Soup Safari #32: Tomato and Red Pepper at Hemingways Coffee House.

Lunch. £2.95. Hemingways Coffee House, 64A Tithebarn Street, City Centre, Liverpool L2 2EE. Phone:0151 236 3535.

Soup Safari #31: Moroccan Chicken at Bean Coffee.

Lunch. £3.00. Bean Coffee, Exchange Station, Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L2 2QP. Phone: 0151 556 7915. Website.

Soup Safari #30: Cream of Mushroom at Browns Brasserie & Bar.

Dinner. £5.00. Browns Brasserie & Bar, 43a Paradise Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 3EU. Phone: 0151 709 1693. Website.

My Favourite Film of 1996.

Film Back in 2007, this blog spent a month suggesting thirty odd films that seemed like they'd been forgotten and one of those was Love and Other Catastrophes. It's one of the reasons I'd eventually return to university for a post-graduate in Screen Studies and although it's everything and nothing like that experience but having rewatched Emma-Kate Croghan's romantic comedy again recently I did notice just how far ahead of its time it was, even for an independent film.

Back in 2007, rather than writing something new about it, I simply reposted a review I wrote not long after seeing it for the version of this website which existed before I discovered the existence of blogs (a version of which can be seen here) and it's in that spirit I've decided to also not bother writing very much new and simply reproduce the opinions of the twenty-five year old me as introduced by the me who was in his early thirties.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Love and Other Catastrophes (1996)

[Time for a trip down memory lane. This Australian film prompted or at least sparked the thought of doing film studies and here is the review I wrote in the year two thousand just as I decided that actually, that is precisely what I should do. It's almost as though, like the Liv Tyler lover of the other day, another version of me is contributing to this month's review.]

At the end of the film a major character point is concluded through the following question. I’m telling you this because I’m about to become hopelessly recursive and it’s probably a good thing to point this out before we I go any further. The question is:

What are your three favourite films and why?

Not easy. A film fan will probably jabber and faint. Out of all of the films ever made ever? Are you joking? We like films for lots of different reasons. Within this film, the question seems to actually mean:

Which three films mean the most to you and couldn’t you live without and why?

The exercise is simplified. The film fan sighs deeply and puts down their copy of the Time Out Film Guide, safe in the knowledge they won’t have to include anything because they feel like the have to ... so out with Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa and the gang. Just for fun, go away and write your answer to the question. You may be surprised.

Back? Good. Surprised? When you have to justify your favourite films and extra texture is added. It’s as though you’ve got to look into yourself and find out who you actually are. The chances are you’ve actually just learned something about yourself. Why am I stringing this out? Because when I asked myself this question, here are the three films I came up with and the reasons:

When Harry Met Sally because I think I’m a New Yorker living in the wrong place and it makes me smile every time I watch it

Star Wars because it always means I have something to talk about with total strangers

Love and Other Catastrophes because it felt like the first film I’ve seen about me

See ... told you this review was going to be recursive. Believe me, I was a shocked as you possibly might be. I thought Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a shoo-in. Anyone who’s seen this film already will wonder what that means (especially anyone who knows me). But it’s not for the reasons your expecting. This is the synopsis from the official website:*

‘Mia and Alice have just moved into a warehouse apartment but are still minus a house mate. Danni, Mia's girlfriend is keen to move in, but Mia fears commitment. Mia, who can be a solipsistic bitch (but in the nicest possible way), is obsessed with her favourite lecturer and becomes embroiled in a bureaucratic nightmare as she pursues him to his new department. Alice, a frustrated perfectionist, is four years late with her thesis on "Doris Day as a Feminist Warrior." She is looking for the perfect man, but can't find anyone who fits her rigorous criteria. Feeling the need for a change she falls for the most unsuitable man possible - Ari, a Classics student, part-time gigolo and the Warren Beatty of the campus. Little does she know that she has her own secret admirer - Michael, a shy medical student who is living in the share house from hell and wants out. Her search for love transcends the boundaries of the University and their respective disciplines. Omnia Vincit Amor...Love Conquers All.’

I’ve edited that a bit – the synopsis at the website does somewhat give the plot away.

So you’ve read that and wondered still why it’s about me. Are rather you’ve assumed it’s because I saw this film and realised for the first time I’m g-a-y. Sorry to disappoint. I’m not g-a-y. I’m not even b-i. I’m definitely s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t. So what then?

As a Late Reviewer might say: ‘There are a number of levels.’

I first saw the film three years ago when I bought it, ex-rental from a ‘Blockbuster’ video shop in Birkenhead. It had no cover. I just remembered the title because I knew that one of the few quite good actresses to be shipped through ‘Neighbours’ was in it. It sat on my shelf for a month. Then one afternoon I was at a loose end and put it on. Eighty minutes later I’d wondered what hit me.

On a basic level, it has everything I’d ever want from a film. There was my love of low budget films, the slightly grainy look, the ingenious camera angles, story told mainly in dialogue. All of the actors doing their best for the script, seemingly not caring if they don’t look absolutely great during every second. The absolutely fabulous editing, scenes timed perfectly. As though Robert Rodriguez had decided to spend his $7000 making romantic comedy instead of El Mariachi. The music from a largely unknown set of musicians actually complements to action, a soundtrack album actually being a benefit not a marketing exercise.

But a lot of films fulfill these loves. The aforementioned El Mariachi for example. So what else?

The characters just are (I apologise to Louise if she’s reading for the strain on the verb ‘to be’ in that phrase**).  They exist within the story as though the writer just wanted people it would be cool to hang about with. They aren’t there to fulfill the machinations of some theme or other. A lesser writer might have strained to make this another treatise on people coming to terms with their sexuality – and anyone who’s followed the Jack-arc on Dawson’s Creek will know how painfully that can be if not done right. Like many films in what is become an indie film sub-genre (Chasing Amy, Sticky Fingers of Time, Go Fish), the characters are quite comfortable with their sexuality thank you very much for checking. It’s not how you love, but who you love. The fact that Danni and Mia are both girls isn’t the issue. Which makes watching the film a whole lot easier and more refreshing to watch. Chumbawamba are disproved: Homophobia might be the worst disease, but you can love who love in times like these.


It’s the script I’ve been writing in my head for years. The students away at college is a surprisingly untapped film genre (unless knives or frat parties are involved). Not quite teens, not quite adults, its difficult to completely get a handle on it. Perhaps it’s just that writers feel that not much excitement can be wrung out of find a housemate or waiting for a course transfer. Emma-Kate Croghan, the writer-director of this piece seems to have succeeded. Are heart misses a beat when we find that Mia might not get her course transfer or when Alice fails to find a house mate. I showed it to my Greek friend Fani, who is much the same predicament as the characters and she loved it. Even though the film is Australian, the experience is universal.

But the get to the nub of the matter, the film actually made me think about what I was doing with my life and my relationship to people. I realised that although it’s important to have your ol’ friends and family, that you shouldn’t stop looking to be friends with new people, who might in turn become close friends (hey Fani!). It made me pull my socks up and go look for something better. And so it goes and so it goes and so it goes . . .

A mark out of five is meaningless. You must simply see this film. Go rent it now.

[Good luck with that. As I think I explained earlier in the review I bought my copy ex-rental. It has been released on a vanilla dvd in Oz but elsewhere, not so much. Bizarrely, despite the presence of Radha Mitchell and Frances O'Connor who aren't exactly names but are at least recognizable the film hasn't seen a video or dvd store in the UK or the US since. Even director Colgan's even less well known follow-up Strange Planet has seen that. My copy is like Brigadoon -- it sort of appears and disappears -- I can never find it when I want to watch it but it then surfaces when I least expect it but probably need to see it. Oh and * Which has since disappeared ** And if Louise is still reading. Hello!]

MARVEL's Agent Carter in UK. Ish.

TV Fuck's sake.

Somewhat predictably it was choice ...

(4) One of the Murdoch channels

On the upside the fact of it being broadcast will hasten the shiny disc or streaming release.  Still waiting.  Still waiting.

Angel Angles.

Film Netflix users hoping that the Buffy spin-off series are going to have a split second of joy followed by longer seconds of confusion as Francois Ozon's film, Angel, has randomly been added today.

I encountered Angel during #garaiwatch and tweeted about it at length.

 As you can see from the screenshots there were moments when I didn't really know what I was watching and how I was supposed to take it.

Ozon was clearly in ironic mood (as he so often is) but throughout there's a sense of not being sure if we're watching parody, pastiche or something else.

Either way, it's there is you want to see Romola wearing some entertaining frocks and Michael Fassbender before he was Michael Fassbender [via].

Some things which have happened since I've been away.

Life So yes, after a brief hiatus (yes, hiatus, I'm taking the word back), I'm back again. Here are five things which happened in the interim, during the hiatus:

(1) Watched the following films, some of them for the first time: Zombieland, Lost In Translation, Mad Max: Fury Road, Renoir, Death Defying Acts, Pour Elle, San Andreas, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One, A Story of Children and Film, Milius, My Cousin Vinny.

(2) Attended the press day for Home, the Cornerhouse replacement in Manchester where I managed share the same air as Paul Morley for the second time in my life. Danny Boyle was there too, but I missed most of his speech because ironically I was being given an impromptu tour of the cinema's projection boxes. Expect a more thorough review when I attend as a member of the public but in the meantime, here's a short piece from BBC Arts which includes a tour of the construction site.

(3)  I've decided what Review 2015 will be about.

(4)  Attended Light Night, which offered me the Proustian nostalgia blast of touring the city on just the bus which used to take me to school and back, thanks to the Merseyside Transport Trust.  The Brylcreem advert was still in situ.    Other highlights included winning a piece of artwork at Tate Liverpool after identifying nineteen ad-hoc art pieces in the foyer, shop and cafe and Liverpool Cathedral (the Soup Course from the Soup Collective of course), plunged into darkness but for dramatic light shows including a spectacular kaleidoscope projected on the ceiling only really viewable by lying on the floor.  Oh and the Frank Sinatra soundalike at Blackburne House which everyone seems to have heard.

(5)  Ate some soup,

MARVEL's Agent Carter in the UK "news".

TV "News" in the sense that a blog reporting on the LA international industry sales thingy has motioned towards MARVEL's Agent Carter having been sold to the UK in some capacity. Now see this:
"It has been suggested that Marvel’s Agent Carter was hurt by the fact that there was nothing to screen at last year’s LA Screenings, outside of the DVD extra “One Shot” on which the series is based. Now, with an eight episode first season completed, Disney Media Distribution’s execs are confident that a UK deal for Marvel’s Agent Carter will be reached and announced by the end of the Summer, but from what I hear it’s not going to Channel 4 and the UK home may surprise some industry observers."
Well ok then. Let's work through the guesses:

(1) Netflix
(2) Amazon Prime (who already has SHIELD so you'd think)
(3) Channel 5
(4) One of the Murdoch channels
(5) One the BBC channels
(6) Dave or one of those
(7) Microsoft XBox
(8) One of the ITV channels
(9) BT Sport
(10) CBS Drama/Action
(11) The Horror Channel

There aren't that many choices. Well ok, there are loads of choices, but for most of it squares up to whether we'll have to subscribe to something in order to see it in the long window before the inevitable shiny disc release. Or sit through adverts. Or BBC Three. One of the streaming services would be ideal (no ads), hopefully Netflix. But at this rate it'll be one of the Sky channels, grudgingly dribbling out at 2am on Living or some such.

Elizabeth Wurtzel marries.

People The New York Times reports on the courtship and marriage of Elizabeth Wurtzel:
They talked for a while, then parted ways until (James) Freed’s cousin, who was a fan of Ms. Wurtzel, grabbed him as he was leaving to say that Ms. Wurtzel was looking for him.

He returned, and they exchanged books and phone numbers. Mr. Freed, who works as the deputy photo editor for The Daily Mail Online, was more intrigued than intimidated. But then again, he had not read any of Ms. Wurtzel’s writing at the time. She, on the other hand, was more assured about an intuition that he may be good for her.