AntiDope for the Last Harried Week of School

There’s only one thing worse than the stress of educating and entertaining kids during the last week of school (picture a manic blonde in pigtails tap dancing, “I’m dancing as fast as I can!”) and that’s being alone in an eerily quiet building with just adults for the week after, some you’ll never see again (retiring or moving up the administration chain), some you wish you wouldn’t (this is humor).

For those reasons, “Dope” (directed by Rick Famuyiwa) was a nice oasis for a middle aged woman of rural roots. I fully realize that anyone who has to survive a real life in the inner city school of Inglewood, this is no joke, no oasis, but at least an acknowledgement of city life’s absurdities.

cast of Dope

I’m a sucker for hip hop which is akin to a senior citizen saying they dig EDM raves, but it’s the truth. I loved Ludacris’s “Get Back” even if unaccompanied by Tom Cruise dancing in a fat suit. I was enthralled by Rhianna’s live performance of “Bitch Better Have My Money” on SNL. So my praise is genuine, not patronizing.

The story of a young guy trying to navigate his way to college despite many obstacles is the story I see unfold each year in my classroom. To help them some how see that as bleak as middle school is at times, and that their feelings are important, that it’s really just a blip on the universe sized life screen. Sure, I teach in a rural district, but isolation has its poverty and problems, too.

Dope was great for its inspirational story and it’s equal attempt to show how ridiculous desperate and dysfunctional people behave. The main character is so believable that my only complaint is his two side kicks don’t match his fine authenticity. Sad considering Tony Revolori was a revelation in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I guess side kicks must, at times, be flat and dopey.

A Rotten Tomato bitter man said, “don’t believe the hype’ (of Sundance), and I disagree. While this doesn’t quite have mega magic, it’s novel in approach to inner city school life and well worth watching.

Can a 100 Year Old Man Give You a LIft?

movie poster

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared was highly recommended by my brother. Living in an area with few foreign film fans, I knew I was destined for a solo viewing. Movies alone felt empowering in my 40’s, but now feel downright lonely. SO, I wanted reassurance the movie wouldn’t rub popcorn salt into already wounded heart. Would this movie be depressing?

It’s enough that my good friend, in dishing about how another gal pal was moving from Texas to Portland with a boyfriend she had just met, reminded me of my age. After my narcissistic response, “Damn I wish I could get someone to move with me,” he replied quite matter of factly, “Well, you’re old.” He left out the implied, “Don’t be silly.”

The 100 Year Man movie suggests otherwise. Written and directed by Swede Felix Herngren 100 Year Old capitalizes on his success as a comedy television writer according to IMDB. 100 Year Old highlights his quirky sense of humor as well as a skilled labrynthe-like storytelling.

I’d recommend it for its humor and originality. To see former Presidents Truman and Reagan comically depicted on the screen, as well as the dim witted brother of Albert Einstein shows Herngren’s epic scope. The best British comparison I can think of is A Fish Called Wanda, in it’s Cleese-esque silly approach to death and violence.

While I’ll let you decide if 100 Year Old Man is an upper or not, I will say the film inspired me to do more living and much less waiting.

Hail Hail Cusack’s Back and Dano’s Better Than Ever

John Cusak

I was blown away by Love and Mercy and I never liked the Beach Boys. But now I do! An engaging screenplay, co-written by Oren Moverman, who also wrote The Messenger and I’m Not There is the deepest I’ve seen in trying to capture the long term effects of child abuse.

The director, Bill Pohlad, is most known for his big budget productions (12 years a Slave, Into the Wild).

And thank the good Lord that John Cusack got a decent script. Let’s kick his Abe Lincoln Vampire Slayer days to the curb, shall we, and add Hot Tub Time Machine as well. Even he had the good sense to say no to Hot Tub round two. Cusack’s phenomenal nuanced performance of depressed and uber eccentric older Brian Wilson is award worthy. Paul Dano’s terrific portrayal shows the mad genius behind every great songwriter.

I admit that I was skeptical going in about how Paul Dano and John Cusak were going to play the younger and older versions of Wilson when they don’t look too much alike. But alas, I never even thought twice about it.

And Paul Giamatti, not only was I on a high from his knock out performance as the angriest juror in Amy Schumer’s take off on Twelve Angry Men, but then he shows up in Love and Mercy as the creepiest sadist I’ve seen in some time.

Absolutely, go see this film.