Friday, January 28, 2022

"Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" Sundance Review (2022, Sophie Hyde)

-Allison McCulloch 

Nancy (Emma Thompson) is a woman who has lived her whole life restrained by religion and other social orders and is now ready to see what she's missing. Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack) is there to help her find out what she desires. When he asks Nancy what her fantasy is, what woman wouldn't want to be asked that?

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is literally the feel-good, anti-shaming film of the year. Mostly set in a room between the leads, the dialogue is really good. It might work better as a play. It does kind of get tiresome going back and forth as Nancy is trying to figure out what she wants. But it is impossible to be bored with either Thompson or McCormack for long, so all in all, it's an entertaining watch.

Vegan alert:
Reference to ham

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

"Emily the Criminal" Sundance Review (2022, John Patton Ford)


I looked forward to seeing Emily the Criminal, because I knew that Aubrey Plaza pushes the boundaries. While it is no Black Bear or Ingrid Goes West, it has a solid supporting cast that includes Gina Gershon, Theo Rossi, and Megalyn Echikunwoke. It also marks Plaza's first starring role with her Evil Hag Productions.

Such an exciting time to be alive as Plaza waltzes through the movie macing and tasing anyone who gets in her way. The movie was rooted in reality as Plaza's Emily is burned with student debt and has trouble getting to the place where she needs to be. All in all, despite having some reservations, it was a fun watch.

Vegan alert:
Chicken Tarasco

Friday, January 21, 2022

"Call Jane" Sundance Review (2022, Phyllis Nagy)


"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"