An exploration of narrative, space, and gender roles in Certain Women

In what I envisaged to be an in-depth look into the tales of four women in the Midwest, I was as wrong as I was right about Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women. Adapted from Maile Molloy’s collection of stories, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It and Half In Love, Reichardt graciously presents three stories of four women quietly surviving in Montana.

In what could have equally been well executed as three short films, Reichardt subtly develops a narrative in triptych form which doesn’t so much intertwine the stories rather more depicts how these women co-exist along side each other. While observing the women’s stories Reichardt has also maintained a distinct cinematic style and combines this aspect with significant attention towards Montana’s landscape.

Overlooking the narrative(s) and women is the ever-present setting of Montana’s mountains – inhabiting the beautiful but derelict location – whereby Reichardt strategically repositions our perception of space to focus on the relationships of the story’s four women.

Throughout this three part structure, there is a consistent disconnect between men and women and their inability to communicate and form stable relationships. The latter is first established through Laura (Laura Dern): a lawyer currently involved in an affair with Ryan (James Le Gros) meanwhile also drearily trying to shake her tenacious client Fuller (Jared Harris). Both men are aggravatingly needy which in turn creates a subtly hilarity in juxtaposition with Laura’s casual demure, which is amplified further during Fuller’s attempt at a hostage situation and her casual realness.

[Credit: IMDB]

Throughout Reichardt’s work she successfully creates a gracious charm towards simplicity, while also establishing a grainy realistic approach to convey one’s hardship. Gina (Michelle Williams) reinforces the film’s theme of connection, or lack there of, as she balances her dwindling marriage to the unfaithful Ryan and a misplaced relationship with her daughter, all the while still attempting to nest by building a holiday home in Montana’s wilderness.

While trying to proposition their neighbour, Albert, into taking a collapsed school house’s remaining sandstone to create their holiday retreat, Gina’s dialogue is somewhat bypassed by him and redirected towards a predominantly passive Ryan. Both comic and obnoxious in his manner towards Gina, Albert shadows the significance of time and space in relation to gender roles as he represents an older generation, demonstrated by his assumption that Gina works for Ryan who coyly corrects him.

[Credit: IMDB]

Reichardt continues to explore gender roles in the final and bitter-sweet chapter through a nameless rancher’s (Lily Gladstone) relationship with a young and rundown night school teacher Beth (Kristen Stewart). Working in a predominantly male profession and quite masculine in her attire, Gladstone exerts simplistic yet impactful physical gestures that connote an endearing lust towards Beth which drives this section of the narrative.

The four women challenge female stereotypes and Reichardt speculates this predominantly through the rancher – originally a male character in Molloy’s story – by her placement in a conventionally male-orientated environment and the way in which she exhibits the evolving aspects of gender roles and contemporary relationships. Unfortunately in this instance a relationship between the rancher and Beth is unable to form due to the harsh geographical distance that Beth must travel.

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Distance in all three stories takes a prime role, whether like the latter it’s practical distance, or physical distance in Laura’s case as despite the intimate nature of her and Ryan’s relationship there is still an obvious disconnect. Interestingly more so, this is further examined by Laura’s relationship with Fuller in his attempts to come closer to her by trying to enter her physical space, yet he still remains emotionally far away.

This theme then transcends into Gina’s narrative with her martial status to Ryan which in turn reveals that even with their legal commitment to each other, there is still a fundamental bond missing. Indicated by Ryan’s affair with Laura, and Gina’s preference to be alone as she takes herself away into an empty space to smoke, suggestively an allegorical addiction that fills this void, it becomes more apparent that even with fully formed relationships, distance still divides the women’s ability to find a connection.

[Credit: IMDB]

Amidst the women’s internal conflicts lays the greater space depicted through the landscape. Although evolution is represented by independent and progressive female leads, attention to tradition is ingrained in the slow mid-western setting connoted by echoes of Native American history still remarkably imbedded in this labouring environment.

A tranquil yet overbearing emptiness is established by the grainy palette aesthetic from the 16mm that fluently runs through each narrative, which arguably is the fundamental connection between these stories. Neither outspoken nor suited in body cons and equipped with superpowers, the four women challenge conventional female roles as they proceed to work and build in and around an environment most commonly associated with men. Certain Women will not be suited for every spectator, however as a result Reichardt intricately explores the female perspective while not adhering to the traditional melodrama genre.

Review: A Cure For Wellness

A Cure For Wellness has been on my radar since the first trailer came out – Hollywood’s long-awaited sophisticated psycho-thriller – and I was eager to see director Gore Verbinski’s comeback to horror since his remake of The Ring.

The film fixates on self-discovery and for our protagonist Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), his journey begins as an eager junior turned exec determined to prove his worth by climbing the economic high-rise. From the get-go Lockhart exerts pretention, reminiscent of Mad Men’s young Pete Campbell, but his cooked books conveniently enable his company’s board members to blackmail him. Lockhart must now bring back the company’s CEO (Pembroke) from a Swiss wellness centre to sign an all round benefitting merger – trouble is, Pembroke doesn’t want to leave.

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Verbinski successfully combines classical horror conventions with his own contemporary and experimental stylisation, which can first be seen as Lockhart makes his way up to the Castle-like clinic. Against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps the castle is abundantly oppressive as a typically located eyrie, and it is at this point when Lockhart is removed from contemporary society and placed into isolation that I immediately think: Bram Stocker’s Dracula meets twisted fairytale fantasy.

A more idyllic and charming rendition of Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe at first, it doesn’t take long for this Swiss spa to do a number on Lockhart with the assistance from submissive staff and their illusive answers as to the whereabouts of Pembroke. Deciding to return to New York, retrieving Pembroke seemed like Lockhart’s only issue until alarming hallucinations start to take effect after consuming the local water (part of the treatment). From bad to worse, his predicament then escalates resulting in a car crash. Lockhart lands himself right back in the clinic with a broken leg whereby a power shift occurs and his role is shifted from guest to patient.

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After meeting the dubious clinic director Volmer (Jason Isaacs), Lockhart is persuaded to take “the cure”. Still equipped with his hotshot attitude and not a lot else to do, he takes it upon himself to discover what the cure really is. While hobbling on crutches around the nothing-is-what-it-seems facility he encounters; the “very special case” Hannah (Mia Goth); folktales; inhospitable villagers; an aquifer turned evil layer; and eels, lots and lots of eels (red herrings, if you will).

Film Review A Cure For Wellness

While Verbinski’s cinematic style is relentless and overflowing with visual metaphors – on an aesthetic level this is well executed – patience and perseverance are key, as answers and plot twists are provided in titbit fashion. At just around two and a half hours long, I couldn’t help but contemplate whether or not Verbinski had exhausted the latter element in exchange for a plot holed narrative, which we trust to eventually provide the film’s underlying message.

Fortunately, most inadequacies can be somewhat side-stepped or salvaged by the atmospheric soundtrack. A cross between Stranger Things and A Secret Garden, Benjamin Wallfisch’s ominous score successfully reinforces the film’s apt for nihilistic mystery and dream-like states.

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The only other real mystery, also revealed at the end, is the certificate rating 18. A self-confessed scaredy-cat I was rather hesitant about going in alone, but turns out the real horror is less frightening and more… disturbing.  Quickly spiralling down, A Cure For Wellness takes a peak turn, which at this stage I fear screenplay writer Justin Haythe has got too many ends to tie together.

Eventually it becomes apparent that Lockhart wasn’t really destined for his new found position, given that he was only bumped up because his predecessor mysteriously clocked off. So, it seems fitting that what we have left in Verbinski’s fairytale finale is a depiction of humans stripped of their success, which in turn reveals their haunting emptiness, and Lockhart amidst some sort of eel-infused trip gazing upon the Alps.

Review: Hacksaw Ridge

Released to cinemas in January this year, I slightly panicked at the now-limited listings for Hacksaw Ridge. At just over £10 pound a ticket, I often ask myself: “is this something I have too see on the big screen, or shall I wait for the DVD?”

Luckily for me, I had my newly purchased Cineworld Unlimited card – it was a no brainer – so I asked my mother (a war film fanatic) to join me on the judges’ panel.

A story of patriotism, perseverance, and standing up for your beliefs, Mel Gibson journeys back to Maeda Escarpment, commonly known as “Hacksaw Ridge”, amidst the Second World War. Paying tribute to brave American soldiers, the film above all commemorates the heroic actions of combat medic Desmond Doss.

While collating general opinion, Hacksaw Ridge has been compared and paralleled to the likes of Saving Private Ryan, and it’s not hard to understand why. Immersed with gore and war zone realism, Gibson depicts the merciless violence and relentless efforts experienced by soldiers during this battle against the Japanese on Okinawa island in 1945.

The narrative is not complicated, following our protagonist on his journey to Hacksaw Ridge, and perfectly embodies the remarkable sincerity and determination of Doss throughout. The latter for me is where the true accomplishment of the film lies, supported by an outstanding cast that is lead by Andrew Garfield.

Garfield presents, at first, what appears to be a childish naivety that he then transcends into Doss’ genuine intentions, and valiant actions, to save the lives of his fellow troops in what seems like an impossible mission.

Following in the steps of his father and brother, Doss enlists himself to join the war as a medic aspiring and then proceeding to save lives, but not take them, while refusing to hold or fire a weapon. Tormented and terrorised by his fellow troops, and psychologically questioned by his superiors, Doss’ moral compass stays straight and he subsequently earns the respect and recognition deserved for saving 75 lives.

Despite Mel Gibson’s controversial opinions, which arguably sent him into hiding since his last feature Apocalypto back in 2006, as a director it’s unlikely he’ll go unnoticed for this acclaim-worthy achievement. Gibson shoots a clean-cut picture, which is stylised by wide landscapes and medium close-ups packed with beauty as well as destruction, placing this endearing and harrowing war film on a pedestal of its own.

As always Oscar season will be stirring with hype and injustice, especially with current front-runner La La Land at the helm. In all honesty I think as far as cinematography and art direction go, La La Land deserves the win, but for me Andrew Garfield certainly poses as a major contender for Best Actor given his soul-bearing performance and notable progression from neophyte Spider to War hero.

Films for Action: Blackfish

 

There’s a very popular hashtag trend on Twitter and it goes by #EmptyTheTanks. If you were to search this I guarantee you’ll see links to Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish and it is clear why.

Blackfish takes an in-depth look into the controversy with capturing Orca, or Killer, whales and raising them in captivity which in turn reveals the shocking and unfortunate truth behind the dazzling lights and performances at SeaWorld.

Ex-trainers give their personal accounts of their experiences at SeaWorld from their naivety as young, new trainers lacking education about these orca whales, to the death of their friend, and fellow trainer, Dawn Brancheau. The tragedy of Dawn’s death sparked much outrage given the nature of the upfront circumstances calling for Tilikum to be put down, however despite the actions of Tilikum, is he the one to really blame?

The film focuses on Tilikum – an orca far too large to be in a tank in the first place – who suffers from psychotic stress and trauma from being taken from the wild and being forced into captivity to become an entertainer for humans. The hard-hitting facts presented predominantly come from the visual contrasts of orca whales roaming in the wild to these lifeless, floating giants in large swimming pools at SeaWorld. Needless to say, the message is clear: orcas in captivity is inhumane.

Further to the latter, facts from marine biologists about orcas in the wild expose lies given to park visitors by Seaworld staff (who have probably never seen an orca in the wild), for example: the life expectancy of orca whales in captivity is believed to be longer than orcas in the wild. The misguided information provided at the parks also raises concern towards the moral aspect of bringing in money vs actually educating people properly about these sea creatures who are unethically dying in an unnatural habitat.

One of the worst parts of SeaWorld’s outlook and animal programs is that there are alternative plans to enable the release of captive orcas – one of the front runners for this campaign is Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist from New Zealand. Visser has been a huge advocate for sea sanctuaries, presenting plans for large scale pens to be placed in the sea to retire orcas in. Inevitably there is a harsh reality due to their captivity that orcas from SeaWorld will not ever be able to be fully released, however the sea sanctuaries are the closest thing to knowing a sense of freedom.

An article by Brian Clark Howard for the National Geographic addresses the slow growing progression that is being made with regards to orca shows but unfortunately Howard identifies that not all orca shows across the USA have complied. Furthermore even though a SeaWorld park in California stopped shows in 2015, SeaWorld still own the orcas and have no obligations to remove them from their enclosures (well, aside from moral obligations of course).

Reverting back to Howard’s point on progression, after public pressure ignited by the outrage from Blackfish, SeaWorld announced in 2016 that they will no longer continue the orca breeding program. Now considering the prior popularity of these orca shows, this is a fantastic step forward yet undeniably on an iceberg-like scale. What I mean by “iceberg scale” is quite simply that there are still many orca whales living in inadequate tanks across the world, and regrettably it took the death of a SeaWorld trainer to finally start actively addressing the issue and effects of orcas in captivity.

Blackfish leaves viewers with a bleak depiction of life for orcas in sea parks – it evokes emotion from the spectator but more notably from the ex-trainers, wild life activists and marine biologists. Yet just under the surface, the desperate plea to #EmptyTheTanks comes from people’s reaction to growing knowledge and appreciation of how orcas live and prosper in the wild, and a large increase of this activism and protest is thanks to Blackfish.

// Tilikum died earlier this year in captivity at SeaWorld – lets make sure he’s the last //

The reality of “reality TV”

// “Reality TV to me is the museum of social decay” – Gary Oldman //

[If you watch reality TV, I can’t promise you won’t be insulted]

First and foremost I feel I must confess that despite my distain for reality TV, I actually don’t watch it, so you’ll find little direct reference to programmes here. Now I’ve seen a few episodes for intrigue, like Gogglebox, but I haven’t dared dive into the depths of moral decent with something like Keeping up with the Kardashians (heaven forbid) – I’m more of a Planet Earth and Louis Theroux kinda gal.

To make my point valid I do want to share some of my reasons for being so anti “reality”.

// Keeping ratbags rich //

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Granted the likes of the Kardashians and Chelsea squad would be financially sound without their shows, however by watching these programmes we as viewers only endorse and fuel their finances. Think about it, the funding comes in for “reality TV” because of the soaring TV ratings which means another season of nonsense from what has been interpreted as consumer demands. Are you a demanding consumer?

Is it because we are fascinated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous? I have genuinely heard people say they like watching Made in Chelsea because they like seeing how people in London live. Well we can solve that argument for you! I used to live in London, and what you are watching is actually the 1% of Londoners aka the spoilt rich kids of the upper class. Thank you for keeping them that way viewers, great work!

// Encouraging shitty gossip and basic bitch behaviour //

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Are you aware there’s a Refugee crisis? Or that a racist/sexist businessman has taken the highest seat in office? No? Well, fair – there are “real” issues to attend to…

I work in an office, and while Love Island was being aired the previous night’s events were always discussed in the morning like the world news – I honestly felt like my ears were bleeding. Essentially what I got from the “news” is that he said, she said, now someone’s with someone else, and therefore they have left the island.

My fear is that the whole he said, she said attributes will become adopted into society as social norm, and the way one intervenes in business that is private and has absolutely nothing to do with them will also become acceptable. My fear has been realised… I constantly overhear (and try to keep out of) gossip infested conversations which revolve around hanging out someone else’s laundry for them – I do not find this discourse entertaining, I find it really alarming and incredibly boring.

My theory is that some people just can’t stand that they are not invited to the party.

// Lets become couch potatoes together – that makes it okay //

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The moment I watched Gogglebox I was terrified of it. Okay, I’ll admit that some comments made are entertaining, and I appreciate the concept of the programme is to convey and understand “real” people’s point of view, but no, just no.

Any time I see an advertisement for Gogglebox I have a little existential crisis in my head: people are sat on their sofas watching TV of people being sat on their sofas watching TV. *BRAIN CANNOT HANDLE*

Furthermore from a wider perspective, “reality TV” is just watching other people live their script-prompted lives (with no educational value). Does it make you feel like you’re living? I cannot help but feel that viewers watch these programmes because they are deemed as “reality” and this has ultimately normalised sitting in front of the TV watching/listen to mind dumbing (yes, I meant dumbing) material.

// It’s not like we don’t have good TV //

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Everyone has their own taste and ideas of what makes TV good, and I’m all for that, but unfortunately “reality TV” is the limit for me and is not a valid recommendation in my eyes.

Personally, I think if you’re going to show interest in reality, then why not raise the bar with some highly acclaimed documentaries? I mean, by one’s enthusiasm towards “reality TV”, it suggests that you are interested in real life events…? Well brilliant, try some of these: Blackfish, The Cove, Bowling for Columbine, Searching for Sugarman, anything by Louis Theroux, Frozen Planet, Planet Earth, Cowspiracy, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, and Grizzly Man (to name a few). Hola if you need more!

Alternatively sometimes we do require some escape from reality, so by all means give yourself a break. This year we have season 3 of Twin Peaks coming our way (SO excited), and we’ve been graced with the likes of Westworld, Stranger Things, House of Cards, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad (to name a few), so we have plenty of other options that won’t make us brain dead.

// I like to think humans are better than this //

Lets face it, the content of “reality TV” is first and foremost superficial, often encouraging and resulting in conflict over money and consumer goods – y’know the whole, “mine’s better than yours”, so you’re watching big children.

Secondly it’s not exactly promoting a healthy outlook on relationships and how to resolve them should a problem arise. Based on my minimal but sufficient knowledge on these programmes, everything’s centred around a lot of drama, yet as a real entity, or person, I know quite few friends in relationships and they do not act in the manner. Effectively, my friends seem quite happy and rational.

Thirdly, the majority of these “real people” are just bloody stupid. Call me arrogant and up myself, but I’d prefer to watch something/someone with a bit of substance *turns on QI*. Thank you for reading.

// “Reality TV” made me realise that boys can be basic bitches too //

Lady Loves

Below I have listed some of my ultimate lady loves in film. Do bear in mind, these are not all of them. Those that are on the list are there because I like them as actresses, but primarily I have put my favourite characters they portray on here.

In no particular order…

  1. Anna Karina as Nana Kleinfrankenheim in Vivre Sa Vie

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Anna Karina brings a certain sincerity and affection to this film. As a character she is simply mesmerising and depicts the struggle of women in this era beautifully. Karina creates depth to Nana, giving herself flexibility to be playful as well as display her inner turmoils.

2. Kate Winslet as Nancy Cowan in Carnage

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Realistically I could have picked any of the cast, but Kate Winslet in particular provides her character with effortless sophistication, even when their situation descends into utter chaos. She also graciously navigates this descent which aids the story’s sense of humour perfectly – starting poised and rational, she’s still as likeable when outraged.

3. Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde

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I think there’s a runaway in every girl, and I also think many girls can identify with Bonnie. As for Faye Dunaway, she gives Bonnie a coolness that makes this murderess thief enviable and liberating. Maybe there’s something wrong with that, but ultimately she’s a rule breaker and feisty as hell.

4. Angelina Jolie as Lisa in Girl, Interrupted 

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In my eyes, it’s fair to say that this role was Oscar worthy. Angelina Jolie presents no limits or boundaries to Lisa’s sociopathic personality – her presence is always as exciting as it is intense. Lisa is very much the leader of the pack, she’s fearless and authoritative, but Jolie equally depicts her weaknesses and fears.

5. Ziyi Zhang as Xiao Mei in House of Flying Daggers

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I cannot lie, there’s is a whole lot of envy towards Ziyi Zhang. In this instance she is essentially one of the most dangerous women in film – Xiao Mei is as kick-ass as she is heartbreaking, while also having the ability to be ferocious, she is also poised. Why wouldn’t she be on this list?

6. Julianne Moore as Charley in A Single Man

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Charley is complex, and although she is beautiful and charmingly fun, she carries much sorrow. I admire the way Moore is able to give Charley some illusivity in the way that she is never quite understood. Classy, yet lonely, Moore is able to draw empathy from the spectator despite her seemingly care-free lifestyle.

7. Anne Parillaud as Nikita in Nikita

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Erratic, untameable and can give any male agent a run for their money – Parillaud could not have been better cast. She combines rebellion and naivety so smoothly, as well as adaptability and resourcefulness. Parillaud, in my eyes, is the mortal Wonder Woman.

8. Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin

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Eva defies all the conventional norms of parenting and womanhood – her ‘unnatural’ desire to not want children for a start. Furthermore, Swinton’s ability to provide such a range of emotional variety from start to beginning is enigmatic. She is daring and brave, and elegantly portrays every parents’ nightmare.

9. Eva Green as Isabelle in The Dreamers

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One of her more notorious performances, Green presents the most fanciable woman! Isabelle is young, creative and part of the French revolution. Green embodies everything Parisian, film and youthful through Isabelle, and it’s hard not to identify.

10. Kristen Stewart as Valentine in Clouds of Sils Maria

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Stewart as Valentine really ignited my love for her. In this particular role she addresses the transition from traditional to contemporary within acting as well as social media. She has a cool chicness about her, as well as an empowering wisdom despite her age. Stewart also engages with our current generation in a sophisticated and philosophical approach.

 

Top Dietary Documentaries (On Netflix)

If you have had a gander at my previous blog posts, you can make the safe assumption that I’m into my food. I’m no pro, but I primarily upload food posts because of my enjoyment of cooking, and sharing is caring.

I’m super guilty, as I enjoy my fast food, but I do aim for balance. This year I have also started to do more exercise (mostly cross-training, but also walking the dog, aha) and I have started to notice a difference.

Everybody hits that moment where you actually want to be healthier than you currently are, but there are different routes to this conclusion. For me, it was through various documentaries that I watched on Netflix, and some of them hit hard.

I want to share with you some of my favourite and most recommended documentaries about diet and nutrition that I found, because as a viewer I was shell-shocked with some of the harsh facts. However, despite the seemingly bleak content in these films, I believe it is important that everyone should hear what they have to say.

In no particular order…

Fed Up

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For me, this was particularly disturbing to watch as it focuses on Obesity in American children. Fed Up exposes how major food companies neglect the health of their consumers through marketing and advertising by means of ignoring the harm their products are actually causing.

From nutritionists and doctors, to parents and the children themselves, Fed Up examines the reality of what we consume, and how this effects our health both physically and mentally. It was quite horrific to see the amount of sugar in some products – ones which I have consumed myself – as the film then shows how this effects your body.

I think this film has prompted a huge movement in the health sector.

Watch: Fed Up Trailer

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

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I love Joe, and I love this film – it’s personal, and proof of the possible. This doc follows Joe on his journey to lose weight by juicing. It’s an honest account of a man understanding and accepting that he needs to change his body and his mind – spoiler alert: he does!

It’s a really uplifting and inspiring film, and Joe responsibly then goes on to help others with their journeys – there’s a Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 (which you should also watch). As a viewer, and someone who is maybe wanting to get in better shape, you can easily identify with Joe as he really does come out the other side by changing his diet, which effectively changes his life.

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I finally did get my juicer! You should follow Joe to get some of his great juice recipes, and more.

Watch: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead Trailer

Watch: Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 Trailer

 

Food, Inc

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Food, Inc is a bit more of a stomach turner, and frankly, quite harrowing – very much proving that “the truth hurts”. However, this doc gives insight into the production of meat in factories vs independent farms, the effects of meat in consumers, and the conditions of the live stock and workers.

As a viewer, and consumer, we come to officially realise the control that large corporations within the meat industry have over us – unfortunately we are the ones that suffer. Moreover, we are equally condoning their actions by purchasing their products. We also see the ways in which our health is at risk as large corporations are exposed for taking cheaper and unethical routes to make their business thrive.

Watch: Food, Inc Trailer

Hungry For Change

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Hungry for Changes takes an in-depth look at; nutrition; the physical and mental effects of certain ingredients/chemicals found in food; and the benefits overall of a healthy diet.

There are a lot of nutritionists, doctors, and authors of well-being books. Some have criticised this tactic of authority and said it manipulates the viewer too much, because who wouldn’t believe a doctor? I agree to an extent, however I am pushing for this manoeuvre as I still maintain that this doc should be seen. We have hit that point where we have to listen to these facts, whether we like it or not.

Watch: Hungry For Change Trailer

You should really watch them!

I know these films don’t scream “entertaining”, but I assure you they are. More importantly they are films to support and educate you about things we should be aware of, but have in fact been hidden from us.

Learning the truth typically isn’t easy – it’s quite inconvenient. But, as these films demonstrate, there is so much wrong that needs to be made right.

For me, I notice when I’m happier, healthier and more productive, and I’m sure you do too. These films shed light on ways in which I can improve my health and well-being, so I am glad that I watched them.

When we’re eating food that’s good for our bodies, and exercising, our happiness goes through the roof – and although some times challenging, for me, it’s totally worth it.

Sunday [Film] Sessions

Sunday Funday. There’s a few things that make my Sundays perfect; Sunday Wine Club (an old after-work tradition); Sunday lunch (when I’m in the mood for a cliché, I’m a big advocate of a walk in the park as well); and a film night.

I love easy-watching on Sundays – allow my brain to rest before the week coming inevitably begins. While there’s still time, honestly, all I want to do is chill on the sofa (before the point of no return occurs at the pub). So, below I have listed (in no particular order) some of my classic, and essential, Sunday-watching materials.

 

The First Wives Club (1996)

Directed by: Hugh Wilson

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This film springs to mind, because I actually did watch this last Sunday – I  prematurely apologise to the male viewer as you may feel a little disregarded. However, as a source of empowerment, it is a wonderfully balanced combination of humor and easy-watching. Plus, it’s Hawn, Milder and Keaton absolutely smashing it as a empowering and comical  female trio.

There’s something about a Sunday that needs some 90’s indulgence, but also something lighthearted. It’s a typical equilibrium-driven narrative that provides that ultimate feel-good ending. I also love the hilarious over-dramatised hysteria; the jealously of the younger women; insecurity, quick-wit repartee; and that window scene. I don’t think it matters how old you are, I think there is something to relate to in each of these women, particularly for the female spectator, but I’m not that narrow minded (men need their wins too). And lets not forget, no rom-coms can compare to that of the 90’s!

Watch: The First Wives Club Trailer

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Directed by: Wes Anderson

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 I know I am not alone when I say that: one of the things I love about watching any Anderson film is that it feels as though someone is reading me a bed time story. With regards to The Royal Tenenbaums, and it’s seemingly depressive and sombre swagger, is that there’s something ultimately soothing about the execution – a kind of “Once upon a time, in New York, there lived a family…”.

The film kindly adheres to my Sunday night vibes, what with Anderson’s unique portrayal of a whimsical family tale, along with his notorious set and camera composition that makes me feel like I’ve attended the theater without leaving my lounge.

Secrets; drama; achievements; failure; depression; estranged relatives – it has to be one of my favourite family films!

Watch: The Royal Tenenbaums Trailer

Love Me If You Dare / Jeux d’enfants (2003)

Directed by: Yann Samuell

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I think even the most uneducated person could denote that this film is of the romantic-variety, but I would hate for you to assume too much. Personally I am not the biggest fan of chick-flicks – at least try to make loneliness look moderately interesting! This film however, really packs a punch to make you feel something at the end of the week.

Love Me If You Dare completely won me over, and I guess the fact still remains: no one does romance like the French. More so, the promise of thrill is in the title. The film explores the game of love, escalating from harmless childish dares into life-altering adolescent consequences.

The spectator is very much along for the ride, knowing as little as the leading roles what will happen next. It’s unpredictable; dangerous; brutal; and sexy – the perfect combination for disaster. It’s also honest; heart-wrenching; and wildly entertaining! I like to think of it as a surrealist fairy tale for adults. Oh, I love it when Hollywood gets it’s ass kicked!

Watch: Love Me If You Dare (English) Trailer

Down By Law (1986)

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

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As if a fly-on-the-wall, Down By Law could be the the closest contender to an aesthetically indulgent pseudo-documentary where life by circumstance simply unfolds.

Essentially three men, by different means, wind up in a Louisiana jail cell together. We contemplate the American dream, the men’s patience (as well as indifference), and wonder where the film is actually going (if going anywhere at all). I personally love the fixation on character as opposed to an obviously narrative-driven blockbuster.

This film is perfect for those who crave a realness from fiction. Jarmusch depicts an effortlessly cool, yet seemingly, mundane existence of life in the back end of New Orleans, and then takes it to the swamps. But there’s also a surrealness that is equally consistent – you begin to feel as lost and confused as our unlikely trio.

As well as reminding us how much we miss a good film noir, the gloriously relaxed “acting” accompanied by Robby Müller’s (just beautiful) cinematography, makes Down By Law one of the sharpest and more casual must-sees. What more do you want from a Sunday session?

Watch: Down By Law Trailer

Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)

Directed by: Olivier Assayas

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Despite the “rest” aspect of a Sunday, I profoundly enjoy a film that encourages me to think. As an ex-film student I have now gone past the point of no return – I am either switched on, or I do not watch a film.

Now, with regards to the latter, you can humor me by understanding my intrigue into this film’s particular look into an actress’ career. Clouds Of Sils Maria, at least to me, explores the film industry in terms of career, celebrity culture and shifts in modernism.

If you want drama, this film has plenty, but it is primarily depicted through subtly and intellect. It goes beyond characterisation, and I personally believe it is strategically casted to allegorically examine the motifs embodied through the narrative. Clouds Of Sils Maria explores film; theater; the working environment; and personal relationships. It’s a film about age, and carefully invites the spectator to philosophically examine the position of film as an industry, as well as an inherently meta discourse.

Watch: Clouds Of Sils Maria Trailer