1. Let me just be blunt right off the top: Y’all this movie is not good. Do not waste two hours of your life on it unless you are just absolutely obsessed with Rosamund Pike, who actually does put in a good performance.
2. But if you want to see Rosamund Pike put in a good performance like this, just watch Gone Girl instead because it’s the exact same Ruthless White Woman with a Severe Bob.
3. I’m biased against I Care A Lot upfront because it’s about guardianship, which is a weird side-interest I have. Anytime some news organization does a piece on it, I read it. If there’s a Dateline segment, I’ll watch it. If you send me a podcast, I’ll listen to it. I don’t really think there’s space to do a dark comedy about a subject that is A) So serious and B) So underreported on. I think sometimes there are serious topics that hit a point in national discourse where you can find humor, typically from the POV of the people challenging the power dynamic. I’ve seen comedy in movies about prostitutes, comedy in movies about the Black community’s relationship to the police — but these are topics we have actual conversations about. The conversations about guardianship over elders are so few and far between. We’re not talking about it enough, and older people are having their autonomy stripped away in the blink of an eye because of greed and neglect. We don’t care about older people in nursing homes the way we care about Black people and prostitutes.
4. So the topic is tricky already, and the entire focus of the movie is on the woman who is exploiting the victims. Do you want to watch a comedy about Black people and the police from the POV of the cops? Do you want to watch a comedy about the lives of prostitutes from the POV of abusive Johns? That’s what this movie is doing. It’s a movie about a subject where very real victims are struggling to fight their way out of the situation, but it’s from the POV of the abusers. I don’t want it! If I had known this was what the movie was about, I wouldn’t have bothered watching it.
5. Rosamund Pike plays her role (Marla Grayson) very well because that is a role she knows how to play very well. But I hate her. I didn’t hate Amy Dunne in Gone Girl because there was space to empathize with her motivations and there was space to hate her counterpart in Ben Affleck. I Care A Lot wants to build that same dynamic between Rosamund and Peter Dinklage’s character and make you hate both of them, which is exactly what happens, but that’s not the relationship that needed the dynamic shift. To have any investment in Marla, we don’t need to hate Peter — we need to hate the old lady she stuffed in an old age home, and we don’t. We are rooting for her, not either of the two leads. You cannot get me to care about two people trying to kill each other when one is a Russian mobster and one abuses old people. At one point Marla tells the staff to basically starve the old lady and screw with her medication — how am I ever supposed to care about that character?
6. The whole film feels like they gave a bunch of money to an amateur filmmaker in Brooklyn and said “hey, make a dark comedy thriller with panache.” The fight scene in the nursing home is so ridiculous and out of place I feel owed an apology.
7. So many things stretch belief. A Russian mobster can’t effectively kill anybody? The stairwell to the parking garage is conveniently by the front desk on the way to the bathroom? You get drugged and conveniently wake up just before you hit the water? Yes these are spoilers, and no I didn’t warn you because you don’t need to watch this movie.
8. The filmmaker himself doesn’t even know what kind of movie he made. He said the ending was a little unsatisfying because the only likeable character is crying at the end. He thinks the only likable character in the movie is one of the partners in the Abuse Old People Scam, and not the old lady who was being abused and fighting tooth and nail to escape. That kind of disconnect from the material is why this movie is trash.
9. I liked it less and less the more I sat and tried to figure out what exactly he was trying to do, so I guess on the surface it’s mildly enjoyable — I gave it a 5 after I first saw it. I’m taking away points for being more and more annoyed as the days pass.
10. Diane Weist was outstanding and I needed twice as much screentime from her.
Hot Takes: Cruella
Emma Stone is rarely upstaged in any project, but it really was a battle of The Emmas this time with Emma Stone eating up every scene.
1. I’ve never seen 101 Dalmatians so nothing I say about Cruella is from the POV of someone who has source material to go on. I went to see Cruella because I like going to movie theaters and Emma Stone always understands the assignment.
2. Releasing this movie during pride month is Gay Rights. No I can’t explain to you how — it just is. Cruella is The Joker for people who drink iced coffee in sub-freezing weather and have an opinion on Pop Ariana Grande vs. R&B Ariana Grande.
3. The fashions! Jenny Beavan knows how to style a film and if there’s any justice she might get her 11th Academy Award nomination. Imagine winning an Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road and then winning one for Cruella. The range!
4. This movie is stupid. The whole premise is convoluted. The “origin” of Cruella’s obsession with Dalmatians is so far-fetched I probably would have been annoyed about it in a less enjoyable film, but the movie is such a fun ride, you immediately forgive the deficiencies in the plot.
5. And the movie is such a fun ride party because Emma Thompson is eating up the scene every time she appears on screen. She left no crumbs anywhere. I don’t know what direction they gave her or where she drew her inspiration (it feels a little Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly meets Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector meets Jessica Lange as Fiona Goode meets RuPaul) but she looks like she is having the time of her life. For me, Emma Stone is rarely upstaged in any project, but it really was a battle of The Emmas this time.
6. Gay-coded characters annoy me sometimes because it’s usually over-the-top caricature that wants you to believe they’re gay without actually telling us they are, so it’s not representation so much as it is reinforcement of stereotypes. I love the camp on display in Cruella though. So that’s my hypocrisy for this week I suppose!
7. Thank god they didn’t shoehorn an unnecessary romance in here. I kept waiting for it, because the subtext was there, but they never did it, and I would like to thank everyone in the writing room. I’m always so annoyed by the Forced Attraction That Does Not Improve The Plot in 90% of Hollywood films.
8. Wink is the cutest little pupster. I want one.
9. Is it a rule that the Disney Mom has to die to set up the plot? I could have put a spoiler alert, but since it’s Disney, I’m sure almost everybody expects the mom to die anyway. Let’s be more creative? It’s 2021. Moana was great without killing mom and I think we can follow that path a little more.
10. This is kind of a spoiler so skip this last little bulletpoint.
I almost laughed out loud when Anita popped up as an adult to help save the day. Listen, if you’re gonna have The Selfless Negro with an Afro come back in adulthood to help the unhinged white woman put her life together, do it the way Cruella does it, by giving her a job and more layers and a reason to put in the work aside from “this white girl from childhood needs me.” I’m still mad at Queen’s Gambit for totally shitting the bed with their magical Negro savior and I thought I was about to leave Cruella just as upset, but I didn’t. So — close call! but ultimately it was okay.
Score: 7 / 10
Hot Takes: A Quiet Place II
If Emily Blunt is doing a dramatic reading of a Bell South telephone book from 1987, I will have a ticket to the show.
1. Who woulda thunk Jim from the Office would be the horror writer/director I would be most looking forward to? I’m really interested to see what he comes up with next, because I like the fact that these monsters landed from outer space and simply started tearing up everything. No master plan. No higher purpose. Just violent pests. Sometimes a movie can just be an enjoyable experience based on the characters and how they react to their situations.
2. Since we’re on that — I got into an argument with a guy about how no world-building happened between the first and second movie. If you go into A Quiet Place II needing to know further details about the world at large, then you will be disappointed, because these are not those kinds of movies. Essentially this is a Very Tense Family Drama — the first was about parenting, and the second is about the independence of the children (mostly the daughter, because the son is completely burdensome). We’re watching character development with the backdrop of an apocalyptic horror movie.
3. Emily Blunt can do anything. I will watch anything with Emily Blunt in it. If Emily Blunt is doing a dramatic reading of a Bell South telephone book from 1987, I will have a ticket to the show.
4. What’s wrong with the marina people and why do they look like that? Of all the unanswered questions in this world of A Quiet Place, that is the one I’m most looking forward to getting an answer to in the next one.
5. Horror movies just refuse to let Black people be great!
6. If we are in an apocalyptic world where our safety depends on how quiet we can be and you show me a BABY IN A BOX, my reaction is not “aww, how cute, of course I’ll help you.” Does that make me a sociopath? I’m not risking my life for A BABY. I know my worth and what I can bring to society. I don’t know if that baby will grow up to be a doctor or an axe murderer. What if that baby gets me killed and then ends up working at GameStop? Was it worth it???
7. When are we getting Miss Millicent Simmonds in some more movies? I think she has such a unique face for Hollywood and I really enjoyed her in Wonderstruck.
8. When the movie started, we had this guy behind us talking to the screen. You know those people who just have to be heard, who think they’re so amusing that people want to hear their running commentary of every single thing. I honestly thought about leaving, because I knew from the first installment that part of the tension of the film would be the contrast between silence and horror movie noise. But he stopped talking. That’s how good it was. He forgot that he wanted to be talking through it and didn’t make a sound for the rest of the movie after a certain point. If you can make annoying people focus, you have made a good film.
Marvel should go headfirst into “SJW” movies.
I’m genuinely excited about everything Marvel has coming up.
I’m also annoyed that all the Basement Babies are perched and poised to give their hot takes about the lower box office returns being a product of Social Justice Movies since the next slate is so women & POC centered.
I’m sure Marvel knows this, but it is impossible to recreate the BILLION DOLLAR openings they had the past few years because:
1) We’re coming out of a pandemic.
2) We’ve reached FULL Marvel saturation.
Nobody is going to have box office returns like we saw just before COVID for a very very long time.
But more important probably, there’s just way too much MCU. The movies are coming fast and more people will skip more of them and just catch a synopsis before a big Event Movie.
If I was Marvel, I would just lean full force into women, POC, and queer stories because the Cavemen are already upset….so just let them be mad, and draw in more of the people who don’t typically go see Marvel movies. The returns will be lower anyway, so make it count.
Eric Adams supports terrorizing Black people.
Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.
France is giving the United States another Statue of Liberty.
Casey Frey has a boyfriend.
Women of color and emotional trauma in white Real Housewives casts
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