Quote of the Day: Yes, You Know It

From Matt Zoller Seitz’s review of “Love & Friendship,” Whit Stillman’s new movie, on rogerebert.com, which is self’s current go-to site for reviews of new movies:

(NOTE: Parenthetical comments are self’s adds)

(Lady) Susan is distinguished by her audacity, not just in her wants and desires but in the way she talks to other people (not least of whom is her own daughter, a most woeful waif named Frederica), turning subtext into text in a way most people would not do unless the person they were talking about was in another room, or another state. But they’re standing right there! And they can’t get their minds around how staggeringly rude and entitled Susan is — most of all Reginald, who’s played with great precision by Samuel as a decent man who is so stunned by Susan’s nerve that he can barely bring himself to reprimand her: he’s too busy marveling at her existence.

Yes, in Stillman’s movie, social cruelty is played completely straight by Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny and also by Xavier Samuel. Beckinsale’s Lady Susan utters lines like “Facts are horrid” with such sweetness you don’t even know if that’s what she really said so you go “Facts are WHAT?”

Great job with directing this sly and absolutely wicked Jane Austen work, Whit Stillman!

Stay tuned.

“X-Men: Apocalypse” at Odeon, Covent Garden

Self spent three hours in the British Museum, then walked to Shaftesbury. It was a beautiful Sunday in London. Crowds were out walking, and tourists were arriving (How did self know they were tourists? Because they were pulling their suitcases along behind them)

The Odeon is quite a nice cinema, with very plush seats. Self was hoping to see “Captain America: Civil War” (Notice how all these superhero titles have colons now? Like book subtitles?) but on learning that the next show wasn’t until two hours later, and “X-Men: Apocalypse” was on in 10 minutes, she opted for “X-Men.” Besides, self will never not enjoy a J-Law movie. The girl is simply a hoot.

It’s a very long movie. At first, self went all gooey-eyed over James McAvoy rocking a thin top under a tweed jacket, plus 70s long hair. Not even the materialization of Nicholas Hoult in glasses could detract from the utter, utter  fabulousness of James McAvoy (Later, he appears in a lavender t-shirt. Which is sort of a shock because: Would Charles Xavier really be caught dead wearing a lavender t-shirt underneath a tweed jacket but anyhoo)

The movie has Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique iteration appearing in posters all over the world, like she’s some kind of rock star. Which is amusing.

Michael Fassbender is always very intense. Nothing new there. He sings, too, if dear blog readers want to know (For heaven’s sake, self felt like saying, as soon as he broke into song: it’s just a lullabye to your daughter, why are you singing like you’re at an audition? Perfectly in tune. Even, loud. Self finds Fassbender so annoying: he’s so good and yet he has to keep reminding you of it. He never — at least in self’s humble opinion — disappears completely into a role. Self is always aware, watching him, that she is watching a Fassbender performance)

But self only realized after Evan Peters appeared, more than halfway through the movie, that he was going to save it. The best scene in the last X-Men movie was his. And when he finally makes his appearance in this one, self actually laughed out loud, so great was her joy at seeing him again.

You know how you know you’re watching a movie in a British (as opposed to an American) cinema? Self watched the last “X-Men” (Days of Future Past) movie in an American cine-plex, and the audience was in stitches over Evan Peters. This time, she belatedly realized, after she was doubled up and chuckling, that she was the only one laughing. In the entire theatre. Everyone else was still as stone. Graven, if you will.

What? How could one not enjoy the leather pants, the sass, the playing of Mrs. Pac-Man, the whole Dude Affect? He’s got that role nailed to a T. Not even J-Law comes close in capturing the antic spirit, the rebelliousness, that made teen-agers the world over embrace the X-Men comic book series.

Here, for those who might have missed it, a link to Evan Peters as Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

By now, self finds the thwarted, twisted love between Magneto and Mystique so repetitive and — just get over it already, you two! Either hook up or stop making goo-goo eyes at each other!

In the end, self always knew Magneto would turn. He always threatens to go bad, and then he turns. There is just nothing new in this universe anymore.

But please, more of Evan Peters?

Self loves that when Quicksilver (who is actually Magneto’s son) is asked by Magneto what he is fighting for, he doesn’t say something corny like, “I’m your son!” There’s this moment of hesitation. You can actually see Quicksilver tempted to say it. But he doesn’t. He saves it for another day. Instead, he simply says, “I’m fighting for my family, too.”

Yes! That’s a sure sign that the filmmakers are planning to make something of this relationship in a future “X-Men” movie. Self expects Michael Fassbender will milk his new role as Quicksilver’s father to maximum dramatic effect, but  it’s not him self is looking forward to watching, it’s Evan Peters.

And oh yes, Sansa  Stark saves the daaaaaay! Self was so happy that Sansa gets to kick ass, finally! After all the torments she’s had to endure in Game of Thrones!

The bad guy is played by Oscar Isaac. God, what a waste of a face! He is completely unrecognizable; he could be Darth Vader, for all we know.

Stay tuned.

“Captain America: Civil War” Review by Noel Vera

The guy doesn’t know she exists but she’s been linking to him for ages.

Self really likes Critic After Dark’s reviews. He is Filipino, BTW. Like self.

Presently, Trump is in America and self is in London and it is Sunday. What does self think of doing? She thinks of wandering to a movie theatre on Tottenham Court Road and watching “Captain America: Civil War.” (Self! All those museums await! The Tate Modern, The Imperial War Museum, The Wallace Collection! Nevertheless, if a movie is what she wants, a movie she will get)

This is a summer movie if she ever saw one. Summer movies and self are like white on rice.

The Critic After Dark review:

Calling brothers Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War the best superhero movie to date is, I feel, a bit much. It limps along more nimbly than the rest of Marvel’s profit-animated undead, is a huge improvement over such joyless efforts as the Thor or Wolverine movies, is a quantum leap in quality over Snyder’s multimillion-dollar super-powered cow flop — but saying all that is like saying you didn’t feel like flinging your 32-oz. soda at the screen and bashing your head repeatedly on the theatre’s concrete floor; we’re talking extremely low bar here.

Another thing self might do is stalk Miss Honeywell.

Miss Honeywell is a brave Everlark fan fic writer (author of, among other delights, First We Feast, in which Katniss’s car breaks down in an isolated rural area, she gets picked up by tow truck drivet Peeta, and after multiple side-eyes, he kidnaps her and brings her to a creepy forest where — DUN DUN DUN)

Anyhoo, self is pretty sure Miss Honeywell is English. She says “petrol station” instead of gasoline station, and she says stuff like “Hang on” instead of “Just a minute.” Self is sure these are convincing arguments for believing Miss Honeywell is English.

She is English, therefore she must live in London. See the syllogism? See self’s absolutely marvelous powers of deduction?

There is nothing more self would love than to meet Miss Honeywell in person. But just thinking of stalking her is giving self a headache. She could also sit in bed and do nothing. All day. Pretend she’s on vacation. Walk to the British Museum, endure another long line, go for the chocolate chip cookies in the main lobby. London is sooooo full of choices!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Watching “10 Cloverfield Lane” in Fort Bragg

Self and five tweenies. Who were very restless and kept kicking the row of seats she was in. They’d stop whenever self turned her head. But they’d start again. Anyhoo.

GRRREAT movie.

The lead has an uncanny resemblance to the Sigourney Weaver of Alien. So uncanny is the resemblance that self thinks it must have been part of the reason why she was picked. So many little homages to that earlier (CLASSIC, GREAT) movie: especially, the heroine’s looks. The fact that her best scenes occur when she is barefoot and wearing a skimpy tank and very tight blue jeans. There’s a real American heroine for you. Gal can do anything, and she looks great in skinny jeans.

Who was that girl? She looked so like Dakota Johnson. And there were notes of Jena Malone in there as well.

Her male co-stars were playing against type: John Goodman (How that man can make dancing look creepy, self knows not. But he pulled it off) and the other one who looked like a shrimpy Ben Affleck (with a LOT of facial hair). She loved that the other man looked about half the size of Goodman. And was only up to the heroine’s shoulder. Clearly, not the type to inspire confidence.

Great, great movie to watch in Fort Bragg on a Sunday afternoon.

Stay tuned.

Sorry/Not Sorry: ROAD DOG SPOILERS!

Self is inching her way towards the end of this rambunctious novel.

Did she really use the word “rambunctious” in connection to this novel?

Indeed she did!

And that is a long way from where she started.

The set-up seemed to be like any other crime caper set-up (and it’s been years since she read Leonard, not actually since Get Shorty): Hot sultry woman sleeps with everyone and gets people to do her bidding. Charming rogue Jack Foley (can’t picture anyone other than George Clooney in the role) gets out of prison and into trouble immediately; but he’s such a charmer with the ladies. Every single woman he meets in the course of this novel makes a pass at him. There’s also a dangerous rooster named Cundo and assorted colorful eccentrics.

MAJOR SPOILERS SELF IS NOT KIDDING

Somewhere around page 100, however, the novel started to really get funny. Everyone is in on some kind of con, but the biggest con of all is the fake psychic, because it turns out:

SHE IS A REAL PSYCHIC!

A man in the audience makes fun of her powers and she predicts, almost to the hour, the exact moment of his death, two months later.

The rich widow who hires the psychic to “cleanse” her house because she thinks she is being haunted by her recently deceased husband turns out to be pulling a con of her own. In addition, the widow turns out to be the only woman in the novel who seems immune to Jack Foley’s charms, even though he’s willing to try her out, in fact spends a whole afternoon lounging with her by her backyard pool.

The psychic is of course sleeping with Jack Foley but she kills her other lover first, because he punched her for sleeping with Jack Foley. Then she ruminates about how she will kill Jack Foley. First, of course, she has to sleep with him one last time because he is such a good lover. In the course of some pillow talk, she asks Foley what he thinks she served her dead paramour as a last meal (Macaroni and cheese! She shot him three times in the chest with a Walter PPK equipped with a silencer. Hey, self’s Dear Departed Dad had the exact same firearm in a drawer next to his bed. Because Bond.)

Foley thinks:

Cockroaches and rice . . . and it came to him and he said, “Macaroni and cheese.”

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAAAA!

Stay tuned.

 

The Guardian’s Review of Mockingjay 2

Self is writing this, her third post of Saturday, even though she swore she’d go out and walk the streets of Manhattan! On this unusually temperate December day!

She wants to see “Joy,” David O. Russell’s new movie starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Self loves J-Law.

Anything with J-Law in it, self will watch.

But she just can’t stand The Guardian review because it is all J-Law. There is not one mention of J-Hutch. And Peeta, his character, self’s thought all along, is the real reason The Hunger Games is such an enthralling story.

Sure, Katniss Everdeen is really kick-ass. Kick-ass like no other. Her hunting? Her bow and arrow? Not to mention her Mockingjay outfits? Epic.

But the Katniss Everdeen story wouldn’t be anything without the character of Peeta. The guy makes us believe she has a heart. He’s in love with her from afar, it’s the greatest stroke of luck (for her, not really for him) that he gets reaped along with her, he gets to play a fake romance with her that really screws up his brain, gets hijacked, then keeps trying to kill her.

In short, Peeta is a mess.

The films gave very short shrift to his character. Which was a mistake. Because when the end came, when Katniss gets to have him, there is just no ooomf.

Self doesn’t know if Lionsgate had no faith in Josh Hutcherson as an actor. Or if they just wanted to cash in on the J-Law phenomenon. But the films would have worked better if they’d given Peeta his due. Seriously.

That said, she really loves the way Mockingjay 2 ended: not because of the meadow scene (In this scene, J-Law looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal! Not a criticism, just saying), but because of the scenes with Peeta and Katniss together in her house: Peeta reading aloud Annie’s letter in the kitchen (And J-Hutch just looks so good here), the two watching it rain. Katniss joining Peeta at night in the guest room. Because: normal is good! Normal is where Katniss needs to be! The daily routines — and not her Messianic mission — save her.

Suzanne Collins wrote this ending because she knew she needed to show Katniss whole. The selflessness of the warrior woman needed to give way to her personal satisfaction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

State of Self’s Novel-in-Progress

Self spent most of this year working on a novel about an 18th century priest who gets sent to a Philippine island to fight demons. It’s at 185 pages and she was extremely discouraged yesterday, thinking she probably had twice that many pages to write before she really knew what it was she wanted to say.

Then she went into one of her bookmarked food blogs, Kahakai Kitchen. And there is a review there of a novel called Water on the Moon, which is 244 pages. Hmmm, self thought: 244 pages seems do-able, at least it does to self. It would mean she only has to get 60 more pages in, and then she can review what her manuscript feels like.

Here’s the synopsis of Water on the Moon (Publisher: She Writes Press):

When her husband comes out as gay and an airplane crash inexplicably destroys her home, the mother of teenage twin daughters must rethink everything she knows.

In her debut novel, Water on the Moon, Jean P. Moore introduces readers to Lidia Raven, whose life begins taking seemingly endless wrong turns. Lidia and her girls miraculously survive the plane crash that destroys their home and are taken in by Lidia’s friend Polly, a neighbor with a robust collection of first-edition books who lives alone on a sprawling estate.

Struggling to cope with each of these life-changing events, Lidia discovers a connection between herself and Tina Calderara, the pilot who crashed into their home. In the months that follow, Lidia plunges into a mystery that upends every aspect of her life.

Dun Dun Dun! Sounds pretty interesting!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Good Review: Steven G. Kellman (San Francisco Chronicle) on Paul Theroux’s DEEP SOUTH

Self loves Theroux’s absolute adherence to his crankiness, and his courage. His youthful curiosity is still very much alive and present in him.

She remembers a scene in Dark Star where he has to ride in a jeep with various native Africans and they regard him with contempt because why would a man his age still be doing stupid things like taking the most uncomfortable way to get between Point A and Point B, riding with people who have no clue who he is and therefore focus on his age as a point of ridicule. To make things worse, Theroux himself is having the same kind of thoughts: Why is he sitting in this jeep/van with these rude people? Why? But then he goes on to put the scene in a book. That’s what makes him one of self’s favorite travel writers.

An excerpt from the Steven G. Kellman review in the Chronicle:

Theroux spends a year and a half meandering along the backroads of Dixie, primarily the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. He does not venture into either Florida or Texas, and Virginia is merely a stretch to traverse on his way south from his home in Cape Cod (Now self feels like embarking on a pilgrimage to Cape Cod). Theroux has no interest in the “New South,” the prosperous metropolises of Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville that draw bankers and tourists. Instead, he deliberately seeks out the most neglected and squalid pockets of the region: the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Black Belt of Alabama, the Mississippi Delta and the Ozarks of Arkansas, finding that its inhabitants, the “submerged twenty percent” are poor in their way — and less able to manage and more hopeless than many people I had traveled among in distressed part of Africa and Asia.

He is a travel writer after self’s own heart, one of the best.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Snowpiercer” the 2nd Time: Murkiness and Mayhem

First time self saw this movie was in Mendocino. She downloaded it from Netflix. It was January.

Nah-ah. Chris Evans, bearded and in knit hat, scowling. Okaaay. Role didn’t need to be played by Chris Evans. Anyone of sufficient height and bulk and scowl would have done quite nicely.

Little did she know that she’d be watching it again just nine months later, in far different circumstances. She still doesn’t love it, but it is interesting.

Tilda Swinton is just so weird. She’s weird-looking, and she is totally fearless. Self has seen her in The Deep End, in We Need To Talk About Kevin, in Constantine (playing the earthiest angel ever) and now in Snowpiercer, where she is downright repulsive, with big horsey teeth and spittle flying out of her mouth as she shrieks against the rebels. Granted, this character would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But Tilda plays it with — wit? She actually pulls off a line that goes something like: “Because of those stubborn rebels, 74% of you will die.”

SPOILER ALERT!

Jamie Bell is in this movie. He is one fine actor. In the scene where an enemy holds a knife to his throat, and Chris Evans, his buddy, has to choose between saving Jamie or going after Tilda Swinton, once it becomes clear which way Chris Evans will go (and we all know there is only one way Chris Evans will go), the change in his features is remarkable.

If this were a normal science fiction thriller, Jamie Bell would have a look on his face something like, “Atta boy, Buddy! Go for the Kill! Don’t bother with me! I’m ready to offer my life for the Cause!” But the look on his face once he realizes he’s been given up, is actually — sad? So sad. Which is actually how self would look, if she knew she was going to die in the next few seconds.

Self also loves the bizarre classroom teacher played by Alison Pill.

In one scene, Chris Evans yells “Fire!” and we have no idea what that means. Then, a little boy starts running from the back of the train with a lighted torch, cheered on by a crowd of people. He hands off the torch to what appears to be a one-armed man. Self wasn’t sure if this runner was really a one-armed man, so she kept following this figure as he raced through the murky depths of the cinematography. When she was finally convinced that the man running indeed had only one arm, the torch was passed on to a really handsome, buff dude who might have auditioned for Fifty Shades of Grey. What? What is the meaning of these three successive runners? The child, the one-armed man, and buff dude? Since self has seen 300, she is well-prepared for this last runner to die (It’s called The Astinos Trope. There, she made something up. Just this very second). But, confounding all her low expectations, he actually makes it all the way to the end and manages to throw a knife and inflict the first wound on Tilda Swinton (Unfortunately, it hits her on the leg and is not fatal)

Also, there is the obligatory (ever since Saving Private Ryan) close and intimate fight scene, where two men arm-wrestle for a knife at close quarters, and the one whose side we are on loses. And the knife goes in very, very slowly. And it’s so terrible.

Self is so glad she didn’t see this movie in a theatre. She might have walked out. Like she did after 45 minutes of Far From the Madding Crowd. But since she’s watching it on a TV screen, and she has access to her laptop, it is able to engage her attention.

And she’s ended up writing a long post when all she wanted to do was toss something off.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) Reviews “Z For Zachariah”

All three characters, being human, are flawed, but in one case the flaws reveal themselves through an explosive episode of not-so-convincing behavior — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal, 28 August 2015

Here’s the backstory:

It’s of course self’s faaaavorite kind of story: post-apocalyptic.

Margot Robbie plays Ann, a beautiful woman (great casting, there) who lives with her dog Pharaoh in a secluded valley that has miraculously evaded the effects of nuclear radiation. She is joined, first, by Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), “clad in a radiation suit.” Shortly thereafter Caleb (Chris Pine) materializes.

Faster than one can say, LOVE TRIANGLE, Ann learns that “the notion of blessed sanctuary is no more plausible after Loomis wonders aloud about what could explain it (He figures it’s got something to do with the wind, or the lay of the land.)”

Shivers.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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