About Goldie

Aspiring writer who has retired from the institution of education. Have loved my career (and was thrilled to teach the Common Core, which should not be thrown out due to public misinformation and paranoia) but am embarking on my own creative adventure, while the juices are still flowing.

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.

Standing Ovation: Zellweger as “Judy”

Typically I’d start out by praising a director of a tremendous film like “Judy”, but this screenplay calls for a standing ovation for dialogue. Realistic and witty, Tom Edge (and the original stage playwright Pete Quilter) I hope will win professional awards for their yeoman’s work.

Director Rupert Goold also deserves high praise for a tight movie that moves through the last segment of Judy Garland’s life like a bullet train. Goold previously received accolades for “True Story” with Jonah Hill and James Franco, both guys I totally respect for their brave choices (“Mid90’s” and “The Disaster Artist” respectively). While I need to go back and watch True Story, I have no doubt that Goold has a big future ahead of him.

Rene Zellweger deserves the most praise for owning this role, usurping the spirit of Judy Garland and bringing her back to life. Her moving portrayal as a long sufferer of child acting and abuse to her financial difficulties in later life moved me to tears. For me the hook that touched me most was how much she loved her children, but due to her instabilities, of whom she was unable to adequately care.

Finn Wittrock plays Garland’s last husband Mickey Deans and is definitely an actor to watch. He stood out in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” as the sleazy real estate broker and in Judy is superb at objectively performing the dubious role as Judy’s cougar suitor, yet due to his brilliant acting, we’re left weighing the actuality that perhaps he actually helped her sustain dignity and regrouping at the later stages of her life.

I’ll save any spoilers, but let me just say that I learned plenty about this icon and am absolutely in awe at Zellweger’s transformation. Natalie Portman received an overhype of praise for playing a stoned out Jackie O., while Zellweger actually had to act as the tragic, but gifted Judy Garland. A must see!

Dear Stanley, ‘Final Portrait’: a masterpiece!

Looking to broaden my film community, I looked longingly at Selby Library’s Film Group Meeting which was showing “Shine”, the Australian movie for which Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar. Alas, I could not attend due to work, but thought I’d check out the protocol there on the off chance their discussion lasted longer than my shift.

In advance, I decided to watch another Geoffey Rush flick that I had almost gone to at Burns Court when it came out in 2017, Final Portrait, written and directed by Stanley Tucci.

And as my blog title already hinted, I loved it! Only the best movies can engage me at home, as you may also agree dear reader, is a place fraught with distractions, from internet dating texts, to dust I notice growing on the tv, to books I should be reading, etc. But I gave no thought to those items as I became enmeshed in Stanley’s tale of the artist, Alberto Giacometti.

Truth be told, I’ve loved most movies based on painters’ lives: Pollock, At Eternity’s Gate and Picasso, just to name a few. But Final Portrait was beautifully different than the aforementioned, having a more 3d approach to the painter’s life.

As most painters, Giacometti was self-involved, persnickety and tortured. However, Tucci showed the comic side to his personality; his very French infidelities and his o.c.d. habits. Geoffrey Rush was amazing as was Armie Hammer as his portrait sitting muse. Tony Shalhoub, who seems like such a namby pamby (yet an award winning one) in the Miss Maizel series, knocks it out of the park as the faithful, shrugging brother. His appearance changed to gray haired and non-descript enhances his acting that much more.

Other visual nuances included an antique wash to the film that made the muted colors Giacometti use seem more vibrant, and the bust that sits between Armie and Giacometti which symbolizes mystique, the third presence, that otherwordly alchemy which happens when someone produces great art.

A wonderful film, offered free on demand right now without interruption on the Starz network. Check it out.

No “First Man”, But No Second Banana Either: Ad Astra

First of all, do you know what Ad Astra means? It’s a Latin phrase meaning: “Through Hardships to the Stars”. My former Latin teacher friends; Steve Beaulieu, Mary Belleville, and Susie Scoppa will appreciate that mini lesson.

But Ad Astra is also the title of the new movie by James Gray. I don’t own any movies, nor books; if I want to reread or revisit, there’s the library or streaming. BUT, if I was forced to go into outer space Like Brad Pitt does in Ad Astra, and take only five movies with me, I’d choose an older James Gray film, “Two Lovers” with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. So check out that flick when you have a chance, gorgeous and emotional performances by everyone.

Ad Astra enthralled me, but to use a Palin, ‘I betcha’ a lot of folks won’t like. What First Man did with giant sound, Ad Astra does with quiet spaces. And you know how modern day folks can’t stand the silence.

Without giving spoilers, Brad Pitt goes in search of his dad, Tommy Lee Jones, who decided he’d rather stay in outer space rather than come back to this God forsaken planet.

The film does a great job in the first half showing the ridiculousness of an inhabited and colonized Moon, with Subway sandwich shops and hooligans who commit crater (road) rage! The suspense was built nicely throughout this portion.

I still enjoyed the quieter more meditative second half and appreciated Brad Pitt’s lending facial expressions and body language to nuance an emotional performance. And while I thought Chazelle’s First Man was better story telling, (and I realize that’s a Captain Obvious statement, given it was a true story) I believe Pitt is at the Diderot’s (author of The Paradox of Acting) epox of life where his emotions are under control, yet accessible enough to portray such gorgeous inner struggle.

In a contemplative mood, go see Ad Astra, you’ll enjoy the peace.

Hustlers: Despite the Thongs, Not All That it’s Cracked Up to Be

Not to sound cocky, but my blog title is better that the actual screenplay of “Hustlers”. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but let me count the ill begotten ways of this movie.

1. If you want us to feel empathy for a character, we have to have some back story…J Lo, for instance, how did her character become a money hungry man hater? Constance Wu, we understand is a sad sack and in the LAST 15 minutes we see one tiny NON-PEOPLED clip that’s suppose to explain. Frontload this, honey.

2. Men who frequent strip clubs might be pigs, but aren’t the girls also who profit? I digress, men might be pigs who…BUT they are also three dimensional humans. Again, we find out about Doug Stone in the LAST quarter of the film after we’ve already seen countless men who simply work on Wall Street and then go throw money at women every evening.

3. Fact checked by an actual man: men do not throw money at strippers like Snoop Dog threw at the Padres (https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/05/mlb-worst-first-pitches-50-cent-michael-jordan-snoop-dogg-carl-lewis-bababooey-videos-list). They actually want the specific girl to know, ‘hey this is for you’, so it’s not done from the pitcher’s mound.

4. Continuity and Character Development: J Lo’s character has one daughter who she’s a ‘fabulous’ mom to while she’s up whoring it up nightly, but then in a later scene she has another younger daughter…hmmm, a nine month sabbatical happened? And Constance has a kid she neglects, and we never see the child again for the last quarter other film. Poof, gone.

Three positive asides: J Lo’s body has to be the G.O.A.T., the music is good and I did appreciate the inventiveness of sound in the interview process with Julia Stiles.

Have I convinced you that YOUR money might be better spent at an actual strip club? (kidding) The best news for me is that I can cross off my list of highly respected critics (good to clear out the cache of heroes now and again), any of them who even dare mention the word Oscar and J Lo or Constance Wu in the same sentence. This may be a first; my anger at someone even got nominated.

Every Which Way But “Luce”

I watched the beginning of “Luce” with a sideways skeptical glance…as in, “Really? Why did I choose this movie? I don’t like dramas, real life holds plenty of drama.”

But dubiousness turned to respect as this intricate story seemed to be 90 percent (see below for the 10% baloney) possible in the real world.
Conversations between students (Kelvin Harrison Jr. being the lead), our society’s addictions to the f’n phones, arguments of spouses (expertly played by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) and even school situations (BIG applause for Octavia Spencer’s performance as her character had the most to deal with script wise, minus my 10% exception) seemed very plausible. And in the latter, I have expertise being a school counselor and witnessing nuttiness from all sides (students, parents and yes, even teachers).

Did I love the movie? No, but I did respect the editing, music and aforementioned screenplay. So bravo to director Julius Onah who adapted the original play by J.C. Lee.

My malarkey radar went up at the freshly rehabbed sister subplot and her subsequent breakdown which would never have gotten that far out of control in a school foyer, and the old horror movie trope where no one calls the police about criminal matters wanting to solve it themselves.

The movie promised to have people arguing about moral issues that crop up and sure enough, my friend and I had respectful but different takes on the ‘shoulds and should nots’ of the story.

What’s Up Doc? David Crosby: Remember My Name

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As I called the era a few blogs ago, 2019 really does seem to be the Year of the Doc. Ask Dr. Ruth, Pavarotti, Marianne & Leonard, Maiden, Echo in the Canyon… all in the running this year for best documentary. But really, who’s the best?

I have to say, three stand out for me and all for a similar reason: Ask Dr. Ruth, Pavarotti and now David Crosby: Remember My Name.

The reason? They give a specific perspective and arc of a person’s life and show that human beings, no matter how famous, all have hardships to overcome. In all three of these folks, the individual has prevailed giving hope to the doc’s audiences, that we, too, can and should overcome odds to be a better human being.

I’m leaving out Marianne & Leonard partially after discovering the director had a personal prejudice for the subject matter and while I felt emotion while watching, also felt somewhat manipulated, and coercion was not part of my experience with the other three.

David Crosby fully admits he has a temper, which I’ll paraphrase as a blind rage which provoked him to say the most vile, unforgivable things to those most close to him, aka Nash, Stills and Young.

Who hasn’t screwed up a friendship by snapping at the wrong time or to an irrevocable extreme? I confess I self-righteously chewed my decades long friend Terry Van Wuykheuese out many moons ago (probably 2006ish). And similar has been done to me, quite recently actually. There are some words that are impossible to forget or forgive and Crosby has admittedly crossed that line.

In so many words, director A.J. Eaton and Cameron Crowe show Crosby’s remorse and also his acceptance that at this late point in his life, he should feel grace toward his wife and be damn glad for his health and musical talent (including a still beautiful melodic voice).

Much like Howard did for Pavarotti in showing his transition from operatic diva to charitable humanitarian, Crowe does an excellent job wielding our way through David’s life, beginning with the initial scar of a father who couldn’t show love, to his overly fortunate beginning rock and roll days, through addiction, prison and back out again.

And as much as the media wants to chastise and shark feed on the blood those who made mistakes, documentarians are salvaging people who have made human error, but continue to create and live full lives. Louis C.K. and Al Franken, just to name a few, should take heart in knowing, many people can forgive and if they can’t, life does indeed go on.