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.

Cold War(s), Worm Heart

Shakespeare’s noted for the Hamlet proverb, ‘brevity is the soul of wit,” and Cold War, written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski is certainly a film of which The Bard would be proud. Briskly paced at 90 minutes, we’re taken on a European musical escapade through starkly frigid Poland, austere Yugoslavia and comparatively freewheeling Paris.

Shot in black and white, star crossed lovers Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot are genuine and tortured by the confines of post-World War 2 communism. The monochrome film adds not only to the nostalgia of lost love, but also to the bleak surroundings. The cinematography moves like a stately photo album filled with clips; the couple’s cloaked embraces, a wind-swept field tiff, and raucous bar gyrations.

Much like many Shakespearean plays, characters Zula and Wiktor do not live happily ever after, or do they? Depending on your level of faith and ability to identify with unrequited love, may determine your adoration or lack thereof for Cold War. If nothing else, the film is tremendous eye and ear candy with conversational inspiration about the nature and duration of true love.

Perhaps our modern day’s frenetic speed has me craving more constructive and redemptive stories since in total Cold War did not impress me and wasn’t what the media had my ‘hype’ it would be.

Stan & Ollie Needed a (Script) Fluffer

I wrote a play about five years ago about a conversation between two old friends. Feedback repeatedly came back that I needed to move the conflict sooner in the script. Stubbornly, I held fast until recently and Stan & Ollie‘s led weighted script is definitely a good slapstick kick in the arse to that same point.

What could have been a blockbuster; poignant friendship between to men starring two outstanding actors, ends up stumbling and fumbling as much as the real pair’s schtick use to include.

I couldn’t help but feel for Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, titans in my list for Philomena (and Jeff Pope helped write that AND this??? A mystery.), The Trip (the former) and Magnolia and Chicago (the latter). They had to have loudly gulped at the script which leaves out ‘coulda been scenes, LIKE:

what about sailing with a bevy of actresses?
what about Stan’s drinking or Oliver’s gambling?
or either’s failed relationships?

In all three circumstances we’re told the information instead of shown. Instead, we’re smothered entirely by their vaudeville scenes and hotel rooms, and even the music which seems cloistered.

One character who could have been written at least with some charisma is their manager, who again limps through bland writing without leaving a mark.

Ok, so it did receive a Rotten Tomatoes 92% so let’s switch hats to the positive, a la Nicki Minaj, and say, “Myley, what’s good?”

The make up and superior acting of the two male leads are certainly worth seeing. The scene where Stan visits Ollie in his post heart attack bed, and blathers on about a new bit where Ollie cries, is projecting Stan’s deep feelings for his friend. Here, Coogan’s watery eyes made the movie soar to Oscar worthy, again, had that type of depth or visual been allowed in the film’s entirety. Likewise the actresses who portrayed their wives were very good. Had they been able to let loose a little more in their scenes (Nina Arianda as Stan’s fiercely independent Russian wife and Shirley Henderson as Ollie’s straight out of central casting 50’s wife) the movie would have been livelier.

So what we’re left with is a semi boring movie with a halcyon look back at two vaudeville originals. Stan & Ollie deserved better, as did Steve and John.

If Beale Street Could Talk: So Gorgeous, It Doesn’t Need To

Keeping with my Citizen Kane metaphor of a luxurious cinematic bath, If Beale Street Could Talk is a spa treatment for the eyes and ears.

Written and directed by Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (noted hereafter as IBSCT) is not Moonlight by any stretch. To me Moonlight was a masterpiece, in story, in acting, cinematography and so on.

Reminiscent of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in IBSCT, we’re treated to the gorgeous symbolic benefits of color (the feminine yellow that Kiki Layne and Aunjanue Ellis wore (the former an innocent chick [as in baby chicken], the latter as a religion jaundiced old bag). Layered innocence again in Kiki’s baby blue mock turtle neck and her more sophisticated paisley numbers as she works the perfume counter. And let’s not forget the dapper gents costuming; the manly leather worn by Colman Domingo and Michael Beach, the slick but honest suede worn by the movie’s main male character Fonny, played by Stephan James.

Our ears were gifted the string magic of Nicholas Britell ( I defy you to listen to the track “Eden” and not be stirred inside), our eyes basked in the slide and swing cinematographer James Laxton. Two scenes that stood out to me in this cinematographic regard were: 1. During Fonny’s empathetic listening to his friend Danny’s prison horror stories where the camera glides back and forth between them is indicative of a truly human exchange. This isn’t just one man’s story, it is two men sharing a moment. 2. When Fonny and Tish are shown the loft by a yamaka clad Dave Franco, the camera moves up and down Tish with the grace of a high rise elevator even though they are on the cusp of renting a barren warehouse.

The acting was excellent in most places: Kiki Layne-terrific, Stephan James (in need of a smidge more emotion) and the fathers (Domingo and Beach)-great, both mothers (Regina King and the aforementioned Ellis) fantastic. Even the sour sisters (reminiscent of the Lowell bitches of the film The Fighter) were phenomenal.

Overall, IBSCT is prime example of art transcending story….we don’t need to know the back story of the two families antagonism. We don’t need to see prison brutality, nor be bludgeoned by a rape scene. Jenkins does well in the documentary style interruptions of Kiki’s voice over just stating the facts, that police and prison systems worked jointly (present tense ‘work’ probably in some places still today) to continue slavery and racial bias. A sad, sad story told through magnificent art.

The Mule: Love for Clint, but What Gruel!

Addendum to my previous confessional blog:
For the record, I’ve seen my share of classics. So probably like Tebow, I’ve “dated” plenty of film circa 1965, my favorites being: The Bridge on the River Kwai, Double Indemnity, The Thin Man Series, and Philadelphia Story (Hepburn, Stewart and Grant of course). So Ive been around the classics block so to speak. And still (!) Citizen Kane stands out.

Now empathy first for Mr. Eastwood. I love the man! Not only is he hot (yes I said it and mean it! He can make my day any day.) at 88, he’s obviously still a force with whom to be reckoned. And his acting was spot on for what the story of The Mule was…but there’s the trouble: the ‘writers’ Sam Dolnick should stick to newspaper journalism because he (and fellow ‘writer’ Nick Schenk) only wrapped up one story and certainly decided to air on the side of what, where, when, why.

The first half of the film which I saw with my Dad was intriguing and it was probably a joy for my Dad to see an 88 year old guy dance (and much more suggested) around with bikini clad gals a quarter of his age. I also enjoyed watching Clint sing along to the oldies while driving a fancy Cadillac truck and say silly things that older people some times do in not keeping up with the current p.c. lingo.

HOWEVER, once Dianne Wiest, who I normally adore, utters her first hiccup, the movie takes a giant swan dive into corn and just ludicrously written dialogue. More than three times I did the rolling hand gesture to get on with it, only to have the ‘on with it’ be a giant thud.

So, while I hand it to Clint for continuing his career, he needs to choose better writers to achieve and maintain his theatrical reputation.

Confessions of a 55 Year Old (Classic Movie) Virgin

Ok Ok, I confess. I had never seen Citizen Kane before last night’s showing at Sarasota Film Society’s Cinematheque.

(A quick aside, why the heck isn’t Sarasota Cinematheque packed with Ringling College Film Majors? You’re missing out! Giant screen, great sound, hipster vibe, talk back op…Get over to 500 Tallevast Road on Saturday nights!)

Ok, back to my confession…Much like my virginal metaphor, I had seen the Citizen Kane trailer plenty of times and only noticed some old guy ranting…and hence thought, won’t this be painful? Isn’t it overrated?

But alas, the movie truly is an orgasmic masterpiece. Like my English teacher literary equivalent I tout almost weekly (Ray Bradbury‘s 1959 prescient Fahrenheit 451), Citizen Kane for 1941 is the gold standard for universal storytelling; hoarding to fill emotional needs, the replay of familial cyclical dysfunction (CK’s dad abused him, he then neglects his own son), man’s weakness to infidelity and subsequent political downfalls, the corruption of wealth and power. It’s all there in under 2 hours.

Besides my awe of having missed this for more than half my life, my main takeaways were: Orson Welles (genius, of course, both acting and in storytelling), Joseph Cotton (funniest in the film, especially the nursing home scene where he was trying to remember the name of a place and said a long list ending with Sloppy Joe’s) and the cinematography of doors and windows, shadow, smoke, and in the end, fire. The women in the film, notably three: mother (Agnes Moorehead) and two wives (Ruth Warrick-wow I watched All My Children for years and never knew, and Dorothy Comingore) were all extremely well performed, both due to the writing (strong women for their day) and in believable portraits of women in angst of different varieties.

I couldn’t help notice a strong resemblance of Orson Welles and Leonardo DeCaprio and also how The Wolf on Wall Street seemed to copy Citizen Kane in its mania of wealth gone wild. This is especially seen in the scene where CK acquires the writers from a competing newspaper and gets up to do a number with dancing girls. Make no mistake, I’m not saying that The Wolf on Wall Street or Leonardo is better than CK, just that there is a strong physical and timing resemblance. Surely Scorsese had to have Citizen Kane dreams while filming Wolf.

So, I’m glad I pulled a Tim Tebow and waited because now I know why the film Citizen Kane has been rated the number one movie in American Film history and is far better than Gone With the Wind and Vertigo due to its universal themes and artistic quality.

Excuse Me Mr. Bale, Meet Viggo Mortenson

Much like director Peter Farrelly’s movie career, [some highs comedy-wise with Dumb and Dumber and lows The Three Stooges, which was utterly disappointing even with my main man Larry David] Green Book was a 10 in its story and acting and a 1 for its trailer. Thank God for my watching the Golden Globes and discovering one of the screenwriters Nick Vallelonga is son of Viggo Mortenson’s character. Otherwise, I would have passed it off as ho hum based on the trailer alone.

So after the ol’ don’t judge a movie by its trailer, I was enthralled with the Green Book story and totally in love with both Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortenson. While both men were off the charts and Mahershala scored the Golden Globe, I am really hoping Viggo can win the Oscar. While Christian Bale had me at Dick Cheney, I have to say that Viggo’s role (similar weight gain) is a greater acting performance based on the Italian diction and overall mannerisms he performed with aplomb of a thespian acrobat. I also think that Mahershala’s truly outstanding work in Moonlight overshadows this less demanding role.

The most mystifying commentary regarding the film is how people raved about Linda Cardellini. Sure, she’s good as the devoted, eyes mist up when she reads her husband’s letters, but she wasn’t on screen long enough or showed any range to deserve the heaping praise given.

The essence of Green Book is that folks can evolve and learn to come together in support of one another despite our differences. A great message to carry in all of our hearts as we ride out the waves until 2020. Let’s be united and positive!

Maria “Solo Me So” Callous (Pun intended) vs. Freddie Mercury

It’s all in the ear of the beholder of course, but one of the reasons I cared so much about Bohemian Rhapsody (thank you Golden Globes by getting that right!) was the purity (and full length songs) of original Queen music. The benefit that Bohemian Rhapsody had besides my halcyon high school and college memories forever linked with Freddie’s voice, was that it also told the poignant story of Freddie’s life in full.

In a documentary such as Maria by Callas however, I would have loved more narrative, rather than operetta after operetta. True, I had Habanera in my head all the next day (and liked it!), but that would have sufficed for the sake of more of her life story.

After reading more about Callas after the fact (I was trying to save any surprises to my own ignorance aka Three Identical Strangers for the doc viewing), I wish the documentary had addressed her supposed feud with a fellow opera singer, dating Warren Beatty or Omar Sharif, her childhood (IMDB reports she was in a 22 day coma after being hit by a car), etc.

Instead, the movie either cheats, or is too lazy, relying on three old interviews where Maria speaks of her tough upbringing and destiny to be a singer, with obvious regrets about being childless.

Like Freddie Mercury who I fully realize died of AIDS complications, you have to wonder if regret, loneliness or a broken heart may have contributed to his and Maria’s early demise. I’m certainly not the first to mention this theory, but true genius (Mercury, Callas in singing, Philip Seymour Hoffman in acting, David Foster Wallace in writing just to name a few) often comes at great cost. No matter what, I do believe this doc could have been much more moving had emphasis been placed on story over song.

Sugar and Vice and Everything Nice, that’s not what Cheney was made of

Vice directed by Adam McKay (Academy Award winner for The Big Short) recasts many of the same Big Short actors (Bale and Carell) in this solidly entertaining movie about Dick Cheney.

No doubt, the real Cheney is an A Number One Villain, but McKay plays fair enough for most of the movie allowing him to be at least a good husband and father.

Much like Big Short, Vice is an excellent history teacher, with snappy visuals and a compelling narrator that keeps the movie rolling at a 2018 fast paced clip. Jesse Plemons plays the narrator role which could have been easily drowned out in a cast with Bale, Carell and of course, one of my faves Sam Rockwell, here as a too skinny version of George W., (more on Rockwell in a sec). Plemons drew me (and the rest of the audience) in with mystery and intrigue. Mark my words that this guy’s got big potential.

But of course, the piece de la resistance is Christian Bale (cue angels singing) who I’ve been a sucker for since The Fighter and adored equally (comb over and all in American Hustle). You know you’re sexy when you can make Cheney seem appealing. Bale’s my number one pic for the Oscar.

Sam Rockwell made a decent George W. capturing his naive innocence and sheer desire to redeem his reputation with his dad. Steve Carell is also a wonder as Rumsfeld. He really has become a lesser Jimmy Stewart at this point. I really thought he was deserving for Fox Catcher, so let’s hope he gets another role of that caliber soon. Right now unfortunately he’s suffering from the Welcome to Marwen taint.

Amy Adams is a solid actress who I feel slightly sorry for her due to the Emma Stone/Saoire Ronan Young Gal’s Steamroller that seems to be hogging many roles. She’s awesome as Mrs. Cheney and proof that women can be just as cunning and power hungry as their male counterparts.

My only quibble is the post ending clip which is a tad pandering. We get it, Republicans of recent history are cut throat idiots. I personally didn’t need a video that further divides us. We need to come together.

Where’d the Van Gogh? At Eternity’s Gate

Ever since The Florida Project, I’ve devoted myself to be a life long Willem Dafoe fan, so unless the guy’s in an untra-violent film, I’ll be at his cinematic door step. And At Eternity’s Gate proves again that his acting talent should be rewarded in the industry. He won’t win the Golden Globe for which he’s nominated and if it’s anyone else but Rami Malek, popcorn will be flung at the tv. If Bradley Cooper wins, I may throw the entire bag.

Speaking of Golden Globes, former winner Julian Schnaebel (for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly-probably one of my top 20 of all time) directed At Eternity’s Gate and while it didn’t affect me as greatly as shortened title “The Bell” did in 2007, At Eternity’s Gate evokes the true spirit of a a sensitive and misunderstood painter.

If the French teenagers were portrayed accurately, there were some mean kids back in the 1890’s bullying poor Vincent. The French are stereotypically not your friendliest group, and this movie certainly further contributes to that idea. Additionally, like Mike Meyers did in Bohemian Rhapsody as Joe Record Producer (have to get to my Christmas retail job, otherwise I’d look that up), many a man and woman questioned and discouraged poor Vincent, going as far as calling his work ugly and disturbing.

The film makes me want to look up more about his demise and I will do so once the holiday mayhem slows down. At Eternity’s Gate is another acting ‘masterpiece’ for Willem. Oscar Isaac, while I’m not a fan, does well as a self-absorbed Gaugin and in a Mike Meyeresque semi-caemo, former The Diving Bell and the Butterfly star, Mathieu Amalric plays bemused VanGogh’s doctor.

At Eternity’s Gate might garner Dafoe a Golden Globe in an alternate intellectual society and is definitely worth appreciating for its philosophical age old question; what is art? Likewise, just as it was mesmerizing to watch Day-Lewis as a living breathing Lincoln, watching Dafoe walk, paint, run and even urinate (yes you read that right) as a living VanGogh is highly entertaining.

Babes in Nutland: The Favourite

Hey, do you ever want to comment, but can’t due to the darn mail chimp service of which I have yet to crack the code? Well, don’t fret! Just tweet me at @getroxyxyz I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t let this review title fool you, I really enjoyed The Favourite. See, I’ve been going to Yorgos Lanthimos’s (Director) Greek Cinematic Diner since 2009, when I came off as a film rock star living next door to the prodigious George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, when I came up with the idea of taking a new date and former film major to Lanthimos’s Dogtooth.

To the Greek diner analogy…The Favourite, just happens to be my favorite on the Lanthimos menu. Dogtooth was profound but quite disturbing, ditto squared for The Lobster (don’t torture my poor John C. Reilly, nor sweet little Rachel Weisz!). Killing of a Sacred Deer was pure movie enigma. I absolutely hated the implausibility while watching the film, but the next day found my same brain defending the film for its tenacious eccentricity.

In The Favourite, I really don’t have any complaints, except that it may have been a tad too lengthy. What I enjoyed (no spoilers at least for those familiar with Lanthimos) is his familiarity since Lanthimos has become known for:
*people hitting themselves in the face
*partial or full blindness, eye issues or other medical ailments
*somatic illness
*eerie monosyllabic music to increase suspense
*forests of strange occurrences

The actors of this film are all top notch, and while I thought Rachel Weisz was the highlight of the Hasidic Jew movie Disobedience, I think she is outshone here by Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. And what a cute surprise, since he was all covered up in the pomp and circumstance powdered wig, I just discovered who my favorite male performance of the film is Nicholas Hoult, who stars as the “Read My Fist: No New Taxes” proponent of the film. Hoult first appeared as the sweet caught-in-the-middle-tweener in the sentimental About a Boy. You’ve come along way baby!

The screenplay (virtual newcomer at least fame-wise Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara who looks to be more seasoned in tv) is compelling socio-economically, politically and emotionally, the costuming divine and the cinematography takes you back to another time where decadence and poverty were starkly divided (wait a minute, is that really the past??? Faulkner answers, “no”).

Wrestling with my own relationship status (complicated exponentially by the oncoming train known as the holidays), I greatly appreciated Emma Stone’s line of dialogue and the scene that holds it (pun intended for those who’ve seen the flick), something to the effect of, “My life is like a maze, just when I think I’ve found an exit, another wall appears”.

See The Favourite and be prepared for some deep thoughts. And a shout out to Gus Mollasis for giving us introverts something semi-social to do on a Tuesday afternoon.