2018 Film Challenge: 19. Dogville

The first Lars Von Trier film on the list. You know that Von Trier films are generally going to be a bit odd, pretty interesting, possibly quite disturbing and often on the long side. This had all of those going for it. The oddness is mostly in the way it’s staged, in that it is done more like a theatre production than a film. It’s instantly intriguing though takes a little while to get used to. Once you’re engrossed in the film though, you almost stop noticing – kinda similar to reading subtitles. The disturbing elements are pretty disturbing, though less so than some of his more recent films, so that’s something. My decision to follow it up by then watching the first episode of the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale made for quite a full-on Sunday evening. I watched an episode of Grace and Frankie afterwards, just to lighten the mood slightly before bed!

Overall I enjoyed it – it’s an interesting exploration of morality, human nature and society. It’s maybe a little long, but that was my only real complaint. Plus I’m not really sure what you’d cut out. If it was too fast paced it’d be less eerie.

Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • Intrigued already
  • It’s him again! Faraday.
  • That’s definitely the most interesting dog I’ve seen in a film
  • An actual car! It looks really out of place.
  • Ha ha, I love the gooseberry bushes even more than the dog
  • I’m fascinated as to where this is going to go and how it’s going to last 3 hours
  • Creepy kid
  • Ooh, an actual bush
  • Really? Tom?
  • I like Martha
  • You should totally doubt him, he’s a dick
  • No! He’s being all gaslighty.
  • Pervy child!
  • Oh god. It was clearly coming, but still.
  • Aw, maybe Tom’s not so bad. Or he just seems less bad in comparison.
  • This doesn’t portray men in a great light
  • Prison’s gotta be better than this. Even the gangsters can’t be much worse. Do a runner!
  • Yikes. I knew it’d get dark, but still.
  • Don’t be hateful? They’re monsters!
  • Oh. I didn’t expect that.
  • Oh thank god.
  • Woah!
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2018 Film Challenge: 18. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

The first of quite a few Almodóvar films on the list (I think there are 5 in total) – mostly because I inherited a box set of 4 of his films from my ex. This is one of the ones from the box set, plus one I’d seen before, though my memory of it was very vague. I’d remembered enjoying it and thankfully enjoyed it again on 2nd viewing (possibly partly because I’d forgotten what happens). It’s about a guy who kidnaps an actress (one who has worked in porn, though that’s not really relevant) and plans to keep her captive until she falls in love with him (because obviously). In some ways it’s a lot less disturbing than that makes it sound, as it has quite a bit of humour to it too, but it does also have a definite disturbing quality. It’s hard to say much about it without it getting spoilery, so I’ll just leave you with the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • How many of Almodóvar’s films include the making of other films?
  • I think I’ve mixed up bits of this with Broken Embraces in my memory
  • The wig!
  • Antonio Banderas plays weird and creepy so well
  • Creepy!
  • ‘My moustache will fall off’. Ha ha ha ha.
  • I love how he has no inner monologue and just says whatever he’s thinking
  • Why are there suddenly Nazis?
  • He Man!
  • Woman, what are you doing?
  • There’s more weeing in this film than in most films
  • This film’s so fucked up

Edit: I just checked and there were 5 films in the box set, so there are 6 of his films on the list

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Walking the walk

In January my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s doing really well, but it was obviously quite a shock. Soon after, my sister suggested that we do the Moonwalk. No, not the Michael Jackson move, the charity speedwalking event that raises money for the Walk The Walk breast cancer charity. Now, if you know me, you’ll probably know that I’m not the most sporty person, so sponsored race type events are not generally something I’m drawn towards. My gut reaction was therefore one of ‘this probably isn’t going to be for me’. However, due to the personal association with the cause, I didn’t want to dismiss it without good reason, plus my sister seemed really keen and I didn’t want to let her down. I read through the online description of the event and although it was outside of my general comfort zone, there was nothing that made me feel like I couldn’t do it. In fact the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a positive challenge. It’s specifically a walking event – no running allowed – which was the biggest draw for me. I’ve never been able to run – I get out of breath insanely quickly – but walking I can do. I enjoy walking, which is just as well as I don’t drive! I’m also a fast walker, so this seemed like the perfect event in that sense. The other defining characteristics of the Moonwalk are that it’s at night and you have to walk it in a decorated bra. These were the more out-of-comfort-zone elements in that I need my sleep and don’t have a particular desire to expose that much flesh in public. However, I realised that the Half Moon (half marathon distance) wouldn’t finish too ridiculously late at night, so I’d still get some decent sleep, plus you can decorate the bras in a way that makes them feel a bit less exposing. Plus I quite like the excuse to be crafty and imaginative – maybe I have untapped skills in bra pimping! How else will I find out?

Initially we were planning to do the walk in London, but as it’s the night before (and the morning of) my niece’s birthday, it wasn’t the most convenient for my sister (plus I later realised it’s also Eurovision night, so I would have been gutted to miss that). Instead we’ve signed up to do the Scottish Moonwalk, which is in Edinburgh. I’ve only been to Edinburgh once before, for a Cerys gig in 2006, so other than the Liquid Rooms, a Subway (only significant as I’d never been to one before, didn’t totally get how they worked and ended up with an insanely dull and dry sandwich), some pubs and a bit of time in a park, I haven’t really seen Edinburgh properly, so going back was an appealing prospect just on its own.

The walk itself is now only a month away, which hasn’t quite sunk in yet. You’re provided with a training plan which I’ve been sticking to as closely as possible. At the time of starting it, I was feeling quite unfit. Previously I’ve always had decent walks to and from work every day, to maintain some vague level of fitness, but in October I started a job that’s literally around the corner from where I live. Although the convenience is great in a lot of ways (I love being able to pop home for lunch), I’ve definitely felt the effects of the lack of exercise. I would sometimes contemplate doing other exercise, but it’s a bit too much like hard work isn’t it? Walking’s like a stealth form of exercise when it’s also a necessity. I’m therefore weirdly looking forward to moving further away from work at some point. Anyway, despite being quite out of practice, the training’s been going well and I’m feeling slightly less decrepit, which is always a bonus. The element of it that I’ve found most uncomfortable, probably weirdly, is going out in public in exercise clothes. Initially I was able to avoid this, as it’s not so necessary for the shorter walks, plus the weather was cold enough that I could generally get away with wearing a long coat over the top of my leggings. Like I said, stealth exercise! However, there have been a couple of occasions now when I’ve had to bite the bullet and head out in leggings and a t-shirt. Even when I wore leggings back in the ’90s I wore long t-shirts and jumpers over them (ah, the ’90s). I’m not sure what it is that feels so exposing about going out in just leggings – I think it’s because they’re just a step up in opacity from heading out in a pair of tights. I feel like I’m not properly dressed; like I’ve forgotten to put a skirt on. I’ve found that taking a hoodie and tying it round my waist makes me feel a bit less naked, though that might become a bit odd if this good weather persists. I’m not sure why I feel so self-conscious about people knowing that I’m exercising. PE was never my thing at school, but I had no particular hang-ups about it either. I hated swimming (I can’t swim) and hockey (too much mud and ankle bashing), plus running of any kind (as previously mentioned), but otherwise I was fairly ambivalent. I quite liked netball, tennis was all right, rounders/softball/baseball type games could be quite fun (despite my ineptness at actually hitting the ball), belly baseball was awesome (was this something that just our school did?), most athletic type events (running aside) were pretty bearable, volleyball was quite good… plus I went dancing outside of school (my Mum had her own dance school), so I was fairly active and fit… I guess I just haven’t seen myself as a ‘person who does exercise’ since I was at school, so I feel like a bit of an impostor or something. Like other exercising people can sense I’m not one of them. I might have some issues with paranoia… Hey, I’m an X-Phile. Trust no-one. Anyway, despite the awkwardness at exposing my leggings-clad bum in public, I’m generally enjoying the training. It’s often an effort to make myself go and do it, but once I’m on my way, it’s fine. Granted, my longest walk so far has only been 7 miles, so just over half of the full distance I’ll be doing, but it’s creeping up to 10 miles within the next 3 weeks. That’s the longest I’ll be doing in the training – I’ll just do the full 13.1 miles on the night itself.

Sadly I haven’t had my bra delivered yet, so no decorating has taken place. I really hope it comes soon (it kinda has to come fairly soon!) as I don’t really want to rush the decorating. I was also hoping to wear it a few times prior to decorating it, just to wear it in a bit and make sure it’s comfortable enough (and supportive enough!) for walking 13 miles in. If it doesn’t come soon (or possibly even if it does), I might just end up decorating an old existing bra of mine and then keeping the supplied one as a regular bra. I have some rough plans as to how I’m wanting to decorate it (the theme for the Scottish walk is Hollywood), so I actually ordered a couple of bits off Ebay last night. Whether I can actually get it to look how I want it to is another matter, but maybe that’ll be a separate blog post!!

Anyway, most importantly, it’s all about raising money for charity. I’ve been blown away by how generous people have been in their donations and how many friends and family members have contributed. Thank you all so so much, it really means a lot. If anyone is reading this who hasn’t donated already, please consider it – any amount is gratefully received – £5 from one person can be equivalent to £50 from another person – don’t feel judged or pressured to match other peoples’ donations. My fundraising page is here:

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2018 Film Challenge: 17. 45 Years

45 Years is a film I downloaded not that long ago. I was browsing highly rated films on Metacritic and thought it sounded interesting. It’s about a couple who have been married 45 years and how their relationship is affected by the discovery of the body of the man’s first love. Not in a murder mystery way – he didn’t kill her or anything – it just explores that fear of ‘what if the person I’ve spent most of my life with would rather have been with someone else? What if I was always second best?’ It’s an awful thought and feeling and really well expressed in the film. Charlotte Rampling’s great in it. However, I found myself wanting more from it. I feel like I could have just read the synopsis of the film and imagined for myself what that kind of relationship would be like. I didn’t feel like the film itself gave me anything extra, other than maybe the believably awkward sex scene, which was uncomfortably well done.

Here are my notes made whilst watching it:

  • The Tollund Man! School flashbacks.
  • Is this set prior to Google Translate?
  • I like photos and their memory evoking quality
  • Those have got to be the least sexy pants ever
  • She’s meant to be her friend?
  • Attics are creepy
  • Slideshows in the attic. That’d be a good indie band name.
  • Oh god. He kept that quiet.
  • He took his ukulele to the party?
  • I can’t judge what that emotion is at the end – I guess intentionally
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2018 Film Challenge: 16. God Help The Girl

This was a bit of an impulse purchase in December/January. I saw it in Cex for £1.50 and figured it was worth checking out for that price. I really like the album of the same name (the music of which is heavily featured in the film), plus it has Cassie from Skins, playing another character called Cassie. And it has Josie Long pop up for an incredibly brief cameo.

I hadn’t been expecting much of it, as reviews are pretty mixed, but that probably helped me to enjoy it more. It’s a little strange in some places – it’s not always clear how much of the musical bits are actually meant to be happening – but it kinda doesn’t matter, you just take it and enjoy it for what it is. I can see it being quite divisive in that you’ll either appreciate and enjoy the somewhat-twee tone of it, or you really won’t. Personally I liked it. It’s nothing revolutionary or must-see, but it’s a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.

Here are the notes I took whilst watching it:

  • This film’s already done a better job of capturing live music than 9 Songs did
  • Josie Long!!
  • This is pretty much how I’d have imagined it would be for this album to come to life
  • I was just wondering when Perfection As A Hipster was going to pop up. It’s my fave on the album.
  • I want to be that old lady when I’m older
  • Cassie’s so like Cassie
  • That’s a pretty cool chippy
  • Ha ha, what the hell?
  • Hee hee, sperm scientists
  • Wait, what?
  • It’s hard to know how much of this is actually meant to be happening. You kinda just gotta go with it.
  • Why does she like that guy?
  • Not sure what I think of that as an ending.
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2018 Film Challenge: 15. 9 Songs

This is another of Jamie’s reject DVDs, plus one I kinda wish I hadn’t bothered taking! I won’t be keeping it, that’s for sure, plus apologies in advance to whichever charity shop ends up with it. The fact that he never suggested watching it whilst we were together should probably have tipped me off to it not being that great.

It’s just over an hour, so at least it passes relatively quickly, though it still seemed to drag. There’s not much in the way of plot – it’s basically a guy reflecting on a past relationship, though in the most superficial way possible – by focusing on all the sex. Like, seriously, how sexist an opening piece of dialogue is this?:

“When I remember Lisa I don’t think about her clothes, or her work, or where she was from, or even what she said. I think about her smell, her taste, her skin touching mine.”

The film then consists of alternating scenes of live music (with the characters in attendance at the gig) and snippets of their personal life (which, like I said, is mostly the sex). I feel like this could work as a concept, if done well, but in this case it really didn’t. You don’t get any proper insight into the characters, plus what you do see of them makes them seem awful. The small amount of dialogue seems really stilted and unnatural, plus I didn’t even enjoy a lot of the gig footage as it’s filmed in a way that makes you feel quite distant from it. In general it’s got a bit of a home video type feel to it, which works in some ways, as it does give it an intimate, almost voyeuristic quality, but then the awkward dialogue instantly pulls you out of that.

It’s mostly known for its unsimulated sex scenes, which might make you think it’s quite erotic, but I didn’t personally find it to be. Some of the early scenes, particularly, I found really cringey to watch, but wondered if that was intentional. You know that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel watch their sex tape and it suddenly gets unpleasant to watch? ‘That’s not pretty.’ It felt like that. It had a realism that made it really unerotic. But then the later scenes did seem more deliberately erotic, and a bit less realistic, so I’m not really sure what the intention was. It’s like it fell short of both art and porn. Sad times. Although the most unbelievable part of the film for me was the notion that the male lead was meant to be some kind of scientific researcher! Like, what? In my notes I described him as having a Resting Arrogance Face. Alas, that’s the extent of my notes that you’re going to be treated to, as my phone decided to rebel against the film and instead of saving the note I’d drafted, it pretended I’d never written it. I don’t blame it, like, I kinda wish I could pretend I hadn’t seen it.

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