THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) DIRECTED BY STEFANO MORDINI. INSPIRED BY THE BOOK BY EDOARDO ALBINATI. STARRING BENEDETTA PORCAROLI AND FEDERICA TORCHETTI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This based-on-a-true-story Italian language film set in the mid-Seventies is a really grim watch. For the first hour and a quarter, say, it’s just a mish-mash of a story about the most awful privileged rich white boys you could ever have the misfortune to meet, and how they practically get away with murder in their exclusive Catholic school for rich boys, which is located in Rome.

The sense of privilege and entitlement just radiates off these late-teenage boys like the stink of rotten fish, with heartfelt apologies to the poor fish, who can’t help it. These boys treat women like possessions, to be used, abused and then tossed aside like so much rubbish. It’s horrible to watch.

Then, when they get in any trouble, Mummy and Daddy, who are filthy rich, bale them out and there are never any consequences for their wrongdoings, unless you count the odd slap from a rich father when he loses patience with the little scut he calls sonny boy.

We are told by the narrator, Edoardo Albinati, that consequences for misbehaviour were so randomly applied that the boys chose to go ahead and do exactly what they wanted to do and just take their come-uppance if- and when- it ever arrived.

These rich boys have sex willy-nilly with their friends’ mothers and sisters, all of whom are inter-changeable gorgeous European women with the long dark hair and terrific bone structure. The boys are brought up thinking that the world and everything in it, including the women, is theirs for the taking. Sort of like a bunch of mini-Scarfaces. If no-one ever tells them any different, how are they meant to know right from wrong? The parents and the titular Catholic school are jointly at fault here.

The film is confusing as hell, jumping between the points of view of various boys who all look the same, and it’s divided up into equally confusing ‘time chapters’ such as ‘six months earlier’ to ‘130 hours earlier.’ I mean, what the hell…? It was difficult to make out, not only which boy was which, but which female they were f**king was which. Was it someone’s mum, someone’s sister or someone’s bloody granny? Who knows?

Anyway, the last half hour of the film sees the crime happening, the true-life crime from 1975 to which the whole movie is leading up, the crime that became known as the Circeo Massacre. In September of that year, two beautiful unsuspecting young Italian students, Donatella and Rosaria, are lured to a fabulous seaside villa by two of the boys from the school.

Once there, they are horribly raped, beaten, bullied, humiliated, taunted and tortured by the two boys, who are later joined by another guy whose father apparently owns the villa they’re using to commit their nasty crimes in. The third guy is supposed to be just out of prison as well. Such nice company they keep, right?

Angelo Izzo, Andrea Ghira and Gianni Guido are the mens’ names, though I use the word ‘men’ ironically. They’re not men. They’re cowardly little bully boys who use their superior physical strength to intimidate and frighten defenceless women. Real men don’t seem to feel the need to prove to themselves and their friends that they’re tougher than women or even other men.

I don’t know how any of them expected to get away with it. It’s probably that awful confidence they have in them that makes them feel that there is no price to pay when you’re a rich handsome young guy and your dad can buy off the police. And the school.

One of the girls will be dead after their torturous ordeal, the other as good as. And all because a bunch of lads developed toxic masculinity in the environment that more or less demanded it of its young men. Violence is what is expected of the boys in this environment, the narrator tells us. To be a man is to be violent.

And was justice done, in the end? Sadly, only partially. One of the perpetrators went on to kill two more women after he was released from prison for his part in the Circeo Massacre. As good a candidate for Throwing Away the Key as I’ve ever come across.

Apparently the Italian carabinieri were not exactly ruthless in pursuit of justice for these two lovely young women. Were palms greased, as they undoubtedly had been at the school? I don’t know. One good thing came out of this whole convoluted mess, and that was that Italian law finally allowed that rape was a crime against the person, and not just an outrage against public morality.

Public morality? One wonders how the Italians had been used to prosecuting rape cases in the past. Did a ton of perpetrators walk free? Don’t tell Donatella Colasanti that rape is not a crime against the person. That’s exactly what it is; a crime against the person, and the person’s body, mind and spirit, a crime against the person’s very soul and psyche. Never mind your public morality.

Is this a good film? I don’t even know. Turn to Netflix and see for yourself, but be warned: as I said at the start, it’s a grim watch.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

YOU GET ME. (2017) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

YOU GET ME. (2017) DIRECTED BY BRENT BONACORSO. STARRING BELLA THORNE, HALSTON SAGE AND TAYLOR JOHN SMITH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved this Netflix romantic thriller, even though most of its reviews seem to be negative. Don’t believe everything the critics tell you, though. Sometimes critics are film snobs and turn their noses up at things they think are beneath them.

I think this film is a perfectly acceptable addition to the canon of steamy why-won’t-she-leave-me-alone-is-she-fucking-mad-or-what thrillers. It’s like FATAL ATTRACTION or PLAY MISTY FOR ME for teens, or SWIMFAN, which is already aimed at high school kids. These films all conform to a certain formula. I don’t mind this at all, as I love the formula.

Hot guy breaks up with girl or is separated from her somehow for a night or two. Guy meets mysterious sexy hot new girl and has sex with her. Guy comes to his senses next morning and tells girl, thanks for the sex but I must be going now. Back he goes to regular girlfriend, who welcomes him back with open arms… and legs.

But guess who turns up unexpectedly (seriously though, the only one not expecting to see her again is the stupid Hot Guy!) and refuses to let Hot Guy go? That’s right. Mysterious hot new girl. And now she’s obsessed with Hot Guy and keeps showing up everywhere he goes. Hot Guy is at his wit’s end. He’s gonna have to confess to regular girlfriend What He Did Last Summer, etc.

This is exactly what happens in YOU GET ME. Tyler is the hot beach bum blonde surf god who dumps his girlfriend Alison at a party when he finds out that she’s put out for other guys but is making him wait for sex with her. Her prerogative, I would have thought…!

A hot girl called Holly, a new girl in town, is only too happy to take poor lonely Tyler home to her step-mother’s magnificent (but soulless!) all-white beach house. Or beach mansion, I should say. They have wild, uninhibited beach house sex, and the next day Tyler barely knows which end is up.

He says ta-ra, love, to Holly and gets back with Alison immediately. But imagine his horror when Holly turns up at his school as the new girl, and immediately starts inveigling herself into his and Alison’s- and their friends’- lives...

Everyone else, including Alison, loves Holly, she’s such fun! But Tyler knows something isn’t right. Just what is Holly planning, and exactly how far is she prepared to go with her campaign of terror against Tyler…? It’s fantastic stuff. If you’re in any way like me, you’ll lap it up off the shag-pile with a bendy straw.

FATAL AFFAIR (2020) is another Netflix erotic thriller I was watching recently. It has exactly the same plot as YOU GET ME, except for one or two points. The white dopey school-age teens have been replaced with affluent black adults, in particular Ellie and Marcus Warren and their college-age daughter, Brittany.

The big twist here is that it’s the man, an old acquaintance of Ellie’s called David Hammond, who’s doing the stalking this time, which makes an interesting change. He sees Ellie again after a number of years, clocks how hot, sexy and together she is and says to himself, that’s nice, yeah, baby, I’ll have me a piece of that.

But Ellie is not just going to let her life be ruined by David, a man with secrets and a dark past that would surely be of interest to any woman planning to date him and unknowingly take him under false pretences to a lunch at Ellie and Marcus’s beach house, ie, Ellie’s best friend, Courtney. Let’s hope Courtney has the nouse to emerge unscathed…

I don’t know why so many quite good directors feel the need to give their films such terrible bland titles. Don’t they want their films to stand out, or what? Just look at these titles, every one a FATAL ATTRACTION rip-off. Would you believe, I have every single one of these films on DVD? I have a good eye for these little gems.

1.    FATAL AFFAIR.
2.    FATAL INSTINCT.
3.    BASICALLY AN INSTINCTIVE AFFAIR.
4.    FATALLY OBSESSED.
5.    A FATAL OBSESSION.
6.    OBSESSIVELY FATAL.
7.    OBSESSIVELY FATAL AFFAIR.
8.    A BASIC AFFAIR; that is, no frills!
9.    BASICALLY, D’YOU WANNA HAVE AN AFFAIR OR WHAT?
10.  DANGEROUS LIES.
11.  DANGEROUS AFFAIR.
12.  DANGEROUS INSTINCTS.
13.  INSTINCTIVELY DANGEROUS AFFAIR.
14.  DANGEROUS ATTRACTION.
15.  TELL ME LIES.
16.  DON’T TELL ME LIES, I WAS PISSED WHEN I SAID THAT.
17.  WHAT A SIMPLY SPLENDID AFFAIR!
18.  SINGLE WHITE STALKER.
19.  FATALLY STALKED.
20.  FATAL FATALITIES.
21.  OBSESSIVELY STALKED.
22.  OBSESSIVE STALKER.
23.  DANGEROUS STALKER.
24.  JOHN STALKER: THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER. (How the Charles Dickens did this one sneak in here?)
25.  FATALLY BASIC INFIDELITY.
26.  BASICALLY FATAL INFIDELITY.
27.  DANGEROUS INFIDELITY.
28.  PLAY FATAL ATTRACTION FOR ME.
29.  PLAY FATAL OBSESSION FOR ME.
30.  CHEAT AND YOU FUCKIN’ DIE.
31.  CHEATING FUCKERS MUST DIE.
32.  CHEATING FUCKERS ALWAYS DIE.
33.  FATALLY UNFAITHFUL.
34.  BASICALLY UNFAITHFUL.
35.  DANGEROUSLY UNFAITHFUL.
36.  YOURS UNFAITHFULLY.
37.  UNFAITHFULLY YOURS.
38.  FATALLY LOVED.
39.  DANGEROUS LOVE.
40.  BASICALLY, AN INSTINCTIVE KIND OF LOVE.
41.  UNFAITHFUL LOVE.
42.  ADULTEROUS LOVE.
43.  FATAL KISSES.
44.  FATALLY KISSED.
45.  UNFAITHFUL KISSES.
46.  ADULTEROUS KISSES.
47.  INSTINCTIVE KISSES.
48.  DANGEROUS KISSES.
49.  A LOVER KISSED.
50.  DID YOU JUST KISS HER, YOU CHEATING FUCKER?

Hey, we made it to fifty, go, us! You can see what I mean, though, can’t you? ‘Tis desperate altogether. It’s almost as if someone says of the title of the movie, ‘nah, that’s too good, too original, we don’t want to lose the run of ourselves. We’re not trying to stand out here. Let’s make it a little more generic, shall we? Make the film a little harder to find online and in general.

‘Stick the word fatal in there somewhere? Maybe affair as well? That’s an idea. What about FATAL AFFAIR? Hey, looks like we’ve hit the jackpot with this one. Everyone in favour, raise your hands. Looks like a full house to me. Now, onto more important things. Chinese or Indian for the take-out…? Warren, you’re elected, buddy! Don’t you be fucking up my order like you did last time.’

Ah, you get the gist. I loved YOU GET ME, and FATAL AFFAIR was good too. Check them both out on Netflix, but not the way you’d check a library book out of the library. It doesn’t work like that. I know. I’ve tried it. Over and out.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
 

CLUELESS. (1995) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CLUELESS. (1995) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY AMY HECKERLING. LOOSELY BASED ON JANE AUSTEN’S NOVEL, ‘EMMA.’

STARRING ALICIA SILVERSTONE, STACEY DASH, BRITTANY MURPHY, PAUL RUDD, DAN HEDAYA, WALLACE SHAWN AND TWINK CAPLAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Daddy: ‘What did you do in school today, honey?’

Cher: ‘Well, I broke in my purple clogs.’

I have a bit of a girl crush on Alicia Silverstone, so I tend to think well of every film she makes. She’s just so watchable, with that fabulous mop of blonde hair and the wonderfully expressive mouth/face. In CLUELESS, she’s also very likeable, and not at all the raging bitch she could so easily be, with her glorious looks and charismatic personality. Well, I said I had a girl crush, lol.

She still looks amazing at forty-five, hardly much different to the girl who got famous in THE CRUSH (1993) with Cary Elwes, and also by starring in a couple of iconic videos for the rock band Aerosmith, alongside lead singer Steve Tyler’s daughter, the no less stunning Liv Tyler.

I’ve always found Liv Tyler, of LORD OF THE RINGS fame, to be rather blank-faced and kind of flat when it comes to performing, though, in contrast to Alicia Silverstone’s infinitely watchable and animated personas. No offence meant, Livvy love…!

Anyway, in CLUELESS, the romantic high school comedy with its own cult following, spin-off television series and series of Young Adult books, Alicia Silverstone plays the likeable but ultimately ‘clueless’ Cher Horowitz.

Cher is a rich, popular and beautiful student, who attends Bronson Alcott High School in Beverley Hills while living with her father Melvin, a temperamental rich lawyer. Cher’s mum died years ago from a liposuction treatment that went tits-up, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Cher is well liked at school, despite her obvious advantages, which should really make her the butt of terrible jealousy. Her best friend is Dionne, who is dating Murray, who says things like, ‘Woman, lend me some money!’

Cher and Dionne live for fashion, and for going to the mall and shopping till they drop, to the point where Cher’s socially conscious ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) teases her about it. He says Cher is shallow and superficial and only cares about clothes and what she looks like on the outside, and this really rankles with Cher.

She wants to feel like there’s more to her than just being a clothes horse, and anyway, she’s given away tons of expensive Italian clothes to their European maid, Lucy, so what is Josh even talking about, anyway, the sap?

A matchmaking exercise on Cher’s part to bring together two rather goofy teachers, Mr. Hall (played by Wallace Shawn, who was Vizzini in THE PRINCESS BRIDE) and Ms. Geist, goes extremely well and Cher is pleased with the nice happy feelings it gives her, even though she only did it in the first place out of self-interest, namely, in order to get one of her poor grades ‘re-negotiated.’

Still, that nice, do-good-for-others feeling sticks with her and, when an utterly ‘clueless’ new girl joins the school- Tai Frasier, played by the late Brittany Murphy- Cher decides that it would be an act of charity on her part to take the gammy ugly duckling under her wing and turn her into a swan. Or a clone of herself and Dionne and the other cool girls at Bronson Alcott High School, more like.

The project has mixed results. Cher goes on to fancy a guy who turns out to be gay, then the guy she has earmarked for Tai only has eyes for her, Cher. Cher fails her driving test and, in an unrelated incident, gets mugged at knife-point, while she’s wearing an Alaia dress, if you can believe her bad luck and the terrible timing. To be mugged when you’re wearing Alaia? Unthinkable…

Then she finally realises that the man of her own dreams has been right in front of her all along, only now, someone else has expressed an interest in snagging this particular guy’s attention… the newly popular and fabulised Tai Frasier, who owes both her newfound popularity and her equally newborn fabulousness to Cher. Oh, the delicious irony of it all! Who will win the love of this guy? Cher… or her creation, Tai…?

There’s not much else to say about the movie, except that it was loosely based on Jane Austen’s light comedy EMMA, and several of the characters in CLUELESS correspond with characters in the novel.

Alicia Silverstone looks incredible through the film and is a great little comic actress too. I love her in straight or even nasty roles, for example, she played a very dangerous liar in THE CRUSH, but she has a gift for comedy too, and a delightfully expressive and mobile mouth and face to help her with that. Talk about blessed.

If you want to join the Alicia Silverstone Fan Club, just bung me a few quid here at my home address and I’ll see gets it, honest I will. We’re actually dead good mates on social media, me and her. At least, I think it’s her, could be one of those fan accounts, but anyway, watch the film if you haven’t already seen it.

It’s a good laugh, very of its time- the baggy pants, skateboarding ‘Nineties- and you might even pick up a few fashion tips, lol. Or find out how to get your teacher to change a grade you’re not happy with. I mean, you don’t want to be clueless, do you…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: