Whitney

Whitney (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

An in-depth look at the life and music of Whitney Houston.

There’s not a lot to say by way of a narrative here. Most of us have a rough idea of the life story of one of the most famous stars of all time – and it’s a tragic one, obviously.

What Whitney does is fill in a few blanks and gives us an impressive collection of early documentation to pour over – as well as a lot of private video footage. Spliced with current day interviews with Whitney’s mother, brothers and various loved ones, it has the tendency to slip into dullness – during the lower key parts, one of my movie buds started to fall asleep! That said, it isn’t bad at all – and is a must see for anyone who grew up on the sounds of this phenomenal woman.

My personal favourite Whitney period, apart from 80’s Whit is The Bodyguard Whit, and it’s really sad to think about what else she could have achieved if things had been different. She lights up the screen whenever she’s on it – and has so much charisma, it’s almost supernatural.

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Whitney isn’t a fluffy watch by any means and it goes in hard on addiction by showing Whitney’s painful public interviews at the height of her sickness, as well as behind-the-scenes clips of her acting strangely while under the influence of drugs.

Her relationship with Bobby Brown is examined closely and echoes in some ways the journey of Amy Winehouse in Amy. Both were troubled women let down by, and heavily influenced negatively, by the men in their lives. We also learn that Whitney, along with at least one of her brothers suffered abuse as a child, which serves to explain at least a part of her later issues.

This is also cited as one of the reasons Whitney wouldn’t let her daughter out of her sights, even on tour. Some of the footage of poor Bobbi Kristina over the years is hard to stomach – and the later knowledge that she met her own tragic end just a few years after her mother is truly heartbreaking.

All in all a good documentary with a few details most of us might not have known. It does leave you feeling very bummed out though – all three of us left the theater feeling pretty low. But the music – OBVS – is wonderful.

My Rating

3.5/5.

Ps. I rewatched The Bodyguard the day after and it is perfect.

Funny Cow

Funny Cow (2018)

Directed by: Adrian Shergold
Starring: Maxine Peake, Stephen Graham, Paddy Considine, Diane Morgan, Lindsey Coulson

IMDB Synopsis

A comedian uses her troubled past as material for her stand-up routine, trying to rise up through the comedy circuit by playing Northern England’s working men’s clubs.

Where: Duke’s @ Komedia
When: Tuesday 24th April, directly after Beast
Snacks: Homemade Victoria sponge cake, Cawston Press Rhubarb

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Funny Cow isn’t really the comedy you’d expect. Shot through with tragedy and pain, it’s more a clawing to the top of the comedy game by way of a lifetime of disappointment, violence and regret.

Maxine Peake (one of the UK’s greatest treasures) plays the titular Funny Cow, a working class Northern lass dragged up with her brother by a troubled single mother following the passing of her violent father.

Her mother, in ‘present day’ is played by Eastender’s Carol Jackson (Coulson) which frankly feels like genius casting and the role of Funny Cow’s Mum is a poignant one. She’s all at once deeply frustrating and utterly vulnerable – you want to slap and protect her at the same time. And her scenes with Funny Cow are among the best.

As Funny Cow grows up and leaves home to starting building a nest of her own with her future husband, the years pass by in a flash and things are never quite as grand as she’d hoped. Trapped in a violent relationship that echoes that of her parents’, Funny has ideas above her station but little outlet to realise them. Not if her imposing husband Bob (Tony Pitts) has anything to do with it, either.

The years flutter by and Funny suffers punch after slap after kick at the hands of her so-called partner. One day she catches Lenny’s (Alun Armstrong) stand up routine at the local club and this drives her forward on her quest to perform comedy.

Lenny himself is an unlikely mentor, an old-skool blue comedian who tells Funny she’s better off removing her clothing than trying to be funny, because well, women aren’t. This somehow doesn’t put Funny off and the two develop an odd-companionship.

At one point Funny makes it to a talent contest under threat of a broken nose but when faced with an open mic and opportunity, she sadly freezes up. This doesn’t make the ensuing violence at Bob’s hand worth it but does finally give her the push she needs to leave him.

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Pretentious book seller Angus (Considine) is on hand to rescue this damsel in distress and things are better for a while, Funny moves into his grand home and they share a life free of violence and distress. But his apparent need to My Fair Lady her becomes unappealing and Funny finally goes out on her own, free from men and ready to embark on the career she wants.

I really loved this because of the central performances. Paddy Considine never lets me down and Peake is such a talented, nuanced actress. While Funny Cow leads a hard life, she never once presents as a victim. She’s a bit of a shit-stirrer actually, even from childhood and you get a sense at times that she’s trying to see the funny side of all of that turmoil, even enjoying it. There’s a scene where she visits her brother and his family, and simply relishes winding up his wife.

All of Funny Cow’s comedy stems from her own experiences (I guess as with most comedians) and while this film is unlikely to have you laughing out loud, it will cut straight to your heart-strings.

The violence is hard to stomach and some of the jokes told on the circuit come straight from the Bernard Manning school of comedy, so are offensive af and not funny at all but I found the conclusion really heart-warming as Funny Cow is able to offer closure to her mother and find a slice of peace for herself.

I liked.

My Rating

3.5/5.