Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Pop Culture Page 1 of 62

Any trends or popular fads may be described, whether it would be something like the hula hoop or the pet rock or simply new slang.

Oscar Nominees Are Announced for March 7th, 2023 Awards Ceremony

Oscar Nominees

Best Picture

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Elvis”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”

“Tár”

“Top Gun: Maverick”

“Triangle of Sadness”

“Women Talking”

Actress in a Supporting Role

Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Hong Chau, “The Whale”

Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Actor in a Supporting Role

Colin Farrell on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago Film Festival.

Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”

Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Actor in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett 

Austin Butler, “Elvis”

Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Bill Nighy, “Living”

Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, “Tár”

Ana de Armas, “Blonde”

Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”

Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”

Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Best Director

Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”

Todd Field, “Tár”

Ruben Ostlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

In the “Best Picture” category, I have seen 7 of 10. By the time of the March 7th broadcast, I will have seen 8, minimum. It is always difficult to see all of the films if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area. It is especially difficult if the film is an international offering and has poor distribution. No predictions or comments until I complete my viewing of the nominated films prior to the March 7th awards ceremony.

Actress in a Supporting Role – I’ve seen all of these nominated performances. I did not enjoy the “Everything, Everywhere All At Once” film, so I’m not blown away by the nomination of 2 actresses from that film. I did appreciate the film more after reading that, basically, a very few people put this film together. I do acknowledge that the lead role would be quite demanding. I will make some predictions closer to March 7th.

Actor in a Supporting Role: I’ve seen all of these performances. My initial thoughts on the nominees here is that Judd Hirsch, although good in his role in “The Fabelmanns,” is barely in the film. “The Causeway” film was underwhelming (a Jennifer Lawrence indie film) although Brian Tyree Henry was good in a small film. I can see where Hirsch might get the vote for his long career, but, for me, Brendan Gleeson was the best of these 5.

Actor in a Leading Role:  I’ve only seen 3 of the 5 nominees. This was partially because two of the films did not have as wide a release, and partially because of my own health issues. I still need to see Paul Mescal and Bill Nighy before commenting. With the three I have seen, I am torn. I appreciate the acting tour de force that Brendan Fraser gave us in an overall depressing film that was almost like a stage play in having taken place on one set. I’ve watched “Elvis” three times, but I have always felt that Colin Farrell deserved more recognition for his work and Austin Butler is a newcomer. I met Colin Farrell in Chicago at the premiere of the Liv Ullman-directed film “Miss Julie.”

Actress in a Leading Role:  I’ve seen all of the nominees. I actually like Andrea Riseborough’s performance in “To Leslie” the best of these nominees. She was great opposite Marc Maron! I am puzzled as to why the lead in “Till” didn’t make the cut. One also wonders about the Jennifer Lawrence role in “Causeway” and the diss of Viola Davis in “The Woman King.”

Best Director:  I’ve seen all the nominees except “Triangle of Sadness” director Ruben Ostlund. I’m a longtime fan of Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “In Bruges”). Everyone is a longtime fan of Steven Spielberg, which may work against him, since he has won previously. “Tar” was a great performance from Cate Blanchett, but it was not a great movie for the audience. Likewise, unless “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” begins a sweep—which will happen without me being onboard—I would vote for either McDonagh or Spielberg.

More predictions and commentary to come. These, for me, are the Big Categories, and, of nominess, I’ve seen 28 of 35 of the Big Ones. While this is only 80%, I had the kind of 2022 that makes it amazing I saw that many!

Critics’ Choice Awards Given on January 15, 2023

Critics’ Choice Awards 2023: WINNERS

 FILM

BEST PICTURE

Avatar: The Way of Water

Babylon

The Banshees of Inisherin

Elvis

Everything Everywhere All at Once – WINNER

The Fabelmans

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

RRR

Tár

Top Gun: Maverick

Women Talking

BEST ACTOR

Austin Butler – Elvis

Tom Cruise – Top Gun: Maverick

Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Fraser – The Whale – WINNER

Paul Mescal – Aftersun

Bill Nighy – Living

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett – Tár – WINNER

Viola Davis – The Woman King

Danielle Deadwyler – Till

Margot Robbie – Babylon

Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans

Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Paul Dano – The Fabelmans

Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin

Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans

Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin

Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once – WINNER

Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – WINNER

Jessie Buckley – Women Talking

Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin

Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Janelle Monáe – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Frankie Corio – Aftersun

Jalyn Hall – Till

Gabriel LaBelle – The Fabelmans – WINNER

Bella Ramsey – Catherine Called Birdy

Banks Repeta – Armageddon Time

Sadie Sink – The Whale

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

The Banshees of Inisherin

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Fabelmans

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – WINNER

The Woman King

Women Talking

BEST DIRECTOR

James Cameron – Avatar: The Way of Water

Damien Chazelle – Babylon

Todd Field – Tár

Baz Luhrmann – Elvis

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once – WINNER

Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Sarah Polley – Women Talking

Gina Prince-Bythewood – The Woman King

S. S. Rajamouli – RRR

Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Todd Field – Tár

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once – WINNER

Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner – The Fabelmans

Charlotte Wells – Aftersun

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Samuel D. Hunter – The Whale

Kazuo Ishiguro – Living

Rian Johnson – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Rebecca Lenkiewicz – She Said

Sarah Polley – Women Talking – WINNER

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Russell Carpenter – Avatar: The Way of Water

Roger Deakins – Empire of Light

Florian Hoffmeister – Tár

Janusz Kaminski – The Fabelmans

 Maverick – WINNER Miranda Claudion – Top Gun Maverick

Linus Sandgren – Babylon

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Hannah Beachler, Lisa K. Sessions – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Rick Carter, Karen O’Hara – The Fabelmans

Dylan Cole, Ben Procter, Vanessa Cole – Avatar: The Way of Water

Jason Kisvarday, Kelsi Ephraim – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy, Bev Dunn – Elvis

Florencia Martin, Anthony Carlino – Babylon – WINNER

BEST EDITING

Tom Cross – Babylon

Eddie Hamilton – Top Gun: Maverick

Stephen Rivkin, David Brenner, John Refoua, James Cameron – Avatar: The Way of Water

Paul Rogers – Everything Everywhere All at Once – WINNER

Matt Villa, Jonathan Redmond – Elvis

Monika Willi – Tár

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Ruth E. Carter – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – WINNER

Jenny Eagan – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Shirley Kurata – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Catherine Martin – Elvis

Gersha Phillips – The Woman King

Mary Zophres – Babylon

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

Babylon

The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Elvis – WINNER

Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Whale

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Avatar: The Way of Water – WINNER

The Batman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Everything Everywhere All at Once

RRR

Top Gun: Maverick

BEST COMEDY

The Banshees of Inisherin

Bros

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Triangle of Sadness

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – WINNER

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Turning Red

Wendell & Wild

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

All Quiet on the Western Front

Argentina, 1985

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

Close

Decision to Leave

RRR – WINNER

BEST SONG

Carolina – Where the Crawdads Sing

Ciao Papa – Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Hold My Hand – Top Gun: Maverick

Lift Me Up – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Naatu Naatu – RRR – WINNER

New Body Rhumba – White Noise

BEST SCORE

Alexandre Desplat – Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Michael Giacchino – The Batman

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Tár – WINNER

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Women Talking

Justin Hurwitz – Babylon

John Williams – The Fabelmans

 TELEVISION

BEST DRAMA SERIES

Andor (Disney+)

Bad Sisters (Apple TV+)

Better Call Saul (AMC) – WINNER

The Crown (Netflix)

Euphoria (HBO)

The Good Fight (Paramount+)

House of the Dragon (HBO)

Severance (Apple TV+)

Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Jeff Bridges – The Old Man (FX)

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Diego Luna – Andor (Disney+)

Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul (AMC) – WINNER

Adam Scott – Severance (Apple TV+)

Antony Starr – The Boys (Prime Video)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Christine Baranski – The Good Fight (Paramount+)

Sharon Horgan – Bad Sisters (Apple TV+)

Laura Linney – Ozark (Netflix)

Mandy Moore – This Is Us (NBC)

Kelly Reilly – Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

Zendaya – Euphoria (HBO) – WINNER

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Andre Braugher – The Good Fight (Paramount+)

Ismael Cruz Córdova – The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video)

Michael Emerson – Evil (Paramount+)

Giancarlo Esposito – Better Call Saul (AMC) – WINNER

John Lithgow – The Old Man (FX)

Matt Smith – House of the Dragon (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Milly Alcock – House of the Dragon (HBO)

Carol Burnett – Better Call Saul (AMC)

Jennifer Coolidge – The White Lotus (HBO) – WINNER

Julia Garner – Ozark (Netflix)

Audra McDonald – The Good Fight (Paramount+)

Rhea Seehorn – Better Call Saul (AMC)

BEST COMEDY SERIES

Abbott Elementary (ABC) – WINNER

Barry (HBO)

The Bear (FX)

Better Things (FX)

Ghosts (CBS)

Hacks (HBO Max)

Reboot (Hulu)

Reservation Dogs (FX)

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Matt Berry – What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Bill Hader – Barry (HBO)

Keegan-Michael Key – Reboot (Hulu)

Steve Martin – Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

Jeremy Allen White – The Bear (FX) – WINNER

D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai – Reservation Dogs (FX)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Christina Applegate – Dead to Me (Netflix)

Quinta Brunson – Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Kaley Cuoco – The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

Renée Elise Goldsberry – Girls5eva (Peacock)

Devery Jacobs – Reservation Dogs (FX)

Jean Smart – Hacks (HBO Max)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Brandon Scott Jones – Ghosts (CBS)

Leslie Jordan – Call Me Kat (Fox)

James Marsden – Dead to Me (Netflix)

Chris Perfetti – Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Tyler James Williams – Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Henry Winkler – Barry (HBO) – WINNER

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Paulina Alexis – Reservation Dogs (FX)

Ayo Edebiri – The Bear (FX)

Marcia Gay Harden – Uncoupled (Netflix)

Janelle James – Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Annie Potts – Young Sheldon (CBS)

Sheryl Lee Ralph – Abbott Elementary (ABC) – WINNER

BEST LIMITED SERIES

The Dropout (Hulu) – WINNER

Gaslit (Starz)

The Girl from Plainville (Hulu)

The Offer (Paramount+)

Pam & Tommy (Hulu)

Station Eleven (HBO Max)

This Is Going to Hurt (AMC+)

Under the Banner of Heaven (FX)

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Fresh (Hulu)

Prey (Hulu)

Ray Donovan: The Movie (Showtime)

The Survivor (HBO)

Three Months (Paramount+)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (The Roku Channel) – WINNER

BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Ben Foster – The Survivor (HBO)

Andrew Garfield – Under the Banner of Heaven (FX)

Samuel L. Jackson – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+)

Daniel Radcliffe – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (The Roku Channel) – WINNER

Sebastian Stan – Pam & Tommy (Hulu)

Ben Whishaw – This is Going to Hurt (AMC+)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Julia Garner – Inventing Anna (Netflix)

Lily James – Pam & Tommy (Hulu)

Amber Midthunder – Prey (Hulu)

Julia Roberts – Gaslit (Starz)

Michelle Pfeiffer – The First Lady (Showtime)

Amanda Seyfried – The Dropout (Hulu) – WINNER

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Murray Bartlett – Welcome to Chippendales (Hulu)

Domhnall Gleeson – The Patient (FX)

Matthew Goode – The Offer (Paramount+)

Paul Walter Hauser – Black Bird (Apple TV+) – WINNER

Ray Liotta – Black Bird (Apple TV+)

Shea Whigham – Gaslit (Starz)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Claire Danes – Fleishman Is in Trouble (FX)

Dominique Fishback – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+)

Betty Gilpin – Gaslit (Starz)

Melanie Lynskey – Candy (Hulu)

Niecy Nash-Betts – Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix) – WINNER

Juno Temple – The Offer (Paramount+)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE SERIES

1899 (Netflix)

Borgen (Netflix)

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix)

Garcia! (HBO Max)

The Kingdom Exodus (MUBI)

Kleo (Netflix)

My Brilliant Friend (HBO)

Pachinko (Apple TV+) – WINNER

Tehran (Apple TV+)

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

Bluey (Disney+)

Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal (Adult Swim)

Harley Quinn (HBO Max) – WINNER

Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)

Undone (Prime Video)

BEST TALK SHOW

The Amber Ruffin Show (Peacock)

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – WINNER

Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)

Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Bravo)

BEST COMEDY SPECIAL

Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune (Netflix)

Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel (HBO)

Joel Kim Booster: Psychosexual (Netflix)

Nikki Glaser: Good Clean Filth (HBO)

Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special (Netflix) – WINNER

Would It Kill You to Laugh? Starring Kate Berlant & John Early (Peacock)

Advertisement

Tom Hanks is Otto in “A Man Called Otto”

 

The comic possibilities of a suicidal suspect who keeps failing at offing himself were plumbed by Burt Reynolds 45 years ago in “The End.” The reasons why Burt’s many attempts at suicide failed were not identical to Tom Hanks’ in “A Man Called Otto” based on the Swedish film “A Man Called Ove” and the 2015 Oscar-nominated Swedish hit by Hannes Holm (which was based on the book of the same name by Fredrik Backman.) But the engine driving the film was the same in both films.

The cranky old man schtick has also been well plumbed by actors like Clint Eastwood portraying Walt Kowalski in the 2008 film “Gran Torino.” The grouchy man who is mad at the world role is played, this time, by America’s favorite Everyman, Tom Hanks. It’s a good thing, because the plot is obvious from a mile away (we’ve seen this film before). However, with Tom Hanks as the lead, it’s possible to shrug off the sugary overload and enjoy the (relatively) happy ending. Plus, Tom adopts a stray cat, always a crowd pleaser.  [Based on remarks Hanks made on a late-night talk show, the cat was a pretty independent critter that would barely look Tom’s way and never on cue.]

The younger version of Tom Hanks is played by Truman Hanks, Tom’s real-life son. This is also something that has been done before, as with the recent pairing of Dustin and Jake Hoffman starring opposite Sissy Spacek and her daughter Schuyler Fisk in “Sam and Kate.”To hear the elder Hanks tell it, his son Truman has been learning the entertainment business from the ground up, starting with camera and electrical work. Truman does not resemble Tom as much as his older son, Colin,  but Truman was the right age for the part (if a little chubby by Dad’s standards).  The flashbacks, establishing young Otto’s somewhat awkward social presence, are fine, with Rachel Keller portraying young Sonya, the love of Otto’s life.

Little by little we learn that Otto and Sonya were in a bus accident; their unborn child died.  Sonya went on to teach school and  to urge her husband to continue to invest in life, although the loss of their child was a bitter blow. Even more deeply felt was Otto’s loss of Sonya to cancer at 63 years of age. He now visits her daily in the cemetery and chats graveside.

With Colin Hanks at the Chicago Film Festival.

From Sonya’s death on, Otto is the Town Grouch. He makes daily “rounds” to make sure no one is driving the wrong way on the “not a through street” entrance to their Midwestern housing  development.  He supervises the trash recycling area. After new neighbors move in across the street, he is asked to loan Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo)  and Marisol (Mariana Trevino) everything from a ladder to an Allen wrench. “Idiot” is the most common perjorative that Otto uses when someone near him cannot parallel park or is driving the wrong way in the neighborhood. But the cracks in the crabby façade are growing bigger and broader with the entrance into the neighborhood of the vivacious pregnant Marisol, her husband Tommy and their two little girls. The two little girls in the new family (Christiana Montoya as Luna and Alessandra Perez as Abbie) are a sure sign that Otto will thaw from his previous role as Mr. Grumpy Pants.

Along the way, there are at least three failed suicide attempts by Hanks, which, again,  reminded me of that long-ago Burt Reynolds blackly comic vehicle “The End” (co-starring Sally Field and Dom DeLuise). It also reminded me of a very unpopular comedy routine that George Carlin launched on an unsuspecting audience in Chicago near the end of his life. [The audience began exiting in droves; they did not find suicide the least bit funny.]

There’s nothing off-key about Tom Hanks’ performance in this very predictable bitter sweet story. The music (Thomas Newman) is unremarkable and the fact that Tom Hanks could read the phone book and still entertain us is not news. I wondered why Hanks chose this particular story, and then I saw that Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks) was Executive Producer and read that she was quite taken with the project after seeing the Swedish film.

I don’t object to a “happy” ending or a nicely-packaged movie about a Scrooge-like character who will, in the course of the movie’s 2 hour  40 minute length, grow much warmer and fuzzier. The supporting performances are adequate;with the exception of Mariana Trevino as the irrepressible Marisol, the other characters are not overly memorable.

It was a nice family movie with some good messages about living life and nurturing community. German director Marc Foster’s offering is not likely to surprise, but the fleeting references to Hanks’ suicidal tendencies will not drive patrons from the theater. Comedian Mike Birbiglia is wasted as a Dye & Merica real estate agent. The movie opened wide on Friday the 13th (Jan.).

.

Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” Defines Excess in Hollywood

“Babylon” is Damien Chazelle’s salute to the movies, following on the heels of Sam Mendes’  similar homage to film  in “Empire of Light.”

I’ve never met Sam Mendes, although I admire his work. But I have met Damian Chazelle, when he came to Chicago for the premiere of “La La Land” at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival on October 13, 2016. Damien Chazelle is a genuine, personable, interesting young man. He has again partnered with longtime collaborator Justin Hurwitz, (who also did the music for “La La Land” and “Whiplash”). The  score was very reminiscent of the music from “La La Land.”

The film attempts to depict what Hollywood might have been like back when the silent movie era was giving way to talkies. It is both an homage to those chaotic times, beginning in 1926, and a criticism of the excesses of Hollywood. The opening 20 minutes, depicting an elephant being transported to an orgy-like party hosted by someone seemingly based on Fatty Arbuckle, goes a long way towards showing those excesses. It’s way over-the-top. You could say that about the entire film.

One of the things that amazes about this $80 million-dollar stroll down memory lane, is the cast. In addition to Brad Pitt as the male lead and Margot Robbie as the female lead,  there are bit parts for a myriad of actors, both known and unknown. Who were these masked men (and women)?

Flea has a part. Eric Roberts—who I interviewed on my WeeklyWilson podcast during the pandemic—plays Margot Robbie’s father. Lukas Haas who played  the small boy in “Witness” when he was nine years old in the seventies, plays George, Brad Pitt’s best friend.  Tobey Maguire, listed as an executive producer, has a truly hero-destroying role as a gangster. Spike Jonze plays Otto. Michael Dukakis has an uncredited part as a soldier. Anna Chazelle has an uncredited part as Bobbie Hart. Kaia Gerber, look-alike daughter of Cindy Crawford, has a bit part as a starlet.  Jovan Adepo plays jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer. Jean Smart (“Hacks”) plays a composite character based on columnists like Hedda Hopper/Louella Parsons, Elinor O’Toole. Max Minghella (“The Handmaid’s Tale’s Nick Blaine) plays Irving Thalberg. Comedian/actor Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) plays Don Wallach, Ethan Suplee  (“Remember the Titans” 2000) plays Wilson and spends most of his time onscreen spitting grossly, Manny Liotta plays a  P.A. (Production Assistant). This is a very partial list of the surprisingly elaborate cast list. (Hard to stage an orgy without a crowd, I guess.)

But the lead as Manny Torres is relative unknown Mexican actor Diego Calva, who comes to the screen in a major part as a relative unknown to U.S. audiences. Calva played a drug lord on Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico” but, if you missed that, you missed him. He came to his star-making part in much the same way as the fictional Manny Torres: by doing whatever anyone in the movie business wanted/needed done. He reminded me of the “fixer” characters played by Harvey Keitel in “Pulp Fiction” or by Leiv Schreiber in “Ray Donovan.”

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night television show, Calva shared some behind-the-scenes insights into the film and into his own background. Golden Globe nominated for “Babylon,” Diego learned to speak English specifically for “Babylon.” He said he learned English from playing “Pokemon” video games in Mexico. He confirmed that the chicken in the orgy scene was a great actor.  He also confirmed that they used a chicken puppet for some takes. Diego admitted he was most excited to meet Tobey Maguire, since he had been a “Spiderman” fan from a young age.

Among other comments the young actor made was this one about the opening orgy scene:  “It was so crazy. I’ve never been surrounded by so many naked people before.” Of his co-star and love interest in the film, Margot Robbie, Diego said:  “She’s always going to do the unexpected. She’s a fearless actress, just full on energy.  When you’re so tired, she can play it 100 times more.”Diego studied at the Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica in Mexico. He is a talent to watch.

The thing that resonated with me—especially since it was quite similar to Sam Mendes’ musings on the movies—were the lines that pin down Chazelle’s feelings about film. It’s not unique amongst creative types, whether filmmakers, writers, song writers, or painters that the work we leave behind gives us a feelingof a little bit of immortality. Ideally, whatever we have created has been good. It will be around long after we are gone.Immortality.

Chazelle scripted one scene, in particular, between Jean Smart and Brad Pitt where she tells the fading screen star “Your time has run out. There is no why. Film is bigger than you. No one asks to be left behind.” Telling him how he will live forever on celluloid, the columnist says, “You’ve been given a gift. Be grateful.” And Pitt’s character, in an earlier scene, states, “What I do means something to millions of people. For real people, on the ground, it means something.” He tells Olivia Wilde’s character (Ina) to spare him the pretentious notes on his reading of a script, expressing some disgust at those who try to characterize film as “a low art” and, instead, enshrine Ibsen and Strindberg and the theater.

The general critical consensus has been bad for the film among both critics and audiences. I understand that, as so many of the scenes are well over-the-top and, I’m sure, offensive to many. The opening scene with the elephant and elephant dung is but one example. There is a later one involving Margot Robbie at a party rejecting the urgings to be “elegant” and become more like the group at the party with whom she is associating. She tries, but fails, to “act” respectable, since her original nickname was “the wild child.” Now, she is to eschew her Jersey roots and act well-behaved, but she rejects that advice in a way that goes beyond the norm. She literally smears food all over her face, insults everyone at the party, and, ultimately, projectile vomits both outside the house and inside on a newly-purchased expensiv rug. It’s a bit much. The orgy scenes and naked bodies may have been necessary (although the golden shower scene with a Fatty Arbuckle type was a bit much) and the descent into the depths of depravity in L.A. that Tobey Maguire insists Manny and companion take with him was overkill.

The film cost a lot ($80 million) and when you see the voluminous cast list, it isn’t surprising. Not only does it have two of the biggest current stars in Hollywood (Pitt and Robbie) but it seems to have everyone else who might have been hanging around. My favorite small part was the inclusion of Eric Roberts. Roberts undoubtedly holds the record for most American movie appearances ever.

A lot of the scenes screamed gross—like the vomiting one and dung-spewing elephant. You  get the feeling that the creative license to try new things led to throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the wall.

Another thing that swelled the film’s length from a normal hour and a half to over three hours was the emphasis on the music. Chazelle has highlighted the music of his collaborator, Justin Hurwitz. Although trumpet player character Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) admitted  that he did not really play the trumpet, the film focuses on the band and its performances. I don’t have an exact count of how many minutes this occupies, but it was substantial.

Another source pointed out that the film’s release in competition against “Avatar” was not great marketing.

Outside the door of the Alama Drafthouse Theater the day I saw it was a warning that the final scenes, paying tribute to many other movies that have gone before, might cause viewers to have seizures, if they were vulnerable.

I salute the effort to capture Hollywood magic of the 1920-1930 in a bottle, but it just didn’t work.

“One Way,” “American Assassin,” and “The Nanny:” Films at Christmas (Streaming)

We are currently watching “One Way.” Drea De Matteo, from “The Sopranos,” has a roleas Vic, as do Kevin Bacon and Colson Baker, otherwise known as Machine Gun Kelly. Travis Fimmel is another in the cast, and it is rated “R” on Amazon Prime for $4.99.

It will be interesting to see if Machine Gun Kelly is much of an actor, so the $4.99 price tag seems worth it. The film, by Andrew Baird, is an indie thriller and, so far, Colson (i.e., Machine Gun) is on a bus and attempting to escape. He portrays Freddy, who has stolen some coke and is on the lam. Freddy may not have thought out this heist too completely, as he seems to have sustained a gunshot to his abdomen.

The background music is pretty hard core and the person being tortured, Mac, is a Machine Gun Kelly knock-off, pink hair and all. Some commenters on ratings pages have mentioned that they had difficulty hearing all the dialogue because of the volume of the background music, but it is compelling and carries and sustains the suspense and momentum.

Two nights ago I watched “The Nanny,” another indie film, which had some good acting within it. The young nanny from Senegal, Aisha, (Anna Diopp) was good in her part, but the ending was rather abrupt. She was hired as the nanny for a couple, portrayed by Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector.  They don’t pay her what she is owed, and the boss even makes a pass at her. However, the film, which seems to be heading toward a tragic ending, has a rather sudden happy ending, so there’s that. Anna Diopp was impressive in her role.

I followed that up with a film called “American Assassin” which caught my eye as something being streamed live by YouTube. Every few minutes a message would appear on the screen saying, “We’ll be back in 1 minute and 58 seconds.” The film would buffer. Michael Keaton would be training assassins of the Navy Seal variety and acting all tough. I like Michael Keaton very much, but I prefer films in which he has witty dialogue, which he never fails to deliver well. [I’m still stuck on “Night Shift,” one of his very first films, with Henry Winkler as his boss.]

I had been eagerly awaiting Damian Chazelle’s “Babylon” film, but the advance word from those who have seen it is not positive. I met Chazelle at the premiere of “La La Land” at the Chicago International Film Festival” and he was very, very nice. I look forward to all of his films, and I’ll see this one, regardless of the bad reviews I’ve encountered.

Drea is playing a bad girl known as Vic. She and her minions have just murdered the Machine Gun Kelly look-alike (Mac), after torturing him to try to find out where the real Machine Gun Kelly had gone with their illegal product.

Time to start concentrating on the plot. So far, it is holding my attention better than either of the two mentioned above.

“The Menu” Is Interesting, Well-Paced, Well-Executed Film

Now playing at our local cinema is Director Mark Mylod’s paen to over-priced food and uber pretentious foodies, “The Menu.”

The film stars Ralph Fiennes as Chef Slowik, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, who once slung burgers as the Employee of the Month at Howie’s Hamburgers, but has now become an elitest snob even more superficial than his wealthy customers.

The film opens with the truly elitest group boarding a boat to sail to a private island for a dinner priced at $1,250 per person. Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) is a foodie of the first class who has been following Chef Slowik’s career for years and has been( corresponding with him for 8 months, (as we later learn,)

First question:  if someone who was going to cook for you told you that  by accepting the invitation to come to the island to eat, you were signing your ow death warrant, would you still accept the invitation? No. I didn’t think so. It is those lapses between reality and the deux machina that makes this movie work that are the negatives, but there are many positives, including Anya Taylor-Joy as the female lead accompanying young Tyler to dinner.

As it turns out, Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Qheen’s Gambit,” 2020; “Split,” 2016) is a substitute for Tyler’s original date. As you get to know Tyler, thanks to the witty script from Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, it is easy to see why none of the cool girls ever wanted to go to Prom with him, and why he hired Anya Taylor-Joy’s hooker, Margo, to accompany him to the island, after his original date broke it off. [Tyler is the kind of date whose obsession with the topic and annoying devotion to the entire concept of Chef Slowik dserves breaking off.]

The clip from the film shows the apparently Mad As A Hatter Chef Slowik telling the guests at his fabled restaurant, that the men will be given 45 seconds to run for their lives. Ergo, we know fro the start that this is no ordinary dinner party with high-priced food that may be close to inedible to the average palate. After all, these palates are not “average” or ordinary. These are exceptionally rich people who feel that they are just slightly better than others who cannot afford this kind of food.

My feeling about Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, like the chef himself, is that she is a working class stiff—a service industry caterer like Ralph Fiennes. He recognizes her as “different” from the others because of that, but also accuses her of ruining his entire presentation by being present on this finale night. Margo is a no bullshit kind of gal. She does the most to attempt to save herself. She basically calls out the phoney baloney food (or lack of food) and demands a cheeseburger, at one point in time. And she gets it.

The set decoration (Gretchen Gathuso), art direction (Lindsey Moran) and production design (Ethan Tobman), as well as the cinematography by Peter Deming were all exquisite. The restaurant’s interior reminded me of a hotel I stayed in once, in a town I shall not name, which was so sterile and uncozy that I was tempted to check out in the middle of the night. The costuming is also fantastic and the entire film is so well-done that I can recommend it when it streams as well-paced (John Leguizamo is a joy, always) and fun to watch, even as we recognize that it is really all style and no substance. It works for “The Glass Onion,” why not this film?

 

The Voice Finale: Very Disappointing

I watched the taped last program of “The Voice” that selected the winner.

What a colossal disappointment!

As I relayed in a previous article, they had already kicked off the two best singers. The two best were African American singers who were spectacular and, instead of them, we had one truly impressive voice remaining (Omar) and 4 others who were okay, but not that impressive.

Of the 4 others, at least 2 were selected because they were “cute,” even though one of them (the young fellow who had never really sung before this) finished last, the entire program was so jam-packed with filler and performances from people you’ve barely heard of that it was not a good finale for Blake Shelton’s last show, his 9th win. I wonder how the show will do with Blake Shelton departing? They also inserted so much “filler” (Howie Mandel teaching Camilla to tell jokes?) that they ran out of time to tell us who finished in 3rd and 2nd place, after they blurted out that the cowboy had won. We were left with the blonde, the Bodie guy and Bryce Leatherwood and less than 2 minutes to announce the culmination of literally weeks of run-offs and duets and votes. W-H-A-T?

It was nice, for Blake Shelton, that the country and western singer with the good name (Leatherwood) won, as he was on Blake’s team, but all THREE of Blake’s team made the cut, when the Brodie person was average and the cowboy hat wearing country singer who won (Bryce Leatherwood) seems very likeable, but was simply not as good as the two Black singers kicked off in the previous program when there were 8 left.

There was also a blonde from Cemilla Cabello’s team, who was among the top three.

The program had so much “filler” and so many guest performances by nobodies (well, two were somebodies) that I was glad to have it on tape so I could fast forward through the short guy in orange whom I had never seen or heard of before and the Spanish-speaking performer whose name started with the letter “M.” (If my daughter had been here, she could have filled me in on how out-of-it I am and provided names for me to give you here.)

I was shocked at Adam Lambert’s appearance, as he wore a baggy white suit and really looked heavy and old (and he sang a totally depressing song, mostly in falsetto, on a totally weird set.) Carson Daly also appears to need to join the same gym as A

dam Lambert, as both of them have packed on the pounds. I say this as someone always dieting, but I’m not on TV, so—–

Best performance of the evening by a contestant was Omar’s Stevie Wonder medley, but the entire program was really depressing and even poorly planned, time-wise.

“The White Lotus,” Season 2 Speculations During the Finale Episode

F. Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Meghann Fahy, Theo James, Adam DiMarco, and Haley Lu Richardson in The White Lotus (2021)

Currently watching the Finale episode of “White Lotus.”

Please read no further if you don’t want to know too much about the series.

I don’t know he answer to that “Who is dead?” question, either, but, currently, my top speculation had been running towards Lucia, the older of the two hookers. When she got in the car with her (irritated) pimp I feared that she would only be seen washing up on the beach after that. However, there she was in a later scene, alive and well, so….

Now, as the finale unfurls, I am wondering if the two married couples are going to be the answer to the question, “Who killed whom?”

The more sedate of the two married couples, Ethan and Harper, may figure in the outcome. The husband of  Aubrey Plaza, played by Will Sharpe (Ethan and Harper Spiller) is obsessing over his former roommate, Theo James’ as Cameron Sullivan has an ongoing flirtation with Harper, just as Cameron always used to steal Ethan’s girlfriends when they were roommates in college. Ethan seems to be building up an imaginary scenario where his former roommate has slept with his wife. This could lead to a fight in the water and the drowning of Theo James. Does it?

Then there is the entire gay group revolving around Stiffler’s Mom, i.e., Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya Mc-Quaid Hunt. Tom Hollander (who plays Quentin) may be setting Tanya up for a sting. She has noticed that a photo in Quentin’s room greatly resembles her husband Greg, except that it was taken years before when Greg had hair. Interesting.

Then there is the sleazy Leo Woodall as Jack. He is definitely a bad influence and we hope that Portia (Haley LuRichardson) doesn’t get herself in deep with the possibly criminal element. Portia has a feeling that “something bad is going to happen.” Quentin is not rich at all, but is posing as a rich person. Does the picture of Greg in his youth mean that he and Quentin are in cahoots. Are Quentin and Greg plotting to murder Tanya to get past the pre-nup that would give him no money if they divorced but give Greg her wealth if she dies? We know that Greg is not true blue because he was on the phone having a clandestine conversation with someone who sounded as though he/she was an alternative love interest of some sort, before he left.

It appears that Jack’s “job” may be to keep Portia away from Tanya, so Tanya can be murdered? Or not.

“Enjoy the Ionian Sea while you still can.”

I must pay attention now, as things are winding down.

 

Eighteen Titles of 2022 to See Before Oscar Time

R | 114 min | Comedy, Drama

Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

  • “The Glass Onion”

    Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (L-R) Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix © 2022.

Great dark comedy movie about friendship and division through the boredom of day to day existence on an island. Deeper than you’d expect.

 

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

PG-13 | 140 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

 

Famed Southern detective Benoit Blanc travels to Greece for his latest case.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Daniel CraigEdward NortonKate HudsonDave Bautista

PG-13 | 159 min | Biography, Drama, Music

The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Director: Baz Luhrmann | Stars: Tom HanksAustin ButlerOlivia DeJongeHelen Thomson

 

PG-13 | 130 min | Action, Drama

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

Director: Joseph Kosinski | Stars: Tom CruiseJennifer ConnellyMiles TellerVal Kilmer

 

.5)   Nope (2022)

R | 130 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling effect.

 

6) (2022) “The Whale”

The Whale

R | 117 min | Drama

A reclusive English teacher attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Brendan FraserSadie SinkTy SimpkinsHong Chau

 

 7)  Inside Man (II) (2022)

TV-MA | 240 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A prisoner on death row in the US and a woman trapped in a cellar under an English vicarage, cross paths in the most unexpected way.

Stars: David TennantStanley TucciDolly WellsLydia West

 

8)  The Fabelmans (2022)

PG-13 | 151 min | Drama

Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Michelle WilliamsGabriel LaBellePaul DanoJudd Hirsch

 

9)  The Good Nurse (2022)

R | 121 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

 

An infamous caregiver is implicated in the deaths of hundreds of hospital patients.

Director: Tobias Lindholm | Stars: Eddie RedmayneJessica ChastainDenise PillottDartel McRae

. 

10) Tár (2022)

R | 158 min | Drama, Music

Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra. Seems like it is based on this woman whose documentary I reviewed previously:

Director: Todd FieldCat”https://weeklywilson.com/the-conductor-about-1st-female-conductor-screens-at-denver-international-film-festival/Vengeance,”

Cate BlanchettNoémie MerlantNina HossSophie Kauer

 11) My Policeman (2022)

R | 113 min | Drama, Romance

The arrival of Patrick into Marion and Tom’s home triggers the exploration of seismic events from 40 years previously.

Director: Michael Grandage | Stars: Harry StylesEmma CorrinGina McKeeLinus Roache

 

Others: “The Menu,” 

“Avatar,”

“The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,”

“Empire of Light,”

“The Lost King,”

“She Said”

“Raymond and Ray”

The 18 films mentioned above (in no particular order) represent some of the best and/or most-promising of those released from January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Since it is only November 27th, there are obviously some that have yet to screen, and I’ve missed a few, like “Till” or Viola Davis’ outing as a female warrior in “The Woman King.”

I’ve not seen “Avatar” (has anyone ?) and “She Said” is next on my list of films that are screening just up the street. (I polished off “The Fabelmans” yesterday).

Still, I’ve probably seen more of this year’s new offerings than most, as I’ve covered the Nashville, Denver, Chicago and Austin film festivals, so far, with Sun Dance and SXSW upcoming.

Of the ones above, all of which I have seen, I will give you some candid impressions, in order.

  • “The Banshees of Inisherin” – This one was a weird one, but it represents 2 excellent performances, which I think might earn Colin Farrell a nomination as Best Actor of the Year, with Brendan Gleeson earning Best Supporting Actor accolades. The title has relatively little to do with the film, as it is simply the title of a song that Brendan Gleeson is working on. This film from the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” director is either going to amuse you in a horrific way or completely repulse you. Look for the female lead portraying Colin Farrell’s sister, Kerry Condon, to earn a Best Supporting Actress nomination.”

 

  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” – An excellent cast, but, to me, seemed to be all style and not much substance. Janaelle Monae was the standout of the many famous cast members.

 

  • “Elvis” – Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis—although somewhat cleaned up from reality—is nothing short of astonishing. The Baz Luhrmann movie bites off a bit more than it can comfortably chew, but it is exciting whenever Austin Butler is center stage.

 

  • “Top Gun: Maverick” – Is this the movie that will earn Tom Cruise an Oscar? Think about it, when viewed in the light of his long career. The visual stunts worked and Mils Teller was a welcome addition to the cast.

 

  • “Nope” – one of the most layered films of the year, and one of my favorites. See my review here:https://weeklywilson.com/nope-is-jordan-peeles-summer-movie-here-are-some-helpful-explanations/

 

  • The Whale” – Brendan Fraser is outstanding in this much-lauded Cannes standout, but it’s all set in one room and is Major League depressing. Look for Fraser to snag an Oscar nomination and the film to make the Best Pictures of the Year list.

 

  • “Inside Man” – There are numerous plot holes in this one, but it’s a good evening’s entertainment.

 

  • “The Fabelmans” – See review here: Steven Spielberg’s memoir to his family of origin.https://weeklywilson.com/the-fabelmans-is-steven-spielbergs-memoir-moment/

 

  • “The Good Nurse” – Hard to beat Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain. I still want to know why the good nurse murdered so many people, however.

 

  • “Tar” – Cate Blanchett was good and will probably get a nomination, but the movie, itself, was not as good as the documentary on the first female director that I reviewed here:https://weeklywilson.com/the-conductor-about-1st-female-conductor-screens-at-denver-international-film-festival/

 

  • “My Policeman” – This is the third film with Harry Styles that I’ve seen. It’s worth seeing for that, alone. A star is born?

“The Fabelmans” Is Steven Spielberg’s Memoir Moment

Dad  Arnold, played by Paul Dano, is presented as a genius light years ahead of his time in working on and designing computers. He also seemed to be more “in charge” of making decisions on where the family would live and work. You have to feel some empathy for the man whose wife left him for his best friend after 21  years of marriage.

Spielberg has said his father was a workaholic. His parents eventually divorced when Steven was 19. His mother, Leah Posner Adler, divorced his dad in 1966 and married  one of his best friends, Bernie Adler, in 1967 in Phoenix. Portrayed as Uncle Benny Loewy in this film, Seth Rogen plays “the other man” within the Spielbergs marriage, and Rogen said he shaved his hairline back to play the part (commenting that nobody noticed and that they just thought he was balding!)

Steven stayed on in California with his father. He was not the brainiac his father had been in engineering complicated computer systems. He did not like the academic life, especially mentioning his dislike of algebra. From the beginning, he wanted to be a filmmaker. Uncle Boris, portrayed by Judd Hirsch in another Oscar-caliber role, perhaps nourished that seed more than any family member beyond Spielberg’s mother. According to Wikipedia, Spielberg was diagnosed as dyslexic at the age of 60; his creativity and imagination via his film work are legendary.

I usually take notes during a movie (a throwback to the days before IMDB, when you had to take notes, even if it was in the dark), I forgot my notebook this evening, or I would have recorded, verbatim, the line spoken by Michelle Williams as Spielberg’s Mom, which basically said that people should follow their hearts and nobody should give up their own life to satisfy others. We are told that his classical pianist mother gave up a promising career to marry in 1945, with young Steven born in December of 1946.

The film suggests that Steven’s Mom loved two men at the same time, one of them her husband, one of them his best friend Bernie Adler, dubbed Uncle Benny. Since Steven’s father had moved the entire family from Phoenix to California without much family discussion of whether his wife and the four children were in favor of that program, his mother’s departure in the film to return to Phoenix and Bernie (Uncle Benny)  with Steven’s three younger sisters (while Steven stayed in California with his Dad) made sense.

The film addresses Spielberg’s being bullied because of  his Jewish background, especially when he was the new kid in high school in Phoenix (a move from New Jersey, although the Spielberg roots in Cincinnati seems to have been glossed over). Once again, the young Spielberg (or Fabelman, here) turned to film, making a film for the Class of ’64 Ditch Day. He got revenge against all those who had been mean to him in high school onscreen; his film was well-received, but that segment of the film is not as interesting as the family divorce dynamic or, perhaps, some of his success in later life. Getting David Lynch to play Director John Ford, a true story, was more interesting than the Beach Blanket Bingo feeling of Spielberg’s Ditch Day project.

I have to believe that the anecdote involving filmmaker John Ford that ends the film is true (sources confirm it is) and that his mother really did buy a monkey; my neighbor across the street bought a monkey, so, to me, that was not the most outlandish concept to wrap my mind around. Otherwise, the office interaction of a young Steven Spielberg with an old John Ford bears little relevance to the plot itself, which traces the young filmmaker’s genesis from nerdy Jewish kid cast adrift in a Christian world right up to the very brink of his success in Hollywood. You almost feel that this should be a series that traces Spielberg’s soon-to-come successes, one by one.

The usual suspects aided Spielberg in this autobiographical memoir film. The cinematography is, once again,  Janusz Kaminski, who has received multiple Oscar nominations and wins while working with Spielberg. Tony Kushner co-wrote the screenplay.  The music by John Williams is their 29th collaboration. Williams has done the score for all but 5 of Spielberg’s films.

In addition to a nearly sure-fire Oscar nomination for Best Picture, the standoouts in their respective roles are Michelle Williams as his mother and Judd Hirsch as his Uncle Boris. The 20-year-old Canadian actor Gabriele LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman scored the role from among 2,000 applicants and does a very credible job. LaBelle has recently appeared in the television version of “American Gigolo,” portraying the younger version of Julian Kaye, the gigolo character portrayed by Jon Bernthal.

 

Page 1 of 62

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén