Archives for category: Film

*also published on ScreenQueens*

Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behaviour follows the story of Shirin (played by Akhavan) as she attempts to deal with being what her parents want her to be but at the same time staying true to herself and what she believes in – all whilst dealing with being dumped by her girlfriend Maxine. It’s one of the realest films I have seen for a long long time and was such a refreshing experience, because the events that occur are, for the most part quite mundane; but to me that’s what makes Appropriate Behaviour so brilliant – because it’s about life; pure and simple. Shirin’s emotions throughout the film are extremely raw due to her heartbreak and sadness – she acts rashly in several scenes and regularly blows things out of proportion It is these aspects of her character, which are so cleverly crafted by Akhavan that make her so appealing and relatable to most people, because it’s very easy to see yourself within her.

What makes Appropriate Behaviour so important is that it is one of a small number of films that manage to not make a rom-com where the main character is not heterosexual, all about their sexuality. Instead, it is purely about love and its ups and downs; something that there desperately needs to be more of. Shirin’s struggle to come out to her somewhat traditional parents with their disapproval of other sexualities does not drown out the other themes within the film, instead it gives it more layers and provides a truthful view of what it’s like to be in that situation and the stress and uncertainty that hangs over such an action.

Combine a captivating plot and strong jokes with beautiful cinematography and I’m sold; and boy did Appropriate Behaviour deliver on that front. Most of the shots were to die for; one that sticks out in particular is when Shirin is dropping her stuff from her ex-girlfriends apartment into the bin. The shots alone manage to convey her mixed feelings over the situation, something that many films try to do and fail. Extra credit goes out to the amazing soundtrack that partners it – it weaves into each scene perfectly and elevates what you are watching to a hyper-emotional level. Another aspect of the film that sticks out to me is the one based around how we all create situations in our head and imagine how they will play out, but when faced with the reality are more often than not disappointed and left feeling pretty empty. The scene where Shirin agrees to have a threesome with a couple she met at a bar is a prime example of this. What starts out as exciting and novel rapidly becomes excruciatingly awkward and disjointed, culminating with her leaving before anything really happened. While amusing, scenes such as this serve as a reminder that life is often not what it is set up to be.

Appropriate Behaviour is an aesthetically pleasing piece of film, with the shots of Brooklyn making me wish I lived there even more than before. But it is not style over substance – Akhavan is paving the way for female directors and is one of a growing number that are the future of cinema, her film is inspiring in a low-key yet persistent way and interweaves love, hurt and the joys in life that quite often follow that bad times perfectly. It’s also great to have a film that isn’t dominated or led by the typical straight white characters that is sadly still to prevalent in the industry. I started watching with high expectations and was not disappointed. A must watch for everyone.

I recently re-watched the 1951 Disney adaptation of Alice in Wonderland and on finishing it, realised that it is in fact, full of valuable life lessons. The film is one big public safety announcement – covering topics ranging from drugs to illegal squatting and without it who knows how many hapless people would have fallen foul to some of the issues it highlights. So without further ado here are five important things that the film teaches us.

  1. Don’t eat/drink random cakes and liquids, especially ones that appear out of thin air and have an ominous hand-written label on them commanding you to endanger your life and consume them. I can’t even imagine what changing from 2 inches to 9 feet tall does to a persons body and mind, but it probably isn’t pleasant. I mean poor Alice ends up crying so much from shock that she creates an ocean and puts the life on an innocent door-knob in peril.
  2. When approached on the street by dungaree wearing twins who give a mean side-eye and make honking noises DO NOT engage with them. Doing so will not only make you late for whatever you’re doing but will also lead to you getting embroiled in an odd re-telling of an even weirder story, about oysters and cigars and beaches lacking in a space-time continuum. Therefore it’s best to charge through the two of them and then run far away.
  3. Don’t take up residence in your pretend employers home. Especially when your employer is a rabbit permanently on the edge of having a stress-induced heart attack and you expand to being 9 feet tall again, due to ignoring lesson number one. Again. If you do decide to ignore this instruction and squat in said house keep in mind that fires are likely to be started and your life will be in mortal danger….for a while. Also by heeding this advice you are sparing yourself of having a lizard come down a chimney after you – something no one wants to happen.
  4. If you are invited to a tea party – do accept it. Attending this party will not only teach you a fair bit about table etiquette, such as plate smashing and correctly praising the perfect falsetto of the teapot. But it will also allow you to gain valuable insight into dealing with super-fast conversations and what makes a fabulous hat. All highly important skills that are crucial to leading a successful life.
  5. If you ever come across a purple Cheshire cat – make sure you chat to him. You will discover many things; from reaching the Red Queen to the meaning of life (maybe?) HIs wise-words will give you many an idea to dwell on and his wry sense of humour will brighten up your day. I guarantee it.

*also published on Screenqueens*

With the release of Mad Max: Fury Road this week, I decided to reflect on the previous three films and look at what the latest instalment has to live up to. The story begins in 1979 when the first film, simply named Mad Max hit our screens. Set in the near future – albeit in an alternative timeline, where society is falling apart and the human race is nearing its end, the first film introduced us to our quiet, brooding hero: Max Rockatansky. Clad completely in leather, he radiates doom and gloom and appears world-weary, even before his life is changed for the worse. The first film follows him as he attempts to end the hideously creepy and terrifying The Toecutter – an insane gang leader with masochistic tendencies and his band of equally as weird followers. The violence in the first film is to me the most realistic out of the three films, as it is less wild and more simplistically brutal, the scene where Max’s friend Goose is set alight whilst still alive is a stand out example of this. The first film contains all the basics that are seen in the follow-ups’; car chases, shootings and brutality. Most importantly of all though, the first film introduces audiences to the V8 interceptor. This car is in my opinion one of the most iconic movie vehicles, it’s cool, sleek and fucking fast – which when combined with Max’s style equals a dangerous and awe-inspiring duo. Mad Max ends in a heart-breaking way, with the audience learning how he gets the ‘mad’ added to his name, I won’t divulge what happens as to not spoil it for anyone who has not yet seen it – but I can assure you, it is truly shocking.

We are reunited with Max in the 1981 follow up Mad Max 2 or Road Warrior and boy have things changed. First off, there has been a nuclear war and the remaining humans are now living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and fighting over one thing and one thing only; fuel. The battle for petrol is the central plot line of the film, with Max begrudgingly teaming up with a bunch of survivors who are under-siege due to their lorry-tanker full of petrol. The enemy – The Humungus, a masked, muscly, bondage gear wearing psychopath who has a gang of crotch less leather chap wearing minions. One thing that returns however is the V8 Interceptor – which has been souped up, has oil drums on the back and looks even cooler than before. It is in this film that the Mad Max franchise I feel got the reputation for wackiness and hair-brained violence and car-chases, as fundamentally 3/4 of it is the ‘baddies’ pursuing Max and the tanker in a variety of different spiked, fire spewing, feather covered, arrow throwing vehicles. The clothes worn by the characters in Road Warrior are also pretty iconic now – with Max’s outfit staying relatively the same as before, with the exception of a leg brace – it is Humungus and his crew’s clothes that steal the limelight. Their S&M inspired outfits that are accessorised with metal gloves and large feathers, combined with their dominant/submissive behaviour e.g. when Humungus has Wez (his henchman) wear a collar with a leash attached to it – gives off quite a homoerotic vibe, something that adds to the films greatly layered plot and interactions. The highlight of Road Warrior to me is the character known as the Gyro Captain – a completely bonkers, flying buggy inventing Rhys Ifans in the late 90s look-a-like. What is so great about him is his complete belief that him and Max are best friends, all because Max didn’t kill him. Their growing friendship as the film progresses provides not only a comedy aspect, but also some light relief from all the killing and butchering that you are bombarded with for the majority of the time. One last thing to look out for in Road Warrior, is Max’s awesome dog. It wears a bandana – need I say any more.

The third film, released in 1985, named Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is set fifteen years after the events of Road Warrior and sees Max end up in the sleazy town of Bartertown – headed by a wild haired Tina Turner. Thunderdome’s plot is based around Aunty Entity’s (Turner) fight for control of Bartertown and Max trying to save a bunch of teenage survivors from getting caught up in her brutal plans. It is this film that introduces us to the concept of the Thunderdome and the fights that occur within it. It is in essence, a post-apocalyptic Colosseum – that sees hideously violent gladiator style fights go on inside it, one of which involves Max and a giant known as Master Blaster. Thunderdome does keep the idea of humanities obsession with fuel going, through Bartertown’s farming of methane gas from pig faeces – however it is more of a sub-plot this time round, with the focus mainly being on the idea of freedom and whether or not it can be achieved now humanity is in ruins. Unlike the first two films, Thunderdome had a PG-13 certificate, rather than being R-rated, so the violence isn’t half as brutal and graphic, which for me, takes away from the Mad Max experience a bit – as they are basically violence with a plot-line, not the other way around. The third film ends with Max disappearing into the desert never to be heard of again – until now of course.

Therefore, Fury Road has a hell of a lot to live up to, but with Tom Hardy taking on the iconic role from Mel Gibson and George Miller continuing to direct I have high hopes for this new instalment, as the adverts have shown that its full of explosions, wacky cars, violence, murder and weird shit going down. It’s going to be Max alright, lets just hope it is mad.