INT. Oscars 2020 Awards- Night “The Lighthouse”

February 9, 2020 Oscars Night, No Host as Usual. The Best Actor Category is about to be given.

INT. Oscars 2020 Awards Theater- Night
Regina King announces the Best Actor for 2020. The audience applauds. As the actor approaches the stage, ROXANNE, a lithe blonde woman in a satin black jumpsuit she borrowed from Jenny Slate’s Netflix stand up, runs ahead of the actor to grab the statue and microphone.

ROXANNE
Ok, I don’t mean to pull a Kanye, and (looks at actor)
I’m really happy for you, I’m going to let you finish,
but Willem DaFoe’s had one of the best performances in The
Lighthouse of ALL TIME!
(She takes a deep breath)
In fact, no, no, Willem, get up here
I can not let this happen again.
(The audience gasps. Willem starts to get up at the urging
of Robert Pattinson).

ROXANNE (Cont’d)
(to Willem as he approaches stage)
You were ripped off on The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate…

(Willem makes it to the stage, chagrined, but hugs Roxanne in gratitude. Audience gives standing ovation. Willem takes the microphone. Crowd cheers louder.)

FADE OUT.

Academy, got the message?

My vow to no spoilers remains intact. Go. See. “The Lighthouse”. A movie written and directed by Robert Eggers. A man so cool, he realizes our best stories are in the past when people had creativity and personalities unglued from cell phones like zombies. Robert’s brother Max had the original Lighthouse idea, and Robert asked to use it once his brother had moved on. Hence, it could be the year of the Brothers: Eggers and Safdie’s (“Uncut Gems”).

I have only had the urge to shout out hurrah to a stage (in this case screen) two times in my life. The first time was on Broadway to “On the Mountain Top” when Angela Bassett gave an impassioned rap version of the entire Civil Rights Movement. I literally couldn’t control myself and uttered a quiet, “Holy Sh$%”. The second time was yesterday at AMC Sarasota when Willem Dafoe had two of these masterwork speeches in “The Lighthouse”.

In addition, the cinematography was off the charts profound. Robert Pattinson, also ripped off without a nomination for Good Time (ARE YOU SERIOUS?) is amazing as well.

Again: Go. See. “The Lighthouse”.
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“Where’s My Roy Cohn?”, Just like MJ, he’s dead and gone

Ok, I saw Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” last night at Sarasota Film Society’s (https://filmsociety.org/) Burns Court on it last night.

There have simply been too many fantastic docs out this year for this to land as a ‘must see’, though it certainly was enlightening. I didn’t mind that it was an advertisement for the Democratic 2020 campaign by showing Roy’s legal prowess helping to acquit Trump in a racial bias suit decades ago.

But let’s face facts though…as I read the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” in preparation for the “The Irishman”, JFK, a respected Democrat, had mafia help to gain his election win.

Politicians are under such money pressure (see the NPR News I heard as I rode home from Joker:(http://www.getroxy.xyz/promise-no-spoilers-jokers-wild/) it’s no wonder they all smell of the swamp. I’m not sure if we’ll ever drain it, at least not in my lifetime. But let’s just try to remain civil to one another.

And speaking of civil, while Cohn was a morally corrupt person, I did find offensive the fact that narrators repeatedly called his mother ‘ugly’ and unwanted, and then also depicted Roy with the same adjectives. The lawyer who was basically paid to marry Dora (Roy’s mom) was no looker either, but yet none of the narrator’s mentioned his ‘Facebook’ rating. I saw that as very mean spirited narration. Let’s recognize people’s worth based on what they did in life. Surely their behavior was ugly, but let’s leave looks out of it. There’s plenty of pretty people who are just as ugly on the inside, Ted Bundy, just to name an infamous one.

Also, let’s recognize the shame Roy underwent being called out as a fairy back when homosexuals were disparaged, as well as the fact that once disbarred, his ‘true friends’ were no where to be found.

Again, let’s make 2020 a year of balanced perspective and stick to an individual’s current (meaning past two decades) behavior as what’s fair game for judgment.

Brittany Runs a Marathon, a bronze medal, just like real life

Brittany Runs a Marathon is a bronze medal level movie important just for its attempt to capture real life modern problems. Hats off to Paul Downs Colaizzo’s writing and direction especially since his IMDB page only lists MacGuyver as one of his other writing accomplishments.

Jillian Bell does an excellent job as the lead character, an overweight woman with emotional baggage who leans into unhealthy relationships and behaviors while pushing well meaning people away.

Fortunately, running ends up being her savior of which I can certainly relate. As a 30 plus year runner (two time marathoner Chicago and Myrtle Beach* *Qualifying me for Boston but injury prevented that happening), if I couldn’t run, I’d be a stark raving lunatic. Running is my meditation, my counseling, and my calming influence. To “Brittany Runs a Marathon”‘s credit, even my non-running partner in crime, Jack, teared up at the end of the flick, hence it was moving both literally and figuratively.

Here’s a list of modern day difficulties Colaizzo eloquently displayed:
-Dating: in 2019 it’s damn near impossible to spend time with someone long enough to create intimacy. People are too busy, distracted and easily hiding away in their private lives and devices. An aside, but I say bring back slow dancing as a past-time. Have bars sponsor single nights with big bands playing songs like “It Had to Be You” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”. Just think of how less awkward dating would be if you had an excuse or reason to get close to someone before the date where you’re ready to strip down to birthday suits. What a cool way to segue to that presently super awkward moment. I digress…

-Another topic is how there are probably many heavy folks who don’t dare start an exercise program for fear of how they “look”. This movie appreciates that scary moment to simply begin. Also how ridiculous fitness center fees are when there’s a beautiful outside that is free to exercise in.

-A third topic tackled here are toxic relationships in that Brittany’s roommate tries to sabotage her attempts at self-improvement. Women, speaking from both sides of personal experience, have a much tougher time supporting another woman’s success. I’ve been guilty from the envy side and also victim of the bulls eye. A great role model of healthy behavior shown recently was Linda Ronstadt in The Sound of My Voice. Linda was super jealous of Emmy Lou Harris, but talked herself down from the roof by saying, I can either hate her for being so good, quit in discouragement or befriend her. Fortunately choosing the latter option, she Emmy and Dolly created an equal to Pavarotti’s Three Tenors.

Beyond Jillian Bell, I’ll acknowledge three other actors who added to the emotional impact: Michaela Watkins ‘the rich person who has problems, too’, Lil Rel Howery as the Bernie Mac-esque mentor, and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Brittany’s romantic crush.

Definitely worth the trip to the semi clean Parkway 8 discount theater!

Booksellers Who Suggest Movies: Ghost Story

Sad as I was to see Barry Rothman move off to Denver, he did leave me with great classic film knowledge, goading me to watch “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”, “Stranger on a Train” and “Top Hat”, just to name a few.
And now as one door closes, another opens with our new bookseller James Mammone. I knew I’d enjoy working with him, when at the staff lunch, I brought up the film “Another Earth”. Somewhat deservedly, the film’s a bit obscure, and everyone at the table turned and looked at me like I was from another Earth, when out of the silence came James’ voice who said, “Great movie, Britt Marling”.
So when James said, you should watch “Ghost Story” after a “Joker” discussion which ended with Rooney Mara, Joaquin’s fiance (today’s the wedding!), I agreed.
My prior knowledge of “Ghost Story” was simply that a few folks and reviewers had said it was odd, hence I avoided it at the theater. But much like many great films, you can’t listen to the critics. David Lowery who wrote and directed this, also wrote The Old Man & the Gun. And while I heavily panned that as boring, there certainly were similarly quiet, important moments.
“Ghost Story” is truly a special film, as quiet as the stillest Terrence Malick, “Ghost Story” weaves its tale through several lifetimes with an evocative score.
Usually I break my own no spoilers for a film that’s two or more years’ old, but in “Ghost Story”‘s case, I want to preserve the surprise. It’s not a spooky horror film, but a hauntingly deep journey. I dare say this movie might be great consolation for anyone suffering from the loss of a loved one.
Acting wise, Rooney Mara is a force to be reckoned with, her expressive eyes and mighty mouse physicality a wonderful combination. I love Casey Affleck no matter what he allegedly did and one other actor of note here is Will Oldham as ‘Prognosticator”.
I’ve now found another reliable film friend in James. Definitely see “Ghost Story”.

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice es Magnifica~

The best movies make you feel Y.O.L.O. in all caps and this was certainly true of “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. I’m sure I am not the only person who left the documentary saying, “who knew?” in just how prolific Linda Ronstadt has been, achieving hits simultaneously on the country, pop and R&B charts, not to mention mastering opera and a Spanish mariachi music album! I mean, really? Is she human? Amazing!!

Epstein and Friedman previously teamed up on Howl, Celluloid Closet and most recently on an Oscar nominated short documentary called End Game. Epstein is a two time Oscar doc winner for The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt.

While the doc category is getting pret-ty (Larry David call back) jammed packed for possible Oscar contenders, The Sound of My Voice has to be right up there. For me it’s a dead even tie between this and Ask Dr. Ruth, each equally thrilling and moving.

While some lame-o’s might whine that this was typical chronological story telling with video footage doing most of the narrative work, I contest this criticism with two pieces of defense. First, her prowess as a singer is so remarkable, writing over her talent would be ludicrous. Second, saving a display of her present condition until the very end packs the best evocative punch.

I’ll be rooting for this documentary come Oscar time for sure!! And to my singer son, Liam Enright, may I say sing as much as you possibly can with all the passion you possess. Time is of the essence!

Promise: No Spoilers, “Joker”‘s Wild

(Public Service Announcement: DO NOT TAKE ANYONE UNDER 17 TO THIS!)

Joker, directed and co-written by Todd Phillips is worth seeing. I don’t usually see super dark films since I’m sensitive to violence, a hide-behind-my-sweater-type, as well as a staunch believer that what we ingest visually has the psychological nutrition equivalent of gorging on a deep dried bologna sandwich with a side of deep fried Twinkie. But considering Mr. Phillips’ previous films were mostly comedy; (Old School, Hangover) AND given that his co-writer, Scott Silver, wrote one of my favorite movies of all time, The Fighter, I took a chance.

As a huge Joaquin Phoenix fan, my two favorite Phoenix performances being “Two Lovers” and “The Master”; I knew the performance would be breathtaking and indeed it was. With ribs protruding from his skinny physique, Joaquin giggles maniacally and dances like a mixture of Fred Astaire meets Justin Timberlake. His poignant performance gives us a slightly similar feeling to the closure of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, emphasis on slightly.

No plot spoilers, but the cinematography in Joker’s dancing scenes, in the public bathroom and on the super tall ascension of outdoor stairs, are mesmerizing. Likewise the multiple subway scenes, both quietly eerie and violently chaotic have a deep impact. I’d like to think that Phillips and Silver wanted to wake our distracted ignorant technology fixated society in one of the most impressionable scenes where a wall of tv screens shout their competing cacophony drowning out human suffering.

A topnotch soundtrack added to the film’s hip milieu: Smile
(Jimmy Durante) written by the great Charlie Chaplin (who gets his own cameo shown on the big screen in one scene), Laughing (The Guess Who), and White Room (Cream) to name a few. My favorite, That’s Life (Frank Sinatra), is used in a Johnny Carson-like late night show (hosted here by Robert DeNiro) that Joker watches religiously, added to the mad mix of emotions I felt leaving the theater. I got in my Uber with that other worldly feeling great movies give you, even if it wasn’t the happy face the Joker’s mom always told him to wear.

As I rode along in the dark, listening to NPR News detail separate stories that President Trump wants Biden and his son investigated since their new business made millions and yet Biden raised ‘only’ 1.5 million far below Elizabeth Warren 4 million….I couldn’t help feel like our political system has become surreal; coincidentally a core foundation of Joker the film, that the fat cat Governor of Gotham, doesn’t truly care about us average Joe’s, I mean, Jokers. The solution isn’t violence, but positive, loving changes to our mental health system AND restrictions on guns meant for warfare.

Just four years later, bet it wouldn’t be made: True Story

I wondered if Rupert Goold was one of those writer/directors that critics just don’t like after many disparaged “Judy”, a movie I found quite moving. Hence, I watched “True Story” from 2015 which Goold co-wrote with David Kajganich (from A Bigger Splash!!!) based on the book by former New York Times Reporter Michael Finkel.

Cue Throat Clearing sound effect: Well? Definitely a movie that should have been left as a book, better yet, should have been simply a case study listed in the DSM-5.

I feel the same about this film as I do every time I see yet another new ‘complete biography’ of Hitler come into BookStoreOne where I work in Sarasota, Florida….like why are we giving this monster the time of day? And in fact, not only does the movie, and I assume the book, establish notoriety of the actual sociopathic murderer (which the movie doesn’t do proper justice showing the evidence that proved he indeed killed his whole family), but also makes the book author and part subject of the book also look like, I’m struggling not to use an expletive, a narcissistic jerk off.

A heinous act happens and the person who gets the most attention is the criminal….WRONG. And I think our news media, as much as I can’t stand their non-news bias (this includes the other extreme, too, Fox News) has done a better job of not detailing the criminals’ lives in some of the more recent mass killings. Shun the bad guys, in other words.

The one blessing I can say of the movie, speaking of the media I feel has completely sold out to political leanings, is that the New York Times, having been disproved recently in bold faced untruths, certainly look like idiots in the closing captions of the film in that they would never re-hire Finkel as a reporter, but DID accept articles from the mass murderer, Christian Longo. How’s that for morality and integrity?

As much as I like Jonah Hill and James Franco, they should have said no way to this project and ditto for Executive Producer Brad Pitt.