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The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 8

The big news this episode: NO CHILDREN WERE MENTIONED. NOT EVEN ONCE.

I’ve got a theory: that’s because no-one whose one-on-one time we witness is seen by Matty as a viable womb unit.

But first. If you remember, last episode, Tara speculated that Leah’s skeletons were going to come dancing out of the closet, and boy did they ever.

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And now the girls are here dancing on her grave, talking about how great it is without her, and now everything is ‘roses and butterflies’ here in the mansion.
skeleton2

Little do they know three girls are walking away with only butterflies to show for their trouble this episode. It comes off as harsh, but our last Bachie Georgia Love also basically took a scythe to her crop of suitors once she realised who was a waste of time around this point in her season.

Anyway, it’s time to announce a single date! Still lots of girls who have yet to get a single date, so this is an important one. Alix reads out the clue: ‘It’s time for a breath of fresh air – let’s get lost in the wilderness’. We find out later that some of the girls interpreted this as them all going camping with Matty, which is weird because ‘this is a single date card’ is literally the first thing Alix says. Anyway. It’s Elora! Jen is sour about this, because Jen could find a way to be sour about the way another girl blinks. All the girls are a bit openly upset her getting a second date, including awesome cop Michelle, who tells her ‘I’m not happy with that…I’d like to be happy for you, but I’m not’. Elora feels bad but it’s Matty’s choice, as he so vehemently stated last week. One of the girls screams ‘Tell Matty I’m still alive!’ as she leaves, which seems pettily appropriate.

notdead

I don’t even know how to talk about Elora and Matty’s date. They keep mentioning their connection and chemistry, but it’s a whole lot of tell, and not a lot of show on that front. They’re in the Blue Mountains and hike down to the Jellybean Pool at Glenbrook Gorge, and I’m slightly surprised no-one I know is there. No, it’s just Elora, Matty, the camera crew, a picnic, and a yet-to-be-inflated swan. I want to heap shit on Matty as he teases Elora about wearing boots that she can’t hike in, but given she brought her swimmers and thought she was camping, she can own her footwear choices there. As they sit down to chat, they first must discuss Matty’s owner sister. Elora was conscious she wanted to make a good impression, as ‘she is a part of you’.
Just going to leave this gif here and move on.
brother
So anyway Elora must have slipped Kate the results of her fertility test or something, or else she was just rewarded for being a big fat dobber, because Kate had glowing things to say about her. Is he seeing Elora through sister-tinted glasses? They don’t seem to have any emotional connection at all. It is clear he’s attracted to her, and I’m sure he’s thought about whether she’d have one of those cute, swallowed-a-basketball pregnancies, but there’s just…nothing there in their conversations. None of the banter he has with some girls, and no particular exploration of how their relationship might look in more than a week.

As for the rest of their date, Matty tells us ‘I’ve blown up heaps of inflatables before’ which yeah alright mate, but takes forever to blow up the swan, which is not a series of words I’d anticipated typing today. They do eventually they hop in the water hole with the swan, because it’s not a Bachie date without water. They’re very touchy-feely and look, I have absolutely not a doubt in mind that he wants to bone her. As a prelude to pashing, Elora tells us that ‘He did the eye thing that he does’ which I can only imagine is this:
ink

I’m going to sum up their post-swim, cheese-n-wine chat with this extract:

‘I had a good day’
‘Yeah it’s been fun. Really fun’
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She gets a rose for this sterling effort, and tolerating the fact that he leans left when he kisses (you can thank the awesome Jodi McAlister for noticing that, as I can now never forget it).
The show promoted OH MY GOD the drama this episode by showing Matty lingering at the door of his single date. Yep that’s right, they’re staying overnight. In separate cabins. She invites him in, telling the camera: ‘I mean my door’s open, haha’.

CUT TO THE NEXT DAY. Matty running. Not from anything, just athletically. No, of course he didn’t go in. He might be tremendously stupid, but he’s not going to do that when there’s cameras following them around.

The rest of girls are invited! What a jolly time for them, feeling like they’re crashing someone else’s date. And for exercise! Fuck that, hop back in the oversized cars, ladies.
Little did we know, Matty’s jog was a subtle clue as to today’s group date. It’s a compatibility test! With running. Why are the Bachies never sedentary? I would like a Netflix-based compatibility test, please.
Anyway. You get to a box. It’s multiple choice. If you choose the correct ‘Matty’ answer, you get to run to the next one. If you get the wrong answer, you have to wait it out with an egg timer before trying again.
Turns out the show doesn’t super care about showing us the right answers and therefore giving us any insight in to Matty, so we skip over the answers to questions like favourite film genre , your ideal Sunday morning, etc. He thinks it’s mandatory to order dessert, though. Presumably ‘babysitting your nephew’ is not part of the question ‘ How often do you think you should see your partner’s family?’, because the answer is ‘once a month’.

Tara: No way, my Mum’s a ledge
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The real story here isn’t Matty having thoughts or opinions, but that Florence straight up doesn’t give a fuck about anything and just starts cheating as soon as she is alone at a box. And continues doing this until she wins. I think time alone with Matty is the worst prize of all, but honestly, if that’s what she wants, who cares about stupid Bachelor challenges? Get it.

She confesses this in their alone time (‘All’s fair in love and war, that’s what the girls always say’), and while he is flattered, he is also a bit mortified, as he is a pure bastion of morality who would never do something send his sister in to dig up shit on the 13 girls he’s dating simultaneously. He tells her ‘I like how honest you are’ after she gives him a list of all the times she has cheated in various games (never on people, though). He somewhat reluctantly gives her a rose and they have a pash. I think Florence is absolutely hilarious and provides us with some precious reactions gifs but once again…this isn’t going anywhere. She’s too ‘out there’ for this bland vanilla ice cream man who thinks sports are a substitute for personality.
florence

That night at the cocktail party, we pick up a bit of a thread that’s been running throughout the episode – Sharlene (‘who?’, I hear you ask) doesn’t feel like she’s been seen. And hoo boy, instead of handling this in a normal way to get his attention (like Elise’s fishing game), she just ends up in the world’s most awkward confrontation. She gears herself up to chat to him, wondering if she should open with a joke. Oh boy I hope she doesn’t plan in to go in to stand-up, because she interrupts his chat with Jen thusly: ‘I’m actually one of The Bachelorettes, I’m not the external caterer, but I would like to speak to you when you’re free’. He immediately knows he’s got some bullshit to deal with here, so Jen departs to go enjoy some wine time with Michelle, leading to the best line of the episode:

Jen: [referring to Sharlene embarrassing herself] ‘It actually hurts my soul a bit’
Michelle, staring in to her wine glass: ‘Come on, you don’t have one’
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The confrontation with Sharlene is as awkward as you imagine. Sharlene tries to approach the conversation gently after the abrupt beginning, saying she feels left behind (as several of the girls, including Alix, have expressed to Matty), and asks from his own experience on the show if he has any suggestions on how to handle that. And very quickly, he decides to just bail. He thinks ‘what they have’ is lovely but doesn’t see it progressing in a romantic way. She gawps her way in to the ad break and when we return, it seems like she can only use the words ‘Yep. Thanks. Yep’. It’s like watching someone dissociate in front of your very eyes, as she returns to the group and loudly announces that she has decided to leave. I feel bad for her, but the delusions are very grand. In direct-to-camera, she extols on how he simply wasn’t the right guy for her, due to his disinterest in pugs (WHAT? Get in the bin, dude), martial arts and musical theatre.
Sharlene, I am sure the right guy is out there somewhere for you to find your white picket fence with. Matty seems like the kind of guy who would walk out of Grease and tell you musicals are unrealistic.

At the rose ceremony, OMG TWO GIRLS ARE GOING THIS EPISODE IS A SLAUGHTERHOUSE.
I’ve started to notice that Tara very frequently gets picked first, and this is the one thing I will congratulate Vanilla Bean on.
Departing tonight are Stephanie (…who?) and Alix. I’m afraid I picked last episode that she was not long for this world, but at least she’s walked out knowing an excellent shade of red lipstick to go with her continued reproductive autonomy:
lipstick
Hmmmm so glad the makeup artist taught me about Russian Red and Implanon

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 7

Hello friends. Do you remember last week how I mentioned that I really enjoy being right? (as in correct, not being a Nazi, which is apparently a real thing people do these days).  Well, here I am to say: I knew Matty was a creep, and now thanks to this episode, you know it too.

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This episode was a incredibly long beast though, so we’re gonna tackle this Buzzfeed-style with a Top 5 Reasons Matty is Terrible and I’m Ready For Sophie Monk Already, Thanks

1. He’s a bloody hypocrite
This episode Matty sent his sister in to the mansion. He trusts her opinions because she’s either his best friend, or one of his best friends, depending on who he’s talking to. There’s all sorts of weird framing around this (her eggo is preggo, so she won’t be able to meet the final two if they go overseas) but the crux of it is, she wants to see the weirdos he’s got in the house, and he’s heard there’s drama and wants her to root it out.
And she does. It’s all incredibly gross and verges on if not crosses well in to slut shaming many times. Some of the girls are aware that Leah has a past as a topless model (as most of us who consume trash media also knew) and manage to leak this to Kate. Elora and Simone are the ones that are involved in mentioning it to her, but there seemed to be a general awareness that it was heading in that direction. Leah actually starts tearing up in front of her when she realises Kate’s not just ‘popping by to drop off a date card’ but is in fact staying the whole day, and not just because she remembers how scary Kate was with Georgia Love (more on that later). And in to-camera, Tara tells us that Leah has skeletons in the closet, and ‘The skeletons are going to come out dancing soon’.
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Leah skirts the topic in one conversation with Kate but when she’s pulled aside later at the group date, she explains that while she now manages events and staff, she was at one point a topless model. Full credit to Matty, he is not the one who slut shames her when Kate eventually tells him that he should talk to Leah. No, it’s the language everyone else uses – Kate saying they’re ‘pretty serious allegations’, Elise saying with a raised eyebrow ‘you can imagine the sort of parties she plans’, Elora asking cattily ‘Did he tip you?’ – that really attempts to put Leah in her place. So why do I call Matty a hypocrite? Firstly, because with both Leah and Simone (who is forced to admit she also did some topless waitressing to make ends meet when she moved to Australia from the UK), he is angry at them for hiding this information from them, despite not giving them single dates that would show his interest in getting to know them. Simone even says to him that she did not know the best time to say it, because she hasn’t even got to know him yet. At what point would work they’ve done previously even be relevant to his life? After uni I took a temp job at which I used to research bars on the internet and write up blurbs for a restaurant guide. How often do you think I clamber to tell people that? It’s a job, it’s not who you are as a person.
In addition, I think he’s a hypocrite because he sent his sister in to interrogate and stir up drama, and his reason for pulling aside Leah at the cocktail party and sending her home? Because she’s involved in drama.

I didn’t want to see Leah go out this way. I didn’t want to feel the urge to defend her. But she did leave us with a parting gift, telling Matty: ‘I feel like you’re making a mountain out a of a moehill’

moehill11

Looks regular-sized to me.

2. He’s still a baby creeper
The return of Kate was always gonna ramp up the baby talk. When he took Georgia Love home last year, Kate was not very subtle that she would be very upset if he moved away from Sydney. He’d just returned from London, and she was very much enjoying the free babysitting for little George – little George who apparently spurned Matty’s own interest in human spawn. It seemed inevitable that possibly Kate’s role on the show was simply going to be to gauge everyone’s interest in free babysitting. Somehow they made that in to a date, which she attended. Jen, Leah, Tara, Elise, Lisa and Laura were tasked with helping a bunch of five year olds make volcanoes for an experiment, although first they had to be ‘selected’ by the kids. Firstly, it seems really unfair to send Tara, who’s a nanny, on this date. Secondly, Kate is a bit patronising at the end. Osher asks ‘Kate, was it eye-opening for you?’ ‘It wasn’t for me, because I have a child, but I’m sure it was for the girls’. Yeah you’re really my favourite kind of person, Kate.
mommynow

Laura struggles quite a bit with this challenge. She is openly not super maternal – see, she likes kids, but she doesn’t know what to do with ‘someone else’s kids’. I’m not sure what kids she’s met that don’t fit that description but okay. I feel her. I like my friend’s kids, I love my beautiful wee nephew, but I’m not a natural with them either. So she does actually perform an amazing turn around from having no kid picking her to work with, to having the munchkin that was forced in to it hugging her and sitting in her lap. Obviously Matty shows his relief at her continued potential baby mama status by rewarding her with some solo time on a paddle steamer.

They haven’t really talked about it before so it’s the perfect time to talk BABIES. Luckily he doesn’t have to throw her off the side of the boat, as she does indeed want kids, even if she does cheers to ‘Children you can give back’. I see a little tension on the horizon, as you could practically see the smile freeze on his face when she says she really wants to make sure she’s done everything she wants to do before she sprogs up, and she’ll probably be ready ‘in 5 or 6 years’.

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Seriously you can quit it with the roses and just start giving these out next time you actually get to a ceremony, Matty:
someecards

3. He’s still using his tongue to end conversations
Still on the date with Laura, just like he did with Tara last week, he pashes her while she’s mid sentence. I quite like that she (jokingly) calls him out for ‘rudely’ interrupting her.

4. He’s totally going to send Alix home soon
God, he didn’t even ask her if she wanted kids, so what hope does she stand? Alix’s solo date got a little overshadowed by the drama this week. They seemed to have a good time, off on a little wakeboarding trip. Matty can’t stand to use a good line once, so knowing he had another sporty, competitive girl on his hands, he decided to put a wager on the line – just like he did with Lisa over tennis. I can’t criticise Alix for her poor performance on the wakeboard because if I tried I definitely would not go anywhere, but it’s….not good. They come to an agreement regarding their wager (the winner gets a massage from the other) and he creepily tells her ‘Come with me,  Alix’. She seems extremely in to her shoulder massage and they actually have a really nice open chat about how she’s been feeling a bit left behind, and how he understands that, as he wasn’t chosen for a single date himself til quite late in the game. However, once they start on this path, Alix finds it very hard to get out of her head (the cameras surely don’t help), and keeps talking about the other girls instead of doing what Matty wants to her do – forget all her entirely rational concerns and get to the smooching, dammit. The smooching moment passes after he gives her a rose, however, and they don’t get back to it. RIP Alix.

5. He cracks his knuckles
It’s fucking gross stop it.

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 6

I’m not a competitive person. If life were a game of Bachie Monopoly, I’d be Michelle, chilling in the Go Go Cage Jail, sipping wine and judging people. No, I’m not competitive. But I really do enjoy being right. So when we returned from the loathed TBC to Matty asking Sian if she could talk outside, basically so he could send her home without the indignity of a rose ceremony elimination (because honestly how much can one girl humiliate herself in one night?), I felt a little smug.

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He returns to the rose ceremony to let them know he’s sent Sian home and to bitch about her behind her back: ‘My main issue is that she was questioning what was real and what wasn’t’. He wants the girls to know that he’s not a puppet. He calls the shots around here. He decides who will go on single dates (note, he did not say group dates),  he decides will go home.
Congratulations Matty, you just confirmed that you’re an idiot. I mean, which is worse? To admit that you’re open to influence from the people paying you an estimated $200,000 to date a bunch of women on TV, or to admit that you’re so dense that you are blind to the fact that you’re being blatantly manipulated by both Leah and Jen? I’d take puppet over muppet any day.

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So anyway suffice to say I’ve really gone off Matty. But I’m very glad he finally made a good choice, because next we find that this week’s single date recipient is Tara. Our wise bogan queen.

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With Tara, Matty wants to laugh the whole time, but also see her serious side. I hope her serious side doesn’t involve any personal trauma because he’s going to feel pretty bad about laughing.

You’d think that riding on a tandem bicycle in adorable stack hats would be a good start to the laughs, but it ends up being another episode of Matty Terrifies Unsuspecting Women. Turns out Tara hasn’t ridden a bike in years, and she’s not really digging not having control of the bike either. The amount of screaming is…substantial. And honestly, Tara is extremely loud this entire date and while we love her for her rambunctiousness, I think I will respectfully bow out from the competition to be her bestie, because my introvert self would find her exhausting. I’d still like to follow her on Twitter though for the hot takes.

They slow down the pace a little with some pasta-making. Often on these cooking dates there’s someone there showing them how to cook things, but it’s just the two of them and Tara takes full advantage. And I do mean full advantage. First there’s the recreation a Ghost with pasta dough:

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Does anyone…wanna go to Pottery Barn?

And then Tara notices The Arse. It turns out Tara is an Arse Woman, and she is not going to rest until Matty really truly knows how spectacular his arse is.

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Matty does not seem wholly comfortable with this blatant objectification, but he does accept a ‘Cheers to your arse’ as they down some wine.

They sit down to eat the pasta which is weird because no-one’s actually meant to eat the food on the Bachelor franchise. I have a strong suspicion Tara would not have been up for making pasta for the crew to enjoy. As they dole out the parmesan Matty tells Tara ‘I like a woman who likes cheese’ to which she responds ‘Then you’ve found your perfect wife’. The fun never lasts forever so eventually talk must turn to how quickly Matty can start interfering with her birth control families. Yes, Tara likes kids (she’s a nanny and is very fond of her charges) and wants kids, although she thinks that you need a very strong bond to have them. That’s basically what Liz said, in other words, but oh well. Suddenly Matty stops seeing her as a ‘quirky, funny kid’ (his words) and as a beautiful fertile woman. As they talk about her insecurities, and how she didn’t think he’d be in to her, he interrupts her with a kiss. It’s a move that I don’t mind in a romance novel but just seems kinda rude when you see it happen onscreen. Or maybe that’s just because I dislike Matty now. Anyway they have a nice pash and she gets a rose.

Meanwhile back at the mansion, a group date has been announced. It clearly involves heights judging by the clue, and Simone, who is terrified of them, is upset that she’s on the invite list, which upsets Jen, who is not. Anything that upsets Jen is a-ok with me.

The next day Leah, Elise, Elora, Laura, Natalie and Simone are in cars on the way to the group date. As soon as they pass a sign for skydiving, Elora and Elise are the middle of trying to talk Simone out of a panic attack. Tearily she tells the camera ‘I’ll do anything, but not this’. Long story short she jumps out of the plane but not without moaning and crying ‘No no no…’ when she and Matty are the last ones in the cabin, because this guy really knows how to organise a romantic encounter. The whole theory of this date is how much he wants a girl to step out of her comfort zone, but I think a plane is a perfectly reasonable comfort zone. After all, unlike humans, it was designed to fly in the air.

Can you tell I also have a bit of an issue with heights?

Matty’s the last to jump, and once he hits the ground all the adrenaline-filled girls conduct a stacks-on, as this might be their only opportunity to touch him all week. Matty chooses a girl for some one-on-one time, and it’s Simone, as it bloody well should be. They have no chemistry, but he can’t send her home for at least two episodes after her admirable showing of not shitting herself while strapped to another human. As he reflects on the way he got her jump out of the plane, he wonders aloud ‘What else could I make you do? while doing Doctor Evil fingers. We know what he’s thinking.
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At the cocktail party, Jen makes sure Matty knows she loves the same things as him in the most bitchy way possible ‘I’ve just been sitting here saying how much I love skydiving…thanks, Matty’. Yeah girl we’ve seen how much you like your hair, no-one believes that.

Elise finally gets a bit of screen time after yanking Matty aside to “go fishing”. While I wish that was a euphemism, they do actually use a fishing rod to grab some stuff out of the pool, clues about Elise. Did you know that she was a Hockeyroo, and her family dress up as tacos for Christmas? It gets Matty’s attention, so good for her, but she probably could have just got her ovulation calendar out.

There’s more incessant arguments about who gets access to Matty when during cocktail parties and honestly if I was here for this I’d just go and hang around outside the Family Court. It’s another opportunity for Jen to be an incessant moll, however, as she eggs Michelle on to interrupt Matty’s chat and then swoops in when the other girls get caught up arguing about it.
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Meanwhile Natalie has been fearing she’s been put in the ‘friend’ zone. You may remember Natalie as a fruit loop and hand-sniffer.
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Unfortunately Natalie’s time as provider of delightful reaction gifs comes to an end at the rose ceremony. I think that’s fine, as it looks like Tara’s going to be around giving us the gold for a while yet. In the car, she tells us: ‘Rejection always sucks. It might not mean he doesn’t like me. He might like me, he just doesn’t want to date me’.

Maybe he just didn’t think you were fertile enough. Enjoy seeking your own reproductive destiny, Natalie.

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 5

Here’s all you need to know about the end of this episode, from my running notes:

arsehats

(Okay, I make a lot of typos while I’m trying to take notes and simultaneously livetweet. That should say TBC). But we’ll come back to that.

Johnnie Walker sure is getting their money’s worth in product placement this season. Given Matty’s a marketing dude I do wonder if maybe he’s just a fan and he suggested a sponsorship so he’d get plenty of opportunities to drink it. The sweetest #sponcon of all. After prominent placement in his post-horse-washing chat with Cobie last week, here it is again, pulled from Osher’s nether regions to offer some ‘Dutch courage’ to this week’s single date recipient – Florence
(there was some speculation as to who would be going in the date, given the Scotch. Someone Scottish? Jen: ‘I’m Scottish!’. No you’re not, you’re from Albion Park. Probably Albion Park Rail #nicheillawarrajokes)

Matty whisks Florence away to exotic Homebush, where they shall rappel (which appears to mean ‘jump’ in this context) down the side of a 26 story building.

Florence is not-at-all-lowkey not in to this whole idea.

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Despite her to-camera protestations – ‘Am I really jumping off this building? Is it worth it?’ and the realisation that maybe she should just ‘Go back to Melbourne and live your life’, Matty weighs in with some philosophy: ‘Jumping off the side of a building is a lot like falling in love – you just have to….give in to it’

If I were to think of my metaphor for falling in love it’d be a bit more like this:

leslie

Nonetheless, his speech seems to do the trick and they jump off without causing any grief for Channel Ten’s insurers.

The only thing you need to know about the next part of the date is that it involves plaster and tragically is not at Plaster Funhouse. Also the moment they get stuck taking a mould of their clasped hands provides great joy for screencappers everywhere:

ooft

During their one-on-one chat he is mostly keen to interrogate her about her plans to stay in Australia, as she’s only been in the country for 5 months. He tells her ‘Very well answered’ when she says she’s happy to permanently abandon her siblings, because he’s very family-oriented, y’see. They have a little flirt and a nice pash.

Back at the house, everyone screams and claps when she comes back with a rose in hand and shares that they had a kiss. It’s kinda weird that they’re so excited. Tell you who’s pasting on that grin though? Cobie. This is the only other kiss he’s had (to her knowledge).
oldboy

Seriously though, bit worried about Cobie. She knows it’s silly but she ain’t reining in that jealousy at all.

The next day (or, whenever, in Bachie Time), Jen wants us to know she was baking brownies because she’s a very caring person. And so relatable. More likely she knew Osher was coming round and was aware of the age-old wisdom that you should always have something in the oven when a boy comes over.
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Everyone flips shit because it’s a Thunderdome Date aka two women enter, one woman leaves. We have one every season. Jen is mortally offended when Liz suggests she may be on the date: ‘Way to throw me under the bus, babe!’. Jen, Liz has no control over what names are on the card. Anyway it’s Jen and Liz. Leah thinks Jen fakes getting emotional here, to manipulate the other ladies, but I’m pretty sure it’s just because she’s butthurt. Anyway, in her own words ‘Liz doesn’t matter to me, she’s not a blip on my radar. Let the best woman win’.

Spoiler alert, she doesn’t.

A series of awkward events ensues, as Liz and Jen enjoy a car ride to go meet Matty at a creepy abandoned barn in the middle of nowhere. I feel like there could be a great twist here with Matty being a serial killer and it is literally a ‘who survives the night’ test, but unfortunately no-one dies. Everyone considers dying of embarrassment when Matty asks each lady the other’s best and worst qualities, but it’s generally pretty civil (Liz likes Jen’s dirty humour but thinks she’s quick to judge, Jen likes Liz’s quick wit but thinks she’s abrasive).

In solo chats, Jen chucks a Pig Catcher and creates the impression that she is showing Matty her softer side, talking about how she can’t wait to wake up next to the person she loves, but we know this is fake as hell. It’s weird how much she believes it though. She actually says to camera that she believes she has a better heart than Liz.
nopejim
This idiot Matty seems to fall for this crap just like he did with Leah. ‘Right now Jen is an open book. There is that deeper part of her personality’. I gotta say if he is really that dumb then he does not deserve my perfect cinnamon roll Tara.

And honestly, if I wasn’t going off on him enough from that, the conversation with Liz is enough to put me off permanently. Why is he such a creep about having babies? He is in full-on Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction territory, and that did not end well. Neither for Glenn nor for that poor bunny.
I’ve got to admire Liz here for staying true to herself. Someone as manipulative as Jen, when asked about her desire to start a family, would have said whatever Matty wanted her to hear. Liz just told him the truth. While I don’t want kids (don’t @ me, I’m sure your kid is great), Liz’s views on having my kids lined up with my ideas on marriage. It’s not really worth worrying about until you meet the person you want to be with for the rest of you life. If you make those decisions in the abstract, you’ll potentially end up making the wrong choices with the wrong people, just so you can achieve your goal. Given this is Liz’s first proper conversation with Matty, she can hardly give him a definite answer.

Anyway, it’s enough to get her booted, and good on her for getting away from this baby-obsessed weirdo. Jen, as you could imagine, is very gracious in victory:
jen

She’s seen this show enough to carefully check that Liz is the only person being sent home, though. She’s also clearly been watching UnREAL also, as she refers to herself as ‘wifey’ material. Girl, at least have the self-awareness to know you’re a villain.

At the cocktail party, Matty pulls Laura aside for a chat in the Secret Garden and we don’t even get to see it, but she comes back with a rose so presumably that’s a reward for a sneaky blow job.

More importantly, the Fourth Wall gets fucked hard as Sian has a meltdown over the fact that Matty hasn’t spent any time with her. She’s in her room muttering to one of the girls ‘I don’t like him. I’m better than him, I’m better than this’ which doesn’t seem like a very good sign. And then most exciting thing that’s ever happened for someone who’s seen UnREAL happens. One of the producers appears onscreen. We all hope she’s the Rachel.
unreal2
Rachel convinces her that Matty would be bummed if he knew she was upset, so she should go and talk to him (with the cameras on, obviously). Sian tells Matty that it’s definitely not him (‘I don’t like him. I’m better than him’) but she can’t handle the cameras and the process. She’d like to go home. He respectfully accepts her decision and she somehow interprets this as him asking her to stay, and says she wants to stick around, and what will be will be.

She should have just left on her own terms. Matty immediately questions if he should keep her around, given her doubts.

Suddenly it’s rose ceremony time. Sian feels confident since her talk with Matty, which only shows the depths of her delusion. Tara, Sharlene, Leah (this may have been Lisa, can we eliminate one of these similarly-named ladies please?), and Elora are called up to receive a rose. Matty picks up the next rose. And pauses. And puts it back down. TO BE CONTINUED.

Bachie, can we please not start on this bullshit? The Bachelorette US did it incessantly in the latest season (causing many howls of frustration between Tegan, Alex, Rick and I on our Skype calls), and generally pushed the rose ceremonies to the start of episodes. It completely interrupts the natural flow of the program. The climax should always be sending another girl home.

Also, come on show. We know Sian is going home.
rihannawave

Let’s see tomorrow if I’m right.

‘The Big Sick’: The Victorian Values Review

This may come a shock, but I haven’t actually started reviewing every single movie I see. I go the cinema quite a bit, particularly at this time of year when lots of the big US summer movies are coming out. But when I went to see Spider-Man: Homecoming and Baby Driver in one day (the official hashtag for this event was, of course, #ManBaby), I didn’t feel the need to weigh in. When movies are as hyped as they are, the mainstream and social media coverage can be pretty overwhelming. You’ve probably decided months in advance if you’re interested in seeing them, and unless the early reviews are dire, you’ll probably stick with that plan. What I’d prefer to do with reviews is to see if I can encourage people to go see films that get less attention. That often ends up being movies that are ‘female-focused’ – like a period drama (My Cousin Rachel) or a romantic comedy, in the case of a The Big Sick. It’s a pretty straightforward set-up – boy meets girl, boy and girl are torn apart by cultural differences, girl gets sick and ends up in medically-induced coma. You know. The usual stuff.

In a fictional film, when one of the lead characters is in a coma, part of the tension should be whether she will recover and our leads will get (back) together. But because the story is based on the real-life tale of couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, reality sort of ends up as a spoiler. Due to her appearances on the promotional trail (and the retelling of their story over the years in places like Dan Harmon’s podcast), we know Emily’s okay and they’re still together. But the genre of the film works in their favour here. It’s a rom com. We know they’ll end up together in the end, because that’s what happens in the end of a rom com. All we have to do is enjoy the journey.
Somewhere between Kumail’s 65 IMDB acting credits, you’ve seen him in something. For example, I have most recently seem him in the dire 2010 Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel vehicle Life as We Know It, because sometimes I truly should not be left alone Netflix. But it isn’t until you see him play himself that you realise how consistent his deadpan characteristics are. It’s a fun script and a real star vehicle for Kumail – it can be hard to make the deadpan style charming, but the character of Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) softens him to a great extent.bigsick

One of the main settings of the film is the Chicago comedy club that Kumail gigs at, which helps to maintain the ‘com’ tone when things turn serious. This is not only from the snippets of stand-up routines, but also from the backstage banter between Kumail and the characters played by Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunohler (all accomplished real-world comics). If you’ve seen any other movie that producer Judd Apatow has had a hand in, you’ll have an idea of the humour in their interactions.
The real opportunity for the dramatic chops to come out is when the families come in to the picture. When Emily’s parents meet Kumail they’re immediately hostile – Emily had told them about their reasons for breaking up. We can see through their relationship to their daughter, and to each other, why Emily found it so hard to understand why Kumail had not told his parents about her, and why this was so hurtful. It’s important to have the right actors in the role of Emily’s parents, as we watch them slowly warm to him while going through their own struggles. I don’t need to say anything new about Holly Hunter (apart from, maybe, I want her to be my Mum?), but Ray Romano. Man. I cannot explain how begrudgingly I give respect to the star of Everybody Loves Raymond, but he earns it here. Both Holly and Ray get to have some great comedic moments here too, particularly when they witness one of Kumail’s live shows.

The endless parade of potential Pakistani wives for Kumail is also played for laughs, but their is some dramatic tension in it. Kumail knows he stands to potentially lose his family over choosing an American girl. And if you’re wondering where you’ve seen Anupam Kher before as a kind-hearted Muslim father preaching the importance of keeping marriage within your own culture, let me do you a favour: it’s everyone’s favourite (well, my favourite) early 2000’s British girl’s soccer movie, Bend it Like Beckham.

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I have no idea how he feels about being typecast in this way, but he carries a fair bit of emotional weight in the family scenes.

Lastly I come to Zoe Kazan. It’s a real shame that the mere fact of Kumail and Emily’s story requires her to be sidelined for a significant chunk of the film, because she simply lights up the screen. If you’ve not seen 2013’s What If (also known as The F Word) then ignore what I said earlier about Life as We Know It and fire up your Netflix. You know how she wrote and starred in the fantastic Manic Pixie Dream Girl takedown that is Ruby Sparks? Well, What If is essentially the Friend Zone version of that, with bonus Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver. It is a rom com though, and remember what I said about the one thing we know happens at the end of a rom com. Zoe really gets to pull out her dramatic chops in parts of The Big Sick – it feels awful to say, but god is that woman good at crying. However she also gets to maintain her constant charm, and she can play it for laughs like the best of them (like when she doesn’t want to shit in her new boyfriend’s house).

All in all, I have to say that The Big Sick is fairly light on the ‘rom’. We like and root for Kumail and Emily to overcome their obstacles and get together at the end. But with one half of the couple off-screen for a good chunk of the movie, it probably verges more on dramatic comedy territory. I really hope that people who might stick up their nose at the genre will give it a chance – even if it’s just for date night.

 

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episodes 3 and 4

Life (work) happened Wednesday night, so it’s a twofer recap this week. I’m gonna try and make it as snappy as possible, because when I’m as tired as I am right now, my jokes get even weirder than usual. And when you’ve got pig-catching and cream pies, there’s not a lot of value-add in the jokes.

Episode 3
Laura is first up with the single date. Everyone on Twitter is sure Laura looks like Georgia Love, but is it possible she just has brown hair? I don’t know. I grew up in The Whitest Town On Earth, so I may just be finely tuned to the minor facial differences of white girls. Laura and Matty board a series of increasingly large boats because it’s not a Bachie Date without some transpo porn I guess. Laura chatters away nervously, and I find myself going off Matty even more (after his weird focus on Lisa not being fussy about her hair or makeup) when he tells her ‘You don’t have trouble talking’. In fact if I didn’t have her in the sweeps I may have voted for her to walk out of the entire competition when in response to her question her had to confirm that he does not in fact own any of the boats. They pull up to a waterfront property with easels set up – their very ill-advised will involve drawing each other! It goes a bit like this:
kate

During the course of this, it’s pretty clear that Laura’s a bit uncomfortable with the situation – she responds to Matty’s genuinely attempts to flirt (calling her beautiful) by leaning heavily on the banter and sarcasm. I find this relatable af, but it might show that she will struggle with having a heavily filmed romance down the line. They retire for a cheeky cheese platter and some serious chats, mostly about why he chose her to go out on a date. She finally sneaks a compliment in, telling him that he makes her feel special when he looks at her, but all in all their conversation feels very human and kinda awkward – the giggling and head-shaking to break the tension a realistic prelude to….THE FIRST PASH. They seem to have a thoroughly good time. I’m still grossed out by other people’s tongues. She gets a rose.

Meanwhile back at the mansion, a group date has been announced. Leah hopes it’s competitive, because of course. Jennifer says she would actually fear for her safety being on a competitive group date with Leah, which is a great thing to say about your friend and also means it’s good that she’s not on the list for the date.

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They tenuously link this Henry VIII-themed date, complete with dress-ups, to Matty spending some time in London – although I have to wonder how much of that time was spent touching himself while watching The Tudors to make this link.
(No judgement there, we’ve all had Special Thoughts about Natalie Dormer watching that show).
The most tenuous part of the whole thing is somehow linking It’s A Knockout challenges with the Tudor period. I’m not even going to try and explain that. First, there’ll be moving some piglets in to pens. Cobie, Akoulina, Simone and Leah are the lucky ladies participating in the first challenge. Akoulina tells us ‘If I can handle a piglet, I can handle Matty’ and I’m sure I could dig some sexual innuendo out of that…but she can’t handle a piglet, it turns out. It’s mostly a shit show – except for country girl (there may be an unnecessary ‘o’ there) Leah. Matty tells us ‘I didn’t think it would be something she would be in to…but she is quite the pig-catcher’, and… welcome to Leah’s new Recap Nickname. Cobie also proves herself adept at tackling small animals so she and Pig Catcher are through to the end-of-night banquet.

Lisa, Sharlene, Michelle and Belinda have to do a combo sackrace/quoits game, and the main thing we learned here is that Twitter thinks it’s spelled coits and when Lisa wins she will tell the camera ‘I literally have sweat from my neck, back and crack’ but she won’t mention this to Matty, which seems odd given how keen he is for her to prove that she’s no-fuss. My notes don’t tell me who else got through so just presume it’s Sharlene, Michelle or Belinda and they do very little else this episode.

Now it’s time for Ye Olde Soccer for Alix, Elora, Elise and Stephanie and I can see no problem playing football in a full-length gown against a bunch of incredibly competitive people. Nope. I think Elora actually goes for the shins at some point. Matty: ‘Football is sometimes referred to as ‘the beautiful game’. These girls have given us….something else entirely’. Elise and Alix smash it.

So now we have our six for the ‘banquet’ where it’s apparently appropriate for everyone to sit on the same side of the table. A producer makes Matty ask how things are going in the house, and Pig Catcher jumps in tell him her suffering because she’s ‘protective’ and takes other people’s emotions on. Every other lady in the room has to physically fight to stop their eyes from rolling back in to their heads. Drunk, bored Pig Catcher then interrupts Elise as soon as she gets a solo chat, to further plumb the depths of this sob story (she’s open about how fake it is in interview). She even drags her Mum under the bus by explaining that she thinks she gets her instinct to take on other people’s problems from her mother, who is a nurse. Matty, who is….surely…not that stupid, says he is glad she is ‘here for the right reasons’ which elicits a direct-to-camera reaction from Leah which is strongly reminiscent of another person who’s familiar with pigs:
dwoightto

It’s all for nought however, as Alix (who pulled the classic ‘does my bum look big in this?’ in her bustle gown) receives the rose.
There’s a ‘surprise’ rose ceremony at the end of this date, which means only girls on the group date are up for elimination and we have to put up with Jen for another episode. Osher rubs in how little time you can end up having with Matty, which seems mean for poor old Elise who got to chat to him for approximately 30 seconds.

Akoulina is eliminated and presumably ribbon dances in to the night.

swift fancing

 

Episode 4
Guys did you know that just like the Hems, Matty J was also in Pony Club?
hems

I’d forgotten that it has come up in Georgia’s season, but I’m SO glad the show has given me another reason to have the Saddle Club theme song stuck in my head for the next 40 years. It truly is…fun for everyone.

Matty has decided to take poor unsuspecting Cobie to Sydney Polo Club where she’s greeted by rain and the stallion that Matty rides up on stopping for a deeply intrusive wee, and honestly it’s 100% too much horse wang on my TV for a Thursday night. You’d think it would help break the ice but Cobie also is low-key pissing herself because she hasn’t really been pursuing equine fun since she rode a pony as a kid. Everyone back at the house debates Cobie’s ability to be ‘sexy’, given she has been giving off a very goofy, sweet, vibe so far. Jen is quite confident in her own musk, as per usual ‘I know I give off sex appeal. But for me that’s just quite natural’.
stitches

In other mansion scenes, Tara re-assures the rest of the girls who have not had a one-on-one ‘When I’m eating I save the best for last, I eat my veggies first and save my schnitty. We’re the schnitty’ which is probably going to be my new Tinder bio. Jen refers to herself as the ‘crème la de crème’ which is probably a sign that she needs some Extremely Basic French lessons from Elora.

For some reason after their ride the show cannot pay any sort of stable hand, so Matty and Cobie have to wash the horses themselves. Matty’s a bit of a control freak with the hose, but Cobie (who works in the mines), confidently asserts ‘I wash coal, I’m sure I can wash a horse’. Everyone relaxes once they head inside and devour some lovingly product-placed Johnnie Walker, in fact Cobie is so very relaxed she decides to recite a poem she has written for Matty.
slam
It doesn’t rhyme aggressively so I guess we’ll all live. Matty is flattered by the thought that went in to it and gives her a rose. There’s a bit of awkward to-and-fro-ing when she tells him she wants to kiss him, and they forget to tilt and once again I am  not pleased with seeing non-fictional heterosexuals kiss on-screen. She gets the same vehement ‘endgame’ string  music that Laura got for her pash, which is worth keeping in mind as we consider who’s a contender for the long run.

Quizzing Cobie about her date the next day, the term ‘Our boyfriend’ comes out again which I honestly think was funny about two times. I mean, if you can’t approach a situation where a man is dating over a dozen women at once with their full knowledge and consent with some humour, then you’re screwed, but it just comes off as a bit overplayed. Unsurprisingly this term is used most often by Jen, who has never had a conversation of any significance with Matty.

Everyone is on the ‘surprise’ group date that Matty pops around to invite them to, which is nice because it stops me trying to note down everyone’s names. It’s a giant board game which is a version of the ‘how well do you know me/how compatible are we?’ competition they do around this point every season. Except, there’s not usually cream pies. That’s right, there’s opportunities to smash each other in the face with banana cream pies and if you don’t know what one of those looks like, please use SafeSearch in your Google journey. Surprise surprise at who’s delighted at the idea of some cream pie action – it’s Pig Catcher. She’s lucky not to catch a one in the face when Simone (who she and Jen bullied in episode 2 along with Elora) lands on the lucky square. Simone instead decides to go for Liz, after out the corner of her eye she saw her ‘face who never smiles’. Give her something to smile about, Simone.

Michelle (the cop) doesn’t mind getting sent to ‘jail’ (which is got all intents and purposes a go-go cage) as, in her words ‘I got to drink, I got to observe’. Give her a phone to Tweet from and she is all of us watching Bachie.
Stephanie gets the immense pleasure of delivering a cream pie to Jen’s face, although Jen uses this as an opportunity to draw attention to herself.
surprised

Florence manages to impress at the question rounds, but Michelle wins (there seems to be no prize except hugging Matty). But Flo isn’t done with Matty, and Bachie isn’t done with being sponsored by RedTube for the evening. At the cocktail party, she pulls Matty aside for a little Dutch lesson, complete with sexy school teacher outfit (Alix: ‘It was very sensual’). This includes teaching him to say ‘Will you accept this rose’ in Dutch, which he cutely pulls out during the rose ceremony.

Elsewhere at the cocktail party, Leah stirs up shit by implying to Cobie that the other girls (aka Leah) will be annoyed if she tries to get time with Matty, already being in possession of a rose. This comes up every season and everyone seems to think it breaks some sort of code, despite the fact that their time with the Bachelor is incredibly limited. Cobie feels she needs to clear the air with Matty after passing up the opportunity to kiss him during the game – and given one of the girls in the mansion had earlier mentioned she hadn’t seen Matty in two full weeks, any sensible person could understand her motivation. The execution isn’t ideal – she approaches him when he is talking to Simone, and asks to speak to him when they’re done… but loiters right next to them in a way that doesn’t really allow them to continue their conversation. So Simone understandably is upset when he leaves to talk to Cobie, but given Simone’s long-standing beef with Jen and Leah, you know when those two leap to her defence, it is only to insert themselves in the drama. And do they ever. Leah marches in to the room Cobie is in with Matty, announces she is ‘playing Devil’s Advocate’ and informs Cobie that her actions have upset others. Cobie is beautifully dismissive of Pig Catcher’s attempt to stir up trouble but it is of course horrifically awkward. Leah tells everyone that Cobie told her she ‘doesn’t care’, and Jen, taking her word as gospel, tells Laura that she can’t defend Cobie as she ‘wasn’t there’, ignoring the fact that she also was not there.

As Cobie and Matty re-enter the party, Jen is shouting:
‘She’s in the in the hallway SMILING….Hi Cobes’
himark
It institutes a period of silence so awkward it can only be broken by a rose ceremony.

We farewell another person who has received no screen time since she made Matty stare in to her eyes and touch her boob for a full minute in the premiere. Farewell Belinda, who I was so unfamiliar with I wrote the name ‘Bianca’ in my notes mere seconds after her name was spoken onscreen. I hope you meet a fan of eye contact.

 

 

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 2

Gather your flock of drama llamas, it’s time for more bachie.

First up this week, Osher arrives and once again whips out a date card from you-really-don’t-want-to-know-where. The clue? Matty felt a ‘spark’.
Usually the (always dumb) clue cards have something to do with the actual date, but it’s indicating to us it’s Elora because y’know fire.
elora

They’re off on a yacht date. They make some vaguely awkward but banter-y small talk, she threatens to teach him some extremely basic French. Elora then asks how old Matty is, which he pretends gravely offends him. He tells her that she ‘look great’ for 27 years old. Which is ridiculous because…well, first things first, she looks like a baby. In addition, at 30 years old Matty probably should have realised that between the twin wonders of lifelong sunscreen use and the widespread use of AHAs, if a woman can dodge the total physical exhaustion of raising a child, it’s a lot easier to look young for a long time these days. I don’t think anyone knows that I am a decrepit 31 year old when they meet me, until I start making frequent references to Man O Man (which I do a lot these days, as I’m hoping it will eventually reach the ear of someone with the power to reboot it).

They take a dip in the ocean and admire some dolphins the producers probably stole from SeaWorld, then retire inside for a little wine and chat sesh.
Except it’s less chat, and more awkward staring.
bachiestaring

It just went for so long.

Matty eventually says some nice things about Georgia Love, and gives Elora a rose. She’s safe for this week, and she fancies Matty even though he doesn’t know when to go for the pash.

Group date time! If you’re a Bachie newbie, towards the start of every season they do a group date that’s a themed photoshoot. Nothing will ever beat the Mills and Boon covers from Georgia Love’s season, but nonetheless we persevere.

illsa

This time it’s an 80’s-themed ‘firsts’ shoot for Woman’s Day. Florence and Jennifer will be doing a pool-themed set of photos with Matty.
Jennifer, out loud, to the group: I feel like we’re going to be fighting for this
Matty: I feel nervous
Jennifer: You should be

Nothing like a threat to really charm a man. Jennifer’s been showing some extremely possessive qualities (over the course of the episode show goes from jokingly referring to him as ‘our boyfriend’ to frequently, not-jokingly calling him ‘my boyfriend’) so the producers decide to really prod her savage instincts and send Florence out in a sexy bikini while she is sent out….like this:
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Perhaps problematically or just nonsensically, Florence described this look as ‘a Jewish banana’.
It takes all of about five minutes for Jen to declare ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’ (do not besmirch the name of Dirty Dancing, please), rage-strip to her swimmers and dive in the pool, somehow ending up clinging to Matty like a limpet. Our terrified but diplomatic Bachie declares ‘Jen doesn’t like to miss out on anything, and I’m definitely getting that vibe off her’. Indeed.

Laura: I feel like she made herself look like a baddie
Elizabeth: I don’t think she’ll mind that
Double indeed.It’s time for the school formal. Laura, Elizabeth, Natalie and Sian are gamely dressed in 80’s prom gear. Jennifer, who has formed a sort of Mean-Girls-cum-Statler-and-Waldorf crew with Leah and Sian, stands on the sidelines and announces that Elizabeth’s dress is ‘putrid’, pausing for laughs that never come. Girl, Elizabeth did not choose her own dress on this occasion, please move on with your life and from this show ASAP.
All the girls are up some for silliness, Laura gets a little dip (and this from Matty: ‘She’s that beautiful, confident, chatty girl who’s keen to have a laugh”) while Sian for some reason pulls out The Worm, a guaranteed move in the playbooks of many I’m sure.

Tara, Simone and Cobie, dressed as cheerleaders, make a game attempt at a fairly uncreative cheer which mostly involves successfully spelling his name. Simone makes an attempt to bond with Matty, but it’s pretty awkward with the other two just standing there.

coolrider

Lastly, Leah has a solo shoot with Matty. The costumes seem to be based on Grease, but given the original came out in 1978, we’ll have to assume the shoot is based on the cinematic brilliance of Grease 2. And boy, is Leah about to take this to heart.
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The theme is ‘First Kiss’ and Leah is an awful attention seeker (all the other girls are standing mere metres away watching from a balcony), so you can see why she goes for it. But she is completely rebuffed.
mmmkiss
Yeah so in to this
Tara on the balcony legitimately howls with laughter. Cut to interview ‘She pashed, and he dashed. You’d be devoooooooo’. The women take a lovely bath in wine and schadenfraude to wrap up the long day.

Daytime, the mansion. Matty tells us ‘I’m constantly trying to figure out the girls’ which for some reason means he has popped by for an unexpected muffin-delivery (not a euphemism). In fact, one girl in particular has got his attention and he wants to whisk her away to ‘find out what passions they share’. It’s Lisa, who he wants to take out for a game of tennis (ALSO not a euphemism, somehow?). She tells us ‘I’m nervous, I’m excited, slightly shitting myself a little bit’ – which is a bit of a break in the Cool Girl routine, until Matty insists he didn’t think she’d want to put the top down in the car and she assures him that she’s not worried about messing up her hair. Being worried about her hair would be very unCool. Those barrel curls just came naturally. At the court, she somehow resists roasting him to the core, despite the fact that he is very bad at tennis. They retire to the pool for more banter and playfully shoving strawberries in each other’s faces (???). When it’s time for Serious Chats, she manages to clearly establish that he is the kind of guy she’s looking for while also making it seem like she came on the show entirely for shits and giggles. And this is why her emotional reserve is going to be Their Thing.

They return just in time for the cocktail party, Lisa carrying the rose she’s just received from Matty and looking appropriately model-gorgeous in a sparkly dress. The faces fall around the party as Tara tells us to camera that the rest of the girls are basically peasants compared to Lisa (I know who I’d rather have next to me at a dinner party, Tara).

During the night Jennifer continues to show herself to be at the centre of the vortex of all beef, as she sips from a greasy glass to match her personality

greasy
She and Leah vehemently attempt to gaslight friends Elora and Simone, who frankly aren’t having a bar of it. Jennifer acts horrified when she is accused of being ‘dark’ and insists she is ‘bright’ and ‘vibrant’, which is genuinely only true when she’s wearing a lifesaving uniform.

Somehow*, neither of our resident Heathers are sent home, instead we wish a fond farewell to Kim Kardashian lookalike Laura-Ann. She received zero screen time in this episode, but also escaped the current hazing ritual atmosphere of the mansion in good time, so big ups to her.

*we all know how

The Bachelor Australia 2017: Episode 1

I’ve taken over The Bachelor sweeps at my new work so I thought I’d write some commentary to go along with it. The blog will contain longform recaps before I condense it down to something a bit more pithy for my workmates (who will probably just want to know if they’re still in the running or not) on a weekly basis . No promises every episode will get its own recap, I may combine depending how busy I am! If you want my running commentary on the episodes I’ll be livetweeting at vic_values.

Memorable entrances
My general feeling is that anyone who gets shoved in to the montage portion of the evening is probably not a long-running contender. You don’t need to have a gimmick, but if the editors aren’t working to get us invested from the start, then that’s telling us something.

michelle
Michelle is a 31-year year old cop who in a gross misuse of police resources has apparently driven her patrol car to the Bachie mansion from South Australia. Matty, secret kinkmeister that he is, asks Michelle to faux-arrest him. He is…quite in to it.

akoulina
Akoulina is a 29-year-old gymnastics instructor who apparently never got over that thing you did as a kid any time the Olympics was on, where literally any piece of fabric could be your ‘ribbon’ if you twirled it enthusiastically enough. Walking out of the limo with ribbons going full force makes her look like a complete fruitcake, but at least she shows off her career without gross misuse of taxpayer dollars like Michelle did. She also provides entertainment to drunk girls at the cocktail party with her ribbons so all in all A+

tara
As a self-confessed complete and utter bogan, I must say that Tara really did our people proud tonight. She struggled to find the right words upon meeting Matty, and eventually landed on calling him ‘mate’. And really, who amongst us hasn’t accidentally called the object of our of affections ‘mate’ like we are the oldest bloke at a country pub? I must rewatch the episode on Tenplay at some point but I solemnly swear her reaction when Matty called out her name for a rose was to enthuse ‘sick’. And she’s going to pull out ‘devo’ next week according to the preview. All of this may not make her seem like the most charming paramour – and Matty’s a marketing guy, so he’ll probably appreciate a bit of polish – but she seems genuinely charming, PLUS she’s a nanny who finds kids are ‘attracted’ (hmm) to her, which will undoubtedly appeal to our family-orientated bachie.

Elora
An incredibly odd choice from the producers here. Elora was born in Tahiti and is the only non-white woman in the entire cast… because diversity is not apparently something we worry about in the year of our lord 2017. Already marked by her difference, Elora does not arrive in a limo with the rest of the girls but arrives for some reason after the cocktail party has already begun – while fire dancing. It strikes an odd tone as this woman, already marked in her difference, is then treated as an ‘intruder’ by the other contestants. We’ve got at least five more episodes for that, ladies. Matty sweetly devotes some extra time for a chat with Elora due to her not getting a limo entrance like the others.

The beef
The real juice of the first episode generally has little to do with the Bachelor himself. Yeah yeah, maybe he’s meeting the love of his life that night. But more importantly, a bunch of women who are all competing for the same goal are going to meet each other for the first time and be continuously plastered with champagne. It’s a recipe for one thing, and that’s beef. Drama. The good stuff. One could almost say no reality TV show has really kicked off til someone says ‘Game on moll’, and The Bachelor episode one delivered the goods.

So who’s got beef?
Leah + everyone
leah
She’s a classic reality show villain, and even pulls out the ‘I’m not here to make friends’ card in the very first episode. She proudly announces that she’s not wearing any underwear, a comment made redundant by the fact that anyone that looks at her largely-transparent dress can see it quite clearly for themselves. She’s not really an interesting villain, just a drunk, attention-seeking 24-year-old who’ll hang around and screech for half the season at the behest of the producers, until Matty decides they don’t have a ‘connection’.

Jennifer and Elizabeth

 

There always has to be someone who cries on the first night and this time is was old Chest Tatt Jennifer. She’s got a real look of the Real Housewives to her and the attitude to match. This drama starts up when dark horse Elizabeth decides to openly declare Jennifer’s (totally not a wedding dress) dress to be ‘putrid’, and then when immediately called on it declares this to be ‘social commentary’, an excuse I will now also use any time I get busted bitching about someone. It later emerges that Elizabeth was actually doing a bit of the old Caroline Bingley and commenting on the mud on the hem of Jennifer’s dress, but either way this fight and its teary aftermath were juicy enough that some of the girls literally fetched popcorn to go along with all the other salty goodness.

Cue the strings
Matty did seem to have some clear favourites on the night. Michelle (of the cheeky role play) received the first impression rose – not always a great indicator of success in the end, but she sure as hell got his attention.

lisa
He also pulled aside Lisa for a chat to tell her how much she – a model by profession, apparently – doesn’t know she’s beautiful. As much as Matty managed to fall for boundary-setting, emotionally-open Georgia Love, it’s no great surprise that one of the girls that caught his eye on the first night was a quintessential Cool Girl. I’m bouncing around a bit of a post about the Cool Girl, but you’ll be familiar with the idea if you’ve read or seen Gone Girl or are basically aware of the existence of Jennifer Lawrence. The Cool Girl’s two most important qualities? She’s hot, and she’s chill. Lisa had some serious calm confidence in her chats with Matty, and she’s got hotness in spades. I can see her going a long way, but the challenge for her will be opening herself up emotionally. You don’t get the Bachie without being a bit effusive with your feels.

laura
I can definitely see Lisa being in the final two with someone like Laura. At 30 years old (to Lisa’s 24), Laura offers a different kind of confidence and warmth, and Twitter (as well as the rest of the contestants) seem to think she also bears a pretty strong resemblance to a certain Bachelorette who has captured Matty’s heart before. There wasn’t a lot to go on from this episode but there definitely seemed to be some sparks! Or maybe I’m just biased because I got her in the sweep.

If we judge by the order of the roses, then Lisa and Laura are both strong chances, along with Alix, a ‘professional body painter’ who I have dubbed Manic Pixie Cool Girl, and Elora.

And a hearty ‘we barely knew ye’ (because you received no screen time) to our first eliminated contestants, Monica and Stacey.

Next time: actual dates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘The Beguiled’: The Victorian Values Review

The second Victorian Values review is probably excessively-informed for a movie that has not even been officially released in Australian cinemas.  I knew I wanted to see this movie from the second it was described by Robbie Collin thusly:

It’s what we’re all here for, right? The teaser trailer above just reaffirmed that for me (I suggest avoiding other trailers if possible – I know it’s a remake but the later trailers give a lot of the game away). So I booked in for an advanced screening at one of my favourite Melbourne cinemas, The Lido, and then won tickets to a screening four days earlier. Yep, I saw this movie twice in one week. Now I’m here to tell you why you should go see it.

The movie is set in Virginia during the Civil War. Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) has kept her girls’ school open for a handful of students and a teacher (Kirsten Dunst) who have nowhere better to go. When one of the girls finds an injured Yankee soldier (Colin Farell) in the woods adjoining the school, their lives are turned upside down.

Possibly my favourite part of this movie was the visceral reactions it inspired. Partly I think the marketing has worked incredibly well (despite some spoiler-heaviness in the later trailers) – everyone at the first screening had somehow been primed to loathe Colin Farrell. Long, long before the movie gave them any real reason to do so. I have never seen a declaration of love be met with a cinema full of scoffs, but there’s a first time for everything. Be warned, many of the other audible reactions were to some rather loving shots of wounds. I’m sensitive to that sort of stuff so I used some rather judicious looking-at-the-back-of-that-person’s-head-over-there, but even the sounds were (realistically) revolting.

Next, this movie is tight. Even if your local cinema is indulgent with the trailers, you should be in and out in two hours. I’d accuse the film of having no filler, but at the second screening I was considering taking a count of the number of near-identical shots of the porch at the fictional Farnsworth Seminary that feature. The many exterior shots do however do the job of establishing the near-oppressive atmosphere of this micro-world. The hothouse environment is emphasised by a constant background soundtrack of booming combat on the nearby front, cicadas singing and frogs croaking. In this environment, we find female sexuality blooming in the unexpected presence of an injured soldier.

While the movie does have a darkly comedic tone (often relating back to female sexuality, competition, and power), I found Elle Fanning’s teen temptress broad in a way that did not fit in to the tone of the film at first. She lacks the depth hinted at by the more experienced actresses. On my second viewing, I felt that her character fit quite well in to Coppola’s oeuvre – after all, the disaffected, languorous flirt is not a world away from the character Dunst was playing for Coppola eighteen years ago (my apologies if you were just made deeply aware of your own mortality) in The Virgin Suicides. Nonetheless, given the effort this film makes to tell the story from the female perspective (unlike the 1971 original), it would have been rewarding to see more from this character.

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Just a nice casual dinner

One of the things I discussed with a friend after the first screening is the renewing revelation of Nicole Kidman. How somehow finding that you enjoy her work is surprising, over and over again. It seems that she has somehow been shoehorned in to the wrong roles over the years, but is at her best nowadays when she can put forth a steeliness which is greatly used here (I also loved her brittle turn in Lion). As the protective headmistress she wages an internal battle between her urge to see the enemy soldier out the house, and the mounting desire to have him stay. Three years in to a war is a long time, after all. Kirsten Dunst also deserves credit for her turn as the teacher Edwina. In her, every woman can see the part of herself who falls for the classic fuckboy charms (and we can all acknowledge Colin Farrell is annoyingly charming, yet the dangerous side of Corporal John McBurney comes as no surprise when it emerges).

All I wanted to know when I saw the trailer above is what those ‘vengeful bitches’ had done to him, but I’m not going to let you in on that. This is a movie to immerse yourself in. How an atmospherically languid film manages to ratchet up the tension in the way it does is masterful. I would strongly suggest not watching the original film or the latter trailers before going to see it – the audience reactions (including my own!) as the film takes its twists and turns, enhanced by the dark comedy, were all I needed to know that this film is best seen unspoilered. But given the main competition at the Australian box office for The Beguiled will be a teenage boy slinging webs, and a young man driving a baby around (presumably – terrible name), don’t you just want to see a fuckboy taken down for once?

‘My Cousin Rachel’: The Victorian Values Review

I’m sure it will shock you to learn, but this blog has not been so very successful that promoters are throwing preview screening tickets at me. No, I went to see My Cousin Rachel yesterday on my own dime. I thought that given it’s on a somewhat limited release, people might be more willing to go to their local movie complex to see if The Mummy is really as bad as people say it is (it will be) rather than haul their backsides to their local arthouse or indie cinema to watch a movie that, based on the trailer, may or may not be about incest. This was enough to inspire me to do a little write-up.

Based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca, The Birds), My Cousin Rachel tells the story of Philip and Rachel, the widowed wife of the man who raised him. After Philip’s cousin Ambrose dies unexpectedly in foreign lands, Philip immediately suspects his new wife Rachel, a woman he has only heard about in letters. However when she turns up on his doorstep, she is far from the schemer he expected. Philip’s dangerous obsession with Rachel grows, isolating him from those that care about him, with ultimately tragic consequences.

Finally, Sam Claflin has an opportunity to be less than charming. In fact, many times during the course of My Cousin Rachel, all you want to do is slap him upside the head. As Philip’s longterm family lawyer and guardian, Iain Glen must have felt very comfortable being subjected to yelling and tantrums while his well-meaning advice is consistently ignored. Just add some dragons and he’s back in Westeros.

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“Calm your farm, Phileesi”

For a film about passion and obsession, My Cousin Rachel in the end is quite sexless and chaste. While Philip and Rachel eventually develop an intimate relationship, it is all implied on screen. It’s a weakness of the movie, to some extent. It is possible the choice was made to secure a favourable rating for the film – in Australia it is rated PG for mild themes (presumably revolving around Philip’s proclivity for trashing furniture in a rage), violence, and occasional coarse language. But while it’s not suggested that every movie must become 9½ Weeks, it seems a waste of two incredibly charismatic leads to not explore this aspect further. There’s no real need for a film like this to be family-friendly – I was the only person under the age of 50 at an opening weekend screening.

Rachel Weisz has frequently played the kind of woman you could fall in love with at the drop of the hat (hello Evie in the far superior version of The Mummy), but her femme fatale role as Rachel adds layers to this. As any good noir woman, she has an air of mystery that draws in our hapless hero. However, she is less of a seductress and more of an oddball. Not just because of her ‘foreign’ obsessions with tisanes and potions, but her mannerisms are coltish and nervous at first, despite the her ongoing ability to charm the community around her. In the end, Rachel remains a mystery to viewers. Many questions are left unanswered. This is not strictly a weak point – and it may be expanded upon more in the book, which I have not yet read – but leaves a lot of room for discussion afterwards about the potential motivations of her character.

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Weirdly, I walked out of this movie desperate for a cup of tea

Apart from the heavy noir influences, the film also has a strong Gothic tone. As the lines between reality, delusion and fantasy begin to blur, the walls of this huge candlelit manor seem to close in. The battle for Philip’s soul takes place in the light-filled village, with sensible family friend and presumed intended Louise  (Holliday Grainger) begging him to see sense in drawing rooms, churches and sun-filled porches, while in the hidden corners of the Ashley estate, Philip steals in to Rachel’s room by moonlight to perform a boyish seduction.

It is rare in modern times to see a period film that focuses on the dangers of passion and obsession. Most of the world would rather see a nice neat Austen adaptation than a Brontë, but films like My Cousin Rachel introduce an ambiguity – of motivation, of resolution – that television has arguably become much better at than cinema. It’s refreshing to walk out of a screening with questions, with much to discuss afterwards, rather than just observe the quality of a particular fight scene (although, please, let us all discuss the Amazons in Wonder Woman and how we’d like to be one when we grow up) or use of CGI. If you decide to see the film, please come back here and let me know, because I’m dying to talk to someone about it!