Five Buckets of Tears (Movie Thoughts: Five Feet Apart)

five_feet_apartSitting in a room full of teenage girls waiting for ‘Five Feet Apart’ felt a little unnerving. I mean, I probably looked like a predator. Just like them, I was lured into seeing the movie because of heart throb Cole Sprouse, who is the male lead of the film. And Sprouse is a thing of beauty. He plays a young man with cystic fibrosis int he film, but he still sports that emotional coiffed curlicue bangs, and when he takes off his shirt sports off a gym body. Who am I kidding, that’s what sells tickets, and the theater is packed the night I saw the film.

Oh, the film you ask? Justin Baldoni directs on auto-pilot. This is formula, and he doesn’t stray much away from it – it is shameless in its manipulation and I knew that jaded lil me would be too smart to fall for his traps. But who am I kidding? By the end of the film, I was weeping with the rest of the teenage audience, realizing my worth as a Cole Sprouse fangurl.

To be honest, it’s Haley Lu Richardson’s film – she is the heart and soul of the story, and singly carries the narrative. This is a young actress to watch out for, and I bet even gets better. And surely Sprouse has that certain something – the ‘it’ factor if you will – to hold the viewer’s attention, and I just hope he learned a thing or two from Richardson.

Madge Before Madge (Movie Thoughts: Madonna and The Breakfast Club)

madonna-and-the-breakfast-club-movie-poster-mdI am as big a Madonna fan as one can get, but I can still say  ‘Madonna and The Breakfast Club’ the film, is boring.  I’ve read most of what has been written about Madonna and her life, and the film does not shed one new light, nor it gives an interesting insight as to what makes Madonna tick. Sure, Guy Guido’s documentary is very loyal (and protective) of Madonna, but a little edge could have made this film a little more worth of my time. Through interviews and re-enactments, it paints Madonna as someone who is hardworking and drive, nut we all knew that already, don’t we? The film goes through the very early years – when Madonna first arrives in New York and starts forming a couple of punk rock bands – and while I think those were important formative years for her, they do not represent the most exciting parts of her career. So she worked with three bands and she started making music. Even the music heard here do not really give you a glimpse of the music that made her famous. The best thing about the documentary is Jamie Auld, who looks so much like the young Madonna, and has even captured the singer’s mannerisms. (I wonder how Madonna feels about her)  As a fan, I appreciate the effort here, but I doubt anyone else would find value in this film.

A Little More Love (Film Thoughts: Gloria Bell)

GloriaBell_1080When I first saw the trailer for ‘Gloria Bell’ a couple of months ago, I told myself, this is my kind of movie. I mean, a middle-aged woman singing along to ONJ’s ‘A Little More Love? ‘  I may or may not have done the exact same thing in real life. So in some way, this movie has already already spoke to me.  In most ways. I am Gloria Bell.

Sebastion Lello remakes his 2013 movie, but he calls  this a ‘cover version.’ Well, I will look at this as I do most cover versions of songs – did this new version dd anything to the original? To be honest, I don’t much remember a lot of the original, only that I remember liking it. Some bits and pieces came back while I watching this, but for all intent and purposes, this film feels new to me.

The film is anchored by a great performance by Julianne Moore, who gives the role all the gusto she can. It is nice to see Moore kind of loosen up, as I always look at her as a schooled, controlled actress. I think a lot of her performance here is still intelligently calculated, but it still mostly works for me. She could still be cold at times – can you imagine the earthiness that Michelle Pfeiffer would bring to the role – but she makes it work for her character, a Gloria that hides behind a still steel state.  And when we see her dancing at the end of the film, we sense the journey that Gloria has gone through.

And Lello’s film is more relaxed in Los Angeles, without the political undertones of the original – it’s California after all. There’s an authenticity to Gloria being there, and her friends did not feel like curated accessories. John Turturro is great as Arnold, showing quiet crazy as only he can. The story here has some holes, and the pacing could be sometimes picked up a bit, but all in all, this is an entertaining film, and for someone like me, a better choice this weekend than the bloated superhero movie it is up against.

It’s In The Bag (Movie Thoughts: Greta)

greta‘Greta’ is such a hot mess of a movie (my first reaction was – Neil Jordan directed this?) that you can’t help but laugh. The audience I was watching this with started howling with laughter with a lot of its implausible plot points. But you cannot help but like it – kind of , sort of. Isabelle Hupert gives a campy performance that a lot of fabulous people will reference in years to come, and Chloe Grace Moretz gives a committed performance that you have to admire for its tenacity. (Maika Monroe playing her best friend/roommate deserves a shout out as well)  I don’t know if anyone at this point can take the film seriously, and if going with that frame of mind, then I guess some enjoyment can be had.

Frantic France (Movie Thoughts: Transit)

5231342e90049da30767ad1eb2d6a9d0‘Transit’ is one of those movies that challenge me.  I was mesmerized by it, but I have to be honest, there were parts that I did nto understand at first, and while some of them made more sense as the film went on, there were also some that were still puzzling after. Directed by Christian Petzold, the film probably warrants a second viewing. But life is too short and I have so much on my to-be-watched plate that I want to do it, but at the same time I don’t have the patience.

But what I got is good. I know it is based on Anna Sagher’s 1944 novel, but is set on present day France (first Paris, then Marseilles)  This Paris is not the city of lights, it’s a turbulent one, with chaos and police activity. A man (Franz Rogowski) assumes another man’s identity, then goes to the port city of Marseilles, facing emotional, and political complications. Some of it doesn’t make common sense, but I don’t think Petzold is too concerned about that – the narrative is fluid, combining past, present, 1944, and 2019. It is supposed to be seamless, but it’s messy – perhaps to elevate the chaos of the story. Rogowski, looking like a German River Phoenix, is perfect for the role  of a man confused, determined, obsessed. He is mesmerizing to look at. But as I said earlier, this is a tough watch. I cope to having unanswered questions that make me feel slightly dumb. For sure, though, this movie stayed with me. I just don’t know what to do with the fragmented pieces I got.

Dick Pic (Film Thoughts: Mapplethorpe)

MV5BMTYyNjM5MzkyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY3Nzg3NjM@._V1_Robert Mapplethorpe’s art was shocking and provocative, and I, just like a lot of other people, would love to know what lurked in the mid of the obvious artistic genius. Ondi Timoner’s ‘Mapplethorpe’ tried to shed light on the man, but the filmmaker (and the film) tried to do too much, and accomplished next to nothing. She wrote the screenplay and perhaps tried to be too broad with it that the man depicted int he film seems like a bloody bore, and I refuse to believe he was such. Matt Smith (am I the only one who did not know who he is, never having seen an episode of ‘Doctor Who’) has great physical resemblance to Mapplethorpe. but is saddled with that lifeless script, so all effort is wasted. Patti Smith (played by Mariann Rendon) fares even worse. I mean, I read her book and know she is an interesting complicated character, but the Patti here is some kind of one-note character. To be fair, Timoner said on the Q & A after the film that the real Patti Smith refused to cooperate with the filmmaker. But there’s more than enough material out there.

When we do see the art, though, the film comes alive. I wish I was more acquainted with the richness of Mapplethorpe’s work, and now want to remedy that. It was interesting to see juxtapositions of the photograph with visual of how he shot them. And I give the film points for including some of the more provocative ‘X’ work. If for anything, it is not as shy as I thought it would be. (This ain’t no ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’)

Emotions Slammed (Movie Thoughts: Fighting With My Family)

DxxU0W6WkAAJOYbI guess it goes without saying that I am not a fan of Wresting. In fact, I barley understand it. However, my late father was a big fan of it, and he would talk endlessly about these characters to anyone who would listen. I would gloss my eyes, of course, but deep inside, the sport had a soft spot in my heart because of my father’s affection for it. I was resisting watching ‘Fighting With My Family’ because of the subject matter, but I am glad I did. I’s a very poignant piece of narrative, and yes, it made me cry. I am not ashamed to admit that a wrestling movie made me cry.

The story revolves around the Knight family of Norwich, England, which i am assuming is some sort of working class neighborhood outside of London. The family business is wrestling, and everyone in the family is in it. They have been sending tapes to the WWE about the kids, and one day they get a call that they are being invited to audition when the show comes to the UK. And I guess we can all guess what happens after.  Britani (Florence Pugh) gets picked, and her brother (Jack Lowden) get left behind. The movie is part sibling rivalry, and part fish-out-of-water for Paige (she had to change her name) and all family drama. Pugh is great here, all vulnerable and touch, while she gets tougher.

Produced by Dwayne Johnson, it is a little bit of a commercial for the WWE (they had a hand in the production as well) It made me appreciate what goes on in the showmanship of wrestling, and while I wasn’t really converted to a fan, it made me respect the craft of it more. And is wrestling fake? Who cares, because the emotions essayed here are very real.