Joker: Review

I have been a vocal critic of the comic book movie genre for a few years now, but I will admit that I was highly anticipating Todd Philips and Joaquin Phoenix’s collaboration for an origin story of the most famous and to this day, most terrifying villain, The Joker.

The film simply titled, Joker, is a haunting imagining of how someone with such a demented mind could become so powerful and have such a loyal following of citizens. The incredible thing that Todd Philips was able to do was make you not only sympathize with the disturbed man, Arthur Fleck as he becomes the most notorious villain ever created but how you have almost zero sympathy for those that we have always known as the heroes and martyrs in the Batman stories.

Arthur Fleck has been raised by his single mother and has continued to develop serious and disturbing personality traits. While he desires to live a normal life and at times even fantasizes about it, he is a victim of his mother’s own delusions and a society that is quick to cast him out. It doesn’t take long for Arthur to give into his demented thoughts and feelings and almost over night he becomes a symbol for all those what been put upon by society and shunned by the privileged.

Everything about this film is set up to make you feel uneasy and even nervous. Todd Philips has painted a masterpiece within every shot of the film. The casting choice of Joaquin Phoenix could not have been more spot on either. With Phoenix we fear the character of Arthur Fleck and can feel his change come within him inside our own selves.

It has often been said that many times comedians make great dramatic actors because they tend to have such a darkness inside themselves. Todd Philips has proved that the same apparently is true for comedic screenwriters and directors. Joker is a far cry from his side-splitting comedy of films such as, Old School and The Hangover trilogy. Philips does manage to have comedic moments in the film, but they are so dark at one point I got a dirty look from someone because I laughed at a moment that was a seriously dark turning point in the movie but just one sight gag I couldn’t help be realize the comedy affect Philips was aiming for. Award season is right around the corner and while I don’t expect Joker to pile on the awards, I do expect for Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Philips to load up on nominations and take home a li

Linda Ronstadt Reminds Us Of Her Immense Talent

I grew up listening to all kinds of music. It’s not that anyone in my family were music snobs, they just all happen to like whatever sounded good on their ears. Because of that i still have an extremely eclectic taste in music that ranges from Billie Holliday to captain beefheart.

One of the most common voices i can recall is that of Linda Ronstadt. It would be until much later in my life that i would recognize the talent and how much she played a part in a love for several styles of music she would play.

It saddens me to say that I really didn’t begin to fully appreciate he contribution to not only rock n roll but music in general until she was inducted in the rock n roll hall of fame in 2014 when the late Glenn Frey gave one of the best and most heartfelt induction speeches in memory. Then a group of the greatest female vocalist put on a performance of her songs that could have only been outdone by Ronstadt herself.

Linda Ronstadt couldn’t attend the ceremony because of her ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease which has stripped her from her standard of singing the way she has held herself to.

This tragedy of art and of a pioneer has lead to the new documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice. This documentary spans the lifetime of one of the greatest female vocalist that modern society has ever known.

When Norah Jones came out with her first album I fell in love with it to the point that one of the songs was prominent in my wedding. My only concern was that because Norah didn’t write her own stuff at the time that her success might be short lived. Someone I worked with at the time pointed out to me that Linda Ronstadt didn’t write her songs either and it didn’t matter. It took me almost 15 years to realize that as much as he was right, he was also very wrong.

Ronstadt had a voice and ear that was unprecedented before and after. Every song she ever sang was her own because she made sure of it. She was a songwriter by simply using her one of a kind voice. While never having the confidence in herself one might think is unbelievable, she never sacrificed her want and need to sing certain songs a certain way. In my mind that makes her a true songwriter.

The sound of my voice does not focus on the tragedy of one of the greatest voices in music recording history being gone, it instead celebrates what the world was grateful to have lived through and what she was able to do for women on what is still maybe to most male dominated industries.

It is definitely hard for most documentaries to do true justice to an artists talent and ability but The Sound Of My Voice unique. It does everything you want from a film like this but when pulled together it’s a film that makes you long for a time in music when there were no boundaries and anyone with the right talent could make their way.

Linda moved the world with her voice. I have always said how much of a tragedy it is that the greatest talents in the world get cut down too early whether it is from death or illness while mediocrity carries on forever. The truth is that Linda Ronstadt left the world with so much of her love and talent of every genre of music that we will never grow tired of hearing her. It’s not just a few pop hits. She left us with a plethora of country, Mexican, Rock, POP, Ballads and American Standards that we will never find ourselves bored of her unique voice of the likes of that will most likely never be heard of again.

Tarantino Delivers His 9th Film

When it comes to the cinematic universe, its Quentin Tarantino’s world and we all are just experiencing it. No one has created his own world so parallel to our own without ever crossing over the way he has. He has managed to expand that world from pre-civil wartime right down to today.

A few years back Tarantino announced that after his 10 directed feature he was going to stop directing films. Note that I said directing, not completely quit Hollywood altogether. This weekend saw the release of what is considered his 9th feature film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. So if all holds true that means movie fans and cinephiles has just one film left that will be pure Quentin Tarantino.

With a cinematic universe like Tarantino’s the one thing I’ve found interesting and even unique is how he has never seemed to cross from his world into our reality for the most part. Never has a major plotline or set of characters that exist in our world, followed the same path or taken a foothold in his world in the same way. He is truly an original from concept to completion and it is something that we are never going to see the likes of again.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is no different and fans of the director should expect no different. That is not to say that he hasn’t changed things or attempted to tell the story he sees in his head differently than he has before. He has always tried new things and presented things in ways like he never has before.

When it was announced his next film would take place in Los Angeles in 1969 and involve the famous murder of Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson family, speculation began to swirl. It wasn’t long until he began to tamp down the speculation that this is NOT a film about the Manson killings rather that is one major event that plays a big part in telling the story that he wants to tell.

The late 1960s were an especially volatile time in America. 1968 saw two of the most upsetting assassinations in the history of our country with Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy both being stricken down just a few months apart. Then as the decade comes to a close, some of the decade and thee centuries most defining events would happen. Woodstock would forever symbolize love and peace, the lunar landing (if you believe that moon landing happened) flexed some of the biggest Cold War muscle and the terror inflicted by Charles Manson and his followers also known as his family let everyone know that the human embodiment of evil was still alive and well.

It is in the Hollywood hills of 1969 that Tarantino has chosen to tell his next story. The ever innocent and beautiful Sharon Tate and her new husband Roman Polanski have just bought the house next door to former western TV star Rick Dalton who finds himself on the back end of a career he has no idea how to revive and has accepted the fact that he is relegated to taking guest roles on current hit shows has the bad guy to just keep his name somewhat alive.

Always at his side is his close friend and former stunt double Cliff Booth. Booth hasn’t found stunt work in quite some time and is now Dalton’s driver (due to Dalton’s many alcohol-fueled mishaps and loss of license) and general handyman.

It is within the telling of this story where Tarantino differs a little from his normal ways. All. The trademarks of classic Quentin are still there mind you. The sharp dialogue the pacing and the overall continuity that he is well. Known and loved for. The main difference I noticed is that it is difficult to see the path the film and its characters are walking down. With all that said it still keeps you engaged and interested and invested in what is going on with them.

By the time the credits begin to roll you are left satisfied in the way, fans are used to being left at the end of a Tarantino film.

Once Upon A Time marks the first time that Brad Pitt (Booth) and Leonardo Di Caprio have appeared together on the silver screen and their chemistry and ability do not disappoint. Margot Robbie makes her Tarantino debut as the immortal Sharon Tate and despite the limited dialogue for her, she is about as perfectly cast as they come.

This, however, is not the traditional Tarantino movie in a sense but when the film has had time to settle in after the initial viewing and one can dwell on it more it becomes another great masterpiece that he can proudly hang his hat on. This film is a great piece in the collection of films that will make up Tarantino’s legacy.

All The Money In The World Review

It is almost impossible for people to fathom how rich some people in the world, past, and present are. America is littered with these titans of business who made their way from nothing to more money than they could spend over the course of ten lifetimes. People like Commodore Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford right down to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in our time. We often hear how people like Gates and Jobs were generous with charity and how they desire for their kids to make their way in life. People trying to extract money from people of this worth is all too common, but sometimes it can be horrific. All The Money In The World shows the harrowing side of that wealth.

In 1973 in Rome Jean Paul Getty, who was One of America’s only billionaires at the time, had his sixteen-year-old grandson kidnapped and held for a ransom price of seventeen million dollars. Jean Paul Getty III was not particularly close with his grandfather or his dad who never learned how to live up to the Getty name. Paul as he was called, lived with his mother in Rome after his parents split and lived on the opposite financial spectrum than his name would suggest. When the ransom was demanded, many people expected the most senior Getty to shell out the money and put the whole thing to rest. J. Paul did no such thing and had no intention of negotiating that price at all.

Ridley Scott has put forth his second film of the year, the first being Alien: Covenant and now All The Money In The World which has generated so much buzz as of late because of the quick, massive overhaul the film went through just days before its scheduled release. Cast initially and filmed in the role of J. Paul Getty was an almost unrecognizable Kevin Spacey, but after numerous reports of severe sexual misconduct, Ridley Scott strand into action to save his movie and sever any connection to Kevin Spacey and his controversy.

With just over a month before its release, Scott recast the role of Getty with Christopher Plummer, who was initially considered for the role. With stars Michelle Williams and Mark Whalberg agreeing to reshoot all the needed scenes for no pay the crew headed back to Italy and in 10 days had a whole new set of films to be edited into the movie. All of this was an undertaking, unlike anything I have ever heard about before. After all, that was said and done, and the film was released, my first reaction was, “I can’t picture anyone else having played Getty and played him that well.”

The final product has no signs that anything had been altered or that anything had been rushed along. Aside from a superb performance by Plummer (who in the matter of a month, filmed a movie and received a golden globe nomination for it.) Michelle Williams turns in one dominant performance as Abigail Getty, the former daughter in law of the oil magnate. Williams desperation and determination in her performance is undeniable which is why she has received her fifth Golden Globe nomination and most likely her fifth Oscar nomination. Those were numbers I almost had to look at twice. Williams has quietly become one of the most talented actresses in the business today, and every bit of that is on display in this role. She gives her best performance since she played the iconic Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn.

The harrowing true story of the highly publicized kidnapping and the unbelievable ransom negotiation that went on with the worlds richest man makes for a beautiful film thanks to consummate professionals like Ridley Scott, Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer. The performances have us feeling frustrated for Abigail and yet furious at the eldest Getty for being, for lack of a better word, cheap. Christopher Plummer has the incredible ability to make us feel as though his family is the only thing that matters to him as well as feeling that he has a stone cold heart and cares purely for money and nothing else.

The Storied Career Of Daniel Day-Lewis

It was announced Daniel Day-Lewis is retiring from acting following the release of his next film. With a film career that has had him working steadily for more than 35 years,

DDL has become one of the most respected and acclaimed actors over that period. DDL has amassed five best leading actors Oscar nominations and three wins (the most leading actor wins for a male ever) seven Golden Globe nominations with two wins and six BAFTA nominations with four wins.

His dedication to his craft and roles have become things of legend. His depth of knowledge of each character and preparation is most likely second to none. What makes almost all his performances so incredible is that he has never taken a role for any selfish reason such as money or to receive top billing or to even keep himself relevant. He has no fear as an actor. No fear of failure or in his abilities.

He is willing to go several years in between films so that he can work on something he believes in. He has been coveted by every top-tier director on the planet and has never disappointed any of them.

I’ve decided to create a list of his top performances in honor of the closing of one of the greatest acting careers ever amassed. With nothing to be ashamed of in his resume (unlike some other heralded actors such as Pacino, Nicholson and Di Nero), it is not a list to be taken lightly but here is my best effort at it.

The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)

Based on James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel about the French and Indian War, DDL teamed up with Michael Mann to play Nathaniel Poe the adopted half white Mohican. The dying tribe is soon thrust into the middle of the war of which they want no part to rescue the daughters of a British colonel. It is with Mohicans that DDL’s stories of commitment and never breaking character would begin. He learned to live on the land and woodwork with primitively with the tools of the time to aid him. This was his first taste of big-budget Hollywood, and to the cinematic world, he did not disappoint.

In The Name Of The Father (1993)

Daniel Day-Lewis garnered his second Oscar nomination playing Gerry Conlon, an Irishman living in London who was falsely convicted of an IRA bombing along with his father along with others. Conlon spent fifteen years in prison trying to prove his innocence with the aid of a British attorney. DDL being of half Irish stock himself felt a closeness and need to tell this story and did so spectacularly. He turned down the lead role in Philadelphia to make this deeply personal film. Tom Hanks took the part in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and won his first of two consecutive Academy Awards. Had DDL taken the role instead of Hanks we could very well be talking about four leading actor Oscars (or if Hanks had not taken the part).

My Left Foot (1989)

The career of Daniel Day-Lewis hit its highest level for the first time in 1989 when he won his first nomination and Oscar playing Christy Brown, an artist born with cerebral palsy who learned to paint and write with his only functioning limb. The physical abilities and what would become a theme in his performances, his commitment to the role would make the cinematic world stand up and take notice and be in awe of him which would not go away.

Lincoln (2012)

Teaming up for the first time with Steven Spielberg, DDL won his third Oscar playing possibly the most revered figure in American history, Abraham Lincoln. We were treated to such a performance that brought to life this figure in a way no one ever had. The former Ed president had been portrayed by a myriad of excellent actors in the past but never had the authenticity felt as genuine than when he played him. It felt like the closest thing to watching film of the actual Lincoln, of which there is none. Aside from the physical aspects of Lincoln we were given a peek into Lincoln’s mind and thoughts and struggles. Once again his commitment would shine through in such a way that left the audience transfixed to the screen.

Gangs Of New York (2002)

Teaming up with a fellow Hollywood icon in Martin Scorsese to tell the story of the birth of the world’s melting pot, New York City. Lewis once again played a historical figure when he played William Cutting better known as Bill The Butcher who was known as the leader of a highly corrupted city who controlled all crime and criminals in the famed five points area. Fighting the politicians of the city’s corrupt Tammany Hall, a young Irishman gains Bill’s trust to exact revenge for killing his father years earlier. Daniel Day-Lewis was so committed to the role of Cutting that when he became ill on set, he refused particular blankets because they weren’t available in the period of his character. He would speak with a New York accent on and off set and never stopped being the butcher.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece about an unscrupulous oil tycoon at the turn of the century is, in my opinion, Daniel Day-Lewis’ finest hour. His creation of the character Daniel Plainview and all aspects of his personality is marvelous. The depth of the character leaves the audience in awe and makes you completely forget that it’s even acting that is being watched. The film itself is a work of brilliance, but it is nothing without Lewis in front of the camera it is HIS brilliance that makes it brilliant. It is performances like this that have left so many cinephiles extremely sad at the fact that there will be no more from him at all.

Field Of Dreams Transcends The Game It Honors

Everyone who loves baseball has several reasons why they like it. Some call it the perfect game, others call it the thinking man’s athletic sport. Still, others love the fanfare that comes with going to a game. There is one thing for sure, every fan has a baseball hero, and no sport loves it’s heroes the way the game of baseball does. They honor and remember all of its greats like no other profession and entertainment does. They are near mythic heroes, and the stories are like that of old Greek gods. Field Of Dreams pays homage to all of that.

One movie took all these loves of heroes and the love people had of their heroes and did it better than any tribute any book or story could do. Field Of Dreams is just that, a tip of the hat to baseball’s heroes and those that remember and love those heroes. It’s not as much a baseball movie as it is a love of what baseball has brought to people and how it has affected people.

Field Of Dreams is much more than a baseball movie; it’s a nostalgia movie. It uses baseball as it’s vehicle to show a man’s never forgotten the love of his father and how he vowed to love his family as much as his father loved him only he’s going to show it much more than his father did.

Kevin Costner has been criticized in the past for making too many baseball movies and playing it safe in that regard, but his first two baseball movies were nothing short of pure gems as far as movies go. We did not include Field Of Dreams on our top five baseball movie list because it seems to be about so much more than baseball. A man’s search to understand his father and his father’s love for a game, baseball is the medium the storyteller uses many fathers and sons can appreciate that.

It helps to pull the intended emotions of the storyteller and made every man who saw the movie or read the book immediately want to hug his father and play catch with them just one more time.

Field Of Dreams is a movie that will forever be seen by young men and their fathers that will translate through the line of time. It will always also make grown men cry forever, and that’s what it should do. There is no shame in that and maybe it being a sports movie is what makes that OK, but sports or not it’s a love story between a father and son and with one game of catch all the unsaid things they wanted to say to each other is finally said and accepted.

I, Tonya Review

The United States had some of the best skaters in the world with Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan and the rebel outsider, Tonya Harding in the early 1990’s. Harding’s white trash upbringing and lifestyle made her a natural rival to America’s sweetheart Nancy Kerrigan. The rivalry was so much more than fans choosing sides, there was genuine envy. Harding seemed to be envious of what appeared to be the perfect poster child for good clean American living and felt she was discriminated against because of her background and lack of money. She felt her talent was as good as anyone out there, but no one could look past her brash demeanor. This would go on to be the struggle of her entire life even after her skating career was finished. Who would have thought they would go on to make a Tonya Harding movie that would produce an Academy Award winner?

While I am in no way an expert or historian of figure skating, but I figure it would be safe to say that the sport was never as popular as it was going into the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The buzz was loud surrounding it even before the infamous crack on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, that just made it, even more, rock and roll. I mean Kerrigan would go on to host an episode of Saturday Night Live! 

If the story of the competition between Kerrigan and Harding is going to be told, it has to be told from Tonya’s point of view. She was the one with the roller-coaster life and the one who had a variety of colorful characters surrounding her. 

Tonya grew up in a poor section of Portland, Oregon and had only one love and one noticeable talent which her less-than-caring mother quickly decided to exploit. LaVona Harding was a chain-smoking waitress who was bitter at the world for dealing her a raw hand. She sank everything she could into Tonya and trying to get her to the top level of the figure skating world. Her overbearing and highly critical ways are what ultimately drove her and Tonya apart and pushed Tonya into the hands of her future husband and accomplice, Jeff Gillooly. 

Tony Harding was determined to be the best skater she could be, it was the competition part she didn’t like because she was convinced she was getting overlooked. It was these feelings and frustrations that would ultimately lead to her downfall.

The new film I, Tonya shows her life and rise and fall in the skating community in the best possible way. This story had to be told in a darkly comical way and director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Steven Rogers found the perfect way to show some of the worst moments and make us laugh and empathize at the same time. This story is almost so sad and depressing from Tonya’s viewpoint that if you don’t tell it in a comical way it would be unbearable to watch. These people became such parodies of themselves, it’s hard to believe that 23 years ago all of this was real and that it WASN’T a movie.

The film is clearly driven by Margot Robbie’s complete and perfect transformation into Harding and Allison Janney’s pitch-perfect performance as her dreadful mother. These two together have you transfixed on these two people and the downtrodden life they both lead. Robbie has so many of Harding’s mannerisms and her voice is spot on (google some video interviews of Tonya and you will be amazed). We catch a glimpse of LaVona at the end of the movie and it becomes scary how well Janney did depict her every move. 

As a whole, the movie captured the time period of the very bland mid 90’s in an excellent way and brings us into Tonya’s life in a very real and intimate way that you at times forget you are watching a movie and not reliving the whole time period again. Robbie and Janney steal the movie, but it’s Tonya’s life story that keeps you fixated on the movie as a whole. 

The Whirlwind Career Of Robert Downey Jr.

The life and career of Robert Downey Jr. are more of a roller coaster than any movie he’s ever made. His well documented legal and addiction troubles nearly derailed an acting career that was skyrocketing complete with an Oscar nomination, a season on SNL and being the lead alongside superstars like Mel Gibson all by the time he was 27.

His descent into a life of addiction and prison time almost became more well known than any movie he had ever made. Four films are the most pivotal movies in his life and career all for very different reasons. I’m going to break them down in chronological order and why they are so important in the life and career of Robert Downey Jr.

The Career Of Robert Downey Jr.

Before I lay out the list, there are a few films I should mention first that were also essential films for Downey but not as game-changing. The film Air America was one of the first where he was indeed a marquee star. It was a buddy comedy with Mel Gibson who was hitting his peak of fame.

The second film was Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. This movie was one of the first where everyone thought he was starting to turn the corner. His performance was highly praised, but he was still a few years away from sobriety and the fact that he wasn’t sober overshadowed his performance.

Third and fourth came back to back with Tropic Thunder which earned him his second academy award nomination and he was the all the talk of the awards that night even though he didn’t come home with a statue. He was now famously five years sober and clearly at the top of his acting talents and showing how great he was.

The fourth was Sherlock Holmes which earned him the golden globe and provided the opportunity for his peers to celebrate him and his new life and serious commitment to his career. It was an emotional yet very deserved moment.

1. Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero was the first time he was billed with Jr. attached to his name and the beginning of some of the legendary party stories for RDJ. this is where the career of Robert Downey Jr. REALLY began He has been quoted as saying this was the first time his drug and alcohol use spilled over into the production and not just during his downtime. Director Marek Kanievska told him and his co-star Andrew McCarthy (who battled his own addiction problems) to go out and party to get into character. This direction probably wasn’t the reason his abuses took such a foothold but more than likely they sped things up. The film was panned by critics and even the author of the source material book of the same name. It has since gained more appreciation in the 30 years since its release, but its foreshadowing can’t be ignored.

2. Chaplin (1992)

RDJ blew the doors off his portrayal of the legendary screen icon and gave Downey his first Oscar nomination, and it was well earned. Despite all his faults, he was able to transform himself completely. It would also turn out to be one of the last films for a long time that wouldn’t be plagued by his demons. Most critics and fans looked at Chaplin as the movie that showed what RDJ could have been.

3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

2003 is the year Downey got sober and finally stayed sober for which he credits his current wife and her support for him. Downey came to realize he couldn’t go anywhere other than prison or the grave and he has famously said that he is allergic to drugs and alcohol, he always breaks out into handcuffs. It would still be two years before he would make an impact and headline a major motion picture and prove to people he was more committed to his career than to ruin it. The buddy picture that was written and directed by the writer of the massive hit Lethal Weapon had RDJ star alongside Val Kilmer and proved to be a highly underrated movie and showed Downey’s comedic brilliance.

4. Iron Man (2008)

The superhero resurgence and current domination can be traced to one film, Iron Man. The juggernaut of Marvel Comics becoming kings of the box office is where it is because RDJ WAS Tony Stark. Every embodiment of that character is deep inside him, and he OWNED it. He had been sober for five years and was still busting his butt to prove to be people his commitment to acting. He became the biggest star in the world with this movie and solidified himself as 100 percent back in the game.

It is wonderful to know that there is a whole generation of movie fans that will only know him at this point in his career. It is forever in his contracts that he has to provide insurance for the films in the case he was, and his salary is held until the film is complete. He will always have to fight his demons and in a sense will always be paying for his past but thankfully all movie fans he convinced us all that he is back. I am just glad the the life and career of Robert Downey Jr. is as of yet unfinished with much more to come.

Lady Bird Review

For some time now Greta Gerwig has been slowly taking the title of “queen of independent films” away from its longtime holder, Parker Posey. Well, now she has once again gone behind the camera and released her second film, Lady Bird, which she also has written. Lady Bird also stars one of the industries best young actresses, two-time Academy Award nominee, Saoirse Ronan. Ronan blew everyone away when she stole the show in 2007’s Atonement as well as her beautiful performance in one of 2015’s best films, Brooklyn. 

Lady Bird is the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a seventeen-year-old girl who is doing her best to exist in a city, school, and home that feels out of place in. These feelings are compounded by a contentious relationship with her overly critical mother, Marion played by Laurie Metcalf in the role of her career.

As Lady Bird navigates her way through her senior year of high school she discovers heartbreak, superficial friendships and how these experiences can mold you into everything that makes you who you are. Hell-bent on attending an east coast college she consistently butts heads with her mother on her future while discovering the depths of her parents struggle with their own lives. Lady Bird at times goes to great lengths to hide her family’s meager means while attending a private school with much better to do children. 

The relationship Lady Bird and her mother have is one that can easily be related to by most. Sympathy can easily be felt for both of them as it is well portrayed what each one’s deeper feelings and motivations truly are. Marion wants the best for her daughter but her blunt honesty and critical views of her daughter’s life and choices feel overbearing to Lady Bird. While on the other hand, Lady Bird also wants what she feels is best for herself while still not knowing what that is.

She desperately wants the encouragement and support from her mother in her choices and wants but can’t seem to get that from her. It is in this aspect that the movie really settles your heart because we come to want what they BOTH want. We see Lady Bird grow significantly throughout her final year of school and she gets all the support and understanding from her loving father played by Tracy Letts. Her father is struggling in his life both outwardly and within himself all while doing all he can to give his daughter everything she needs to be a successful woman. 

This is Saoirse Ronan’s first major role since her Oscar-nominated performance in Brooklyn and she seamlessly transitions from a 1950’s Irish immigrant trying to make it in a new world, to an eccentric teenager battling her way through some of the most tumultuous times in her life.

Her performance is so genuine and real that we feel every emotion and difficulty she has and her struggle to navigate her way through it. This is a character that could not have been played by any other actress out there because of how we feel about her. As much as this is due to Ronan’s unbelievable abilities it is equally attributed to the magnificent script that Gerwig has masterfully crafted. 

Lady Bird is one of the most heartwarming yet raw coming of age stories that have been put out in years. Without question, Gerwig has established herself as a preeminent filmmaker working right now. In a time and industry that is in recent times been plagued with mistreatment of women and abuses of power that make everyone sick, Lady Bird is the glittering jewel that makes people want to make films and makes the viewer continue to enjoy them.

All is not lost in the industry that seems to have had its legs knocked out from underneath it. Films can be built back into what it once was and it will be done with the strength of filmmakers like Gerwig. She will soon become a signal of hope for all the women fighting for equality in the industry. 

Lady Bird is now available for viewing on Amazon Prime for free.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri Review

This was Published on December 29, 2017. Frances McDormand has quietly become one of the most reliable actresses working today. I would dare say her consistency is above even Meryl Streep. She doesn’t churn out movie after movie. She isn’t exactly a marquee draw, but every time she makes a movie she MAKES the film. She has four Oscar nominations to her name and one win for her brilliant turn in Fargo. She is on her way to her fifth nomination and very possibly her second win for her roll in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Despite being married to one of the brilliant Coen brothers and often being in their films, she has no reason to think that is the reason for the respect she receives.

McDormand’s latest film is no exception to her long list of exceptional performance. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an emotional yet tender and look at personal tragedy and loss. McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother who lost her daughter to rape and murder just seven months before the start of the film. Fed up with the lack of progress in her daughter’s case by the local police, she rents three billboards on the edge of town and leaves a message for everyone to read and especially Chief of police played by Woody Harrelson.

When the city is somewhat divided into her methods, she is unwavering in pushing things to the limit to get the results she needs for closure. Mildred is still dealing with an abusive ex-husband played by the highly underrated John Hawkes. With a hotheaded police officer played by the ALSO underrated Sam Rockwell, with a tarnished record harassing her at every turn she seems to be fighting everyone to get closure on the death of her daughter. Mildred goes through a series of events that increase the resistance she is facing even from her own son, only to find help from the least likely of people.

Despite its unconventional title, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is a masterfully crafted story lead by its incredible cast and script. The pacing of the movie is only one of its many significant aspects. The humor that accompanies it is not out of place by any means and does not at all diminish the seriousness of the central theme of the story. Writer/Director Martin McDonagh has a history of mixing these qualities well with past films such as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths ( also with the great Sam Rockwell).

One of the great things about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is seeing a director come into his own and get such top performances out of his cast. Highly overlooked in the cast is Game Of Thrones star Peter Dinklage’s performance. Although a relatively minor role he plays the part of a somewhat outcast just trying to fit in and express to Mildred that he has feelings for her and even understands her anger and bitterness at the world, something she never indeed recognizes in him.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is a movie that demands more than one viewing, not because of missed details but because of the different emotions, one feels during viewing that it takes more than one watch to be able to ingest all of it. The films have already garnered six Golden Globe nominations and be prepared for it to grab just as many Academy Award nominations and don’t at all be surprised to see McDormand and Sam Rockwell accept gold that night.

McDormand will have serious competition from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie but make no mistake she is as deserving as any one of them to take the prize. At this point the only competition Sam Rockwell faces, in my opinion, is Christopher Plummer for All The Money In The World and Plummer’s ability to pull off what he did in the amount of time that he did is what gives him the advantage. I would love to see Sam Rockwell win and I’d be very curious to see the reception he would get, being as liked and respected as he is. It would make for a beautiful moment for him.