In the wee hours earlier this week, an image of a lioness standing by the edge of a pine forest came to me. We looked intently at each other and I felt filled with a pleasant calm. I mentally asked her if there is anything I should know. She conveyed the message that I should spend more time out in nature.
JOKER was an excellent movie, a powerful, often poignant case study of the making of a sociopath via repeated trauma and so much deprivation. I’ll be surprised if Joaquin Phoenix in the title role doesn’t get an Oscar nod. The backdrop of early 1980s excess juxtaposed with so much urban poverty and chaos, all portrayed through a very current lens of awareness and challenges, made for compelling social commentary. Seamy, rat-infested Gotham (New York) City is the perfect allegorical backdrop for the story. The “super” rats in the streets paralleled the parasitical super rich folks. This movie needed to be made. If you can stomach some very violent, personal moments, I highly recommend you see this film.
Ruby Rose in the title role of the brand new show BATWOMAN on the CW channel…well, hmm, I don’t know. That nasal, monotone voice-over of hers during the epilogue to the pilot episode had me thinking of a bored Valley girl rather than a savvy woman of deep convictions. I’m going to pass on this silly, generic-seeming superhero TV drama. But, I at least gave it a try at the suggestion of a particularly attractive employee at the local movie theater I frequent.
Renee Zellweger was believably transformed in the movie JUDY, right down to getting the subject’s mannerisms and tone of voice right. An intimate, emotional production mostly filmed indoors or outside at night, it mainly focused on a portion of the last year of Ms. Garland’s life while she performed in London. I was quite moved in places, particularly in a scene where she visits with a gay male couple right around my and my husband’s ages, or a bit older. That hit home quite powerfully. The ending could have been more graceful and thought-out instead of like an abrupt emotional hammer. And I wish there were a bit more exposition/flashbacks of the talented singer’s childhood and young adult years, though what was shown was interesting. I left the theater wanting more, but generally impressed with what I got.
The new movie DOWNTON ABBEY was splendid and sumptuous– from costumes, sets and settings, to a nimble script filled with so many interwoven characters, all very well-acted. There was something in it for just about every white person, given it was noticeably devoid of any people of color.
Dame Maggie Smith’s cutting remarks of wit and her frequent foil played by Penelope Wilton were delightful. I’ve always found it fun to watch two elegant women go at it with a battle of words.
Flawed/limited as it was, the film was a well-done period piece I plan to see again, only next time with my husband. Even two gay men had some warm, tender romance in this lovely production. I followed along just fine, and I haven’t even watched any of the multi-season TV series. I left the theater in heart-felt tears, pleasantly surprised, and feeling generally satisfied.
Quentin Tarantino’s new film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD was a mixed bag. I enjoyed all the 60s music, TV, and movie references. I also liked the frequency of long scenes with the main characters, such as them driving and listening to music or talking one-on-one with someone. Facial reaction shots were a thought-out part of this technique, along with some creative tinting to the lighting, all to lend a colorful, nostalgic tone to the movie, which I appreciated. But, the scene mocking Bruce Lee felt insulting and racist and I could have done without all the gratuitous violence at the end. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio did make pretty amusing foils for each other, however. And Margot Robbie was fun and adorable as Sharon Tate.
The real alienating and angering aspect for me with the movie overall was the very negative stereotyping of hippies. They were repeatedly portrayed as stupid and sociopathic Manson followers. This is such a tired trope. I was raised by and around hippies and, man, we had nothing to do with Manson (and the vast majority of hippies didn’t) and were anything but stupid and sociopathic. We were justifiably concerned about many things, such as the environment and the ongoing war in Vietnam. Some of those values would have been good to see expressed in the film, but they were nowhere to be found.
My advice to all who are interested in watching this movie: wait until the release on DVD to see it, or, better yet, watch it for free if you can.
I’m at the age where whole periods of my past are now making more clear sense as to what was actually going on and why I was feeling and reacting the way I was in response to it all. This is an advantage to growing older and wiser.