Wisdom in the Babyteeth

I admired and enjoyed Babyteeth written by Rita Kalnejas (also known for Ghostrider) and directed by Shannon Murphy.

The complex narrative combined with super uniuqely lit shots made the two hours and change time line fly by. The convincing actors include (in order of my best to very good): Essie Davis as the caring but distraught mom, Toby Wallace Moses as the abused homeless young man, Eliza Scanlen as the lead ‘teenage’ 10th grade daughter (real age 21, but close enough), and Ben Mendelsohn as the dad trying to hold it all together.

Mix these characters with a Russian cello teacher, an Asian boy seemingly cast off by his family and a single woman on the verge of giving birth and you have a riveting story.

Watch for the party scene (cinematographer Andrew Commis) which rivaled my previous favorite in the Warren Beatty/Halle Berry Bullworth scene for eroticism. The soundtrack was fantastic as well like this gem Golden Brown by the Zephyr Quartet https://www.what-song.com/Movies/Soundtrack/103402/Babyteeth or Come Meh Way by Sudan Archives https://www.what-song.com/Movies/Soundtrack/103402/Babyteeth or For Real by Mallrat https://www.what-song.com/Movies/Soundtrack/103402/Babyteeth.

Definitely worth the time and money, Babyteeth, evocative and real!

You May Be Right, I May Be…In Love with “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn”

I paused for so long during the ZZ Top doc on Netflix that up popped a scroll of available Netflix movies. Fortunately, I looke dup from my computer at the opportune time to discover “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn.”

I love Jemaine Clement as much as I love John McEnroe. Big love, to be sure. So Jim Hosking’s written and directed film with Aubrey Plaza was up my alley.

A forewarning: watching this film is like getting on a wild stallion. The first 15 minutes is pretty jarring as every character seems to be an outrageous hyperbole of stereotype. But hang in there, once you realize that Hosking mocks EVERYONE, you settle in and start laughing.

Aubrey and Jemaine are a couple made in heaven, each out dead panning the other. Matt Berry (“What We Do in the Shadows”) and Craig Robinson (Ditto and “Pineapple Express”) are better than any comedic bromance I’ve seen in a long time. Emile Hirsch, “Into the Wild” phenom, is also fantastic as a maniacal coffee shop manager.

If you get Netflix, give this outrageous comedy a try.

King of Staten Island, Dethroned

Sorry pals, this is not Apatow’s best film yet, though the movie starred many of my favorites. The reasons are varied, but primary may be the fact that Pete Davidson’s recent stand up special contained many of the anecdotes found in this based on his real life film. And because Pete is such an honest, self-deprecating story teller, I’d rather here his real personal take, than a fictionalized watered down, and I’ll even go so far as saying bloated (2 hours and 16 minutes) version.

Which is too bad since I love Bill Burr (as Pete’s mom’s first boyfriend post 9-11 widowdom) and thought his performance was off the charts. With his cheesy ginger mustache, I bought he was a hard ass fireman. Bel Powley was excellent as Pete’s assertive girl friend. Ricky Valez was cool as Pete’s bros before ho’s friend. Kevin Corrigan who does not get enough parts, has his typical cameo here. And another underrated stand up comedian, Lynne Koplitz, who I saw at McCurdy’s in Sarasota, FL, should be a regular in any comedy, had two to three scenes in this, but yet not enough leash to show her comedic talents. Pamela Adlon is great as Bill Burr’s jaded ex, though she appears to be suffering from bad Louis CK karma. And while I hate nepotism, Maude Apatow was solid as Pete’s sister.

Ok, and here’s the saddest part of King Of Staten Island, Marisa Tomei is one of my favorite actresses of all time: In the Bedroom, Before the Devil Knows Your Dead and The Wrestler to name my top three, is not believable as Pete’s mom, nor Bill’s love interest. I saw through every scene and didn’t once feel for her.

I did like the movie, but it’s no 40 Year Old Virgin, Trainwreck nor even Funny People.

Gratitude and Genuflection for Driveways

My my my I felt sad when Brian Dennehy died, not that I was even that hip to his filmography, but he reminded me of my former father-in-law, a hard shelled exterior soft hearted interior Irish guy. And after seeing Driveways (fantastic screenplay written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen) directed by Andrew Ahn, I am in a combination of awe and mourning.

Driveways has already garnered a nomination for the Independent Spirit Best First Script Award. And I am hoping, flattening the curve willing, that Driveways will get a big screen release, not because the Hudson Valley shots are all that profound as this movie is more about the relationships among humans, yet the emotions are so large, they deserve a big screen to let them breathe. Jay Wadley’s poignant original music is also worth theater sized speakers.

Suffice to say I was teary eyed in the first 10 minutes as Lucas Jaye is an absolute marvel as the 9 year old boy who forms a friendship with neighbor Brian Dennehy. Likewise, Hong Chau, already nominated for a Golden Globe in Downsizing, portrays Lucas’s single mom with a realistic tenderness.

I am rooting for this film as I did last year’s Peanut Butter Falcon. For a mere 3.99 on Amazon Prime, watch it now, and then go see it again when it hits the cinema.

Shirley, Surely Moss is Due an Oscar Nomination

I’ve seen Elisabeth Moss now in two truly amazing performances, Her Smell and now Shirley, directed by Josephine Decker and written by Sarah Gubbins. Gubbins has written for two of my other favorites, I Love Dick and Better Things.

But Moss, while she’s nominated up the wazoo for Mad Men and won for Handmaid’s Tale (aside, love the article I just saw questioning it’s readers whether they’d stand up against an oppressive regime…let’s see we have a good percentage of the population wearing masks alone in their car or out alone in open air, clearly, we already have our answer…sadness!), she’s yet to break into Oscar nomination territory.

Hopefully Shirley may be another opportunity, though goodness knows how any of that is going to work this year.

The movie Shirley is based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell which contains the mere true to life portion portraying her dysfunctional marriage (my opinion), otherwise known as loosey goosey, open relationship between Jackson and her husband, a Bennington College Professor. The aforementioned is played by another acting power house, Michael Stuhlbarg, who absolutely blew me away in Call Me By Your Name. In Shirley, I totally believe his and Moss’s cat and mouse flip flop relationship.

Likewise, I also bought the chemistry between Odessa Young and Logan Lerman (who won awards and praise for The Perks of a Wallflower), the young couple who comes to stay with Jackson and become enmeshed in the psychodrama of her tortured writing schedule and their mixed up marriage.

Two special aspects of the film were the cinematography and sound. The former arrested my interest with shots of Shirley through other people or crowds, as well as verdant shots of Vermont. And the latter struck me with sounds of a rushing train, blues music, and typewriter keys (just to name a few) that gave a pronounced impression. I’d be willing to bet an hour’s salary that Decker has been influenced by Yorgos Lanthimos, a master of fraught sound effects.

Definitely worth a watch, and someone, give this woman an Oscar Nom!