The Devil All the Time (switch out Violence for Devil)

An often asked interview question is “if you could have four dinner guests, who would they be?” and typically, people name Jesus, Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs and Freud…you get the idea…

Based on my viewing The Devil All the Time, I’d like to dine with Antonio and Paulo Campos (writers and director of said film), the Safdie Brothers (Uncut Gems) and Charlie Kaufman (I’m Thinking of Ending Things).

Of course, I’d be tricking the Campos to attend what is really an intervention. One where I’d go, “Hey, Campos’ listen to the Safdie’s explain how small bits of violence have much more impact that constant slaughter.”
And Charlie would chime in with, “You realize you’re capable of creeping people out without a lot of bloodshed.”

And the Campos would pensively reply, “Oh yes, now we see, we thought Americans liked a violent waltz where on the three count, we strike with violence and then repeat.”

Luckily I didn’t read anything in advance of viewing except for a snippet that said Robert Pattinson stole the show. Trust me, I’m a huge RB fan every since the Safdie’s Good Time and felt this was probably accurate. However, I disagree. This was an epic acting collaboration and the only reason RB stuck out was, he was the only character not West Virginia slack jaw and depressed. (Note to West Virginia, which I suggest from direct experience since my great grandparents lived there and I visited most summers growing up: put Prozac in the drinking water pronto as 99% of the folks are clinically depressed, including all the characters except RB).

There are so many competent actors to mention, but I’ll just name the standouts: Riley Keough who is proving her acting chops rather than ride on her grandfather (ELVIS, yes, THAT Elvis’s coat tails), Tom Holland, and Jason Clarke.

The screenwriting as a story was well done and intelligent. Kudos should also obviously go to Donald Ray Pollock author of the novel on which the screenplay was based. Worth watching, I guess, as long as you turn your head or squeeze your eyes shut every ten minutes for the duration of two hours and 18 minutes worth. Hence, please Antonio and Paulos, come to my dinner party:)

INT. Oscars 2020 Awards- Night “The Lighthouse”

February 9, 2020 Oscars Night, No Host as Usual. The Best Actor Category is about to be given.

INT. Oscars 2020 Awards Theater- Night
Regina King announces the Best Actor for 2020. The audience applauds. As the actor approaches the stage, ROXANNE, a lithe blonde woman in a satin black jumpsuit she borrowed from Jenny Slate’s Netflix stand up, runs ahead of the actor to grab the statue and microphone.

ROXANNE
Ok, I don’t mean to pull a Kanye, and (looks at actor)
I’m really happy for you, I’m going to let you finish,
but Willem DaFoe’s had one of the best performances in The
Lighthouse of ALL TIME!
(She takes a deep breath)
In fact, no, no, Willem, get up here
I can not let this happen again.
(The audience gasps. Willem starts to get up at the urging
of Robert Pattinson).

ROXANNE (Cont’d)
(to Willem as he approaches stage)
You were ripped off on The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate…

(Willem makes it to the stage, chagrined, but hugs Roxanne in gratitude. Audience gives standing ovation. Willem takes the microphone. Crowd cheers louder.)

FADE OUT.

Academy, got the message?

My vow to no spoilers remains intact. Go. See. “The Lighthouse”. A movie written and directed by Robert Eggers. A man so cool, he realizes our best stories are in the past when people had creativity and personalities unglued from cell phones like zombies. Robert’s brother Max had the original Lighthouse idea, and Robert asked to use it once his brother had moved on. Hence, it could be the year of the Brothers: Eggers and Safdie’s (“Uncut Gems”).

I have only had the urge to shout out hurrah to a stage (in this case screen) two times in my life. The first time was on Broadway to “On the Mountain Top” when Angela Bassett gave an impassioned rap version of the entire Civil Rights Movement. I literally couldn’t control myself and uttered a quiet, “Holy Sh$%”. The second time was yesterday at AMC Sarasota when Willem Dafoe had two of these masterwork speeches in “The Lighthouse”.

In addition, the cinematography was off the charts profound. Robert Pattinson, also ripped off without a nomination for Good Time (ARE YOU SERIOUS?) is amazing as well.

Again: Go. See. “The Lighthouse”.
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Twilight is Broken and thank goodness: Good Time

If it hadn’t been for Jennifer Jason Leigh’s interview on Marc Maron’s podcast, I would have been very reluctant to see Good Time. I mean a crime drama starring the dude from Twilight isn’t exactly in my wheel house of interests.

But JJ Leigh interested me, even more so her back story, her dad Vic Morrow killed in the Twilight (wait Twilight again, holy coincidence) Zone movie accident, her husband Noah Baumbach leaving her for Greta Gerwig, etc.

JJ Leigh’s only in Good Time for ten minutes max, but she definitely causes a stir. Those with the most screen time are equally magnetic, especially the star, Robert Pattinson. In Good Time, he looks so different from his plain white milk vampire films that he seemed brand new. His performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination, but the character lacks the range for a trophy. This isn’t the actor’s fault, but just a tiny flaw in the writing. Without more back story, we’re left as an audience to wonder. Not a bad thing, and certainly intriguing, but not deep enough then to be a tko of a film.

Two other male leads are also fantastic, one of whom co-wrote and co-directed the film, Josh Safdie. His performance as a hearing impaired brother of Robert Pattinson had an Of Mice and Men Lennie and George quality and was equally poignant and elusive due to the plot. The third ‘stooge’ who garners screen time is a very good question that I need to research further. He’s not on the top of the imdb list, but I will keep searching as he plays a very believable thug rendition.

Minor characters added to the film’s verisimilitude which really felt like a director’s cut of a Cops episode, a Paul Harvey’s ‘the rest of the story’, which is even alluded to in scenes where characters are watching the Time Warner 24 hour news program.

This film was so real, I was frightened for my son’s safety in NYC, as any one of these characters and situations could harm an innocent bystander. Akin to lifting a blanket up and discovering your bed infested by bed bugs or the human equivalent thereof. Good Time is thus best seen in the cinema as you need to put your seat belt on without distractions to really enjoy the suspense and ironic subtlety of the film’s performances.

I am grateful for my friend Dave who picked me up in the pouring rain and who not only understands the art of conversation (meaning he didn’t lecture or bludgeon my ears with his life expertise) as have my last few encounters. Bless Dave with good karma this week as he undergoes some medical testing.