Sugar and Vice and Everything Nice, that’s not what Cheney was made of

Vice directed by Adam McKay (Academy Award winner for The Big Short) recasts many of the same Big Short actors (Bale and Carell) in this solidly entertaining movie about Dick Cheney.

No doubt, the real Cheney is an A Number One Villain, but McKay plays fair enough for most of the movie allowing him to be at least a good husband and father.

Much like Big Short, Vice is an excellent history teacher, with snappy visuals and a compelling narrator that keeps the movie rolling at a 2018 fast paced clip. Jesse Plemons plays the narrator role which could have been easily drowned out in a cast with Bale, Carell and of course, one of my faves Sam Rockwell, here as a too skinny version of George W., (more on Rockwell in a sec). Plemons drew me (and the rest of the audience) in with mystery and intrigue. Mark my words that this guy’s got big potential.

But of course, the piece de la resistance is Christian Bale (cue angels singing) who I’ve been a sucker for since The Fighter and adored equally (comb over and all in American Hustle). You know you’re sexy when you can make Cheney seem appealing. Bale’s my number one pic for the Oscar.

Sam Rockwell made a decent George W. capturing his naive innocence and sheer desire to redeem his reputation with his dad. Steve Carell is also a wonder as Rumsfeld. He really has become a lesser Jimmy Stewart at this point. I really thought he was deserving for Fox Catcher, so let’s hope he gets another role of that caliber soon. Right now unfortunately he’s suffering from the Welcome to Marwen taint.

Amy Adams is a solid actress who I feel slightly sorry for her due to the Emma Stone/Saoire Ronan Young Gal’s Steamroller that seems to be hogging many roles. She’s awesome as Mrs. Cheney and proof that women can be just as cunning and power hungry as their male counterparts.

My only quibble is the post ending clip which is a tad pandering. We get it, Republicans of recent history are cut throat idiots. I personally didn’t need a video that further divides us. We need to come together.

Where’d the Van Gogh? At Eternity’s Gate

Ever since The Florida Project, I’ve devoted myself to be a life long Willem Dafoe fan, so unless the guy’s in an untra-violent film, I’ll be at his cinematic door step. And At Eternity’s Gate proves again that his acting talent should be rewarded in the industry. He won’t win the Golden Globe for which he’s nominated and if it’s anyone else but Rami Malek, popcorn will be flung at the tv. If Bradley Cooper wins, I may throw the entire bag.

Speaking of Golden Globes, former winner Julian Schnaebel (for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly-probably one of my top 20 of all time) directed At Eternity’s Gate and while it didn’t affect me as greatly as shortened title “The Bell” did in 2007, At Eternity’s Gate evokes the true spirit of a a sensitive and misunderstood painter.

If the French teenagers were portrayed accurately, there were some mean kids back in the 1890’s bullying poor Vincent. The French are stereotypically not your friendliest group, and this movie certainly further contributes to that idea. Additionally, like Mike Meyers did in Bohemian Rhapsody as Joe Record Producer (have to get to my Christmas retail job, otherwise I’d look that up), many a man and woman questioned and discouraged poor Vincent, going as far as calling his work ugly and disturbing.

The film makes me want to look up more about his demise and I will do so once the holiday mayhem slows down. At Eternity’s Gate is another acting ‘masterpiece’ for Willem. Oscar Isaac, while I’m not a fan, does well as a self-absorbed Gaugin and in a Mike Meyeresque semi-caemo, former The Diving Bell and the Butterfly star, Mathieu Amalric plays bemused VanGogh’s doctor.

At Eternity’s Gate might garner Dafoe a Golden Globe in an alternate intellectual society and is definitely worth appreciating for its philosophical age old question; what is art? Likewise, just as it was mesmerizing to watch Day-Lewis as a living breathing Lincoln, watching Dafoe walk, paint, run and even urinate (yes you read that right) as a living VanGogh is highly entertaining.

Babes in Nutland: The Favourite

Hey, do you ever want to comment, but can’t due to the darn mail chimp service of which I have yet to crack the code? Well, don’t fret! Just tweet me at @getroxyxyz I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t let this review title fool you, I really enjoyed The Favourite. See, I’ve been going to Yorgos Lanthimos’s (Director) Greek Cinematic Diner since 2009, when I came off as a film rock star living next door to the prodigious George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, when I came up with the idea of taking a new date and former film major to Lanthimos’s Dogtooth.

To the Greek diner analogy…The Favourite, just happens to be my favorite on the Lanthimos menu. Dogtooth was profound but quite disturbing, ditto squared for The Lobster (don’t torture my poor John C. Reilly, nor sweet little Rachel Weisz!). Killing of a Sacred Deer was pure movie enigma. I absolutely hated the implausibility while watching the film, but the next day found my same brain defending the film for its tenacious eccentricity.

In The Favourite, I really don’t have any complaints, except that it may have been a tad too lengthy. What I enjoyed (no spoilers at least for those familiar with Lanthimos) is his familiarity since Lanthimos has become known for:
*people hitting themselves in the face
*partial or full blindness, eye issues or other medical ailments
*somatic illness
*eerie monosyllabic music to increase suspense
*forests of strange occurrences

The actors of this film are all top notch, and while I thought Rachel Weisz was the highlight of the Hasidic Jew movie Disobedience, I think she is outshone here by Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. And what a cute surprise, since he was all covered up in the pomp and circumstance powdered wig, I just discovered who my favorite male performance of the film is Nicholas Hoult, who stars as the “Read My Fist: No New Taxes” proponent of the film. Hoult first appeared as the sweet caught-in-the-middle-tweener in the sentimental About a Boy. You’ve come along way baby!

The screenplay (virtual newcomer at least fame-wise Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara who looks to be more seasoned in tv) is compelling socio-economically, politically and emotionally, the costuming divine and the cinematography takes you back to another time where decadence and poverty were starkly divided (wait a minute, is that really the past??? Faulkner answers, “no”).

Wrestling with my own relationship status (complicated exponentially by the oncoming train known as the holidays), I greatly appreciated Emma Stone’s line of dialogue and the scene that holds it (pun intended for those who’ve seen the flick), something to the effect of, “My life is like a maze, just when I think I’ve found an exit, another wall appears”.

See The Favourite and be prepared for some deep thoughts. And a shout out to Gus Mollasis for giving us introverts something semi-social to do on a Tuesday afternoon.

Roma: singular in its perfection, multiple in definitions

This is a blog of numerations.

First, I am doubly blessed to have access to pre-published books (most recently a phenomenal epic novel coming in March called The Old Drift) working at BookStore1 Sarasota and second, having met Jack Guren, friend of Larry Singer (Emmy Award winner for sound) who was gracious enough to show us the new foreign film Roma directed by Alphonso Cuaron (probably most known for winning the Oscar for Gravity).

And continuing the twin peaks theme, Roma has at least two definitions: plural for gypsies and in the urban dictionary, a big hearted female introvert who trusts few, but when she does, consider yourself extremely valuable (sounds like someone I saw in the mirror before my jog this morning).

Roma was incredible. I don’t need to see any other foreign film to tell you that this should be the winner of all of the major film awards. Clearly, this is Cuaron’s magnum opus.

Shot in black and white and set in Mexico in the 1970’s, I experienced another world that I only get a much glitzier, (yet certainly not glamorous) glimpse of here in Sarasota, the interior lives of domestic servants. New actress Yalitza Aparico, the domestic servant lead role, is as awe inspiring as Lupita Nyong’o was in 12 Years a Slave.

Also fantastic is Marina de Tavira as the jilted middle class mother of four. This is more of a woman’s movie than Colette without having to club you over the head with feminist philosophy. Even the Caitlin Jenneresque Grandma, actress Veronica Garcia, was terrific.

On the men’s side, the stand out role was the impregnator, if there is such a word, the actor Jorge Antonio Guerrero. He has obviously just begun what will surely be an illustrious film career.

I don’t want to give anything away on this one. One could definitely make a case that the cinematography almost outshines all the acting. Experience it yourself, in all its cinematic glory. Just gorgeous through and through.

A list of precious details/scenes I don’t want to forget for class next semester (so spoilers)
hotel room scene
hospital scene
Gravity homage in movie theater
movie theater scene
going to movie with Grandma/Dad sighting
tai chi guru scene
drunk mom scene
holiday fire scene

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Waiting Too Long

What happens when life gets in the way of writing a review is correlative to the number of rabbit holes I go down researching the background of the film. Like, just now looking at the screenwriters of Can You Ever Forgive Me? I segued on to the co-writer Jeff Whitty who I discovered starred in a (faux?) documentary called Lisa Piccard is Famous….which was directed by one of my favorite actors of all time Griffin Dunne…so there goes the attention.

Ok, I’m back to focus. The other co-writer of Can You Ever Forgive Me? (new short title for the sake of my paltry typing skills: Me?) is Nicole Holofcener who also wrote some of my favorite indies Enough Said and Please Give.

Me?’s Director is Marielle Heller, who again, brushing off my skirt from that hole fall while reading about a small film she wrote and directed called Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) that starred Kristen Wiig, which sounds very intriguing. Stating the obvious here, but just like there’s not enough time to write film review while ‘fresh in mind’, it is also impossible to watch all the movies I want nor the read the same in books.

What about the movie?, you’re screaming about now…ok, the film was very well done. Not perfect by any stretch in that it didn’t really match the genre description of ‘thriller’, though I guess you could make a case for the film in a OJ slow speed chase thriller type pace.

Melissa McCarthy is tremendous. You forget she’s a comedian when she becomes the real life frumpy failed bio writer, Lee Israel. Likewise and even more so in my opinion, with the defense of acting that pulled my heart strings was her sidekick, played at an Oscar nom level by Richard E. Grant. His work here had an air of Dick Van Dyke’s sad whimsical chimney sweep mixed with Greg Kinnear’s gay pathos in As Good As It Gets.

Also rans (a racing term) who impressed were Jane Curtain (aside aging well!) and Dolly Wells, who I swear I saw in a Todd Solondz film once…but no luck in that shallow internet quick hole dip.

While specifics are tough to name, I think I thought they went a little overboard in the gross factor in regards to Lee’s apartment…fly infestation, cat feces beneath the bed. Beyond that though, this film had memorable characters connecting on a very real and deeply nuanced way. If time permitted, I revisit this film, but I’m too busy obsessing about what I’ve yet to see at all. Can You Ever Forgive Me?