Writers Choice

WRITERS CHOICE: This months theme is ‘Holiday’

‘Writers Choice’ is a monthly segment. Each month a theme will be chosen and the contributors asked to choose a film to mini-review based around said theme. This months theme is ‘holiday’.

shirley_valentine_ver1SHIRLEY VALENTINE (1989)

Shirley Valentine focuses on the heroine of the title, (played by Pauline Collins) who at the start of the film is a bored, suppressed housewife, with a demanding husband and equally demanding grown-up children. She feels that she has in some way lost herself, even describing herself as a ‘missing person’. Her dearest wish is to recapture her lust for life. The chance to fulfil her dream comes in the form of her friend, who wins two tickets for a holiday in Greece and asks her to go along.

This film is very very British, and there are so many recognisable themes and ideas that a British audience can deeply relate to . For example when Shirley gets to Greece she encounters tourists who won’t eat Greek food and ask for ‘British food’ while Shirley looks on in embarrassment. This is something I have unfortunately seen a few times on holiday. (And links with my belief that British ‘holiday-makers’ are literally the worst). This film also captures the freedom that is felt when you go on holiday. As well as the feeling of well-being and becoming a better version of you, whose appearance is seemingly activated by being in the sun.

This film was originally a play by Willy Russell (who also wrote the screenplay). Shirley’s inner thoughts are voiced direct to camera, as if she is giving a monologue. Which gives her a strong a dominant voice, which may not be heard otherwise. Shirley also famously speaks to her kitchen wall and also later on a rock, which is comic before you realise that she does this because she has no one else who will listen to her. The feminist themes in this film are exceedingly blatant, but also incredibly relatable and universal.Shirley just wants to be happy and feel free, but in the world she inhabits at the beginning of this film even these things seem unattainable. –Sophie Squire

two_faces_of_january_ver5THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY (2014)

The Two Faces of January depicts a holiday from hell. Set in 1962 against the gorgeous backdrop of Greece, the film tells the story of con-man Chester and his wife Collette MacFarland (played by Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) on vacation who meet Rydal (played by the gorgeous Oscar Isaac), who scams tourists. He takes them around the city, intrigued by their wealth and Collette’s beauty. They end up dining together for dinner. After dinner disaster begins to be set in motion when a private detective tracks down Chester demanding him to repay the investor’s he swindled. Chester ends up killing the detective, holding his body right in front of Rydal, who has returned to the hotel to return a bracelet Collette left. With a dead body on their hand, Rydal decides to help Chester and Collette escape, but all three soon end up turning on each other. The dynamic between the three characters is quite interesting. Rydal has an attraction for Collette. But he also has an affinity for Chester, he reminds him of his father that recently passed away. One particularly shocking scene in the film takes place beneath the ruins of Knossos, and the visuals evoke the mysterious energy of the story. I would be remiss to give away all the twists and turns the story takes, for it is exciting to watch unfold. The Two Faces of January is a slow-burning thriller filled with intrigue and sensuality.  The gorgeous Grecian setting makes you want to go on a holiday, just maybe not one like theirs. –Caroline Madden

Zombeavers-posterZOMBEAVERS (2014)

I stumbled upon this B-Movie horror comedy gem whilst Christmas shopping for my dad. My dad is someone who says pretty much every film apart from Forrest Gump is ‘a crock of shit’, so trying to impress him was not the desire here. Zombeavers had the perfect combination of a cool holographic cover, a cringey premise of teen cabin movie fun and a nice and cheap £5 price tag.

He sent the DVD up to me at uni in January and it was hilarious. Zombeavers takes completely unabashed pride in its low budget, shoddy sfx ‘monster (?)’ flick. It’s your standard cabin in the woods movie; a group of docile and relatively horny teens take a lil holiday to a cabin during spring break. Making the most of their time there they laze around in the lake opposite the house and have lots of sex like teens do (duh) but they are completely unaware that toxic chemicals have been leaked into the lake and infected all the beavers that dwell in a nearby dam.

What follows is utter madness, there’s your standard degrading naked girls running around and mental beavers just going CRAY, zombifying everything in sight. The beavers are clearly rubbish and the sfx work is questionable but it’s the perfect laugh out loud comedy horror flick for a rainy night in when you wish you were rather on holiday. –Chloe Leeson

kevin-and-perry-go-large-movie-poster-2000-1020518516KEVIN & PERRY GO LARGE (2000)

For many British teens, a holiday abroad to a Spanish or Greek clubbing district ,with any sense of a historical foreign culture stripped from it and replaced with cheap alcohol and novelty t-shirts, is a rite of passage. But unless you’re foolish enough to end up on ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’, you don’t even entertain the idea of your parents coming along for the ride.

In ‘Kevin and Perry Go Large’ though, that’s exactly what happens. Harry Enfield’s typical teenager Kevin and his hapless friend Perry, played by Kathy Burke, can’t wait for a booze fuelled, sex filled trip to Ibiza in order to finally lose their virginities and, oh, become superstar ‘dee-jays’ in the process. Kevin and Perry paved the way for shows like ‘The Inbetweeners’, cringe and crude humour based on the embarrassing mistakes of hormone heavy male youth, so you shouldn’t expect much else from this 2001 venture into the world of film. There are a lot of erection jokes. Dicks everywhere.

By all accounts, ‘Kevin and Perry Go Large’ sounds like it should be a terrible film. Maybe it is a terrible film, but I love it. I love the club classics that fill the soundtrack, including original song ‘Big Girl (All I Wanna Do Is Do It!)’ which features in perhaps the only heartwarming moment of the 82 minute run time. I especially love the line ‘You are NOT my mate, and you are NOT my fellow dee-jay, GOODBYE FOREVER!’. ‘Breaking Bad’ fans should especially watch out for a young Laura Fraser (that’s Lydia Rodarte-Quayle to you and me) as a spotty conquest of Kevin. This holiday hit is stupid, silly and infantile, but in some weird way, it’s a pinnacle of British comedy. –Ashley Woodvine

to_wong_foo_thanks_for_everything_julie_newmarTO WONG FU, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (1995)

What do you get when you put Johnny Castle, Blade the Vampire Hunter, and Luigi from the awful Super Mario movie in a car? A fabulous and fun, cross-dressing, cross-country roadtrip through middle America full of female empowerment!
Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes star as Ms. Vida Boheme and Noxeema Jackson, respectively, two high class New York City drag queens who must make it to California to compete for a national drag title. They pick up John Leguizamo’s Chi Chi, a budding drag princess and teach her the rules of queendom as they drive a Cadillac land yacht across America. Along the way, they break down in a small town, and although fearing for their lives, they learn that we’re all born naked and the rest is drag (In the words of RuPaul)!

This movie is fabulous! It’s one of the first gay movies I’ve ever seen and it has stayed with me since. The costumes, the dialogue, the hair, the makeup… It was EVERYTHING to me, and it still is. It’s a fun feel good romp with some unexpectedly big names attached. From our three dudes in dresses leads, to the likes of Stockard Channing, and Blythe Danner. It’s full of laughs, and enough heart-string tugging moments to reach the full range of your emotions while still keeping it lighthearted and casual.

This movie is not without its faults, but I cannot recommend the movie enough. You’ll laugh, you’ll smile, you’ll want to put on a pair of 8 inch heels and kiki* with your best squirrel friends.

*If you don’t know what a kiki is, look up Scissor Sister’s song Let’s Have a KiKi and get yo’ life. –Tyler Dziubinski

somewhereSOMEWHERE (2010)

We often forget about the time right after a holiday, the part where we return from some distracting destination to an all too familiar reality. The hangover-like sensation of coming home persists throughout Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. The protagonist, Johnny Marco, is forced down from the high of his Hollywood lifestyle when his ex sends their daughter, Cleo, to stay with him. Father and daughter are practically strangers but over the course of the film they forge a bond through shared silences. Coppola’s minimalist style is inescapable, so be patient and don’t expect much to happen. What Somewhere lacks in plot it gives back in small intimate gestures. Moments of tenderness exist such as when Cleo cooks breakfast for her dad, or when they play ping-pong to Julian Casablancas’ raw “I’ll Try Anything Once.” These subtle nods to sentimentality contrast the emptiness of the prepackaged life Johnny lives out of his Chateau Marmont suite. This life comes with girls, parties, and cars, but if Coppola’s films remind us anything it is that the rich and famous are just as unhappy as the rest of us. And for me there is a strange kind of comfort in knowing that we all have to return from holiday eventually. –Ana Bauer

eurotripEUROTRIP (2004)

I hadn’t seen Eurotrip until after a screening of Beyond Clueless. Following the film, in a Q&A with director, Charlie Lyne, he was asked which film featured in the documentary was his favorite. I was surprised when he answered with Eurotrip because I had always thought of it as one of those vapid teen films targeted at frat guys, thus never giving it a chance.

Eurotrip is about a recent high school graduate, Scotty who decides to travel to Berlin with his friends to find his German pen pall Mieke, with whom he believes he’s in love with.  Things don’t turn out as planned and while Scotty tries to make his way to Mieke, he and his friends manage to get themselves into crazy antics all over Europe on the way.

The issue with Eurotrip’s comedy is that it can come off as very homophobic, misogynistic, etc. all in the name of satire but it somehow still manages to be subtly offensive. However, Beyond Clueless’ analysis of the film encourages you to see the film in an entirely different and intellectual perspective. It argues that Scotty’s drive to meet Mieke is an attempt to repress his homosexuality. This based on the fact that the day before he decides to find her, he thought she was a man named Mike among other factors such as the scene in which he confesses to seeing a gay porno once while he thinks he’s high in a café in Amsterdam.

A bonus is that we have this film to thank for the hit song ‘Scotty Doesn’t Know” which was written specially for a Matt Damon cameo! -Shaianne

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