Book Review: Where’d You Go Bernadette (2012)

(PG-13 movie to be released August 16, 2019)

There are over 100 books being adapted to film this year. This gave me the idea to start reading and reviewing some of these books before seeing the adaptations. I’ve done some research and I’m planning out what will be read based on how interesting the story seems, if there is an interesting star attached to the project, when the movie is coming out of course, etc. Don’t know how it will all be executed, but I’m figuring out the logistics of it all now. Maybe I’ll start some sort of a virtual book/movie club! The plans are in the early stages. I’ll keep anyone who gives a care updated. Comment below or e-mail me at bloopbymimi@gmail.com if you are interested in the book club idea.

So, this is the first time I am reviewing a book, but I’m not just reviewing the books. I’m reading in order to try and figure out how the movie might go as well. Is the story strong enough or interesting enough to be made into a film? Etc. I’m making predictions and presumptions and laying out my hopes about how the movie the book is based on should or should not be executed, if that makes any sense. I figured at the very least, this little experiment will cause me to read more. I’ll write up book reviews then attach it to the movie review and see what I got right and what I got wrong. Don’t know if you’ll have fun reading it (I hope you do!), but I think I will have fun doing it! Should I find I’m not having fun (and that’s just may be the case since I despise knowing anything about movies before I see them, but I’m willing to give this a go for a bit at least.), I’ll just stop.

As you know, anything can happen in Hollywood. A movie may get made and set upon the shelf forever, things change, people drop out of projects, projects dissolve… Hopefully the books I pick will actually make it to a screen. This is why I went with “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” first because it already has a release date. Since Cate Blanchett does consistently solid work, I figured, this would be a good book with which to begin my book reviews.

*****

Update: I wrote this is February, 2019 in anticipation of a March release date and the movie was pushed back to August. (I warned you anything can happen in Hollywood…) Where’d You Go Bernadette (comedy/drama/mystery) is due in theaters August 16th.

*****

Written by Maria Semple, co-adapted to screenplay and directed by Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some and Boyhood – so the man knows his way around a coming of age movie, which Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, partially), starring Cate Blanchett and Kristen Wiig, Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) is told through letters, blog posts, emails, etc., along with Bee, Bernadette’s 15 year old daughter, recounting some of what happens/happened (mostly) to Bernadette that makes her the woman she is today. How did she get here? Where did she go?

Amazon describes it as “A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch.”

Barnes & Noble’s synopses reads:

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces.

Which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are, and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

*****

My first impression was that the book is bland and pedestrian. That was on page 17. Then I got to page 25 and things became interesting. I lost and gained interest in this way again and again throughout nearly the entire book. The good parts were good and there were a couple of great parts (two where my jaw dropped, one where I laughed out loud and one where I laughed out loud while riding the subway in New York and I didn’t care, so I laughed for a good two minutes straight – blending right in with the crazies. That’s what New York is all about. You gotta love this town.), but the lulls were torture.

I enjoy the structure of the book and how it tells the story through written communications. It’s clever that the scenes and characters change with nearly each entry as I imagined what the voices of each writer might sound like in my head. I have great doubts that this structure will translate well onto film unless someone really thinks outside the box. Similarly to The Girl on the Train (my review in the link) the structure of the book was its greatest feature. On film it could easily turn out to be another choppy, muddled mess.

Having someone well versed in coming of age story-telling will be a plus. I enjoyed Bee discovering all the dirty truths adults keep from children, imagining her innocence wrecked, as she recounts some of what happens/has happened.

I didn’t care for the references to Seattle/Starbucks/Microsoft. Writing in this way can sometimes alienate those who aren’t from that city, may have never been to that city, don’t have any loyalty to that city, have no idea what you the author is talking about or may not love the city as much as the author. It makes the story too specific to a certain way of life, particularly for a film. Now if anyone wants to talk about “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” as a sit-com or family dramedy, I could see that being more successful. Anyone who didn’t grow up in Seattle or whose parents didn’t work for Microsoft or in tech, or have children, or plenty of money, or a spouse to support them while they withdraw from life, or all these things Bernadette has, is involved with or exposed to, etc., might (probably will) make her character unrelatable on screen to viewers.

From a film-making standpoint this specificity of location and lifestyle reminded me of two movies I didn’t like very much for this very reason; Lady Bird (Sacramento) (my review in the link. It earned 5 out of 10 bloops); and the other was 20th Century Women (southern California) (which I really hated. It earned 3.5 out of 10 bloops). Each featured the city/cities they were filmed in as characters upon which much affection was bestowed. I can see the exact same thing happening with Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

Similarly to “Lady Bird” and “20th Century Women,” “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” is another story about a dysfunctional, middle-aged, mother with narcissistic tendencies and a quirky/smart/independent/free spirited/talented/struggling for autonomy/insecure (you fill in the adjectives or the combination of adjectives), coming of age child, their somewhat dysfunctional relationship and their first-world problems. Who has money to buy an entire piece of property without their spouse knowing about it? Or spend $60,000 on family travel on a whim. I’m sure rich people have stories to tell, but they have to work a bit harder to interest the rest of us. Bernadette ventures a bit further into the discussion regarding poor mental health than the other two movies mentioned above, but that doesn’t take away from the similarities from story to story. What I appreciate about this recycled story line is that it keeps veteran actresses like Cate Blanchett, Laurie Metcalf and Susan Sarandon in circulation. You know you’ll get some solid performances, but you might let out a few yawns while you’re watching because the story is just, meh.

At times “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” wanders into and gets bogged down in these areas of information. Pardon me, but I just don’t care about the history of architecture in the 80s, how small the offices are at Microsoft. I had to skip over the discussions about Seattle’s traffic patterns. I understand it shows how fixated and irrationally vexed Bernadette can be with things she has no control over, but Dear Lord was it boring!

The story meanders and presents as a series of stories, some of which need to be fleshed out, others eliminated and some magnified. The book’s ending attempts to take you on some sort of distracting ride which results in a simple ending all tied up in a neat little bow. I dislike pat endings, particularly for a movie and I’m hoping something about how the book ended changes on film.

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” earned 5 out of 10 bloops in book form and can go either way when it is adapted to film. It’s and easy read that is okay if you rent it from the library for free or borrow it from a fellow reader. I would not recommend as a purchase for your home library. It will not be easy to boil down this hodgepodge of a story into a succinctly written script. The material is definitely there, but much poetic license needs to be taken with this book. Otherwise I fear it will be a formulaic fail. It needs to be dissected so that the most interesting parts of it remain while letting go of all the “extra.” I don’t believe it can be told straight on well.

The character, Audrey (Kirsten Wiig’s character) has great comic potential. I’d like the story to be more about Bernadette and her husband, and less about Bee, but considering who wrote it and directed, I believe we’ll get another coming of age something-or-another.

We will find out how much of this I got right after the movie is released. I will most likely see it opening weekend so I can report back. I have to clear my mind of everything I read in this book and see how the adaptation is handled. At the very least, this may encourage me to get my reviews up in a more timely manner. (I’ve been slacking lately, I know.) Even if I got everything wrong I won’t be too embarrassed to come back and admit it. It’s only a movie, right?

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review or follow me on twitter @bloopbymimi1 

 Bloops:

1   =   worst book ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor book, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good book, worth reading
8   =   great book, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent book, a must read!
10 =   a masterpiece, read it now!

Other Book Reviews

None Yet.

What I’m Reading Next

Harlan Coban’s Six Years sounds too intriguing for it not to be next up. Hugh Jackman is attached to the project which makes it extra special to me. I love Hugh. He is one of the very, very few actors whose work I will go out of my way to see.

Here’s the synopsis:

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for…but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for almost two decades, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out.

As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found, or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart, who lied to him, soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on a carefully constructed fiction.

Movie reviews

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Shaft
Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (R)

Co-written by Jimmy Fails and Joe Talbot, directed by Joe Talbot and starring Jimmy Fails and Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is one part coming of age story, one part love letter to San Francisco and one part love story between a young man and a piece of real estate that represents home for him.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is well written and has a great deal of content that is packed with themes. The main character is written with great specificity, but his story is still relatable to many. The plot deals with homelessness, transiency, peer pressure, family dynamics, gentrification, etc. Most importantly, it deals with all the different relationships the main character has with those around him, and how those closest to us (either emotionally or in spatial proximity) can hinder or assist in our development.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco specifically examines what it means to be a black man within in the “black community,” in this particular instance, meaning “the hood”. How does one establish autonomy and develop artistic expression among a community of men who bully, belittle and minimize what they do not understand? How does one thrive without “dumbing down” in order to fit in and be accepted by others. How does one remain true to one’s self and exist as a leader in an environment where the norm is to follow along, go along to get along, etc., in order to be accepted and survive. One of the most interesting things about this movie is the symbolism of stagnation; how the main character goes through all these changes in many aspects of his life, looks outside of the “hood” for peace and satisfaction, etc., while the same group of guys never moved, never grew, never developed, standing in the exact same spot throughout – and then looked down on the guys who were different and wanted to do something different. This is a great movie to watch with young adults as it offers lessons in individuality, friendship and how being in “the in crowd” isn’t always beneficial.

The acting is strong with not one weak link in the bunch. The cast is a mix of fresh newcomers and seasoned veterans. Rob Morgan gives an outstanding performance, as usual.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco pays homage to the streets of San Francisco in a fresh and realistic way, showing the contrasting “beauty” and “grit” of it all and the parallel between the two as they relate to the “haves” and the “have-nots” and the fantasy world vs. the reality of the world the main character lives in daily. The writers use settings to express pain/repression/the past vs. hope/dreams/the potential future in many instances. San Francisco is used as this complex character that helps to make the movie all the more interesting.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco earned 8 out of 10 bloops. It’s a great, well acted, well written, thoughtful, original film that is definitely worth seeing. It’s still in select theaters (in New York City at BAM and the Angelika Film Center until Thursday and at Village East Cinema until Monday). If you’re over all the Hollywood remakes, sequels and super hero movies, go out and support this film, but if you miss it be sure to catch it streaming. The Last Black Man in San Francisco DVD and Blu-ray release date is set for August 27, 2019 and available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on August 13, 2019.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing next…

I am still way, way behind in my movie viewing/reviewing. Please hang in there with me while I work on posting all the content I have written up while catching up.

What I’m watching next

8/9     The Kitchen 

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)

Shaft
Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

 

Shaft (R)

Written by Kenya Barris  (Blackish/Grownish/Mixed-ish)/Alex Barnow, directed by Tim Story, and starring Samuel Jackson and Jessie T. Usher, Shaft (2019), (a follow up to Jackson’s 2000 installment of Shaft) focuses on John Shaft, Jr., (Usher) enlisting the help of his father (Jackson) to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a close, childhood friend.

Shaft (2019), while billed as action/comedy/crime, maintains elements from the much less funny original Shaft (1971) with drug families/kingpins, heroin deals, a crumbling/crime-riddled/dope infested, Harlem, lots of profanity (some of it is pretty funny, depending on your sense of humor and tolerance for foul language), and the N word is still acceptable to use. This could have been a difficult movie to execute given today’s politically correct climate, but it is thoughtfully balanced using a “millennial vs. older generation” approach to examine what once was acceptable and what isn’t so cool to do or say today, as each generation learns something from the other. Toxic masculinity is touched on in a smart, subtle way that doesn’t feel preachy at all.

Regina Hall is just nuts with her loud, hilarious, hysterical, rantings. By the end of the movie I was sick of her mouth in a hilarious sort of way. Usher can be a pretty funny guy. He reminds me of Nick Cannon at times. Jackson does what Jackson does and he does it well, as usual. And it is always a treat to see Richard Roundtree.

The humor is enjoyable as the jokes land well and without feeling forced most times. I must say, the cussing gets to be a bit much after a while, when the cuss is used as the joke over and over again. This repetitive mechanism diminished the quality of the film as the words started to strike my ear as annoying and overdone. I’m not easily offended by cuss words and use them with vigor in my private life and even once in a while on this here blog when I feel no other word will do, so I’m not easily offended by cursing. It’s just that sometimes, less is more and in this case, a little editing would have gone a very long way.

The story, while formulaic and mostly predictable, is mostly well written and very well paced. The addition of the issue of health care for veterans and how war is sometimes used to cover up other activities is interesting (even though we’ve seen this device/situation before as a means of moving drugs). Some of the key elements of the plot are “talked through” rather than put into scenes in the actual movie, which weakens the story, but I’ll allow it because the movie is just about the perfect length at an hour and 51 minutes. (Although it was somewhat enjoyable, the musical montage in the beginning could have been cut to make way for more present day story telling. We get it. Shaft was an absent father. No need to belabor the point. His Christmas presents are hilarious though.) The music/soundtrack is energetic. The action is adequate with gun-to-gun, hand-to-hand, knife-to-gun battles.

Shaft earned 7 bloops out of 10. I would have rated it 6.0, but whatever problems the movie may have had, I was invested in it and enjoyed it from beginning to end, so I gave it an entire extra bloop. Shaft is light, enjoyable, time-killing, summer fare that doesn’t pretend or attempt to be anything other than what it is, plot holes and all. And I would watch it again someday. Not now of course. I have too many more movies to see… but someday.

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing next…

I am still way behind in my movie viewing/reviewing.

Next up is Men In Black: Internataional (I saw it yesterday) Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Aladdin. Here are a few films I’m looking forward to seeing/reviewing and their release dates:

6/21   Child’s Play
6/28   Yesterday
7/5     Spiderman: Far from Home
7/5     Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
7/12   Stuber
7/12   21 Bridges
7/19   The Lion King
7/26   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
8/2     The New Mutants
8/9     The Kitchen
Then there is a load of questionable movies between 8/9 and 9/6 that don’t look very interesting at all, until we arrive at –
9/6     It: Chapter Two
9/13   The Goldfinch
9/12   Spies in Disguise
9/20   Rambo: Last Blood
9/20   Downton Abbey

 

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)

Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

https://s.pubmine.com/sandbox.html

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

 

Ma (R)

*Although I try my hardest not to do it, this review may contain spoilers

***

Written by Scotty Landis (his first feature film!),  directed by actor/director/writer/produce Tate Taylor (he also directed Get on Up, The Girl on the Train (my review in the link) and The Help, to name a few) , and starring Octavia Spencer, Ma features Spencer as a lonely woman who befriends a bunch of partying teens she entertains in her basement. It’s all love, booze and good times, until Ma loses her shit.

Ma is billed as a horror/thriller movie. It’s absolutely a thriller and a mystery of sorts. It gets a little bit gory at times and there are some frightening moments that raise it to the level of a horror flick. Ma is what I call “smart” horror because the story doesn’t involve supernatural forces. Just a regular, functioning, mentally/emotionally damaged person who is a ticking time bomb, waiting to be set off.

My problem with Ma is I would have never gone back to Ma’s to “party” after the first night. Hell, I would have never gone to Ma’s in the first place. Not even at 17. But that’s the native New Yawka in me, I suppose. So, for me the credibility of the entire premise falls apart very early on. I had to transfer myself to a small town where there is no place for kids to hang out, get drunk and make out and/or fornicate, to get to a place where I could continue. And I don’t regret staying with it. I’m just saying, the signs of the crazy were there early on and these teens, being self absorbed and oblivious, as some teens sometimes are, see none of it until it is too late.

Once I was finally able to put myself aside and get into the shoes of these teens, I kept getting knocked out of those shoes by a chain of events that relied upon people doing stupid things that no reasonable, thinking person would do. So, things would be going along well with the story, I’m all invested, and then, Boom! Somebody does something stupid again and I’m in the theater cussing under my breath at the screen!!!

The mystery of Ma is pretty entertaining as you’ll sit and wait to find out exactly why Ma is so crazy.  You get hints and glimmers of what happened and the reveal is pretty horrific if you (again) put yourself in Ma’s shoes. The reveal brings about a certain amount of empathy for Ma, and thinking about it in modern day bullying terms, you really kind of understand her humiliation and rage toward these people in this small town where she grew up and still sees and interacts with these imbeciles regularly.

What makes Ma interesting is how the plot is structured so that we get to see the history of the people who grew up in this small town and where all the players ended up, how their lives turned out, how their children are a reflection of them in one way or another, how little a-holes often grow up to become big a-holes and how traumatic events can cause long term damage on a bullied person.

The acting is solid. Octavia Spencer never disappoints. She just keeps getting better with her subtleties. She can raise an eyebrow, or open her mouth wide, or wink or squint, or change the angle of her smile and change the entire mood of a scene. And to see her dancing is hilarious and joyful. I love Allison Janney and the chemistry between her and Spencer (I’m sure I’ve advised this before, but if you have not watched them together on Mom, do so immediately!) is always delightful.  Diana Silvers does a good job as Maggie. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because she looks somewhat like a Julia Roberts/Anne Hathaway hybrid.

Ma earned 7 bloops out of 10. Although far from perfect, it’s a good movie that’s worth seeing. It is (mostly) well written, true to life, horror that doesn’t rely on jump scares. Pretty good for a horror movie with absolutely no supernatural element involved. Humans are the monsters. Go figure…

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing next…

I am waaaay behind in my movie viewing. I’ve been laid up the last few weeks after surviving my first (and hopefully my last) cardiac event. I had to brought back with the paddles and everything on Easter Sunday you all! It was a trip, to say the least. Physically, I’m fine. Emotionally, I’m just starting to feel like myself again, so let’s get this blog back up and running!

Next up is Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Aladdin. (I have some older reviews to throw up “Throwback Thursday” style and a couple of book reviews of books being made into movies coming as well.) Summer movie season is upon us, and here are a few films I’m looking forward to seeing/reviewing and their release dates:

6/14   MIB International
6/14   Shaft
6/21   Child’s Play
6/28   Yesterday
7/5     Spiderman: Far from Home
7/5     Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
7/12   Stuber
7/12   21 Bridges
7/19   The Lion King
7/26   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
8/2     The New Mutants
8/9     The Kitchen
Then there is a load of questionable movies between 8/9 and 9/6 that don’t look very interesting at all, until we arrive at –
9/6     It: Chapter Two
9/13   The Goldfinch
9/12   Spies in Disguise
9/20   Rambo: Last Blood
9/20   Downton Abbey

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)
Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

https://s.pubmine.com/sandbox.html

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

 

Rocketman (R)

*This review may contain spoilers

***

As  a matter of full disclosure,  I admit I am a huge Elton John fan. Love the man and his music; so much that I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite Elton song. I state this so you know to consider the source of the following review. Let’s get into it.

***

Written (screenplay) by writer/composer Lee Hall, directed by actor/director/writer Dexter Fletcher, and starring actor (and now singer, apparently (although he’s sung before)) Taron Egerton, Rocketman tells the story of the early life, rise to fame, fall and resurrection of beloved musical icon,  Sir Elton John.

Rocketman is not your average biopic. it is more. It is a fantasy/imagining of a musical based on the life of Elton John, set to his music. It’s as if a biographical Broadway musical were made into a film first. In this sense (and others) Rocketman is a uniquely well done. I say that even though I was very directly reminded of the stories behind Billy Elliot and Kinky Boots (that resemblance is more plot-related rather than production-related, which I’ll get to shortly).

If you think you’re going in to see yet another actor lip sync your favorite tunes, I can’t say whether you’ll be pleasantly surprised or disappointed, but Egerton sings the songs here. This move is refreshing in a sea of lip syncing biopics, but at the same time a bit of a let-down. On the heels of Bohemian Rhapsody (my review in the link), which was a lip syncing, concert-driven film, I was looking forward to singing along to Elton. While Egerton did a good job and his renditions of the songs kept me engaged, he didn’t draw me in and make me want to sing along. I was too busy listening to him – judging. I didn’t know he would be singing going in, so it surprised me. (Not in a good way or a bad way. I just wasn’t expecting it.) Not to mention, there are few songs sung in their entirety, which (purposefully or not) reduces the “feelgoodism” of the movie – and not necessarily in a good way. Certain scenes feel stifled, like they’re just cut short as we hear a few lines from a song or its familiar melody, the song stops, and we cut to the next scene.

This chop of the songs not being fully realized is brilliant, as we look at John work on his music in its infancy, as works in progress, rather than the final product – just as we view John himself throughout this film, never arriving at the final product, which is John as he lives life today.

Rocketman is a mostly well done, raw representation of one man’s struggles within himself. This is the “humanization” of an idol. Like most everyone else, despite his fame and fortune, Elton John had to learn to love himself, accept himself, process past hurts, come to terms with people and circumstances he couldn’t change, etc., in order to survive as a functioning adult with adult, non self-destructive, coping mechanisms in order to help heal past hurts and fill empty voids in his life.

There’s are layers upon layers of psychology involving the sources of John’s insecurities/shyness in his early years which lend more to the story than the typical rock n’ roll issues of addiction, depression, egoism, narcissism, etc.

The plot, however, does follow the formula of shy, lonely, talented kid makes good and is consumed by fame, but the triumph here is John is a survivor in the end, outlasting many of his peers who literally died, some might say, before their time. Unlike those peers, at some point John sought the help he needed and did the necessary work to outlive his rock and roll greatness. This is an important message. Of course, like most biopics, much of the plot is out of sequence and “Hollywood slick” (a/k/a made up) to make a pat, marketable, 2 hour 1 minute story.

The acting is strong. Ron Howard‘s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard does an outstanding job as John’s mother. The costumes are divine (of course). The music is fine (of course). The dance numbers draw you in. The energy of Rocketman, during John’s performances and the choreographed numbers, is palpable.

Rocketman earned 8 bloops out of 10. It’s a great movie that’s worth seeing – don’t miss it if you’re a fan of the man and/or his music. It is realistically uplifting and not saturated in gooey, feel good vibes. It is imaginative in its production. The costumes are stylishly used to draw a vivid parallel to Elton’s egoism as they become more and more outrageous (by the end his costumes were like a cry for help!). The musical works in progress draw a parallel to life itself – specifically Elton’s life. Given John’s love of music and musical theater, Rocketman is exactly what one would expect of a movie about Elton John in an Elton John approved movie.

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’ll review next…

Ma – I saw it last night before Rocketman. The review will be up tomorrow.

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

 

 

Shazam (PG-13)

Based on the characters created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, co-written and adapted by Henry Gayden, directed by David F. Sandberg and starring Zachary LeviAsher Angel, Mark Strong, and Jack Dylan Grazer, Shazam is the story of a 14 year-old turned sudden superhero.

At first sight of the poster for this movie, I had less than zero desire to watch. There he was, splashed across both elevators of the AMC 25, looking like a tool.

Regardless of your Marvel or DC loyalties, if you don’t enjoy this movie (at least to some degree – even if you rated it a 6 out of 10), it is my duty to inform you that your inner 14 year-old is deceased. Time of death – TBD. Manner of death – most likely, murder by adulting. This is not like having a broken funny bone people. This is serious. You need to go back to the future or the past, or whatever you need to do and figure out exactly when this tragedy occurred, find that 14 year-old inside yourself, revive him or her, and watch Shazam again. You can thank me later.

I enjoyed this movie because it is well cast, fun, sort of goofy but not too goofy, light but not too light (thanks to those lovely demons), didn’t take itself so seriously and didn’t try too hard. It has that “for children of all ages” feel to it. It’s like a whimsical spoof and I really did feel my 14 year-old-self enjoying every (Hold up. Did I just type “every?” I meant, “most.” Let’s not get carried away here. Although, thinking back, I don’t remember one, single eye roll during this entire movie, which is extraordinary for me during a superhero flick. Also, I do remember smiling through much of it and even when I wasn’t smiling I was paying full attention. Not one yawn or watch check through the whole affair. Perhaps I enjoyed it more than I even realized…Whoa!) minute of it!

Imagine if you had somehow acquired superpowers when you were 14 years old and the subsequent jerk you would have become – but for a good friend and/or family member keeping you grounded and saving you from yourself (that is, if he didn’t turn into your “yes man” and contribute to your eventual demise).

Hmmm… Mystical growth spurt; best friend enjoying the fruits of that growth at first; things/protagonist change and the friendship deteriorates as the good friend tells some hard truths the protagonist doesn’t really want to hear about him turning into an a-hole; something happens to let the protagonist know he needs his best friend or that his behavior is/was wrong. A big part of the humor relies on the protagonist making these awkward, comical adjustments to his new body/status. A movie with a message about friends and family. Sound familiar? It should. It’s the plot to Big! And that’s another part of why I enjoyed this movie so much. (This dawned on me long after watching.)

Shazam earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops for the refreshing awakening of my 14 year-old self, if only for a couple of hours. Shazam is a good movie worth seeing in a theater, particularly if you have youngsters to take. The demons are frightening for younger ones, I’d give it 7 years old and up to avoid any nightmares depending on your kid, of course. And please don’t think it is a movie “just for boys”. It isn’t. Take the girls too. They’ll have a good time as well.

******

Here’s what you should really do, if you can: Tell your kids they should call their grandparent(s) and invite them to the movies so the grandparents can have their 14 year-old selves come out and play too! Grandparents are not going to say no. They’ll be thrilled the kid(s) called and invited them. Then you get a couple of hours to yourself! Pretty clever plan, eh?

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

REPORT THIS AD

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

Dumbo (PG)

Written by Helen Aberson/Harold Pearl, Directed by Tim Burton, and starring Colin FarrellMichael Keaton and Danny DeVito, Disney’s Dumbo is the tale of a flying elephant who saves a struggling circus which lost performers and an audience due to WWII. When the small circus is acquired by a slick entertainment conglomerate, Dumbo and his friends discover the new circus owner’s dark agenda.

Full disclosure, I’m no Disney fan nor fan of fairy tales. I’m the mom who told my daughter’s teachers to inform me if they were planning on ready any fairy tales in class because I didn’t want her listening to that drivel without me being there to explain the drivel. I’m also the mom who let it be known there was no Santa Clause, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, but that’s another story for another movie and another time. Nevertheless, she lived through it, and grew up to be an outstanding, well-adjusted, well-rounded, independent thinker, and a positive contributor to society. On to the review,,,

Burton hasn’t been burning up the cinema lately, having last directed Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children (2016) (my review in the link), but with “Dumbo” he shows a lot more restraint and is better off for it. He still resorted back to his old bag of tricks, but it felt nice here, not forced.

Given our recent consciousness regarding animal abuses at circuses and zoos, “Dumbo” isn’t the choicest material to attempt to “freshen up” but Burton did what he could. I’m sort of hoping this is the last go round for this story because knowing what I know now, Dumbo made me cringe at times. The story puts us in a “when you know better, you do better,” situation.

The opening credits were so cheesy I thought I was in for a true disaster and was poised to go for my refund. Then Colin Farrell showed up and did absolutely nothing to change my mind. But somewhere along the way things improved for a decent second act and the ending sort of evened things out to average.

As far as the acting, the adult veterans dominate the space and leave very little for up and comers to do.  I was staring at Nico Parker reminding me of a young Angelina Jolie through the entire film and it ate at me until I had to know who this kid is related to. It turns out her mother is Thandie Newton.  (Hmmmm… Could it be that Thandie and Angelina resemble one another and I never noticed? This thought may cause you to snicker a bit, but go watch The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) or even Imitation of Life (1959) and tell me there aren’tat least two frames where Lana Turner looks just like Beyonce in the face.)  I don’t know how well the young lady can act, because of the limitations of this material. She didn’t stink up the place though, so there’s that at least,  Finley Hobbins, the young man who plays Parker’s brother, contributed even less.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with Dumbo, but neither is there anything particularly special about it. The effects are fine. Dumbo’s flying is fun. There are a couple of laughs. There are a couple of moments of suspense. The ending is, of course, a pat, Disney-happy ending where the good guys win and the bad guys get punished somehow. Meh!

Dumbo earned 6 out of 10 bloops. It was okay but could have been better (always consider the source).  When it is smart to leave a movie in the original era in which it was set, one has to question whether a remake is even necessary. Perhaps as one moviegoer who is not only genuinely tired of remakes, but also a person who believes some material should just be left alone, I could have done without this one altogether.  The kids may enjoy it and it is entertaining enough for you not to fall asleep, if you’re not too tired. …What a glowing endorsement!

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

REPORT THIS AD

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

Us (R)

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, and starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, the highly anticipated “Us” (I saw it nearly two weeks ago. Apologies for the delay in posting) has finally arrived. You’ve probably seen a trailer or already read or heard what it’s about, but I don’t think the plot should be laid out until you see it (if you care to) – but I can still critique it without giving too much away.

The acting is good. Lupita plays her dual roles well but the evil one is stronger. I mean, it’s definitely the more interesting one. But, is it? Winston Duke provides comic relief as Adelaide’s clueless, nerdy, big for no reason, rendered nearly useless early on, husband. Shahadi Wright Joseph does a notable job. That young lady has one of the most authentic and laughable eye rolls I’ve seen in a good long time.

The writing is uneven at times, as some of the action, imagery and symbolism is outstanding, and some is… how should I put it? Not. The images of Lupita fighting/hunting a version of herself to the death to save her self/family/humanity while wearing shiny gold chains/bracelets/shackles/handcuffs – depending on your interpretation, is nothing short of dazzling.

There is some exceptional foreshadowing used in many instances that provide clues that one will only grasp onto in hindsight. In this way, the story is unpredictable, but in other ways it is textbook predictable. The purposeful way the audience is frustrated by that foreshadowing – either because certain characters should or should not have done certain things or the way they did them – all makes sense in the end. In this way, “Us” is a movie that may make you think. Not about anything profound exactly, but more about how well the script is structured. The ending is tied up brilliantly and a quality “lightbulb” moment is provided, but by the time I got there the movie had already been too muddled for that important moment to pack the punch that it should have.

This socially conscious Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s (+meets any horror movie where a family/class/group of any sort takes a vacation and/or road trip) remix is great, if that is exactly how one views “Us.” Otherwise, it’s sort of a mess. This movie becomes its own worst enemy as it gets bogged down in a tangle of messaging, metaphors and symbolism that led to me to care less about the intended meaning of the story. I understood the commentary, messages, etc., I just couldn’t find myself caring about them. Maybe that says more about me than it does about this movie, but the execution of it all just didn’t pull me in.

I came here for horror. And I got some. But I also got a lot of other “extra” stuff I just wasn’t interested in. I literally, physically, had to fight myself not to walk out after an hour and a half. The movie “only” had 26 more minutes and that 26 minutes felt like an eternity! I know I shouldn’t compare movies, but here I go anyway: In comparison to the clear-cut narrative of Get Out (my review in the link) where I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next and fully invested as if I knew those characters personally, the narrative of “Us” is the “un-clear cut” opposite. And that would be okay if rather than finding the depth/density/gymnastics of this story telling entertaining, I found it rather tedious. “Us” feels unnecessarily complicated. Sometimes less is more. This is one of those times.

I’m proud of anyone who gets their movie made and Peele told his story, his way. I’m happy Lupita got a headlining role which she carried well. All those bunnies and not a drop of rabbit poop on the floor was quite impressive.

Alas, you know how it goes. Everything is subjective. You may like “Us” more than I did. I’ve heard the word “masterpiece” thrown about, and while I disagree, it will be a very long time (at least until it streams) before I give “Us” a second watch to confirm my first impression. To each his own, different strokes, blah, blah, blah, so on and so on, and whatever.

“Us” earned 6 out of 10 bloops because I do believe it is “good” but could have been better, but there is something masterful in the intricacy of the story telling that brings it up to 7 bloops. So I guess that averages out to 6.5 bloops in the end. It isn’t perfect, and has quite a few great, positive qualities. It just didn’t come together for me. I may have been pulled in for a minute or two, here and there, but I was never fully invested nor transported out of my seat into the action. I was just another woman in a theater watching a movie.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

REPORT THIS AD

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (unrated documentary)

This is my Throwback Thursday review. Wrote this months ago and just failed to publish it. Thank you for reading.

*****

Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2017) tells the story of (then) 95-year old Scott Bowers, a man who procured sex for some of the greatest stars of the 1930s/40s/50s/60s/70s and 80s. Upon his return home from the war in 1945, Scottie settled in California and began working at a gas station near Hollywood. This is when and where his business began. It ending somewhere around the time Rock Hudson’s HIV/AIDS status was made public. The true Hollywood Madam, Scotty, makes Heidi Fleiss’s story look like a children’s book!

Scotty allowed (mostly) homosexual and bisexual actors a means by which to live their sexual lives freely, without having to lose their livelihood for doing so. He is considered a Hollywood legend in his own right. He is not a pimp, because he never took any money from anyone (his words); just a man who saw a need and an opportunity, and created a space for himself.

Scotty chronicled his escapades in his 2012 memoir entitled Full Service. In the book he names names of the mostly dead, extremely popular and famous celebrities who utilized his services. These were men whose reputations relied on them being “ladies’ men,” and “sex symbols,” even some of Hollywood’s “bombshells” indulged.

Scotty was a businessman and peddler of flesh who is portrayed as some sort of a “savior” to men and women with no other way to support themselves (the prostitutes) and these stars who sought someone to engage in sexual activities with who would be discreet and keep their secrets secret (the customers or johns – do you capitalize john when used this way? I don’t think so, but I could most certainly be wrong.).

One thing about this story that struck me and was more interesting to me than the sex, is the capability of human beings to perform what I call aerobics of the mind that helps them process information (most times unpleasant or tragic information) in a way that makes it bearable for them to live with. More than just compartmentalizing information and locking it away somewhere, the information is dealt with in a way to put a positive spin on it or put a positive light upon those whom a positive light should not necessarily be shined upon. It is a means of psychological protection; a way of skewing the blunt truth to cushion reality so we can sleep at night or at least function day to day without going mad over it. It is a way to avoid your own bullshit and act as though you’ve let it go without ever having to deal with it.

At the beginning and through the middle of this documentary I was feeling positive, like, “Good on Scotty for allowing adults to be their sexual selves at a time when they weren’t able to do so without being scandalized and shamed!” I was smiling. I was nearly ready to cheer! But then things took this turn and shit got hella-creepy. Scotty went very dark and started talking about his childhood in a way that was shocking to me because I’d never heard anyone say what he said who had been through what he’d been through. Scotty was/is a survivalist who learned early on in life to accept what is and deal with it accordingly even if it involves working those aerobics of the mind mentioned earlier. He seems to be somewhat of a sweet man when he had to be, but something was definitely missing inside. He always seemed to be “on” and when he wasn’t “on” he wasn’t as cheerful or pleasant, showing glimmers of anger and disagreeability, even the potential for nastiness. Instead of admitting there may be a void in him and that sex filled the void (he wasn’t just pedaling sex, he kept plenty for himself), he chooses to believe making others happy was filling the void.

I don’t know Scotty. We’ve never met, but I do hold a master’s degree in psychology and it’s pretty obvious if you watch, that he has worked quite hard to believe his own bullshit, and the spin he has crafted that bullshit around is extremely delicate and mustn’t be disturbed under any circumstances. He becomes defensive and short about the subjects he doesn’t care to get into too deeply. He comes up with pat, short answers and speaks authoritatively to signal that this answer is the final one and there is no need to have any further discussion on the subject. His life partner does the same when it comes to why she is with Scotty and why she stays. The narrator/producer of this documentary does the same as he glibly goes along with Scotty’s contention that he ran what amounts to a prostitution ring he claims to never have gotten a dime for running for decades to make other people happy. Okay Scotty… If you say so. If you say so.

One question asked throughout Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is, does he feel he is betraying the trust of the people to whom he provided services? Scotty states all of them are dead (and then goes on to mention one who is still living which may or may not surprise you). But here’s my feeling about this, whether they were dead or not; Scotty is telling his own story. Like anyone’s story, there are other people involved. His stories just happen to be about people who were and/or are famous. So what? In their time they didn’t have the option to come out of any closets or tell their story unless they never wanted to work again, so there is no way to say whether or not approval would be given. As long as what he is saying is true, or rather, his version of the truth, and he has plenty of people who are still living to back up his story, I don’t see the problem.

Scotty was ahead of his time as a sexually free spirit who always accepted himself for whatever he was/is. He was never embarrassed by sex or his preferences, which is very powerful. While the stigma of being anything other than heterosexual hasn’t completely gone away it has certainly lost some power in some places. (I’m just glad I live in a time where Billy Porter can shut it down at the Oscars wearing a flowy, black velvet skirt! Did you see him?! I loved every minute of it!) I, personally, could care who someone else sleeps with (as long as everybody is consenting participant and there are no children involved) if they’re not sleeping with me. It’s none of my business. Period.

Unfortunately, this documentary wanders off in too many different directions and loses focus at times. I would have liked to hear more about the celebrities and less (as in, absolutely nothing) about Scotty’s hoarding issues.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. If you are a student of psychology, a member or supporter of the LGBTQIA community (I hope I included everyone. If not, apologies. Things change so quickly I can hardly keep up.), or just interested in Old Hollywood, you will enjoy watching. Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is unrated because it is a documentary, but keep in mind there is some nudity and sexual situations depicted, so, if you don’t care to see penises, don’t bother.

*****

Hollywood’s secret History

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing/reviewing next…

Peppermint
The Nun – I’m only going to see this one for you all. Why should we all have to suffer? If it’s great I’ll let y

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (R)

Based on Lee Israel’s (sorry Lee, I couldn’t find a credible link to associate with your name but I found articles about you which will be listed at the end of the post) autobiographical Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger (2008), directed by Marielle Heller, starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the story of how Israel went from a has-been author, writing books no one w

McCarthy does an outstanding job playing this bitter, depressed, alcoholic, washed up, nasty (in more ways than one), middle-aged, has-been with such a bad attitude no one, and I mean no one, wants to work with her. And she has an even nastier apartment (don’t look under the bed for crying out loud!) in which the true state of her depression is manifested and revealed in a painful, true-to-life way. Her bitterness has contaminated every relationship in her life. She’s run out of friends who can tolerate her; that is, until she meets an equally sour-on-the-world, sleazy, social outcast (enter Grant’s character), with whom she can wallow in self-loathing.

The audience gets to witness McCarthy as this terribly sour, dark, unlikable person with not much going for her in life, to a woman who discovers something to be passionate about again, and who you learn to understand. The character development is brilliant. (Kudos to Nicole Holofcener and Jeffrey Whitty, who also deserved some award season love because they really made this story come to life.) McCarthy’s character becomes vibrant and energized and purposeful – almost, dare I say, happy; or as close to “happy” as misery will allow. Her actions may not have been legal but she got something priceless out of it. In her middle age, she rediscovered herself, her self-worth and her passion. It’s something we all need to do as we get older.

Can You Ever Forgive Me is quite a dark, queer, quirky story, with dark, queer, quirky main characters, and it is original, interesting, well-acted, well written, and well executed all the way around.

Oh! And I failed to mention that Richard E. Grant’s performance is brilliant, as usual. He is detestable! He’s a seasoned veteran who knows his craft. It’s almost scary how much he gets into this character and makes it look convincing and effortless. (I know I’m all over the place with this post but I’m trying to get it done before the show. Can you ever forgive me?)

I’m so glad Melissa listened to me. (Hahahahaha!!! Wheeew! I crack myself up when I imagine any of these people knowing who the hell I am.) To toot my own horn (Yeah. I’m gonna toot it!), when I suggested she try some drama to pull out of the catastrophe that was The Happy Time Murders (my review in the link where I said it, without even knowing Can You Ever Forgive Me even existed btw…). I knew she was capable of so much more. I believed in her and I’ll be darned if she didn’t deliver. Now, I want to see her play a real villain in some capacity, somewhere, like a villainous Craig T. Nelson or a John Lithgow role. (Melissa…, if you can hear me, do it. Go play in your craft and let no one box you in!)

I feel strongly that Melissa McCarthy is the dark horse for an Oscar win for this role. I know Glen Close has put in her time and Gaga is the sweetheart, but if we’re talking about awarding folks based on a single performance, I’m foolishly pulling for Melissa because she really stretched herself and gave us something new we’ve not seen before from her. Such is not the case with Glen or Gaga. (Even though I know I’m going to get my heart broken. Not that Glen wouldn’t be a great pick because she did an outstanding job as well. All the ladies nominated did fine jobs. It’s a tight race.

This is my last blog about a movie before the Oscars. I rated 2 movies 10 bloops this year. One was The Hate You Give (which I knew wasn’t going to get any Oscar love when I saw it), the other was Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and we won’t even discuss the b.s. snub Won’t You Be My Neighbor got so RBG can win this award… Honestly, this was not the best season for cinema, particularly in comparison to 2016, 2017 and 2018. But it’s over now. Let’s see how these awards go down.

Will You Ever Forgive Me earned 9 out of 10 bloops with Melissa McCarthy’s performance earning 10 out of 10!!!!!! It is an excellent, albeit dark, movie. The picture of what depression and loneliness looks like is so real and so timely, it’s sort of amazing.

*****
The True Story Of Lee Israel: The Biographer Who Turned Into A Literary Forger
Lee Israel, a Writer Proudest of Her Literary Forgeries, Dies at 75
The True Story of Lee Israel and the Literary Forgeries in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

*****

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster