On Now, San Francisco 2018

Summer: SO MANY THINGS, from the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, to the Rube Goldberg exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum on Mission St., to the Redwood City Century 20, where we saw Jurassic Park last weekend (Bryce Dallas Howard forever!)

 

Mick LaSalle’s Review of ‘American Animals’

from the San Francisco Chronicle, 8 June 2018:

Seems to diss Evan Peters, lol. But interesting for describing the film’s “American thing” (i.e. yearnings)

Even though without the heist there would be no reason for the movie, it hardly seems possible that the heist will happen, not with these guys. Indeed, it’s not certain that the participants themselves even want it to happen. Yes, Warren is all for it, but the rest of them just seem willing to go along.

Part of the explanation for their sticking with the plan may be Warren’s personal charisma — not the charisma evidenced by the actor playing Warren, but that of the real-life Warren. He seems forceful and funny and looks like the leading man in a zany romantic comedy. Another explanation, suggested by the movie’s title, is that this is just an American thing: the desire for money, the desire to be somebody, to have status, to have an interesting story.

Yet one has to wonder . . .  where are the young women in this story? Why don’t Spencer and Warren have girlfriends? One gets the feeling that if either of them had one, the plan might have been scuttled immediately. The reason for this is that it often seems as though the guys are in this plot out of boredom, or out of some restless desire to feel that they have hope.

Self’s personal opinion? There is not enough Evan Peters on the big screen. Perhaps it’s Peters’s insouciant affect. The Quicksilver slowing-down-bullets scene never gets old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Book of Henry Movie: What the What

If you’ve ever wondered what Naomi Watts looks like holding a high-powered rifle in her hands, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why American child actors are so darn cute, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had a creepy neighbor who reminds you all the time that you need to blower your yard, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of private life a waitress in a diner has, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered about tree-houses in general — their uses in a story — this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what boy geniuses do in their spare time, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had cause to doubt your eleven-year-old’s stock market advice, this movie is for you.

Stay tuned.

 

Three Days, Three Movies

Self has been so starved for movies.

In a prevous life, she’d be in her local cine-plex every other day.

The past couple of years, though, unless she feels really driven, she’ll go months without seeing a movie.

Here are some of the ways she shows her movie geek street cred:

Oxford, UK: She gave up seeing the Ashmolean in favor of watching Captain America (In all fairness, the movie theatre was so conveniently situated: just across from Gloucester Green)

London: She walked — walked — in full summer heat, from Russell Square to Shaftesbury Avenue, simply to watch X-Men in the Odeon.

Fort Bragg, CA: She went during a lull in a storm. The movie? Kingsmen, with Colin Firth. When she came out of the movie, the wind was blowing flat out. Self thought she was going to be swept into the ocean.

Now, in the past four days, she has seen three movies:

  • Band Aid
  • Beatriz at Dinner
  • Wonder Woman

Sorry to say, she nearly fell asleep during the action sequences at the end of Wonder Woman. But woke right up again when she saw, in the closing credits, the name of her friend’s daughter:

DIRECTED BY PATTY JENKINS

Of the movies she’s seen so far this summer, her favorite would be Beatriz at Dinner. For Connie Britton and John Lithgow’s performances.

Today, she’s going to see The Book of Henry, even though it hasn’t gotten good reviews. She loves Naomi Watts, even though she’s been so under-used by Hollywood lately.

A long time ago, self met a Mills College student at one of her San Francisco readings. Chatting with the young woman after the reading, the student revealed she made money by working part-time as an exotic dancer. And self happened to mention how much she liked Naomi Watts (What’s the connection to exotic dancing? Nothing), and the young woman said even though Watts had turned 40, if the young woman were a man, she’d definitely consider her hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

American Horror Story: Evan Peters

When self was in London, this past summer, she walked all the way from Russell Square to the Odeon on Shaftesbury just to see X-Men: Apocalypse. And about halfway through, Quicksilver appeared. And then self remembered his scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A week later, she was in Oxford. And her hotel was right across the street from a movie theatre. She had time to see the Bodleian but not the Ashmolean. And she even got to see X-Men: Apocalypse again. And all because of Evan Peters.

By now self knows he’s a regular on American Horror Story. But she is such a fraidy cat, she never risked watching a single episode. Until today.

What else to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? She decided to watch American Horror Story. She scanned, episode by episode, until she got to one called “Coven,” which she thinks was either in Season 2 or Season 3.

The opening credits were a compendium of scary sights. But self was able to endure.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some Not-So-Nice Things, i.e. Horror, Depravity, Sexual Deviation and — need self say more?

Jessica Lange appeared, all floozy and wrecked. Then Emma Roberts appeared, in trashy faux-fur and miniskirt, side-eyeing a shirtless next-door neighbor. Then Evan Peters appeared, blonde. In flannel shirt. On a bed. Next to a blonde who looked significantly older.

Then it appeared that his head had at one time been separated from his torso. Not only his head, but also his arms. Everything was still healing, but there were a lot of sutures.

Then, a younger blonde appeared, rescued Evan Peters, and returned him to his mama, an awfully decrepit-looking Mare Winningham (She had a stud on her chin. Way to go, Big Mare Mama!). Then Evan’s Mama began to kiss him on the mouth. It took some time before self realized that the writers of this show were indeed going to go there — Holy Cow! This is one crazy show! So depraved (by American TV standards, that is)! She loved it, just loved it!

Apparently, every single oddball character actress in America is in this show. Aside from the aforementioned Jessica Lange, Mare Winningham, and Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates is in it.

Characters are all kinds of deviants. Huh!

It was getting dark and self was getting major creepy vibes, so she stopped watching after just two episodes. But, kudos to the writers and producers for putting such wickedly anarchic stuff on American television. And for keeping it up for six seasons.

Stay tuned.

It Begins

In the movie self just saw, Ben-Hur actually says “Wow.”

It’s a tad too long, but the final chariot race was thrilling. She saw it in 3D, which wouldn’t ever be her first choice, because 3D usually makes her dizzy, but she was short on time and had to grab the first screening that came up.

And she did not get dizzy! In fact, she forgot she was watching 3D about 10 minutes after the screen went black and this message appeared:

PUT ON YOUR 3D GLASSES NOW.

Today self, having forced herself to re-read the first 30 pages of Northanger Abbey, is finally beginning to see the point.

She must have been so tired earlier, when she first began reading. That’s the only explanation she can come up with for the words dancing like spots before her eyes.

Now, self has arrived at a part where Catherine is sure of her attraction to Mr. Tilney, and is still very equable to her best friend’s brother, John Thorpe. He’s such a natterer. But Catherine is much too nice to drive him away. Besides, she’s too humble and self-effacing to think that she has an actual suitor.

As self realized after reading Middlemarch last year, if a young woman is moral enough and innocent enough, her rich inner life can well prove to be her undoing: She can convince herself of the rightness of self-sacrifice like nobody’s business.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Northanger Abbey: Readers, Meet John Thorpe

Still in Bath.

We meet the brother of Isabella Thorpe, whose name is John Thorpe.

This is his appearance:

John Thorpe was a stout young man of middling height, who, with a plain face and ungraceful form, seemed fearful of being too handsome unless he wore the dress of a groom, and too much like a gentleman unless he were easy where he ought to be civil, and impudent where he might allowed to be easy.

The very plain-ness of the man means the heroine, Catherine, will be paired up with him because she, though not un-attractive, is decidedly not beautiful. So why should anyone in Bath, England, pay attention to her? Isn’t it rather presumptuous of her to go to Bath and look for romance? Most women of Austen’s day and age would be happy to have anyone, looks or affinity do not matter in the least.

Self knows there will be plot twists and blah blah blah, but why in God’s name does Austen allow John Thorpe to bore us the same way he bores Catherine with pages and pages of tomfoolery and dull dialogue that was delivered to greater effect by Tom Bennett in the recent movie Love & Friendship?

We get that John Thorpe has no other subject of conversation other than horses (“look at his loins; only see how he moves”) and gigs, and that he doesn’t see the value of novels, but — could Jane Austen please stop belaboring the point and get on with it, please? A point can be made twice. It cannot be made three times. This is a short novel.

All self can see in her head is the dinner scene in Love & Friendship when Tom Bennet takes great delight in “little green balls” on his dinner plate and asks what they are and Reginald de Courcy (who is brought to blazing life by a blazing hot Xavier Samuel) says, “They’re called peas.”

Speaking of Xavier Samuel, self cannot wait to have Love & Friendship in her Netflix feed.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Glenn Kenney

What admiration self has for Chaz, Roger Ebert’s widow, who kept his name alive with the site RogerEbert.com, where you can find a collection of great reviews on all the most recently released movies (It is so much better than Rotten Tomatoes. On RogerEbert.com, a reviewer can actually say Suicide Squad stinks, and it will have 10x the persuasive power of someone on Rotten Tomatoes saying Suicide Squad stinks. Even though they both mean the same thing: that Suicide Squad really really stinks)

Self was looking over recently released movies (She’s just seen two back-to-back: Pete’s Dragon and Indignation. Since she’s already gotten this far, she might as well keep going with the one-movie-a-day!) and was un-enthused until she got to the three-star review of Ben-Hur by Glenn Kenney.

Self did not realize that the star of Ben-Hur was Jack Huston, Anjelica Huston’s nephew. She also did not realize that she’s actually seen him before: in American Hustle, seducing J-Law’s tempestuous character (who was married to Christian Bale’s character)

She did not realize that the director of Ben-Hur was Timur Bekmambetov. This guy is grrrreat! He directed Wanted, with James McAvoy. Sometimes self gets him confused with Tarsem Singh, who directed 2011’s The Immortals, a movie Roger Ebert described as “without doubt the best-looking awful movie you will ever see.” But, self digresses.

Kenney begins his review by calling Ben-Hur “a masterpiece of condensation.” Self likes that opening sentence so much that she continues reading the review. And comes to another great sentence:

  • “… this Ben-Hur has more Christ in it than any previous version.”

And that’s it. That’s her sentence of the day.

In this movie, Jesus has a cameo. And is played by, of all people, Rodrigo Santoro, whose body piercings in 300 are etched in self’s memory to this day.

This is such a fun review. Just one more quote: “The characters all speak in a completely contemporary tone, which shows the influence of — what do you know? Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, which was criticized for (among other things) having the apostles talk like they’d just jumped off the IRT.” Har, har, har! Thank you, Glenn Kenney.

Since self is challenged in the time department this week, and she’s already posted twice today about movies, she’ll just slip this one in: She loved Pete’s Dragon except for the dragon. He looked like a stuffed toy.

Don’t get self wrong: she believes in dragons. But if a studio with deep pockets like Disney does a movie about dragons, she would like to see a screen dragon who is All Creature. One who looks like it could positively reek. You might call this the Game of Thrones Affect: it’s the satisfaction of knowing that when you look at a wildling, you can imagine wildling body odor.

The boy, however, that boy was really feral. More feral even than the dragon. She hasn’t seen a boy that convincingly feral since the kid in Road Warrior.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Actually a Very Good Question

Self has been browsing movie reviews, and binge-watching Ripper Street, and tweeting with fans about it, and beginning yet another fan fiction, which she needs like a hole in the head, but this one’s irresistible, this one’s got a Really Really Dark Peeta, a Peeta who just might be a murderer! Like Jack the Ripper! . . . Sorry! Back to the reason for this post.

From Critic After Dark’s review of The Shallows (which self saw aaaaages ago, at the start of the summer — feels like a lifetime!) starring Blake Lively, whose legs are so on point self can’t even:

Then of course death crashes the party in the form of a humpback whale carcass. Clever way to account for the Great White cruising nearby (otherwise it’s a bit of a puzzler why the shark — which habituates the waters of California, Northeast United States, South Africa and Australia — is hanging around a Mexican beach) but also raises a whole other question: why forego this tasty, properly wet-aged all-you-can-eat buffet of rich blubber and tender meat for a bony surfer who would hardly make up a satisfying snack?

In answer to which self wishes she could insert a hundred “shrug” emojis!

And self  has a question of her own for reviewer Noel Vera: How does he know the carcass is that of a humpback whale? Because it literally is half gone. So there is no possible way to determine whether it really does have a humped back. Har, har, har! Sorry, self just couldn’t resist making a lame joke.

Self will close with a list of the summer 2016 movies she most enjoyed:

  • The Shallows
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Our Kind of Traitor
  • Café Society
  • Love & Friendship
  • Ghostbusters
  • Bad Moms

Oh, summer. Self can’t believe it’s almost over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Café Society: Angst, But No Meltdown

Live every day like it’s your last, and one day you’ll be right.

— a character in Woody Allen’s Café Society

Why do Woody Allen’s recent movies end like that?

Why do they just seem to stop — as if the director realized he was running out of time and it would take at least an hour to untangle the mess he’s thrown his characters into but uh-oh, he doesn’t have the time or the budget so, rather than compromise with a manufactured ending, he just stops.

Sometimes, he can get away with it, but not here. No, no, no. Self refuses to accept that this ending “works.”

About the performances: Jesse Eisenberg, it’s almost a physical transformation. Is the actor really that skinny, that stooped, that — plain?

Kristen Stewart — not nearly as convincing as the California object of men’s desires. J-Law could have done this part, in her sleep. And she would have nailed it, too.

Blake Lively — her part was sooo under-written but she did her best with the little she was given.

Steve Carell — okay, you were good. So good that self hated you. Almost all the way through.

And Corey Stoll — Self knows. Corey who? But, what a performance. Scary and convincing. Watch for it.

Cinematography — aced. The settings were so beautifully framed, in almost every shot.

More later.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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