Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Don’t worry, this isn’t a first time watch post. I’ve seen it many many times. This and its sequel were constant rentals from Blockbuster. I was watching it last night, and I had a somewhat different experience that I thought would make a fun blog post.

I was gonna back up and talk about my experience watching this as a kid, but it turns out, I already did that. So I’ll just back up to two days ago (as of writing). I was watching a clip of Jim Carrey on Colbert, and he was revisiting some iconic lines of dialog. That and his other antics on the show got me feeling nostalgic for 90’s Jim. Again, this man’s movies were a big part of my childhood, and I can still quote entire scenes. I’d always preferred When Nature Calls, but I had put it on not too long ago, so I opted for Pet Detective as I went to sleep last night. And as previously stated, something was different this time.

Yes there was the dose of nostalgia that comes from watching this film in my 30’s that I didn’t have in my single digits. Carrey had also mentioned that he was in his 30’s during this era, so now I was viewing Ace as a peer and not this weird adult. But I was feeling this strange pull towards his character. Wait a second, am I crushing on Ace Ventura? What?! That strange guy that always made me laugh but seemed too over the top to be a real person? I’m attracted to him now? How did that happen? Surely, I’m just sleep deprived and delirious, no? I thought about it for a bit, and actually yeah he kinda fits my profile. Not just kinda, but more like fully embodies it.

I’ve figured out in recent years that what I want in a partner, what I’m most attracted to comes down to three basic traits: kindness, humor, and intelligence. Prolly in that order of important, but really at the most basic level someone needs to check all three boxes. Then of course there’s additional details like shared interests and maybe some superficial preferences. But if you’re not kind, funny, and smart, then sorry game over. Let’s see how Ace measures up.

Kindness. I think where I first started feeling my heart stirring was in seeing him interact with the dogs in the film. So much love, not unlike how I interact with every dog ever. Or with any animal (I say as one of my cats has been balanced on my leg rubbing up against the back of my arm as I’m trying to type). There’s a genuine empathy and kindness in his actions. He’s nice to humans too, but you don’t see it as much because they’re not often nice to him either. So he shakes it off and gives his attention to those who appreciate it. Still, if you watch closely, you see that Ace really does have a bigger heart than anyone gives him credit for.

Humor. I don’t think I need to justify this one at all. We love this movie because Ace is funny, and all these years later he and this film still make me laugh.

Intelligence. The scene that made me realize I was turned on by Ace’s smarts was when they’re investigating what they think is a suicide and he shows they’re actually investigating a murder. The attention to detail and the way he pieced together what he saw better than a room full of cops is, in a word, hot. Very hot. And that’s not the only time he flexes his brainpower in the film. I fell asleep before I got much further, but I’ve got something to look forward to watching tonight.

So yeah. I have a crush on Ace Ventura. Not even gonna try to hide it. Does anyone happen to have his number? Asking for a friend (and that friend is me)

Wild at Heart

Another special screening I can thank Alamo Drafthouse for the chance to catch something that had been on my list for a while. Also part of their series looking at lesser appreciated films featuring this year’s crop of Oscar contenders, in this case the lovely Laura Dern in David Lynch’s luscious and frenetic romance Wild at Heart.

Now here’s my thing with David Lynch. I absolutely recognize him as one of the greatest and most visionary directors today. I try to seek out his films where possible. The problem is, I very rarely like them. However, I absolutely freaking love his Mulholland Dr, so I keep trying with his other work hoping that something strikes me on close to that level. Unfortunately, I tend to leave disappointed and confused. Granted, I left Mulholland possibly more confused than ever, but there was some other power in that film that grabbed me. That’s what I haven’t been able to recapture since.

Laura Dern and sweetheart Nicholas Cage have just reunited after Cage’s stint in jail for manslaughter in the name of love. They’re on a road trip across country to a new life in California, but Dern’s mother (played by her IRL mother Diane Ladd) has different ideas. She’s sent some shady characters on their trail to kill loverboy. And of course, this being a David Lynch movie, there’s a lot of strange events and characters that the pair encounter along the way.

Dern and Cage are electric. Could not keep my eyes off them (especially Dern) and I could feel the passion between them. Unfortunately, I felt like their basic A story was well basic. They’re just lost in their own world of each other, trekking along on the road. It makes sense that their simplicity balances out the crazy (we’ll get to that) but it made things somewhat less interesting for me. Doesn’t help that I also don’t tend to go in for love stories anyways.

The rest of the movie was bonkers in a very David Lynch way. If you saw this without any familiarity with him, you’d be shocked into confusion beyond all reason. I have some of that background, so I absolutely recognized his fingerprints all over this. I don’t even know how to describe things like Willem DaFaoe’s character or Diane Ladd’s lipstick meltdown or the hitwoman, but it all makes a strange kinda sense in his strange kinda world. I, unfortunately, don’t quite get his strange little world most of the time. I appreciate it for what it is, and the unique artistry it shows, it’s just not for me

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Or should I be calling this Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey? Still kinda bummed this didn’t kill it at the box office. Also bummed that I didn’t make it out to one of the Glitterpunk screenings at Alamo Drafthouse. I could have easily put together at least 5 outfits for it. I compromised by wearing pigtails and spikey earrings to work and my movie to get in the Harley Quinn spirit. That’s a world that I’d be happy to spend more time in.

Harley Quinn, the breakout from Suicide Squad (and arguably only positive element of that film) gets her own movie now. She’s broken up with the Joker and is ready to claim Gotham as her own. But first, there’s a bunch of baddies out there who wanna hurt her now that she’s no longer under Mr J’s protection. Lucky for her, there’s some other badass ladies in town with complimentary goals in mind.

Any time spent with Miss Quinn is so much fun. The way she stole her scenes with the Skwad proved she could own a film, and my God did she. I love her punk rock attitude bubbly but deadly personality. I cannot get enough.

This movie also shows what happens when you put the ladies in charge. You get one of the most fun action movies I’ve seen in a long time. The stunts were impressive, and the fight choreo was so slick. But what I really loved was the use of non lethal weapons because let’s be real, glitter bombs and bean bag guns are so much more interesting than a spray of bullets and testosterone. Lots of people are talking about the hair tie moment as a prime example of what details female filmmakers will get right that their male counterparts don’t. Personally, I was just happy to see Harley looking great without coming from the male gaze. I’m predicting an uptick in her Halloween costumes.

The supporting characters were fantastic, I don’t know which bird I loved best. Black Canary had some great fighting moves to back up a strong three dimensional character. Huntress was hilarious with her difficulty in social situations. And if you don’t love Rosie Perez, then just don’t talk to me.

But the one who very nearly stole this film from the ladies was Ewan McGregor. First off, he had guyliner in a few scenes, which is absolutely my kryptonite. Second, how often do we get to see him as a bad guy? But most importantly, he was so over the top and relishing the role more than I’ve ever seen from him before. I loved the ambiguity in the relationship with his henchman, and how comfortable he was with that. Ultimately, he was just a more fitting match for Harley’s unpredictable energy than anything she had in the first go round. She still owns it though.

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Thirst

“Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. That’s what Bong Joon-ho said at the Golden Globes. The other night at Alamo Drafthouse, I got to experience that first hand. They were showing Thirst, a Korean vampire film by Park Chan-wook (director of Oldboy) starring Song Kang-ho from Parasite. I had this sitting on my Best Buy wishlist for a long time, without remembering how it got there other than vampires. I eventually took it off since that list never seems to get any shorter otherwise. But when I saw it on Drafthouse’s schedule, and looked at those names associated with it, it wasn’t a question. Plus it would give me an excuse to leave my friends’ Superbowl party early.

I almost didn’t make it to the film. That morning, I started feeling the warning signs of a migraine. I took some meds and layed low on the couch all morning. My Superbowl party appearance was in jeopardy, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to deal with subtitles if my head was pounding. Thankfully, I caught it in time. So I didn’t feel 100%, and passed on the Bloodiest Scene ever shake from their best of 2019 menu (it looks like it was just ice cream and rum chata, so I’ll just make one myself later), and instead opted for a giant pot of hot peppermint tea. It was absolutely worth leaving the house for, and throwing off my sleep cycle for a couple days with it getting out after my usual bedtime.

Song plays a very pious and devout priest. He’s known nothing but a life of abstinence and abnegation. Frustrated with seeing his community falling victim to deadly disease, he volunteers for a clinical drug trial with a very bleak outlook. So bleak, that he does in fact die, but a mysterious blood transfusion saves him at a cost. It turns him into a vampire. Without fresh blood, the disease comes back in full force. Now all the carnal desires he once brushed off easily are in full force, and a girl he grew up with back home is starting to look pretty enticing.

I loved every second of this film, mostly because of the imagery. I think we’ve long since established (even if I haven’t talked about it lately) how much I love vampires. Something I specifically love about encountering new vampire stories is seeing how they apply the rules and mythology of these creatures. What traditional ideas are they taking and what new twists are we applying? Thirst was very traditional in its mythology, evoking some very classic images in a much more modern setting to make something absolutely gorgeous. But as beautiful as those moments were, it was the absolutely bonkers ones that I adored. Park has some twisted creativity, and I was living for those quirky shots he’d bring in. So much so that this morning I finally ordered a copy of Oldboy, cause I’m a terrible person who has only seen the remake.

I was in it for the vampires, but it’s also a classic gothic romance. I completely adored our leading lady, Kim Ok-vin. Well eventually I loved her. It took a bit to realize why she was such a strong object of affection, but I soon was under her spell. I might not do too many romantic films, but I’ll takes ones with a dark side like this. And blood. Lots and lots of blood.

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

I don’t always write up movies I see in theaters that aren’t new releases. But Alamo Drafthouse has been killing it with their selection lately. I saw two things this week, one of which I absolutely had to talk about. Then I remembered that I skipped one from last month because “I don’t do those” but it was too fun an experience to pass up. So here we are.

Around Christmas, I saw that Drafthouse posted a brunch screening of To Wong Foo the next month. Normally, if I see a movie scheduled that I’m interested in, I just buy myself a ticket and that’s it. This time, I felt compelled to message a couple friends, and we soon had a trio of tickets. A week or so out from the film, I had an epiphany. I saw these friends a few days later and told them two things. One was that Drafthouse encourages dress up and cosplay. The second was that I asked them to look at our skin colors and then look at the skin of the trio of leads. Immediately our Noxzema about a wig off Amazon and we all started raiding our closets. I think we did pretty good, and I had a blast channeling Chi Chi.

We roll up to the theater looking fabulous, and I enjoy every second of showing my crew my happy place, Alamo. There was a special brunch menu that I ordered some strawberry pancakes and a themed drink from (plus my usual buffalo cauli) and we sat back to enjoy the show. Our host came up to intro it, and encouraged us to quote along. “No I don’t think so” was sadly the only bit I could do, but I didn’t really hear other people doing it either.

The three of us ran the gamut of having seen the film. I’d only seen it two or three times. Our Vita Boheme had never seen it, and our Noxzema lived and breathed this film. It still holds up for all three experience levels. But let’s back up. Quick summary if you haven’t googled what this strangely titled film is. Three drag queens (played by Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo) are road tripping across the country to get to a competition. Their car breaks down in a tiny Southern town, and they spend the weekend turning the town fab.

As I was saying, this film holds up. Not only that, it was far ahead of its time. This movie is 25 years old. It’s hard enough now getting positive LGBTQ+ stories made, but it was nearly unheard of in the mid90’s, esp with such an A+ cast. The story is so empowering and lovely with a strong message of accepting yourself and others that rings true today more than ever. The dialog is hilarious and memorable and every ounce of glitter is used to perfection.

Once the lights came up, our host ran over to us and took pix with our Noxy. She invited us to hang out downstairs at Video Vortex, where there would soon be a lip sync contest that would hopefully combine this crowd with the crowd at Josie and the Pussycats. Sure, that sounds like a fun way to spend the rest of our Sunday afternoon. Two of us entered. Our host had to run the end of the Josie screening for a Q&A with Rachel Leigh Cooke (she invited us, but it would have likely meant missing entering lip sync) and she ended up sitting with us by the time she returned.

So the contest! It was three rounds. Personality, duet, and make us weep. Eliminations after each. I figured I’d keep the Latin pride going, and went with Selena’s “Bidi bidi bom bom” for round one. Round two, my assigned partner and I turned “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” into a duet. Alas, she made it thru, and I didn’t (but I’m thinking it was mostly political because our performances were pretty matched and otherwise 3 of the 4 finalists would have all been sitting at our table) Our Noxzema, however, not only was one of those finalists, they ended up winning the whole dang thing. So now we need to figure out when our crew is going back to use the prize pack of Drafthouse tickets and concessions money. In other words, it’s basically like I won too.

The Rhythm Section

I can’t seem to stop calling this The Rhythm Method. That would be a completely different movie.

I went back and forth so many times on if I was gonna see this movie. I changed my ticket like three times deciding. It looked bland. The reviews were tepid, with the main positive being that Blake Lively was good (other than A Simple Favor, I still haven’t joined the Blake train). But the one sentence summary intrigued me. Girl finds out plane crash that killed her family wasn’t an accident. Oooh what was it?

I know I’m usually spoiler free, but I’ll say it since it was in the first act: terrorists. Just terorrists. Maybe there was more to it past that, but I wouldn’t know. I fell asleep.

I was watching the first bit and was okay on it. It was really slow moving and nothing unexpected was happening. I kept fighting off the sleepy I was feeling since I jumped in my truck to drive over. Right around when Jude Law shows up, I realized nothign was gonna happen was it? No probably not. And I gave up. At least the seats were comfy

The Rhythm Section – \m/

Dolor y Gloria

This was one of the few bits of Oscar homework I had went the nominees were announced. I was halfway thru The Two Popes on Netflix, and there were a few optional ones I could get to, but the only MUST was Pain and Glory. As always, I’d selfishly hoped Antonio wouldn’t get the nod because I didn’t wanna hafta see it, but now I’m so thrilled that he did. A-Because I love him, and B-Because I utterly fell in love with this movie. It was still playing at some of the indie theaters in the area, so I planned to see it two weeks after the nominations when scheduling and budget would align better. While I was obsessively refreshing the schedule for my theater of choice so I could finalize weekend plans, a screening the following week popped up with Banderas attached to do a Q&A. Um, yes please!

One quick sidebar before I get into the movie. I’m already really excited that I’ll get to see El Mariachi himself after the film, and I skip up the steps to the second floor of The Landmark. I see a crowd and bright lights. I scan to their source and there’s a step and repeat with “McMillions” written across it. I had a thin recollection of something about McDonald’s Monopoly, but I didn’t know anything else about it. My eyes pan the red carpet and I’m seeing people I don’t recognize taking pix and being interviewed. I’m about to shrug it off, when at the far corner I see a familiar face: Mark Wahlberg. Later when I was at the concessions line, he passes right behind me to get to his auditorium, and I snap a blurry pic of his profile. So that was cool. Living la vida SoCal.

Señor Banderas plays a loose characterization of writer/director Pedro Almodóvar. The two men have worked together on many films over the years, and that closeness meant that there was a level of trust and subtlety that another actor could not have portrayed. We follow our leading man, who also happens to be a director, as he reflects on some of his earlier work and life choices, and the poor upbringing he came up through. Meanwhile, he’s dealing with various health issues and daily pains that make it a struggle to get thru the day. It sounds very simplistic, but each piece of the story was so lovingly crafted. I wanted it to go on even longer.

I don’t even know how to properly articulate the flow of the story. It’s simultaneously very slow and very fast. We take long looks at specific events, but they move from one to the other very quickly. Yet it all feels very natural. Of course, the story would go here next. It’s not until we were reaching the end that I realized that we covered A LOT of ground. This film is so dense, with so much going on, but my feeling watching it was one of bliss and lightness. As emotional as some of the scenes got (which Antonio played beautifully) there was a lovely sense of humor throughout. That delicate balance is why I left there on such an endorphin high.

Antonio’s performance was beautiful. From this year’s nominees, he’s the one that I most feel like I got to know his character and feel what he was feeling. But when I think about his performance, I’m not feeling the weight of the tough moments, I’m feeling the joy of the happy ones.

The Q&A was interesting, as they always are. My biggest takeaway was the way that Banderas framed the storytelling. I found the way it bounced around to be a sort of natural chaos, but he pointed out that it was his character reconciling with important people in his life, one at a time. That blew everything wide open for me. He talked about the relatability of the film, and how his relationship with Almodóvar shaped the film. The set is apparently a near identical recreation of Almodóvar ‘s home, and there’s other details that match up with his life even closer than you’d think. Oh and of course, there was a shout out for Puss in Boots. I don’t even remember what the context was, but that’s not important. What’s important is we all love Puss.

Dolor y Gloria – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Oscars 2020

Alrighty then, time for this year’s rundown on the Oscar categories. My usual “I don’t proofread” clause applies, and I’ve been working on this since the nods were out, so I may have even changed some opinions since I wrote it, and we’ve still got a whole other week for me to change my mind further. Yay subjectivity!

Best Picture:
These are listed out in the order that I’d vote for them

JoJo Rabbit – also my favorite movie of the year, Jojo has everything that I want in a best picture. Writing, acting, design, direction, it’s all there.   Add in the X factor of a carefully balanced tone and approach I’ve never seen before, and I’m sold. But it goes beyond that. I experienced nearly every possible human emotion at some point in those two hours, and left with a feeling of hope.  I don’t know that you get any Best-er than that.

Parasite – Legitimately the best movie of the year.  Completely unlike anything that’s come before it.  I watched it a second time and picked up on tons of foreshadowing that is impossible to grasp on first watch because you can’t conceive where this story will go.  And it’s riddled with poignant social commentary. This should win, but whether or not it does is up to the more straightlaced members of the Academy.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Tarantino’s my boy and I would LOVE for him to win this honor someday.  Hollywood loves rewarding movies about Hollywood, so it’s got a decent shot, esp since this is prolly his most accessible film (the batshit is mostly contained to the third act).  It encapsulates everything in his career that’s led him to this point, and it’s just a dang good movie.

1917 – This is the front runner that has taken all the important predictors: PGA, DGA, etc.  From a technical standpoint, this is the best movie of the year. But unlike a lot of the other Awards, the Oscars have a lot of technical awards.  It absolutely should sweep those. I’d be okay with this winning, it just feels a little less exciting than the ones I’d mentioned earlier. It pushes the edges of filmmaking as a craft, but I want to be challenged as a person a bit more.

Ford v Ferrari – This is probably as far down as I’m fine with a win.  It’ll never happen, although I did predict its nomination (and a world where it could take it).  This is the safe nominee. Every element of it is as good as it can get, but it doesn’t challenge anything. .  Safe often wins (hello Green Book) and would have been the front runner 20 years ago, but I think this year we’ll get something more provocative.

Little Women – Another one that would have been a strong contender 20 years ago.  It’s solid, but also a bit safe. So safe this movie has been made multiple times.  Sure it’s possibly the best of them, but it’s not a strong enough best picture, esp given the pool it’s in this year.

Marriage Story – Some people absolutely loved this.  I liked it, but was whelmed by it (as opposed to over or underwhelmed).  It feels a little simplistic compared to some of the other nominees, so this is as far as it’ll go.

The Irishman – Had Scorsese not made Goodfellas, this would have been higher on my list.  But he did make Goodfellas, and then remade it as a longer movie called The Irishman.  A longer movie that didn’t need to be longer, and that didn’t really add anything new. I do love Marty’s films, but this ain’t a Best Picture.

Joker – Mixed feelings on this film in general.  I love the fresh approach to a comic book character, and that a film that takes place in Gotham can get some Awards love.  But the love it’s getting feels a bit disproportionate. I also feel like a lot of people who do love it do so for the wrong reasons.  I’m fine with the nod, but I don’t want it to get much else.

Lead Actor:
I’m fairly sure I stated this somewhere recently, but when it comes to lead performances, I really want to have that scene you can look to and say that’s where they won.  Adam Driver has that scene, which if you’ve seen the movie, you know which one I’m talking about, but I’ll elaborate anyways.  The fight. It’s not just the anger, but the way he turns on a dime from that anger to breakdown. It’s breathtaking.  Leo has that scene when he falls apart in his trailer and then pulls himself together to better than he’d ever been.  I keep forgetting he’s nominated, but he’d be my second choice. Joaquin is leading the pack and giving the heartfelt speeches to solidify his place.  He’s certainly due and this performance is insane. I also love Antonio.  I’d been a little miffed that it was additional Oscar homework for me, but I loved his film so much and what he does is so moving.  And while I’m happy to live in a world where Jonathan Pryce is now Academy Award Nominee Jonathan Pryce, I wasn’t wowed by anything he did in The Two Popes (although I did really love him in the end credits bit).  

Who’s missing? – Adam Sandler (If the Sandman couldn’t get the nod with Uncut Gems, he’s never gonna get it), Taron Egerton, Eddie Murphy, George Mackay, Roman Griffin Davis, Shia in Honey Boy.  This was a super strong year.

Lead Actress:
None of these really excite me this year.  If I remove all bias, Renee easily turned in the best performance.  But adding bias back in, she’s already won one, this is definition Oscar bait, and I’m always annoyed by films that exist solely to give an actor (usually a lady) a statue.  So then who would I vote for with bias? Still not sure. Saoirse has been nominated enough that she’s due, but she didn’t do much for me in LW.  Charlize was transformative, but thin.  ScarJo impressed me more in supporting and didn’t quite live up to the hype for Marriage.  I might hafta say Cynthia then.  Besides getting her an EGOT, I think she had the most layered and emotional performance.  Missing is Awkwafina.

Supporting Actor:
Brad owns this one, and I am so happy that he’s finally gonna take one home for acting (he’s already got a producer one).  What also makes me happy is seeing Joe Pesci back on screen, and clearly the Academy agrees.  Tom Hanks is overdue for another win, but this ain’t gonna be it.  I’d hoped to see Taika make this list, but I think I was the only one campaigning for it

Supporting Actress:
Laura Dern has the momentum going in, and I’m fine with that.  She’s certainly earned it over the course of her career, and her character was memorable and different from her own personality.  I’m happiest to see ScarJo on this list because she was the heart of JoJo, and would probably earn my vote.  Kathy Bates is a treasure.  Florence Pugh had a killer year.  Margo Robbie was the most important piece of Bombshell.  Now where’s J-Lo? Also will accept Thomasin McKenzie or Park So Dam, but really, where’s J-Lo?

Director:
I’ve always wanted Tarantino to win this award, and will be thrilled if he gets it.  I would also be thrilled if Bong Joon Ho gets it.  But my immediate thought following 1917 was Sam Mendes earned it.  There are so many moving pieces that he put into place to create such a non stop film.  I don’t even care that he’s won before. He’d get my unbiased vote.

Animated Feature:
For me, a winner in this category needs two things: a strong story and stunning animation.  Maybe if one of those is strong beyond all reason you can get away with only one, but ideally you check both boxes.  Our sequels check the story box (ish on Frozen), but I don’t know that they added much to the world of animation.  Missing Link had the animation.  I didn’t even realize it was stop motion until Laika set up an exhibit at The Landmark and I saw their little figures.  The story, while cute, didn’t wow me. I was really excited to see I Lost My Body because I was promised some unique storytelling, but I couldn’t really get into it (granted, I was watching at home with distractions), and nothing exciting in the art either.  Klaus was the full package.  I loved the inventive take on Santa and the hand drawn animation looked unreal.  I don’t know if it’ll win, but it’s got my vote.

Animated Short:
Hair Love is the only one I’ve seen and I completely and utterly loved it.  It’s got a great message and it’s so sweet. Just six minutes or so and it got my tearing up like a full on Pixar movie.

Adapted Screenplay:
I love Jojo best and would be thrilled to see Taika take home some gold.  My gut is saying Little Women tho.  Being familiar with the source material, I can say that it is a solid adaptation.  Maintains the spirit of the book, but changes just enough to make it pop and be even more relevant.

Original Screenplay:
Parasite is my favorite screenplay of the year.  What it comes up with is totally batty. And there’s just a touch of really dark comedy woven in.  I LOVE that Knives Out got a nod, but that’s prolly as far as it’ll go.  I also would never bet against my boy Quentin in this category, even if he’s won it a few times.  I know 1917 has gotten a lot of love for its screenplay, but I think that part of it isn’t as strong as the other films.  And then Marriage Story has gotten a lot of love, but this is its best chance at a statue.  You know, this one does tend to go to the Best Picture nominee that won’t win anything else, so I’m gonna go out on a limb for Marriage Story.  The Farewell, Bombshell, and Honey Boy should be on this list too.

Cinematography:
If you’ve seen 1917, then you know I don’t need to say anything further.

Best Documentary Feature:
I know I’ve said I’m trying to do better with this category, and I seem to have taken a step back.  I did see a couple of the short listed ones that didn’t make the cut, but as far as the actual nominees I only saw American Factory and only after the nods were announced.  It was interesting, but I don’t know that I’d beg it for a win (except for the fact that it’s backed by the Obamas).  I’ve heard For Sama mentioned a lot, so that’s got a good chance, but I think I’d bet on Honeyland since that also got into the Foreign category where it definitely won’t win.

Best Documentary Short Subject:
Oh hi category I never know anything about.

Best Live Action Short Film:
Nope.

Best International Feature Film:
I really wanna see Corpus Christi.  But it doesn’t matter  because there will be a riot if Parasite doesn’t win.

Film Editing:
I’m still learning this category, but I’ve heard Parasite talked about here.  It is incredibly tense and I suppose the editing has a lot to do with that.

Sound Editing:
Never bet against the war movies.

Sound Mixing:
See above.

Production Design:
I feel good about Hollywood for this one.  The Academy is infamously nostalgic for celebrating Tinseltown, and it’s gotten a lot of attention for it.  I’d also shout out Jojo Rabbit for the world it created and 1917 for putting together an elaborate landscape on which to perform even more elaborate choreography.

Original Score:
I’ll say the same thing I say every year.  I don’t tend to remember scores, unless they’re like John Williams epic (no he shouldn’t win for yet another Star Wars).  I have no idea what any of these sounded like.

Original Song:
I like Elton for this, just cause I like the idea of Elton taking him an Oscar.  I feel like his career is worthy, and it’s a song that celebrates what the movie is about.  But if I am being completely biased, I also kinda want Harriet to win so that Cynthia Errivo gets her EGOT.  Into the Unknown feels too much like it was trying to recreate Let It Go.  Throw Yourself Away is cute, but the others are stronger.  I don’t know the Breakthrough song.  Also, a little bummed that the Motherless Brooklyn song didn’t make it in, even if it wasn’t really my style anyway.

Makeup and Hair:
1917?  Really?  Also Joker feels like a one trick pony.  Yes his makeup is great, but I don’t know that it’s enough.  I kinda like Bombshell for this.  No easy task making some very recognizable actresses look like other very recognizable public figures.

Costume Design:
I like Once Upon for this.  Those costumes were instantly iconic.  I saw a couple of yellow Hawaiian shirt Brad Pitts wandering Santa Monica Blvd on Halloween.  True, I saw even more Jokers, but that’s just one outfit.   However, period pieces tend to rule this category, so don’t count out Little Women.   And yet on second view, I really loved Jojo.  ScarJo’s shoes are gonna be famous, but her whole style is fabulous.  Plus there’s details like Yorkie’s paper uniform or the robot costumes or Sam Rockwell’s final regalia.

Visual Effects:
I really just want Endgame to be able to say it’s an Academy Award winning movie.  Besides, there’s nothing that specifically wows me enough about any of the other nominees to even merit further argument.

The Gentlemen

I’m a huge Guy Ritchie fan. Snatch is one of my most quoted films to this day. Lock Stock is pretty great too. For the past little while, he’s been dabbling in mainstream movies by other people (Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, Aladdin), some better than others. But I’ve been waiting for him to return to what he does best: originals set in some gritty UK underworld. After all these years, he’s finally back in form.

Matthew McConaughey (I still hafta Google the spelling every dang time) runs a marijuana empire in jolly old England. He’s looking to retire and just hang out with wife Michelle Dockery, which means selling off his business. But of course that won’t be as easy at it sounds, with various shady fellows double crossing and backstabbing each other and generally making trouble for Matthew but fun for us. Said shady fellows include Hugh Grant, Henry Golding, Collin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam, and other notable types (sadly no Jason Statham, the one piece missing from a true return to form).

Ritchie’s a little rusty. The film takes a while to get going and find its rhythm (and for me to find my ear for the accents). Much of the first act is a slog, and I feared a misfire. Then it picks up a bit. And a bit more. And a bit more. By the time the credits rolled, I’d forgotten the rough start and was rollicking in the joy I was hoping for in this film.

All the pieces I’d come to expect are there, just a step below what he’s capable of. There’s great dialog, maybe not quite so quotable as Snatch, but enough to make me laugh out loud a bunch (although given how liberal he is with the C word, prolly good it’s not so quotable). The characters are memorable and very well cast, although again just slightly below my incredibly high standard. Gold stars for Hugh Grant in particular. He was exactly what I wanted to see in this film. Points for Henry Golding as well, even if that Asian coulda used a little more crazy.

Bottom line is the movie checked all the right boxes, and considering how long it’s been since Ritchie has done something like this, it was a fairly smooth return. If he can hang out here a bit longer, I think he’ll give us something even better

The Gentlemen – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Dolittle

Where do you go after 11 years of playing one of the most iconic superheros in cinema? You play a new kind of hero, whose superpower is communication, which is what we need most right now. “Damn, he’s got a good publicist” a friend of mine replied after I recounted that bit RDJr stated in a recent interview.

RDJr takes Dolittle back to his roots, some time back in the English countryside, tending to a variety of animals that he communicates with in their own language. But of course we hear those animals in a variety of celebrity voices (John Cena, Octavia Spencer, Kumail Nanjiani, Rami Malek, and way too many more). Because of reasons he has to go on a voyage to a distant and possibly mythical place, and of course he brings the entire menagerie with him. And also a little kid who is apparently not missed by his parents.

I was with this movie for about twenty minutes. I am a huge animal lover, and also a big fan of many of the voice actors, so I was loving all the cuteness explosions and clever one liners. For a little while I was able to overlook the many (MANY) plotholes and story issues because I was being entertained by the creatures. And then at some point, I was just done. I got bored. The clever dialog got more sparse (and more obvious that it was pieced together and not assembled coherently). Not only could I no longer justify the writing issues, they were starting to grate on me. Simply put, this was a misfire on just about every level.

Dolittle – \m/ \m/