Ironically Not a Marvel, The Irishman

Dear Mr. Scorsese,

You had me at ‘Marvel movies are not films’ having seen my share of 6 minute CGI’d super hero vs. villain fight scenes, HOWEVER, if you’re going to throw stones, check out your house’s (in this case The Irishman) exterior first, because honey, you need an editor who can be Frank who’s not mafia (comic drum beat).

Cut off the first and last 30 minutes of your film, and now we have something palatable. Get an Adam McKay-like (pick me!) script doctor to weave in Charles Brandt’s role as sharply witted reporter/interrogator, add a musical soundtrack of Italian music, and a pinch of the beautiful food served in Italian restaurants and THEN we have the start of a masterpiece.

Sincerely,

Roxanne Baker

PS to my handful of readers, first, BLESS YOU for reading.
Second, here’s whats good about The Irishman, no make that great:
Al Pacino, the movie doesn’t start until he shows his manic gorgeous histrionic self. Ditto Joe Pesci, an acting virtuoso…for those two guys alone, it’s worth a look on Netflix where you can fast forward and use your own bathroom. Honorable mentions go to Stephen Graham and Louis Cancelmi for their spicy add ins. Beyond that, this. is. not. riveting.

My New Number One Movie of the Year: Honey Boy

Results may change after some thought, but after seeing Honey Boy over the weekend in NYC, it’s my number one film of the year. In fact, when you think about it, the film has a great horse name, hence my top three finishers in this year’s ‘race’ are:

1. Honey Boy
2. The Lighthouse
3. Peanut Butter Falcon

If you’re a true buff, you see a two out of three ain’t bad theme running here: Shia LeBouf. And once you see Honey Boy, you’ll have what I now refer to as “Brian Wilson” moment, empathy for those who were traumatized by well meaning, but abusive parents.

Shia wrote the film about his father and chose Israel born music video and film director Alma Har’el to execute direction. Shia happened upon a Ha’rel video a few years back and decided her artistic eye would be perfect for his tweener to mid 20’s slice of life story. This summer smitten by Peanut Butter Falcon, I watched Alma’s Love + True, after seeing it pop up on my X-finity Demand list as a Lebouf project…he merely produced it, which while disappointed not to see his ruggedly handsome face, was a poignant and moving film mixing real and dramatized versions of from memory, a surfer in Hawaii and a stripper from Alaska. I watch at least two movies a week and for me to even be able to conjure up specific scenes as I can easily with this one, speaks highly of Ha’rel’s impact.

The acting in Honey Boy is phenomenal. Every single human in the film is genuine. Shia playing his own father (talk about a mind trip!), Noah Jupe is terrific as the tweener Shia, Lucas Hedges fantastic as the 22 year old Shia. Byron Bowers has one of the funnier (ironic) lines in the film and two tv veterans Laura San Giacomo and Martin Starr are great in their therapists’ roles. Last, but certainly not least, FKA Twigs is super as the equally damaged tweener seductress.

Go see this!! I can’t go again, it’s too traumatizing emotionally, but Shia is a triumph playing a man trying to break the cycle of abuse. I truly believe his film could reach some people locked in a self-abusive cycle.

ASIDE: Angelika Theater (NYC) is definitely worth going to: excellent atmosphere, roomy leg room, excellent popcorn and a staff that treats you like Jim Carey did his constituents in The Majestic. Really.

Jaded (not Dolemite) is My Name

I sincerely respect the time and effort that goes into screenwriting and movie making. And I appreciated the message behind Dolemite is My Name, follow your dreams, take a chance. And so I feel jaded saying that similar to Pain & Glory, I was non-plussed by Dolemite is My Name. Again, I appreciated the story, but just wasn’t moved or inspired.

Here’s why: The Disaster Artist to me was a fantastic movie. The cameos and writing were comedic, yet there were also touching moments. With Dolemite, it was all too breezy, I never felt the angst in Eddie’s character to make me want to root for him. And I love Eddie Murphy, I love his stand up, all of his SNL characters and his other movie performances.

I also fully realize the writing team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have a large body of work, specializing in biopics “The People Vs. Larry Flynt”, “Ed Wood” and “Big Eyes” to name a few. Yet Dolemite, like “Big Eyes” is simply likeable because the emotions involved are stifled.

Back to my sunny optimistic “What’s good?” self…the best acting in the film is actually done by Wesley Snipes, who plays the diva movie star Eddie cons into being in his movie. I also enjoyed the cameos: Snoop Dog and Chris Rock. Da’Vine Joy Randolph was gorgeous as the female lead and Tituss Burgess was also totally believable.

Back to my dark side: Craig Robinson stuck out like a sore thumb as did Keegan-Michael Key. They are just simply transparent, much like the wigs used in the film, just very artificial.

I’ll stick the landing, to use a gymnastic term, and end on a positive note. The costuming was out of this world, from the flashy suits Eddie wore, to the beatific outfits Da’Vine donned. And that’s about the only category I’d vouch for an award nomination.

Sure, Dolemite is My Name is entertaining, but when people start to go ga-ga over a film that doesn’t move me emotionally, I just have to speak out.

Pain & Glory: Espera un Minuto

Excuse me Senor, while I respected and ‘enjoyed’ the thorough story telling of Pain & Glory, I have to scream out ‘espera un minuto’ as far as all the accolades the film has received. Willem, Shia and Joaquin all did mucho more acting in The Lighthouse, Peanut Butter Falcon and Joker respectively and deserved the Cannes Best Acting Award more.

And if you wanted to break it down to best male actor in a foreign film, I’d say that without a doubt, Ka-ho Song does more acting in Parasite than Antonio Banderas does here. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine actor and a handsome, earnest devil, but I’m not sure what politics might have been involved in the voting.

But let’s focus on the good for a moment….Pain & Glory is auto fiction meaning partially based on writer/director Pedro Almodovar’s real life. Perhaps because it is revealing and sometimes sad, the award was given for his ultimate vulnerability.
The story telling is dense, meaning a lot of dialogue. Colors and art are vibrant touches to the cinematography.
The acting is great. Besides Antonio, Asier Etxeandia was great as Salva’s junkie actor/frenemy, Penelope Cruz is gorgeous and competent as Salva aka Pedro’s mother, as is Asier Flores as his younger self.

Yet when I think of meaningful, truly moving moments, I can count them on one hand, and even then they were merely evocative blips.

Drum Roll for The Cine-World Tall Pole’s Small Poll Voting Results

I recently read a top 7 list of things never to do, one of which included; “never put yourself down”, but that would basically wipe out my entire comedy act…. so in another episode of
‘Does anyone really care about this blog?’
(visualize me with a sympathetic face holding a cue card with my email irun2eatpizza@hotmail.com -for positive responses):

Here are the voting results of this tall pole’s (I’m lanky, not Polish, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”) small poll (I was too timid to hand these out wide range having a fragile ego). BUT the small number of approachable people I chose were wise, witty and most importantly NICE!

So without further a do but a small snare drum roll, here are the
CINE-WORLD FILM FEST SARASOTA’S BEST FILMS were…..

BEST NARRATIVE: PARASITE by a nose, BOY GENIUS first runner up

BEST DOCUMENTARY: DECONSTRUCTING THE BEATLES; ABBEY ROAD SIDE ONE which was unanimous!

Thanks to all who participated! May our paths cross again!

Glad It’s Night and The Two Popes

To finish off the Cine-World Film Festival at Burns Court Theater in Sarasota, the programmers showed The Two Popes, directed by Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) and written by Andrew McCarten (Theory of Everything and Bohemian Rhapsody).

The Two Popes, while a tiny bit bloated (chop off the first chaotic ten minutes), was charming and heart warming.

While rumored to be a Spotlight indictment of the Catholic Church, this is actually the antithesis, a hope that the Church is getting back in touch with human needs and pain partially due to the beauty of Pope Francis.

My Catholic exposure is not extensive (though I went through Pre-Cana to get married and agreed to raise my son Catholic) and The Two Popes taught me a lot about Catholicism in regards to how a pope is chosen and some of the politics involved with religion. I certainly was ignorant to Argentinian strife that the movie told in a perfect balance of angst without gratuitous violence (PRAISE JESUS!).

At its core The Two Popes reprises the famous adage: “it’s not about the religion it’s about the relationship.

The acting was tremendous. I can easily see Jonathan Pryce, who I had merely seen in The Wife when he’s done so much more, be nominated for an Oscar. And while Anthony Hopkins was great as well, after reading his Wiki page, have decided he might really be a cold hearted cannibal (ok a bit hyperbole) in hat he has basically disowned his only daughter. I realize there obviously might be much more to the story than any of us can know to judge.

Once this makes it normal run in Sarasota theaters, go see this. Definitely a well told story that not only teaches history, but humanity, too.

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

Deconstructing the Beatles: Wow, ‘Something’ Else!

I can’t say enough positive about Deconstructing the Beatles Abbey Road Side One. This more than any other doc at the Cine-World Film Fest is an impressive grab. On Scott Freiman’s website, the creator and presenter of the documentaries, one can see these showings are few and far between.

I walked in after a hard day’s night at the book store and initially at the film’s start, thought, “Ugh! Not a lecture, I need an easy ride.” But wait! This film was soooo engaging, I was re-energized to try to remember all the gorgeous facts and foot notes about the stereo speakers, the Moog synthesizer, Timothy O’Leary, etc, etc.

I was dying to reach for a pen in my bag, but that would have meant sounding like a squirrel rummaging through a crinkly plastic bag for a food scrap to the anger of those around me. They definitely would have wanted to Maxwell Silver Hammer my keister.

Scott Freiman is a riveting story teller who uses precise, but uncomplicated visuals to show, for instance, how the Beatles created certain sounds on a new mixer for Ringo’s Octopus’s Garden. In the same song analysis, he showed a beautiful moment where George helps Ringo with the song as George Martin chimes in with harmonies. Magic!!

I signed up for alerts on Scott Freiman’s Live Lectures and most definitely will be buying my musician and singer son (Liam Enright, check him out on YouTube) a ticket when Scott does another in New York City.

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.

“Saint Frances” Blesses Us On Many Levels

As satisfyingly ‘fun’ Parasite was, what a refreshing change Saint Frances is to the violence of current cinema. St. Frances is also a shining light in a predominately moody selection currently showing at the Cine-World Film Fest (not counting A Faithful Man, but sorry Frenchies, you’re silly, not moving).

Saint Frances written by its star Kelly O’Sullivan (think younger Amy Schumer in humor or younger Kate McKinnon in looks) works on many levels. Pro-choice, pro-you-don’t-have-to-be-a-parent-to-be-a-great- life-contributor, pro-nebulous relationship status and anti-religion (on the latter, Catholicism’s the target, due to its self-shaming dogma).

The film’s subject matter in a nutshell: a woman ambiguous about children becomes nanny and forms a bond with the child of whom she’s in charge.

Poolling two men afterward, Vince, an astute lawyer from Canada and Robert (?) a local cinemaphile, both men confirmed that Saint Frances is not just a chick flick and enjoyed the film as much as me. Vince even wowed me by naming, without my prodding, I cross my heart, PEANUT BUTTER FALCON as his favorite movie of the year.

I know, FIRST: Willem Dafoe Best Actor, THEN: Peanut Butter Falcon Best Original Screenplay.

But back to Saint Frances…if it comes back for a longer run, go see this. And while O’Sullivan goes for dialogue and scene shock value with menstrual and abortion talk and blood (clearly redundant, and a bit insensitive and too frank at times), no one around me seemed offended in the slightest.

So what they hey, it’s an anything goes culture. Go see Saint Frances, directed by, in his first attempt at feature length, Alex Thompson, with cutie Kate Sullivan as lead, and super adorable and amazingly steady little 5 year old Ramona Edith-Williams.