Film Friday #247

Stardust (2007)

Having recently read the Neil Gaiman novel on which this film is based (review coming soon… so busy) I decided to revisit the film as a bit of a comparison and realised I had never reviewed it. After promising to retrieve a fallen star to impress a beautiful girl, Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) heads into the mythical land of Stormholt.Here he discovers that the star is actually a woman named, Yvaine (Clare Danes) who is less than thrilled with his intentions to drag her back to his village. He is also not the only one who wants to get his hands on Yvaine. Not only is there a trio of witches, led by the terrifying Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who are after the power that Yvaine’s heart, there are two devious royal brothers who seek the jewel that she carries to settle a matter of succession. As these three elements come together along with Tristan’s estranged faerie mother (Kate Magowan) a series of adventures that include pirates, transfigured goats and more than a little magic ensue. I have to admit that this is one of the rare cases where I think I enjoyed the film rather more than the book. It’s a short and fairly simple novel which benefits from a bit more character development and an explosive ending, which are absent from the original text. Lamia’s character in particular is much more sinister fun as played by Pfeiffer. It also dispatches with some unnecessary characters that don’t add anything and gives the blossoming relationship between Yvaine and Tristan some room to breathe. The overall effect is charmingly whimsical with a signature Gaimanesque balance of humour and darkness, which anyone who enjoys a bit of fantasy and magic should enjoy. The one bit of the novel, which is expanded that I could have done without is the subplot about cross-dressing Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro), which just seems a bit pointless and out of place. 3.5/5


Tristan was shocked to discover that he did not have the best coat in the village

Once (2006)

Guy (Glen Hansard) is a Dublin musician who makes a living busking, singing his own songs after dark when the punters are less likely to demand songs they know. He lacks the confidence to do anything with his work until a random encounter with Czech pianist, Girl (Markéta Irglova). Girl works a number of piecemeal jobs to support herself, her mother and young daughter and is estranged from her much older husband who still lives in the Czech Republic. Girl immediately recognises Guy’s talent and with her boundless enthusiasm encourages him to consider really making a go at a life as a musician. As the two become ever more involved with each other’s lives and start to make music together, the obvious spark between them grows but is Guy to hung up on his ex to realise? There is something very special about this low budget, seemingly simple romance/sort-of musical. Filmed with no frills and what I can imagine was a hand-held camera it strips away any kind of fanfare or production value and lets the emotional exchanges between Hansard and Irglova tell the story along with the absolutely incredible music that comes with it. Both Hansard and Irglova and the various musicians that Guy brings along on his journey are exceptionally talented and without their sound being tampered with this has so much more impact. I loved the dichotomy of Girl having so much belief in Guy, but little in herself as well as her way of seeing the world and the connection that forms between them. Every element of the film felt real and authentic. I also really enjoyed the ambiguous ending which I thought leant even more credence to the feeling that you were peeking into two real people’s lives rather than a fictionalised account. A hidden indie gem. 4/5


Look, I may be ginger but you have lost control of your hair!

Boy Meets Girl (2014)

Michelle Hendley plays Ricky, a young transgender woman living in a small Southern town. Having realised at a young age that she wanted to transition from male to female, Ricky has been on a long and challenging journey supported by her best friend, Robby (Michael Welch) and her father (Randall Newsom) and brother (Joseph Ricci). When a beautiful young woman, named Francesca (Alexandra Turshen) visits the coffee shop Ricky works in there is an instant connection between them. Soon the two are hanging out, Francesca is appearing in Ricky’s fashion videos and Ricky is making her dresses. The only problem is that Francesca has a fiancé (Michael Galante) who knows Ricky and certainly doesn’t approve of her. As Ricky and Francesca’s relationship progresses beyond friendship Robby begins to feel threatened and Ricky’s carefully created façade of strength starts to crumble. I can see exactly what writer-director Eric Schaeffer was trying to do with this film. His focus is on education and normalisation of fluid gender identities and sexuality and by introducing a naïve character like Francesca he allows the audience to put themselves in her shoes and experience an introduction to Ricky through her eyes. Unfortunately some of the acting is not very good, the story suffers from an over-supply of telling rather than showing and a more than healthy dose of melodrama. This is not to say that the story being told is not interesting, important or valuable but more that Schaeffer lacks the experience to bring his ideas to fruition. If you are in any way curious about transgenderism though this is a good gentle introduction and I imagine with some experience Schaffer will produce more accomplished projects. 2.5/5

No, I don't want to discuss penis size with you

No, I don’t want to discuss penis size with you

Exit through the Gift Shop (2010)

This documentary explores the relationship between amateur “film maker”, Thierry Guetta who befriended world famous guerrilla artist, Banksy and ultimately reinvented himself as Mr Brainwash. After losing his mother at a young age Thierry became obsessed with filming every element of his life, which eventually spilled over into him filming his graffiti artist friends creating their art. When he realised his dream of meeting the elusive Banksy, he was able to become one of his closest confidantes and the first person to ever film him at work. As the friendship progressed Bansky encouraged him to turn his film into a documentary which soon brought to life that Thierry’s claims of being a filmmaker were largely in his own head… and that’s about all I should say about this to prevent me from ruining it for all of you. Like I think most of the people who have seen this film, I am a big Banksy fan and find his ongoing social commentary to be apt, accurate and very telling. This connects to one of the major themes which is about using the fame and talent of someone else to progress your own interests. While getting to know Banksy a bit better is definitely a reason to watch this, Thierry himself is a fascinating, challenging character who bounces between idiocy and genius from one moment to the next. Whether anything that happens in this film is real or whether it’s just a massive in-joke between Banksy and Mr Brainwash, is anyone’s guess but it certainly is entertaining and if you’re in anyway interested in media manipulation, how art is defined or how we invent and reinvent ourselves I can highly recommend Exit through the Gift Shop. 4/5

The Grim Reaper's new art project was taking off

The Grim Reaper’s new art project was taking off


  1. Great choices! Once really is a gem. I love the music in it, so emotional. Exit Through the Gift Shop is such an interesting watch too. I was disappointed with Stardust, it was pretty forgettable. Great reviews!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thanks. I was surprised by how much I liked Once. I just put it on on a whim and it was great!

  2. Exit through the Gift Shop sounds great! Stardust had some interesting elements but I, too, was completely turned off by cross-dressing Capt. Shakespeare.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think you’d really enjoy Exit Through the Gift Shop. It’s a wild ride!

  3. Great reviews! I LOVED Exit From The Gift Shop & Stardust is lots of fun. I so need to watch Once – picked the DVD up years ago. 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      I feel like you’d love Once. Hope you get it check it out.

      1. I’ll let you know if I do! 🙂

  4. The one that might interest me the most is Stardust, the cast looks good and of what I’ve read from Neil Gaiman I liked. Great post.

    1. abbiosbiston

      If you haven’t seen it and you like a bit of a fantastical story I think you’d enjoy it.

  5. sounds like this was a great week for u 🙂

    I liked Stardust more the first time I saw it and Once was ok. havent seen the other two

  6. Great Friday flicks here Abbi. I quite enjoyed Stardust though it’s kinda silly in parts, but Charlie Cox is just so darn cute! I just saw ONCE recently and really enjoyed it, the music is fabulous too. I still need to see Exit From The Gift Shop, but not really interested in Boy Meets Girl.

  7. theipc

    Never seen em… think I’d like any of them?

    1. abbiosbiston

      No. Lol!

  8. Not seen any of them. I heard a lot about the third one. Wow, bad acting though. What a shame. That’s the bare minimum you expect in a film.

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think some of the actors were a bit inexperienced and the script wasn’t great. The intentions were so good but the execution didn’t live upto it.

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