Visitor Q

*Review from 2004

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This must rank with Dead or Alive (1-3), and The Happiness of the Katakuris as one of Miike’s most weird, and along with Audition as one of his best. Thanks to the Tartan DVD distributors once again, as no-one else would have the bravery or intelligence to release such fantastic films as these.

The thinking behind Visitor Q involved a company called CineRocket who made 6 films with the COMBINED budget of under £400,000! Miike’s Visitor Q is the final part of the non-connecting series, and according to critic Chris Campion the only rules he had to follow were ‘that it had to be shot on digital video and deal with the theme of pure love’. It is probably true that most viewers of this film will find it sickening, insane, and depraved while having no involvement of love, pure or otherwise. However, it is the lactation of the mother which, in a way brings the family together in love for each other, while before there had only been coldness and isolation. Apparently the act of breast-feeding releases oxytocin in the body, an addictive hormone sometimes called the ‘hormone of love’ (Campion again). Therefore Miike shows love in its purest form.

The film, like so many other Miike features deals with the family, both looking at it as a whole, and looking at the individuals within it. The father is a reporter, shamed by one of his past pieces of work which saw him anally abused by a group of kids. He is searching for a way to boost ratings, to keep his mistress happy, and perhaps redeem himself. He decides to make a film about the youth of Japan and when he decides to get a young prostitute to interview he is surprised to find that it is his daughter who recently ran away from home. One thing leads to another, and almost the first 10 minutes of the film involves Kiyoshi and his daughter in a bed. Questions are asked- ‘Have you ever slept with your daughter? Have you ever been hit on the head? Have you ever hit your mother?’ Kiyoshi is struck on the head by a mysterious young man who then ends up in Kiyoshi’s house. We meet his wife, a heroine addict who is constantly physically abused by their son, who is constantly bullied by other kids. The mysterious Visitor begins to get involved with the family, and when Kiyoshi decides to make a film about the bullying of a son (his) from a father’s perspective, the visitor helps, doing some of the camera-work. He does not seem moved in any way by the violence around him, but he manages to teach each member a lesson which brings them together, apparently against the world. He shows the mother how to lactate which proves to her that she is a normal woman, which completely rejuvenates her. Kiyoshi continues to make his film – we see more violence, death, rape, drugs, necrophilia etc etc. It all becomes completely absurd and hilarious, but the narrative never falls apart and by the end we have been completely sucked in.

Filmed on digital, Miike proves to be a master of the format even with his first attempt. If you get past the first 15 or 20 minutes the film will become less revolting, but no less shocking, and you will find yourself laughing uncontrollably with everything happening. Every scene breaks a taboo or shows something new. The story is interesting throughout, each performance is excellent considering the amount of nudity and the content, the scenes of violence, drugs, and sex all look flawlessly real, and we cannot look away. Of course, most people in the West will never see this film, and many that do may switch off before getting to the end because it is extreme. If you cannot handle extreme films, then stay away. Also, Koji Endo provides another excellent score, the final song-‘Bubble of Water’ by Real Time is perfect for the conclusion ensuring that those final scenes will stick in your head for a long time. If you are a fan of Miike, Japanese film, or extreme movies in general, put this at the top of your list. Unmissable.

Let us know in the comments if you have seen Visitor Q or any other Miike films and what you thought!

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Nightman Defines – Viewer Categorization

So, something which has tickled my ass (interested me) recently is the notion of how to classify or categorize people who watch movies – mainly in reference to trying to decide what an essential movie is. Is Citizen Kane really an essential watch for someone who watches maybe ten movies a year? Is The Seven Samurai a must-see for people who only watch movies made in Hollywood? Conversely, is A New Hope an absolute watch for someone in Japan, or Iran, or India? I don’t know the answer to these things (even though the answer is yes) and I’m not going to offer any solutions here.

In reading other blogs and lists recently – fans’ favourite movies ever, critical lists of the best or most important or most essential movies ever, and also writing my Scoring System post has made me question if a better way to think about such things is by categorizing the viewer. The film is the film is the film, but opinions on the film obviously differ from person to person – it seems to me, without an ounce of research, that you can roughly guess the score of a film, or how someone feels about it, by categorizing the viewer – would the person who only watches the latest blockbusters think Citizen Kane was essential, or even good? Probably not. Categorizing people – it’s the way of the world, it’s tribal, it’s how we differentiate between who the good’uns are and who the ones who want to ravage our women and eat are babies are – you know, the ones who talk or look funny or live in that weird country five miles south behind an invisible, arbitrary border.

Yeah, I hate categorization under almost all circumstances – they serve only to de-humanize and make it easier to sleep at night after dropping bombs on them/not offering them a helping hand/refusing to pay them/telling them how they should live their lives. The individual is God. Yet, on the other hand, I love statistics and spreadsheets and lists and management sim games. It’s weird being me, in constant turmoil of hating and loving things even though those things are related.

We’re not trying to solve the world’s ills here though. All I’m doing is calling out a few loose categories of viewer and afterwards I might go back and look through my Oscars posts and say which films are ‘suitable’ for each group. Feel free to break my definitions apart and add your own – I don’t want a tonne of these so I’m hoping five will be a fair number, baring in mind that I’m thinking as I type with no fore planning. I will say that each category has a certain sliding scale and are malleable. Also, these could presumably translate to other media, such as music, games, books…. bird watching.

The Critic

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The Critic is at the head of the table. It is a critic’s job to watch everything, regardless of genre, country of origin, language, era etc. The Critic must also be knowledgeable about the history of film, technical processes, what is involved in the creation of a film, and be able to rattle off the most commonly thought of important and influential films of a particular genre, movement, actor, director etc. They will tend to have one or more individual specialist subjects, such as the life of FW Murnau or Spaghetti Westerns. They are more likely to be objective, more likely to be critical of what is popular, and more appreciative or originality, importance, and influence.

The Film Nerd

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The Film Nerd is more often a blogger or a Youtuber. Traditionally they will not have the same access to and knowledge of movies as the Critic, but those lines are being blurred both positively and negatively each year. Nowadays The Film Nerd may see a similar amount of movies as The Critic, but will likely have a tendency towards the popular or the cult rather than the artistic or important, especially when you stretch the boundaries of what is mainstream and what is recent. Genre and language should not be of significance to The Film Nerd when deciding to watch a movie. They should have knowledge of the filmmaking process, but that knowledge will be less on the technical side and more on the conversational side – it is less likely they have studied film in any capacity when compared with The Critic, and won’t have the same level of educational discipline. They will probably care less about certain critical details and be more appreciative of popular efforts than The Critic while also enjoying ‘nerdy continuity’ such as actors reappearing in works with same director. They will be more invested by personal enjoyment than importance or influence, yet they will seek out any movie deemed important or influential by critics. They will have their personal favourite genres, directors, performers etc, but should not let this cloud their judgment.

The Wannabe

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The Wannabe wants to be a critic. Or in the movie business. For my purposes we’ll say they are a critic in waiting. They will have their own blog or channel and will strive to watch everything, but may be more easily influenced by critical opinion – ‘I’m watching this because I’ve been told I have to, and even though I don’t really understand it I’m going to say I love it’. They may sacrifice what is current and popular in their quest to catch up on the critical lists and become narrow  – they should strive to watch everything. The Wannabe is likely a film student or graduate, or has studied some area of Humanities. They don’t have the objectivity or historical or technical knowledge of The Critic yet but must be willing to learn if they wish to become what they desire.  They will have a guilty pleasure which they will hold on to and proclaim as important or essential when it probably is not, giving them an added layer of arrogance as they belief it proves they watch what ‘the rest of us’ watch.

The Fan

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The Fan is a fan of movies in general – they will try to watch as many movies as time allows, but it won’t consume their life. The fan can branch out in many directions and become a specialist – The Horror Fan, The Spielberg Fan, The Audrey Hepburn Fan etc, but in most cases they will stick to what is popular. If they are presented with a list of most essential movies ever, they will have seen many of them, but likely those which are more mainstream, recent, or commercial. The Fan won’t have any burning desire to see every movie on that list, but they will seek out those ones they have heard about from friends who are also in The Fan category. They will enjoy movies by or starring certain people, but won’t necessarily hunt down those they have missed. They will enjoy watching trailers of upcoming movies, get excited by sequels, and the majority of their movie watching will cover films which earned the most money in any given year rather than the indie or foreign markets.

The Casual

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The Casual merely enjoys movies – if you take them on a date to the Cinema, it better be something simple like a comedy or action movie starring whoever was on the cover of Tiger Beat recently (that’s not a thing any more, is it?). The Casual watches only what is popular, what others are talking about in school, work, or on TV, and will likely see much fewer movies per year than The Fan. If it’s not in the charts, they won’t be interested. Black and White? Subtitles? Slightly unusual? No thanks. They know what they like and stick to it, and that is usually a narrow field. The Casual may find themselves surprised if they take a risk and discover they actually enjoy something forced upon them by a friend who is in The Fan or Film Nerd category. They more likely enjoy the clothes and red carpet information than The Oscars themselves, and might even care more about who is in a movie than who made it or what it is about. They probably ask a lot of questions while watching and look at their phone.

The Careless

The Careless could NOT care less. Yes, Americans, that is the correct way of saying that phrase. The Careless is probably your dad. Or your mum. Or a farmer. They will have no interest in the discussion of movies and will have no desire to go to the Cinema. They won’t care if they are forced to go by friends, significant other, or kids, but they will likely not may much attention to the movie. If they do, they will have likely forgotten about it the next day. A certain breed of The Careless may enjoy a particular genre or actor, likely due to a crush or some sort of formative experience – Westerns or David Soul or some such. They will channel surf and may stumble upon a movie that looks interesting and watch it, or fall asleep watching it. For The Careless, movies are a distraction from what they really care about, or a novelty that is experienced irregularly and disposed of.

The Twat 

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The Twat only watches a certain type of movie and nothing else – don’t be like The Twat. Like a hipster is to music, The Twat doesn’t really like movies, just watches or claims to watch them so that they can be part of a discussion which they can then turn around to serve their own selfish needs. Alternatively, The Twat may genuinely love their chosen movie but will absolutely, stubbornly refuse to hear any criticism of it or suggestion of an alternative.

So there you have it, some rough breakage (roughage?) of people into groups. You shouldn’t be ashamed of whichever one you fall into, that’s who you are after all, and who you are will influence what films you enjoy. You can of course aim to move into another category, or you may tow the line between two or three of them, but don’t be ashamed. Unless you’re The Twat, in which case I suggest you drastically re-evaluate your life.

Stage two of this needless endeavor will see me (well, it will see me thinking about, but probably not writing about because once I have something out of my system I tend to forget about it) looking at a bunch of movies and ranking them per the above types. Maybe I’ll go through my Oscar’s posts, maybe I’ll take some Critical list or poll and investigate. Or maybe I’ll get drunk. Yeah, that seems like the more plausible outcome.

The Nightman Scoring System (c) Movie Edition

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Six years ago I unleashed the Nightman Scoring System (c) upon the world and since then it has been a huge success; a grand total of zero people have used in for reviewing albums. Rather than quit while I’m ahead, I’ve decided to present a movie edition of the system. It’s like a movie edition of Trivial Pursuit, but with less arguments and headbutting your Grandmother. Go read the original post first for some lengthy reasoning. If not, here’s a short recap; I don’t like giving scores in reviews, but if I absolutely had to I would bring up the most important components of the Product into equal parts and score each part individually thereby giving a more credible, less partisan overall rating. I split the Product into 20 parts, each part has a total possible 5 points, giving a total possible score of 100 – nice for percentages. While personal preference will still come into play, it will be further balanced by other components – you may love something which was a commercial flop so you can’t possibly give it a high rating in a Sales category. Furthermore, you may hate something which sold millions, but you are forced to give it a high score in a Sales category. This loose rigidity should further keeps things fair in preventing the most staunch, anti-genre critics from giving high or low ratings in certain categories.

So, what makes a movie and how do we break it down into components? A lot of people are involved in movie making, and handily they are essentially already split into different parts – wardrobe, editing, directing, music, acting etc. You can look to existing Award ceremonies or other reviewers and critics to see which pieces of movies are most discussed. The below 20 categories are my choices – most of them you can’t argue with, but I’m sure I’ve missed a few which you think are important or which could replace some which I have given. You can switch those out, remove some, or add some, but you must remember that each category must have equal rating – you cannot change that. Sales are NOT more important that critical consensus. Music is NOT more important than wardrobe. You will have your preferences – I sure as hell do – but to give a fair score everything must be weighted equally. I do think there is room here for 25 components, giving each a weighting of four points, but I’ll stick with 20 for now. Lets check out my components and some description and ‘rules’ around each.

Sales: We begin with the easy components. You can’t get away from sales. Money is what makes the Business work. Your indie/arthouse/foreign/not commercial movie might be awesome, but if it doesn’t sell, then it isn’t successful. With all these categories there are variants – a movie with a budget of $10,000 which goes on to make $10 million would be seen as a huge success. A movie with a $50 million budget which makes $55 million would not be a success – but it still hit $55 million. A film might get strong sales in its home country, but weak sales worldwide – what were its targets before release? Do you factor in DVD/home sales? Basically there is a little wriggle room in here for what you think gets a high score – something like Paranormal Activity or Avatar gets a 5, while something like Heaven’s Gate would be a flop. A good way of thinking about it is if it loses money on it’s budget, it can’t get higher than a score of 3, if it exceeds it’s budget, it can’t get less than 3.

Chart: Chart and Sales are different. A film may reach number 1 in Charts in various countries, but drop out of the top 10 the following week. On the flip side, a film may not reach the top 5 in the US but not fall out of the top 10 for a number of weeks.

Critical Consensus: This is where Rotten Tomatoes etc come in. You should not only look at critical reviews, but fan reviews too. If a film gets rave critical reviews, but muted fan response it can’t get a 5. Likewise, a film could be a strong fan favourite but get a ‘meh’ from critics – can’t get a 5. A 5 is reserved for movies which are loved by fans and critics, a 1 is where most in both groups give the movie a bad review.

Director: Self explanatory – how good is the Direction? This is subjective, but try to be objective. If the director wins or is nominated for awards for the movie, chances are it deserves a high score. If the director is merely competent, takes chances, if it’s a first movie versus a veteran director, all of these things should be considered.

Performances: Self explanatory – how good are the performances? Possibly you could divide this category in two – lead performances and everything else. Again it is subjective – I’m not a huge Kevin Spacey fan in that I find his performances limited and samey, but I’m in the vast minority there. Again you look to award wins and nominations, but for the most part if you know and watch enough movies, you’ll know if a performance is good, terrific, average, bad, or awful.

Music: How good is the score? Did you buy or download the soundtrack or does a particular piece infiltrate your sub-conscious? When you hear the soundtrack do you automatically think of the movie or if someone talks about the movie can you hear the music in your head? Does the music compliment the mood, tone, theme? This is more than just ‘I hate jazz, the soundtrack is jazz, so it gets a score of 1’ and it is more than ‘it has a single important song so automatically gets a score of 5’.

Cinematography: How good does the movie look? Look for unique shots, beautiful camera work and framing. Is it distinct? A bad movie can look breathtaking. A great or entertaining movie can have bland or by the numbers cinematography.

Writing: It doesn’t matter if the screenplay is adapted or original as long as it’s good. Is it over-burdened with description and exposition? Does the plot makes sense, or does it takes leaps of logic? Is it consistent or overly simplistic? Is the dialogue authentic, quotable, interesting? Do you believe the characters would do and say what they do and say? Everything from quips to speeches to plot to background text (posters, advertisements and other written text you see on screen – think of Simpsons gags like store names) should be considered under writing.

Wardrobe: Clothes. I don’t know much about them. I wear them to cover my nuts and that’s about it. But costumes and wardrobe are important for movies – they make the characters leap off the screen and heighten performances – what would Vader look like without his mask and cape? Well, Jedi spoiled that for us. Are the costumes authentic when they need to be? Is the care and dedication into costume clear or do they seem like an afterthought?

Editing: A film with bad editing can be a mess. It can destroy consistency, ruin plot, and cause the timing off the film to be off. Editing is part of the overall style and when done right can be immediately noticeable or not noticeable at all.

Make up and Hair: Another piece I don’t pay much attention too and I was almost going to merge it with Costume. Make-up however is where it’s at for me – I couldn’t care less about hair. Make-up though – The Elephant Man, Nightmare On Elm Street… need I say more? I think only something truly iconic or groundbreaking should ever get a 5 here, while on the flipper only something with zero effort or disastrously awful should get a 1.

Effects: Special effect, visual effects, practical effects, digital effects, into the pot you go. Again, look at how groundbreaking they are and look at the time they were made – something groundbreaking in 1980 will look like muck today so consider time’s whorish saunter too. Also consider if the effects add anything to the film or take anything away – does an effect suddenly pull you out of the narrative, does it look fake, or are the effects so conjoined to plot that the film would fail without them?

Art and Set: The opposing side of cinematography, how impressive are the sets? Care, love, dedication, skill, realism, imagination and all the rest of it should be thought of before giving a score.

Sound: I was almost going to get rid of this one entirely and replace it with something like plot, separated from writing. As much as I don’t care about Sound, or really notice it, it is nevertheless an important part of a movie. Editing, mixing, volume, coherence, consistency, realism, ingenuity, all go towards creating the soundscape of a movie.

Cultural Significance: How much impact does a film have on the general public? Not every film can have the impact of a Casablanca or a Star Wars. Also, it is difficult to gauge that level of significance upon release – partly why I wait a while after release before reviewing a film. You could look at hype up to and at the time of a release, and that is important, but you can also look at the number of sequels a film generates, the amount of fan-fiction or buzz or blogging that goes on afterwards. Does the dialogue seep into everyday conversations? Is the movie referenced in other works? Does a particular moment or style or character or device crafted in the movie get used again in later movies? How much are people still talking about it in 1 or 10 or 50 years time?

Accomplishment: To score this you need to understand the movie’s goals. If it’s a horror movie did it scare you? Did it scare others? If a comedy, how much laughter did it generate? Did you cry when you were supposed to? How successful was the movie in doing what it set out to do?

Stunts: Some people might replace this component with something else. Almost every film, if not every film has some sort of stunt. Even the most bland drama will have some element of stunt work or stunt performance. If it doesn’t, then feel free to exclude this category and put something else in its place. More importantly – what are you doing watching a film with no stunts, you big weirdo? With stunts we generally think of the biggest and best. That is definitely something to think about, especially in movies where action is heavy. You may think this category then is biased towards a certain type of movie – that’s kind of fair enough but it’s probably likely that stunt heavy movies will fall down in other categories that stunt-lite movies will not.

Originality: When we think about originality, we’re not only talking about being the first movie in a particular genre. Movies can show originality in most of the above categories and more. A new camera technique, a new type of squib, a new brand of performance, an original script, hell even something new like an original viral advertising is all part and parcel of things. If the film does nothing new, copies other better or more successful movies, or just seems like a cash-in, then it’s probably going to get a low score here.

Miscellaneous: Like my music system, this is for anything else you think I have missed, or that you may have missed. Any smaller components which still make up the final package – a nifty poster, a trailer, animal performers (which along with voice work should be considered in the performance category), I don’t know. Again, replace this one with another category entirely if you feel something major has been missed.

Personal: This is your own personal score, just for your bias – even if a film does reasonably well in most of the above categories but you still hate it, go ahead and pop a 1 in here. If your favourite movie of all time happens to be Police Academy 7, feel free to slap a fat 5 here.

There you have it. Try to review a few films using this system. Even better, get a group of your friends, fellow bloggers, or film geeks to choose a film at random – a new release, or an old movie you haven’t watched yet, and each review it to see how you compare in each category and how close or far apart your overall scores are. Like any good review it should act as a discussion point – friends gathering around a few pints (not coffee…. never coffee) and argue over each component and try to find common ground to use when reviewing in the future. Let me know in the comments what you think of this flawless system and if there is anything you wold change. Happy watching and talking!

The Secret Life Of Pets

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The first full cinema experience for my kids (barring Peppa Pig And The Golden Boots), The Secret Life Of Pets is one movie my girls (and me) were busting to see having enjoyed the various trailers. This was Illumination Entertainment’s first truly successful move away from the Despicable Me franchise and features all of the zany humour and intelligent insight you would expect. It goes without saying that the film will be just as entertaining for adults as it is for kids – the animated movie genre has come full circle in the early 21st Century for providing cinematic treats for all the family.

The Secret Life Of Pets begins with a series of vignettes based in a typical New York apartment block. Anyone who has ever owned an animal should get a lot of chuckles from these scenes as the behaviour and characteristics of the animals will be very familiar. We focus on little domesticated dog Max, whose life is spent watching the door for his owner Katie to come home. He, like all the pets, wonder what the humans get up to when the leave but his world is shaken up when Kate comes home with a new, much larger dog – Duke. The two do not get along and begin to conspire against one another leading to an intervention by the guys from the Dog Pound…

The film received a fair amount of criticism saying the story and characters were thinly veiled versions of Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. While not entirely untrue, the same can be said for a hell of a lot of other movies and Toy Story took its fair share of ideas from what had come before – it seems a little disingenuous to make such comments about the film when there is so much to enjoy. There is a wide roster of characters and animals, from the skyscraper roof dwelling hawk who would just as soon eat the pets as help them, to the tough street cats who despise the pets for living in domestic bliss. Taking that one step further are the Flushed Pets – the unwanted, lost, or forgotten animals of NYC who live in the sewers (yes, there is a Crocodile). Led by Kevin Hart’s Snowball, a crazed rabbit who wants revenge on all humans, they spend most of the movie chasing down Max and Co who accidentally killed one of their group.

As with any animated movie these days, a key draw and component in its success is the voice cast. It feels a little strange then that this isn’t exactly filled with recognizable A List talent. The cast is good, and they are talented, but most of the performers are not household names. As mentioned, Kevin Hart lends his talents, and he is joined by Steve Coogan, Louis CK, Albert Brooks, Dana Carvey, and then a bunch of sitcom actors I don’t really know. Luckily this won’t matter to anyone but the most obtuse viewer and the youngsters certainly won’t care. The voices are distinct and build each character to match the personality shown via the animation and story – lazy, boisterous, decrepit etc. The performers deliver their lines, whether subtle quips, energetic wails, or general dialogue with vivre and as with all these movies they sound like they enjoyed themselves making it.

The Secret Life Of Pets should be a fun movie for kids of all ages and rewarding for adults too, especially pet owners. It may not be as immediately wacky or laugh out loud funny as some, and it may not have the emotional depth of others, but it is still a lot of fun while offering some insightful crumbs on the little beasties we allow into your homes and love. Let us know in the comments what you thought of the movie and how it ranks alongside other recent efforts!

Girlhood

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I had been looking forward to this one after reading nothing but good reviews, along with the fact that I typically enjoy coming of age movies. In truth I was a little underwhelmed by Girlhood; it’s a good movie, but there was too much of a personal detachment for me which came more from a lack of emotion conveyed on screen rather than me being a British white thirtysomething bloke. If anything it suggests a promising future for its director and stars.

Girlhood follows a few months in the life of a teenage girl who lives in a tower block complex – the sort you would expect to find in any populous city. She is protective of her younger sister, scared of her older brother, and feels trapped by her surroundings and life – the choices, options, and ability to simply live life the way you want to are limited. We see a host of tropes from similar movies or movies set in similar territory – the hoodlums lurking in the shadows, the invisible parents or adult authority, the contrast between the dim, dark housing development and the bright city lights and delights. That’s not to say the film simply rolls out trope after trope – it engages them and acknowledges them as true to life occurrences. With this approach, the film moves in a matter of fact way – nothing seems startling or out of place, but neither is anything shocking or exciting.

Marieme has been told that she cannot continue her schoolwork due to bad grades (or possibly race and class), and facing a bleak future she decides to go against everything she knows and speaks with a bunch of girls who appear to be part of a gang. Initially it is obvious she is out of place, but the girls accept her and she is quickly drawn into a world of theft, dancing, petty fighting, and general chav activity – but also friendship unlike anything she had experienced before. It is during these moments that the movie has its finest moments – the scenes of young women simply loving being round one another and feeling like they can take on the world are among the most exuberant and honest in film. The film attempts to take a darker turn later in the film as Marieme becomes a drug mule, loses her femininity or accentuates it in a deliberately cartoonish manner, and soon loses faith in her current path – she sees no future for herself in this direction and yet cannot accept returning to any past life. For me, the film loses its way in these moments – Marieme becomes a less interesting character, we lose her friendship with Lady, Fily, and Adiatou, and nothing really happens. It’s clear that the viewer is being shown, not for the first time, that even a strong woman will struggle given the poor choices she has ahead of her and we appreciate that there is little Marieme can do to improve her situation.

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The problem with Marieme is that, even though she is conflicted, she never truly becomes a fascinating character. There are moments, but not enough for us to sympathise with her – this is also hindered by the fact that for most viewers she repeatedly picks the worst option from the choices she has. It’s an annoyance of seeing potential wasted, of watching someone who is essentially good going nowhere. Karidja Toure is very good in the role, transforming from a meek nobody, to an effervescent girl, to a tired, hopeless woman. Assa Sylla is also strong as Lady – the whole cast in general are good at giving realistic portrayals. Sciamma, whose Water Lillies I enjoyed, gives another complex view of growing up as a girl – the hope, the fear, the love and the despair, and most importantly the friendships. The camera frequently moves in a slow panning motion, keeping the viewer as an outsider who cannot quite grasp the struggles of the character, and there is a heavy reliance on music and light. The soundtrack feels retro but uses modern pop music too, yet it lacks a punch or a hook outside of the obvious Diamonds scene. From an emotional standpoint, I always felt that feelings were skirted or on the fringe – perhaps deliberate, though maybe not. I felt like the friendship was real, but there wasn’t enough to make me laugh or love, scream or cry about. The most upsetting scene was possibly seeing Marieme’s little sister possibly following in her footsteps, but this wasn’t explored further.

In all, this is a film which most viewers will likely enjoy more than I did, but for me it is not up to films such as Stand By Me, Now And Then, or even The Virgin Suicides or Little Women –  though perhaps those are not all valid comparisons. A film like this relies on a likable cast and understanding director – both of which are checked boxes here, but they also need poignancy, a certain nostalgic charm or sense of empathy, and that intangible atmosphere which draws us back for repeated viewings and which makes us want to spend more time in the presence of the characters and their world. Girlhood for me doesn’t quite hit all of those notes, and while it is a more grim film than those previously mentioned, it is the lack of emotion which dulls the viewer and keeps us at arm’s length.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Girlhood!

Ranking The Bond Girls – The Minors

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Come in, sit down boy, have a cigar, you’re gonna go far… if you read this – do we have a treat for you today yes siree. It’s time to kick back, draw the blinds, and enjoy yourself in a clean and safe manner by reading this list of wicked temptresses and lusty beauties. Our esteemed colleague Mr Bond, Double Oh Matron, has done the Hard work, done all the sweating and heavy lifting if you will, to bring us this list of conquests – women who are merely a footnote in his exhaustive travels, women who can barely even be called real people and in many cases even go unnamed (but not unharmed or unloved). Translation: read my list of the most minor Bond girls – those who may have only appeared in a single scene or had little impact on the plot; it’s really good!

24: Kimberley Jones – A View To A Kill

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80s Computers

Here we go, the lowest ranked Bond Girl based upon my warped preferences. She exemplifies everything that is both wonderful and terrible in the Bond Universe in that she is only there to be fucked. In a very 80’s movie, she is a very 80’s girl with big hair, big smile, and big… personality. She was played by Mary Stavin who also appeared briefly in Octopussy a Swedish former Miss World winner who went on to appear in such classics as Caddyshack II and Alien Terminator. And hey, look! She recorded a ‘song’ with everyone’s favourite Irishman George Best.

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She’s now a Nolan sister, apparently

 

23: Gemma – Quantum Of Solace

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I don’t know who I am either

I’m not even sure what all this lass did in the movie, aside from helping Mathis to help Bond. Yeah, she’s not really a Bond Girl then and shouldn’t really be here but I’ve typed it all now so tough. Anyway, she’s played by Lucrezia Lante della Rovere who is starred in a bunch of Italian movies and TV series.

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My hair is modeled after my earrings

 

22: Marie – Diamonds Are Forever

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Bikinis

Poor Marie goes one better than attempting to flirt with and shag Bond, but gets choked instead – with her own bikini for good measure. And guess what? Denise Perrier, who played the part, was also a former Miss World. My detective skills sense there may be a theme at play….

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G..G…Granny?

 

21: Bond’s Lover/Unnamed Girl – Skyfall

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Sleepy time

As if being fucked and being strangled weren’t enough, this Jane Doe doesn’t even get a name, instead being christened as either Bond’s Lover or the ominous Unnamed Girl. She enjoys a quick romp with Bond and although it is implied that she has had some sort of more meaningful relationship with Bond during his hiatus from MI6 she only appears in one scene and is never heard from again. She was played by Tonia Sotiropoulou who is a model but not a Miss World Winner, and also appeared in the rather good Berberian Sound Studio. 

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Wake up!

 

20: Linda – The Living Daylights

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Bikinis #2

Such is the way of the Bond Universe that most wealthy women lounge about and dream that one day a real man will drop out of the heavens and satisfy their every sordid whim. Bond’s erection hears this call and her drops onto her yacht before dropping his pants. Played by Belle Avery who has appeared in mostly rubbish before becoming a Producer.

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Call me

 

19: Inga Bergstorm – Tomorrow Never Dies

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DON’T call me

Another who is only on screen for a bit of titillation and a good old ‘Cunning Linguist’ gag, she doesn’t do anything but is pretty hot so woo hoo. She was played by Cecilie Thomsen, a model and actress who used to be Bryan Adams’ girlfriend. Great.

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Wrap it up

 

18: Bonita – Goldfinger

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Bikinis #3

Played by Nadja Regin (who had a sort of bigger part in From Russia With Love), Bonita is a minor femme fatale who Belly Dances her way into Bond’s life before being thrown away after Bond spots the double cross. Regin has had a long and strong career as an actress, writer, and publisher.

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One of these could be her. Or maybe it’s a completely random image of two completely random people

17: Zora – From Russia With Love

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You wanna piece of me?

 

You’d assume that as a species we’ve graduated from outdoor cat-fights concerning matters of the heart or loins, but switch on any of those horrible reality shows or daytime chat shows and you’ll realise your mistake. Silly humans, thinking they have evolved. And silly writers, thinking audiences in the 60s would believe two -just-Eastern-enough woman would be rolling around in the dirt and pulling hair just for the opportunity to hope on a shlong. Hmm, maybe those writers knew something we didn’t. Anyway, early Bond movies didn’t think much of women, but look at them tearing off each others clothes – ain’t it hot!? Zora here, was played by Martine Beswick (an English Model and Actress) who would also appear in Thunderball and continue to bit and scratch other women in future movies.

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No

16: Vida – From Russia With Love

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You wanna piece of ME

Vida. She’s the other one. Played by Aliza Gur, a former Miss Israel, who would appear in various minor movies and hit TV shows before seemingly retiring in the early Seventies.

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No

15: Apollo Jet Hostess – Moonraker

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I must break you

We’re only a few (re) entries in, but we’ve already seen quite a bit of sexism and violence towards women. I quite like this nameless character – she has the looks, of course, but there is an air of danger and mystery around her. I like to think she survived the aircraft crash which she instigates, but we will never know. Played by Leila Shenna who appeared in a few French and Algerian movies through the 70s before giving it all up in the early 80s.

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We will never know

14: Chew Mee – The Man With The Golden Gun

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Come in

With a name like that, what’s not to love? We all know it’s hilarious to mock other countries, and even more fun to take their silly languages and fashion pervy names from them; Pee Niss, Jie-An-Tkok, Mam Aree, Phuree Kun’t, and so on. She is an entirely pointless character aside from the cheap name joke – she indulges in some soft pool side flirting, then vanishes from the movie – but we all had a laugh. And we all had a look. Francoise Therry is the actress’ real name and I have no idea where she went.

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Where did I go?

13: Estrella – Spectre

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Don’t leave me!

Appearing only in the superb opening scene to Spectre, she again is only there to remind us that Bond likes having sex with hot women, as if anyone hadn’t cottoned on to this fact yet. For such a minor role Stephanie Sigman is beautiful enough and manages to act in some sort of captivating enough manner for us to remember her – she has already appeared in movies like Miss Bala, and shows like Narcos, so there is every chance for her to go on to a great career. She’s also a beer.

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Blue is a warm colour

 

12: Thumper – Diamonds Are Forever

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Wabbit

Diamonds Are Forever is basically Connery doing Moore – a lot of camp, bizarre humour and wacky characters. Thumper, played by Trina Parks, is partner to Bambi (naturally) and together they act as the elite guards of Mr Whyte. You can’t help but think a couple of pitbulls may have been the better choice, or some dude with a gun, but hilariously they almost defeat Bond with their acrobatic style. Bond eventually gets the better of them and pushes their heads down towards his special area. Parks was the first African American Bond girl I believe, and she was a famous dancer and choreographer who appeared in various other movies and shows including The Blues Brothers.

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Wayhay

11: Bambi – Diamonds Are Forever

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It is unclear who is enjoying it more

Ranked higher than Thumper because she’s hotter and has the better chance to dispatch Bond while Thumper flaps around doing needless somersaults. Played by Lola Larson in what seems to have been her only role – I think she was a former athlete but I can’t be arsed researching further (at all).

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Could be anyone

10: Peaceful Fountains Of Desire – Die Another Day

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Smooth

As the decades passed, we moved on from the likes of Chew Mee and now have named our Asian characters with curious epithets or snazzy translations. Peaceful Fountains Of Desire could almost have been Violent Squirts Of Coitus, but this was unfortunately not considered. Then again, this was Die Another Day so the results could have been much much worse (Painful Anal Expulsion? Nah, too metal). She only appears in one scene – a Chinese Intelligence Officer pretending to be a masseuse, and although it’s all very hot and weird she’s still memorable. Not as much as Brosnan’s beard though. Played by Rachel Grant, who is related to the current British Royal family, she has gone on to appear most famously in Braniac: Science Abuse and a variety of other shows and movies.

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9: Felicca – The Spy Who Loved Me

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Well well…

 

Essentially the same character as Fiona Volpe and whose death is almost identical, Felicca is sent by the bad guys to arouse Bond’s shlong but not his suspicions just long enough for the henchman Sandor to stick a bullet in Bond’s skull. For reasons unknown, but presumably shlong related, Felicca has a change of heart and warns Bond of the danger – she instead catches the bullet and dies. An interesting twist then, no doubt encouraged by Roger Moore whose Bond wasn’t as cold-hearted as Connery’s. Played by Italian actress Olga Bisera, who also founded her own Production Company and appeared in Castle Keep and various Italian movies before retiring in the early 80s.

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Well?

 

8: Cigar Girl/Giulietta Da Vinci – The World Is Not Enough

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Gun

 

Another film, another nameless Bond girl, though this one listed in the credits as ‘Cigar Girl’ is one of the more intriguing pieces of the World Is Not Enough puzzle. She gets a lot of screen time in the pulsating cold open and Bond doesn’t manage to get the information out of her that he needs or get her out of her pants. Cigar Girl continues the grand tradition of the cold-blooded Bond assassin, and leads a merry chase along the Thames until Bond catches up with her in dramatic fashion. It becomes clear that she is more scared of someone else than Bond, but she dies without giving any hints as to who that may be. Maria Grazia Cucinotta stars as the ill-fated lady, an actress, model, producer, and screenwriter who has appeared in many memorable roles ins shows such as The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and Il Postino. 

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Guns

 

7: Irina – Goldeneye

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Miaow

 

Irina is one of many pointless characters in the Bond universe, but by God I love Goldeneye and it wouldn’t be complete without Minnie Driver’s cat strangling. She only appears in a single scene when Bond meets Zukovsky, singing badly in the background. It’s funny. That’s about it really. Minnie Driver is of course an established star in her own right these days, and Goldeneye was one of her earliest big screen performances.

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Purrrr

 

6: Rosika Miklos – The Living Daylights

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What Lies Beneath

 

Rosika is a curious one, a capable ally to Bond, and someone it appears has worked with Bond in the past – at the very least they are aware of each other from some previous occasion. Her looming figure is akin to Brienne Of Tarth, and she helps Bond out early in the movie by throwing around Koskov without breaking sweat. Played by Julie T Wallace, an actress who has appeared sporadically on TV and film in The Fifth Element, Speed Racer, and many British sitcoms.

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Of Tarth

 

5: Ava – The Living Daylights

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‘These guys eat too much red meat’

 

Part of another daring double along with Liz, Ava is a CIA agent who helps Bond out a couple of times during the movie. It would have been nice to see them return for another mission, especially with Felix’s importance in the next Dalton movie. Ava is played by Dulice Liecier, an actress who looked like she was going to be big in the 80s before vanishing – she appeared in shows like Grange Hill and Eastenders as well as singing on Another Brick In The Wall.

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Is There Anybody Out There

 

4: Liz – The Living Daylights

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Hi

 

Part of another daring double along with Ava, Liz is a CIA agent who helps Bond out a couple of times during the movie. It would have been nice to see them return for another mission, especially with Felix’s importance in the next Dalton movie. Liz is higher on the list because she’s hotter than Ava. Liz is played by Catherine Rabett who started out as a successful dancer before starring in You Rang, M’Lord, Doctors, and Emmerdale.

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Eh up, lad

 

3: Martine Blanchaud/Log Cabin Girl – The Spy Who Loved Me

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So… cold…

 

It’s The Spy Who Loved Me again, and that means another woman trying to blind Bond with her boobs until he is killed. She appears (as The Log Cabin Girl) in the opening sequence having sexy times with Bond until he is chased away and down the alps on skis, followed by the KGB until the famous leap off the cliff. In another common theme, Sue Vanner retired from acting in the early eighties, having played in various TV shows such as Minder and Tales Of The Unexpected.

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From Sweden With Love apparently

 

2: Ling – You Only Live Twice

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You Only Appeared….

 

It at first seems like Ling is yet another foul temptress, as she shares a bed and some flirtatious fun with Bond in the opening sequence. It appears she has a hand in killing Bond but surprise surprise he gets to live twice, and Ling was in on the whole thing from the start. It’s all very elaborate and quick, but she’s hot so wayhay to us. Ling was played by Tsai Chin, something of a star in Asia thanks to her many impressive roles over the decades and success as a singer, teacher, writer, director, and stage actress, appearing in things like The Joy Luck Club, Memoirs Of A Geisha, and even 2006’s Casino Royale. 

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…twice

 

1: Madame La Porte – Thunderball

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I See You

 

Appearing only in the famous pre-credits sequence, Madame La Porte helps Bond escape in his souped up DB5 after attending the funeral of a SPECTRE agent with him. She is one of the few minor Bond girls to get involved in the action and get any sort of meaningful dialogue so she seems as good a pick as any to top this list. Played by Maryse Guy Mitsuoko, a strip tease artist and actress who appeared in a handful of spy movies in the 60s before taking her own life in the 90s.

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We’ll see you again

 

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of this trouser-rupturing series as we meet the likes of the Masterson sisters, Bibi Dahl, and Molly Warmflash!

Ranking The Bond Women -Introduction

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Chauvinism ahoy! Following on from my ridiculously unpopular Bond Songs ranking posts I thought I would move on to even more misguided waters by listing all of the women who appear in Bond movies. As before, this is a personal list so nostalgia and personal preference will hold more weight that cultural importance or lack thereof, with a sprinkling of character, writing, and acting ability aiding in the ranking. Before I get started with the list, for all your purists out there THIS IS MY LIST. I am including Never Say Never Again (even though it’s tripe), I am including typical Bond girls and female Bond baddies, and I’m trying to include even the most minor character – it just needs to be someone who has had some sort of fling or naughty, nudey escapade with Double Oh Shlong – because of this I may miss a few characters – don’t hate me. Or do, I don’t care. I am not including Moneypenny as she is a regular, recurring character and I’m not including Judi Dench’s M because I’m not a GILF hunter.

At time of writing I have identified a frightening, wrist-wrenching 90 ladies. My wife tells me I have peculiar tastes when it comes to women, so be prepared for some unusual choices in my top 20. I’ll split up my posts into minors, middling, and major characters, and I’ll even share with you a lovely picture of each woman along with my alarmingly non-pervy thoughts. Won’t that be lovely? And because no blog post is complete without a list – here is the list of Bond Girls by movie which I will be including! Feel free to let me know your favourites now, or alternatively wait until I have completed my wanking. RANKING! Ahem, ranking. Ahem.

Dr No: Honey Ryder, Sylvia Trench, Miss Taro

From Russia With Love: Sylvia Trench (again), Tatiana Romanova, Zora, Vida

Goldfinger:  Dink, Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Bonita, Pussy Galore.

Thunderball: Fiona Volpe, Paula Caplan, Mademoiselle La Porte, Patricia Fearing, Domino Derval

You Only Live Twice: Aki, Ling, Helga Brandt, Kissy Suzuki

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Teresa Di Vicenzo, Ruby Bartlett, Nancy,

Diamonds Are Forever: Tiffany Case, Plenty O’Toole, Bambi, Thumper, Marie

Live And Let Die: Solitaire, Rosie Carver, Miss Caruso

The Man With The Golden Gun: Andrea Anders, Mary Goodnight, Saida, Chew Mee

The Spy Who Loved Me: Anya Amasova, Naomi, Felicca, Martine Blanchaud.

Moonraker: Manuela, Corinne Dufour, Holly Goodhead, Apollo Jet Hostess

For Your Eyes Only: Melina Havelock, Bibi Dahl, Countess Lisl

Octopussy: Octopussy, Magda, Bianca,

A View To A Kill: Kimberly Jones, Mayday, Stacey Sutton, Jenny Flex, Pan Ho, Pola Ivanova

The Living Daylights: Kara Milovy, Linda, Rubavich, Rosika Miklos,

License To Kill: Lupe Lamora, Pam Bouvier,

Goldeneye: Xenia Onatopp, Natalya Simonova, Caroline

Tomorrow Never Dies: Inga Bergstrom, Wai Lin, Paris Carver,

The World Is Not Enough: Cigar Girl, Christmas Jones, Electra King, Molly Warmflash,

Die Another Day: Peaceful, Miranda Frost, Jinx. Verity.

Casino Royale: Solange, Vesper Lynd

Never Say Never Again: Domino Petachi, Fatima Blush

Quantum Of Solace: Agent Fields, Camille, Gemma

Skyfall: Bond’s Lover, Severine

Spectre: Lucia Sciarra, Madeleine Swan, Estrella

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