Talking Movies

February 23, 2018

Lady Bird

On an avalanche of hype Greta Gerwig’s second film as director finally arrives here, depicting the senior high school year of Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson.

Sacramento native Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who insists on referring to herself by her new self-given given name of Lady Bird, is returning from scouting California colleges with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) when she breaks her arm being melodramatic. Further misadventures involve falling out with her fat best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and falling in with the rich, pretty, vacuous Jenna (Odeya Rush) while she goes from romancing charming co-star Danny (Lucas Hedges) to moody musician Kyle (Timothee Chalamet). She is determined to go to college on the East Coast despite money worries caused by her father Larry (Tracy Letts) being let go, and further family tension owing to her brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) and his live-in girlfriend Shelly (Marielle Scott) working checkouts despite having Berkeley degrees because of the ‘jobless recovery’. This is 2002/3, you see. 

Among the baneful distortions of reality the Oscars cause is the unrealistic hype that can destroy some films, which can never live up to expectations like ‘the greatest screen performance of all time’ Daniel Day-Lewis supposedly gave in There Will Be Blood. Lady Bird is at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics, it’s meant to be the feminist film of our times, the antidote to Trump’s America, take your pick of whatever hyperbole attaches to it online. But after Frances Ha and Mistress America this film is a disappointment. Sam Levy, who shot those two as well as Maggie’s Plan, casts a hazier light over proceedings here which matches Gerwig’s impressionistic portrait of a year with vignettes and montages. But too much of Lady Bird is populated by stock characters, a vague backdrop outside the only carefully etched relationship: mother-daughter.

It’s odd that, after Twilight (!), Gerwig sees fit to also rehash Gilmore Girls’ exemplar: the dull dependable boyfriend versus the edgy erratic boyfriend. More predictable is that, like Wish I Was Here or Middlesex, Lady Bird presents an artist’s abandoned religion as ancient nonsense/psychotic cult. In this case juvenile anti-Catholicism leads directly to a terrible misstep. Lady Bird is horrible to her best friend when she’s chorus and Julie lead in their school musical, she’s horrible to her brother when failing at college admission, and, in one of the most repellent scenes I’ve ever seen, especially for a ‘charming indie’, she’s horrible to anti-abortion speaker Casey (Bayne Gibby) whose very existence she dismisses as a joke. Lady Bird isn’t very funny, talented, smart, or nice. And as this film is steadfastly uninterested in developing anyone else that’s a problem…

‘Important’ films are rarely good, and sadly it seems Gerwig is being feted for making an important film, because this falls short of what she’s done in the past.

3/5

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January 15, 2018

Hopes: 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh…

Grieving mother takes on cops

Cue absurd mayhem

 

Lady Bird

Northern Cali teen

Gerwig directs Ronan as

Gerwig, critics notice!

 

Meg

The State fights big shark

An Asylum film times ten

Thank China for that

 

Unsane

Soderbergh on phone,

Making a film with Claire Foy,

Don’t tell David Lynch

Ready Player One

Spielberg and 80s

Are like that, so, perfect fit

For 80s ref. Fest

 

Isle of Dogs

Cute Japanese dogs

Do cute Wes Anderson things

All in stop motion

 

Wonderstruck

Todd Haynes does The Hours,

so to speak, Julianne Moore,

stories in two times.

 

Deadpool 2

How to make sequel?

Discuss. He will. In sequel.

In camera. Yeah!

Jurassic World 2

Goldblum finds a way

They never leave well alone

These dino islands

 

Mission Impossible 6

McQuarrie returns

Cruise runs and jumps (and falls too)

Cavill’s tache wows all

 

The Predator

Shane Black was bit part

Now he’s running the whole show

Lightning strike again?

Under the Silver Lake

It Follows: P.I.

Sort of, Garfield the P.I.

Riley Keough the femme

 

Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard directs

Thor in 60s Tahoe dive

Horror might ensue?

 

Widows

Mainstream Steve McQueen

Gone Girl writer does La Plante

What will this look like?!

Golden Exits

ARP returns

With J Schwartzman in Brooklyn

Domestic dramas

 

Maya

Mia Hansen-Love

a war journo kidnap drama

and, of course, after…

 

Chris Morris TDK

Anna Kendrick stars in-

Um, nobody knows a thing

Bar it’s Chris Morris

 

Crooked House

Familiar ground:

Julian Fellowes, Big House,

Murder, A Christie

January 17, 2017

Hopes: 2017

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John Wick: Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves’s unstoppable assassin returns,

with a new dog in the mix,

and old mentors and enemies.

 

The Fate of the Furious

Don’t the Furious need Walker?

Will Helen Mirren win an Oscar here?

Can the nonsense still prevail?

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Elizabeth Debicki joins the cast,

can James Gunn sprinkle more comedy gold,

to again disguise Marvel formula?

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Wonder Woman

Snyder co-wrote the story but…

Geoff Johns and OC writer wrote script,

can Diana’s solo movie soar?

 

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan shoots on film,

shoots Germans shooting at beached British soldiers ,

can retreat be cinematically heroic?

 

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright makes a film!

But why cast Ansel Elgort as driver?

And why call driver Baby?

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Salt and Fire

Werner Herzog does volcanoes fictionally,

Michael Shannon and Diego Luna butt heads,

but this is not Pompeii.

 

Golden Exits

Alex Ross Perry hits Brooklyn,

reunites with Jason Schwartzman for family dramas,

with a mostly female cast.

 

Death Note

Adam Wingard directs a remake,

but oddly the original sounds like Lullaby,

is Palahniuk big in Japan?

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Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig finally directs again!

Saoirse Ronan’s comedic adventures in Northern California.

Who needs Noah Baumbach anyway?

 

Wind River

Taylor Sheridan writes AND directs!

Sicario man drops deserts for snowy wastes,

teams FBI and Native Americans.

 

Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve does more sci-fi,

with the blessing of Ford, Scott, Fancher,

Ryan Gosling the new Ford.

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Goldstone

Ivan Sen made Mystery Road,

Measured, beautiful, and suspenseful Aussie crime thriller,

and now here’s his sequel.

 

The Glass Castle

Destin Cretton adapts acclaimed memoir,

starring Brie Larson who commanded Short Term 12,

this should be something icy.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Grieving Frances McDormand freaks out,

attacks Woody Harrellson and Sam Rockwell’s cops,

yes, it’s Martin McDonagh’s repertory.

 

andrew-garfield-the-social-network1

Under the Silver Lake

It Follows meets Raymond Chandler,

Andrew Garfield investigates stranger than usual case,

Riley Keough is the femme fatale.

 

Vox Lux

Brady Corbet shoots on 65mm,

Rooney Mara’s pop star scored by Sia,

his first feature was… imposing.

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