Monday, April 16, 2018

The Love Witch (2016) Review : A Feminist, Technicolour Homage to 70's Sexploitation

The Love Witch is a film that's been on my radar for a couple years now, and I'm so thrilled I finally sat down to watch it. Shot and projected on 35mm film, with rich and lush colours, The Love Witch pays homage to the 60s and 70s exploitation films, and Italian Gaillo. Visually, it's done so perfectly, it's hard to believe this treat came out in 2016.  It's director, Anna Biller, is a powerhouse herself, having wrote, produced, and directed the film, PLUS having made the costumes and much of what you see on screen. 

The story follows a witch, Elaine (played by newcomer Samantha Robinson), as she moves to a new city and is on the hunt for the perfect man. Along the way she entraps men through her love potions, however, things don't ever go as planned. Samantha does a phenomenal job in this role, with her sultry and often humorous performance, combined with absolutely stunning physical features and makeup. Although the film has a feminist message, in particular the seductive powers women have on males, The Love Witch doesn't shove this down your throat. In fact, Samantha's character has a lot of qualities that aren't ideal, and she too, is flawed. 

Elaine does however, have immensely quotable lines and some viewpoints that are spot-on. In a scene where she's mixing a love potion, she throws in a used tampon, commenting on the fact that women bleeding isn't something men should be grossed out about. "Women bleed and it's a beautiful thing", she says. Her finest and most powerful delivery lies near the end, however. As she's fighting to explain her rationale she states that society teaches males to be stoic and that, "a woman's intuitions and emotions are illnesses that need to be cured." In our day and age this rings a very strong bell, and it's wonderful to see a heroine challenge society's ideals. 

All in all, this film is wrapped in such a vividly beautiful technicolour package, one that never ceased to amaze me. Elaine's striking blue eye makeup, her Victorian apartment with brightly coloured walls, to the tea house where the ladies gossip all while wearing ornate and colourful flowered hats; it's all such a treat for the eyes. Sure, some reviewers have commented on the acting being at times, overdone, but to be entirely honest, stilted performances are the point and a complete throwback to the pulp genre. Another bonus? Biller takes actual soundtracks from Giallo films, and hearing the music of Morricone makes my heart skip a beat. As for the length of the movie? If you're a fan of vintage horror and exploitation genres, the 120 minute run-time will be heaven for you. 

The Love Witch is the exact sort of film I adore - blending classic horror with ultra-feminist ideals. And it's these ideals that Biller manages to drive home, or at least makes us want to talk about it. Questions about the way men deal with female sexuality and gender relations in general, are wonderful points of discussion long after the movie is over. Samantha Robinson's character on the other hand, blazes a path and teaches us that she too is "just a little girl dreaming of being carried off on a white horse" but as her life and society taught her, she has been reduced to something else, not much more than eye candy. It's because she has been denied that basic respect that Elaine has become a narcissistic monster; brainwashed by the patriarchy and obsessed with murder. 

If you want a seriously beautiful sensory overload that harks back to vintage genres, I suggest you go see The Love Witch. It's certainly not a film for everyone, but with its layers of complexity it's poignant, touching upon society's norms that are definitely worth questioning.



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Do What You Love & Floss - A Pow Wow with Jon and Roy

If there could be a band that perfectly captures the essence of British Columbia, Canada - it would be Victoria's own, Jon and Roy. With their woodsy guitar plucking, to their coastal, laid-back percussion, the duo are perfect for any outdoor activity you plan to embark on, on a mission to get you and all the forest critters groovin' and toe-tapping. 

The long-time bandmates are at a high, having released their seventh album to critical acclaim. Fresh from their European tour and a joie de vivre that can't be matched, Jon and Roy join us for a quick pow wow before settling in to play a sold out show at the Commodore in Vancouver.  

PP: Ok so, let's get started. Tell us about yourselves. Who are you guys, and more importantly, what are your fans doing while they're listening to your music?

Roy: Ok well, first off we're Jon and Roy. I'm Roy, this is Jon who plays guitar. We've been playing music together for a long time, like 15 years-ish. Our first time was 2005, we've added and subtracted many members over the course of the years. Our 7th album came out last Spring, The Road Ahead is Golden, and we just back from tour in Europe. I don't know what fans are doing while they're listening to us. Probably just driving around, or having sex, or drinking, or doing what normal people do. 

Jon: Most things. 

Roy: Probably not power-lifting.

PP: Your Runner video off the new album is an homage to Wes Anderson. Big fans of his I assume? Favourite film? Why?

Roy: Ooooh.

Jon: I actually think I enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel the most.

Roy: I have to go with Zissou because The Life Aquatic had Bill Murray, and had so many funny lines, and I love the soundtrack.

What's another director or movie you'd want to recreate and do a video to?

Jon & Roy (collectively): Hmmmm.

Roy: Good question. I dunno, I mean I might have to cast Morgan Brooker as The Dude and do The Big Lebowski 

Jon: I mean we also both like the Coen Brothers, or hmmm, I dunno! I don't think we could pull off Blade Runner so we're just sticking with our first answer! (laughs)

PP: We know you just came back from Europe. How was that! How was the European crowd? How do they differentiate from North America? What was your favourite city? 

Jon: I don't know...this tour, almost all the crowds in Europe were really great. A favourite show might have been in Hannover. I suppose it was a bit of an unexpected crowd. We didn't know we'd have so many people there, and they're just really energetic, to the point where they just got into it right from the get-go. It was a solid show.

Roy: Sometimes you gotta like, "earn your audience" through the course of the show,  but they were like, ready for it. 

PP: Your music evokes a lot of emotion, in particular the urge to just pack your bags and go on a road trip, and never come home. Can you describe your ultimate road trip to us?

Jon: I mean honestly..I don't know if we have an "ultimate" road trip. I would like to drive around South America I've never done that. Such an unknown down there!

Roy: I would also, yes, that sounds pretty awesome to me. I don't know, I mean I'd...yeah. I loved driving around Europe, but I think I'd love to drive around South America. That'd be pretty awesome. 

PP: So while you guys are driving around South America, what would your ultimate road trip album have to be? If you had to pick one! 

Roy: It's so not the era of the album anymore! I don't know if we got through one full album in Europe...we listened to JJ Cale's Troubadour, but I don't know what else we got through a lot of..

Jon: JJ Cale would be a good one though. 

Roy: Yeah.

Jon: We listened to a bit of Fat Freddy's Drop, it was all over the place. I mean we also listened to Nas. What album was it...The World is Yours was on it....Illmatic! That's what it was. And then...sorry my brain isn't functioning high enough right now. I gotta think of something here. I gotta look at my phone to tell you. 

Roy: Yeah same! What should we listen to...

PP: Maybe you guys have a guilty pleasure you'd like to listen to.

Jon: We listened to Bone Thugs n Harmony quite a bit. I'll admit that. Nas, Damian Marley, Talking Heads...

Roy: We were all over the place.

PP: Your music makes us want to go camping. So....we have brought you camping gifts. So you have: Outdoor Oregon - A Tour Guide Map, Matches - 

Jon: Those are some hefty matches!!

PP: A Bird Behaviour Book - 

Roy: Oh! That's for me I think. 

Jon: His nickname is Bird.

PP: And a bow and arrow, because...why not?

Jon: We can play cupid and pick up some ladies later. 

PP: You guys get to pick one of these. Tell us why.

Roy: I've already chosen my item.

Jon: Bird knows what he likes.

Roy: I just like birds. I've always liked birds. And now I can study them. 

Jon: and it's in colour! 

PP: From the 70s. 

Roy: It's pretty awesome! Thank you! 

Jon: I would definitely take the matches because...I love fire. And I've never seen such long matches before. 

PP: Well, you can keep the bow and arrow also.

Roy: You know what, we're gonna bestow them upon the other members of our band. I like this whole gift-giving thing. I feel like we should be giving you something. We have nothing. Next time we're in Vancouver let us know, and we'll put you on the list for the show! 

PP: Thanks guys! 

We know you sometimes bust out unexpected covers, such as the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK. What are some other covers you'd love to do that would be so out of your spectrum, but equally rad?

Jon: I don't know because with covers we usually don't like think about it. A cover usually comes to us. Like we'll find a song that's cool, and then be like, "this is worth trying" and then we'll try, we'll roll with it. It's really hard to predict! 

Roy: Ones we're doing right now...we're doing a Max Romeo song called Little Girl but we changed it to Beautiful Girl 

Jon: The chorus sounded a little perverted so..

Roy: Not the right time for that. But yeah then we usually do some Toots, we usually have a Toots song cover. On the horizon we don't know, we'll see what happens. 

Jon: Gheorghe Zamfir.

Roy: Maybe some Gheorghe Zamfir. 

Jon: Available at all thrift stores.

PP: You know what we can't find at all thrift stores and we keep looking? Minnie Riperton's Only You. 

Unison: Never heard! 

Jon: I'm writing this down! That's a great name. 

PP: When you guys are on the road, be it Europe, or even across North America, what do you miss about being back home the most?

Jon: I mean, Victoria is a pretty awesome place. I definitely miss knowing where I'll sleep every night. It's comforting.

Roy: I miss my dog and my wife. Not in that order. 

Jon: Also like...being home and being able to cook your own food. Eating out is fun for a while's unhealthy. Veggies are drenched in sauces, and I also ended up eating a lot of meat for some reason, which I usually don't do at home. It's 'cos it's easier. 

PP: Lastly, a piece of advice for our listeners, anything at all.

Roy: Find something that you like doing, and then just do it. A lot. Until you get good at it.

Jon: That's a good piece of advice. Floss also, on a regular basis. 

PP: Okay so, do what you love and floss. 

Roy: (laughs) That could be the title of this interview. 


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