From N.E. to Gem: Emma

During the first ten minutes of Emma, the confused me was conjuring humorous blog titles, like, (enema, get it?), but then I got it, as in understood who the characters were and what in goodness name the plot was actually about.

And being an occasional playwright and screenwriter myself, means needing the audience to hang in there long enough to figure it out. You can’t hand out Cliff notes ahead of time to explain everything to folks who haven’t read Austen since college or ever.

In fact, in the major ball scene, I daresay I am on the record to vouche for Emma being a better film than Little Women, as relatively new screenwriter Eleanor Catton and first feature length director Autumn de Wilde ingrained in Emma what Billy Joel sang about, and Greta Gerwig failed at, which is “Leave a Tender Moment Alone”. The dance sequences and near romantic teases were far more evocative than any Gerwig managed. So bravo to the new crew in Hollywood.

Acting wise, Anya Taylor-Joy, while not aesthetically pleasing to me, did a honest job portraying an entitled brat. Johnny Flynn makes up for Taylor-Joy’s missing charisma and is wonderful as Emma’s hopeful suitor. Bill Nighy was a joy as Emma’s germaphobe father. And Josh O’Connor had a special sparkle despite his goofy character. And sure enough, on further inspection the guy’s already racked up two lead actor British Independent Film Awards. I’ll be sure to catch up on his award winning performances (God’s Own Country and Only You).

The cinematography and production were also crisper and more authentic than Little Women. The minor characters while at times a bit clunky at least seemed more human than L.W.’s Lauran Dern (who simply can’t do 19th century) and Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk.

Bravo to Emma for making us feel for conflicts nearly 200 years old and going from enema to gem-ma in a mere two hours.

The Last Play at Shea, 2010

The google age has shamed us into thinking we need to know all, all the time, which I thought I did about The Last Play at Shea. I swear I looked at one point to renting this, being very interested, and it was ‘unavail’ as they say in the Valley, “What valley?” you ask. Google it!

Anyway, I looked again suffering from post NYC trip depression and angels sang. There it was, on Amazon Prime for $2.99. So I watched and got goose bumps. Anytime you marry great music, poignant bio AND sports, well that’s the holy trinity right there.

Even if you’re not a Mets fan, and let’s face it, they’ve had some doozies as far as slump years (but to a Bills and Sabres fan, they’ve had a cake walk), you’ll still love this love homage to the ‘dump’. But as Dwight Gooden said, “it may be a dump, but it’s our dump.”

And that’s also why I love Billy Joel. He’s worked his fanny off his entire life, lost some serious cash to shady characters, but keeps getting up, picking himself up, and moving on forward. That’s what life is all about my friends.

The man has so many hit songs, some of which I hadn’t heard in years: Captain Jack, Still Rock and Roll to Me, You May Be Right I May Be Crazy…in fact at Sarasota Airport on Monday, no less, I smiled ear to ear to “Get it Right the First Time”. So just to hear snippets of all of those wonders did my soul good.

Another highlight is the first post 9/11 game when Piazza’s home run gave symbolic hope back to the city. For Beatles fans, you’ll rejoice in seeing the 1965 concert footage as well as McCartney waxing poetic. Seeing Lennon circa 1965 in uncontrollable laughter at the sheer insanity of the screaming girls will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

So, as if Amazon needs me to throw them a bone (they could throw one back, don’t ya think?), get this doc for a midweek upper. In fact, if you rent this because of me, tell Amazon, would ya? I tried when I first started this blog to monetize with Amazon ads, but they dumped me for not selling. And I’ve had enough rejection for awhile, got it?

Wes Anderson’s genius: “Isle of Dogs”, Eye’ll Grab Ya

I’m no artist, but a few times when I’ve attempted to draw or paint a person’s face, I’ve noticed, even in my lame limited effort how striking you create eyes to be. Wes Anderson surely knows and it’s the eyes of all the characters in Isle of Dogs that are so riveting.

In addition to not being an artist, I’m also not a dog person. HOWEVER, at my grandma’s 95th birthday party (Go Florence, Go Florence!), I fed a visiting dog a carrot (after being encouraged by its owner that he liked such food) and out of a circle of 8 folks, my lap was then chosen for the pup’s nap. Guess I should write a parody book, “If You Feed a Dog a Carrot” (rip off of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”). My point is, if a dog is sweet and calm, I could be convinced to own one.

My second point is, due to the eyes of the dogs in Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola‘s (yes, son of that Coppola), I could have teared up, that’s how good this movie was.

But as Wes Anderson (and perhaps Roman, too) is want to do, he often goes one step too far in making his plot so darn intricate, that I lose the wonder and awe of his creativity to say, ‘ok, enough’. It could be a gender thing, sorry men. Often men go one step too far, one too many text messages, one too many comments to impress, tickling a minute too long where I want to scream, “OK, enough!” I always think of the Billy Joel song, “Leave a Tender Moment Alone,” (aside: am listening to a live version on YouTube right now and damn, can I just say I love Billy Joel) or as a tried to tell someone recently, just stay on the boat, stay on the boat (aka don’t go overboard).

I can forgive Wes Anderson though, the guy (AND Roman) are true geniuses and while if you looked at the basic story structure of Moonrise Kingdom and Isle of Dogs and would find the same basic core story, because he dresses it in such a new funky outfit, it’s fantastically novel at the same time.

I should mention some of the stand out voices in this stop motion animation: Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum, and Bryan Cranston, all of whom I’ve had a crush on at one time or another. And for the gents, you have Scar Jo’s sultry voice as the show dog named Nutmeg. So how can you go wrong? Go See Isle of Dogs, it’ll warm your pet loving, or even loathing, heart.