Future book idea: shh, it’s a secret: “The End of the Tour”

Sadly surprisingly, when I looked up another film that helped me back in the day by Jonathan Levine called The Wackness, I saw that JL hadn’t had big big success since then…I mean, I shouldn’t judge as I didn’t see Warm Bodies, but am not a zombie fan.

But much like The Wackness, James Ponsoldt’s The end of the Tour was engaging and informative for my son, a recent college graduate. The conversations between Lipsky and Wallace were heartfelt male perspectives fictionalized fantastically by Eisenberg and Segel, respectively.

I also have a special place in my heart for David Foster Wallace in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon way. I wrote to Jonathan Franzen after his speaking engagement through the Rochester arts and Lectures series at least 10 years ago and was honored to receive 2 post cards from the writer. Likewise, David Foster Wallace was humble and caring toward his fans. In one movie scene, when Lipsky asks two women how they know DFW, one of them replied that she had simply written him a fan letter and they had struck up a correspondence. It’s no surprise that Wallace and Franzen were friends, in part, surely because they common humility and heart.

If you have a son who is anywhere from 22 to 35, The End of the Tour can provide male empathy that is often hard to impart. And Jason Segel deserves an Oscar nod for nailing the role of a truly gifted, yet tortured writer. David Foster Wallace would have been flattered.

Feeling like a teenager again, “The Gift”

The Gift

I’d like to personally thank Joel Edgerton for “The Gift” for making me like being scared again. Not since I gave up horror flicks back in the 80’s due to my hyper guilt feelings/PTSD while watching “Fun House”, have I enjoyed a scary movie. Thank you also for not having to gore us to death. There was less violence in this film than Straight Outta Compton.

And both actors were excellent. Rebecca Hall made what could have been a whiney female role, seem not only plausible, but sympathetic. Jason Bateman, as usual, kicks ass. I mean, come on, this guy excels at comedy (Bad Words, Arrested Development) and at drama (DisConnect, very underrated film) and now this.
And let’s not leave out Gordo the Weirdo (Edgerton’s character in The Gift) since he not only wrote and directed the whole thing, but played the third pivotal role as well! Superb, superb, he also made a creepy guy seem just a smidge enough normal to keep us guessing the entire movie (and that’s not a spoiler, there’s more twists and turns in this than Rodeo Drive, trust me).

Probably most fun on the big screen, but no matter where, see it to experience the old roller coaster days, but none of the violence induced vomit of Jason in Halloween-esque suspense.

Oh Ma Darlin, Oh Ma Darlin, Clement (ine)

Clement

“People. Places, Things” (James Strouse) was a pinch your cheek adorable and I fully acknowledge my bias for Jemaine Clement, probably best known for Flight of the Conchords.

For various reasons, most close to me is having a 22 year old son, I often have my emasculating radar up and “PPT” certainly promotes female dominated relationships with men simply following the ‘rules’ or suffering the consequences. I write this with mixed feelings since doing stand up comedy this summer, I fully realize that sexism swings both ways.

According to this movie, it’s ok for a woman to be unfaithful and even be pregnant with anther man’s child, but it wasn’t ok for a separated man trying to get on with his life to be confused about the next woman he may want to date. do women have stronger emotional highs and lows for the most part? Yes. But that doesn’t make it ok for women to destroy men’s feelings and simply use the mixed up emotionally as an excuse. If women don’t want to be the weaker sex, we need to act like grown ups, which means owning up to mistakes and treating men humanely.

That being said, “PPT” had sweet moments of Clement attempting the single father routine with twin girls that were genuine and not at all run of the mill cliche.

“People, Places, Things” is worth a rental to be sure.

Go Chasin Water Falls, “Straight Outta Compton”

When a two and a half hour movie goes by in a flash, you know you’ve been entertained.

Straight Outta Compton directed by F Gary Gray (director of TLC’s video “Waterfalls”) was truly compelling. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that I didn’t know the story, but the tale is inspirational in its theme of men with a passion overcoming all odds (poverty, drug addled neighborhoods, violence, lack of education, racist police groups).

This could be debated (and feel free), but I believe making it in the music industry may be more difficult than athletics. Much, from what I’ve read about, is being in the right place at the right time and NWA was there.

The acting was very well done (O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s [Ice Cube real life son], Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell) brought a mixture of intense drama with comic moments as well.

I feel smarter about the plight of African Americans in the 1990’s and the hip hop movement due to this film.

Woody Allen’s The Irrational Man, surprisingly not ‘The Donald’s Story’

Parker

I went confidently to Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’, thinking, Joaquin and Parker Posey could save any movie. Ugh, except this one. Woody, you need a retirement intervention, focus on your clarinet.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but when a brand new recliner seat can’t save me from fidgety ennui, I’ve got to speak the truth. Let me be a role model for Mr. Trump in being frank; just state the facts man, no insults needed.

Most scenes were first, acted out, then separately narrated to jazz music. Yes, I get it, Joaquin’s character is nihilistic. Yes, I get it, Emma Stone has a father fixation on her professor. Yes, I get it, her boyfriend is the ‘nice guy’ who’s going to finish last for awhile.

Parker Posey literally had to hide her beautiful quirkiness amidst the bored desperation of an unhappily married professor. Please someone give this woman a script! Let her last great film not be the satirical “Best in Show”.

On Marc Maron’s podcast interview with Parker, she was told it was ok to improvise. When she did she reported that W.A. screamed something to the effect of no, terrible.

Infinitely Polar Bear, Infinite Jest

Hopefully some reader will recognize my title to be both that of the Maya Forbes film starring Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of bi-polar disorder
AS WELL AS
the title of a book by David Foster Wallace known partially for his psychological disturbances, possibly including bi-polar disorder, who is also the subject of a movie that’s out now, just not in rural Rochester.

but I digress…

I love almost everything Mark Ruffalo does, think he stole the show in Foxcatcher, and now, Infinitely Polar Bear included. I’m going out on a limb to say that Mark Ruffalo is so loveable…
here’s where you shout, “HOW LOVEABLE IS HE?”.
Mark Ruffalo
He’s so loveable, he could win a bid for the Democratic candidate for President WITHOUT a Super Pac!

Ruffalo was perfectly cast though. I had a six year relationship with someone with a similar disorder and the maddening thing was rather than scream at him, all I really wanted to do was hug him, bless his erratic behavior heart. The difference with my guy and Ruffalo’s character is that Ruffalo doesn’t cheat, which actually would have added needed film tension. (But is hell in real life.) I know what you’re thinking, ‘thank you Captain Obvious’.

Which leads me to the film and its flaws. Much of the dialogue is about mundane marital power woes like: who works, who gets to advance themselves with an MBA, who takes care of the kids, and who takes care of the kids better. And that’s about it.

Yes, Ruffalo has bipolar, but it’s never scary enough to really get down and dirty. Maya Forbes (writer and director who based the film on her own life story) either wanted to look back through a halcyonic lens, was too afraid of familial repercussions or perhaps her life wasn’t really all that bad…..so, not cinematically compelling, but more ‘Lifetime Channel-blow-part-of-an-afternoon’ worthy.

Once again, however, Ruffalo is what takes it to the ‘worth it’ level in being a nice evening out at the movies.