Daniel Day-Lewis, Say It Ain’t So: Before Retirement, How about Lincoln in the Bardo, the movie?

Here was a 2:45 a.m. thought: Why doesn’t Daniel Day-Lewis wait and retire after doing Lincoln one more time for a George Saunders inspired Lincoln in the Bardo inspired film?

At any rate, the minute I heard DDL was retiring I decided I needed to go back and see a film I had never seen. I chose My Beautiful Laundrette from 1985, nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay (Hanif Kureishi, most recently wrote Le Weekend which I enjoyed, and never saw Venus with Peter O’Toole, oh the movies I need to see!). My Beautiful Laundrette was directed by Stephen Frears (Philomena! The Program, a Lance Armstorng film, what happened to that, never heard of it, will seek it out!)

I understand that My Beautiful Laundrette was a break out movie for DDL and astonishingly honest at a time when people feared homosexuality. And I realize this is still sadly true (cake bakers, get over it!). What also still rings true is the ethno-class conflict between London natives and immigrants (in this case Pakistanis). Why is it that many movies portray Londoners as violent ruffians? Is it stereotype or true? I guess I have two polar opposite impressions of people in England: bad teeth, foul mouthed ruffians, aka Pygmalion OR genteel wimps aka the royal family as well as anyone with wealth, Hugh Grant, etc.

Though I will say a woman I work with currently from London does not fit either of those types, in fact, she is the smartest, most level headed, but also very creative and soulful person I have met in Sarasota. Kate (her name) has even taken to giving me advice on where to meet like minded people, which I will duly begin (with confidence in her opinion) after the holiday.

“Get to the movie review!” you scream. Ok, ok, the movie was well done in showing ethnic and class conflict. Of course, it was interesting to see one of DDL’s first films and his punk look. The movie certainly didn’t do Pakistani’s any favor, portraying them as depraved, money hungry mobsters. Likewise, the British toughies were portrayed as ignorant lazy d-bags. Our main character, Omar, played by Gordon Warnecke, was supposed to be this naive Pakistani kid, which he does pull off, yet his acting is a bit wooden, and maybe why he continues to do tv with not too much fame or accolades.

And I’ll be frank, I couldn’t watch the end. I can only guess, that Omar gets killed, either by the London toughies or his d-bag cousin. I knew the movie was headed for a very violent end and to be brutally honest (the only type of brutal I allow), I can not do violence any longer. I get enough scrolling to a channel where I witness UFC or insert-crime-drama-title-here. ENOUGH! If people want to start resisting something really threatening, let’s start with violent images for children: RESIST VIOLENT IMAGES. There, there’s your new bumper sticker. When people have taken to beating to death tortoises: real news:http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/local/search-continues-for-person-or-people-responsible-for-beating-to/article_a2a7a3c0-5adb-11e7-ba38-13ebfa0f997c.html…then we have to start looking at how this depravity evolves. Seriously.

So feel free to do a spoiler for me, tell me how this movie ended. Omar dies, right? And the beginning of the film was actually the circular ending of the film, where DDL winds up back with his London toughies in a sad alcoholic, squatter lifestyle. “Wonderful.” (chagrined).

Hang in there DDL and do one more Lincoln (for the Bardo) for the road.

Heads Spin, Beatrix at Dinner

Ok, my head is spinning from Beatrix at Dinner, directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White (School of Rock! The Good Girl!).

And by heads spin, I mean spinning in both positive and negative rotations.

The positive: Salma Hayek is dynamite, in fact, the entire ensemble was absolute perfection:females: Britton, Landecker, Sevigny; males: Lithgow (extra star!), Warshovsky (where’d you come from? you’re excellent!) and Duplass (the perfect d-bag).

Another positive: the story by Mike White nails class differences and the subsequent uncomfortable moments when classes mix. I understand that now more than ever living in Sarasota. In my previous life (Rochester and Bloomfield, NY), my position of teacher was for the most part upper middle class. I didn’t even see or really understand those below me. Sure, certainly I saw the dichotomy of classes in Bloomfield, we had everyone from equestrian aristocrats to mobile home multiple job occupants. And for the most part, everyone there accepted and could associate without awkwardness, which is a tremendous testament to how special Bloomfield really is.

And Sarasota is pretty special, too, in that I see people being really civil to each other. With rare exception, the wealthy people I know here are super nice. The difference is though that many of the wealthy people I know don’t really understand (or perhaps are simply ignoring or self-centered) the plight of those below them. Some of the folks I work with far wealthier than me with double incomes will agonize and pontificate about how few garments they’re allowed on an African safari, for one example, yet never turn the spotlight back to you about how your coping making ends meet with your pre-pension two job salary. They never get to hear me whine back about my intimidation with requesting air conditioning maintenance (it’s not working) because I am hoping my (wealthy) landlord will renew my lease at the same rent for one more year.

Having said all that, Beatrix at Dinner dares to cross these waters with great success.

The only negatives of the film were: the slow start, again, editing issue (as with The Lovers) and second, just a few loose ends with connecting the dots between real and metaphorical.

Beyond those tiny problems, Beatrix at Dinner should garner Salma an Academy Award Best Actress nomination, and even Lithgow for Best Supporting. Go see it!

Like the Deepest Ocean, Time Out of Mind Directed by Oren Moverman

I’ll always love Owen Moverman for his superb Love&Mercy and so I spent three nights of penance to get through Time Out of Mind. One of my friends said, “why do you feel the need to finish movies?”

Well, in this case, because I have a home, and yet almost daily, I see homeless in Sarasota sleeping on benches by the bay, meanwhile working two jobs where to say people have money to blow is an understatement. And that’s not judgment merely commentary.

I am pleased to report though from reading Friday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune (Zach Murdock article) that the justice system has put pressure and requirements for the city to offer beds rather than mats for at least 30 homeless people a night. In addition, if all the beds are full, the police are not allowed to arrest people sleeping outside.

This is the movie I thought Norman was, a month ago, and I wonder if Richard Gere (star of both) made any connection. Norman could have just as easily become the homeless man in Time Out of Mind, as freewheeling he was with cash to impress the rich people he was hanging on.

Two hours is a long time to watch what was basically a case study of a homeless man. Overman chose to allow ambient New York City noise to be an all intrusive character. And due to this technique Gere becomes more ‘reduced’, as Ben Vereen, his temporary homeless buddy refers to them as.

Gere does a fantastic job in his portrayal as a man who lost his i.d. and with it his own place and importance in the world. The actress who plays his daughter (Jena Malone) is also excellent as well in presenting an angry young woman who can’t get passed familial injuries too deep to let go.

Tough to watch, but worth the empathy practice.

Dean, a BBQ type of film=well done!

Continuing with my kookie summer time references is the BBQ review title of Demetri Martin’s well done film Dean.

A new feature of this review will be a “This review is sponsored by…” ad whenever some kind person pays for my movie going experience. My way of acknowledging nice folks.

So this review is brought to by Dan Coughlin, journalist, former Wall Streeter, and man looking for fellow documentarians with whom to build projects.

NOTE TO Demetri Martin: shield your eyes to this next sentence. Dan didn’t think I’d blog about Dean with a veiled reference of it being unimportant cinema.

Au contraire! But here’s where my razor sharp Masters In Counseling ‘see all sides’ mediation comes in: Sure this film might be akin to a lazy river water park ride. However, the script and story were totally relatable (won a Jury Prize at Tribeca) and VERY important in portraying how we each experience grief in different ways. Dean, played by writer/director Demetri Martin, chooses the run away/flight model of grief denial. Kevin Kline (always marvelous, really-wish I could see him on Broadway in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter , but alas it ends July 2nd) portrays Dean’s dad, who takes public intellectualizing regarding his wife’s death with private therapy.

Can’t tell you a lot about what I enjoyed due to my no spoiler vow, but will say that I am happy to see a movie with some ends still loose, instead of an unreal, ‘look at this 100% happy ending’, which is partly why I threw out the hard copy of my novel Jokers to the Right because I hated my false feeling joy! joy! ending.

I can tell you stylistically what I enjoyed about Dean: the split screen frames where Demetri and his dad are seemingly in similar poses. Similarly or perhaps, narcissistically, I think of my Dad and I like this, on any given weeknight, separately alone, tv remote in hand looking for TCM, or some other movie channel, to take the edge of loneliness.

I also really liked the well drawn minor characters, even the minor minor characters filled out to reality. Four deserve mention: Dean’s love interest, Gillian Jacobs, a woman confused emotionally, her best friend Ginger Gonzaga, an icy Rochesterian type of gal, Dean’s good L.A. friend, Rory Scovel (who should be chosen for a Beach Boys bio pic and may have amassed being on the most tv series ever) who shows why men are pigs and also simultaneously in need of a hug, and last (deep breath) his quirky roommate Luka Jones (will look out for him in an upcoming I Love Dick episode.)

Ashamedly for the movie business, Dean’s gone already after a whopping week in Sarasota. In its place is sheer crap (no other way to call it, unless feces makes you feel better. At any rate, if you’re in a major metropolitan area, give Dean a chance. If not, hope Red Box picks it up.

Once, Twice, Three Times a Billy (Bob Thornton)

Forgive the old Commodores song title “Once Twice Three Times a Lady” (by the way was that a secret fat shaming title? an overly p.c. world joke…) But summertime always reminds me of middle-high school when I’d hear the sweet sounds of the Commodores at some carnival or outdoor event. This is actually a review of three Billy Bob Thornton movies I watched (or confessional tried to watch) over the last three days.

I’m a Billy Bob Thornton fan, yeh yeh Slingblade, sure, but I’m a weird one because I loved Bad Santa. There’s nothing funnier to me than an angry misanthropic BBT. But as usual, I was dissuaded by critics against Bad Santa 2. Can I tell you the utter shame I felt witnessing another (and now I know, MUCH sadder) holiday film known as The Office Party? I blogged about that walk of shame already.

So needing a laugh here, I threw caution to the wind and borrowed Bad Santa 2 worried I was headed for another shameful Christmas blasphemy. But Holy Almost Christmas in July! Not quite as funny as the first, I still think this film is laugh out loud worthy, far better and healthier than smoking a joint. I love Kathy Bates, she’s a balls to the wall type of actress and I respect that she, Billy, Tony Cox and Brett Kelly had the courage to make a non p.c. movie in this dicey climate. Hence, why it didn’t do well. The director Mark Waters deserves recognition also for directing.

My favorite scene is Billy Bob coaching Brett Kelly on what to do with woman, or should I say grandmother of the night, Octavia Spencer, hysterical. If everyone could lighten up a bit like these folks, the world would be a much better place. Rotten Tomatoes 24%, boo hoo to you. At least IMDB had it at a respectable 55. April Wolfe of the LA Daily is my new hero for speaking up for this film. (Though she enjoyed Jackie…proof that any given day, we can disagree on a film).

In fact if it wasn’t for the pablum of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, I never would have sought out Bad Santa 2. But after suffering through an hour of formulaic: here’s a scene of the Middle Easterners, here’s a hot broad (Margot Robbie) being ogled by the soldiers, here’s poor Billy Bob as an angry uptight military leader, but safe authorized derision, not cynicism. It must have taken all of Tina’s strength not to rip the boring script out of Carlock and Barker’s hands and add some 30 Rock zip to it.

But sure enough, we Americans love our wars, so WTFT gets a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Last I didn’t research well enough, panicking to get a third film with Billy Bob (that’s accessible at the library), I wound up with a documentary called Down From the Mountain about the music from O Brother Where Art Thou. Now I know what you’re saying, “oh that music was great!” Yeh, it was great because you had the spoonful of sugar (Goodman, Clooney) to help the medicine (sad country music) go down. I double dog dare you to rent this and be riveted and happy throughout. And while I had the fantasy that Billy Bob was playing on it or at least giving an erudite commentary….noooooooooooo, he’s just an audience member. I haven’t watch the special features yet, so there’s still hope of a BBT quote at least. *Post special features note: no such luck.

At any rate, give peace a chance and look at Bad Santa 2. I guarantee you’ll laugh five times. And who couldn’t use that release? At the very least, seeing a snowy Chicago (where the movie is set) will make you feel a little sweet breeze during the dog days of summer.

Parkland, Better Than Jackie. Reviewers, what gives?

Ok, I realize stylistically Jackie is superior to Parkland. But being a Terrence Malick wannabe, is that really better than story? I want to walk away from a film feeling like I learned something new as I did with Parkland, and not bludgeoned with gore porn as I did with Jackie.

And I promise I will look up the ‘experts’ opinions on Parkland (and will decide if it was justifiable in making me avoid it at the box office).

But come on! Who doesn’t want to see Paul Giamatti be Zapruder, Billy Bob Thornton as Forrest Sorrels and Marcia Gay Harden as Nurse Doris Nelson (sad side note, think she’s gotten typecast as nurse now in some lame weekly tv drama)?

And extra credit goes to the actor James Badge Dale (please change your name bro) who stood out among the stars in his moments as Bob Oswald, Lee Harvey’s justifiably angry brother. His scenes truly made the movie in my book. The actress, Jacki Weaver (you son of a gun! I didn’t even recognize you!) who played Lee Harvey’s mom was also terrific, but in an almost Bette Davis Whatever Happened to Baby Jane can she be that crazy comic way.

Great storytelling and directing by Peter Landesman who also wrote Kill the Messenger an even greater film. Definitely seek Parkland out at your local library or Netflix.

Mr. Right indeed, but the Movie, Mr. Mediocre

My number one fantasy man is still John McEnroe (not a movie actor-smiley face). He’s the primal adolescent raging hormone man I fell in love with, and plastered my bedroom wall with a giant photo collage with, so long ago. And speaking of high school, I felt that way and this photo reflects that sentiment at a recent ‘Meet up”: https://www.meetup.com/Parties-by-LeslieSRQ/photos/27917964/461772634/?#461772644

And now you’re asking, what’s with the fantasy talk lately, first Bright Star and the James Taylor dance and now this? Wait for it. But also in my defense, this is Florida, the supposed sunshine state and yet it has rained almost (one was rain free) ten consecutive days. But do spread the word on the miserable Florida weather, I’d like to stave the population rush here (newspaper reports 600,000 new Fla. residents annually…is that even possible?).

Back to the movie review, I knew going in that Mr. Right (directed by Paco Cabezas (if I ever become domesticated myself, Paco Cabezas is my next cat’s name hands down!) was not well reviewed. In fact, I believe it went straight to dvd.

At any rate, I knew I wouldn’t hate it since my number two fantasy man (told you I’d get to it) is Sam Rockwell. I’m geeky enough to have watched and re-watched his audition (a dvd special feature) for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Which I just realized I loaned to Mr. “Hey Let Me Tell You What to Watch and Listen, But I’m Not Going to Quid Pro Quo”. Oh well, perhaps I don’t need to see Sam break dance any longer.

As much as I do like Sam (best film “Moon” though “Snatch” is also great), he looked like he wasn’t totally enjoying being Mr. Right. I may be projecting given that I am not an Anna Kendrick fan (though I don’t dislike her-best film “Up in the Air”). After wracking my brain thinking of who would have been good in this female lead, I came up with two ideas: Sarah Silverman and even better, Jenny Slate. Max Landis (screenwriter) wrote a crazy girl role, but then someone chose Pollyanna (Kendrick)to play her. Bad choice.

But on a rainy Saturday, a little profanity and flirtation wasn’t half bad. Althought Mr. Right was a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang wanna be, it was still a good PPLL.

God Before Bod: Becket (1964)

I was going to title this Bro’s Before Ho’s, but decided to at least be p.c. in my hook.

Male fellowship is more of a recurring theme in film than I had previously considered. Or perhaps, it just happens to be a motif occurring in some of the movies I’ve seen as of late: The Lives of Others, Bright Star, and now Becket from 1964.

I mean isn’t that what today’s senate hearings are about? Trump trying to get loyalty from Comey? In Becket’s case, the narcissist King Henry the 2nd demanding Becket’s fidelity? Even Becket expecting Brother John’s?

To go further, isn’t that what team sports are all about, LeBron and the Cavs, Crosby and the fellow Penguins? The man cave, fantasy football, and Buffalo Wild Wings:)?

These are simply observations. Do men feel the need to band together because they don’t have the life giving power that women do? I know women can be equally as united. I guess I’ve just never experienced that, not having a sister or as my maudlin aforementioned best friend disasters have indicated. Why I also wrote a full length screenplay (Buck Up) about a group pf men attempting to reclaim their power by watching old westerns.

Back to the flick: Peter O’Toole, obviously awesome, Burton as well. What was most refreshing for me though was the writing (Jean Anouilh and Lucienne Hill). I love the scenes where women were involved, especially King Henry’s wife and mother. The King’s blatant derision toward his family played out comically absurd.

The actual conflict within the movie seems so foreign to me being an agnostic. And not to mention the fact that Beckett’s love interest (who had been a battle prize) committed suicide rather than have relations with King Henry would be a friendship deal breaker to put it lightly. I realize these were medieval times, but let’s hope we’re not headed backwards to a similar humanitarian crises.

A movie definitely worth watching these two old school acting power houses in their prime.

The Nearness of You: Bright Star, a 2009 Perfection

I started having a fantasy the year James Taylor came out with his version of Glenn Miller’s classic “The Nearness of You”. The fantasy was simple, a slow dance with the man I love (preferably in moonlight or candle light). The man I was dating at the time, a sensitive itinerant painter who would not sleep next to me for fear of ‘losing his artistic edge’, not surprisingly told me he was not a dancer.(this was the mid 2000’s and he’s since gotten married and had children).

Watching Jane Campion’s beautiful film Bright Star from 2009, reminded me of this relationship. First, John Keats was also a very sensitive artist who, along with his buddy Mr. Brown, guarded his own artistic milieu. Second, the movie occurred in an era when people were near each other log enough for feeling to simmer and grow to a full boil, without pressure or distraction. This was the case with my relationship, too. Sure it wasn’t the 1800’s, but it was the aughts, pre-internet frenzy and while I don’t necessarily want reminders, I have fond memories, if that makes any sense.

But, to me, Bright Star was even better than The Piano, Campion’s other more famous film. The movie was a perfect depiction of an era when finances and romance were intricately entwined. Due to the fine trio of actors, never did I think ‘this is maudlin’ or sappy. Abby Cornish was terrific, a look alike to Lindsay Lohan, as Fanny Brawne. Ben Whishaw, equally great as the sickly Keats. And Paul Schneider, terrific as the womanizing deviant and Keats cock blocker, Mr. Brown.

Looking up the actors, there’s not much with Cornish coming out that thrills me, nor past-RoboCop? But I wish I could re-watch scenes from The Lobster and The Danish Girl to catch Whishsaw, now that I have seen him at his best. I’ve now got two of Schneider’s on my library list; Rules Don’t Apply, last year’s Howard Hughes failure with Warren Beatty and The Assassination of Jesse James which I’ve heard is fantastic.

One of these days I’ll get back to read more about Keats and Brawne’s long, suffering relationship.