Friday, January 21, 2022

"Call Jane" Sundance Review


"Nobody’s Jane. We’re all Jane."

Phyllis Nagy made this film about “the power of exercising choice” as she stated in her introduction to the film at Sundance this year. Phyllis Nagy (writer of Carol) makes her feature directorial debut.
Joy (Elizabeth Banks) goes through a radical transformation as a strait-laced housewife who ends up helping women in a way she never thought possible. First, Joy finds herself at the whims of her husband; she also needs approval for a medical procedure from an all-male board at the hospital who aren't eager to put themselves in her shoes. 

“It’s life or death for all of them.”

I love the fact that Phyllis Nagy is here to educate the younger generation. We get some of the same issues here as in the Hulu series Mrs. America: males can be pigs and white women overlook issues facing African American women. 

Some scenes aren't as energetic as I'd like them to be. However, other scenes such as Joy seeking other options for medical care lead her to scary doctors' offices that would send most women screaming away from.

The film had a great set design, costumes, and music choices. I loved the period umbrellas and the pink dress that Elizabeth Banks wore in a scene when she was at the psychiatrist's. Perhaps it's the best abortion film since Mike Leigh's Vera Drake.

In the Q&A, Nagy expressed that she wanted to make something that would provoke “intergenerational” and “intersectional” conversations. They shot on film (!) with one camera in 23 days! I love how Nagy put so many women in key roles including Greta Zozula, who was the director of photography.

Sigourney Weaver told us that the younger generation took abortion rights for granted, which is unfortunately true. A lot of women these days (including me) weren't even born yet when the U.S.A. gained abortion rights in 1973. It was unthinkable for most of my adult life that we'd ever revert back to a time when women couldn't make decisions about their own bodies. That is why it's important to stand up for our rights, write and call our representatives in Congress, and to have these kinds of conversations. 

Rating: 7/10

Vegan points:

-Joy chops celery and carrots 

-Joy's husband doesn’t like frozen meatloaf

Vegan alert:

-Ordered out for Italian food because of the meatballs

-Charlotte (Grace Edwards) makes hamburger noodles

Monday, November 8, 2021

"Lou Reed & John Cale: Songs for Drella" (1990, Edward Lachman)



I had a great experience watching Songs for Drella when it had a limited 3-day-run at Film Forum in NYC with director/cinematographer Ed Lachman in attendance.

I'm a huge Andy Warhol fan, so hearing songs about him as "Drella" was totally my thing. The name is a mashup of Dracula and Cinderella and was coined by Warhol superstar Ondine. This was filmed three years after Warhol's death.

Lachman told the story of how he thought the footage from this film was lost, but he found it in his apartment during the pandemic. Also, years before, Lachman's first encounter with Lou Reed was insane as Reed kicked down Lachman's tripod while telling him to "Do it like Andy" (handheld). 

The rehearsals of Songs for Drella were shot. Lou Reed didn't want any cameras between him and the audience. Lachman notes that WE are the audience.

It gets a little meta. In "Style It Takes", Cale and Reed reference The Velvet Underground and another song says "John Cale" is "looking really great". 

"I Believe" is a chilling song about Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol. Lou Reed sings that he "would've pulled the switch on her" himself, although she had already died in 1988.

The film ends with "Hello It's Me", a touching goodbye to Andy with Lou Reed singing and John Cale on the violin. Some songs were filmed in color, but this was filmed in black and white. I was able to ask Lachman at the Q&A why he chose to do this. He had always wanted certain songs filmed in black and white. A lot of Andy's films were in black and white as well as the Hollywood films that Andy loved. 

Overall, it's worth checking out for fans of The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, or cinematographer Ed Lachman, who shot most of Todd Haynes' films (including The Velvet Underground documentary). 

Vegan alert:
Andy called Lou a "rat" as referenced in the song: "Work"

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

False Positive (2021, John Lee)


“Welcome to the family.”

Hints of Swallow, Rosemary’s Baby, and Gaslight, it’s the movie that will terrify you, especially if you are a woman.

Gretchen Mol’s role as Nurse Dawn calls to mind Kirsten Dunst in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a way.

In the Q&A for Film Independent, director John Lee explained that the genre is psychological satire. What a relief! Before knowing that, I felt guilty/weird for laughing at some bits. Note that lead actress Ilana Glazer wrote the screenplay! Justin Theroux and Pierce Brosnan will forever haunt me, because of their performances in this film. 

 Rating: 7.5/10

Vegan alert:
-Boss orders tuna
-Roasted duck as an option at the restaurant 

Film Independent screener
Available to watch on Hulu