A Confession of True Romance

I had better things to do in 1993, having had my precious son during that year, 27 years ago. And I was a Tarantino naysayer up until Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his old stuff being too rough for my silky blood.

But now that I’m older and more jaded (and can mute and fast forward violent parts) I took a gander at True Romance who many a man I’ve encountered have claimed the movie as one of their favorites.

And I get it: buxom beautiful Patricia Arquette, charming Chrstian Slater, bad boys like Gary Oldman, James Gandolfini and Christopher Walken though the latter just makes me giggle. Best of all is Brad Pitt who might be the best stoner of all time (ditto in Once Upon a Time and Burn After Reading).

I enjoyed the steel drum music that served as background as the romantic music for Christian and Patricia…tell me they didn’t date with that chemistry. Confirmed, though he’s dated just about everyone.

The story’s implausible, but the mega talent mixing it up in vignettes make it all worthwhile and Tarantino iconic. And true to it’s true title, the movie opened up a portal in me, as I conjured up two romantic memories of my own.

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!

Hooray for something new! Never Rarely Sometimes

Eliza Hittman gorgeously wrote and directed Never Rarely Sometimes Always, available now for the price of two tickets at your living room tv screen. Not ideal conditions, I realize, but dang if this isn’t the best dramatic film I’ve seen this year. Please shoot me if Corpus Christie is my last ever movie theater experience because that flick was far more distressing than First Reformed.

Back to the topic at hand, Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always (winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize) is dripping with verisimilitude from the opening scene of the small washed out town high school talent show. This IS rural America. The grocery store cashier jobs, the bleak lower middle class upbringings, the implied incest, and undercurrent of sexual promiscuity are all woven into a film centering on sisterhood.

Much like Portrait of a Lady on Fire, women rally together in times of unwanted pregnancy, yet Never Rarely Sometimes Always is more emotionally accessible.

The lead, Sidney Flanigan (who stars as Autumn) hails from Buffalo, NY, but I swear I loved her ability and vulnerability before ever knowing she was bred in my backyard. Her cousin Skylar is played by Talia Ryder, who delivers the goods as both feminine toughie and nightingale of sacrifice. According to IMDB, she’ll be starring Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story remake, and if her Ariana Grande look-alike features go deeper, may have singing and dancing talent to boot.

The male lead who stood out was the twenty-something bus rider who courts Skylar, Theodore Pellerin, whose IMDB page is the most experienced of the three.

I found myself talking to the screen, telling the characters what to do, proof that I was moved enough to try to intervene. Unlike Corpus Christi, I didn’t ‘walk out’ of the living room feeling bleak. If anything, I felt uplifted and optimistic about our deeply rooted human bond. And that’s exactly the recipe we need right now.

A Worthy Contemplative Afternoon: The Chambermid

I can’t imagine being first time full length film director Lila Aviles, when she realized The Chambermaid was in competition with Roma. Both movies follow the life of a servant; the former domestic, the latter, hotel. A tennis analogy might be best: like Coco playing Venus this year, yet with the opposite ending result. As you all know Cuaron’s Roma TKO’d any chance of The Chambermaid even making the radar.

Now, reality check: The Chambermaid isn’t Roma, BUT is worthy of a contemplative hour and 45 minute seating. Aviles took a beautifully quiet look at a hotel housekeeper’s daily existence. The film’s narrative line is simple, yet the complexity of Gabriel Cartol’s lead performance was stunning.

Anyone that has worked a menial or underappreciated job will appreciate the frustrating workplace dynamics where schmoozers who blow their own horn sometimes get ahead of quiet hardworking people. The actress Teresa Sanchez did a fantastic job playing that brown noser we’ve all met.

In addition the filmmaker’s symbolism of red and white shown in parallel construction was also striking.
Summary: An Important Seating With Another’s Humanity

Have something to say? email me: irun2eatpizza@hotmail.com

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.

The Florida Project, wish he was my relative; Sean Baker

Sean Baker has done it again, floored me with a film of beauty and poignancy….I’d like to call him my brother from another mother, read on….

I dated a brilliant, handsome and funny man for five years of Saturday nights before I moved to Florida, and before you think it was some string of boozy weekend affairs, please continue. We had busy week day lives (me: running, teaching and exhausted; he: tough mudder training, IT at community college and exhausted) so we’d get together Saturday evenings for movies, drinks, snacks and well, you get it. Those were good times that sadly ended when I moved south.
HOWEVER, our best night maybe ever, was the night we rented Tangerine off Netflix written and directed by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch. I think we had more surprised belly laughs than any other night, which added to the glow of our camaraderie.

The Florida Project did not elicit belly laughs, HOWEVER, it is my favorite movie of this year this far. It will be the movie I scream at the tv about if Oscars are not presented. The Florida Project was real, haunting, and to steal a word from Willem Dafoe (star of the film) on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, “noble”.

The Florida Project is an ode to children and should be required viewing for any parent who gets involved with DSS. It would be the perfect scared straight film for those not already permanently lost.

The movie made me think of my cousin JJ, who depending on the real truth, either suffered from lack of guidance and parenting, fetal alcohol syndrome, an individual chemical imbalance, brain injury or a combination of any of the aforementioned. Whatever the cause, his life has been very sad, even from a distance.

Fortunately for the viewers, The Florida Project doesn’t follow the children into adulthood to see possible the jail time or ruin carried over into their adult lives. Seeing the neglect in their formative years is impactful enough. And if any complaint is to be made, is that many children who grow up in an undernourished and chaotic setting are not as cute or manageable as the gorgeous children in The Florida Project, but very few people, unfortunately, would seek out that film.

As with Tangerine, when I researched the actors, there was little known about them. Sean Baker likes to choose unknowns who add to the verisimilitude (a motive of which I’m guessing). Huge praise needs to be heaped on the kids in the film, notably Brooklynn Prince, the main child and daughter to Bria Vinaite, who also is simply amazingly believable.

The beginning of the film and end are bookended by beautiful music; Kool and the Gang‘s Celebrate and, and, swing and a miss! No soundtrack on Itunes or elsewhere. Their offical movie website says touch to continue, but my touch not working tonight. Take my word for it, it was an orchestral arrangement of a popular song. Any one who sees the film, hang out, watch the credits and let me know what the end song was, please, because the film doesn’t even have its own website.

GO SEE THIS, it’s y number one as we head into the big competition.

Wherever You Are, There You Are…”Lucky”

Serendipity led me to see Lucky, meaning even though I had already done my self-psychoanalysis, talking myself down from the proverbial roof (hit a wall after working 50+ hours a week, became ill and also became very aware of poor working conditions of impoverished folks directly in front of me, combined with the self-imposed high anxiety of doing stand up comedy), the film helped add the necessary cement to my rediscovered zen. Picture my aforementioned realization, hitting myself in the head: I live in Sarasota and AM LUCKY, so curb the neuroses for Pete’s sakes.

Included in my muchos gracias to the cosmos is a thank you to my friend Pedro, another deep soul in the universe, for going with me.

Lucky is John Carrol Lynch’s directorial debut, but you’d recognize his face from many acting roles, most famously Fargo (Frances’s husband), but recently in a performance as LBJ in Jackie. Here’s where my amoxicillin infused whining kicks in in that I’m tired of people with three names and I’m also weary of the ridiculous number of television aka internet series there are (of which JCL stars in several-see IMDB if you care).

The screenplay was co-written by Logan Sparks (sounds like a fake name but at least it’s just two words) and Drago Sumonja, both of whom are new to big fame, but according to their filmography have put in their time as assistants.

Enough of the rabbit holes you say, what about the movie? The story is crucial considering our aging population’s need for story lines with which they can relate. I say this on behalf of the best Grandma on the planet, Florence Baker, 94, still kicking intellectual and physical buttocks in spite of her advanced age. Grandma doesn’t want to see Surburbicon or Thor, so thank you!

Henry Dean Stanton (ok we’ll let hm have three names God rest his soul, in fact anyone over 80 can have their three names) was a wonder and pretty much revealed on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that this plays pretty close to his own life. Three quick commonalities are: was in the Navy, sang in a band, lived a solitary life.

HDS (aka Lucky the character) was an interesting dichotomy of melancholy and zen of which I can totally relate. My only wish for the film and my English speaking population is that there had been subtitles during the beautiful mariachi song he sang three quarters into the film. Trust me, I’m going to research and find out, but it would have added to the poignancy to see the words (though I can see the opposite argument and possible reasoning for subtitles distracting).

Minor characters were beautiful in both composition and story. Of note were: Yvonne Huff as a caring 420 friendly waitress, Tom Skerritt as a fellow armed services vet, and dear to my heart, Ed Begley Jr as Lucky’s wise cracking doctor.

Here’s where I call out the worst: David Lynch, my man, you can’t act. James Darren, you’d have been better stopping after Gidget (though you’re well preserved) and Beth Grant, you might be good, but your big mouth wise ass bar owner character was a turn off.

Overall though, great film, with an important message that since we don’t have proof of an afterlife, we better best enjoy we we have right now. Carpe Diem.

Heads Spin, Beatrix at Dinner

Ok, my head is spinning from Beatrix at Dinner, directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White (School of Rock! The Good Girl!).

And by heads spin, I mean spinning in both positive and negative rotations.

The positive: Salma Hayek is dynamite, in fact, the entire ensemble was absolute perfection:females: Britton, Landecker, Sevigny; males: Lithgow (extra star!), Warshovsky (where’d you come from? you’re excellent!) and Duplass (the perfect d-bag).

Another positive: the story by Mike White nails class differences and the subsequent uncomfortable moments when classes mix. I understand that now more than ever living in Sarasota. In my previous life (Rochester and Bloomfield, NY), my position of teacher was for the most part upper middle class. I didn’t even see or really understand those below me. Sure, certainly I saw the dichotomy of classes in Bloomfield, we had everyone from equestrian aristocrats to mobile home multiple job occupants. And for the most part, everyone there accepted and could associate without awkwardness, which is a tremendous testament to how special Bloomfield really is.

And Sarasota is pretty special, too, in that I see people being really civil to each other. With rare exception, the wealthy people I know here are super nice. The difference is though that many of the wealthy people I know don’t really understand (or perhaps are simply ignoring or self-centered) the plight of those below them. Some of the folks I work with far wealthier than me with double incomes will agonize and pontificate about how few garments they’re allowed on an African safari, for one example, yet never turn the spotlight back to you about how your coping making ends meet with your pre-pension two job salary. They never get to hear me whine back about my intimidation with requesting air conditioning maintenance (it’s not working) because I am hoping my (wealthy) landlord will renew my lease at the same rent for one more year.

Having said all that, Beatrix at Dinner dares to cross these waters with great success.

The only negatives of the film were: the slow start, again, editing issue (as with The Lovers) and second, just a few loose ends with connecting the dots between real and metaphorical.

Beyond those tiny problems, Beatrix at Dinner should garner Salma an Academy Award Best Actress nomination, and even Lithgow for Best Supporting. Go see it!

Like the Deepest Ocean, Time Out of Mind Directed by Oren Moverman

I’ll always love Owen Moverman for his superb Love&Mercy and so I spent three nights of penance to get through Time Out of Mind. One of my friends said, “why do you feel the need to finish movies?”

Well, in this case, because I have a home, and yet almost daily, I see homeless in Sarasota sleeping on benches by the bay, meanwhile working two jobs where to say people have money to blow is an understatement. And that’s not judgment merely commentary.

I am pleased to report though from reading Friday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune (Zach Murdock article) that the justice system has put pressure and requirements for the city to offer beds rather than mats for at least 30 homeless people a night. In addition, if all the beds are full, the police are not allowed to arrest people sleeping outside.

This is the movie I thought Norman was, a month ago, and I wonder if Richard Gere (star of both) made any connection. Norman could have just as easily become the homeless man in Time Out of Mind, as freewheeling he was with cash to impress the rich people he was hanging on.

Two hours is a long time to watch what was basically a case study of a homeless man. Overman chose to allow ambient New York City noise to be an all intrusive character. And due to this technique Gere becomes more ‘reduced’, as Ben Vereen, his temporary homeless buddy refers to them as.

Gere does a fantastic job in his portrayal as a man who lost his i.d. and with it his own place and importance in the world. The actress who plays his daughter (Jena Malone) is also excellent as well in presenting an angry young woman who can’t get passed familial injuries too deep to let go.

Tough to watch, but worth the empathy practice.

Rituals Paterson Rituals

The Red Wheelbarrow*
(William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963)

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


Jim Jarmusch
used William Carlos Williams as his muse for the movie Paterson. And if you’re going to see a movie without any action, based on poetry, one would think you would not want to take a rugged retired fireman.

But wait!

Jarmusch would say that’s exactly who would appreciate such a film, just as the main character-Adam Driver-is the bus driver poet, why couldn’t there be the fireman poet? And in fact, didn’t Guy Montag, the main character and fireman in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, have such poetic leanings, ‘her dress was white and it whispered’?

Perhaps a firemen would alter WCW’s poem to:

The Red Firetruck
(ghost written by Roxanne Baker 1963-)

so much depends
on a red
fire truck

blackened by smokey
soot

beside the white
two story.

Paterson was an ode to the poet in us all, and in this movie, everyone is a poet: a laundry mat rapper, a 10 year old girl, a Japanese tourist. The film could also be seen as an ode to director Chantal Ackerman, specifically her film Jeanne Dielman, an epic film where the housewife goes through everyday routines repeatedly.

The habits of Adam Driver and his girlfriend made me miss the predictability of coupledom and paradoxically, made me glad I have the freedom as a single gal to do whatever the heck I want. The fact that Jim Jarmusch can evoke opposing emotions is a feat unto itself.

His eye for art is also appealing, and in this film black and white patterns fill the home courtesy of actress Golshifteh Farahani, the unemployed, but dream filled love interest. Their pug, in his gloriously bored expressions, mirror the mundane life most of us live. The most fun aspects of our lives are the tiny surprises that interrupt the predictability of the rest of our lives. For instance, when you meet someone on a bridge walk and end up going to a movie.

Thought provoking messages about yin and yang, and the idea that the world eventually gives us what we need, also supplied and required reflection. The shadow within every person was found in a talented poet beaten down by the drudgery, the shadow in every relationship in an unrequited love affair, or the shadow in many life moments as two guys on Paterson’s bus share similar stories of the promise of a dating opps, only to let them slip away. The world giving us what we need was seen in a bar incident on the verge of violence and a gift of an empty notebook.

Paterson doesn’t hold it’s power in action, but in its ability to make you ponder. The film’s equally enjoyable for poetry fans and for the dreamer in us all.

*1985 Ft. Lauderdale