The Wedding Party

110 min.

The world is a global village: how else would I have discovered a Nigerian movie (and had been able to watch it through Netflix, thanks Netflix)?

The-Wedding-Party-posterThe glorious years of endless amounts of fun romantic comedies seem to have come and gone, so I take everything recommended. It’s not essential, it adds some fun variety between everything Marvel churns out versus Oscar material. The Wedding Party was recommended with ‘Not as dramatic and all over the place and most Nigerian movies. And cute.’  So yes, sure, why not.
If this wasn’t ‘not as’, I’m curious about the usual level of hysteria and dramatics. Because in this movie there’s plenty of yelling, fake fainting, (muttered) insults and musical introductions. As in – families are introduced with dancing. This might be a regular Nigerian wedding thing, but it definitely changes up the well known wedding mile. Anyway, the drama has a valid reason (of course): the husband’s family doesn’t think his future wife is good enough for him, the wife’s family handles the insult with as much grace as a hippo in a mini pool.
It’s fun though. It’s loud and weird and kind of all over the place, but it’s clear what everyone’s place is and how this story is going to end. In case you need a romantic comedy, here you go.
The Wedding Party, FilmOne 2016

Miss India America

95 min.

Sometimes the best love stories are the ones involving friendship and self esteem. Although you could just call this a cute coming-of-age story as well and don’t worry about in your face Life Lessons and soppy scenes.
miss india americaMain character Lily always wins, no matter what the battle is. She has her entire life planned out, but of course life – being what it is – doesn’t go with that. Her boyfriend breaks off with her, because of a pageant miss! One of those dumb, shallow creatures (it takes her some time to realise her misogynistic ideas)!
Of course this means that Lily is going to have to win a pageant to win her boyfriend back. Even though she knows it’s a superficial mess, pulls her best friend away from what she wants (to participate), and just doesn’t know yet that you can’t ‘win’ people.
Boyfriend is just the katalysator for things here anyway, and nary a man is found after the first few scenes. They’re all weaker than Lily and her friends and competition, whom are learning about their culture, their place in it and that there are lines you don’t cross to win.
That’s how we get Lily recognising that you can’t keep an iron clad grip on everything-/one, and that life is nicer with people around than medals.

Miss India America, Simhan and Kapoor 2015


123 min.
Why didn’t I watch this sooner? And why did I had to dig down to the eighties for a Female Friendship Is Awesome kind of movie? How do I get my hair like Bette Midler’s red curls?

beaches-movie-posterBeaches is the story of Hilary Whitney and C.C. Bloom. Two young girls from very different backgrounds start a friendship. Of course, as friendships go, it’s not just roses and happiness. One of them grows up a lot more colourful than the other (Midler’s C.C., who goes all out in outfits and hairdo’s to fit her star studded career path), fights happen and are resolved again. It’s almost completely focused on the two women and how they evolve. Heck, there’s even conversations that aren’t about men, making this a Bechdel-friendly movie.

But? Yes, friendships don’t always end well, even if the people involved don’t want them to. It gives a tad more weight to the happy fluffiness — because it’s so very clear that Hilary and C.C. are the Real Friendship Deal. The movie’s balanced enough to not hurt your teeth, just your heart.  Still, it’s worth the fun and colour of it all. A classic on the softer side of things.
Beaches, Touchstone Pictures 1988

The Heat

123 min.

Het is toch net een iets ander cliché als het vrouwen zijn. Deze film had net zo makkelijk dertien in een dozijn kunnen zijn met Seth Rogen/James Franco, The Rock/Kevin Hart, of een ander mannelijk koppel uit de Jude Apatow stal. Buddy cop comedy met mannelijke buddies, natuurlijk! Maar deze keer dan dus niet. Met twee vrouwelijke hoofdrolspelers.

the heat posterDie allebei ook twee grote clichés spelen. De ene is uptight, een kenau workaholic waar niemand mee kan/wil samenwerken, de ander is te aggressief, te aso, en niemand wil/kan met haar samenwerken. Dan is er ook nog een plot van “niemand gelooft ons/iedereen werkt ons tegen/alleen wij kunnen dit redden” en de bingokaart van clichés is compleet.

Gelukkig is het grappig, zelfs wanneer het banaal en fout is en iets te lang duurt. Door de clichés waardoor je weet wat je kunt verwachten, maar ook omdat Bullock en McCarthy zo’n lol schijnen te hebben. Het kan dus best wel een keertje, vrouwen in de hoofdrol.

The Heat, Twentieth Century Fox 2013

The Sapphires

103 min.

My support of The Sapphires was present before even having watched the movie.There was a stupid situation regarding the movie poster. Originally, it has the four girls front and center, it’s their story, they are the movie title. But when the movie was shipped off into the rest of the world (it’s Australian), a secondary character was moved to the main spot. A white man, firmly in front of the four Aboriginal women it was about. How blatant, how stupid. I was ready to fight wars for The Sapphires.

the_sapphires_correct_posterGood thing the movie gave me plenty of ammunition. Based on real people, this story doesn’t has to dramatise any events to land their message. It’s history lesson, family drama and romcom all in one go, and equally balanced out.

The Sapphires are three Aboriginal women in the seventies, and they want to sing. There’s one white man who believes in talent over racial profiling, and with another cousin attached, they go off to Vietnam, to support troops. As Australian law still viewed the indigenous people as ‘flora and fauna’ back then, it’s easy to recognise it didn’t happen without bumps in the road.

It’s a story worth time in history classes around the world, while being funny, sweet and uplifting.

The Sapphires, The Weinstein Company 2012

Obvious Child

85 min. 

Do you miss the (eighties/nineties) romcoms that weren’t plastic, painfully unfunny and kind of offensive? Boy, do I come to save your day.

obvious-child-posterObvious Child is girl gets cheated on, girls meets new boy under weird circumstances, boy turns out to be really just what girl needs.
Yes, the synopsis and reviews may make it out to be the Abortion Movie, the one movie that dares to show women easily deciding on having one and not burning in hell for it, but really, that’s almost a foot note.

This movie is about Donna and her relationships. With friends, with family, with men that are and aren’t bastards (it’s also very satisfying how little screen time the cheater gets).

Squeal your way through absurd adorableness and realise that not the entire roster of 21st century romcoms are horrible.

Obvious Child, Rooks Nest Entertainment 2014

Jane the Virgin

40 min/22 episodes

Know how some people like to use the argument “you just have to suspend disbelief” when recommending stuff? For Jane the Virgin I’m going to give it a twist: “please remember it’s based on and inspired by telenovelas”.

The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Because seriously: virgin gets accidentally inseminated and pregnant. With the sperm of her boss, while staying abstinent until marriage with her boyfriend. For me, with my ideas about sex and sexuality, it took me a long time to get myself to try it (because “it’s so much fun”, “so sweet!”, “so cute!”). Why not get an abortion, sue the gynecologist and carry on with your well planned life?

Well, and with gold stars for the writers, all that is explained. And even though you may not agree with it, by then you’re sucked in by the sweet, cute fun.

That doesn’t mean that the telenovela (Latin American soap operas, P.S.) part sometimes is too loud and bright. But it’s so nicely balanced out by family love, friendship and adorably (awkward) silliness. It’s cotton candy, but with a heart.

Jane the Virgin, The CW 2014


108 min. 

A delicious little story about light at the end of the tunnel.

So many pies

The waitress from the title, Jenna, is stuck in a job and a husband. Her only reliefs are her colleagues/friends and her pies. Her pies may be her way out of this miserable life, but then a pregnancy blows up that option. Luckily there’s a love interest in the shape of her gynecologist, a grumpy old man that wishes her the best and her never stopping, pie creating mind.

The pies are shown beautifully, so better not start this movie hungry. There are definitely some things to frown upon, but as a (short) lesson about never giving up, recognising your self-worth and that friendship trumps romantic relationships, Waitress is tooth-achingly sweet for a lazy film watch.

Waitress, Fox Searchlight Pictures 2007

Beauty Queens

The book begins with a plane crash.

Sometimes it’s very on the nose (for someone who calls herself an intersectional feminist), but I’m very pleased that Libba Bray unapologetically laces this story with lessons about racism, sexism and feminism. I was looking for another book by Bray, but any will do if you want to discover the style of an author.

Beauty Queens on their way to a pageant end up in a plane crash. While they slowly discover that they’re worth more than their looks, the sponsor and producer interject commercials and hostile take overs to make sure the reader still remembers her place.

It’s a parody, a complaint, an educational pamphlet and a book stuffed to the brim with girl power. Just when it gets a bit too much, it adds heart. A smart read for both girls and boys.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray, Scholastic 2012

Scrotal Recall

24 min. 6 episodes

Isn’t that a fun title to recommend to friends? Originally a Channel 4 show, but now to be found on (Canadian) Netflix as well, Scrotal Recall is a perfect little weekend show with plenty of ‘awwww’ moments.

scrotal-recall-poster-channel-4Well it doesn’t really start out very romantic. Main character discovers he has chlamydia and is told to inform previous sexual contacts. Good luck. At least he has a list of the women he slept with, and per episode we view the meeting, and the confrontation. But in the background there’s best friend Evie and ..well, things keep happening while both of them are off making plans.

It’s how rom-com’s should be, down to the awkward endings and weird side characters. Heck, there’s even more diversity than in most Hollywood rom-com’s combined. So brownie points for these stumbling fools, and a nice night of soft entertainment.

Scrotal Recall, Channel 4 2014