The Bridges of Madison County

I believe seeing the promos for this movie back in the day were the first time I ever heard the name “Meryl Streep”. At the time, I simply thought this film looked like an old people’s romantic film, and nothing I’d be at all interested in. Watching it now, I certainly don’t think I could have appreciated it had I seen it any sooner.

No, this is not the sort of movie I go for, but I’m glad for having finally watched. It truly is beautiful, if you let yourself get lost in it. Okay, the framing with the adult children is rather cheesy, but the main story is stunning.

Whodda thunk that Clint Eastwood actually plays romantic lead rather well too, yeah? The chemistry between the two of them is palpable, and I see why this has become a classic romantic film. It’s certainly miles above any romcom from the same era, that’s for damn sure.

Overboard

I was entirely ready to skip this one. I hadn’t seen the original or any trailers for this one, and we all know I don’t do romcoms. But what I don’t do more than I don’t do romcoms is I don’t do going straight home on a Friday when there’s a movie I can watch. And no other movie had viable times (there was no way I’d stay awake thru anything that wasn’t immediately after work). I prayed this would be more com than rom.

In a gender swapping remake of the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell film, Eugenio Derbez is a bratty billionare, who spends his life partying on his party yacht. Anna Faris is a mother of three, working that many jobs to barely stay afloat. Derbez has an accident that leaves him with amnesia, so Faris convinces him that they’re married and sets him to work helping and providing for her family. Hilarity ensues.

It did take me a while to get with it. Derbez starts off completely unlikeable (I’ve never been a fan of his to begin with). The story is completely implausible and problematic. Plus I had a guard up because for everyone in the back I-DONT-DO-ROMCOMS! And yet,as the film went on, I was more and more into it.

Despite being a bit problematic, the intentions of the film felt very sincere. It was sweet and endearing and felt more like a family comedy than a romantic comedy. Now those I definitely do. I could tell everything that was gonna happen, but it didn’t really matter. I was enjoying being in their world. Pure escapism at its best.

Also, MAJOR points for Hispanic representation, and not only because I came around to Derbez over the course of the film. A good amount of the characters were Hispanic, and maybe a third of the dialog was in Spanish. The bilingual dialog made me feel like I was back home in Texas. I hope this movie plays huge in Hispanic communities. Representation matters.

Overboard – \m/ \m/ \m/

Tully

Diablo Cody is one of my favorite screenwriters. I will watch anything she does. Kind of a bummer that apparently not a lot of people felt the same way since the auditorium was pretty bare. Then again, this movie might not quite be for everyone.

Tully is a very real look at motherhood, following Charlize Theron as Marlo, an overworked mom who just gave birth to #3. She’s experiencing post-partum depression coupled with extreme exhaustion–subjects that aren’t often covered properly on film. At her wits end, Marlo hires night nanny Tully to help alleviate her workload. But Tully might be able to do more than just provide late night childcare.

If you’re a Cody fan, think of this more along the lines of Young Adult than Juno. Her phenomenal wit is on fully display, but only in small glimpses. This is not exactly a comedy. It’s much heavier than the trailer suggests. One of her triumphs with Young Adult was making you care about an unlikeable character. We have a similar feat as she makes you are about an extremely depressed individual that doesn’t even care about herself. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a story that we need told.

Theron, of course, is amazing. Again, if you loved her Young Adult performance, you’ll love her here. She’s so nuanced and layered and makes Marlo feel like every mother out there, even if she can’t speak for them all.

It’s certainly a movie that made me think about things, moreso than being entertaining. While I don’t directly relate to it, I’m sure there are a lot of women out there who do, and this story is for them.

Tully – \m/ \m/ \m/

Postcards from the Edge

Now, we move into the 90’s which were far less generous with the awards than her other career decades. This is the first of only three (gasp!)

I actually really like this movie. It’s based off Carrie Fisher’s book which is a fictionalization of her life, focusing in on her struggles with addiction and relationship with her mother. I always like movies about Hollywood, and here it’s sort of just the background of the real story.

We’ve got sassy Meryl here, not a look we see often from here, and I love it. I want to see more of that side. She’s got a snappy comeback for everything, to deflect every possible situation or chance at emotion. It’s brilliantly written and expertly performed.

Disobedience

Turns out there’s more than just superhero movies out there. This little indie dared to open in art house theaters against Infinity War. Given some of the themes of this film, it seems fitting.

Rachel Weitz is the daughter of a rabbi in an extremely conservative religious community. She has long left this world to live a secular life in New York. When her father suddenly dies, she returns home where she reconnects with her two childhood best friends. Those two friends have since married, although the wife (Rachel McAdams) harbors a secret from the community: she is a lesbian and once had a relationship with Weitz. While she and her husband get along well, their marriage is mostly platonic. Weitz returning throws everything into chaos.

The first act of the film deals more with Weitz feeling out of place in her former home. The second act focuses more on McAdams desires and inner conflict. The third act drags on a bit too much before resolving things. But those first two acts are incredible, forming what is truly an emotional thriller. The performances from the Rachels are unbelievable, and worth seeing this movie for. It’s a nice choice if you need some counter programming for the summer Blockbuster season that’s revving up.

Disobedience – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Avengers: Infinity War

Oh man, everything comes down to this huh? What we’ve been working towards for the past ten years? I was even able to convey the magnitude of this film to my Mom who can maybe name an Avenger. Just one.

Do I even need to explain what this movie is? Is it just enough to know that almost every single person we’ve seen in an MCU movie is banding together to fight big bad Thanos, who’s been previously teased in many an edit credits scene.

I don’t even know what I can articulate about this in a spoiler free blog post (even though by the time this posts, spoilers will be abundant on the interwebs). Condensing it all into one word? Overload. There is so so soooo much that happens, it was impossible to process. It’s fast from one scene into the next into the next, each with massive ramifications for the universe I’ve loved for ten years.

What I loved most was seeing the various Avengers play together. Some personalities clashes, some abilities complimented. Those were the moments I loved, seeing how they interacted, and how it changed up what we’re used to seeing from any one solo player.

Thanos is also one of the rare villains that Marvel gets right. He’s not just some interchangable dude intent on destruction. He has a reason and conviction, and his argument can be pretty damn convincing sometimes (not unlike the qualities that rank Black Panther’s Killmonger among the best.)

And the stakess were so freaking high. It’s one thing to watch a Captain America movie and know that no matter what, Cap is gonna make it out alive because he’s got another Cap movie and a few Avengers movies in the works. It’s another to watch something like this and know that it really could be the end of the line for somebody. I’ve never been more engaged with an act three battle sequence than i was here. They should put Xanax in the popcorn butter (not that I was eating popcorn).

These 19 movies over the past ten years have been some of my most fun theater experiences, but having it all come together like this is unimaginable and so worth it. The previously named Infinity War Part 2 can’t come here soon enough

Avengers: Infinity War – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

You Were Never Really Here

I was seeing this title thrown around with pictures of Joaquin Phoenix, but didn’t pay any attention. That is, until the name of writer/director Lynne Ramsay was thrown into the mix. She’s also the writer/director of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a movie which I’ve absolutely adored. I’d only recently realized that Ramsay hasn’t released a feature film in between the two. I saw Ezra Miller comment on that, and he said that she was a director of such vision and integrity, that she had to walk away from many projects along the way in order to keep said vision in tact. Now you’ve got me really intrigued about this movie.

So Phoenix is a man (with some form of PTSD) who makes a living shaking down shady characters in order to rescue young girls and bring them home. But of course, he ends up taking a job that goes south quick.

This film has been getting raves (mostly) across the board. I didn’t get it. For me, it felt very incoherent. I went into this pretty cold, so I didn’t know where the story was trying to go. I also didn’t know what it was trying to say.

What I did like, was that there were these flashes of (often) violent imagery that seemed to act as flashbacks that were affecting Phoenix. I didn’t entirely know what they meant, but I liked their effect. I just wish I could grasp the bigger picture better so that I could appreciate the smaller picture of those images.

You Were Never Really Here – \m/ \m/

The Death of Stalin

Landmark takes MoviePass now! Which means this movie that’s been on the edge of my radar is finally an option. People on Stardust have been talking it up, but I didn’t care enough to wanna pay for it. Then Friday plans fell thru, and I had to stop at the nearby Hot Topic to pick up an order of Ready Player One swag, so hey let’s see this comedy people have been raving about.

Every week or so at trivia, a history question will come up that the team starts debating. Inevitably, they’ll look at me to chime in, and I always respond with “If there wasn’t a movie about it, I don’t know it.”
History is not my strongsuit. Therefore, I’m gonna hafta steal the summary from IDMB: “Follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death.”

Wait, but I just saw the movie about it, can’t I explain it now? Um, no, I had no idea what was really going on plot wise. I was mostly okay with that tho, because this movie was really funny. I appreciate wit, which is what this was. While it didn’t evoke hysterical laughter from me, there were bursts of it in the audience (which was still pretty sizeable considerign this has been out for like two months). From me, the reaction was more “Hey that was clever. Well done”, and that reaction occurred with much more frequency that comedies typically get outta me nowadays.

What I also loved about this movie was seeing Steve Buscemi on the big screen. When was the last time we saw him there? It feels like it’s been too long. I don’t know that he was particularly standout for any reason other than being him, but for me that’s reason enough.

The Death of Stalin – \m/ \m/ \m/

I Feel Pretty

I got to go to another movie premiere! Not too long before, I told myself that I would take the next one I got offered (I’ve been a snob about going to these screenings bc of the whole stand in line outside for an hour+ and missing yoga thing). Then a couple days after I’d excitedly accepted, a friend asked me to be their plus one for this and their tickets were slightly more guaranteed than mine. Yes please!!

We were at the Regency Village theater, one of those single screen joints in Westwood. We were ushered in fairly early and felt like we had the run of the theater, taking videos and people watching. I spied Colin Hanks coming in early and just stared at him for a while. Once we got closer to the movie start time, I noticed some of the stars of the film: Emily Ratajkowski and a blonde pixie cut that had to belong to Michelle Williams. Soon Amy Schumer was brought out in front of the screen to intro the film. She was absolutely radiant.

As I start talking about my feelings towards the movie, let me just start with this: I am EXACTLY who this movie is targeting. EXACTLY. I am a woman who lacks self confidence, who has trouble believing she’s beautiful, who has social anxiety, who generally doesn’t expect most people to like her. This movie was practically made to speak directly to me. And oh boy, was that message received. I was in tears by the time we reached the end credits, and I had a pretty lengthy and heartfelt convo with my movie buddy about it on the drive home.

The movie is about a woman who is basically all the things I just said I am, and that lack of self confidence pulls her into a depression and holds her back from doing anything truly awesome in her life. After a seemingly random head injury, she wakes up and suddenly sees herself as beautiful. Everything changes for her. She starts living with total confidence and completely changes her life around. And some funny stuff happens along the way.

Not everyone is digging this movie, and I get it. There’s basically two main points of the criticism that I’m hearing. The first is that the humor wasn’t there. That’s a tough one, because humor is subjective. I’ve always found Amy Schumer funny, but I know we’re not a solid majority. In this film, I think it was Michelle Williams that stole the show, completely out of nowhere. We all know that lady is fantastic, but we gotta get her into more comedic roles. Anyways, those who are focusing on the comedy are either missing the point of the film (the message of self confidence), and are possibly in a place where that message isn’t so resonant. Good for them. If you’re already able to live your life with that attitude, and you can nitpick about seeing someone else’s journey to that space, that’s awesome for you, but please be empathetic to the rest of us.

The other major criticism I’m hearing is along the lines of “but Amy is already pretty to begin with” or “why are we making such a big deal about a perfect body image”. Again, missing the point. There’s a reason that they didn’t pull a Shallow Hal and have a super model play the “beautiful” version. The point the film is making is that the battle is internal. She is fully capable of being successful and desired, she just needed to believe that. In her mind, she wasn’t those things, and that’s why no one saw her that way. Once she believed she was worthy, and carried herself accordingly, then other people saw it as well. Also, thinking about this point a bit more, for the people saying she’s too pretty to be so down on herself, does that mean that there is a threshold where they believe that a lack of self worth is deserved? I should hope not…

I will also point out that there was an effort made to show that some of the seemingly “perfect” women had their own insecurities to deal with. I would have been interested to see that expanded to more than just a scene or two, but I get that this is meant to be one person’s complete story. Sure, there’s a million other perspectives they could bring in, but I feel that going too wide would dilute what it was trying to do.

There were some awkward scenes where newly confident Renee (character name that I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet) is being judged by people who don’t believe she deserves to be where she is. To me, those scenes highlighted the point (that my therapist has tried many times to make to me) that if anyone has a problem with her, it’s really on them. Their negative attitudes towards her say so much more about them and their issues, and she should just take it in stride and continue being her beautiful self.

This message is something I’ve struggled with for so long. It’s one thing to hear the platitudes of “girl power!” and such, but it’s another to see it illustrated on screen. Seeing how easy it could potentially all come, just with a change of mindset. I can’t possibly express how much it means to see that. It came thru even from the trailer, and my soul has just been craving this movie and its affirmation. Watching Renee come to terms with that thought and realize how wonderful she actually is was more than I can put into words. I don’t care if parts of the story were thin or the comedy fell flat. The ideas the film was trying to convey are worth so much more than that, just like I’m worth so much more than I let myself believe. Anyone with a lack of self confidence needs to see this movie, especially us ladies.

I Feel Pretty – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Chappaquiddick

Generation gaps. Mention the names Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick to a Boomer and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. This millennial sees posters for Chappaquiddick and says huh? I only even know the name Ted Kennedy from having lived in Massachusetts, but this story was completely foreign to me.

To catch up the rest of us young’uns, Chappaquiddick is an island in Massachusetts. Not long after the death of Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy was at a gathering on this island with some friends and family. Long story short, he ends up driving off a bridge with one of Bobby’s young secretaries, resulting in her death. Let’s just say he doesn’t handle it too well.

The actual events of that night are still a mystery, and the controversy has clouded his legacy. The film depicts an interpretation of the story, then shows Kennedy stumbling to establish exactly what his version of the story is. For me, I found the majority of his actions deplorable and it made it difficult to get into this movie.

Actually, from the beginning of the film, I didn’t like him. He came off as selfish and arrogant and elitist. Those unfortunate prosthetics weren’t doing actor Jason Clarke any favors either. From there, even decision he made caused me to like him even less. Then bring in the lawyers and fixers that work for his dad, and I was completely lost (as far as support, not attention, tho that was dwindling too).

What made it even harder for me to get behind him was that Ed Helms played a supporting character that I was behind. For one, I always love seeing comedic actors play dramatic, and he did it rather well. His character was the one I did have sympathy for, and the way he was treated by Kennedy created a further rift for me with this film.

I think the story was ultimately an interesting one, I just didn’t enjoy watching it. I guess it also didn’t help that I’d left my crock pot running at home and started worrying that I’d maybe put it on the high setting by mistake. Crisis averted. My chicken was fine. The movie, less so.

Chappaquiddick – \m/ \m/