Sew Your Own Way: Phantom Thread

This may be one of the toughest movies I’ve ever reviewed as far as spoilers. I’d love to be able to spill the beans, but will refrain.

Suffice to say, that Phantom Thread certainly bodes well with the Time’s Up Movement. Funny thing is, while I totally support women who have had the courage to come out against true assault, I don’t think our society needs to castrate the entire male population. In fact, BEFORE the film, I was lamenting to myself, how I feel like I am on the worst relationship musical chairs experiment. Meaning, because I opted to grow as an individual (marriage 1) and not be in an abusive relationship (marriage 2), I am now left without a ‘chair’, meaning a range of choices as far as mature, ambitious, passionate about their own self-growth, men. Meanwhile, some men feel tethered to marriages being the good soldiers that they’ve outgrown, but are too wimpy (or downright afraid) to leave. I would dare say there are many men in abusive relationships who don’t dare speak up either, feeling powerless or emasculated. This is the state of affairs of 2018, I guess.

In Phantom Thread, Daniel Day-Lewis, as usual, is simply mesmerizing. His intense stare and ever intense characters (this time expertly written by PT Anderson) are always riveting to watch. While Tom Hanks can do anything, DD Lewis IS EVERYTHING and this is not hyperbole. He truly is the greatest actor of our generation.

His mate in this film is a relatively unknown actress, Vicky Krieps, but who is certainly on her way to the big time. Her understated beginning crescendos into intensity equal to, or perhaps greater (but not necessarily better -see the 2018 paragraph). Lesley Manville, a British actress of whom I’m also not that familiar with was equally fascinating.

I enjoyed the film, but feel the ending was anticlimactic. I thought the film would have convinced me that staying in a relationship that confines is worth the companionship and durability, yet by film’s end, I simply felt bad about how one spouse has to be the winner, the other loser. Maybe it’s best to, to manipulate a Fleetwood Mac lyric, “sew your own way”.

Esquire’s Top Ten Albums of 2017

If you’re still with me, ARE YOU?:) here’s my take on some of the Esquire‘s top 10 albums of 2017 (courtesy of critic Ben Ratliffe). I did this last year, too, in an attempt to stay hip.

But first R.I.P. to Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan. I hadn’t taken much notice of them back in the day, but then my summer after college sweetheart put her song “Linger” on a post break up cd (or was it still a cassette?) and I became a fan. Today on WSLR 96.5 Sarasota), Mr. Boombastic (the d.j.) played three songs of her ethereal voice. I appreciated hearing these. Speaking of the s.a.c.s., always have a fantasy I’ll see him in Atlanta airport (Monday will be there around 1130-noon, Delta), but actually he may be in D.C. at this point.

But back to Esquire’s Top 10, Jlin ‘Black Oragami’ and Kendrick Lamar are two of the stronger worth a mention. Tyler the Creator was eqaully skilled in the r&b category, especially the song “Boredom” featuring Rex Orange County and Anna of the North.

Jlin is a techno genre and of course you know K.L. and Tyler the Creator are r&b.

I enjoyed Ryuichi Sakamato for ambient massage type music.

The only two of the 10 that I almost had to shut down the preview of were Protomartyr (holy heavy metal flashback, yuck) and Jay Som.

The best of the ten was another r&b bass player, Thundercat. Such a fun surprise because two of my favorite singers of all-time! (Loggins and McDonald) were on a track “Show You the Way”. And songs like “Lava Lamp” were so peaceful, yet original and complex.

Richard Jenkins bonus The Hollars and My Top Ten Revised AGAIN

I decided to watch a bonus movie with Richard Jenkins after really enjoying his role in The Shape of Water. So I chose the semi-recent The Hollars, written and directed by the guy from The Office (John K.). Yes, I’m a lazy blogger for not looking up the spelling of his name, but to be honest, to my son’s chagrin as well as The Office cult army, I was never thrilled with that mean spirited show, nor was I that impressed with The Hollars.

Richard Jenkins plays the husband to a woman stricken with a brain tumor, and though the film started out with great unique promise, it devolved into a glorified music video (music from Josh Ritter for the most part). Sadly, I liked the music better than the actual script (as well as Richard Jenkins role) which turned into a Hallmark movie (and character) of the week.

The best acting I witnessed in the film was by an actor I hadn’t seen before: and whoa! YES, I HAVE! Sharlto Copley was the guy I thought I hadn’t taken notice of, but indeed I did! And then some as the hero of District 9, a fantastic foreign sci fi film. Nice to see you again Sharlto Copley and glad to know you’re a fellow Sagitarian creative type, born one decade and one day after me. I’m cocky since I did open mic comedy last night and didn’t totally choke.

Top Ten Update

Well, out goes Greatest Showman, in goes I, Tonya (previously reviewed) and who knows? Stronger might be at risk after I see see Phantom Thread Saturday evening. And then even Columbus, once Call Me By Your Name. Stay tuned.

10. I, Tonya, made me feel tough and grateful to have made it out of a one horse town.
9. Stronger, realistic couple strife.
8. The Big Sick. Well written, love Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.
7. Columbus, meditative, gorgeous.
6. Ingrid Goes West, Aubrey deserves something, for God’s sakes!
5. The Shape of Water, 4 great actors (Hawkins, Shannon, Jenkins, Spencer) and a whale, I mean, sea creature of a tale!
4. The Square, so unique!
3. Lady Bird: Saoirse for Best Actress, Metcalf for Best Supporting.
2. The Disaster Artist (a neck and neck race for number 1). Franco deserves an award.
1. The Florida Project. Please. Give Willem the Award. And Sean Baker, too!

Excuse Me, Golden Globes Judges, May I Have a Word?

I don’t swear as much now that I live in Florida. Something about not having to scrape ice or shovel snow takes the f bomb right out of me.

HOWEVER, I am a bit ticked at the morons who chose Three Billboards as best screenplay. Are you F’n kidding me? There is NO WAY this violent, downer of a movie was in anyway shape or form, better than The Shape of Water Or probably Call Me By Your Name which I haven’t seen yet. Even Dunkirk would have been a more noble choice. LUDICROUS!

I also only slightly forgive you for choosing Sam Rockwell over Wiilem Dafoe. The only reason I accept this, is that Sam Rockwell has done some incredible acting in other films (two notably) Moon and Conviction. If it had not been for that, swearing would have been essential.

All I can say is, come on Screen Actors Guild and the Academy, let’s get the screenplay award straight, and it ‘ain’t’ Three Billboards.

By the Grace of God Go “I Tonya”

That’s it. I’m writing a card to my cousin Karen after seeing I, Tonya. To tell her how proud I am of her crawling her way out of a horrific upbringing, inspired by the terrible cards also dealt to Tonya Harding. My dear friend Carrie was nice enough to go to the movie and drive me home (via Jimmy John’s via stupid road closings since I had an intense post movie lettuce wrap craving).

Can I say how much more important I, Tonya is than Liam Neeson’s new stupid, ‘I gotta save the world’ movie is? I, Tonya is about a real human being, flawed due to a white trash upbringing, brought down according the movie by her abusive husband.

The move was disturbing, in a good way, as Carrie and I skipped (figuratively speaking) like we were seeing an elongated “Ice Skaters of Orange County” and what we got was basically The Fighter, only set on the west coast in Portland Oregon, where evidently, as in every city in America, children are abused and made to feel worthless enough to continue the cycle of dysfunction to marry abusive people.

It can happen to the best of us. All it takes is to feel discounted as a youth, to make you choose what feels ‘normal’ aka abuse. Trust me when I say I had to look away several times from the abuse in this film, and definitely had a flashback with the ‘you’re a Queen one day, and worthless the next’ second marriage. Don’t cry for me Argentina, I want no sympathy, only congratulations that I had my limit reached and now look back and wonder who the heck I was…besides a woman in love with a handsome, intelligent athlete who had to self-destruct every two weeks. As lonely as I am now, I know I am at peace.

I hear you saying, “excuse me honey, this is a film review”. Yes, yes, but this movie struck a nerve.

Acting: spot on. Alison Janey can play a mother of all sorts, comedic and in this case demonic. I’d give her an award for best supporting, though I think Laurie Metcalf showed more range in Lady Bird. Margot Robbie finally got my attention as a 3-d person and was excellent. Sebastian Stan came out of nowhere to blow me away as the douche bag husband. Craig Gillespie (though I couldn’t make it through Lars and the Real Girl did a brilliant job of directing) and the cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis deserves high high praise for camera work. I, Tonya appears to be his first noteworthy film.

My favorite scene was when you think Tonya is finally leaving her husband and the road trails off to a great 80’sound track cranked to evoke freedom. The soundtrack was a character in itself, everything from ZZ Top, to Fleetwood Mac to Supertramp, just great songs in all the right places.

If you can handle a lot of punching violence you’ll have no problems with I, Tonya. If you grew up in a small town that many people didn’t make it out of, you’ll also truly appreciate this movie. And if you’re a silly girl like me, who fell in love with the bad boy and got stuck in the whirlpool for while, you will definitely cringe and root for Tonya to disengage. I salute Tonya and my cousin Karen, two women who fought tooth and nail to overcome chronic negativity to hopefully live peaceful and happy lives.

Undulous and Evocative Swells: The Shape of Water

I remember the first time I heard Schubert’s Winterreise on NPR, white knuckle driving the snowy commute from home to school. Made more poignant by dancer Bill T Jone’s tale of watching his father’s brutal walk in the bitter cold to make ends meet for his family. (https://www.wabe.org/winter-songs-bill-t-jones-picks-schuberts-winterreise/) The music and memory made me calm.

Much like last night, where I walk-ran from work at 40 degrees to Burns Court Cinema to see The Shape of Water. I could have done stand up comedy last night and had my script prepared, yet the four day run of cold temperatures had frozen any mojo I had mustered. And just like Schubert’s beautiful music soothed, so did the magnificent story telling of Guillermo Del Torro and Vanessa Taylor on a chilly night in Sarasota.

Trust me, it wasn’t ‘just’ the story. This was a family affair, an incredible mixture of acting and music virtuoso. My two tiny complaints I’ll get out of the way right here, in that I can’t say I liked the cinematography. As other reviewers have pointed out, del Torro likes things a little too dark. And speaking of dark, figuratively this time, I really wish the torture scenes were shorter. I know, I know, I can hear screenplay script Gordy Hoffman saying this now, “you have to torture your hero.”

Now what I was amazed at:
the acting: I’ve championed Sally Hawkins forever and see my previous blogs, most recently “Maudie” for which she may have even shown more brilliance. Here she is perfect as the dreamy mute who fantasizes her way into the arms of a sea creature.
Richard Jenkins is also stunning as Sally’s man pal and I had to take a commercial break to research. He was nominated for an Oscar for The Visitor (gorgeous film) and garnered a Golden Globe Award for this film. He has my vote. I also added a library hold on one that I had seen the trailer for called The Hollars for which he also earned praise.
Michael Shannon, well, if you know me, you know I’ve been infatuated with him since Revolutionary Road, was privileged to get to see him in person at a George Eastman House Q&A, and now hope he doesn’t get pigeon holed as the Lurch like villain. He has much more to him than this role, and yet, I can’t say he wasn’t tremendous here.
Octavia Spencer, who I felt sorry for, playing another role of ‘the help’ in the 1950’s, was also so good, that my awe outweighed my shame for how stupid and prejudiced America used to be (though sadly there are obviously still pockets remaining).
The writing and editing spot on, again, except for the violence. The weaving in of water imagery, eggs=birth, implied sex, romance, an homage to cinema past, all beautifully done. Even the nuanced prejudice and male chauvinism added to the film’s verisimilitude making you forget any skepticism about the sea creature. It was almost as if to believe that humans could be so ignorant to each other’s needs then you might as well better believe the creature from the black lagoon could actually exist.

The end of the film literally reminded me of the denouement of a gorgeous piano concerto. Perfection. Watch out Top Ten List, some one’s gotta make way for this water!