The Dinner, have some reservations

Oren Moverman, how are you? I had no idea until just now that Moverman who directed The Dinner, the new movie based on the book by Howard Koch, also directed one of my (and my movie date)’s favorite movies of all time: Love&Mercy. The Dinner, sadly, is a film you should have reservations about….

Am I wrong to not want to glorify heinous acts by showing visuals? Especially when it involves malicious, misguided teens? I guess, if I’m open minded, showing incidents of affluenza may wake up some wealthy parents that perhaps they should take responsibility (early on, not once they reach adulthood) of their children’s upbringing (aka teaching them how to behave and how to love) and their mental health (if it walks like a depressed duck and talks like a depressed duck, get some therapy).

Anyway, while I understand to some extent the moral dilemma portrayed in The Dinner, I care about my fellow human beings enough to know; a sociopath, no matter if he or she is your child, should never get a free pass.

The movie’s subject matter was obviously almost good enough to make me forget I was watching one of my favorite actors (Steve Coogan) minus his typecasted upperhand sarcasm. His character, father of “Charles Manson”, is certainly bitter, but undermined by said son Charlie and his own wife; portrayed by another favorite actress of mine, Laura Linney.

Equally compellng was Rebecca Hall, who I envy most for how good she looks in short hair, a shallow female commentary. To be super objective, Hall’s acting was best of the four (Hall, Coogan, Linney, Gere) as Gere’s strong willed trophy wife. Pulling up four out of four is Richard Gere, who always seems to be playing the same dang man of power with an equal amount of ‘white people’s problems’ angst. I look forward to his upcoming performance as a homeless man, it’s high time for him to mix it up.

Due to the movie’s unsatisfying ending and it’s violence porn quotient, I say this is better off as a rental. Choose a dark deary night and it’ll fit right in.

Kenneth Lonergan, where you been all my life?

I’ve been a bad girl here at the tail end of 2016. After more defeats than victories in human connections department, I went back into a bit of a hermit mode, knowing full well I had a life line coming on December 31st (best friend from Rochester arriving).

But there’s a silver lining in every cloud, like last night, renting a Kenneth Lonergan film from 2000 from our local library. I enjoyed Manchester By the Sea so much that I decided to go back in time. And what a pleasure! I already love Laura Linney (Savages still my favorite), and just like the aforementioned she was given an Oscar nom for this film You Can Count on Me. Mark Ruffalo, another precious acting resource (favorite film Foxcatcher) and Matthew Broderick (best kissing scene in this one that I’ve seem in quite some time). And my God, little Rory Culkin, a cutie, who I just noticed won a Gotham award last year for a film called Gabriel (will put it on the list).

Not knowing him well, I learned that Kenneth Lonergan has always used music to evoke emotion. In You Can Count on Me he chose country tunes to show the simplistic and base problems of a small New York town.

I laughed and I cried at this beautiful brother sister relationship. This is a great rental and companion piece to Manchester By the Sea.

Happy New Year and I resolve to get my groove back in 2017.

No Good Deed Goes Un ‘Sully’ ed

How thoughtful of the Hollywood 20 to simulate the arctic air atop the January Hudson River….NOT.:) Hey, I’m grateful, I got to go outside to get warm afterward, which is still pretty novel for a New York transplant.

“Sully”, directed by Clint Eastwood, was excellent. Not tremendous, in spite of Tom Hanks, who is undeniably our generation’s Jimmy Stewart, maybe even bigger (light bulb idea=future comparison blog).

Why wasn’t ‘Sully’ a 10? One bias of mine is Laura Linney. I love this woman and seeing her reduced to a fretting wife made me feel sad. Please some one, give this woman a script! In the meantime, rent “Savages” which is tremendous.

And the ‘meanwhile back at the ranch’ scenes’, while necessary, weren’t enough, just as a telephone or long distance relationship doesn’t give the emotional sustenance of face to face, body to body, skin to skin…you get my touch? No, because I’m not delivering this as a live speech. How to translate his financial concerns to screen is problematic, unless you do back story scenes which may have been better? Tough call, I realize.

Another difficulty: Sully’s inner turmoil, his guilt, the ‘did I do the right thing?” I have those questions just rising out of bed in the morning, so I empathize, but similar to me again, this is all internal. Akin to that title “The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner”. Or as they probably said in the sixties, ‘it’s in my head, man’. So, the Hanks jogging and the Hanks agonizing again is tough, because his inner conflict is problematic to translate visually.

Also challenging were the scenes that didn’t connect up: Sully’s old flying days both on the farm and in the military, Sully’s imagining planes crashing into buildings, no explanations…., Benson’s commentary, ‘clunky scenes’ mentioned on his podcast Doug Loves Movies.

Why it’s worth the price of admission: a. Hanks (aforementioned), b. the great range and realistic emotions displayed by the excellent passenger actors, so well written and executed, c. the investigation, both in writing and acting, also seemed real in the bureaucratic bologna sort of way, d. the awkward, but again, realistic moments with complete strangers who suddenly felt the faux media intimacy television creates, e. the suspense of the cockpit, again A+.

A fact check I want to research is, did they really play the cockpit recording live to the two men who experienced it in front of a large audience of airline execs?

Sully, while imperfect, is well worth a view.