I love when I find a screenwriter who captures the essence of a story and without any fluff, builds a well told narrative. Well this week, Mike Makowsky’s Bad Education came out on HBO and Mr. Makowsky, you made high honor roll!
Being a retired vet of the NYS Education’s Public School System, I can attest that Makowsky’s tale was spot on. Of course there’s no screenplay if you don’t have the right director and here newish guy Cory Finley filled the bill stylistically painting small town Long Island yearning to be as opulent as its Big Brother-Big Apple mover and shaker.
And talk about a perfect cast!!! Can we please sneak this in as a major motion picture contender and give Hugh Jackman a Oscar nomination? The guy is multi-talented and willing to take risks, so what do you say? Come on HBO, gather your inner Long Island chutzpah and stand up to Netflix! Equally great and already an Oscar winner, Allison Janney always nails her acting mark. Other solid performances came from Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan (anyone in something called Emo the Musical sounds fun to me), Annaleigh Ashford (about to star in the next Woody Allen project) and last but not least, Pat Healy, I love this man and evidently Makowsky does, too, as he’s in another one of his movies, Take Me, which is not on my watch list. Makowksy’s one other IMDB listed movie for writing is I think We’re Alone Now with Dinklage and Gainsbourg, so yes please, sing me up for a future viewing of that as well.
Can’t recommend this enough!
Shirkers is a 2018 documentary written and directed by Sandi Tan which made the short list for Oscars Best Docs of 2019. As much as I talk smack against Amanda of The Big Picture Podcast (mainly because she has not given Shia LaBouef nor Robert Pattinson the credit they deserve), I am blessed to have watched this doc at her encouragement.
Shirkers tells the story of Sandi’s young adult infatuation with an exotic American film director living in her native country of Singapore. Sandi’s shaky upbringing and non-conformist personality led her to seek out charismatic mentors.
Without giving spoilers, Sandi becomes estranged from her man of admiration and attempts to discover the murky parts of the man’s life of which she was unaware.
The music by Ishai Adar and Brad Dutz set the a dreamy atmosphere. Movie clips from classics like Fitzcarraldo and Sex, Lies, and Videotape add to the intrigue. Last, any woman who had an older man crush as a youth will appreciate Tan’s halcyon view of her past, and her attempt to recapture the naive innocence we all once had of the world.
If I can recommend one fun adult movie during these quarantine times, ‘ it’s A Good Old Fashioned Orgy written and directed by Alex Gregory and Peter Hyuck, a dynamic comedy duo also known for their work on Veep and King of the Hill.
Rotten Tomatoes critics are pretty harsh at their 39% and this is from a girl who doesn’t care for American Pie type movies (or even-brace yourself-Something About Mary), BUT A Good Old Fashioned Orgy had that sweet spot (dirty pun intended) of a near perfect cast and really funny AND smart writing.
Let’s discuss the titillating cast: Jason Sudeikis is always a wise ass we can love, and if you didn’t like We’re the Millers, get the heck out of here. Lake Bell may be one of my favorite modern comedic actresses (I highly recommend her movie In A World). A ‘new’ guy to me and a great surprise was Tyler Labine who plays the chubby funny guy (I’m going to seek out Someone Marry Barry starring same). I have an interesting attraction-repulsion for Nick Kroll who is excellent as the blackberry obsessed financial analyst and last, I really like Will Forte and Lucy Punch who play a nerdy just married couple.
So give it a chance! It’s not as raunchy as the title might lead you to believe. Guess that makes it a bit of a tease, wink, wink.
Bravo Jason Orley! I liked the story you wrote called Big Time Adolescence and I liked your directing, too. Though I’m not surprised because I also enjoyed Pete Davidson’s comedy special which you also directed. You’re one sharp cookie!
The story of Big Time Adolescence, a younger guy’s bromance with his big sister’s ex-boyfriend was very realistic, as was the ex-boyfriend’s arrested development. We all know one of those guys who gets mired in his hometown, never evolving, basking in his glory days as party animal.
Pete Davidson is perfectly (type?) cast as ‘the dude’ and his little buddy, Griffin Gluck is definitely going places, spot on as the skeptically naive high schooler. I’ll definitely be on the look out for a new movie he stars in called Dinner in America. Rounding out the cast are Jon Cryer (keep acting!!) and pinch your cheeks cute Thomas Barbusca. While this is mostly a bro movie, two actresses who stood out were Emily Arlook and Oona Laurence. And I have to give one more shout out to the man who played the grouchily disinterested Dad on the couch.
Realistic and fun, yet with a tinge of anxious drama. My kind of movie. Thanks Jason Orley!
For a day or two, Rotten Tomatoes had Abe at 100% and in Covid times, that’s like walking the desert and seeing a fountain up ahead. By the time I got to said fountain aka Abe, the RT rating was at a much more sensible 71%.
And rightly so…
Is the story of Abe excellent fodder?
Battling relatives of different religions and nationalities is certainly intriguing and even if you’re a Wonder Bread white girl, you can still appreciate strife caused by differences in political opinions.
HOWEVER, take the same intrigue and then stretch it out like silly putty so that the images are now of the Circus mirror type, and you have how the four writers (too many cooks adage, SO apropos here) screwed up this script.
Noah Schnapp (the boy Abe) and Seu Jorge (Chico the chef) are super realistic and great, but besides the Uncle (I tried finding the actor on IMDB and I don’t know if he was ever named in the dang film and without photos, many actors are without them on Abe’s page, I can’t name the actor), ALL of the other family members are hack actors. Or were given the Circus mirror of a script and seem like hack actors.
I was moved by Abe’s story and the neglect form his rather ignorant parents who seemed so blase’ about most everything, but then would clamp down on punishments hashtag #stupidparenting.
The other highlight was the soundtrack, a mix of Brazilian reggae fusion by Gui Amabis.
Perfect for dog groomers or anyone in need of a far our cult film, this yum yum flick is for a night when you’re up to your neck in what the f’s hurled toward Covid19 frustrations.
I do need to watch Carrie from 1978 which is heavily referenced, (not a Stephen King movie fan with the huge EXCEPTION of The Shining), as the main character Mike Pinkney plays a Hollywood resident dying to re-make Carrie into an all cats movie, which having only suffered the trailer, has to be better than the actual Cats musical from this past year.
Pinkney is awesome as the nerd who can’t get his life together and paired with spot on blurred day dreamy cinematography proves he’s merely phoning in his dog grooming assignments.
His agent, portrayed and voiced by a comically critical German misogynist, Flula Borg,is now just as good on a new Netflix series called Brews Brothers. A smaller role, though well played for kinky and kookiness is Sonja Kinsky, Natasshja’s (not a typos, strangely spelled first name) daughter and Klaus Kinsky’s grand daughter (insert cuckoo clock sound effect). And talk about odd coincidence, Natasshja was nominated for a Golden Globe for a horror flick called Cat People.
I love this film, written and directed by Michael Reich based on his real life. His previous endeavors have been in the music video arena. Support the little creative geniuses and check this movie out.
In the rabbit hole of what to watch, I happened upon Aberdeen from 2000, written and directed by Hans Petter Moland (his most recent film was Out Stealing Horses  which garnered several awards in Norway).
Aberdeen stars Lena Headey who I’m probably the only person on Earth who didn’t know who she was (Game of Thrones heart throb). Before knowing this, I thought admiringly, even as a binary, at her beauty AND even more importantly, her tremendous actress prowess.
Co-starring with Headey is an actor I’ve expressed admiration for in the past, Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, a Lars Von Trier go-to and apparently a favorite of Moland also starring in the aforementioned Out Stealing Horses) does his usual yeoman’s job as Headey’s drunken Dad.
The movie had enough twists and turns to keep me entertained. Like other well done father daughter films (Toni Erdmann being my fave) this dysfunctional duo seems very realistic. Ian Hart puts in a nuanced show as Headye’s lover and Charlotte Rampling does her best with what’s she’s given, a la Dianne Weist in The Mule, a bedridden dying woman.
Worth a look if your home alone and need an adult drama.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Covid19 rental…so I had the Zelig failure, and determined to save Woody’s creative reputation, I found a recent (2016) free limited series starring Woody and Elaine May called Crisis in Six Scenes and I realized how prolific and funny Elaine May is (and she is 88 in a week, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). Of course she’s a two time Oscar nominated screenwriter for Primary Colors and Heaven Can Wait.
So down I went into the Elaine May filmography and for a mere 3.99 (see how bias changes when the movie is great?), I had at least 15 laughs watching A New Leaf from 1971 starring Elaine and Walter Matthau.
Elaine was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress in this gem and plays a nerd I efinitely resemble. She takes a bus, likes obscure sweet alcohol drinks, and is darn right clutzy. Oh, and she actually likes reading books and going to bed early.
I’ve literally lusted over Matthau’s sarcastic bravado and joining him with comedic glory is Jack Weston and oh my Lord, the tragic things you find out when you research….George Rose who does an outstanding job as Matthau’s butler was murdered by his adopted son in the D.R. in the latt 80’s. Goodness….
So watch it in tribute to him if anything else.
Critics rated it 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and I concur.
Banana Split (directed by Benjamin Kasulke whose work I’ve enjoyed in two other films: Laggies and Safety Not Guaranteed) is a tasty new film written by the lead actress Hannah Marks and creative partner Joey Powers.
While the plot’s been done before (even in my own life) in that two young women vie for the same man, Marks and Powers make it seem fresh with a combo of witty dialogue, a cutesie soundtracked grouping of montages in places where we’d normally roll our eyes, and super qualified and likeable actors.
Hannah Marks herself has a face you might see shopping at Publix, yet, her chocolate brown eyes and full lips are quite evocative. Likewise, the man-boy in question is Dylan Sprouse, a pre-Fabio sweet face, as is a Basinger in her twenties hottie Liana Liberato. For comic relief, jester red head Luke Spencer Roberts has the perfect rubbery mouth to make us laugh and care, and a tiny mighty mouse to be reckoned with is Addison Riecke, who I predict could be a future SNL comedian.
Very similar to Book Smart in themes, Banana Split isn’t quiet as intelligent. Party scenes downplay the negative effects of alcohol, a pet peeve of mine. But on a Covd19 Friday evening, the film was a fun watch.
Running today I concluded our lives had become pretty darn boring preCovid. At least mine anyway. I ran my 3 and a half miles, I went to work, I eat my ritualistic meals. Pretty solitary, but enjoyable and the only true novelties were restaurant outings, vicarious pleasures I got from movies and the trips I had planned to see Liam in NYC.
Then an opportunity arose a long with the suggestion that I watch Notting Hill. Richard Curtis, the screenwriter, has certainly had an up and down career. Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Pirate Radio, all top notch screenwriting.
Yet, he should have lost his license after last year’s Yesterday which was abominably bad. Here directed by Roger Mitchell (My Cousin Rachel, one of my faves of his) in Notting Hill, however, Curtis still has some mojo and while not a perfect film by any stretch….when I say the characters are written broadly (especially his flat mate played by Rhys Ifans), I mean USS Comfort ship size broad.
But who doesn’t love Hugh Grant as a dashing, bumbling humble sentimental in love with emotionally confused, but gorgeous Julia Roberts? You can’t lose! And look who had a cameo, skinny Alec Baldwin!
So yeh, it’s time to roll the dice and live a little wouldn’t you say? When I like corny romance more than Woody Allen classic, you know I’ve lost my marbles, but in a good way. Happy Covid19 Shakeup!