A Jew, A Slave, and a Pill Popper walk onto the silver screen . . .
Updated: Mar 3
"Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley!" Hop aboard!
I had 21 papers to grade last weekend. So, on Saturday I graded 10 and watched a movie. Then I said to myself, “Self, why don’t you just finish the rest of the papers?” So, I did. And then on Sunday, with so much time on my hands, I watched another movie. Then on Monday night, I found myself with more time on my hands, and Tony had consumed all the wine during Drink Wine with Your Cat Week, so, I watched another movie. (Full disclosure, this is after a week of binge watching The Hunters on Amazon Prime. Nazi hunters. Graphic. Most of my friends won’t like it. But those who share my secret lust for vigilante justice, will. Bwahaha!) So, yeah, I’ve been sitting on my butt a lot lately, soaking up stories on the super-duper screen in my living room. I think I’ve gained ten pounds -- all in cake weight. Hey, I’m in a transition period! Between projects! Looking for a sign – okay? Leave me alone. Alright, let’s start with the film that didn’t live up to its hype: UNCUT GEMS, starring Adam Sandler. Sandler was fantastic as the gambling addict Howie. However, if you watch this film, I encourage you to take some Dramamine. If the directors’ point was to take you into the main character’s head, Josh and Benny Safdie accomplished their goal. Honestly, I think the directors ruined the film. It’s the age old conflict: Man against Himself – greed knows no limits, etc.. Okay, that could be mildly interesting. But while watching it, I felt a lot like I did after riding in the Mad Hatter’s Teacup at Disney. The camera operators must have broken a sweat trying to keep up with the character and the erratic shots. Yikes. What else can I say? Oh, fans of Broadway star Idina Menzel will enjoy her supporting role in the film. She’s quite believable. And I have to admit it was pretty funny when Sandler’s character calls her, butt naked from the trunk of his Mercedes, and tells her he needs her to come unlock the trunk. That she doesn’t ask for an explanation tells you everything you need to know about their relationship and Howie. The scene was certainly the highlight of the movie. There, I saved you $15.99 on Amazon. You’re welcome. (Okay, if you like the NBA, maybe you’ll get a few kicks out of the shots of real players (Kevin Garnett) in what appear to be real games. Knock your socks off.)
Now, let’s transition from a morally bankrupt character to one who should be as well-known for her courage as any major figure in U.S. history. HARRIET, starring Cynthia Erivo. HARRIET should be shown in every high school history class in the U.S.. I’ve done theatre workshops with kids around Harriet Tubman’s story and the Underground Railroad, but the film made her courage tangible. After she escaped – on her own – she went back! Who would go back?! I was shouting at the screen, “Don’t go back!” But like a virgin in a horror movie, Harriet didn’t listen. Harriet went back. And then she went back again. And again. And again. This 5-foot tall woman risked her life repeatedly because she knew she would not be free until those she loved were free. She helped some 70 slaves escape to freedom and is believed to have helped hundreds more when she led a regiment of all black soldiers during the Civil War. Did you know that? Hmm? I didn’t. Harriet Tubman did what everyone said was impossible because she would not accept the word “impossible” into her vocabulary. So glad I saw this film. You will be, too. Finally, and if you’re still with me, thank you, I won’t go on much longer because I am still picking up the tissues, but can I simply say, “Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley!” The Oscar voters got this one right. After watching Rene Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland in JUDY I was a one sloppy mess. Wow. Within the first fifteen minutes I completely bought into her EMBODIMENT of Garland. It was extraordinary. You know how some actors get in the way of portraying a famous person? Where you can’t truly suspend your disbelief? “That’s not really Jimmy Hoffa because we know it’s Al Pacino.” Right? Not in Judy. Zellweger was subtle, picking up on just enough of the Judy mannerisms we all recognize but never turning her into a caricature. The story was heartbreaking and the “B” story? “C” story? about her two “greatest fans” was brilliantly woven into the script. Her intro to THE SONG coming within the context of all that has passed in the film was breath-takingly, heart-breakingly powerful. I don’t know if it really happened. I don’t want to know. I want to believe it happened – for Judy. Whoa. Must see cinema. So, I have another 20 papers coming in this weekend. I wonder what I’ll watch after I’m done. I can’t imagine watching JOKER after HARRIET or JUDY. But hey, it’s Women’s History month. Do yourself a favor, treat yourself to cake and an afternoon with these women. You won’t regret it.