An A+ for Makowsky’s Bad Education

I love when I find a screenwriter who captures the essence of a story and without any fluff, builds a well told narrative. Well this week, Mike Makowsky’s Bad Education came out on HBO and Mr. Makowsky, you made high honor roll!

Being a retired vet of the NYS Education’s Public School System, I can attest that Makowsky’s tale was spot on. Of course there’s no screenplay if you don’t have the right director and here newish guy Cory Finley filled the bill stylistically painting small town Long Island yearning to be as opulent as its Big Brother-Big Apple mover and shaker.

And talk about a perfect cast!!! Can we please sneak this in as a major motion picture contender and give Hugh Jackman a Oscar nomination? The guy is multi-talented and willing to take risks, so what do you say? Come on HBO, gather your inner Long Island chutzpah and stand up to Netflix! Equally great and already an Oscar winner, Allison Janney always nails her acting mark. Other solid performances came from Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan (anyone in something called Emo the Musical sounds fun to me), Annaleigh Ashford (about to star in the next Woody Allen project) and last but not least, Pat Healy, I love this man and evidently Makowsky does, too, as he’s in another one of his movies, Take Me, which is not on my watch list. Makowksy’s one other IMDB listed movie for writing is I think We’re Alone Now with Dinklage and Gainsbourg, so yes please, sing me up for a future viewing of that as well.

Can’t recommend this enough!

The Big Sick, a Perfect Antidote

I was pleasantly surprised with The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter and here’s why: I wrongly assumed it would hammer political ideology, of which I’m simply fatigued. But instead, Emily V. Gordon and her husband, comedian Kumail Nanjiani have presented a human story which was sweet and moving.

What helped the movie, besides a smart and funny screenplay, were the outstanding supporting actors (and by actors I mean male and female).

Ray Romano, the Tom Hanks of comedy, is such a solid dude no matter what he does. In fact, I’m sure he probably improved some of the dialogue as you can sense his wholesome sense of humor bleeding through the story, which was great! I miss this guy, Rob the Mob from 2014 was underrated though from the looks of his IMDB page, he’s been around the t.v. world. Next up is a series called Get Shorty on Epix (8/13/17).

I also love Holly Hunter, her petite, but spit fire nature shining as the momma protecting her adult child. Like Romano, you know she’s dependable and impressive. An IMDB search shows she has a new sci fi’ish show (can’t deal), but I will seek out a movie from this year called Breakable You, that also stars Al Molina (another favorite of mine).

Zoe Kazan, who I loved in Ruby Sparks was excellent as well. I actually didn’t want to like her for a very deeply embedded territorial feeling that Kumail’s own wife should be playing the role (since it’s based on their story). But Zoe was so good that I felt totally pacified and ridiculous for this sentiment. Looking at what I may have missed of Zoe’s, Our Brand is Crisis is something I bypassed originally, but being a Billy Bob fan, should round the bases and watch.

So healthy vibes from The Big Sick, definitely worth the price of admission. An excellent night out and some good movies on the horizon.

Mama Mia, Andy Garcia!

Saw “Rob the Mob” at my favorite popcorn theater in the world, The Little in Rochester, New York and have to begin by saying that Andy Garcia must have been cast by his mom , or similar such person who thought he could portray ‘Big Al’, the mafia boss-gone soft.  Just saying Big Al and trying conjure an Andy Garcia image is incongruous.  And I’m an Andy Garcia fan, when he plays a genuinely anguished guy, such as Vince in “City Island”.  But to make Mr. Garcia feel better, or perhaps more apt the writers of this film, I’ll sprinkle in enough Italian cliches here to make a sickeningly spicy meatball.  (Be sure to read all of my cliches with an abhorrently fake Italian accent, in fact grow a beard first and rub it pensively).

As for the rest of the film, a pseudo Soprano-esque Bonnie and Clyde based on a true story from NYC 90’s, I’d put it in the same discount bin as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, marked ‘could have been a contender’.  This time, the problem isn’t Mitty and Wiig’s flat dialogue, but the editing and sequencing of scenes. 

Flashbacks in home movie style of the male lead’s father being offed by the mob felt authentic, but next would come a comic scene with an over the top Griffen Dunne schooling ex-cons on caring about wholesome productivity over money, on to slow mo love scenes back lit in Flashdance presentation, back to good ol Andy giving it the mafia college try by holding up a piece of Mortadella (that’s as see through as his performance) while he pontificates about life. Feel like you’re riding in the back of a trunk yet, not sure of what waterside factory you’re going to exhale your last breath?). 

So you’re in the trunk of this shock-less Buick of a film and while on the subject of cars, Bonnie’s ‘ride’ goes from junker with loose loose interior door handles at all the right suspense moments, to an impeccably upholstered baby blue interior as their telemarketing boss hops a ride to the Gotti trial..  To add insult to cement shoes, does everyone leave there uzi in their back seat when they give their upstandingly moral boss a lift?

In messy conclusion, the through line in this film was as squiggly as radiatore.  While each story (the lovers, the mafia, the feds and the reporter -Ray Romano who was very believable with hot facial scruff I might add)  was interesting and handled with depth, the rice to egg ratio didn’t hold this arancini of a film together.