You Go Girls!: Blow the Man Down

Hey Bridget Savage and Danielle Krudy, you go girls!!

I loved their moody noir set in a Maine fishing town. The movie opens with fishmen singing traditional sea faring songs. And yet the movie doesn’t take itself too serious, and one of the fishmen actually breaks the fourth wall giving a knowing look and a smile. Love it!

Acting wise, Sophie Lowe stole the show for me. Her big sister trying to fix up ‘little’s mayhem was poignant. Morgan Saylor portrayed the younger sister, and while proficient, her acting seemed to be more clumsy. Equally as good was Gayle Rankin, whose stark blonde hair and hawk like nose give her a unique fierceness.

Other acting highlights were June Squibb and Margo Martindale who after brief research, won Prime Time Emmy’s for The Americans. Male acting highlights (besides the aforementioned fishmen) got to the two cops: veteran Skipp Sudduth and relative newbie Will Brittain who’s tough vulnerability was the perfect oxymoron.

Blow the Man Down is not a 10. Like Phone Booth, it’s a shake your head knowing what the characters should do (which would negate the plot, I fully realize). Yet, unlike and better than Phone Booth, I never thought it was cheesey. Eerie, yes, and with that I’ll end and commend the music gurus who composed beautifully creepy music: Jordan Dykstra and Brian McOmber.

Phone Booth from 2002

Hey, just curious…do I ever get to retire? Trust me, I feel blessed to be working 33 hours this week, BUT just when I thought I was on easy street, working part-time and having fun dog sitting, here comes Covid-19 to screw up the works. At least my gravestone will say “She Worked It!”

Last night I took in a somewhat iconic film I had missed due to my son being 9 years old in 2002, and since I was having so much fun as a mom and home owner, I didn’t give a fig about movies back then.

Phone Booth was directed by Joel Shcumacher (written by Larry Cohen) starring Colin Farrel with Forrest Whitaker, Katie Homes (man did she look like a teenager (she was 23) with annoying baby voice) and Radha Mitchell. Oh yeh and Kiefer Sutherland’s voice (eye roll).

First, the good news; the movie is short and tightly written. The acting is top notch, especially Colin Ferrel (can we give him an Oscar soon? Killing of the Sacred Dear was amazing and of course In Bruges was terrific as well). The minor characters were also beleiveable.

The plot though, I’m sorry to say, is cheesey. Kiefer’s voice sounded much too Messiah-like and unreal. I kept thinking (since I didn’t allow myself to read about it ahead a time) the voice was actually Kevin Spacey (since he is the biggest Hollywood creep of all time-next to Weinstein).

The ending, too, just seemed cheap. I don’t think this held up over time, but I’m open to comments if someone wants to convince me of something more profound.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Amorous from 2014

Trying to get my Josh O’Connor (“Emma’ “The Crown” “Hope Gap”) fix, I happened upon a freebie via Tubi from 2014 called Amourous (also known as Hide & Seek according to IMDB) directed (and co written) by Joanna Coates. The other writer is Daniel Metz. Curiously, neither has done anything since Amorous, leading me to believe there’s an investigative podcast and Netflix special just waiting to happen.

So what’s it all about Alfie? Well, first, my name’s Roxanne (insert your hilarity). The movie is quite interesting: two couples go to a remote English cottage and set up a nightly rotational schedule of: entertainment and then sleeping arrangements.

If you can handle sex of both hetero and homo, the movie is very entertaining. The nudity and sex are not gratuitous and tastefully done (akin to Portrait of a Lady on Fire).

I really don’t buy the log line that four ‘fragile’ young people get together. None of these folks seemed vulnerable. Not one of them balked at nude drawings or sex with a different partner every night. If anything, the most fragile character was the fifth wheel interloper.

The four ‘stars’ are Josh O’Connor, Hannah Arterton, and Rea Mole and Danile Metz (the latter two disappeared into the same abyss as the director and writer). Joe Banks (the fifth wheel who may have had the most acting range displayed) also, gonzo. Covid-19?

Anyway, if you’re alone and without a partner, but need some titillation, this is tasteful fare.

Perfect Frivolity: The Jesus Rolls

Another great calming pic is The Jesus Rolls, written primarily by Bertrand Blier, with help from the Coen Brothers, and John Turturro who also directs and stars.

In spite of a thin plot, the cast is so charming: Christopher Walken, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Susan Sarandon, Jon Hamm and Pete Davidson. Isn’t that the best dinner party group ever?

I appreciated the equality of nudity, both male and female. Harkens back to why we have statues of body forms (which was coincidentally addressed in Herzog’s Cave of Dreams where people 35,000 carved bodies out of ivory which I watched and experienced on the same day).

This all comes back to the reality that we are all one and all miracles to be experiencing this time together. Let’s keep helping each other up.

The Jesus Rolls will deifnitely give you a smile and a laugh. Turturro and Cannavale should defitniely do a sequel.

Moment of Zen: Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams isn’t for the Fast and Furious crowd, but given the overload of stress and information, the documentary certainly fit the bill yesterday granting me a much needed Moment of Zen.

The cave which was discovered in the 90’s dates back 35,000 years ago (not a typo:) Within it’s walls lay works of chalk art that have survived throughout history. While my friend had an apt and well timed Mystery Science Theater 3000 comment, “a nerd parade” in relation to the scientists and film makers lucky enough to venture in (the cave is now closed for preservation), the doc was enthralling to think of past civilization who survived much more than Covid.

Ernst Reijseger’s music also added to the documentary’s grandeur. Unplug from the news feed and check it out.

Corpus Christi, Finding a Positive Mission

In need of distraction, I took in Corpus Christi written by Mateusz Pacewicz and directed by Jan Komasa due to its high Rotten Tomato Score. And sure, the film was like a ripe banana, sweet in spots, but with an emerging brown spot.

Not sure if it’s the nascence of a new movie genre, including now One Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite and Uncut Gems, but add Corpus Christi to the pile of Fourth of July ending fireworks films.

And ok, it certainly makes you go out of the theater saying ‘wow’, but sometimes a tidy ending is much appreciated. We don’t need apocalyptic endings every time.

This isn’t me breaking my spoiler code either because you still have no idea what type of fireworks will happen, could be corkscrew, multi-colored or merely all white lights.

Bartosz Bielenia stars in the film and does an absolute fabulous job and I do understand the symbolism of the story line. But at this point, analogous to my not reading any novels about pandemics, I had hoped for a feel good film.

Don’t get me wrong, Corpus Christi is worth seeing, but I have to wonder about the psyche of the screenwriter. May he find salvation.

In fact, let’s all start loving each other. Right now.

William Nicholson’s Hope Gap, Mega Talent Takes Up All the Spaces

I was about to type William Nicholson where you been all my life, but never seeing The Gladiator #girlwhodoens’tlikeviolence, I did not know that this gent was previously Oscar nominated for best screenplay, as well as for Shadowlands which I did see suckerforalovestorywithanintrovert.

Ok, ok, enough hash tagging. How about a lecture instead? For the love of God, get out of your CNN, David Mueller fear hovel and go to the movies to see Hope Gap written and directed by the aforementioned.

You may not believe me, but ‘check the tape’ as they say in radio, since I spied how special Josh O’Connor was in Emma last week (not knowing he is already an award winner himself). Low and behold, in this film, he was the third leg of a highly talented triumvirate with Bill Nighy and Annette Bening.

This movie is for anyone who has ever been divorced, in fact, while wildly different in tone, (this is a super meditative and pensive film), it could have been called Divorce Story as a counterpoint to Bambauch’s Marriage Story.

I’m not going to ruin anything by giving away plot, suffice to say that this is a couple who divorces and the son is put very unfairly in the middle. I know I can relate to that, as well as trying very hard not to continue the pattern.

Go. See. This. Movie. And I already vote for Annette and Bill to get Oscar noms.

At the Urging of…Art School Confidential

The Book Store has always been a source for movie recommendations, from classics Barry Rothman hipped me to (Sweet Smell of Success to name one) to modern ones, from James Mammone (Ghost Story) and one from my Curb Your Enthusiasm compatriot Carrie from 2006 (Art School Confidential) when I was knee deep in teaching and being a mom. This last film is what I just finished this afternoon.

Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa and Ghost World) doesn’t put out movies in bulk in fact according to IMDB, the last thing he did was a TV short in 2017 called Budding Prospects. And while Art School Confidential had a few positives, it didn’t grab me in the way it charmed my co-workers.

First, I love John Malcovich and one of the many difficulties I had with this film is, he wasn’t in it enough! The same could be said for Anjelica Houston who I also cherish. Additionally telling was the fact that main star Max Minghella hasn’t actually gone on to bigger and better (though is in the very popular-though not with me) Handmaids Tale. Almost ditto for Sophia Myles. Last, Jim Broadbent’s character was too dark to be believable.

The film uses college and artist stereotypes for humor which is ok and worked some of the time. But the strangler sub-plot took away from my enjoyment of the humor. Hence, a good way to stay away from the media monster feeding our poor frenzied cell phone hostages, but definitely a lesser film than Bad Santa and Ghost World.

From N.E. to Gem: Emma

During the first ten minutes of Emma, the confused me was conjuring humorous blog titles, like N.E.mma, (enema, get it?), but then I got it, as in understood who the characters were and what in goodness name the plot was actually about.

And being an occasional playwright and screenwriter myself, means needing the audience to hang in there long enough to figure it out. You can’t hand out Cliff notes ahead of time to explain everything to folks who haven’t read Austen since college or ever.

In fact, in the major ball scene, I daresay I am on the record to vouche for Emma being a better film than Little Women, as relatively new screenwriter Eleanor Catton and first feature length director Autumn de Wilde ingrained in Emma what Billy Joel sang about, and Greta Gerwig failed at, which is “Leave a Tender Moment Alone”. The dance sequences and near romantic teases were far more evocative than any Gerwig managed. So bravo to the new crew in Hollywood.

Acting wise, Anya Taylor-Joy, while not aesthetically pleasing to me, did a honest job portraying an entitled brat. Johnny Flynn makes up for Taylor-Joy’s missing charisma and is wonderful as Emma’s hopeful suitor. Bill Nighy was a joy as Emma’s germaphobe father. And Josh O’Connor had a special sparkle despite his goofy character. And sure enough, on further inspection the guy’s already racked up two lead actor British Independent Film Awards. I’ll be sure to catch up on his award winning performances (God’s Own Country and Only You).

The cinematography and production were also crisper and more authentic than Little Women. The minor characters while at times a bit clunky at least seemed more human than L.W.’s Lauran Dern (who simply can’t do 19th century) and Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk.

Bravo to Emma for making us feel for conflicts nearly 200 years old and going from enema to gem-ma in a mere two hours.

The Way Back(End)

My attitude about writing this blog is probably similar to how Ben Affleck feels, like sure The Way Back, not the greatest script, but hey a Friday matinee is a fun way to pass the time, right?

I think the actual title, The Way Back, might come from a conversation between Gavin O’Connor (director and Captain of the screenplay) and Brad Inglesby (Head Coach) when Brad said, ‘Even though this is the same old story, what if we put the bulk of the reveals of deep seeded problems in the second half of the film?.’ That makes it new-ish, right?

The positives are Ben Affleck can carry a mediocre script. And certainly his real life struggle with alcoholism added to the sincerity. Ben’s basketball team were all talented up and comers, and I’m a sucker Al Madrigal, who nerded up to play Ben’s assistant coach.

Similar to the racing scenes in Ford vs. Ferrari, the basketball game footage was engaging and realistic. My basketball love began in high school with a mixture of hormones and adrenaline watching Coach Dave Gillett strip first his jacket, then aggressively loosen his tie, to finally ripping it off.

Affleck doesn’t strip, though we do get to see an aerial shot of him showering a couple of times. But hey, this isn’t Gone Baby Gone (thank God). This is a sports and redemption flick.

I confess I teared up, yet don’t think they needed to throw so many struggles the characters’ way. Some people, unfortunately, have a gene pre-disposing them to alcoholism. Making the conflict more generic may would have made the film more accessible to common folk going to cinema and more importantly, real.