The Badger 16th November 2020
Arts • Film & Television
Doomed, Drunk, Dancing: ‘Undateable’ Women What’s On Yazz James Film & TV Editor Exploring New York City’s modern woman, her love for her art and her love for love.
High Fidelity (2020)
“Why am I doomed to be left? Why am I doomed to be rejected?” Released on Valentine’s Day earlier this year, Hulu’s reimagining of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel sees London’s Robert Fleming become NYC-based Robyn Brooks. In this version, Rob still owns a record-store and they still spend too much time sulking over previous lovers; although, instead of focusing on a straight white man’s fear of commitment, the story now belongs to a mixed-race bisexual woman. Opening with an intense and emotional break-up, High Fidelity drops us right in the deep end. Immediately, we get up close and personal with a sniffling Rob (Zoë Kravitz) as she is being left by her boyfriend Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir). A time jump takes Rob on a Tinder date where she meets Clyde (Jake Lacy). Clyde proves himself to be dependable and definitely who Rob should be going for, but her belief that “it’s what you like, not what you are like” means she doesn’t take him seriously. Rob isn’t undateable because nobody wants to date her – it’s quite the opposite. She’s undateable because she’s too selfish to dedicate time to anyone else. Despite this, Kravitz somehow still makes her attractive, charismatic and painfully cool. It seems that she can get pretty much anyone she wants (an indie
Emily Hyatt Staff Writer
singer included). The one person she can’t have, Mac, is sadly the one she spends the majority of the series pining for. Her attempt to win him back is through playlist-curation. Evidently better at expressing herself through music than her own words, Rob’s love for the art form appears to the only way she can communicate her feelings. Ultimately, she makes amends by selling her prized record and by gifting a guitar.
life than romance. The love that Frances really desires platonic.
Obvious Child (2014) dir. Gillian Robespierre
Frances Ha (2012) dir. Noah Baumbach “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.” Featuring my favourite movie quote of all time, Baumbach and Gerwig’s co-written film is one for any struggling artist. Beautifully shot in black and white, the feature follows the titular character as she attempts to navigate latetwenties life. Like someone from a Demy film, Frances is a classic romantic: dancer, winedrinker and Paris trip-taker. Dumped by her best friend rather than a lover, Frances finds herself lonely, bitter and broke. Unable to pay her rent, she moves in with the wealthier Lev (Adam Driver) and Benji (Michael Zegen). A lost soul, the protagonist somehow seems to do everything and nothing at all; although it can’t pay her bills, dancing is her source of comfort and expression. She prances through the streets of the city searching for another partner until she begins to search for herself instead. Although repeatedly referred to as “undateable”, Frances Ha reminds us that there’s more to
“You’re saying that a guy doesn’t want a drunk, pregnant girl in a box?” Jenny Slate leads Robespierre’s debut feature as Donna, a comedian, bookshop employee and avid over-sharer. Written with Slate in mind, Donna, just like the actress who plays her, seems to be a pro at balancing vulnerability and humour – seen in Jenny Slate: Stage Fright. After detailing her disappointing sex life, describing “getting rhythmically banged out” by her partner to a Brooklyn bar crowd, Donna is dumped by her boyfriend, who she finds out has been cheating on her with a close friend. Searching for postbreakup comfort in whiskey and wine, the protagonist finds herself on stage drunk and pathetic; rather than comedy,
she shares her elaborate plans to murder the pair. Accompanied by a friend, the two work at getting black-out so she can forget the embarassing moment. Once again, New York’s favourite nice guy Jake Lacy enters, this time as Max. The pair have more immediate chemistry and spend the night together. But, what seemed like a silly one night stand, gets a lot more complicated when Donna finds out she’s pregnant. For her, there’s no question as to whether or not she will get an abortion: she schedules the procedure to be as soon as possible, ironically booking it for Valentine’s Day. Within the time in-between, the pair find themselves constantly bumping into each other. Afraid to tell Max the truth, Donna awkwardly dances around the subject until she confronts it the only way she knows how – with her comedy.
The Incredible Jessica James (2017) dir. Jim Strouse “I’m 25 and I haven’t been completely broken by life yet” Playwright and bedroom boogie sensation, Jessica (Jessica Williams) is pretty much impossible to hate. A teacher at a non-profit, her love lies with the kids she works with, but outside of her job, the eponymous character is bright, bubbly and a little bit blunt. She puts men in their place and won’t settle for anything less than what she wants. Dealing with an ex-boyfriend (Lakeith Stanfield) and dating a recent divorcee (Chris O’Dowd), the protagonist seems able to navigate all kinds of challenges.
Insecure: A Guide to Adulthood
When it comes to shows about adulting and surviving your 20s, Insecure hits the spot. The name itself expresses the anxiety that comes with navigating adulthood. Set in LA Insecure revolves around Issa (Issa Rae), her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji) and their struggles. The series begins with the pair facing problems in their love-life and career. Issa believes that her long term relationship with her boyfriend Lawrence (Jay Ellis) has gone downhill and wants to pursue a relationship with her old friend, Daniel (Y’lan Noel). Whereas, Molly is sick of fulfilling short-term flings and wants to be in a healthy relationship. Although the show focuses on people in their late 20s/30s, it still highlights the dilemmas that
young adults face. For instance, one character gets pulled over by police, their card declined and involved in a threesome - in which they are fetishised all in one day. Insecure is able to highlight the more mature issues that adulthood brings, without breaking its comedic tone. That episode shows that, even when times are positive, there’s always an aspect of uncertainty on whether the day can get worse for black people in America. They’re always left feeling uncertain and doubtful. Sometimes, TV shows only show positive aspects of the character’s lifestyles, but Insecure isn’t afraid to show the realities of living in LA. At one point, Issa quits her job to fulfil her dream occupation. This causes her to be homeless and allows audiences to see how someone may navigate that trouble. Issa chose not to live with
Molly because she knew their friendship would deteriorate if they lived together. Instead, she chose to move in with her old friend which complicated their strained relationship. The audience got to witness Issa’s rocky journey to her goal, whilst seeing the horrible consequences she had to endure on the way. This highlights the struggle that adults go through when they realise they hate their job/degree and would rather thrive doing something else. Issa took the risk that so many are scared to. The series also explores mental health in adults; from postpartum depression to bipolar disorder, Insecure was able to portray the importance of getting help when it comes to mental health and the realities of such medical processes. As adults, we’re fearful of diagnosis
especially getting it at a later stage in life. Thus, Insecure establishes our concerns and even had a side talk show discussing those issues that the character’s face so that we can learn more. The show highlighted how important boundaries were and to be kind as we don’t know what people are going through. As a society, we have to look out for one another as well as ourselves . Insecure has provided the young black community with an image of ‘adulting’. It’s discussed the dilemmas that black adults face in society whilst maintaining a positive undertone. Insecure presents the reality that it is okay to not have your life together no matter how old you are. It depicts a variety of problems that the audience can relate to and still offers a sense of optimism.
Small Axe: Mangrove dir. Steve McQueen
BBC One have just begun to air McQueen’s Small Axe film collection. Mangrove premiered on Sunday night and the following films are to air each week. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films detail stories of London’s West Indian community. A celebration of Black joy, the films are said to bring hope to 2020. Trial 4 This true crime docu-series tells the story of Sean K. Ellis, a man fighting to prove his innocence. Imprisoned at 19, Ellis spent 22 years locked up. The series exposes police corruption and systematic racism. Parasite (in Black and White) dir. Bong Joon-ho This year’s Best Picture winner, Parasite, has been added to Amazon Prime, but now in black and white. Best enjoyed with as few spoilers as possible, the film is full of surprises. The Queen’s Gambit This Netflix series follows an orphan named Beth as she becomes a top chess player. Based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, the series depicts her attempts to gain acceptance as well as her struggles with addiction. The Kindergarten Teacher dir. Sara Colangelo
Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, this 2018 remake is about a passionate pre-school teacher who finds a young poet prodigy in her class. The protagonist’s care for and pride in the boy cause her to cross ethical boundaries. Wuthering Heights dir. Andrea Arnold Currently streaming is Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic tale. Her take is praised for bringing passion back to the period-drama. Catch it on MUBI now.