Miss Representation…

January 23, 2012 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Movie Reviews, Popculture, The Heartless Bitch Way | No Comments

Check out the website – join the cause! Miss Representation

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Buffy, How Far We Have Fallen

February 2, 2008 | Filed Under Movie Reviews | No Comments

Every once in a while Special Ops Media sends me a movie for review.  Sometimes they are a two-thumbs up hit, like “Children of Men”, but  this time it was a real dog.

Suburban Girl” stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy the Vampire fame) as Brett, a young associate editor at a New York publishing house, and a rather portly Alec Baldwin who plays Alex, the Managing editor at a competing publisher.

This is your stereo-typical may-December romance, with an entirely unlikable controlling father-figure in Baldwin, who tells Gellar’s character what to wear, what to write and what to say, and unfortunately, through most of the movie, she sees this as a good thing.

I promised I’d write a review, so that’s the only reason I sat yawning through the entire thing.  There was almost no lead-up to Alex and Brett’s first meeting and nothing in the encounter that made their hooking up believable in the least.

They had ZERO on-screen chemistry.  In fact, every time I saw Sarah getting romantic with Alec Baldwin, all I could think was EWWWWWW! Just EWWWWWWW!

My son watched it off and on with me, and the most generous thing he could say about this movie was, “I have been walking around all day and I’ve got to say, I’m chafing, and I’m enjoying that more than I’m enjoying this movie.”

It was supposed to be a “romantic comedy”, when in reality it was littered with annoying, painful, disjointed and pathetic attempts at wit.  The plot was utterly predictable.  I didn’t even find myself smiling throughout the entire movie.

Any of the powerful women were caricatured stereotypes – the wizened overly-made-up bitchy socialite, the new boss who dumps her work on her underlings, and doesn’t wear underwear…. you get the picture.

I couldn’t believe the number of times characters in the film said that Alex was “good looking and charming”.  Ick. Ick. Ick.  Do you suppose Baldwin had the writers put that in, just so he could get more ego strokes from this waste of celluloid?

The only redeeming part of the movie was that Brett left Alex at the end.  And no, I’m not spoiling it for you – the movie does that just fine on its own.

It’s pretty obvious why this went direct to DVD, but they could have saved a small piece of the environment by not producing yet another a DVD destined for the trash bin.

We give it a solid 2.5 out of 10.

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More Movie Reviews

January 2, 2008 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Movie Reviews | No Comments

Despite our recent “Girls Horror Night Out”, I haven’t actually seen all that many movies lately.  I used to head out to the local repertory cinema for “films” (as my friends would call them – you know, the ones where you usually have to read subtitles), at least twice a week.  These days, I just don’t have time. Lately it seems that when I *do* see a movie, it’s usually on one of the movie channels on TV.  Not generally high-quality viewing, unless it happens to be IFC, but sometimes a girl just needs to watch some mindless entertainment, right?

I’ve seen some BAD movies that way – I recall one bf looking at me after a particularly lame movie and stating, “Now THERE’S two hours of our lives we’ll never get back.”  But I’ve also seen some real gems.

One such gem is “Hard Candy” with Ellen Page – a brilliant young Canadian actress who is best known for her role in X-Men, but in my opinion is an actress who has amazing talent and potential. (She also rocks because she “considers herself to be a Feminist and tries to steer clear of the stereotypical roles for teenage girls because she finds them to be sexist”). Hard Candy is not for the squeamish, and virtually every male watching will be VERY uncomfortable, but it’s an excellent psychological thriller. The premise is this: Hayley,  a  brilliantly smart but crazy 14-yr old meets Jeff, a 32 yr old photographer in a chat room.  She agrees to meet him in person after chatting online for 3 weeks, and then convinces him to take her back to his place. Convinced he is a pedophile, she drugs him and ties him up in order to expose him, and ultimately decides to torture him.

While it starts off slow, Hard Candy develops into an intense psychological roller-coaster ride.  I really don’t want give too much away, but the performances were stellar, and Hayley is one twisted Heartless Bitch.

As a side note, just before Christmas I was invited to a premiere showing of “Juno”, also starring Ellen Page. It was absolutely delightful.  A comedy about a 16-year-old disaffected teenager who is too smart for her peers, Juno decides to have sex with Paulie, her best male friend. Paulie (played brilliantly by Michael Cera) looks like a deer in the headlights the entire time, and of course, Juno becomes pregnant. She decides to continue the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption.  This is not your typical teen-comedy that revolves around scatological humor and slapstick pratfalls -the dialogue is witty and quote-worthy, the characters are 3-dimensional and the story engages the audience completely. The soundtrack is highly original and cracked us up – the song lyrics are hilarious.  Definitely worth seeing.

Less on the “gem” side, and more just some ass-kicking gratuitously violent fun (if you are into that sort of thing), is Quentin Tarantino’s 1/2 of the “Grindhouse” double-feature, “DeathProof“, starring Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, and a whole host of other characters.  Kurt Russell plays Stuntman Mike, a psycho ex-stuntman who stalks and kills women with his “deathproof” car. Until, of course, he meets his match in the form of three Heartless Bitches.  In classic Tarantino fashion, it’s over-the-top violent, gritty and sexy.  Zoe Bell is a stunt woman and she plays herself in this film, doing some pretty amazing stunts as well.  While I’m not a person to recommend revenge in real life, in this movie it’s decidedly sweet and nasty.

Now, of course, I have to see the other 1/2 of Grindhouse, “Planet Terror” (which I just received for Christmas!), simply because of the trailers where you see a woman with the machine gun strapped to the stump of her thigh taking out zombies. Now THAT’S my kind of Heartless Bitch!

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Girls Night Out – “Oh, the Horror!”

November 18, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Movie Reviews, Popculture | 3 Comments

Two Weekends ago, at a friend’s annual sausage making party (yes, a “sausage making party”, I kid you not), over much wine and many different types of sausage, some of us got to talking about favorite movies and movie genres.  J and I came to the conclusion that our respective partners were more suited to “Titanic” and “The Notebook” style movies, while we liked a good scary theme. Another of our friends, who wasn’t there that night, is a real horror fan.  She loves a good terrifying thrill-ride. We started talking about all the new and classic horror films and comparing ones we had seen. J suggested we all get together and watch horror movies one night, and in that moment, the “Girls Horror Night Out” was born.  (Addendum,  you must really enunciate well when saying that out loud.  I had a co-worker convinced we had a “girls whore night out”.)

 It started as “We should get the girls together with a good set of horror movies and wine” and ended up being “We should do the whole thing as a sleepover, at the cottage, just to make it REALLY scary.”  Out in the bush, remote, and DEAD QUIET at night.  Two weeks later, I was driving around picking up the other 3 who were coming along.

The bf graciously donated his Element so that we could all go up in one vehicle.  I brought the portable battery, a 19 inch flatscreen monitor, a dvd player,  cables, and the cooler.  I packed wine, pate, boursin cranberry cheese, crackers, chili-filled dark chocolate, apple-caramel muffins, and did I mention wine? As I picked each person up, the back of the Element filled up with sleeping bags, food, overnight bags and more wine. In fact we had stuff jammed in every available spot but there was still room to ride in comfort.

We got up to the cottage just as the sun was setting.  It was clear and crisp with the leaves pretty much gone from the trees. The lake had already started to freeze.  Because the cottage is “off grid”, it had already been shut down for the winter – water disconnected, etc.  We could still use the composting toilet for pee, but anything else required use of the outhouse.   We had already decided that using the outhouse after we started watching movies might be beyond the capabilities of some of us.

The cottage was COLD inside, and the first order of business after getting the car unloaded, was to get the wood stove going.  It took several hours for the place to really heat up (and then it was downright toasty), but we had blankets and slippers so we were just fine.

With an amazing spread of food laid out on the table, we poured the wine, toasted our first (and now annual) Girls Horror Night Out, and put in the first movie.  We decided we would go from “least scary” to “most terrifying”, so we started with “Jacobs Ladder“. Two of us had seen it before, but that’s ok, it’s a seminal work from the standpoint of the horror/suspense genre.  Everyone agreed that there were elements from that movie that showed up in many horror movies subsequently. 

After the movie, I said, “You realize, of course, that just this very act of 4 women coming up to a remote cottage alone, with no electricity and no phone (well, except for my cell), is the very foundation of a horror movie.”

J said, “Yes, but it’s always the slut who gets it first.”

H didn’t miss a beat, “Oh shit…. well, I’m a reformed slut.”

I wondered, “So what does that make the rest of us?”

J  replied, “I’m the perky but naive newlywed.”

And I said, “and P, you are the religious one..”,

“Who has lost her way and her faith…” chimed in J.

“I guess that makes me the older, cynical, wisecracking sarcastic one.”, I mused.

“I am SO not going to the outhouse now!”, H said adamantly.

With another couple of bottles open, we put in the next DVD, “White Noise“.  I’ll admit, I screamed twice during that one.  Afterwards, we were restocking on wine and filling up our plates with food (we were kind of grazing all night), and I think the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were out at that point, and definitely feeling more on edge.  One of our cottage co-owners, PJ, was possibly coming up some time on the weekend – maybe even that night, but we weren’t sure if or when he would arrive. While technically it was a “girls” night, it was only because the boys weren’t interested in the scary movies or, in one case, were home doing child-care so mommy could go out and get the shit scared out of her.  J asked, “What time is it?”

“10 o’clock”, I replied.

“What time would he have had to leave to get here by now?”

P responded, “Some time around 8 o’clock”.

H said, “If he comes up and scares us, I’ll kill him. He’ll be SO dead.” At that point, she put her foot down. “That’s it. It’s too late. He’s not allowed to come up now. The doors ARE all locked, right? There isn’t any other way for someone to get in, is there?”  I assured her that with the windows locked, the only two doors were in the main room where we were sitting.

We finally settled on the idea that if he hadn’t showed up yet, he wasn’t likely to.

Then someone posited that it was always the seemingly sweet, quiet male friend who happened to be the psycho killer…  We dismissed the idea but it WAS kind of unnerving to think about. 

Sounds like setting the scene for a horror movie… doesn’t it? 

We put in the next movie, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose“, filled our wine glasses, settled in under our blankets, and I was just about to press “play” when the door opened.

Every single one of us *SCREAMED*. 

And then we burst into hysterical giggles.

“How did he get in?”

“Well he DOES have a key, you know.”

PJ stood in the doorway, looking quite surprised and a little amused.  To his credit, he didn’t bang on the windows or sneak in and try to scare us.  We were just so freaked by that point that the very act of him opening the door was enough to shock us all. After the giggles and admonitions were finished, (PJ asserting his innocence the whole time), PJ finished unloading his car. 

Before we started, I took the opportunity to ask PJ to accompany me to the outhouse, because I figured I’d better go now, rather than after the next movie, or awakening in the middle of the night and having to make my way out there alone.  I figured NONE of the girls would be willing to go out with me at that point, and I was right.  H thought it was VERY brave of me to go to the outhouse at all at this point, even escorted.  Though I had moved 6 of our solar lights to mark the path to the outhouse when we first arrived, it was still pretty black out there.

I came out of the outhouse, carefully, half-convinced that PJ would jump out from the side and scare me (I probably would have done that to him), but he was nowhere to be seen.

I started calling for him, mind racing – oh shit, this is how it starts….

He was on the other side of the parking area with the light off. He called “I’m over here” and turned the flashlight on.

It still felt a bit too much like a horror movie until I was actually up next to him, and could see he was standing there alone with no psycho-killer holding a knife to his throat.

I breathed a sigh of relief and we walked back to the cottage.

We settled in for the next movie. PJ had brought more wine and food, AND another battery pack – and thank goodness, because about 1/2 the way through Emily Rose, my battery pack died. Now we could have put on the generator, but that would have meant going out to the generator house (next to the outhouse) both to start it, and to kill it after the movies were done.  We plugged in and restarted the movie, scene selected to where we left off and finished the movie.  Afterwards, we all agreed we weren’t taking our watches or any clocks in the bedrooms, and that we had to be asleep by 3am.

We took that point in the evening to start telling our own “ghost” stories or experiences with the supernatural.  Only recently, a group of about 15 of us had gone on a night-hike to a cabin in a nearby provincial park.  As we were all leaving, I had to stop to use the outhouse (seems to be a thing with me). P accompanied me and we each waited outside for the other as we took turns. As P was in the outhouse, I saw a light in the bush BEHIND the outhouse. She came out at that moment and saw it too. We called out, and the light went out.  Our friends were in the OTHER direction, and hadn’t even gotten that far yet, they were still just coming out of the cabin.  It was VERY unnerving.  I was very conscious at that point about not leaving any stragglers on the long hike back to the parking lot. 

Someone else told a story of having something weird happen to them at 3am the night after first seeing Emily Rose. And the stories went on.  We were well psyched for the final film.

The last movie of the night was “The Descent“, and I’m glad we saved it for last. It definitely had ALL of us (even PJ, at one point), jumping, screaming and gasping.  It was VERY well done, and very disturbing, and I admit that I had my hands in front of my face more than once. Part way through someone said, “Do you think this movie has a happy ending?”  We burst into nervous laughter.  In fact, the ending was just perfect.  I hate fluffy wrapped-up-in-a-bow endings (and that’s the biggest spoiler I’ll do in this review). The Descent was definitely the most horrifying of the 4 movies, in more ways than one.

The problem is that after something like that, you are so wound up that sleep, even though it is now 2:30am, is very slow to come. H and P were sharing a room and I could hear H saying, “I’m so glad I’m not sleeping alone in a room tonight…”

PJ slept out on the screened-in porch, despite the cold, in an extreme cold-weather sleeping bag, because he wanted to practise for winter snow-camping.  We were half-convinced something was going to get him in the night.  (The next morning he said he heard some weird sound in the night that was sort of like a dog barking or yelping…) 

The night passed, I finally managed to fall asleep, and we all awoke in our beds, safe, sound and only slightly worse for wear.  We filled up on fresh bagels, muffins, coffee and fruit and packed up the remnants of the night before. 

As we were leaving, J hugged PJ and said, “Thanks for not killing us”, to which P said, “You know, you really shouldn’t have to thank him for that.”

We have decided to make it an annual event, but we will keep the weekend secret from our friends because I just KNOW that if they know in advance, someone WILL show up and freak the shit out of us. God knows, I’d do that if I knew some friends were up at their cottage watching scary movies. 

After all, I AM a Heartless Bitch.

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Heartless Bitch “Must See” Movie

September 21, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Movie Reviews | No Comments

Last night I went to the opening film, Persepolis, at the Ottawa International Animation festival.  For some reason this movie “Shocked” Cannes.  I’m still puzzling about that one. Was it shocking because it openly criticized the west for selling arms to both sides of a war that killed a million people? Or was it shocking because it challenged stereotypes and prejudices of what Iranian women were/are supposed to be?

Based on the graphic Novel by Marjane Satrapi, this Iranian film is in French with English subtitles (the YouTube posts don’t have the subtitles), and chronicles (in retrospective fashion) a young girl’s life and coming of age in Iran.  The spare line-drawn style of the artwork faithfully reproduces the feel of the graphic novel and I believe this makes the story more compelling. (It’s not one of those animated films that tries to make up for a bad storyline and dialog with flashy graphics and animations). 

The story begins with Marjane at age 9, when the Shah is still in power, and ends with her self-imposed (and partially parental-imposed exile) many years later, after the Iran-Iraq war. 

Though this is a black-and-white animated feature, it views like a feature film, and I found it utterly captivating.  It’s an unsentimental look at a precocious and intelligent girl struggling to grow up and find herself in an increasingly totalitarian and rigid society.

It’s also a candid look at the inside of Iranian society that most westerners would never otherwise see and a sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious retelling of the joys and struggles of her childhood and growing up both inside and outside of Iran. I hate to use the word ‘poignant’ because it’s so overused, but even though it has it’s serious moments, the film is peppered with enough black humor that it never gets maudlin. And I just LOVED the Grandmother. She rocked. 

At one point Marjane tells her grandmother how she narrowly escaped getting in trouble with the police (for wearing too much makeup) by telling them that a nearby man insulted her. They arrested the man.  The grandmother said, “You think that’s funny?”  Marjane replied, “Well, yes…”, and her grandmother proceeded to berate her, calling her a selfish bitch, and reminding Marjane that her grandfather and uncle went to jail and died fighting for freedom and protection of the innocent. When Marjane protested, “But I had no choice, they would have arrested ME.”, her grandmother replied, “You ALWAYS have a choice. ALWAYS.  In the end, all you have is your integrity.”  Can you see why I just adored this woman? 

I also found it amusing to see a film where the mother is upset and cries at her daughter’s marriage announcement saying, “Married at 21! So young… I wanted you to be a free woman, educated and emancipated.”

There is also a brilliant scene in the university when Marjane stands up to the administration when they dictate that the women must wear longer headscarfs and straighter pants.

In fact, I wish I’d had something to write down all the great quotable quotes (because they aren’t on the IMDB), but all I can say is SEE THIS MOVIE if you get a chance. It’s an HBI Classic and destined to be one of my favorites.

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“Children of Men”

March 25, 2007 | Filed Under Movie Reviews | 4 Comments

Children of Men Movie posterI received an advance-release of the “Children of Men” DVD last week, (the official release date is March 27, 2007), on the promise that I would write a review “from the feminist viewpoint”.  I presume that because I am a self-proclaimed feminist, and I have a viewpoint, any opinion I have is “from the feminist viewpoint.”

I’ll admit, it’s a movie that was on my “must see” list, but I just hadn’t found the time to get to the theatre to see it. I was greatly impressed by director Alfonso Cuarón’s previous work on “Y tu mamá también“, and I’d heard good things about “Children of Men”.  A word of caution, this review will have a few spoilers in it, so if you don’t want to read any further but want my opinion, I give it two feminist thumbs up.

I sent out an email to my friends, and suggested we have a viewing after our regular friday night pub dinner.  About 8 people came over for popcorn, beer, and the movie.  I hadn’t read the book, but a couple of my friends had, and after hearing their comments on the differences between the movie and the book, I’m very interested in reading the book.

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