Mid-Year Monkey at the Movies

Hello all! As promised in my monthly wrap up, I have some mini movie reviews for you today. There’s a little bit of the good, the bad and the ugly here (in that order) so sit tight, cos we’re in for a bumpy ride!

Carrie Pilby– charming, quirky and a lot of fun, this was thoroughly enjoyable. While it had indie vibes, it embraced classic storytelling. The character arcs were beautifully done- showing that even if Carrie is a genius, she doesn’t know everything after all. It also went further, showing how pain can reverberate across the years. All credit to the writers and actors, cos this was a super fun story. I’d happily rewatch it!

Rating: 4.5/5 bananas

The Woman in the Window– there are lots of angles through which to view this film: voyeuristically curious about the scandalous background of the author; from the perspective of a reader who read (and maybe even enjoyed) the book (like me); or just as someone who likes watching a good thriller. Yet none of those angles will make this film any more enjoyable. Because this film shows up all the shockingly awful decisions in the book. Without the flashy writing, the story just doesn’t seem to work. It’s convoluted, it’s poorly signposted and it’s all over the place. And none of the fancy camera work changes that. Even with modern technology, you can’t beat the likes of Rear Window (which this poorly tries to imitate). What made for an entertaining read (pre-authorial baggage) made for painful viewing.

Rating: 1/5 bananas

The Dig– eh- this wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. While the performances are good and the story decent, I found this forgettable. Mostly, because no one has a character arc. NO ONE. Either the protagonists or the people around them should change… but that’s not the case in this film. The protagonists have static arcs. The vague antagonists- who oppose the main archaeologist over class- continue to do so by the end. The only reason I was engaged in this movie was because Sutton Hoo is interesting- yet I don’t see why this couldn’t have been a documentary.

Rating: 3/5 bananas

Mary Queen of Scots– boy-oh-boy this takes liberties with history. It goes too far in my book, presenting Mary’s Catholicism as a marginalised belief… when it was the conservative and powerful position. To make matter worse, her faith is also portrayed as tolerant, having her say things like “we all go to the same heaven” and to a male character “you would make a lovely sister”. Even Queen Elizabeth I is oddly sentimental. It’s all in the name of woke feminism- which does not make for a logically coherent historical drama. But who cares about that when you can score brownie points, amiright?! In fairness, the history is *bonkers*. Looking up what actually happened kept me engaged throughout the movie- and damn, if they’d just gone with that, it would have been an excellent film. The problem is, they tried too hard to make Mary a flawless heroine, when she is better suited to the role of a tragic Shakespearean figure, whose fatal flaws are her undoing. BUT NO- the movie has to insist her dismissing every councillor makes her clever. And that it’s somehow everyone else’s fault when they turn against her. Oh and it’s also great to be compassionate (even if it costs lives). It’s funny, because the film is designed to be anti-English, yet to my mind, all it did was show how useless Mary was as a leader (even while carefully glossing over Mary’s plots to take Elizabeth’s throne, somehow trying to make her seem conciliatory). The juxtaposition of her rule with Elizabeth’s doesn’t help to make a case for her reign. This is exemplified in the scene where Mary and Elizabeth meet (which of course is entirely made up). Mary calls Elizabeth her inferior and says “I’m your queen”- to which Elizabeth takes off her wig and says “your gifts are your downfall”. Frankly this makes no sense- 1) because there’s NO WAY Mary could have said that to Elizabeth and lived another 20 years and 2) because the logical response would’ve been “says the woman who’s just lost a kingdom”. She didn’t lose the kingdom because she was pretty FFS- she did so because she didn’t know how to rule. It’s just so ironic that this is the best case they could come up with for Mary Queen of Scots. If they hadn’t been trying so hard to be woke and refusing to acknowledge a female character’s flaws, this could’ve been a damn good drama. Ultimately however, as much as I enjoyed how it was shot, the acting, the history, it was a colossal waste of time. 

Rating: 2.5 bananas

That’s all for now! Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them? Am I being too harsh? Let me know in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Mid-Year Monkey at the Movies

  1. I found out that my favorite part of The Dig was completely made up which I’m all for dramatic creative liberties but using real names of people whose descendants are still very much alive and around I don’t know that felt kind of wrong to me.
    Agree with you on Carrie Pilby though I wish it had gotten more attention 🙂

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  2. I did start watching Mary Queen of Scots but even from the beginning it seemed trying too hard to be modern. And I haven’t bothered with Woman in the Window, I think thrillers are often best left as books.

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  3. Haha I watched Mary Queen of Scots on a plane back from England and I remember being really confused over how conflicting it was with all the info I just read/heard (especially since I also went to Scotland)! Also, I ended up liking Elizabeth more… oops?

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  4. Woman in the Window was so awful I fell asleep half way through and didn’t wake up until the closing credits. As you say, it was all over the place….
    As for Mary Queen of Scots, I was thinking of watching it, but now I’ve read your comments I know I couldn’t bear it – what a mess.

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  5. I often feel the only thing Hollywood does a worse job adapting than literature is history. And yes, sure, sometimes they get both right. But so often they botch it so terribly! As you said above, can you find a more drama-filled story than Mary Queen of Scots?? It literally writes itself! It has written itself! It’s in all sorts of history books! Just use the history Hollywood! I also think it raises an interesting question about how we view/create/present female characters when we take a historical woman and rob her of so much of her actual history. I’m not even going to begin trying to ponder the full implications of this in a comment but your analysis of the film certainly gave me a lot to consider.

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    1. Gosh that’s so true!! Exactly!! And there’s so much potential for a deep character study… Just as long as you stick to the history. But no, they have to botch it. I think it’s ironic, because they were so busy trying to make her the heroine, they forgot to make her human. It’s becoming a trend in Hollywood (and rather a depressing one at that). It’s funny as well- no matter how hard they try to write “perfect” characters, they always end up writing themselves into corners and making them thoroughly unlikeable instead!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And what does that teach, too? What messages are we receiving unconsciously and/or uncritically when a “human” character is no good because they aren’t “perfect”? That is some deeply unhealthy stuff! But Hollywood’s never been great (or at least not consistently so) about giving us healthy models to live up to. But you’re right, this age of trying to craft the most perfect character is doing nothing but undercutting what makes us human and offering an impossible threshold to live up to (and a threshold set at a character who isn’t even human or likeable to begin with!).

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