Friday, 22 July 2016


someone caught a pokemon in the office today and everyone got very excited about it.  except they didn't catch a pokemon, did they, because there wasn't actually one there.  except there is a photo of it right there on the fucking photocopier and it's almost like a vortex opened up above my crappy office and two planes of existence met.

so this isn't a review of pokemon go because i can't unsee the body snatchers meme that's going around and also every time someone says pokemon i just hear my boyfriend from when i was thirteen saying 'poke ya mum'.  so i'll review ghostbusters instead.

when melissa mccarthy, playing abby, quotes an internet critic as saying, "ain't no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts," the reality of the internet criticism that the 2016 ghostbusters actors face briefly touches the reality that the 2016 ghostbusters characters are up against in the film.  this creates the paradox of the characters being the 'real' ghostbusters, and the actors merely pretending.  it's paul feig's way of reminding us that reality isn't about truth, it's the layers we are willing to accept overlaid on truth that create reality.  it's his way of reminding us that this film is fucking important.

(if you don't get why this is fucking important, i explained it all in a previous post)

ghostbusters is that great modern tradition, a reboot, of a much-loved 80s classic kids movie about four men who pretty much accidentally become a ghost-hunting force that ends up saving new york from a giant evil marshmallow.  this new film opens on a scene in a kind of disney-fied historical house with a guide telling a spooky story to the visitors when a candlestick falls from a dresser.  after the visitors have gone, we can see this for what it really is - a trick.  but what follows leads him to erin gilbert, an eminent physicist who is trying to hide her paranormal-dabbling past from her bosses at the university. in desperation she hunts out her old friend abby, who continues to pursue proof that ghosts exist with the help of her engineer side-kick jillian holtzmann.  with their careers riding on it they team up with amateur historian patty, who kits them out with some boiler suits and a hearse, and before long they've got an office/lab, a rather familiar logo, and a pretty but hopeless receptionist. and they are going to need it all and some luck besides, to save new york from the threat of an ancient evil being summoned by an embittered bell boy.

except of course, what it's really about is what is real, what do we accept as real, and what do we do when our understanding of reality is challenged?  there are countless references to the original film which seems to neither exist as reality nor as a movie in the world of ghostbusters 2016, yet it is a reality we as an audience bring to the cinema with us.  the reality kevin the receptionist occupies appears to be different from our own.  when two characters are possessed by an evil ghost, what is real takes on another dimension.  feig again is telling us to examine and critique our own reality; that in this escapism, what we can't escape is the framework of references ingrained in us all.  fuck, it's a story about invisible entities embittered that their voices aren't heard; about an audience being tricked into thinking they are seeing the real thing, the establishment desperately trying to maintain the status quo, until the climax happens and the ghostbusters do their thing, but the hauntings can't be unseen, they are there in the public consciousness.  let me spell it out for you - it's a bit like casting four women as the heroes in a summer blockbuster.

plot-wise, i'll be honest, it is a little thin, but i'll refer you back to the giant evil marshmallow. there were also a few moments, notably a pretty long moment at the metal concert, which felt a bit awkward.  feig is definitely at his most confident working with just one or two actors and while his four ghostbusters are a dream-team of comedic talent they also have real acting chops and it would have been nice to see the material stretch them a little further.  for the first twenty minutes or so, all the jokes were pretty self-consciously 'woman jokes', but let's give them a break, no one has ever made a film about four women doing something other than getting married so it was always going to take them a while to warm up.  once they got ghostbusting, i actually laughed out loud (i never laugh out loud) on more than one occasion, and i wasn't the only one.  i especially liked the 'sad, lonely women who read 'eat, pray, love' and ran with it.'

and ten-year-old me fucking loved holtzmann (kate mckinnon).  she's like the manic pixie dream girl who got pissed off with fixing up the adorable hopeless men and became a supercharged pixie goddess mechanic.  i saw a link to some internet ramblings on 'the truth about her sexuality' and i don't fucking care.  actually i really liked that the movie didn't give any of the ghostbusters private lives at all. and that they were dressed, all the way through.  i mean, four women wearing boiler suits, just because that's what the script demands.  it's amazing, and sad that it passes for groundbreaking, but it does. there were lots of moments like this, positive 'this is incredible' moments that also stood out because they should have been so ordinary.  the film passed the reverse bechdel test so easily (two male characters, with names, talking to each other, about something other than a woman) that it made me really fucking angry all over again that this is all but impossible for so many blockbusters when applied to women.

ghostbusters is by no means a perfect film, and people wanting to find flaws will definitely find them.  but people wanting to watch a fun kids film about ghosts invading new york stopped by a team of unlikely supreheroes will not be disappointed.  and by watching it, you might just change the world a little bit too.

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