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Hot Takes: I Care A Lot

If you’re a Rosamund Pike fan, just watch Gone Girl instead. This movie is garbage.

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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.

Score: 3/10 

 

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Don’t Look Up and the anxiety of hyperrealist satire.

A satirical comedy shouldn’t make me nauseous.

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I didn’t know much about it, but the few bits of reviews I saw for Don’t Look Up said it was a satirical comedy. One review said it was the funniest movie of the year while also the most depressing. I turned it off at 30 minutes because I hadn’t cracked a smile.

Two things about me:

1) It is very hard to make me laugh.

2) I’m at a point in my life where I am not interested in doing anything I do not enjoy.

To point one, I don’t think I’m necessarily surly, but my experience with humor tends to lean more toward me saying “oh that was clever” as opposed to laughing out loud. The things that make me laugh out loud are usually unexpected mishaps or unexpected jokes. Surprises make me laugh. I’m shocked by some of the one liners on The Golden Girls, and it makes me laugh out loud. I am shocked by the faces babies make when they eat lemons, and it makes me laugh out loud.

Clever writing rarely makes me laugh out loud, but I can very much enjoy it. You’ll never see me hootin and hollerin at Erma Bombeck, but I’ve read at least ten of her books. I don’t go to stand-up shows, because it’s hard to make me laugh out loud, and it’s rude not to laugh at a comedy show — but I’ll watch stand-up specials on Netflix because I enjoy the jokes if they’re smart and performed well.

I cannot find the jokes in Don’t Look Up. It felt like a documentary.

To the second point, up until recently I would say I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I’ve been dealing with it quite well as of late (with the realization being that much of my mental health has been tied to financial instability and I currently have a job I like).  But! Because I am always teetering close to the edge in some ways, I only want to enjoy things. I have no desire to voluntarily put myself in positions where I have to force myself to get through it. I don’t want to consume art that is a struggle for me to finish.

I cannot finish Don’t Look Up.

The experience of watching it was so strange for me because movies don’t really make me uncomfortable. I can watch just about anything even if I don’t like it that much. About 30 minutes into Don’t Look Up, I realized I had been sitting on my couch getting more and more wound up! My breaths were shorter. My stomach felt like I had just put ice cream into my lactose intolerant body. I have never physically disliked a movie so much! And that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s just not for me at all.

I don’t really like the world that much. No part of me is optimistic about the future of the planet. I don’t go around shouting it from the rooftops, because I believe in spreading love and happiness and doing what I can to help those around me enjoy themselves, but I am very much in full support of Team Asteroid. People as a collective are not that great. They’re selfish, they’re mean, they don’t take care of each other. There’s so much torture and pain running through the history of humanity. Legal, common, and popular approval of setting people on fire, ripping them into pieces, starving them, working them until they die — that’s the history of mankind.

Watching a movie that is telling me people are too stupid to save themselves doesn’t make me feel good. I can’t laugh at that, because that’s how I feel every day, and when I think about it, I feel awful. It makes me feel awful that people suck. It makes me feel awful to be reminded that there are a few people trying to save the world against an never-ending onslaught of purposefully ignorant bureaucracies.

I think Don’t Look Up is probably done well. Meryl Streep fully inhabited her character and I could feel Leonardo DiCaprio’s anxiety through the screen. Mark Rylance once again proved too many Best Of lists leave him out of the conversation for acting talents of a generation. It just stressed me out too much, so I’m going to watch something else instead. If you’re a mildly depressed, anxious, pessimist with a disdain for leadership who does not enjoy the feeling of “yep, that’s exactly how it’d happen” when you see the world play out on screen the way it does in your head, this probably isn’t the movie for you either.

(Or you can keep watching it and see if there’s a huge payoff! I’ve rarely suffered through 30 minutes of something only to get to the end and be like “wow, I’m glad I put myself through that for the amazing experience this turned out to be.”)

 

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Hot Takes: Spiderman – No Way Home

Big on fan service but lacking in plot, it’s a “meh” from me.

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1. I’m about as obsessed with Tom Holland and Zendaya as any grown as millennial can be…which means I don’t care all that much, but I think they’re adorable and I will pinch their lil cheeks if given the chance. Oh, and I randomly watch clips of their interviews when they pop up on Twitter. Such delightful young people.

2. Y’all. They are acting in this movie. Dare I say, as a whole, this may be the best acted Marvel film? Andrew Garfield is clearly the best Spiderman and he very nearly made me cry three times I think. Tobey Maguire is a little shit, but he was holding his own as well. Tom and Zendaya rose to the occasion. Willem Dafoe! My god. Best comic villain I think? They were all acting for the back of the theater.

3. I hope Dr. Strange gets to go on vacation soon. They really wearing dude out.

4. Seventeen-year-olds are annoying. But they are not stupid. Especially the ones on their way to MIT who have been to space and saved the world. I cannot believe they wrote Peter Parker the way they did. If I don’t like a main character, I don’t like the movie. And I could not stand the Peter they wrote for this movie. (more in the spoilers)

5. They giving Happy a lil too much. I don’t actually need him to have so much screen time.

6. There’s too much screen time in general! I was ready to gooooooo. I didn’t think Marvel could make a movie feel longer than Eternals but I stand corrected.

7. Fan service is a tricky thing to pull off successfully. You have to satiate the loyalists’ desire while keeping the attention of the casual viewers. I’ve never seen a pre-MCU Spiderman so I didn’t know Tobey or Andrew or any of their villains. I thought they did a good job. There was chemistry between the three of them (or at least, faked chemistry) that I didn’t expect and I got a decent sense of who they were in their respective franchises. I wasn’t applauding or cheering, because I didn’t care, but I was impressed that I was invested in the two previous Peter Parkers with so little exposure to them.

8. Something feels wrong about seeing Tom Holland in his underwear.

9. Something feels right about seeing Tom Holland in his underwear.

10. Is anybody going to address the fact that Peter Parker is a 17-year-old science nerd who can perfectly tailor spandex without a serger? I have watched Project Runway for two decades. And I can sew. That child is not making performance activewear.

11. My problem with this movie is the plot. I feel like the writers knew the beats they wanted to hit and slacked off with the journeys between the beats. Nothing Peter did felt in character with what he would do given what he’s been through, how smart he is, and how a rational human being processes information. They wanted a cool battle sequence for Dr. Strange to show off and a cool battle sequence for the three Spideys to get together, but nobody put much thought into how those things should happen. (more in the spoilers)

12. Somebody fill me in on why the InfoWars Alex Jones guy hates Spiderman so much. That much fixation does not seem healthy to me.

Score: 6.5

Spoilers!

13. So, I think you can give this movie an extra point or two if you have some sort of investment in Spiderman because everyone seems to be universally over the moon about it. I don’t care about Spiderman and I’ve only watched the Tom Holland ones because I’m invested in the serial nature of the MCU. I like a sprawling interconnected story — I grew up on NBC soap operas. I think that attachment to the character’s three iterations and the excitement of seeing them together is honestly clouding the fact that this plot is weak y’all.

14. If I have someone in front of me who is an expert in their field doing something extremely dangerous and they tell me to shut up, do you what I’m gonna do? I’ma shut up and let them do their work. In no universe is this kid, who has been to space with Dr. Strange and who has seen what he can do and knows how serious he is about his shit, gonna keep interrupting him while he’s doing his work. MJ only knew he was Spiderman for a week. So what if she forgets? Just tell her! This man is holding the universe in his hands and you are bothering him about your GF and your BFF forgetting you’re a superhero? You can literally just tell them. That right there sent me out of the movie and I really never got back in.

15. Are we to believe that bad guys aren’t bad anymore and we can just fix them all with a little science? Your lil girlfriend’s dad from two movies ago wanted to kill you, and judging from that creepy Jared Leto Bat-Villain trailer, he still does. You gonna do a little science and make him sweet? The sandman in this movie allegedly just wanted to go home, and yet did everything in his power to make sure Team Spidey could not succeed. Sparky didn’t have a coming to Jesus — y’all just took his batteries. You broke the entire universe for five people? Do y’all realize how many innocents are about to die during this story arc because Peter Parker couldn’t send five supervillains home to die? Where they had been dead? Because they were running around killing people?

16. I remember the Sokovia Accords. The Avengers were kneecapped a bit because they kept blowing stuff up and accidentally killing people. And they have recovered from that black eye to become universally loved again. They have a whole Broadway show dedicated to them in Hawkeye. Spiderman is in that Broadway show even though he wasn’t even present at the battle depicted in said Broadway show. They all just brought half the population of the universe back. But a SWAT team showed up to an apartment building on the sayso of a rightwing nutjob who hates Spiderman? With no investigation? No second guessing?

17. No Way Home made Peter Parker into a bratty little incompetent with no sense of responsibility or logic so he could break the world in order to get three Spidermen on screen. He made a stupid decision to save five villains in order for Aunt May to die. And Aunt May died because Marisa Tomei told writers she wanted there to be more focus on her community organizing. They had these beats to hit and some really lazy writing to get us there.

 

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Hot Takes: House of Gucci

This is the longest, prettiest, Lifetime movie I’ve ever seen.

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1. I don’t understand movies set outside the Anglosphere where everyone is speaking English with an accent but slip into their native language randomly. This is Italy. Everybody would be speaking Italian, but it’s made for Hollywood, so they speak English. I get that. But then there is no need for anyone to ever say anything in Italian if we’re going with the illusion that they all speak English with a thick accent. I wish every director would stop doing this.

2. Everybody is in the same movie, except Jeremy Irons. He came to work on a run-of-the-mill Hollywood adaptation of a true story, and everybody else came to a community theater production of Fashion Godfather. It’s like he doesn’t realize what kind of movie he’s in until he’s in the room with Jared Leto and thinks, “oh…we’re doing this kind of acting.”

3. Jared Leto’s Paolo Gucci is one of my least favorite movie characters of all time because he’s unnecessarily buffoonish and there was no need to make him that way. And because they wrote the character as an utterly incompetent manchild, they put Jared in fat prosthetics to drive the point home. For what? It is 2021. There was so much outrage of Sarah Paulson wearing a fatsuit to play Linda Tripp because they could’ve just gotten a larger actress to play her. Where is the outrage for Jared Leto doing fat cosplay to portray a character that wasn’t even fat and is only depicted that way to make him stand out from his fashionable family?

4. Lady Gaga is not a good actress. She’s not a bad actress, but y’all give Stefani a lot. She was fine in A Star is Born and she’s fine in House of Gucci. Literally just fine.

5. The first 10 or 15 minutes are actually charming. I didn’t expect Stefani to be good at that kind of character, but she actually pulls off Doe Eyed and Besotted quite well.

6. Everyone is laughing while watching the movie, but are you having a good time? No really — do you want to be laughing? That’s my thing with the tone. It is very clear that these people are making a very serious film about Gucci and the shoehorned bits of levity are meant to break the tension of this very serious film. But you’re only supposed to laugh then. If you are giggling throughout, the movie has missed its mark. Unintentional camp is just bad moviemaking. It’s bad direction and it’s bad screenwriting.

7. There are plenty of height differences more extreme than Lady Gaga at 5’1 and Adam Driver at 6’2. I’m not sure why that became a story, but it’s really not that notable. Plenty of short women star in movies with tall men. Kristen Bell is 5’1 and Jason Segel is 6’4 in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, plus Jason gets his big ol’ hog out for it. I don’t need breathless reporting about any other category of inches.

8. Kind of more interested in a Tom Ford biopic . I didn’t know he was from Texas and I didn’t really know what Gucci was like before he took over the reigns.

9. Al Pacino is having a great time and for me, he’s the only one who managed to be over the top without going over the edge. Everyone else is either playing it safe or jumping off a cliff, but Al is comfortably perched upon the precipice of taste without going over.

10. Stunning cinematography. Fantastic wardrobe choices. It’s very pretty to watch.

11. I would like a movie survey from the people who loved this movie where they also list their top ten films, because I’m not sure who this is for. People who I assumed would hate it seem to either love it or at least not be bothered, and people I assumed would love it wanted to walk out. I feel like there’s some overlap of people who liked Austin Powers and A Star is Born with this movie in the middle and I can’t think of a more painful Venn Diagram.

Score: 4/10

 

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