Saturday, April 21, 2018


Last night I saw Beirut, starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike.

Mason (Hamm) is an alcoholic former diplomat who previously made a life in Beirut. It's been ten years since he lost his love in a night of gunfire. He returned to America shortly thereafter and has never looked back.

Unfortunately, his country needs him and summons him to return to the "scene of the crime" because his closest colleague/friend has been taken hostage and the kidnappers only want Mason to negotiate. Reluctantly he returns to the horrors he left and thus begins a game of cat and mouse between the Americans (amongst each other) and the terrorists.

Really, it's a pretty straightforward story, with good guys and bad guys and damaged guys who fall somewhere in between. Though Mason and his chauffeur Sandy (Pike) spend a lot of time together, sparks never fly for them, which seems like a missed opportunity for an otherwise one-dimensional plot.

The reason to see this is Hamm, who looks more like Don Draper than his real self, and melts comfortably back into the drunken/angry/smart hero role. He's great.

As for the story, well, if you lived during the 1980s, it will conjure up bad flashbacks of depressing evening news broadcasts showing violence and death that seemed to have no end.

If only we'd come farther since then, this would be easier to stomach.


Friday, April 20, 2018

I Feel Pretty

Last night I saw I Feel Pretty, starring Amy Schumer and Michelle Williams.

Renee Bennett (Schumer) is an average-weight woman who is obsessed with beauty and works in the online division of a high-end cosmetics company. All she wants is to be pretty, and an accident at her nearby SoulCycle soon has her believing she's as glamorous as she desires.

This new-found confidence, though her outward appearance hasn't changed, works positively to advance her love life, career and general well-being. By believing in her beauty, and projecting that aura, others pick up on her vibes and want to be a part of it.

It's such a simple concept, but something so many people struggle with that perhaps more movies like this are needed to serve as blatant reminders.

I won't be shy about saying I loved the film ... for all its good humor, for the message it sends and for the endearing actors. Though Williams plays a cartoonish character with a silly voice who could easily be cold in a Devil Wears Prada sort of way, the writers refrained from making her evil, which I appreciated. Not everyone who is conventionally beautiful (or rich, or powerful) is automatically a bad person, and I'm glad they emphasized that point through her (and her on-screen family, who all seemed like decent folks).

Really, it's a great exploration of throwing all sorts of stereotypes out the window; not just the frumpy single girl who lays on her couch drinking wine watching old movies.

Go see it. And take your daughters.


Friday, April 06, 2018

A Quiet Place

Last night I saw A Quiet Place, starring real-life spouses Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. John also directed the film.

Lee (Krasinski) and Eveyln (Blunt) are normal parents—they have strict rules for their children to follow, they work hard to protect and provide for them. But this family has it a bit harder. They live in a time of crises where the earth has been invaded by alien creatures who hunt sound. This means if they make noise, they die.

For adults, maintaining silence isn't too difficult, but for kids, it's a lot harder. Also, their eldest, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), is deaf. On one hand, at least the entire family can communicate by sign language; on the other hand, Regan can't hear danger coming.

You may think an entire film shot mostly in silence could be boring, but this is the absolute opposite of that. The story is at times sweet, terrifying, heartwarming and heart-wrenching. Above all else, it's tense.

Think of living your life in your most adrenaline-fueled, anxious, on-guard state and that's what these folks are forced to do every minute of every day.

They carry on, we assume only for love, because life is pretty difficult. Think about all the activities that make noise—laughing, crying, making love, cooking, making music ... the list goes on.

Of course they have little ways of enjoying sound ... nature, headphones, etc. but to overcome human instinct is a battle that should never have to be fought.

I held my breath throughout most of this film because they were such nice people I wanted them to make it. It should also be noted that the entire cast is phenomenal, acting 90% of their roles through facial expressions.

Also refreshing: what you think might happen doesn't. On more than one occasion.

I can't wait to see what Director Krasinski does next.