Friday, June 15, 2018: Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street, San Francisco

A Benefit for the Inday Dolls:

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Sweet(er) in Redwood City, California

After years of hectic traveling, it is sweet indeed to be back in Redwood City:

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Even sweeter: having The Alienist to look forward to every week.

New episodes air every Monday night on TNT.

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Dakota Fanning is just killing it in the role of Sara Howard, secretary to Teddy Roosevelt. In this incarnation, Roosevelt is the New York City Police Commissioner (circa 1896).

It is also grrrreat to see Brian Geraghty in the cast. Self lost track of him after The Hurt Locker. Geraghty plays Roosevelt! (When self watched Geraghty in The Hurt Locker, all those years ago, she never imagined that the next thing she saw him in would be The Alienist, portraying a future American president)

Also great are Daniel Bruhl (who self hasn’t seen on the big screen since Inglorious Basterds) and Luke Evans (who self has seen in the Lord of the Rings movies and in Immortals)

Stay tuned.

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Self arrived back in the US on Jan. 19. She saw three movies in three days. Her pace has slowed somewhat. The Shape of Water is her 6th movie since getting back.

Self doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She never has. Though, of all the movies she’s seen that star Sally Hawkins, this is the one she likes best. Hawkins is really good in this. And moreover, her signing is so beautiful: so elegant and precise. Her tub scenes were great.

Self still doesn’t like Sally Hawkins. She finds her movies predictable: they always follow the same trajectory. Which is not to say they’re bad — they always get heaps of critical praise. But they’re always about an eccentric or misunderstood woman who, despite it all, triumphs. And not just triumphs in an ordinary way: no, when a Hawkins woman triumphs, it’s always in a quirky way. Because she looks quirky. Get it? GAAAH.

The fact that this movie is Sally Hawkins being directed by Guillermo del Toro means that it’s more obviously a “message” movie. But del Toro does inject enough moments of strangeness to still make this a satisfying Guillermo del Toro movie.

There were parts that dragged, parts where she actually found herself nodding off (it’s been a long day; she drove to Mendocino from Redwood City, then had to move all her stuff into a new apartment). She felt the creature was a bit too anthropomorphized. Why did it have to have two legs, two eyes, two arms, etc? Why, if you forget the fish scales for a moment, it could practically be A MAN!

She sometimes loves Michael Shannon and she sometimes finds his performances “meh,” but he is perfect here. Per-fect.

And boy does Octavia Spencer ever ground this movie.

Two more supporting actors deserve kudos: Richard Jenkins (magnificent) and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Self would also like to say that Michael Shannon’s two fingers were real scene-stealers.

SPOILER ALERT

They were in a paper bag, can you imagine. Then they somehow magically got re-attached to Shannon’s hand. But the color was off. And darn if the first thing self looked at whenever Shannon was in a scene was: the hand with the two greyish fingers. The scene where Shannon explains how they came to be re-attached to his hand: priceless.

Also, the awful level of violence that Shannon’s character inflicts — not just on the creature, but on a fellow scientist. His scenes are what make this movie so much more than a fairy tale. Sometimes, self even laughed. Wait, she asked herself, why is she laughing in a scene where a clearly deranged character is acting out? Yes, Michael Shannon’s acting is just that good.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Hostiles”: Self Loved It

Because Bale. Because Pike. Boy do they ever sell that connection — so many notes of tenderness and respect, and hardly a word needs to be spoken between them. One never questions these two fine performers’ responses, never. And that’s something in a movie like this, that’s as much about the landscape as it is about the people in it.

Which is not to say “Hostiles” is a perfect movie; it isn’t.

But it’s brave.

Particularly in its commitment to maintaining the laconic rhythms of the Western landscape.

Self admits to being a tad confused by the quote used in the opening. Something about the American character being stoic, lonely, etc. Which seemed rather ponderous — even, overblown — a quote for a Western, of all things.

But then this Western isn’t really a Western. It’s more like a horror movie. With its bleakness, it reminded self somewhat of Ravenous (which apparently no one saw other than self and maybe two dozen people in the entire United States) or of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

Rosamund Pike’s character is absolutely luminous. And she goes through so much. It’s no wonder that at the end, Bale . . .

Self really loves the New Mexico setting.

And also the scenes between Bale and his commanding officer (played by Stephen Lang, who is perfectly cast — as are most of the other characters. Lang usually plays hard-bitten bad guys but, here, he is hard-bitten in a way that self can connect to. In other words, he’s allowed to appear human. He seems very exasperated by Bale’s character. Props to the screenplay)

And also the movie has Adam Beach (who is such a great actor) and Wes Studi!

Rosamund Pike breaks your heart. At the end, she deserved the best. Self wanted it for her SO MUCH.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Frances McDormand: Force of Nature

To celebrate self’s return to the United States of America (not a single question from the Immigration Officer, though he did take his time looking over each and every page of her passport), self watched a movie: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The movie is sometimes too precious by half (despite the prolific profanity — she can’t believe she just used onomatopeia), but the performances are top-notch.

Frances McDormand: Her facial expressions alone, that unflinching moral compass, that steely isolation. Because self is so used to Twitter, she will not finish the sentence.

Sam Rockwell made her hate and pity his character in the space of two hours #pointsSam

Peter Dinklage makes a nice, underplayed cameo. (He seems only to get more attractive with each passing year, don’t ask)

Also, more nice, understated acting from Clarke Jones.

SPOILER ALERT

Two pieces of amazing casting: Lucas Hedges playing Frances McDormand’s depressed son, Robbie (who actually makes you see his depression, even with just a look) and Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby, the man who manages the billboard business. The most affecting scene in the movie, in self’s humble opinion, involved Caleb Landry Jones. Self is referring to the scene that takes place in a hospital.

That scene is actually the crux of the change in Sam Rockwell’s character, and therefore the crux of the whole movie. Anyone else but Caleb Landry Jones in that part, self thinks could not have sold it. Kudos, Caleb Landry Jones.

And of course, the face. The face of Frances McDormand. That is all.

Tomorrow, I, Tonya because self likes Margot Robbie and her ambition and determination to be everything: not just a hot Australian actress but an amazing Australian actress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2018 SAG Awards Nominees: Personal Favorites

Some are very predictable to regular readers of this blog. Also, 2017 was really wonky since she didn’t get to see that many movies.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Baby Driver

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Jeff Daniels, Godless

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Game of Thrones

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: Kathy Burke

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like Kathy Burke.”

— Kathy Burke in an interview with The Observer Magazine, 29 October 2017

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#amwritingfantasy: Year 2118

The first Hunger Games movie is on the telly.

What self notices right away is that Jennifer Lawrence’s face is so expressive. Every time the camera moves in for a close-up, her emotion is right there.

Hope Hollywood doesn’t ruin her.

She’ll always and forever be, for self: the young woman in Winter’s Bone, and Katniss.

In the meantime, self worked a bit more on the new story she started in Cork, a few days ago (In honor of NaNoWriMo, of course she is writing short stories. She’s letting her rebel flag fly free!):

  • The budget crisis has impacted everyone in my line of work, most particularly transporters. There were 51 of us at last count. The only one I’ve met personally is Hector. He lives or lived in Cienfuegos. There were a couple of freelancers working in his area and I don’t know if he had help or how he handled them. Last year I got an assignment to transport from Isla de la Juventud. Isn’t that Hector’s area, I nearly said, before I realized I didn’t want to know.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:

I.

MARIFE:

They were talking and talking and talking.

LAWYER:

About what?

MARIFE:

How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.

LAWYER:

Fishing?

MARIFE:

Yes, fishing.


Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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