On the Rocks, Conned this Rox

One of my top fifteen movies of all time is Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola’s gorgeous ode to feeling misunderstood, captured perfectly by two different generations (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) who come together in a hotel bar.

So I went skipping to On the Rocks, Sofia’s newest using Bill Murray again, in a different self-aware cad role with the beautiful Rashida Jones as his Eyeore of a daughter.

If L.I.T. was about feeling misunderstood, On the Rocks is about feeling unappreciated. Rashida feels unappreciated by her husband, Marlon Wayans (pretty face, not an actor). Bill relates to the under appreciation having felt that ‘back in the day’ and consequently straying from Rashida’s mom.

Hence, Bill wants to help his daughter get ahead of the curve and find out if indeed Marlon is the cheater he (Bill) use to be.

Many missed opportunities: one being use Jenny Slate as more than just three funny cameos, two give Rashida’s character more pizzazz (I mean no wonder Marlon would be bored), three, the pivotal daughter-father showdown needed to be amped up to evoke emotion.

Fortunately for Sofia, Americans have been bludgeoned by Covid 19 and are so starved for movies that this looks good enough to rate an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. In reality, however, this is a 72and a half (I’m averaging my film buddy Gus Mollasis’s 75 and my 70 here) at best.

Rock the Kasbah, Storyboard Needed

Bill Murray

Unlike roguecritic4 on IMDB “I couldn’t have had a better Friday night out”, I can’t be so kind to “Rock the Kasbah”. Sure Bill Murray was my go-to crush back in the late ’70’s SNL and Lost in Translation is still one of my top five movies of all time AND Bruce Willis was my man crush in the 80’s Monnlighting, but the screen writing/editing/don’t know where things went wrong aspect of Rock the Kasbah can not be denied.

Items needed: more character development emotion or stick to the farce. What began as a Middle eastern spoof movie with Zooey Deschanel ended with no explanation to her exit other than she left the tour. Perhaps that was a euphemism for ‘quit the movie’. Slowly we progress to the ‘heart’ of the movie, a Pashtun singer with the only perfect English in her village, who also happens to have a tv in her cave. Wait, how does the girl get good tv reception in a desert cave when I can’t get good antennae reception in Brighton, New York?

I’ve spent too much time already on this pitiful flick. In conclusion, Murray and Willis must have been instructed to not show any of their natural charm and humor. And finally, I am shamed as an educator for going to see an uneven movie about a Middle Eastern American Idol type hero, when at the theater adjoining mine was a documentary about a real hero of education: I Am Malala. May my confession be duly noted.

1-800-Bill Murray aka “St. Vincent”

First props to deviantart.com for this gorgeous art rendering of Bill Murray!

Ok, I was excited about St. Vincent. Wes Anderson cameos aside (most recently “Grand Budapest Hotel”), Bill Murray hasn’t had a lead role in a long while. And I’ve had a Bill Murray crush since his nerdy-sexy SNL days. Lost in Translation has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. Since I also genuinely like Melissa McCarthy (even Tammy which haters tended to …well, hate) I had high hopes. While I did not love the movie as much as I thought I would, it’s still solid and I fought back tears at the poignant ending.

But yet, there was something clunky about the film, gears grinding…the trouble? First, Naomi Watts as a pregnant Russian prostitute? I get it, it’s quirky, it’s different, but I just didn’t believe her caricature-like portrayal. And there was also something odd about Bill Murray, something not smooth about what he was doing, or was it the script? I think I’d need a second viewing to make a determination.

At any rate, in this month’s Rolling Stone feature on B.M., it was reported that St. Vincent director Ted Melfi had to hire an assistant to follow Murray around so that he would make it to the set on time. While part of Bill Murray’s allure in my teens and onward was his savoir faire-walk to the beat of a different drummer, this anecdote turned me off. Or maybe I’ve finally become an adult. There’s eccentric, but then a very fine line to douchebagville if you know what I mean. Anyway, I guess if someone wants to rat on me, they can call Bill’s secret 1-800 number (also supported in the Rolling Stone) as he does not have a publicist or agent. Again, a man of free will or the hair between that and ‘unable to work with anyone’? Your turn to judge.