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.

Over the Story Board Shuffle Limit: Little Women

I’m standing by my original review below, but do like the story of Little Women more now that I’ve learned some context. I didn’t grow up with reading this story and now understand the narrative is part of many family’s (especially New Englanders) tradition. Having said that though, the film lover in me still had problems.

Dear Greta,

I’m sorry I didn’t love “Little Women”, I wanted to, trust me.

I’ll be positive first: Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet should be in every movie you ever do. When they are on screen, I’m in hook, line and sinker.

Beyond them, though, your film was too bloated and yes, by that I mean probably the original was, too. Leave Chris Cooper (an acting God), Meryl as well, but ix nay all the others. And come on, you’ve been an innovator before and The Favourite should have given you courage that old stories can be modernized. The cloying speech of the 1800’s just sounds silly coming out of Laura Dern’s mouth.

The flashbacks were way too numerous and you needn’t bother showing us someone almost dying if you’ve already showed us later times when the character survived. I also don’t need to see schmaltzy dance and play scenes that are self-congratulatory in a look how cute we all are.

The biggest sin was a pivotal scene near the end between Saoirse and Timothee, when the camera could not sit still on Timothee. What’s up with that? The bouncing stole some of the crucial and worthy emotion Mr. Chalamet does so well.

And everyone loooved the ending. Oh really? So we want women to sell out and marry which is exactly what Jo was against?

I enjoyed and appreciated Jo’s argument of needing to be loved more than feeling love, but I guess as soon as her intellectual equal came back to town, she found her heart. Ironically, I cancelled a second date due to being easily spooked combined with men in their enthusiasm who overly complicate or use high pressure sales.

Oh how I yearn for the oxymoron, a complex man who doesn’t need to say too much. The cherry on top of a frustrating film and my disappointing date dissolution (I was as disappointed in myself as I was at him) was the phone ringing and for me to find one of the men for whom I have the utmost regard (unfortunately he’s married and states away). Even with those obstacles, my fun conversation with him made my afternoon. I almost felt like Saoirse when Louis Garrel knocks on the door.

Blame The Film Stage Email: Harmony Kormine’s “Beach Bum”

When searching for yet another movie to get through my holiday enforced work days off, I read a top ten cinematography list on The Film Stage website. As well as The Lighthouse (AMAZING), the site offered up Harmony Kormine’s “Beach Bum” starring Matthew McConaughey.

So I took the bait, choosing the company of my bawdy friend Jack and his 30 something son. Great company for this rather white man’s fantasy where Matthew’s character Moon Dog drinks, screws and smokes his way through marriage, affairs, fatherhood and friendship.

True to The Film Stage’s credit, the film is drop dead gorgeous, the Florida Keys never looked so pretty. And I appreciate McConaughey’s ability to inhabit despicably corrupt, yet handsome men. I also loved Jonah Hill as the Foghorn Leghorn accented uber wealthy publisher and Martin Lawrence as a dolphin excursion captain. Isla Fisher needs to have her head examined as a vapid wife to MM and lover to Snoop Dog, but a pay day is a pay day I guess.

Harmony Kormine is known as a jaded individual. You wonder what happened to him to make him such a nihilist. There really isn’t a redeeming character in the entire flick, but hey if you like Florida landscapes and beautifully nude bodies without, but close to, porn, what the hey, give Beach Bum a whirl.

The Bees’ Knees: Honeyland

I looked at several movies to watch this afternoon trying to fit in one more film that was ‘in the conversation’ as the hipsters say, so I chose Honeyland, which has been Oscar shortlisted for both best doc and best foreign film. Additionally, Honeyland’s been nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and won prizes at both Sundance and even the little ol’ Sarasota Film Fest.

Part The Gods Must Be Crazy and Ulee’s Gold (sorry the last beekeeper movie I’ve seen), Honeyland is a survival of the fittest story that makes Biggest Little Farm look like Disneyland.

Set in Macedonia (geographically, think of it like the toilet paper that Italy kicked off it’s heel) the story follows a 50 something female beekeeper and her relationship with the noisy neighbors that move in next door.

Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, the film is a miracle in the cold hard truths about life in the Macedonian frontier. The neighbors who come with five children and herd of cattle, are the European Grapes of Wrath. The children are fundamentally uninsured employees, kicked by cows, injuring each other in play and work, at times refusing their abusive existence.

Meanwhile the main character, Hatidze Muraova, beekeeper and dedicated daughter to an sick elderly mother, had made out adequately by caring for bees and selling honey at local markets. Even in the primitive world, Hatidze tries to improve herself by buying chestnut hair color. I marveled at the fact that our first world and her third world have some of the same preoccupations.

Yet, without giving any spoilers, suffice to say, her world is turned upside down by the interlopers. Morally, I wonder how film makers justify filming families in chaos and suffering just as I wonder how dispassionate reporters detail the afflictions of other third world countries. On the one hand, it’s good to bring awareness to the needs on our collective human planet. And true, I’ve read that the documentarians did share their awards income with Hatidze, so I guess good karma does outweigh exploitation.

A Girl Walks Into a Movie Theater…

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A girl walks into a movie theater, intent on seeing Little Women, but just as I veer towards the men’s group at any Super Bowl party, the minute I heard a woman say how Little Women dripped a little too much maudlin, I spun and drove for a power lay up back into Uncut Gems.

Before the opening jump shot, I had second row ‘court seats’. With two hipsters behind me, I struck up a conversation with one after his pal went to retrieve some popcorn. I had heard them jiving Safdie and turned to agree on how tremendous Good Time is/was. Like the enthusiastic school marm I’ll always be, I cheered, ‘buckle up’ in delicious anticipation.

While I harangue bad movie behavior, this viewing entailed a magic moment where out of the corner of my eye during the last 10 minutes of the film, the two hipsters were LITERALLY on the edge of their seats, as if they, too, were at game 7 with the bet of their lives at stake.

THIS is what movies are for, the vicarious thrill and off the planet escape that brings such joy.

My second viewing was better than the first. I laughed harder at the Sandlerisms, his “NO” to his flirty mistress, his grabbing a pillow out of his office filing cabinet in order to sleep on the couch, his calling his son, over the top excited to be wearing Garnett’s NBA championship ring. THIS MOVIE WILL ROCK YOU in a far different way than my muscial allusion to Bohemian Rhapsody, but equally fun.

Finishing the Safdie Iron Man: “Heaven Knows What”

I can now place the Safdie full length narrative film Iron Man medallion around my neck after watching “Heaven Knows What” from 2014. Here’s some tried and true Safdie-isms based on the fill complement of narratives (Daddy Longlegs, Good Time, Heaven Knows What, and Uncut Gems):

1. eerie soundtrack music with a mixture of futuristic organ, baroque, hard rock and classical numbers
2. a begging forgiveness or love scene between lovers
3. shocking brutality and sadness at the conclusion with an added ending scene that scales back with an understanding that we are only specks in the universe and/or the everyday world moves on with or without you

“Heaven Knows What” is the darkest and roughest of the quad of Safdie narratives and deals with the real life story of a New York City homeless junkie. Reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy, the couple attempt to bus to Florida and while no one dies on the bus this time, there certainly are some plot twists. Arielle Holmes, not only wrote the book about her lover, Ilya, she stars as herself in the film.

A poignant, but gritty portrayal of the NYC homeless drug addled populace.

Uncut Gems: Sparkling!

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Not sure how to write a review about a revelation without spoiling this film written by my cherished Safdie brothers (Good Time, Daddy Long Legs) and their writing partner Ronald Bronstein. BUT I will keep my promise!!

Suffice to say it’s a must see and certainly breaks into my top ten at ‘lucky’ number 7 (a call back to gambling which Uncut Gems is all about). Scroll down for the rest of the top ten.

I will briefly mention magic moments that do not give away major plot points:
*Adam (Howard) Sandler wheeling and dealing in his jewelry store
*The frenetic sound of the magnetic locked door
*Camera work on Adam’s fingers on is telephone (researched and discovered famous and seasoned Tehran born cinematographer Darius Khondji did the work (Okja, Evita, Amour)
*Judd Hirsch and the auction scene
*the closet texting scene
*Weekend concert scene (and another closet!)
*suspenseful moments that came to nothing but were fun exactly because they were unfulfilled
*John Amos (funny cameo and call back to Good Times (with an s) and the Safdie movie without the s
*the bat mitzvah dress scene with Idina Menzel
*the unfeeling atmosphere of NYC
*Daniel Lopatin’s eerie soundtrack

The acting is HUGE: Adam Sandler deserves a nomination.
Julia Fox has come out of nowhere, but fantastic!
Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch, Lakeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnet and Idina Menzel were magic.

I almost liked Good Time a tiny bit better, but need to re-watch to figure out why. Perhaps time has warped my perception.

And, I would doctor this script in two tiny ways:
Add maybe one more moment with Adam and his youngest son, some bonding or lack thereof
Add a scene at the beginning where Adam talks to his aquarium fish or defends them against an insult by basketball players
With just a dash more soft side of Adam would have heightened the emotion.

But overall, BRAVO. Safdie and Bronstein are my favorite writers!

My top 10 (can Little Women usurp anyone?)

Marriage Story
Honey Boy
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
The Lighthouse
Peanut Butter Falcon
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Uncut Gems
Her Smell
Parasite
Judy

Murder She Wrote was Only an Hour Long for a Reason: Knives Out

Here’s where the easily entertained American Public wins the ratings war: “Knives Out” scored a higher Rotten Tomatoes audience review than Bombshell. Enough said.

I had higher hopes than normal about a movie like Knives Out after hearing over and over that Rian Johnson really brought something novel to the murder mystery genre. Something novel as in too many pages long!

Lord, two hours and ten minutes is a ludicrous length for a mystery as you can’t possibly have red herrings maintain a SMART audience’s interest for that duration.

Very rarely do I walk out, but I could not sit this one out. Call it The Irishman of murder mystery, yikes.

The good kernel of the movie was the fine cast: Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans to name the best and brightest of the crew. Sure, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon and Don Johnson don’t hurt. Less likeable was Toni Collette who seemed like two dimensional bronze bimbo.

But the sheer marathon duration spoiled any of the fun. I would say the same to anyone who fully enjoyed the entire 2:10 minutes that I do to those who drive way too slowly, “Gee, you don’t want to go home, do you?”.

Tale of Two Shells: Bomb & Smucker’s Magic

Jay Roach’s latest directorial film Bombshell has something in common with Smucker’s Magic Shell. You remember Smucker’s….you pour it over your ice cream and it becomes a crunchy shell. I don’t know about you, but I always thought the shell ruined the pleasure of ice cream, just as I felt at the beginning of Bombshell when the make up or ‘shell’ was simply overload.

Anything that distracts from feeling the emotion of characters detracts from the experience and Charlize Theron, a fantastic actress, was just way too artificial in trying to be Megyn Kelly. Ditto for Jon Lithgow as Roger Ailes and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson.

I realize this is hypocritical. I really liked Christian Bale’s Cheney in “Vice”, but strike it up to their facades looking different in any given scene. For example, Charlize looked more and more Charlize like by the end of the film. Did they exceed their make-up budget and say ‘come as you are’ by the end of the film.

Much like the make up, the writing also seemed uneven. Charles Randolph (The Big Short) seemed on one hand to want to copy that form, reporter-like Charlize explaining the Fox News Building, Nicole looking directly into the camera, yet these tropes would stop and start intermixed with attempts at more real moments between Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon. Additionally there were way too many characters; reporters, lawyers, administrators that again, the emotion becomes too diluted on the ones we’re suppose to care about most.

The important message was still well conveyed and I did feel ‘stronger in my femininity’ when I left the theater. And just like I Tonya, Margot Robbie stole this show (with her normal face I might add). I also really like Mark Duplass who brought a sense of realism as Megan Kelly’s husband. Allison Janney was fun to watch as Roger’s lawyer.

However, the better bomb story of the year was Richard Jewell, both superiourly written and directed and hence, more effective.

Richard Jewell, What a Gem!

Do you care if a movie strays from a historical tale IF it is a well told story? I guess I’ll find out after I write this review as I had avoided the articles about the controversy after finding a key piece of plot surprise that I did not want to know about the actual history.

My son was three in 1996 and I was fully in mommy mode, meaning my main television watching was Barney by day and Seinfeld at night.

Let’s just Billy Ray’s (screenwriter of Captain Phillips and Hunger Games) screenplay starts out shaky, as he and (?) Clint Eastwood decided to jam all the minor characters down our throats without saying who they were-sure, we know they’re Jon Hamm and Sam Rockwell but who the hell are they in the movie? It wasn’t clear. Olivia Wilde is the only from-the-get-go character who is fleshed out (and for anyone with a human hormone, hummina hummina, she’s gorgeous). YET, her character is what the primary controversy is all about…did she expose~ herself for the news expose~? Again, I look forward to finding truth vs. fiction, yet I don’t think it’ll affect my film opinion.

Paul Walter Hauser (the ultimate doofus hood hired to hit Nancy Kerrigan in I Tonya and had a role in Late Night, which now I really want to see) nails the role of Richard Jewell. He looks like Jewell and plays the super naive security guard to perfection.

Kathy Bates whose choices in the last couple of years have been so so, is also tremendous as Richard’s mom. I fully support her as Best Supporting Actress nominee. Sam Rockwell is finally back in the pocket as the sexy, charming, smart ass nice guy.

Fortunately the narrative rises to the performers acumen once the bombing happens and in regards to sound and score, the movie is also topnotch.

As with many other late entry movies (Marriage Story and Honey Boy), I teared up at the ending. Not only is Richard Jewell belong in the justice genre, it also encompasses a buddy flick and mother son film.

Shame on the media for knocking the film (can’t help but think this might be political since Eastwood is a somewhat vocal Republican) as well IMDB who let some dumb ass comment that there were 30 f-bombs which sounds about like the FBI case against Jewell, fabricated. I definitely did not notice excessive swearing and say there weren’t more than 8 to ten expletives.

Go see Richard Jewell for the story and acting. Then appreciate the facts for what they are.

The Second Time Around

2019’s been such a great year in film that I’ve seen several a second and some even a third time around. Do I have a movie addiction(?), probably, but thank goodness for the directors. screenwriters and actors making it a tremendous buzz.

Here’s what I noticed on my recent second time films:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, so much magic within the film, that I noticed but quickly forgave the clunky beginning where Matthew Rhys’s
character accepts an award.

Likewise in Honey Boy, my second time realized the story’s rough edges, the almost too independent movie scent of it, but still the performances and the atmosphere certainly make you not care so much about the lack of polish. In fact, like Florida Project, polish might take away some of the emotion.

I need to see Marriage Story a second time before I really place my top three: but currently my top ten are:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Marriage Story
Honey Boy
The Lighthouse
Peanut Butter Falcon
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Her Smell
Parasite
Judy
Uncut Gems (haven’t seen it yet, but I love my Safdie’s)

Honorable Mentions: Book Smart, The Farewell and The Souvenir