Almost Toxin, West Virginia

Mark Ruffalo deserves some credit. He could choose pretty roles at this point in his career, fun stuff like all comic book movies or even hold out for the ninth Tarantino, but no, Ruffalo has consistently chosen movies he finds important: Spotlight, Foxcatcher and now the well written and directed “Black Waters”.

“Black Waters” details one attorney’s brave journey over almost two decades in nailing the DuPont Company for gross negligence in hiding injurious effects of chemicals used and dumped at their many factories. Todd Haynes, directed this, as well as the award winning film “Carol”. Haynes has an artistic eye and from the get go, I was taken in by the West Virginian curves of this tale. Much like Ford V. Ferrari, DO NOT google this ahead of time, let Todd and the trio of writers do the heavy lifting while you enjoy the twists and turns.

And that’s a revelation I had tonight, questioning myself for ‘running away from home’ as I do, to attend a movie, when I could easily turn on the news to get some intelligence. But that’s just it: the news is no longer investigative, unless you count the violence porn of what 20/20 has become. We really don’t know what the biggest news stories are right now due to media bias. If we are not getting political slant, then it’s fluff pieces (quite literally) on cute pets.

So the bad news is we sit in our internet fog looking at what J Lo wore on SNL, while we drink and swim in water that might be harming us. But the upside is that due to concerned citizens like Todd Haynes and Mark Ruffalo (and the previously mentioned screenwriters and magazine reporters) who cared enough about actual humans, we at least receive some real news at the movies.

So my question is, could movies be our new news source?

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.

“Spotlight” on Research and Conscience

Spotlight, directed and co written by Tom McCarthy, is an important film. Period. And sometimes having a dysfunctional part of our society exposed is more important than media entertainment.

In an artistic sense, “Spotlight” was ho-hum. Research and conscience do not equate great visuals. I’m sure Charlie Kaufman or PT Anderson could come up with some outside the box conceits, but Tom McCarthy simply told the straight story of four + reporters who had to simply research thoroughly and wait out the ‘best’ time to publish the expose` against the Catholic Church.

The acting was tamped down due to, again, the subject; men and women poring over boxes and boxes of abuse and court documents, calling on witnesses who sometimes slammed doors in the face of well intentioned reporters. That and the paper thin characterization (these reporters had invisible spouses and children) did not stop me from enjoying watching two of my favorite actors, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton

While I was well aware of the cover up history in the Catholic Church, I had no idea of the magnitude. The film displays at least 5 screens worth of domestic and international cities with similar scandals.

Can we all just agree to watch over our children and teens better and to intervene when there’s a concern? If even one parent pays more attention, the movie was a success.

Infinitely Polar Bear, Infinite Jest

Hopefully some reader will recognize my title to be both that of the Maya Forbes film starring Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of bi-polar disorder
the title of a book by David Foster Wallace known partially for his psychological disturbances, possibly including bi-polar disorder, who is also the subject of a movie that’s out now, just not in rural Rochester.

but I digress…

I love almost everything Mark Ruffalo does, think he stole the show in Foxcatcher, and now, Infinitely Polar Bear included. I’m going out on a limb to say that Mark Ruffalo is so loveable…
here’s where you shout, “HOW LOVEABLE IS HE?”.
Mark Ruffalo
He’s so loveable, he could win a bid for the Democratic candidate for President WITHOUT a Super Pac!

Ruffalo was perfectly cast though. I had a six year relationship with someone with a similar disorder and the maddening thing was rather than scream at him, all I really wanted to do was hug him, bless his erratic behavior heart. The difference with my guy and Ruffalo’s character is that Ruffalo doesn’t cheat, which actually would have added needed film tension. (But is hell in real life.) I know what you’re thinking, ‘thank you Captain Obvious’.

Which leads me to the film and its flaws. Much of the dialogue is about mundane marital power woes like: who works, who gets to advance themselves with an MBA, who takes care of the kids, and who takes care of the kids better. And that’s about it.

Yes, Ruffalo has bipolar, but it’s never scary enough to really get down and dirty. Maya Forbes (writer and director who based the film on her own life story) either wanted to look back through a halcyonic lens, was too afraid of familial repercussions or perhaps her life wasn’t really all that bad…, not cinematically compelling, but more ‘Lifetime Channel-blow-part-of-an-afternoon’ worthy.

Once again, however, Ruffalo is what takes it to the ‘worth it’ level in being a nice evening out at the movies.

Yes, Virginia there is a S.C.! (Steve Carell)

Steve Carell

I was skeptical about Foxcatcher, partly because I couldn’t hide from reviews that claimed the screenplay was thin.

Thank goodness I sometimes take these reviews with a grain of salt, as Foxcatcher contains a very well written story and fabulous performances by Steve Carrel, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum.

First, the most unique aspect of the script is the silence. As my son, quipped afterward, “Thank God we didn’t have popcorn.” I loved the stillness of the film, not only for added suspense, but also for the oppressive spirit that is inherent in rural areas (I know, having worked in one for 29 years).

Steve Carell is over the top, the penultimate moment of his career. Please Steve, don’t ever do another Anchorman EVER.
Mark Ruffalo, probably the most perfect human male on the planet (against fracking, survived a brain tumor, lives in my neck of the woods, born in good hearted Wisconsin. mother’s French Canadien), is equally wonderful.
Channing Tatum, along with Ruffalo, had to learn very difficult wrestler’s choreography. I learned that wrestling requires near gymnastics like talent, which shows my novice depth knowledge of the sport.

Definitely in my top five movies of the year!

As a reminder, coming soon in 2014, my new domain name which is