Monday, 5 September 2016

Bimbo Movie Bash Challenge: 35 Films directed by Women - August Review Round-Up

3 weeks ago the Bimbos decided to compile a list of 35 films directed by women. We then decided we would watch them all and to spread the word and get women directors in to the forefront of peoples minds, we would make them regular watchalongs on twitter (where we spend 89% of our time). Rather than review each film individually, we decided we would do a monthly roundup of all the films we watched. So here is Augusts Bimbo Watch roundup! 

1. Palo Alto - Gia Coppola (2014)

Charlotte: The littlest Coppola's directorial debut, and to be honest it goes as well as can be expected. I don't really want to make comparisons to Sofia's pieces but it is very hard not to when Palo Alto is a half baked version of all her work, mixed with a bit of Larry Clark/Harmony Korine. Wealthy, disillusioned teenagers, with no parental figures in sight take a lot of drugs, drink till they puke and have sex and just hang out. Which is fine, I love coming of age movies like this. However, the visual juxtapositions of the age of innocence vs experience are just too heavy handed and in your face. Losing your virginity in your pink girly bedroom doesn't necessarily need five or six shots of toys upside down with their legs akimbo constantly reminding you hey look this is just a child up to no good no matter how nicely produced they are.

The main three characters felt well fleshed out, although incredibly familiar if you have seen any of the aforementioned directors work. I really did enjoy how the relationship between Emma Roberts and James Franco (who actually wrote the short story that got turned into this) developed and ended. But again with the Coppola women, and to be honest the extended friends and family (cough Wes Anderson cough) where is the diversity in your movies? I counted two people of colour in the entire 139 minutes, and even then they were only minor walk ons. Also the mean racist white best friend uses the N word within the first ten minutes, is a complete dickhead throughout and doesn't even get retribution for his actions? I don't feel great about this either. Just feels like anyone who isn't white just doesn't really fit in with your ethereal movie making aesthetic. The saving grace of this film was Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer and that Blood Orange sound track. OH MAN THE SOUNDTRACK. You can listen to the entire Dev Hynes OST here on spotify

Overall I enjoyed the film, but I would really urge anyone who was feeling this to check out Wassup Rockers, Bling Ring, Thirteen, Spring Breakers or if you are feeling more adventurous Kids and Bully. 

Robyn: This is my second viewing of Palo Alto if you can believe it!! For all Sophia (and Gia now)'s faults, their films feel like putting on your favourite jumper, or smoking a fag under a porch whilst it rains. You know what you're getting, and it's meandering bullshit, but you can switch off for an hour and a half and normally watch some up-and-coming actors try their stuff.

I like Palo Alto because it's so awkward, I think it captures the spirit of youth really well, in that everyone is a stuttering mess pretending they have their shit together. I remember being sixteen and thinking I had this life shit down, and it's fun to reminisce on actually how innocent you still were. The girls in this are pretty kick ass. Like, a guy gets bottled and that's great. Stick up for yourself and you'll be set for life. 

I can't not talk about Jack Kilmer because seriously I love him, he's so pure and GOOD at what he does. Have you seen The Nice Guys? He's got amazing comedy in him, I can see him going far even without his dad's legacy. 

2. Paris is Burning - Jennie Livingston (1990)

Charlotte: Not only one one of my all time favourite documentaries but favourite films in general. It makes me laugh, cry, feel inspired, humbled, and about a million more emotions. I know people say this every time they talk about Paris is Burning but if you watch RuPauls Drag Race, or have immersed yourself in any way in drag culture, actually even LGTBQ culture then it is your duty to watch this. The vast vast majority of which were black men, and trans women and other people of colour. You watch PIB and you very quickly realise that all the catchphrases and themes of RPDR are just borrowed from this film and the ballroom scene in the 80s and 90s in general.

Jenny Livingstone doesn't delve too deep into the peoples lives that the film focuses on. But after watching this, I highly recommend you do your own research because some of the things these people got up to was WILD, like hidden dead bodies in trunks for years, international fame? Overwhelmingly however, most of the people featured have died. I think this is why as soon as I watch it, and I see my favourite people I instantly become very emotional. One of the more renowened and beloved people featured is Venus Xtravaganza. Over the course of filming it is revealed that Venus, like many others was a sex worker and was murdered, presumably by a client. It's shocking and upsetting. However when Jenny Livingstone interviews Angie Xtravaganza, Venus's house mother, she expresses regret and remorse, but very little emotion and alludes that this is not unusual.

Paris is Burning celebrates its 25th year this year, and over the years there have been lots of incredible articles and podcasts on it. I have rounded them up 3 for you here: 

The incredible Shon Faye wrote in depth for Dazed here 

Robyn: I've seen bits of Paris is Burning before but never like, in sequence or in a full go so this was super exciting for me to finally sit down and watch. The significance of this film cannot be understated, from voguing to the lexicon, all of it still remains just as popular today.

So much has already been said about it that it's hard to really cover the same ground again. I love the atmosphere and the dedication that goes into living this LIFESTYLE. I'm totally in love with Willi Ninja, by the way.

Like Charlotte said, I could have done with way more depth and coverage focused on the people behind the costumes, as it's the talking head segments that are the most poignant, but at the same time I can see why the stars of the film maybe didn't want to share that much of their actual lives, what goes on with just living day to day. 

Of course the saddest part is the fact that we've lost so many of these amazing people now, I'd love to see what they would be up to these days. 

3. Foxfire - Annette Haywood-Carter (1996)

Charlotte: I hadn't really heard of Foxfire until Robyn was adamant that it was going on the list. I did however, know it was the film that bought Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu together making them the ultimate queer power couple of the 90s (RIP). Released the same year as The Craft, I am assuming that it was grossly overshadowed, hence why it is so outrageously unrecognised. 

Even though I throughly enjoyed Foxfire, I can see why it didn't stand up against The Craft. It always felt like it could have gone further with its plots but never did. These bad girls weren't really all that bad you know? They were actually quite tame. Had the director started with more grisly violence perhaps, or had some goddamn actual same sex scenes, even a kiss would have been acceptable. But it never got there. This is a rated R/18 sold as a girl gang film, but I got nothing like this.  The last third things went rapidly off course. I didn't really understand how the story had got to this point and why it was happening. Then the ending was weak. 

It is definitely worth your time if not for the great soundtrack and the general lack of teenage bad girl coming of age dramas. Oh and the nostalgia. This film was released the year I started secondary/high school so I  did get them feels. 

Robyn: I don't really know what I was expecting from Foxfire, I knew it had early 90s Angelina in it and because of my obsession with Hackers I just assumed this was also going to be Hackers. It wasn't. It was pretty much The Craft, but without any magic (figuratively and otherwise).

This film really reminded me of Poison Ivy except without any sex whatsoever. It's that kind of Death of a Cheerleader Lifetime Movie aesthetics, that 90s mid-west grunge look mixed with meathead boys and A FUCKLOAD of dripping candles.

Foxfire takes a way weird turn and tries to handle some serious issues. They should have kept with the one story I reckon (the gross Science teacher) and left all the other drama out. There is definitely like, a peak you can reach with drama and this film basically kept going until it was just ridiculous. 

So that rounds up our first month of #bimbowatch. It's actually really cool to share this experience with you guys on twitter, we've being enjoying your witty observations nearly as much as we like scrolling through our tweets and laughing at our own jokes! The full list of films we will be watching and on what dates is here.  Septembers schedule is as follows

We Need to Talk About Kevin (On Netflix UK) 6th September 
The Rage: Carrie 2  (On Netflix UK) 13th September 
Ghost in the Machine 20th September 
Persepolis (on Amazon UK)  27th September 

Remember the watchalong is every Tuesday at 8PM, on twitter dot com, just use the hashtag #bimbomoviewatch. Anyone can join in, even if you don't want to chat, just let us know you are there with us, we really appreciate that! 

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