I thoroughly enjoyed Last Night in Soho, part murder mystery, part psychological horror it was entertaining and visually captivating to watc...

Movie: Last Night in Soho (2021)

I thoroughly enjoyed Last Night in Soho, part murder mystery, part psychological horror it was entertaining and visually captivating to watch. I knew the premise from watching the trailer, but there are a bunch of plot twists at the end that will surprise you!

***MAJOR SPOILER ALERT***

We see young Eloise Turner, an aspiring fashion designer, get accepted to the London College of Fashion. She loves the swinging 1960s music and style, and has visions of her dead mother. Her gran warns her about moving to London, and what it did to her mother, but Ellie is confident she can take care of herself. We find out her mother committed suicide when Ellie was 7. Ellie is an outcast and doesn't fit in at the party dorm residence in London, so she takes matters into her own hands and rents a top apartment in an old building. The world-weary landlord, Ms. Collins, warns her of a smell in the apartment during the summer and a strict no boys allowed past 8pm policy.

Her first night in the new place, Ellie dreams of herself in the 1960s as another woman named Alexandra, whose nickname is Sandie. Sandie is confident, loves attention, and her style is the epitome of 1960s high fashion. She walks into a club looking for the owner because she wants to sing there, but instead she meets Jack. A knight-in-shining-armor man that punches out a guy that won't take no for an answer. They make a scene, leave in a rush, and he asks her out for the following night. Sandie just happens to live in Ellie's apartment. Ellie's alarm goes off, and she goes to class. Being inspired, she uses the pink dress from dream girl Sandie as part of her design for class.


This dress is classy, flowy and a showstopper.

This first sequence is wonderful, there's lots of mirror-play where you see the other woman in the mirror, it reminded me of Poltergeist III. The 1960s dancing is fun, and Sandie's hair is perfect throughout every scene. Of course, Ellie can't wait to find out what happens next, and neither can the audience!

Mirror mirror on the wall. Things are not as they seem in the hall.

Ellie resumes her dream from the night before, again she's cast as Sandie. Jack picks her up and takes her to an empty bar. She asks what she's doing there, and he got her a singing audition there! She's thrilled, even though it's not the club from the night before. (Her singing sounds a little too contemporary for my liking, but it's ok.) She takes Jack back to her place (Ellie's place in the present) and it's presumed they have sex. Ellie's alarm goes off. Wanting to be more like Sandie, she dyes her hair blonde and gets a vintage white vinyl trench coat. She's stopped on the street by a creepy old man who thinks he knows her. This leads her to thinking that he's Jack from her dreams.

Ellie buys a copy of Sandie's trench coat. 

Ellie's dreams start to take a turn for the worse, the club Sandie auditioned at was a girly peepshow, and she ends up as just a chorus girl in the background. Jack is a scumbag and is buddies with the man he punched from the first night. Jack introduces her around and explains to her that she needs to "make nice" with the guys around town to work her way up to a better club. Essentially, he's pimping her out. She runs out, but then we see her in Ellie's same apartment with the guy she was just introduced to. She ends up a go-go dancer prostitute.

Ellie begins to have visions in her waking life of Sandie and all her johns. The johns are faceless and very creepy. So in addition to the creepy old man she thinks is old Jack following her, she sees ghosts too. She becomes unhinged. 

The unhinging.

Her guy friend invites her to a Halloween party. The mean girls from the party dorm are dressed as 1990s The Craft. Lol. Siouxsie and the Banshees "Happy House" is playing in the background as she is trying to fit in again at the bar, but the ghosts follow her. She sees Sandie and the johns. She tells her friend she needs air and goes outside in the rain. He follows her, they end up kissing, and she invites him back to her apartment. They sneak upstairs and are going to have sex when Ellie has a bloody vision in the mirror of a knife stabbing and freaks out screaming. She thinks she knows how Sandie died now. The screaming wakes up her landlord, and her friend gets kicked out.

The next day Ellie asks the landlord if anyone died in her room and Ms. Collins is very generic about it and says "people have died in every room in London and on every corner." Ellie goes to class and sees dead people everywhere and rushes out. She sees the dead men everywhere. To help her cope, she goes to the police and tells them about her dreams. The woman there takes her seriously and says she'll look into it. Her guy friend, surprisingly, looks for Ellie and wants to help her in any way he can. Ellie herself begins to go through the microfiche looking for an old case. There's lots of death in London in the 1960s. He helps her look. But she can't escape the ghosts!

Ms. Collins, that sneaky bitch. (Played by Diana Rigg of 1960s Avengers fame.)

Ellie has a freak-out at the library too and runs outside. She sees who she thinks is old Jack. She tries to record him confessing to the murder of Sandie, but he walks away and says, "I didn't kill Sandie, Alex did."  and we find out his name is Lindsey, and he was a police officer, that knew Sandie in the 1960s, he even briefly appeared in Ellie's dream! This is a lot for Ellie to process, and she wants to move out of the apartment. She grabs her friend and tells him to wait in the car while she goes inside to let Ms. Collins know she's moving out.

Not Jack, but Lindsey.

We then find out that the lady police officer came by and questioned Ms. Collins, and that Ms. Collins...DUN DUN DUN is Alexandra aka Sandie Collins! SHE KILLED all the men that she slept with back in the 1960s including Jack and stashed them in that apartment in the walls and floors. And she poisoned Ellie's tea to keep her from talking about what she discovered. Ellie's slowly loosing consciousness, and her friend that was in the car comes to the door to check on her. Alexandra / Sandie stabs him and starts slashing at Ellie while she crawls up the stairs. Meanwhile Alexandra / Sandie's cigarette falls and starts the building on fire. Ellie crawls up to her old apartment and sees the faceless men again. They followed her because THEY WANTED HER HELP. They wanted her to expose Ms Collins as their killer. The building burns, Ellie and her friend escape, and Alexandra / Sandie cuts her throat and stays in the burning building.

Ellie stays in fashion school and has a successful end of the semester runway show loosely based on 1960s designs, and we see Ellie look in the mirror one last time. She sees her mother, but also young 1960s Sandie. It's a little cheesy for an ending, but the rest was excellent, so I won't hold it again the movie.

The fashion, soundtrack, story, and visuals were as sharp as a knife. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 Vesper martinis. 

Here's the trailer...






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So let me preface with...I had intended to write this blog when The El ectrical Life of Louis Wain movie was still at the theaters. ( I bou...

Movie: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2021)

So let me preface with...I had intended to write this blog when The Electrical Life of Louis Wain movie was still at the theaters. (I bought tickets online and everything!) Got to the theater and there was a mix up. They weren't showing it that night. I should have taken this as a sign. They were very nice and offered us passes for another day. So I ended up seeing Dune at a different theater because dammit I was going to see a new movie! (Side note: Dune was great and I can't wait for the second part.)

I wanted to like The Electrical Life of Louis Wain more. It's a tearjerker, I cried at least twice, there's a lot of death, it needed more artwork, and cats. (But really, what movie doesn't need more cats?)

***SPOILER ALERT***

This movie follows the true story of British artist Louis Wain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It's wonderfully narrated in case you need to know more than what's on the screen. We learn that his father has died and he's now the head of the household of five sisters and his eccentric aging mother. As a result, he's responsible for earning money. Not a person to stay in one place and be stable, he dabbles in boxing, writing, inventing, but one things for certain, he's a talented artist. He gets offered a job at the Illustrated London News, the top newspaper in the late 1880s, and he declines...at first.

Then we see where he lives. The house is run down, and his eldest sister hires a live-in governess to teach the three younger sisters. Louis is visually upset by this, especially since they have no money to pay her, BUT once he sees the governess, Emily, he's smitten. He goes back and takes the job at the paper to keep the governess.

The first part of the movie is very different than the second half. It shows Emily and Louis' budding romance through quirky awkward interactions. There's hints that Louis experienced trauma in a boat at sea, but it's never fleshed out as part of the story. Meanwhile, the snobby older sister doesn't like the way the astute and perceptive governess is influencing her sisters, or the gossip in town related to her and Louis. Louis is meant to marry for money to keep the household going, not marry for love below his station with a governess. Emily is asked to leave the house, and Louis and her solidify their love for each other, contrary to what his sisters want. In 1884 he asks for Emily's hand in marriage. 

Emily and Louis move out of his parents house to the country. (FYI-STILL NO CATS YET?! WHERE ARE THE CATS?! SHOW ME THE CATS?) He happily finds work as a dog portraitist and continues to send a support check to the ladies in his family. We see their love as blossoming but realistic, supportive, and not too sappy. Then with a dramatic blow ~ we find out that Emily has breast cancer! Louis looses his job at the news, and spends more time with his wife. They find a tuxedo kitten in the yard, take him in and name him Peter. (FINALLY A CAT!)

Louis, Emily, & Peter

Peter becomes the inspiration for more and more cat drawings. You have to remember at the time, cats were just strays, they weren't considered an animal you would have as a pet. He cheered Emily up with capturing pictures of Peter's personality. He makes cats anthropomorphic. Back in real life, they dress Peter up in a red bow, take him for walks, and he becomes a central part of their family. (Like all cats should.)

Quirky Anthropomorphic Cats

Louis remains friends with the owner of the news, and is invited back to illustrate a large centerfold piece for the Christmas edition of the paper. They want a spread dedicated to kittens because they are "delightful."  (Duh. WE KNOW THIS. Cats are the best.)

Eventually Emily just doesn't wake up one morning. This is when the movie gets very very depressing and the mood changes. Louis continues to share the beauty of the world and bury his grief in cat illustrations. There's even an exclusive newspaper dedicated to him as an artist. He brings Peter, his cat, everywhere with him essentially becoming an emotional support cat before that was even considered something you would do. He changed people's minds about cats and earned the President of the National Cat Club title. Go cat daddy! 

President of the National Cat Club and a kitty

Yay! Good things happening, but then we find out he lost a ton of money because he never copyrighted his pictures. His younger sister is diagnosed with schizophrenia and never ends up improving, his cat Peter dies (AND THEY SHOW PETER LYING ON THE FLOOR. We didn't even see his wife not waking up, we just concluded that she didn't. BUT THEY SHOW THE DEAD KITTY.) Totally awful. 

His images graced countless books, and he didn't get royalities.

Louis ends up harnessing his suffering into his work. He uses his atmospheric "electricity" to make beautiful drawings...that we see him briefly making, and are only shown the finished pieces in quick glances often already in the papers. He mentions electricity a lot, but it's never really explained either.

He gets offered a job in America to illustrate and he takes it because "he has to help the cats in America" be respected as pets...and he needs the money. He changes the blind prejudice that people have against cats. Then we learn his mother dies from influenza, so he takes a boat back home and has nightmares and hallucinations about the tragedy that happened to him as a child. It's still not explained. Maybe he was on a boat and it capsized? Anyway he gets back, gets hit by a bus and goes into a coma having visions of the future, wakes up and his sister dies of the flu. His friend, the head of the Illustrated London News, dies too. He lands in an institution. People find out of his living there and a fund is created in his honor called the Louis Wain Fund. Even H.G Wells contributes! The donations help him secure a place in a living facility in the country where he can be with cats roaming around. There's a cameo by Nick Cave in the movie that seems forced and very out of place. This whole section of the movie is sped up and glossed over, but the make up they aged him in is perfection.

Although I'm happy his psychedelic cat  pictures helped to transform the public’s perception of cats forever, he never really seems to unlock the “electrical” mysteries of the world. The acting was great, but the pacing and story needed help. AND IT NEEDS MORE CATS. I give it two kittens out of 5. Sorry.


Trailer...









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This is the time of year, in Tonawanda, NY when it's 10 degrees out, and I want to stay in and do nothing but read under the covers, but...

The Hour of the Witch: Is Never Ending

This is the time of year, in Tonawanda, NY when it's 10 degrees out, and I want to stay in and do nothing but read under the covers, but first I watched all the Harry Potter movies ~ because let's be real ~ they are Christmas movies, and rewatched The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies because I want to be in another time and place. So I was reaching for escapism when I plucked The Hour of the Witch: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian from the mountain of books at my bedside. It brought me back to my vacations to Salem, but also to a much darker place that I wasn't looking for.

The Hour of the Witch checks my fav boxes for books... historical fiction check, witches check, 1600 New England check. It follows the story of Mary Deerfield a devout Christian wife who traveled from England in the hopes of living in "heaven on earth" in the new world, unfortunately she marries Thomas, a mill owner that's twice her age and abusive. Trigger warning: he's very physically and verbally abusive to her behind closed doors in the hopes that he can stop her from independent thought and "break her like a mare".

Peregrine is the daughter from Thomas's first marriage, and around the same age as Mary. She has a nice husband and two beautiful children. It's said her mother was kicked by a horse and died from a broken neck. Thomas shot the horse to show how much he cared, not for the horse, but for what it did to his wife. You can read into that or make your own assumptions.

The book is written from Mary's point of view, and we see her thoughts as they come up. I was surprised that although this takes place in the 1660s, her thoughts are still current and understandable today. She second guesses herself, feeling like the abuse is deserved. They've been married five years and have no children, so she's blamed for being barren. She struggles with trying not to be envious of other women with children. Her focus is just trying to be an obedient wife and devout Christian, but by the end of the book you see a change in her.

She finds two three tine forks and a pestle buried in her front yard. Well, three tine forks ~ as we all know ~ are the mark of the Devil. Seriously, though, many of the locals thought that then. This triggers Mary to begin questioning those around her. Who is the witch trying to curse her? Is it her and she doesn't remember? The gaslighting is strong. 

Mary's final straw is when Thomas stabs her hand with one of the forks, breaking bones. She leaves him that night to stay with her affluent parents, and decides that she can no longer live with him since she fears for her life and his abuse keeps escalating. She wants a divorce.

A divorce back then really had to be proven worthy and granted by the magistrate. Even with her family's wealth being influential among the judges, and evidence of his abuse, there were no witnesses to his temper and everyone attests to Thomas' good character. He shot the horse after all. The proceedings last two days with accusations in between of Mary being an adulterer since an admirer, named Henry, a handsome nephew of merchants near the docks that are friends with her parents, kissed her, and witch since she was seen talking to a Constance, a questionable woman who was friends with a hanged witch, and to top it off she has three tine forks in her house ~ the Devil's instrument. 

Her parents, though on her side, seem to have made a pact with Thomas behind Mary's back. They want her to go back home to him, so she isn't tried as a witch and hanged. Mary dreams of leaving Thomas, taking 1/3 of his wealth, and marrying Henry. He lights a spark in her she has never felt before. He's closer to her age and adores her. Furthermore, he takes the blame for the kiss and gets sentenced to fifteen lashes in the stocks.

In a predictable blow, the magistrate decides not to grant her a divorce.

Mary goes back to her marriage prison with Thomas and the abuse continues. Now Thomas is threatening Henry too, and Mary's witchy wiles are awakened. At this point, she feels it can't get any worse, so why not be accused of witchcraft? Her fondness for Henry never falters, and she tries to find out exactly who has cursed her. In the meantime, she visits Constance, on the outskirts of town for advice. With her guidance, Mary concocts a plan to poison her husband and blame it on their servant. In the end, she can't go through with it, and the tables turn once again. Mary is accused of witchcraft and put in jail.

The mystery unravels if you are paying attention, and Mary figures it out too. I loved it. The last few chapters end in a flourish of events. It was riveting, and I couldn't wait to find out what Mary was thinking. Part mystery, thriller, and love story, I won't give the ending away, but it's definitely very satisfying, although sad what women endure, even to this day. So I'm going to include this too. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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Yes, I'm still alive! I know it's been a couple of months since I blogged. I blinked and December was over with. Not sure if you car...

Being Busy & Coraline

Yes, I'm still alive! I know it's been a couple of months since I blogged. I blinked and December was over with. Not sure if you care to read why, but here I am playing catch up with everything in my life.

Let me begin with, I broke a record! Not the kind I planned on, but I worked 26 days in a row at my shop Cats Like Us. December is always a busy month because we have extended hours and are open days we are normally closed. I usually take one of those days off since they are less busy, but they were busy! I'm not complaining, and I didn't really start counting the days until about the 21st day in a row. (That was my old record, in case you were wondering. I know you were!) Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but I am tired.

I got my Covid booster shot early in December, so I was bracing for the worst, but honestly I was fine, even better than the original shots. Andrew, my husband, on the other hand was fine the first day after the booster, but then felt sick for about a day. He typically has a reaction, so we space our shots out and never get them on the same day. That was a little stressful, not to mention at one point he thought he had Covid but tested negative. Phew. Bullet dodged. 

With Covid running rampant in Western New York, planning Christmas holidays with family was...to say the least complicated. In total, I celebrated four Christmas' and two of them I hosted. I made cookies and a new lasagna recipe between work. They were a hit! This is saying something when everyone has a special diet. And speaking of Covid...

In December I had friends in the emergency room. People my age! (I say this because I feel youngish... in my 40s.) One friend's illness was unexpected, and she is home recovering now, the other contracted Covid and is still in the hospital after a month on oxygen, vacillating between the ICU and acute care. So that's been weighing on me. I check in with him almost every day. 

On a personal note, I went to my dermatologist after not going in about ten years. They gave me bad advice for my skin, and it's still in recovery. My eyelids and under eyes got dry, itchy, red, and started peeling. So I'm working through figuring out what to do about my face. I can either have great texture with spots, or terrible texture without spots. Too bad I can't just get a new one a la Repo the Genetic Opera.

My one remaining cat, Vicktor, went into the vet because he was throwing up food. They never forget to remind us he's elderly, but he's still pretty active. Welp we now know he has the beginning of kidney disease. He's on lots of medication, but so far he's been a champ. Also, since my little Ginger has been gone, he's become my boyfriend. He often follows me around and snuggles like he never has before. I still miss my Ginger daily though. She was one of a kind and my best friend. I still get very upset thinking about her being gone. I still see her out of the corner of my eye. I'm so ready for ghost Ginger to make an appearance!

On the bright side, this Christmas was the Christmas of books. One of those was Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I can hardly believe it's now the 20th anniversary of this children's dark fantasy classic! If you aren't familiar with the story, here it is in a nutshell...Coraline is a curious girl that loves exploring. Often dismissed and ignored by neighbors and parents, she makes her own adventures. One day she discovers a door that leads to another world just like hers, with copies of her house, neighbors, and parents, but something is "off". The other parents pay attention to her and give her their version of love in the form of everything she wants, and I should mention they have large black buttons for eyes. (Eye things will forever creep me out. Needles in eyes, exploding eyes, scooped out eyes. I hate it all. Don't get me started with Fire in the Sky and the needle scene. Lol.) Coraline can stay there with the other parents forever or go back to her real family. I won't ruin it for you, but the point of the book is that you have to take the bad with the good. If it wasn't for things you don't like, you wouldn't appreciate the things you do as much. This is my takeaway for 2021. 


I've now added Coraline to my October Halloween reading. October is when it starts to get busy at the shop, so I can't focus on dense books, but I like to read to get me in the Halloween spirit. There are few books I read more than once, but when I do, they are short, easy, and creepy. My other perfect quick-reads include The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, and The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. 


If you've gotten this far know that I appreciate you. Thanks for reading!


 



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