Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Luckiest Girl Alive (2022)

Really didn't know what to expect of this film, and the trailer on Netflix had a scene that had very little to do with the rest of the movie, so frankly, I thought it was going to be a story about a little rich girl and how tough it is to be a little rich girl.

But boy was I wrong!

The main plot of the story, as it unfolds is tension enough: in short, an early-30s career-driven woman determined to make it into the upper class - both through marriage and by hard work - has to come face to face with her tragic past (a school shooting where, it turns out, she knew the mass murderer).

Don't want to give too much away, because this is definitely a film worth watching, but an additional plus for this film is that while the character COULD be cliched, or one-dimensional, they are not.  Not one in here (including the mass shooter) is entirely one thing or another.  Nobody is wholly sympathetic of completely despotic.  Everyone has some redeeming qualities and some deep flaws.

Especially the part of the fiancé - it would have been easy to make him the jerk that she's better off without (she IS the main character, of course, we're supposed to be on her side, right?) but yes, while we do come down on her side, he does have some good observations at times.  And the sadness is that his timing was off on the communication.

In a time in which it is rare for movies truly to surprise us, this one does a very good job of providing believable, multi-faceted characters.

It seems wrong to call this an "enjoyable" film, because the themes are dark and harsh (not only the mass shooting, but there is also rape and a cover-up), but even with the darkness, "enjoyable" is probably the best descriptor.  


 

 

Luckiest Girl Alive (film).jpg 

How Mila Kunis helped shape a new ending for 'Luckiest Girl Alive' movie |  EW.com

Friday, December 23, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Woman King (2022)

I liked The Woman King because it didn't shy away from African involvement in the African slave trade.   My wife panned me for even saying that, thinking I was being a White Apologist.  

However, I'm not. Chattel Slavery was morally wrong, ultimately economically unsustainable, and has had detrimental effects extending into our modern world; as such, there is really no good that ever came from this practice, other than that the people who are alive today were born as a direct result of this forced migration.  Yes, what I am saying is that people like Viola Davis and my wife and myself would not be alive today had that migration not happened.  Had forced Chattel Slavery not moved everyone around, every single person in the continents would not be here.  Different people would be in our place.

How can you say that? you ask.  Oh you meanie! That's like trying to say it was OK because it had a benefit!

No it's not.  It's merely stating a fact.  Without putting any emotional weight on it - and that's what the Woman King tries to do, at least with the King of the Dahomey.  Viola Davis's Nanisca tries to show King Ghezo that there is an economic alternative to their tribe's involvement in the slave trade.  King Ghezo doesn't care about morality of the practice one way or another: he just wants to build an empire.  If he can do that by selling other tribes captured in battle or by making palm oil, he'll do whatever makes more economic sense.  

SPOILER ALERT!!

 

The Woman King' To Have An India Wide Release On This Date - GoodTimes:  Lifestyle, Food, Travel, Fashion, Weddings, Bollywood, Tech, Videos & Photos

 

 ... Nawi, while well played and engaging, rather fell flat for me as a character because she was, at the heart of it all, simply another archetype of the "Maverick Rebel Individualist" who "goes her own way" and "does her own things" and "defies convention" and blah blah blah turns out that she is successful in everything she does that breaks the rules.  That's tired, pat, and boring.  

And yes, her being the daughter that Nanisca gave away 19 years before, well, you could see that coming from a mile away.

However, the most interesting character study in this film is the interaction between Nawi and Izoge

'The Woman King' Digital Release Coming Soon

Izoge as the trainer of the Nawi the young warrior is the Big Sister that Nawi needs to navigate this new world, and also becomes the mother figure that Nanisca never could be.  Their scenes are character gold - my only fear was that they would fall into the current trope of making them lesbian lovers (you know, to get the LGBTQ crowd on board with support of the film) but fortunately that did not happen 

oh no!  now you're anti LGBTQ as well!  you say.  Nooo... I'm just against tropes in movies.

Like the trope of the mulatto (Oh my mother was Dahomey so I'm Dahomey too, even though my daddy was white and I'm Brazilian) who could have loved Nawi but in the end had to let her go so that they both could be free.  

 

The Woman King Cast and Character Guide: Who Plays Who?

 

Lastly, the lack of bloodletting in the fight scenes made it seem like a made-for-Netflix movie ... or an installment of Black Panther MCU.  This kept it from the grittiness that it actually could have had.  But then, do we really want to see an African female version of 300?   Maybe the movie wouldn't have looked as slick as a graphic novel, but it would have been nice to have seen this movie look more like "Beast of No Nation" which was so hard hitting that you had to have your eyes closed through half of it, but which seemed to take a true look at Africa, how it is now, and how it, too, is still dealing with the sins of the past.

Last two points: Viola Davis does come across as Annalise Keating in African warrior garb.  She even has the same "strong woman dealing with inner demons" story arc.  So if you like her in this movie and haven't seen the series "How to Get Away With Murder" go watch all six seasons.  You are in for a treat.

And Thuso Mbedu's scene of grief over Izoge's death is one of the BEST grief scenes I've seen in film.  Her pain is heartfelt, sincere, the tone was perfect.  It suddenly turned what was a bland movie into art.  If the rest of the film's actors had been able to achieve that amount of emotional intensity, then this would have been a film no one could miss.  


***

Postscript: the Comments on this article show how we are unable to separate our modern day emotions from the Chattel Slavery of the past...

https://www.thetriangle.org/entertainment/the-woman-king-review/

 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Loving Adults (2022)

Could somebody PLEASE stop making all these movies where the guys are cheating and the woman finds out about it by looking at the dude's cell phone?  Every single movie, the moment someone mentions that, suddenly my wife is like, "gimme your phone.  what's the passcode?  what are your text messages?  who are you texting?  lemme see your email, your IG, your contacts, your phone calls" 

... and I'm just like, "can we PLEASE just watch the damn movie?"


Loving Adults (2022) – Review | Netflix Thriller | Heaven of Horror


for what it's worth, a decent watch, with some interesting twists, but SPOILER ALERT!!


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There is no way such a suspicious, murderous, intelligent, cunning woman would have ever allowed any of the precipitous events to unfold anyway.   In short, the guy never in his life would have been able to have even started an affair, much less have it go on for six months without his wife knowing about it.  Even though there was a line about how she was so wrapped up in their son's illness and he was just now getting cured, even that is not believable.  She'd been caring for the boy for decades, and even though it is a full time job, having such a sharp mind, she would have known her husband was going to have an affair even before HE knew he would, and she would have curtailed it.

So, that actually is a detriment to the movie for me.

I did like the bit at the end, in which the frame story (the police detective talking to his daughter on a lunch date) turns out to be the detective relaying this story to his daughter on her wedding day.  I mean, what kind of dad tells a story about a married couple committing murders and entrapping each other tells that to his daughter on her wedding day?!

Come to think of it ... as a dad myself, if I were a police detective, yeah, I'd probably give my daughter the cautionary tale as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: Jared and Elon with the Saudis

 

Super hilarious is that millions of mouth-breathers think that Elon is FOR "Freedom of Speech"

In Spanish, there is a saying, "Dime con quien andes, y te digo quien eres."

"Tell me who you hang with, and I'll tell you who you are."






Monday, December 19, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: The Post-Truth World is Messi

Argentina wins the World Cup and Messi goes out a hero, and, of course, suddenly on social media there is speculation that the whole thing was somehow fixed by the Saudis, and I'm left thinking it's no wonder we're in a post-truth world.




Thursday, December 15, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Matrix for Christmas

The report came out today that consumer spending was down for the month of November, so all the stock markets went down as investors get skittish, which basically shows you that if YOU ARE NOT BUYING SHIT, THEN RICH PEOPLE FREAK THE FUCK OUT!!!

We know this.  We have grown up with this.  We have lived with this all our lives: the simple fact is that each individual American exists solely for the purpose to consume.  

We buy buy buy what they sell sell sell ... and when we don't buy THEY have a conniption fit.

Every aspect of our existence is geared toward this consumer economy.

The Matrix hit it on the head: we exist to feed their them while we live in a fantasy world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: A Few Quotes for your Daily Devotional

 "Death, they say, acquits us of all obligations. "
— Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without. "
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even murder, with the truth."
— Alfred Adler

"The greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness."
— Herbert Butterfield


Overheard at the Counter: Insomnia at Least Churned the Creative Juices

2022-1214
Things thought of between 12:11 am and 4:30am

Couplets:
 

    Shooting blanks into a barren womb
    The only thing we’re making here is love

    How is 2022 treating you?
    Slightly better than 20 and 21 … how about you?

    Two couplets gazed into each other’s eyes
    and asked, “Are double-minded people always Geminis?”


 

#Horrorprompt:

    
He called himself the #promptmaster.
    (With the hashtag)
    He threw prompts onto Twitter like food into a fishbowl
    and all the little writers nibbled, and they wrote

    and they wrote, and he savored their glorious words,
    fed upon their prose, and the more he feasted,
    the thinner they grew;

    and when they started to die off and flake away,
he created new prompts,
    looking for newer, fresher, more hearty
    talent.


    
    Martin scrolled through her TL
    looking for clues: a streetsign in the background
    of a selfie, or a comment about the weather (he
    cross-referenced with local reports), a name drop
    of a restaurant she’d been,

    until one day, he found where she lived.

    So, he got himself ready to meet her.

    Stuffing his duffel bag, he said to himself,
    I’m not some snivelling soyboy.
She’ll learn not to call ME “Incel.”
    She’ll learn not to block all my accounts
    and most important,
    she’s gonna learn what love is!




Song:
    The Long and Winding Road
    The percussion is a piledriver.   Metallic clanging.  Hammer on anvil.
    Pauses at the beginnings of new verses can have wind sounds and/or risers.
    Acoustic guitar, played hard.
    Vocals like Tom Waits
    Perhaps a distorted bass guitar, perhaps just a few chords on meaty electric
    toward the later verses, a little snap of a mandolin, just to give that tiny bright offset
    
    The main version of this song is syrupy, and all covers have been wishy washy.  
Making it like a Tom Waits song will give it some real grit!


Post:

    Me [waking up at 1:18am]: No worries, I’ll be back to sleep in five …
    
My Insomnia: Hello there!  Glad to see you’re up!  Hey, remember that offhand snark you made to the VP of Sales yesterday?  Let’s go over all the ways that’s gonna come back to bite you in the ass!

    Me: Fuck you.

Insomnia: More like ‘You’re fucked!’  … because you also have that big project you haven’t even started and year end is in like, what? TWO WEEKS!  Better strap yourself in, pal.  It’s gonna be a looong night!


    
All the other things that were on my mind were just thoughts about work and what I need to do today.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Rohatsu, December 8, 2022

 “It is Bodhi Day today!  Happy Rohatsu!” Paolo grinned.

“You remembered!” Helena smiled back at the screen.  “And you’re off today too, right?  L'Immacolata Concezione?”

“Yeah, everything’s closed today,” he said.  “My grandmother wants me to take her to Mass.”  He rolled his eyes.  “I think she’s the last one in all Italy who still goes!”

Helena laughed.  “Traditions can be good, they can be healthy and give focus.”

“The only traditions I follow are my friends watching the World Cup Quarter Finals tomorrow.  If Netherlands wins, I’ll probably call you crying, and if Argentina wins, we’ll all call you screaming how much we love you and miss you!”

Helena said, “All of you will probably be too drunk by that time to work your phones!”

Paolo agreed, “E posible, sí… So, how are things in Nebraska?”

“Cold,” she said, “But I’m brewing some tea, home-grown chamomile and some anise that Claire sent.  And … of course, some panettone”

“UGH!  Not that shit they sell in America!”

“Well, if I were in Milano with you guys, then I could buy fresh from the corner bakery, now couldn’t I?”

“You can always come back any time, mi amore!”

“I will … someday,” Helena said, even though she knew that “someday” often remains forever elusive, somewhere in a distant, merely possible, future.

“Cazzo,” Paolo said, “Sorry, that’s my grandmother calling.  I need to go.  Call you later, OK?”

“OK,” Helena said.  “Ciao!”

“Ciao!”

And Paolo was gone.  And like each time of him being gone, with each phone call becoming more increasingly brief, he always seemed like a kite, flying higher and higher in the air, and she kept letting out more line, until that kite was completely obscured by clouds.

But, that is the way of many things, she thought, and so she took a sip of tea, tucked her feet underneath her on the couch.  Her cat came and curled up beside her.  She picked up the book she’d been trying to find the time to read (Idle Hands, by Cassondra Windwalker), and as she turned the page, she wondered if, 

at this specific moment, 
on this specific day, 

if this feeling of quiet, gentle absence, 
is shared by Yoko Ono.

 

 

 

 

 



Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Overheard at Booth 1: The One Who Puts on His Armor Should Not Boast Like the One Who Takes It Off

While I know it's cool these days to make fun of the Bible, last night a preacher gave a passage that's pretty badass:


    And the King of Israel said, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes     it off.’”

    - 1 Kings 20:11

 

The sermon was about boasting, and the pastor was talking about the people who talk about "OH I'm going to do this and OH I'm going to do all this wonderful stuff and OH people are going to be amazed at all the stuff I'll do!"

Essentially, stop bragging when you've got nothing to brag about.  Don't talk about what you are going to do... DO IT.  Then, once it's done, you can talk about it, critique it, test it to see if it was a success or not.

The guy going out to the battle shouldn't say he's going to win the battle.  The guy who has come back from the battle, alive and still strong enough to take off his armor, that's the guy who gets to tell the story.