I've been seeing a lot of movies and television shows lately. I'm a paid-up member of my actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, as well as being a member and volunteer for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Every year I pay my dues in a timely manner, I begin receiving screener DVD's in the mail around January. These are films that the SAG Awards Nominating Committee believes deserve acting awards. The SAG Awards happen about a month or so (?) before the Oscars.
Prior to the arrival of screeners, I get invitations to see stuff on a big screen. If I'm not gainfully employed, I either volunteer to work those screenings, or RSVP to attend. Sometimes, I get to take a guest. Sometimes, Stephen gets to see big movies for free with me.
Last year, I screened Lion (my pick for Best Picture, had I been able to vote), Hacksaw Ridge, This Is Us (a television show you should definitely be watching), The Crown (another amazing TV show), and a plethora of other stuff that I can't remember well enough to name right now. I did review Every Single Thing I screened last year, so dip into my archives to find those (I think "review" is a decent search term, and then just look for stuff in the winter of last year). Stephen attended La La Land with me (he loved it, I did NOT), and Arrival (both of us were blown away).
This year, I've already seen a lot to tell you about. I've been amiss from reviewing anything for you, and I may have to do a little research to review exactly everything that I've seen, but for now, I'll just say this: I haven't yet seen my pick for Best Picture. I will tell you a little about four of the flicks I've seen recently, and you can go from there.
On Friday, I saw Phantom Thread. I was volunteering to work this event, since it was screening in the worst screening room in town. That way, I got to see it, choose my own seat, and not wait in a line to check in (yes, there is a method to my madness). It stars Daniel Day Lewis, and the bulk of the questions from the audience for the LEAD actor in the film, Vicky Krieps (she got top billing, not DDL), pertained to "what did you learn from the Master, THE GOD OF ACTING, DDL?"
* lemme tell ya; if you're ever in a q&a audience with the top-billed actor in a show, it's just RUDE to ask this type of question. It's essentially gaslighting, kids. You're saying she didn't deserve the role until after she got to work with the person who isn't here for your questions. She did a fine job, on her own, by the way.*
I did not care for this film. I'm afraid it's going to get lots of critical attention, though, because of DDL, who is, in my opinion, the only actor who could take on the role of Reynolds Woodcock so convincingly. However, Reynolds Woodcock, as written, performed, and directed in this piece, is a complete and utter shitbag. I couldn't figure out what the audience was laughing about. This film is not funny. It takes a hard subject matter and makes it even harder. Woodcock is completely unsympathetic. He's a talented egomaniac. A narcissist. Abusive and evasive, and in a rather strange relationship with his sister, who is only vaguely likeable. Alma, the role inhabited by Krieps, is a naive girl who grows into a bit of strength, but we don't really root for her. We pity her. We want her to escape.
I wanted to escape. I wanted the film to be over, so I could get away from my discomfort. When it finally was, I felt pity for Ms. Krieps, but I did not stay to see if the DDL questions got addressed. My ranking: only see this film if you are completely infatuated with DDL and want to see him play an irredeemable narcissist. OH, also, the score was entirely too strong throughout. Why?
On Thursday, I was volunteering for the screening of Pirates of Somalia. If you saw Captain Phillips, then you're already familiar with Pirates, sort of. The entirety of CP takes place as a "moment" in PoS. Also, one of the lead pirates in CP is portrayed by an actor who plays the lead translator in PoS. Confused yet? Sorry. Follow the links ^.
Ennyhoo, this film is based on the book that tells the true story of the actual events in the life of Jay Bahadur, played with great bravado by Evan Peters, who you may remember from American Horror Story, or possibly as the X-Men recruit Quicksilver. It's a slice of life, and very funny, and also a little edge-of-your-seat. I don't know that it'll win any awards (it's possible), but it's Worth Your Time to See.
My only problem with that screening on Thursday is that I was booked to work on my "recall" show, but I didn't know it. I'd gotten a "checking your availability" text message from Central on Wednesday, applied in the affirmative, and received the "we got your 'yes' but you're Not Yet Booked" response. Then I never got an email, text, or phone call from my service. Then, while I was working the door at 1:30, I noticed I'd missed a call from Central at 1:17, asking where I was, and was I going to make it? My call time was 12:30. WHAT? I could have been WORKING today? On Set? For Money and Fame and Glory? #ShitFuckShitDamnFuckityFuckFuckFuck!!! I called Central back to let them know where I was, and that I was more than willing to head to set if they needed me. I called my service to ask what the fuck had happened, and to let them know where I was, and that I was more than willing to head to set if they needed me. I sent an email to the specific casting director to let him know that I hadn't gotten the details, but also where I was, and that I was more than willing to head to set if they needed me. Then I went back to volunteering, until I heard anything further. Got a reply from the casting director, saying he was trying to work it out with my service, but that they didn't need me. Got a phone call, vibrating, during the film, from an unknown-to-me number, which I ignored. Got another immediate phone call from that same number, so I left the screening room to take the call. It was my service, on a mobile phone, away from the office, trying to place all the blame on me ("it's on your calendar! I sent the notices! It doesn't post to the calendar until we hit 'send'! It's on your calendar!" etc.). Meanwhile, I'm trying to explain that Just Because You Sent It Doesn't Mean I Received It, and When You Didn't Get A Confirmation From Me, #WhyTheFuckDidn'tYouCallToConfirmLikeYouALWAYSFuckingDo? /end rant
Ennyhoo, what I got to see of Pirates of Somalia (the bulk of the film, minus about ten minutes), was totally worth it. And the Q&A was with the lead Somali translator, Barkhad Abdi, and the director. Even though the film was not shot in Somalia, for #reasons, it was cast with a very large number of Somalian refugees, who were all credited for their roles, even background roles, with "refugee since (year)" included to the right of their names. #CallMeImpressed
Thursday night, I went to a screening of Last Flag Flying. Bryan Cranston did the Q&A that followed, and he was very "there". He knew that the audience was mostly composed of actors, so he talked a lot of actor-to-actor. I enjoyed him more than the movie he was promoting. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with the film. It was just a "chick flick" disguised as a macho-man film. What I mean by that is that there were almost zero women even in the film, but it spent the bulk of the 2 hours talking about feelings. Cranston and Fishburne are Vietnam Vet Marines, retired into their old-guy lives; Carell is their Navy Corpsman, whose Marine son has died in Baghdad. Carell collects his old vet buddies in the hopes that they'll help him collect his son's remains. So the film is a road-trip flick. Buddy-buddy, but for old guys. There's no action here. There's no gunplay. There might be one good pyro scene, maybe? but I don't really remember, because I was bored. They all have different baggage to lug around and cart out and talk about. Cranston's still a wild man, to a degree, a #RebelINSearchOfACause. Carell's the mourning dad. Fishburne is REFORMED; he's a preacher who just wants to get back to his flock, but of course, he gets to continue doing his job on Carell's behalf. It's just all Very Boring. Again, I'm afraid it's going to get some critical attention, but I wouldn't waste my time, if I were you.
On MONDAY (of last week, yes, I know!), I saw I, Tonya. Kids, if you want to #LaughYourAssOff, you need to see this film. I have no idea whether it will gain any critical attention. I seriously doubt it will be up for Best Picture. But, OMG, the performances! The characters (real people from a real moment in our recent history)! The direction and the script! OMG!
Stephen and I had seen a trailer for this at something we'd gone to a theater and paid to see (I honestly have seen too many movies lately to remember what I've paid for). We laughed during the trailer. If you click the link above, you can watch a trailer, and maybe laugh during it, too. All I know is that the events of the day were news. Weird news, sure. But it's just not a fun period of time, or at least there's no fun in the specific event of bashing the knee(s?) of a competitive figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan. So, how is this movie so awesome? Well, I learned at the Q&A with the top four cast, writer, and director, there is actual "documentary" footage of the four major players in the events, and the script was based pretty closely on that footage. NONE of the major players tells the same story! So, of course, the film follows EVERY point of view, to allow the audience to make their own decisions about any particular character's "truth". And did I mention? This shit is FUNNY. Seriously, if you are even remotely familiar with the events, or even remotely a fan of Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, or #OMGTheBest Allison Janney, then THIS FILM IS A MUST-SEE.
I think that's enough for now, right? I've got plenty more that I really need to review for ya. I also desperately need to find myself some work, trim nails on the furbabies, jump back into crocheting, buy Christmas gifts for the nieces and nephews, jump back into letter-writing and/or sending out some Christmas cards in general, and, ya know, shop/cook/launder etc. to keep running my half of the household, at least.
How was your week?