By the Grace of God Go “I Tonya”

That’s it. I’m writing a card to my cousin Karen after seeing I, Tonya. To tell her how proud I am of her crawling her way out of a horrific upbringing, inspired by the terrible cards also dealt to Tonya Harding. My dear friend Carrie was nice enough to go to the movie and drive me home (via Jimmy John’s via stupid road closings since I had an intense post movie lettuce wrap craving).

Can I say how much more important I, Tonya is than Liam Neeson’s new stupid, ‘I gotta save the world’ movie is? I, Tonya is about a real human being, flawed due to a white trash upbringing, brought down according the movie by her abusive husband.

The move was disturbing, in a good way, as Carrie and I skipped (figuratively speaking) like we were seeing an elongated “Ice Skaters of Orange County” and what we got was basically The Fighter, only set on the west coast in Portland Oregon, where evidently, as in every city in America, children are abused and made to feel worthless enough to continue the cycle of dysfunction to marry abusive people.

It can happen to the best of us. All it takes is to feel discounted as a youth, to make you choose what feels ‘normal’ aka abuse. Trust me when I say I had to look away several times from the abuse in this film, and definitely had a flashback with the ‘you’re a Queen one day, and worthless the next’ second marriage. Don’t cry for me Argentina, I want no sympathy, only congratulations that I had my limit reached and now look back and wonder who the heck I was…besides a woman in love with a handsome, intelligent athlete who had to self-destruct every two weeks. As lonely as I am now, I know I am at peace.

I hear you saying, “excuse me honey, this is a film review”. Yes, yes, but this movie struck a nerve.

Acting: spot on. Alison Janey can play a mother of all sorts, comedic and in this case demonic. I’d give her an award for best supporting, though I think Laurie Metcalf showed more range in Lady Bird. Margot Robbie finally got my attention as a 3-d person and was excellent. Sebastian Stan came out of nowhere to blow me away as the douche bag husband. Craig Gillespie (though I couldn’t make it through Lars and the Real Girl did a brilliant job of directing) and the cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis deserves high high praise for camera work. I, Tonya appears to be his first noteworthy film.

My favorite scene was when you think Tonya is finally leaving her husband and the road trails off to a great 80’sound track cranked to evoke freedom. The soundtrack was a character in itself, everything from ZZ Top, to Fleetwood Mac to Supertramp, just great songs in all the right places.

If you can handle a lot of punching violence you’ll have no problems with I, Tonya. If you grew up in a small town that many people didn’t make it out of, you’ll also truly appreciate this movie. And if you’re a silly girl like me, who fell in love with the bad boy and got stuck in the whirlpool for while, you will definitely cringe and root for Tonya to disengage. I salute Tonya and my cousin Karen, two women who fought tooth and nail to overcome chronic negativity to hopefully live peaceful and happy lives.

A “Lady Bird” in the Hand…is Worth 3 in the Oscars

Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, has nested three more nominations for my Academy Award picks: Gerwig for best original screenplay, Laurie Metcalf for best supporting actress and Saoirse Ronan for best actress. I say nominations obviously because the film season is just getting warmed up.

Great attributes of Lady Bird are many. First, a super sharp dialogue and a realistic plot. Most women will relate to the mother daughter struggle that is beautifully portrayed between Metcalf and Ronan. I love Laurie Metcalf and was fortunate enough to see her in New York City play opposite Jeff Goldblum in “Domesticated”. She has the perfect timing to play dramatic, with a pinch of ironic humor. Ronan had me at Brooklyn, a corny epic that I should have groaned at, but instead bought in hook line and sinker. Here in Lady Bird, she is unrecognizable, meaning a genius at owning the part of a senior straining to get the hell away from her family of origin.

And now let’s talk about Greta Gerwig…and what’s weirdly coincidental is that right now as I simultaneously listen to Greta’s Fresh Air interview, where God Bless her, Terry Gross, is asking pointed questions regarding men with whom Greta has worked. And may I just muddy my review further by an error of Terry’s: she is saying that Ronan Farrow has stood by his step sister’s abuse claims, when I read that he’s quite the contrarily said he believes his mother, Mia, coached her daughter to make these allegations.

I can appreciate Greta Gerwig, though I am skeptical about her kindness, from her relationship with Noah Baumbach which probably is more about my projecting the past rejection I can’t get rid myself of by Mr. Saturday Night, the smart, sporty Jewish man who doesn’t seem to miss me. This isn’t immaturity, just honesty. Check yourself right now in the figurative mirror and tell me there isn’t some former romantic pain still in your heart. If you can claim freedom, God Bless you or perhaps, you don’t pass the “I’m Not a Robot” test(smiley face).

Anyway, when reviewing the movie Good Time with Jennifer Jason Leigh, I keyed into the fact that Greta and Noah fell in love on the set of Margot at the Wedding, a movie they did with then Baumbach wife JJ Leigh. I feel for JJL, what can I say? And while I loved Greta’s role in Greenberg and Frances Ha (which she also wrote), I thought she was terrible (or was it the writing?) in Maggie’s Plan. No matter, she is a great writer and a competent director, so here here to that!

The entire cast was just incredible, let me count the ways:

The men: Tracy Letts, plays an excellent detached dad, but I’m rooting for an even bigger acting comeback after the horrrrrrrrrrible movie he did called The Lovers. Lucas Hedges, while a genius in Manchester By the Sea, seemed to be overacting in a few scenes as the anguished Catholic school student. Timothee Chalamet was perfect as the Jack Kerouacesque boy toy.

A notable pair who play Lady Bird’s brother and sister-in’law were Jordan Rodrigues and Marielle Scott, fantastic as the dull-eyed underachievers who post college still reside at home.

Other notable females were: Beanie Feldstein and Odeya Rush who couldn’t be more genuine as the (heavy sweet and slutty worldly) Catholic gals respectively.

And now I’ll listen to the remainder of the Gerwig interview and see how she squirms under the question of ‘how do you feel about working with men accused of sexual harassment?’. I’ll be sure to postscript any interesting tidbits. Until then, I root for Gerwig, Metcalf and Ronan at the Academy Awards!

Postscript tidbit: Greta turned the tables and make Terry answer the question, too, so both woemn, in so many words, said or didn’t say how I feel, and that is I think we can appreciate a person’s talent, and yet be disappointed in some f their behavior. Bravo Gerwig (and Gross), I respect you.