The Warrior (Film Thoughts: After Louie)

MV5BMWQwYzllODItMzBhOC00YzExLTk2MWEtOGQ1MDRhMTc0OTFiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjYyNzAwOTk@._V1_SY1000_SX680_AL_I had to think about ‘After Louie’ after the film ended, and then its impact hit me. What happens when one spends most of his life fighting a war, and then suddenly it seems like it’s over? Alan Cumming plays Sam, a fifty five year old man who was an AIDS warrior – there was a time he used to go to two funerals a week, he says – and now time has caught up with him in a different way, as he realizes the youth of today enjoys a sexual freedom he never had, and feels bitterness towards that. He meets Braeden, a twentysomething, and all hell breaks lose emotionally – he despairs a couple friend’s marriage, as he obsesses over his ex-lover’s films, trying to piece something out of those, which is kind of a metaphor for how he wants to piece his life together.

Cummings is great at showing Sam’s emotional turmoil even if the heavy-handed dialogue fails. We see the conflict in his eyes, we see the anguish in his happiness, the defeat as he realizes that yes, the fight may now be over, and he has won. I can’t help but identify with his character, for I myself have felt some of those conflicting emotions too. For example, as much as I rejoice Marriage Equality, there’s a part of me that’s not on board with it totally, that yes, it kind of feels like my ‘niche’ factor is gone. That’s why gay bars are becoming extinct nowadays – anybody now can go anywhere.

Vincent Gagliostro directs this without little subtlety, and his script (with Anthony Johnston) has holes, but as I said earlier, it made me think, it made me reflect. I don’t know if everyone else can relate, to be honest, but I guess I should be glad that in this case, I can still be ‘niche.’

Show Me How To Lean (Film Thoughts: Lean On Pete)

LOPfinalInitially, I thought ‘Lean On Pete’ was just going to be one those ‘a boy and his horse’ kind of movies so I thought, ‘Pass.’  But then I saw that it was directed by Andrew Haigh, who directed two really great movies, ‘Weekend,’ and ’45 Years,’ and suddenly I knew I wanted to see this movie. There are artists whose work I want to follow, and Haigh definitely falls into that category.

And I wasn’t disappointed. ‘Lean On Pete’ is a hard movie to watch at times, but there is payoff. It is based on the best-selling book of the same title, and of course I had never heard of the book either – I am so out of touch nowadays. And it is about a boy and his horse, but is much bigger that that. Charlie Plummer plays Charley, a fifteen year old who is living with his father. His mother left, and he only has vague clues about her whereabouts, and they are poor, a paycheck away from starvation. When Charley finds work helping out a race horse owner, a series of events forces him to face life-changing choices.

At times, the film becomes suffering porn. Surely, I had to view some scenes with my palms covering my face, asking myself, how much more can this character take? Plummer is great, displaying a wide-eyed innocence and touching vulnerability that would make you want to grab him and steer him clear from danger. Plummer was also the kidnapped son in ‘All The Money In The World’ and I am amazed how great he was there – an actor effective in two roles so different from each other (Acting, my dear, acting)  Between him and Timothee Chalamet, I think we have a great group of young actors who can grown up to be real fine craftsmen.

I have to say Charley’s character stayed with me. Here I am now, wondering if he is still safe, still on protect mode. I don’t know if I have the heart to ever watch this film again, but it definitely made an impact with me.

Easy Letting Go (Television Thoughts: Roseanne Reboot Episodes 3, 4)

5c90818e6b4e9af2177d67bc8cc2de41After watching the first two episodes of Roseanne reboot, I conceded that it was indeed funny despite the fact that my gut is telling me not to support the show because Roseanne has turned into a deplorable, homophobic trump supporter. But something happened om the third and fourth episodes: it sopped becoming funny. The third episode barely made me laugh, and I found the Roseanne Conner character quite unlikable. Even worse, the plot became trite. When Roseanne tries to ‘discipline’ Darlene’s daughter and starts dumping her granddaughter’s head in the sink, I thought the whole thing was quite mean-spirited, and I felt icky spending time with these people.

The fourth episode was a little better, but by not much. I felt the rush to poignancy forced, and Roseanne Barr, never the best actress, seemed to just be mouthing off lines with no care or disregard for them. At the end of the episode, I felt a little better, as I thought, I could easily break away from this people and not have a sense of loss. I am not saying I will stop watching, but it will be easier to let go of them if this continues.

Wishing Things (Movie Thoughts: All I Wish)

MV5BZGJmYWU4YTItNTZhZS00YjU2LWIwZDQtMTU4MjNkZDcyMWE5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_UY268_CR2,0,182,268_AL_All I wish is that ‘All I Wish’ was that movie I have been waiting for – a nice romantic love story about a middle-aged woman who finds love. God knows there is a market out there for it, plus, I can certainly relate and aspire for a situation like it. But, ‘All I Wish’ is not that movie, and it’s not even close.

Sharon Stone is Senna, a fashion designer who, at 46, has not had her break, both in career and love. Then she meets Adam (Tony Goldwyn) and they meet cute, but then Senna acts like a child, and well…you can more or less fill in the blanks in these sort of things. And Sharon Stone is terrific – loose and toothy and smiling and charming. And I am fascinated by her here – with her looks ranging from ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ Madonna to ‘Music’ Madonna, with a little bit of Kim Catrall thrown in the mix (And yes, she would make a wonderful Samantha if and when)  She tries her damned best here. Unfortunately, she is saddled LSFYB_041717_18x24-JPEGwith a nothing script, which takes the character nowhere. The movie plays with the ‘gimmick’ of setting scenes yearly on Senna’s birthday. but it doesn’t really work because the story has nothing to say. And I even think that at some point the filmmakers knew that was a losing idea, because this film was originally titled ‘A Little Something For Your Birthday,’ and then they changed it. I feel kind of sad about this – I wanted this film to work, and I wanted Sharon Stone to have a comeback – but hopefully there will be something else down the line for her.

Dear Deplorable (Television Thoughts: Roseanne, ABC)

MV5BZjZlMjA1NTgtOTRjZS00NzYwLWFjOGMtMjAyZWQyZWY5YzJmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc0MjkzNjc@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_‘Roseanne’ was one of my favorite shows from the 90s, but I soured on Roseanne Barr, the person, because she turned crazy on me. I mean, she turned from one of the most progressive people to a right wing nut job. She featured gay characters on her show then, and now she does not support same-sex marriage? I vowed not to watch the reboot of her show, but I just have been reading so many great reviews that I couldn’t help myself. I broke my vow and sat down and watched the first two episodes.

And I loved it. Sure, Roseann Conner is now a deplorable. (Laurie Metcalf’s character enters and says ‘What’s Up Deplorable’) but I guess if I can live in a world where there are Trump supporters, I can live with watching this show which has not skipped a beat, and is just as witty, hilarious and heartwarming as it was before.

And besides, it has Laurie Metcalf, one of the best actresses in the world (and it still makes me a bit mad that she lost the Academy Award this year) to soften the right wing blow of Roseanne. I like the fact that Jackie gets equal time and spars with her. And the rest of the cast is as stellar – there’s still that warm chemistry between Roseanne and Dan (John Goodman) And I was kind of mad at Sara Gilbert for tolerating Rosean’ne’s craziness but she gets center stage here as Darlene, who goes back to live with her family while raising two kids of her own.

I admit, I would have been losing out had I boycotted this. I can admit when I am wrong.

In Love And Grief (Film Thoughts: Love After Love)

p14787163_p_v7_aa‘Love After Love’ deals with grief, and that both appealed and horrified me. There aren’t really a lot of movies that present deal well – it’s such a complicated and personal thing – and really, very different with each person’s experience.

‘Love After Love’ gets some of it right – I like how it shows hoe people feel fragmented right after someone they love dies, and honestly, there was a part of me that still cringes watching scenes of people dying, and what happens right after it happens. I guess that would will always be fresh for me. I also like that the film shows how complex people are, and is unapologetic about showing flawed people doing flawed things.

But I couldn’t relate to anyone in the film. Andie MacDowell is truly fine as the wife and mother, and she does try hard to give the character depth, but the character itself is strangely written. It shows the complicated relationship with her son (Chris O Dowd) but for me his character was so horrid it’s unsalvageable. I felt hollow after the film ended, when I wanted to be filled by it.

Get On Your Feet (Movie Thoughts: Finding Your Feet)

179-finding-your-feetA really good cast can sell anything. That is much evident in ‘Finding Your Feet,’ a film so formulaic even Stevie Wonder can see plot points a mile ahead. Even its pace, like molasses in winter, can be somehow overlooked because the actors, led by Imelda Staunton, sell all of it and you buy it. It’s not a hard sell either – these characters seem all real even while they are saying incredulous dialogue or making real impossible situations.

As I said, Imelda Staunton is Queen. A little glint in her eye can express utmost happiness. As Sandra, an upper-crust wife who discovers her husband is having an affair with her best friend, it never seems like she is asking you to feel sorry for her – her sadness has such dignity. Sandra goes on and starts living with her sister Biff (Celia Imrie) and they rekindle their sibling relationship. Imrie is great as well as the more care-free sister. They both join the local senior-citizen dance group and even if there are a couple of dance sequences, director Richard Loncraine doesn’t seem to be much interested in them, filming them almost all in close up. and well, the choreography isn’t the best, either, anyway, although they do have homespun charm. And Joanna Lumley is wasted here, playing mostly the ‘best friend’ supporting role.

But all in all, it’s entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing West End in London, as well as Rome. I miss Europe.