Over One Million (Punches) Served: South Paw

I love Jake Gyllenhaal, most in Nightcrawler tied with Broke Back Mountain. Source Code? Again, great due to the sincerity he pours into every role.

Now,(clearing of the throat) he does do the same top notch performance, but dog gone it, could someone have given the script more nuanced characters? Are we really going to reduce scripts to cardboard cut outs: pig headed boxer, doting boxer’s wife, malicious boxing manager?

Again, clearly Jake Gyllenhaal threw himself into this role. I just wish there had been more to hang his boxing gloves on. Forrest Whitaker was the shining star as the boys’ gym trainer. Mr. Whitaker was able to whip up meringue out of the cotton candy dialogue. Bravo Sir.

Enough said. As promised, no spoilers.

Trainwreck & the Tracks of My Tears

I was really looking forward to Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck. Like many, I thought she was too crude at one time, but three skits on her tv series Inside Amy Schumer turned me right around this past winter.

First the skits which I implore you to google one, if not all, and watch to your giggle’s content:
1. 12 Angry Men shot in black and white. First, don’t try this at work, unless you want to get fired as it’s the entire 30 minute show. Paul Giamatti (nominated for an Emmy guest appearance by the way) plays the angriest juror as the men debate whether Amy is hot enough for television..hysterical, intelligent, perverse.
2. Silent Film being ousted by Talkies (also shot in black and white), a skit where the aforementioned topics are switched to handies vs. mouthies…and I’ll let you figure that out if you dare not to watch.
3. The Herpes Scare with Paul Giamatti again (can you tell I’m a fan?-John Adams, Sideways, Love & Mercy!). Paul plays God in this skit which is perfect; witty and obscene.

Now back to Trainwreck: I truly enjoyed it, but will concur with Marshall Fine (Hollywood and Fine reviews) in that Apatow needs to edit. Until you’re Scorsese you can’t put every bloody scene you shoot in a flick.

And at the risk of sounding too Amy-like (meaning commitment phobic NOT whorish), the romance aspect was overdone. And please, no more straight roles for Bill Hader, he does his best work as kooky characters like Stefan on the SNL News. Let this man camp it up and NOT play a pathetic Dr. Oz look alike!

To finish on an up note, as I do think her writing is genius, I love how she layers her comedy, what with the recurring movie within a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marissa Tomei and if I lived anywhere near Manhattan, I would have seen both of Colin Quinn’s Broadway shows. Watch out Kristen Wiig, here comes Amy.

“Amy, What You Gonna Do?”

After a second viewing of “Amy” I now feel my original comments below were way too harsh. I saw in the film’s second time around, beautiful aerial shots of London and NYC, well placed footage evoking the emotion of the moment, and an instrumental score both poignant and deep. Still, I think the first third could have been pared down, but I was greatly moved by a repeat experience.

Original review:

For the first third of the documentary “Amy” directed by Asif Kapadia I wondered where the meandering, bad video and photos were going.

Was the music throughout fantastic? YES! So if the visuals and storytelling lacked in the beginning, so be it. Akin to a car ride in Lowell, Massachusetts where I visited recently, even depressing vistas can be warmed by great tunes (in my trip’s case The Wood Brothers), but I digress.

From a woman with a Masters in Counseling’s perspective, I must say that repeating how IN LOVE she was with bad boy boyfriend-turned-husband-turned-money grubber is a real disservice to any other woman or man who is co-dependent in an unhealthy relationship. It’s not love, honey; it’s an attempt to right a wrong from the past, in Amy’s case the rejection by her father and the wimpy role modeling from her mom.

The last part of the movie was fantastic, my favorite scene being her singing with Tony Bennett which was set up nicely right before she won the Grammy (which Tony B announced) when she called out, “Dad, Tony Bennett!” proving how she idolized his great talent well in advance of the opportunity to work with him.

As a woman who dabbles in stand up comedy, let me say how I cringed at Jay Leno’s and other comic’s using her as an opening monologue one liner. I will never joke about someone’s affliction, it’s just wrong.

Last, if you are going to be a parent, you MUST be able to lay down the law, be the army sergeant who says, “N-O spells no.” Most of Amy’s troubles stem from two bonehead parents who let her raise herself. Giving your child limits (bed time, computer time, chore time, food, etc) show love, DO IT!

J. Schwartzman: “I Kissed a Guy and I Liked…”

“The Overnight” didn’t meet my unrealistic expectations. I was hoping for something akin to Demme’s “Something Wild”, but except for Jason Schwartzman who makes the best semi real comically kooky man since Woody Allen, this film was more like couples therapy than comedy.

What was missing was a little more slapstick which I rarely encourage. If anything,this movie did not change my single person’s opinion. I didn’t go running from the cinema saying, ‘let’s get married!’. In fact the film confirmed how claustrophobic and dysfunctional the institution can be. How many white and black lies must be chiseled in order to keep things harmonious.

What does the movie do well besides show case Schwartzman’s zaniness? Well, Adam Scott has a future in serious roles. And in true 20-teens fashion, the film broke new ground in minutes of full frontal male nudity.

But still I liked Jeff Daniels’ 1986 goofy reunion dancing better.

Something Wild remains victorious

A Baker’s Half Dozen (Seven) The Wolfpack

I wanted more resolution from “The Wolfpack” (directed by Crystal Moselle) instilled from the former school counselor in me. If anything, the film shows how inept our social services programs are, and on the sick flip side, probably gives hope to abusive parents. The Angulo father seems unphased and unscathed after an intervention landed all seven of the children in therapy even though one of the boys definitely hints at abuse he can not ever forgive.

And what about the only daughter? I would assume her issues might be larger than her 6 older brothers just by the nature and lack of interaction allowed with the camera.

The film just left me wanting way too much. How has this family existed financially for all these years, how a woman allows her seven children to be controlled by megalomaniac? How does one get so out of touch with her own needs or those of her children?

Most stunning is a successful familial prison existing for 15 years in a major metropolitan area. And at the risk of sounding like Rod Serling here, as shocked as I was about this family, there are probably even more horrific stories happening in the same apartment complex….in the Twilight Zone.

President Obama addressed my pet cause eloquently in his recent talk with Marc Maron, that your primary goal as a parent is to make your children’s world less crazy than the one you grew up in. Evolution is everyone’s responsibility, but ESPECIALLY for those who have children. If you raise your children in dysfunction either consciously or not, you need to be held accountable for the future ills of our society. How I wish we could actually enforce such a law.

I’m not sure The Wolfpack is as good as it could have been, yet the film at least sheds light on child abuse that that can easily be hidden, and ongoing, even in a city that never sleeps. I guess wild insomniacs do not equate to observant humanitarians.

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