrating females in the movie industry. Many bloggers have been posting this week and I’ve snuck in at the last minute with a post of my own. If you want to find out more check out Dell’s announcement post and give him a follow if you haven’t already.

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In 2019 and 2018 I posted about the female directors of that year so far, and it feels right to carry on with that theme. At this point in November in 2018 I had watched 47 new releases, and just 4 of them were directed by woman, which shocked me. In 2019, I’d seen 70 new releases, and only 8 were directed by women. That’s still really bad, isn’t it? I told myself after that I would make a concentrated effort to improve that figure by you know, 2020 happened and I have to admit I haven’t kept track. So with that in mind, allow me a minute (or 20) to look at my Letterboxd account and run the figures.

Number of 2020 releases watched so far: 77
Number of 2020 releases watched that are directed by women: 16

You know what? I’m reservedly happy with that number. Of course I wish it was higher but that’s double the number of last year when I’ve watched roughly the same number of movies overall. I think it’s mainly due to having virtually no blockbuster movies this year, freeing up my time for indie releases. I’ll list all 16 for you now, and I may as well do a top 5, right?

365 Days – Barbara Bialowas, Tomasz Mandes
Emma. – Autumn de Wilde
Mulan – Niki Caro
Misbehaviour – Philippa Lowthorpe
High Note – Nisha Ganatra
Desperados – LP
The Old Guard – Gina Prince-Bythewood
She Dies Tomorrow – Amy Seimetz
Unpregnant – Rachel Goldenberg
On the Rocks – Sofia Coppola
American Murder: The Family Next Door – Jenny Popplewell

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#5 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend – Claire Scanlon

Chosing a 5th place was tricky because looking back at my film diary, I ranked a lot of these 7/10. The one I had the most fun with though was the interactive Kimmy Schmidt movie. The show cheered me up during the tough days of having a newborn baby, and now the movie is here cheering me up in a terrible year!

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#4 Birds of Prey – Cathy Yan

It almost feels surreal that I was at a cinema this year to see Birds of Prey. I don’t generally rate the DC movies but this was so much fun, and Margot Robbie is the perfect Harley Quinn. It sucks that WB didn’t give it the marketing it deserves, and now it’s been hailed as a flop.

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#3 Kajillionaire – Miranda July

Kajillionaire just represents everything I love about indie movies. Great characters, great acting and a weird as heck story. I’m so glad I got to see it at the cinema before they closed again, and I’m hopeful that a streaming service picks it up soon so I can watch it again.

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#2 The Broken Hearts Gallery – Natalie Krinsky

I’ve seen The Broken Hearts Gallery twice now and loved it just as much on a rewatch. There are hoards of average romcoms released every year but every now and again there’s a diamond in the rough and this is one of them.

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#1 Happiest Season – Clea DuVall

I haven’t written a proper review of Happiest Season yet (that’s coming next week) but there’s just no way I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I’ve always been a Kristen Stewart fan, I would walk on all the LEGO barefoot for Aubrey Plaza and these last couple of months I’ve binge watched an unhealthy amount of Schitt’s Creek for Daniel Levy so it would have taken a disaster for me to not love this movie.

Lists

Best and Worst Movies of 2020…so far!

Can you believe we’re halfway through the shitstorm that is 2020? I like to do a little mid-year best and worst post but for a while, I thought it wasn’t going to be possible. Thanks to plenty of cinema visits before lockdown and the joys of Netflix, I can confidently say I’ve seen enough movies to give you a list of the 5 Best and 5 Worst movies of 2020 so far. With Mulan and Tenet pushed back AGAIN, who knows when the next big release will be?

I watched Hamilton (2020) on Disney+ between choosing which movies would feature in this list and actually sitting down to write it, so it’s excluded for now. I guess there’s an argument to be made that it isn’t a movie, but that’s an argument for another day.

Let’s kick off with the 5 worst movies of 2020 so far, shall we?

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#5 Bloodshot

I doubt I would have even watched this if it weren’t for lockdown. Vin Diesel isn’t my cup of tea and the movie trailer didn’t excite me. The actual movie itself wasn’t bad, just painfully average in every way. It would have been a solid 6 or 7 out of 10 if it came about 10 years ago, but action movies like this have moved on.

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#4 Dolittle

Since writing my full review of Dolittle I have learned that Robert Downey Jr was meant to be doing a Welsh accent. Oh. Wales is about an hour drive away from me, and my boss is Welsh. I really should have been able to detect that accent. Yikes.

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#3 Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is on par with Dolittle for the most WTF moment in a children’s movie. Dolittle had a grown man pulling objects out of a dragon’s butt, Artemis Fowl had Josh Gad widen his jaw enough to burrow using his mouth and fart out dirt. I don’t know what more to tell you, guys.

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#2 365 Days

I haven’t mentioned it yet but yes, I watched 365 Days. It’s surely the most-watched movie on Netflix by now. I never thought I would see the day that I could say I would watch something with a worse story than Fifty Shades…but here we are. Those…naughty scenes were quite something though, weren’t they?

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#1 Brahms: The Boy II

You know what? I’m still salty about this sequel. I kind of loved the original movie for thinking out of the box and I was optimistic about seeing more. The Boy II basically just pretends the first movie didn’t exist and was full to the brim of modern horror movie cliches. Brahms deserved better.

2020 hasn’t been a complete disaster (yet) in terms of movies however. I found no trouble picking 5 movies that I loved enough to award them the title of best so far, and I present them to you now.

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#5 Extraction

I’ll admit, by the end of the year Extraction will probably fall into the category of ‘good’, but for now, it most definitely ‘good’ enough to feature in this list. I was expecting an average, run of the mill action movie and a chance to drool over Chris Hemsworth for a couple of hours. Instead, I got a decent story, characters I cared about, and a huge action scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a John Wick movie.

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#4 The Invisible Man

One of the last movies I got to see at the cinema before they all closed. This was such a good experience, watching it on the big screen with nowhere to hide when the tension got too high. I’m normally very quiet at the cinema but that restaurant scene? I gasped VERY loudly.

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#3 Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Warner Bros’ marketing department have a lot to answer for here. They failed to promote their own, promising movie and then tried to blame anyone but themselves when it flopped at the box office. Margot Robbie fits this role perfectly, and it’s full of fun, colourful action scenes from the very beginning. I’ve watched it 3 times now and it’s a blast every time.

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#2 Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Jaja…DING DONG. I’m not sorry for ranking Eurovision so high. It was a solid 8/10 when I watched it and I love it even more almost 2 weeks after watching it. It’s everything I need it to be. It’s funny, it has a touching story, it has songs way catchier than Frozen 2 (I mean it) and did I mention that 4 men ripped Dan Stevens’ shirt off? I love it.

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#1 The Gentlemen

This was the first movie I saw at the cinema in 2020 and when I came out, I had to sleep on my feelings. It felt like a solid 10/10, but could I really give the first movie of the year full marks? Turns out yes. Yes I can. The Gentlemen is brilliant. Hugh Grant is disgustingly phenomenal in his role, and not only did Matthew McConnaughey not get on my nerves like he always does…I really loved his character and what he stood for. It was so much fun, and it’s going to take a lot to knock this off the top spot at the end of the year.

Random Posts

Going Off Topic (#25) Crazy, Stupid, Love

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Whether you’re on a fancy getaway this weekend or having a microwave meal in front of the TV, I hope you have a fab time. I feel like my last few Off Topic posts have been a bit dull and depressing, so I’m going to try and lighten the mood today. Tonight, once the kiddo is in bed, me and my husband will be cooking up a storm with the fancy meal deal we picked up from Marks & Spencers and polishing off a bottle of red wine, whilst watching our annual traditional Valentine’s movie of Crazy, Stupid, Love!

Speaking of the kiddo, when she isn’t robbing me of sleep or causing me endless anxiety, she’s absolutely hilarious lately. She always has been, but she’s starting to speak in full sentences and she’s so crafty and clever. The other day I offered her a dinner of pasta or chicken and her response was “Ermm…chocolate coins”. Yesterday she spent most of the day telling me she wanted to go and see Santa. I work from home on Wednesdays so we spend the day together and usually try to sneak in a trip to the library or soft play. Here she is – eating a cake in her own special way and just generally looking cooler than I ever wish I could!

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February has been a very mixed month for movies, so far. I’m keeping up my momentum of watching as many movies as I can which has been great, but I’ve seen very few great movies this month. The huge exception is Birds of Prey, or Harley Quin: Birds of Prey, or whatever WB decide to call it in an attempt to stick a plaster/bandaid on the hurt they’ve caused by not bothering to tell anyone their own movie exists.

I’ve finished Season 2 of Sex Education finally, and I’m fully on board with the hype now. My brother was telling me that his college’s bathrooms are plastered with posters of Eric and his famous line “Wash your hands, you detty pig!” I’m so, so angry with Isaac though! I hated his character at first but really warmed to him, and I’d have been happy for him to get together with Maeve, but what he did in the last episode was unforgivable.

I also started to watch The Outsider which is looking really promising so far. Out of the very few books I’ve actually read – this is one of them so I’m excited to see how closely the story follows the book! In amongst all of this I’ve been watching Zumbo’s Just Desserts on Netflix which is a terrible guilty pleasure of mine.

So wherever you are, whatever you’re doing – have a fantabulous weekend!

Movie Reviews

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

birds-of-prey-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Cathy Yan

Genre: Comedy, Action, Crime

Runtime: 109 Minutes

Main Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ali Wong

Plot: Harley Quinn and the Joker have broken up, for real this time. Without the Joker to protect her, however, half of Gotham City now wants Harley dead for a number of reasons. Whilst trying to deal with the target on her back, Harley gets caught up with Dinah Lance, Detective Renee Montoya, Huntress, and Cassandra Cain when the notorious Black Mask is after a priceless diamond.

My Thoughts: Let this review, and every other review out there, be a step towards what Warner Brothers’ marketing department should have, and should still be, doing. Which is, to actually promote the Birds of Prey. If I skipped the trailers at the cinema I doubt I would have even known of this movie’s existence. And now it’s being hailed as a flop. Which is a damn shame, because it’s a great movie, and a huge step up from the disaster that was Suicide Squad (2016).

Birds of Prey is such a feast for the eyes. It’s an explosion of colour, action, violence, comedy, and fantabulous costume design. If you thought Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was perfect casting, let me raise you Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie is just stunning in this role in every sense of the word. In fact, the casting as a whole is spectacularly on point here. Shoutout to Ewan McGregor here for somehow being a revolting villain and yet so funny at the same time. I lay awake last night hearing him say ‘EWWWW’ over and over again.

Yes, the story is a bit wild and quite literally all over the place. The first half, in particular, is particularly messy but the story never gets confusing thanks to Harley talking us through it. I can only describe Birds of Prey as a cross between Deadpool and John Wick. This isn’t a story about heroines, it isn’t a story about villains. It’s a story about women who are going out on their own for the first time and standing up for themselves, and it’s so much fun.

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I can only hope word of mouth gets this movie the attention it deserves so that we can have a sequel, but it isn’t looking likely right now.

Best Bit: How can I even pick one? Harley walking through the police station shooting glitter all over the place? Dinah Lance obliterating henchmen with her voice? Black Mask telling us about his shrunken heads? Cassandra just casually pickpocketing everyone she walks past? How about slo-mo fight sequences under sprinklers? Too. Many. Iconic. Scenes. I shaved my balls for this?

Worst Bit: Getting a phone call halfway through the movie to tell you your kid is throwing up everywhere and you need to come home. Poor kid was right as rain the next morning, and I went out the next night to try again!
In the actual movie though? Detective Renee Montoya, I love you girl, but you need to show more respect for the perfect egg sandwich.

Fun Trivia: Before Ewan McGregor was cast as Black Mask, Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell were considered to play Black Mask. Rockwell passed on the role but was considered the “archetype” for the casting.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 burritos. When laxatives and prune juice don’t work their magic, you can always count on a dodgy burrito…

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