We’ll Always Take Care Of You

I walked into Knive’s Out with a bit of a “show me” attitude. I’d heard it was great. I’d heard there was a sweater. I didn’t want to walk out of the movie feeling like it was overrated.

It’s not.

This movie fucking rules.

Daniel Craig is great in this movie. The Agatha Christie vibes are strong. The main character, Marta, played by the lovely Ana De Armas is so relate able caught up in a viper’s nest of preppy weirdos. And oh, these preppy weirdos. Christopher Plummer is the murdered patriarch, Jamie Lee Curtis is his daughter, Don Johnson her husband (also thanks to Watchmen I was so excited to see Don Johnson), Toni Collette is the widowed daughter in law who stuck with the clan and Michael Shannon is the youngest son. The grandkids, Jacen Martell and Katherine Langford are two of the grandchild, a budding internet Nazi and Smith College Feminist respectively. And then there’s Chris Evans as a beautiful New England prep school asshole for the ages. (He’s the one who wears the sweater. It’s just a ratty fisherman’s sweater. I own five of them. They’re very cozy and yes, Evans looks quite sexy in it. But he looks sexy in everything. I get the hype of the movie. I do not get the hype of the sweater.)

Rian Johnson is a great creator. I loved Brick, I loved Looper, I loved this. The Last Jedi is a movie that I have watched. I’m also, as the kind of person who likes seeing movie stars, excited for what this movie means for both Evans and Craig now that they’re out of their franchise handcuffs. I love them both as Captain America and James Bond but they’re capable of so much more, and this a great way to remind people of that.

Rankings!

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  6. Avengers: Endgame
  7. Rocketman
  8. Detective Pikachu
  9. Zombieland: Double Tap
  10. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  11. Downton Abbey
  12. Joker

Trailers:

I was running a little late so I didn’t see them all but what I did see:

Uncut Jems: I like when Adam Sandler really acts. He’s quite good at it. And Idina! She’s having a bit of a year. (Her new Christmas Album A Season Of Love is great!)

Bombshell: Oy. The thing is, I love all the women in this movie. And John Lithgow. I just am so tired, you guys, and I don’t think I have the bandwith for a movie about sexual harassment and Fox News. Though Charlize is excellent casting for Megyn Kelly.

The Next Right Thing

If Disney is going to keep throwing out movies where Princesses sing awesome songs and fulfill the hero’s journey, I’m gonna keep watching them. Or watch what I can of them through the tears.

Frozen 2 follows through on the first movies promise in a number of ways. For one thing, Anna and Elsa are front and center, telling their own story, feeling their own feelings, saving each other and everyone around them with the power of their love and bond. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell are to be commended for the work they’ve done with these characters. The songs are very good. Nothing quite as catchy as “For The First Time In Forever” or “Let It Go,” but “Into The Unknown,” “Show Yourself,” and “The Next Right Thing,” have more narrative power. And hey! Kristoff got a song all to himself. “Lost In The Woods” is delightful but I’d listen to Jonathan Groff sing scales for three minutes so I might be too receptive an audience for that one.

The rest of the movie is very good. It’s visually stunning, and like I said, hero’s journey, for both sisters. I’m into it. There’s also a scene where Elsa sings about embracing your true self and stops the destruction fueled by colonialist lies with a flurry of rainbow glitter.

Which is the gayest shit ever and I’m so happy it exists.

Rankings!

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Jo Jo Rabbit
  3. Frozen 2
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  5. Avengers: Endgame
  6. Rocketman
  7. Detective Pikachu
  8. Zombieland: Double Tap
  9. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  10. Downton Abbey
  11. Joker

Trailers

Onward looks DOPE AS HELL. Seriously. I’m a sucker for “what happens when fantasy societies evolve” as a conceit.

Soul also looks great. I’m down for what’s going on at Pixar these days it seems.

Trolls: World Tour: I am every distracted whenever I see this trailer because I keep trying to figure out if that “Drop Button” is a McElroy. Do we know yet? I believe people thought it was Griffin. (This shows how much I care about this movie. Which is not at all, if there aren’t McElroys.)

There were others but nothing really stuck…

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Last Friday night I sauteed a chicken breast, and boiled some spaghetti, popped a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and settled in to watch The Force Awakens for the first time in quite a while.

I mentioned the meal because I was so excited to watch the movie again and I wanted to breath it in and fall in love all over again. I was going on a date with Star Wars. 

I fell in love all over again. I really love this movie. I can see where the criticisms come from (though people criticizing a franchise that’s always been about remixing tropes and archetypes for doing it again feels like a reach…) but I can’t help but love it.

So much of that love belongs to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who are both so unfathomably wonderful. Rey and Finn aren’t particularly deep characters on the page. They are, as Luke, Han and Leia before them, archetypes, two searching orphans looking for home and belonging, and they find it in each other.

This would be wooden and dull and frightening if it were given to two actors with less charisma and less chemistry. Daisy and John click well together, so well, in fact, that they’re instantly connected, but they feel like family, not lovers, which is rare in a Hollywood blockbuster, and so so worth celebrating.

And then there’s the Kylo Ren issue. I think that Kylo is a pretty good villain, if pale in comparison to Darth Vader, but that’s kind of an impossible standard and is also the point of Kylo Ren. He’s not supposed to measure up, but he’s trying desparately to get there. The pressure of being from the greatest family in the galaxy broke him, and he reached for quickest connection to that legacy. It’s reiterated over and over again in Star Wars that the Dark Side is powerful and it’s quick. The light side requires patience discipline and letting go, allowing The Force to do the work. Ben Solo lost that battle because of the weight of expectation placed on his shoulders so he gripped to quick easy power.

THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.

And, I saved it for last, you guys, I promised I wouldn’t spend this whole era dwelling on Poe Dameron, so I’m going to put it up here, and leave it at this. I am in awe of this character, who was shaped largely because of the actor they wanted playing him. (Oscar Isaac said he’d do it but not if he died.) Who became a focal point of the series because he was popular, and who models a kind of dedication and joy rarely seen in this trope of character. The hotshot pilot is supposed to be cocky, obnoxious, and out for himself, not quietly confident, deeply dedicated to his cause, and kind beyond reason. You keep waiting for Poe to be a dick. And then he isn’t.

I love Poe.

Alright, next week we talk about The Last Jedi, which should be great because no one on the internet ever talks about The Last Jedi right? We’re wading into new territory.

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…GULP.

Why Do We Go On With It All?

So, I’ve been lax this movie season. But if you thought I wasn’t lazily sauntering towards Downton Abbey think again.

There’s no rush at Downton, where it feels like time has stopped. It’s been two years but nothing much has changed, Anna has a fab new hairdo, Tom’s lost some weight, but Daisy and Andy are still downstairs, Moseley and Shaw are still at vague flirting and Thomas is still cranky and Mary is still running things.

Of course everything gets upended when the King and Queen come to visit, and the usual beats are hit. Edith has a woe is me crisis of a minor personal variety (She’s pregnant! But Bertie is being asked to go on a Colonial Tour with The Prince of Wales to model good family man behavior. Me to my mom, “Well we know that didn’t work.”) Anna gets involved with some criminal activity. (No, Little Johnny Bates is not arrested for murder. More’s the pity. Then at least something would have happened.) Thomas Barrow befriends (and more?) the king’s valet, winds up arrested in a bar raid in York, and Tom and Mary foil a plot to assassinate the king. (Remember early Tom, back when he was joining Sien Fien and burning down Anglo-Irish castles? Now he’s ratting defecting British Intelligence officers out to the crown? The part of me that loves the slow silliness of British period pieces is thrilled, the part of me who’s family left Ireland around the time this particular one is set, uh, finds it hard to stomach.)

There’s plenty of the stuff that made Downton Abbey the show, fun here. (The clothes, Isobel and The Dowager Countess trading barbs, Carson and Mrs. Hughes doing their thing.) There’s just not enough of what made it great. I rewatched the series to get ready for this movie, and while it was always a big glossy soap opera it at least had something of a human heart. That heart is gone here, which makes the whole thing feel shallow and a bit silly.

It’s all damn pretty though. My god, Highclere Castle on the big screen is worth the whole endeavor, followed closely by some of the clothes. (Michelle Dockery dons a red leather coat that’s positively swoon worthy and the gown she wears to the royal ball is worth the price of admission.) But this isn’t a good movie. It wouldn’t even be a particularly good episode of the show. (For God’s sake man, Robert doesn’t even comment about how we’re living in a changing world and old chap, we must change with it! Not ONCE!)

Rankings:

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  3. Avengers: Endgame
  4. Rocketman
  5. Detective Pikachu
  6. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  7. Downton Abbey

Trailers

What the hell is that fireman movie with Jon Cena, Keegan Michael Key and John Leguizamo and some kids? I love those three men and would like a GOOD movie with them please!

Harriet – I look forward to weeping profusely at this, which looks really wonderful. Even if I feel deeply attacked by a movie starring Cynthia Orivo and Leslie Odom Jr. that isn’t a musical.

Last Christmas – Shut up and take my money! Seriously I can’t with how adorable this movie looks. And I agree, she is most definitely going to be dead by the end. Or he’s a ghost or angel. There’s something supernatural going on with that one.

Dark Waters – We’re heading into the Oscar Pursuit Career Stage for Ruffalo and I am HERE.FOR.IT.

Ford V Ferrari – Christian Bale using his real accent! Matt Damon as a scheming smart guy! Race cars! Sciencing the shit out of things! I can’t wait to see this.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Of the four “Disney/Kennedy” era Star Wars flicks, Rogue One: A Star Wars story ranks a steady third from me. I don’t love it love it, the way I do Solo or The Force Awakens, and while I recognize from a formal standpoint The Last Jedi is interesting, it’s never tugged at me the way the others have. So, there’s that.

Rogue One, grows on me everytime I watch it. I smile at Jyn Erso’s transformation from cynicism to hope, at Cassian’s dedicated whatever it takes attitude, I’ve love K2-SO from jump, so that’s not really fair. The rest of their ragtag team is great too, especially Donnie Yen as Blind Force Monk who’s just Donnie Yen.

I really like Kroenig as an adversary, and frankly, I love the whole idea that this is about a lower level of the Galaxy, it’s about the people who set the stage for the grand melodrama that is The Skywalker Saga, the guys that built the Death Star, the spies and cells that became The Rebellion. It  was a great idea for a movie that was beautifully pulled off, and that, as I said, I’ve grown to like more and more.

It’s a pretty subtle piece of work, especially for a series that I’ve always loved for it’s broader strokes. Part of the deal with the Stories (and Clone Wars and Rebels) is that you get to play around in the grey a little bit more, which is a good deal of fun. I do wish the characters in Rogue One were a bit more distinct, but I’m otherwise always happy with the film.

It also gives me the thing that I love the most, which is room for Jimmy Smits to do his thing. I really like Jimmy Smits.

I have no idea if I wrote that tweet while I was watching Star Wars or The West Wing or Brooklyn 99. I like the guy a lot. And he’s fun in this, Bail Organa showing up a few times and making cryptic references to “his Jedi friend,” and “Someone he’d trust with his life.” Bail and Leia make a good  contrast to Jyn and Galen, two people who died for the rebllion, and two who didn’t have to.  (Well Bail died, but in a pointless genocide, not for the sake of the rebellion.)

Next week we get to where this all started, A New Hope. Also, I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had a bit of a time this weekend. (Cancelled vacations, bachelorette parties, evacuated air line terminals.) (There was actually a minute there where this column MIGHT have been about me seeing Galaxy’s Edge.)

Speaking of! It’s looking like we’ll be talking about Black Spire Outpost and Batuu by March. I want to solidify a few other things, but there is just NO WAY I’m skipping a week in points sunny this winter, even if it means I eat nothing but rice and beans for the forseeable future. And if those points sunny wind up being the Sunshine state, well, we’re going to Batuu.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Solo: A Star Wars Story

I really love Solo, as I noted in my review of the movie. It has a lot of things I like in a movie generally, cover up in neat Star Wars wrapping paper, so there’s a lot to love. I get into internet arguments about this movie a lot, because I think it’s wonderful and I know a lot of people think it sucks. But those people are wrong because it’s great.

I’ve watched it several times now, and each time I am delighted. The action is clean, the characters are clear, the performances are wonderful. Do I wonder what it would have been like in it’s initial incarnation, sure, do I like Paul Bettany fine, but wonder if Michael K. William’s version of Dryden Voss was more interesting (it probably wasn’t, they’re both great actors, with similar placid with darkness boiling under the surface energy. But the representation boost would have been great, and I love Williams.)

I have to be honest though, I came to this movie for one thing and that thing delivered. From the moment of this movie’s conception I was saying I didn’t care what went on around it, I wanted Lando in this movie, and I wanted Donald Glover to play him and I would accept nothing else. As I’ve watched and rewatched Star Wars since things got moving again in the past few years Lando has become my OT favorite. (Obi-Wan is my prequel and overall story fave, Poe is my NT fave) I’m thrilled that Billy Dee Williams is reprising his role in The Rise of Skywalker. 

Donald Glover was the only choice for Lando and Lando’s role in this screen play was perfect. Or whoever shot whatever got shot. Part of the tragedy of the internet (which I mostly love, because I wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t an internet) is that this movie got so burried. In an earlier time where only weirdos like my parents knew that Larry David was no longer running Seinfeld, (this is real. My parents were incensed when David left. They came around on the later seasons because they featured George and Elaine better and Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss are brilliant, but it took time. Again, I come by my shit naturally) it wouldn’t have been turned over that and over that Lord and Miller were fired off the movie.

There’s a subtle sexism to the way this decision is talked about on the internet. As if it was a capricious and unnecessary decision on Kathleen Kennedy’s part. As if she isn’t a savvy, experienced producer who know what she wants. As if by clashing with the anarchic genius of these two men, she is somehow wrong, the thief of art.

There’s truth there, but it’s not a narrative attached to say, Joss Whedon’s departure from The MCU after clashing with Kevin Fiege. No, that was two visionaries with contrasting views of a film.

I told myself this post wasn’t going to be about the metanarrative and yet here we are. (To be fair, I couldn’t rightly spill 500 words on what I like about the movie, since part of what I like is how light and kind of shallow and silly it is.)

Next week we get into Rebels, with season 1. Rebels has grown on me as a show in general. It’s not as good as Clone Wars, but you will see this journey in Real Time.

The Original Gods

I’m in the minority of people who actually really enjoyed Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, it’s not a good movie, but it’s a watchable one and the Godzilla parts are great. The human parts are terrible. Just terrible.

That trend continues in it’s sequel, the deeply silly compulsively fun Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Since Godzilla emerged from the sea in 2014, Monarch, the secret military group, has been hunting other “titans,” in hopes of studying and controlling them. Vera Farmiga plays their top scientist who has invented a doohickey that emits sonic freqeuncies that calm the beasts. She’s married to Kyle Chandler who is also a Godzilla scientist. Their son was killed in the 2014 attack and their daughter, Millie Bobby Brown, now follows her mom around learning all about Kaiju.

Charles Dance plays an eco terrorist who wants to destroy human kind with Kaiju, I think? Vera Farmiga’s team is made up of Ken Wattanabe, Bradley Witford, Thomas Middleditch and Zhang Zhiyi. Their military arm includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Anthony Ramos. Senator CCH Pounder wants to shut them down.

I am obsessed with this cast and they were in way too much of this movie. This is a movie about Godzilla and King Ghedera fighting. And also Mothra and Rodan fighting. I really don’t care about Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga’s marital problems when there is monster fighting to see.

The monster fighting is glorious. It’s also hella dumb. But in the best way. I haven’t watched Kong: Skull Island, but I understand it’s in the same vein.

Just, like, Americans are bad the people part of Godzilla, maybe we should stop trying and just watch the monsters fight now.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu
  5. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Trailers:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: God, it looks good, I’m really really looking forward to it.

The Kitchen: *exhale* I hope they ALL GET ALL THE NOMINATIONS for that movie, it looks spectacular. (And I have every intention of reading the GN)