*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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
When I first watched the trailer for “Chappie” I will admit I welled up, from less than 3 and a half minutes of footage I was already emotionally invested in the free-thinking, self-aware robot. The premise for the film is incredibly enticing, a kind of “E.T” meets “The Terminator” meets “District 9” premise. All of these films are brilliant and all of them are now classics, so in my opinion this film cannot go wrong.
On top of all this it is directed by none other than “District 9’s” hugely talented Neil Blomkamp. This fact alone means I will go and see it as the film mentioned above has had a truly profound effect on me. It is a modern day masterpiece that seamlessly combines a social commentary (on race relations in South Africa) and action, a combination that has regularly been attempted but in my eyes never been executed well, until “District 9”.
I am eagerly anticipating the release of “Chappie” and truly hope it lives up to my (admittedly very high) expectations. Hopefully it will be a box office smash and people who are not familiar with Blomkamp’s other works will discover “District 9” and learn from its powerful message and all round gloriousness.
Oh and I almost forgot. Another reason why I am so pumped for “Chappie” is because it features Yolandi Vi$$er and Ninja from Die Antwoord(AKA one of my favourite music groups!!) in their first film roles. YAY.