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.

Coogan + Brydon=Bliss: A Trip to Greece

Here’s a first: I rented the new, fourth and unfortunately last of Michael Winterbottom’s Trip series with the delectable Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon AND was enjoying it so intensely, I watched it in spurts in purpose. Their impersonations, singing, sound effects are so dizzying, their conversations so witty and fun, that why you would you want to gobble it all down in one sitting?

While the middle two movies were more basic, the first and last of this series are home run hits. Part travelogue; in this a gorgeously shot trip to Greece and part foodie paradise, the men allegedly are orchestrating a chronicle for the UK Observer amongst all this hedonism.

What’s special about this series is the men play a fictionalized version of themselves: their names are their real names, they have their acting careers as fodder (here for instance, Coogan’s 7 Bafta’s) and their personal lives are a close facsimile to reality (Coogan is single, Brydon married). This last contrast adds poignancy to each movie, this one especially.

I love these two men and am sad this is the last. I could watch them talk, eat, banter forever.

For rent now from IFC for a mere 7.99. Worth the over 90 minute smile I had on my face.

Here’s my own coming attractions: Did you know I also write book reviews? Here’s the link to my recent review posted on Goodreads and feel free to support the book shop I work for at www.bookshop.org/shop/book1 ! Here’s the review link:
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Another Adults Home Alone Feature: Aberdeen

In the rabbit hole of what to watch, I happened upon Aberdeen from 2000, written and directed by Hans Petter Moland (his most recent film was Out Stealing Horses [2019] which garnered several awards in Norway).

Aberdeen stars Lena Headey who I’m probably the only person on Earth who didn’t know who she was (Game of Thrones heart throb). Before knowing this, I thought admiringly, even as a binary, at her beauty AND even more importantly, her tremendous actress prowess.

Co-starring with Headey is an actor I’ve expressed admiration for in the past, Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting, a Lars Von Trier go-to and apparently a favorite of Moland also starring in the aforementioned Out Stealing Horses) does his usual yeoman’s job as Headey’s drunken Dad.

The movie had enough twists and turns to keep me entertained. Like other well done father daughter films (Toni Erdmann being my fave) this dysfunctional duo seems very realistic. Ian Hart puts in a nuanced show as Headye’s lover and Charlotte Rampling does her best with what’s she’s given, a la Dianne Weist in The Mule, a bedridden dying woman.

Worth a look if your home alone and need an adult drama.

Perfect Frivolity: The Jesus Rolls

Another great calming pic is The Jesus Rolls, written primarily by Bertrand Blier, with help from the Coen Brothers, and John Turturro who also directs and stars.

In spite of a thin plot, the cast is so charming: Christopher Walken, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Susan Sarandon, Jon Hamm and Pete Davidson. Isn’t that the best dinner party group ever?

I appreciated the equality of nudity, both male and female. Harkens back to why we have statues of body forms (which was coincidentally addressed in Herzog’s Cave of Dreams where people 35,000 carved bodies out of ivory which I watched and experienced on the same day).

This all comes back to the reality that we are all one and all miracles to be experiencing this time together. Let’s keep helping each other up.

The Jesus Rolls will deifnitely give you a smile and a laugh. Turturro and Cannavale should defitniely do a sequel.

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.

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

Cine-World Film Voting

If you find you can not leave a vote or comment, please email me at irun2eatpizza@hotmail.com
I welcome your opinions and will publish the results by week’s end.

Here is the list of movies shown at The Cine-World Film Fest at Burns Court Theater in Sarasota part of The Sarasota Film Society:

Narrative Films:
A Faithful Man Saint Frances VHYes!
Age Out Second Date Sex
Boy Genius The Chambermaid
Chained For Life The Infiltrators
Cosmos The Kill Team
Don’t Be a Dick The Report
Olympic Dreams The Song of Names
Premature Three Peaks

Docs:
Autonomy
Deconstructing the Beatles Abbey Road: Side 1
Deconstructing the Beatles Abbey Road: Side 2
Ferrante Fever
For Sama
Leaving Home, Come Home
Loopers
Midight Traveler
Scandalous
Screwball
Slay the Dragon
Vision Portraits

JoJo Rabbit: An Overly Frosted Carrot Cake

JoJo Rabbit directed and adapted to screenplay by Taika Waititi is like a good friend who you love dearly, but always goes too far with a joke. Charlie Chaplin knew the fine art of subtlety in the Great Dictator. Sure, mock the Fuhrer, but do so in such a way that it doesn’t make mockery of the cause and pathos.

Like an overly frosted carrot cake, it also frosts my onions when you mix heinous true life death (in this film hanging bodies) with hilarity. They don’t mix, ever.

But it’s a generational divide, considering the millennials on either side of me were gaga, and I almost mean that literally, with the ‘AWWWW” and “OOOOHS’. The difference is, I was protected from media violence as a kid (mom was home and had boundaries for us AND this was pre-computers). Hence, I get the difference between comedy and violence.
Either Waititi should have played all of Germany’s stain as an outright farce or tone it down a notch.

Ok, but it wasn’t all bad. I liked his clever use of comparing Beatles mania with Hitler mania. I looooooved Sam Rockwell, back in the silly, comic department I feel he does his best. The lead little boys (Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates) were terrific as was the Anne Frank like young lady (Leave No Trace’s Thomasin McKenzie). Scarlett Johansson, while I like her a lot, was wasted in JoJo, her character wasn’t developed enough for me to really understand her, but I totally get she was needed as a plot device. I could have lived without Rebel Wilson, who just stuck out like a sore thumb. As was Taikia as the Hitler character, again, stop with yourself! He was too dopey and too frequent, the too much frosting part of this carrot cake.