The Public: Important Conceptually; But Cinematically? Well….

Dear Emilio,

First, let me say you should have been nominated for best screenplay, director AND actor for The Way. You’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for that poignant father son film. On the lighter side, I enjoyed your work in The Stakeout, as sweet as the Bubble Yum gum I devoured in my youth.

Now, dodging rain drops in Asheville, North Carolina, I gladly took in your newest film The Public. I mean, you’re such a humble man with good intentions and the homeless using public libraries must be an issue in many cities, my hometown of Sarasota (shout out to the Selby Library!) included. And due to the aforementioned films, I had high hopes especially with two of my other favorite actors also in the film; Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater.

But boy, did I wish wish wish after the fact that I could have been a script doctor or more apt, let me shelve alphabetically what character contradictions I would have excised:

A for Alec; how can a person specializing in conflict resolution then lead a charge of storm troopers?
C for Christian Slater: he goes from prosecutor/bully to acting with the authority of chief of police? Christian threw his weight around more than a WWE Wrestler. He also sued on behalf of a homeless man’s rights being denied at the library (who paid for his service?) yet called them bums and basically wanted them taken down in the coup so that he could go watch The Tonight Show? Did we go back in time to the Johnny Carson days when The Tonight Show was a one time event? Now you can watch clips in any cab in NYC days later.
D is for dialogue: much too snappy and choreographed…there were times when I was waiting for this to be a musical and then sure enough, it became one! A mixture of Hair and The Full Monty!
E for Emilio Estevez: your character defended the privacy of the public within the library, but you were pumping (see Groucho Marx and his wiggling cigar say, “in more ways than one”) your cute Apartment manager for the dirt on other tenants?
G for girlfriend: her mood swings were bigger than Mariah Carey’s; one minute she’s supportive the next she’s lecturing, wait, that’s actually realistic of most women…add that to the positives…

Segue…for the positives: the movie held my suspense, I really didn’t know where it was going, sort of like what it must feel like to lose your brakes on Lombard Street.
I did believe the chemistry between you and the Apartment Manager. I did believe some of the homeless people and the crazy antics that must happen in libraries every day. I also appreciated your attempt to see the rift between the haves and the have nots.

Your resolution, while Hollywood in bright lights was cute, and Emilio, so are you! And see me for future script help, I’ll work for peanuts (make that almonds, I need calcium:)

Yours Respectfully and Truly,

Roxanne Baker

One Outta Three Ain’t Bad: Gilliam, Gillespie and LaGravenese

I attempted three movies in the last five days and only got through one…I know, rescind my film fanatic card. Ya see, I need some comedy in my life and that wasn’t going to happen in any way shape or form in The Last Five Years (LaGravense-a name that works-‘grave’) nor in Lars and The Real Girl. Hence, Gillian’s the winner this week with The Zero Theorum (Gilliam).

Before I criticize LaGravenese, I did see he worked on Behind the Candelabra, well done and award winning. And what did I expect about a musical that ends in a break up? I’ve owned the song Shiksa Goddess on my ipod for probably ‘the last five years’ and was simply enamored with the song and the fantasy of being one once. But waaa, waa, waa, did not happen.
The good news, Anna Kendrick, who I slayed in Mr. Right is the perfect fit here. She can sing and she can pout, perfection. Jeremy Jordan, who plays the male lead, was too pretty for my taste, but I get how difficult it must be to find a great singer and rugged all in one body.

Round Two of weird sadness was Lars and the Real Girl. For once, I’m going to say I was right in the first place to avoid this film. Love Gosling and love Patrica Clarkson…even like Paul Schneider (why I gave it a chance), BUT it was schmaltz city. Perfect fodder for a short film, but a full length film about a guy in love with a mannequin that’s not absurdist is simply ridiculous.

And now on to the winner of the week, suggested by my friend Pat (THANK YOU FOR HAMILTON AND SAN FRAN!!!!). Zero Theorum stars Christoph Waltz who usually bugs me and even here with his glaring bald head was a tad annoying, but the film’s theme of ‘existentialism’ or rather existential crisis caused by technology and the corporate are my pet peeves, too. And there was that Gilliam light hearted ‘we’ll get through this together’ mood which is always affecting. Melanie Thierry was adorable as the love interest, and look at old or should I say pre-Manchester young Lucas Hedges who did a great job here as a kid with affluenza. Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton also do nice side action work.

So I’m left to focus on the positive, relishing a call from my good college friend Laurie who’s in the same boat (date people I don’t feel a connection with or feel lonely) and listen to jazz fusion to erase Lars and The Last Five Years.

Great Cake, Too Much Frosting: “La La Land”

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, was a fine film, but I can’t help but feel nostalgia for the power of his ‘Whiplash’ or even the rapture of a similar love story musical ‘Moulin Rouge’.

So, let me complain first. The first two musical scenes needed to be combined or shortened. Dancers in a California traffic jam is unique, girls singing in their bedrooms, not so much, but again, shorten them up and I wouldn’t have been thinking, “Ok when does the tremendously praised movie start”.

My only other complaint are the Disneyesque scenes where I thought I was re-watching Fantasia. Not that there’s anything wrong with children’s films, but it added schmaltz which limited my emotional response.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were amazing and they made me want to take tap dancing lessons. And I appreciated and concur on the ‘moral to the story’ which I’ll relate in a few months again to protect my dear readers. Justin Hurwitz’s music is fitting to the film, sweet, in an overly confectionery way. I didn’t leave saying, I have to have the soundtrack as I did in a musical like ‘Rent’.

The last 30 minutes of the film were wonderful, realistic and emotionally effective. Won’t say more to protect you from spoilers. I just wish Mr. Chazelle had started from a more serious angle from the get go.