And Maybe a Few Predictions…
Okay, after watching as many movies as I can cram into my brain in a relatively short period of time (actually, The Florida Project is still playing), I’m ready to make some choices here. I don’t want to name any names, but I was slowed down in my viewing by a certain usual movie-going companion who informed me at the last minute that he was abandoning me for the Winter Olympics, and would not only be watching every Men’s Hockey game this year, but the Women’s Hockey as well. How could I, as a feminist, complain about that? Yay, for women’s sports equality! Boo for it interfering with Oscar movie viewing season, and viewing partners who don’t schedule their time wisely!
Anyway, I eventually gave up on waiting for him and mostly went on alone, while the US Women took Gold in Hockey. 🎉 They were able to do so because people have made equality in girl’s and women’s sports a big deal and fought hard for decades, plus the federal government has required public schools to provide girls with equal opportunities in sports since the seventies. Sports are viewed as important to male development in many ways, so it’s obvious to argue that access is an important aspect of female equality.
I, Tonya * 2017 * Rated R * 2 hours
😸😸😸😸½ Rated 4.5 Happy lap cats
I, Tonya is the tragicomic, mostly, sorta true story of the rise and fall of an American woman and Olympic figure skater who has it all, then loses it, due to circumstances both within and beyond her control. It tells a timeless story of love, loss, ambition, rivalry, greed, classism, misogyny and sheer stupidity. Though the stupidity is mostly on the part of the skater’s male associates, most of the negative consequences for that stupidity fall onto her. That’s the timeless part of the story, as blaming the woman for everyone else’s mistakes is a cultural tradition that goes all the way back to the bible.
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) was four years old when her mother, LaVona (Alison Janney) hired her first skating coach, Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson), and began pressuring her to excel at the sport. Her mother verbally and physically abused her throughout her childhood and forced her to focus on figure skating as the most important aspect of her life, more important, even, than her education. Tonya spent most of her time training, despite how difficult the family’s poverty made it for them to continue to afford her skating career.
The Post * 2017 * Rated PG-13 * 1 Hour 56 Minutes
😸😸😸😸😸 Rated 5/5 Happy lap cats
I was a kid when the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers were big news, and in junior high school when the Watergate scandal seemed to go on forever. As an adult, I understand the importance of these events, but, as they were happening, they bored me to tears. At a time when our entertainment options were limited, the struggles of the Nixon administration took over the airwaves for years.
So I don’t seek out movies like The Post. However, silly me, I married a political junkie, and Mr Metawitches loves a political thriller or a political history film. This review will be heavy on his insight, since this is his genre. Given all of that, it’s impressive that The Post kept me engrossed for the entire movie, with its perfectly timed pacing, snappy dialogue, and enough intrigue to turn the story into a political thriller.
The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, follows the story of the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 by The NY Times and The Washington Post. The Pentagon Papers, top secret documents which exposed the futile nature of the US involvement in the Vietnam War, and the lies that were told over the course of various presidential administrations to cover this up, had been leaked to both newspapers by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study and had access to the finished product.
Lady Bird * 2017 * Rated R * 93 Minutes
😸😸😸😸😸 Rated 5/5 Happy lap cats
Lady Bird, the semi-autobiographical coming of age story written and directed by Greta Gerwig, is a perfectly constructed film that does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it beautifully. It’s a counterpart to the many, many thoughtful male coming of age stories that have been filmed over the years. The most recent one that comes to mind is Richard Linklater’s acclaimed 2014 film Boyhood.
Except Boyhood was so long and dragged so much that I don’t think I even finished watching it, while Lady Bird is a brief 93 minutes that’s evenly paced, charming and has no padding. Lady Bird follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson through her senior year in high school, as she navigates life in a liberalish Catholic high school; tries on various identities and friendship cliques; dreams about life in a more exciting, glamorous place than her hometown of Sacramento, California; and tests the waters of sex and romance.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri * 2017 * Rated R * 1 Hour 55 Minutes
😸😸😸🌑🌑 Rated 3/5 Happy lap cats
Let me start out by saying this won’t be a traditional review and it will contain spoilers. This film is difficult for me to write about, and I almost skipped it. But I set a goal to watch and write about as many of the 2018 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees as possible, so here we are.
This film is the epitome of what’s wrong with Hollywood, the system of film criticism, and the awards organizations in this century. It’s a prestige film by every measure, awards bait that’s worked. It was written and directed by Tony-nominated playwright Martin McDonagh. It stars three respected actors, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell in roles that call on them to give their all. It tackles some of the hot button topics of the day in a unique, original way. It’s a dark dramedy with a script filled with witty banter and poignant moments, as you’d expect from an acclaimed playwright. That’s why I looked past my anger enough to give it a 3/5 rating. I’ll probably debate with myself over that rating forever, and think it should’ve been a 2/5.
But it left me so angry that I had nightmares overnight, and I never have nightmares. The film should really be titled Two Racist Cops in the Good Old Boy Midwest, because that’s what it’s actually about. Sure, we see a lot of Frances McDormand’s Mildred, but she doesn’t get the redemption arc or the character growth that Sam Rockwell’s racist cop does. She’s a rage monster running around town ruining everyone else’s lives with her inappropriate anger.
This is a photo of Paula, played by the incomparable Donna Lynne Champlin, as she sings a song from the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 finale about the glorious and joyful process of giving birth, to help Heather feel better about what she’s gotten herself into. The song sounds pretty, everything looks beautiful, and there are even laughs to be had. Champlin sounds like the talented, amazing diva that she is. But as the song continues the lyrics go off the rails, making birth sound more and more like an apocalypse on your genitals. It ends with Heather holding a fake, gray, dead-looking placenta in her arms instead of a baby.
That’s this season, and this episode, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in a nutshell. To write the song, Miracle of Birth, songwriter Jack Dolgen had the show’s female writers tell him their labor and delivery horror stories, then he and his cowriter Adam Schlesinger wrote the song in the studio in two hours, based on those notes. So, it’s a simplified, biased part of the experience, filtered 2nd and 3rd hand through the male point of view, turned into a rushed product. That’s season 3 of this show.
Creepy stalker Adorable male ingenue Trent Maddock returns for a one episode blackmail plot love story this week. He forces Rebecca to blackmail Paula into helping her escape him reinvigorates Rebecca and Paula’s friendship. Josh’s one night stand with his karaoke machine back before the time jump has inspired him to turn it into a long term relationship. He wants to turn that into a business foursome with Beth and Valencia, but Valencia is going through the townie inferiority complex that she would have gone through when she was ten years younger if she was a real, live person. Nathaniel finally makes some decisions about his love life. Heather is still pregnant. WhiJo still has a dog and scraggly facial hair, causing me to fear for his overall health.
Rebecca meets with the girls at the Sugar Shack, where she crochets an afghan and decides to get a “buttload” of cats, now that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Because in Rebecca’s world, if you go more than 3 days without thinking someone is the love of your life, then you must not be capable of loving another human being and are doomed to be alone forever.
Laurens: “In this world, the only real choice is between being the purchaser and the purchased.”
Kovacs: “We stick together, Rei. Never face the monsters alone.”
In this episode, Laurens invites Tak to a dinner party attended by all of Lauren’s closest
friends enemies. Both spend the evening evaluating and testing people, though Tak is trying to assess how likely each is to be a murder candidate, while Laurens is assessing how likely they are to challenge his dominance or resist his authority. Laurens makes a point of publicly humiliating Tak, to remind Tak that he’s owned, because Laurens owns almost everything. Laurens also goes out of his way to humiliate Ortega, and to remind his wife that she belongs to him. He’s very possessive and territorial, and this hour drives it home.
Tak, on the other hand, begins assembling his own team in earnest, doing favors and making deals. Poe and Vernon are his first two prospective team members. He brings in another guest for Poe, Lizzie Elliot. Her virtual psychosurgery requires a large amount of Poe’s time and attention, just the thing for a lonely AI. That frees up Vernon to act as Tak’s back up at the party, once they’ve visited the friendly neighborhood arms dealer. Vernon gets to investigate Bancroft connection to Lizzie’s attack while he’s there, and Tak doesn’t have to face the monsters alone.
Becks * 2/9/18 (Theatres & VOD) * Unrated, probably R * 90 Minutes
Becks is an indie film based on the real life experiences of singer-songwriter Alyssa Robbins, who also wrote most of the songs for the film. It’s about a struggling singer in NYC who moves back to St Louis when her girlfriend leaves her to move to California. She moves in with her mother, a former nun, and starts singing at a local bar. She meets and becomes closer to a married woman, Elyse.
The lead character, Becks, is played by the fabulous Lena Hall, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Yitzhak in the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and who played Hedwig herself briefly during the opening stops of the national tour. Becks’ mother, the former nun who tries to be supportive of her daughter, is played by Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress Christine Lahti. Elyse is played by Mena Suvari (Six Feet Under). Hayley Kiyoko, quadruple threat and all-around force of nature, plays Lucy, Becks’ soon to be ex-girlfriend.
This movie is worth seeing for the exciting female cast alone, but there were also women behind the cameras. Lena Hall gave an amazing, in depth interview to afterellen.com that mentions the largely female crew. From The Hollywood Reporter review:
This week, the Agents of SHIELD finally return to our present day, but it’s a difficult, winding journey to get there, of course. We say goodbye to the characters we’ve gotten to know over the future space arc, and learn more about the time loop, before the cliffhanger monolith jump at the end. Loyalty, the importance of making the best choice of who to align oneself with, and when to let go, always a focus on this show, continue to be major themes. Those themes are set up to affect the rest of the season, perhaps the series, in game-changing ways.
Also in this episode, Coulson proves he’s not the greatest leader when he treats Daisy like she’s his property to control. He may think he’s acting like a leader or father, but he takes Daisy’s choices away to the point of rendering her unconscious, while others risk being left behind without a word of complaint from him. That’s not the kind of caring he, or the writers, think it is. Overly possessive misogyny doesn’t stop being wrong because you convince yourself it’s for a good cause.
When the Zephyr pulls into the landing bay of the Lighthouse, Kasius and his guards are waiting for it. The first thing they see when the doors open is Sinara’s body, still hanging, impaled on the balcony railing. Kasius brain melts down. The lead guard orders the rest of the guards to search the ship.