WIGS – Strong Female Characters Ahoy!

Serena WIGS

While searching for something completely unrelated on YouTube last week I stumbled, as I often seem to do, over something a little different. WIGS is an online channel that has been producing high quality scripted drama and releasing it on the internet for free since 2012. I realise that this makes me somewhat late to the game but my research technique mostly involves me clicking through the internet one page at a time so forgive my lateness.

If you are already aware of WIGS then please move along but if not bear with me a second.

What made WIGS stick out to me was firstly the fact that the short films and web series starred actual actors whose names and faces I recognised. Much as I realise this shouldn’t matter to me I have to acknowledge that it does, particularly in the Wild West of YouTube filled with plenty of videos so awful you’d be better off watching the adverts that precede them. I am to blame for some of these videos so I know what I’m talking about.

Faces you might recognise include Julia Stiles, Jennifer Garner, Dakota Fanning, Michael C. Hall, America Ferrera, Stephen Moyer, Jason Isaacs, Jena Malone, Alfred Molina, Allison Janney, Alison Pill, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and plenty others.

The second thing that intrigued me about WIGS may have become evident while reading that artfully copy and pasted list of names; there are women all over the place. It has not been a great time for women on the internet recently/ever and it was refreshing to be offered the opportunity to see female actors take on complex leading roles rather than being offered the opportunity to see female actors take off their shirts without their permission. The phrase “strong female characters” is bandied about a lot and often refers to examples of women in dystopian futures being manipulated and punching authority figures in the throat. A strong female character doesn’t need to possess physical strength just character, real motivations, and to be a protagonists not just a prop or pawn. WIGS provides these in abundance.

I have not been asked to push this particular channel so hard but liked what I saw and wanted to share it with you. To watch their videos I advise visiting their YouTube channel and I have embedded some highlights below:

Jennifer Garner & Alfred Molina star in a short about a woman taking confession.

Allison Janney & Dakota Fanning star in a short about a young woman visiting a doctor who also happens to be a friend of her mother.

Alison Pill & Chris Messina star in a short about an actress being picked up by a man she may have met before.

Jena Malone stars in a series about a young mother relying on poker wins to survive.

Night Moves – LFF Film Review

Night Moves

I am someone who loves their bed; I love to be in it and hate to leave it. Because of this a film has a lot to answer for when I am forced (by nobody other than myself) to attend a screening that starts at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning. Night Moves was off to a bad start before it had even begun.

Night Moves is the low-key portrayal of three environmental activists (Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard, and Dakota Fanning) who plot together to blow up a dam in an attempt to reclaim a river for the sake of the salmon because according to Sarsgaard people never think of the salmon when they want to charge their iPod (I’m paraphrasing here). The film itself is not preaching an environmental message however, in fact the film is not trying to do a whole lot.

None of the three characters in Night Moves are well-developed or particularly likeable so my connection to them was minimal at best. This is a film not focussed on character, imagery, or a message but one that simply shows the events unfolding in the least interesting way possible. This is a completely humourless film with nothing to say that showcases its actors at their least charismatic.

Every scene in the film feels perfunctory as we witness the characters carrying out some task or other before, during, and after their act of sabotage. The film does not waste time exploring things like the motivation of the characters or the real consequences of their actions and even when we are supposed to be witnessing them struggling with what they have done all three members of the group come across as quite cold.

I don’t have the energy to write much more about Night Moves as the film itself simply doesn’t try hard enough. Here we have a film that is not funny, moving, tense, or scary; this film just left me empty and it is nowhere near artistic enough to be this dull.

Night Moves screens at the festival on the 15th, 16th and 17th October.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

Now is Good – Trailer

In no way am I posting this trailer simply because I have failed to watch and review Trishna every night this week so far. Not in the slightest.

[flashvideo file=wp-content/uploads/Now_is_Good_Trailer.flv /]

Now is Good stars Dakota Fanning as Tessa, a teenager diagnosed with leukaemia who is determined to make the most of her remaining life by compiling a list of experiences she doesn’t want to miss out on. This is a film about grief, fear, seizing the day, and falling in love with your attractive neighbour Adam.

If this sounds familiar you’re probably thinking of the Gus Van Sant film from last year called Restless. This starred Mia Wasikowska as a terminally ill girl who falls in love with a nice young man. The main difference appears to be that Now is Good will be 50% less irritating due to its lack of silly hats, Japanese kamikaze pilot ghosts, and young people gate crashing funerals.

Now is Good is also British (hurrah), written by Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel writer), and stars Paddy Considine (brilliant), Olivia Williams (amazing) and Kaya Scodelario (hot*). Bring it on.

Now is Good will arrive in UK cinemas on 25th May.

*Sorry Kat/women everywhere

The Runaways – Review

Best to get this out of the way before we all start getting excited about the comic adaptation The Runaways. Rather than a story of teens running away from their evil parents this is a story about teens forming a band in the 70’s, and it’s almost a true story.

The Runaways isn’t so much a film about the band The Runaways as it is about Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, both played brilliantly by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. They didn’t even bother buying the life rights to the other band members and you’d be forbidden for not noticing that Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat is in the band.

Moving on… is the film any good?

Yes. the film is wonderfully nostalgic for a time I never knew. The music is good and it all rolls along in a fun way. If nothing else it serves as further evidence that outside of Twilight Kristen Stewart is actually quite good.

No. The film feels long while the journey of the band feels rushed. This makes no sense. It also completely fails to get very far under the surface of the characters and you don’t particularly like or relate to anyone.

Well… I used the word good a lot. This is probably in the top three films released this Friday and so long as you don’t find seeing an underage Dakota Fanning singing on stage in her undies then you’ll enjoy it.

The Runaways is out this Friday.