Week in Review 11/22 to 11/28

What a week! Theatre, movies, Thanksgiving…Here are my reviews for Sicario, Butterfield 8, Trainspotting, Bikram, Her Smell, and The Souvenir.

Sicario

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Sicario had me on the edge of my seat for 2 solid hours. I asked the questions I think Emily Blunt’s character wanted to ask but didn’t. I pleaded with the movie not to show my any more scenes with a particular character because I knew I was going to be upset later when the bad thing happened. Let’s be clear, this movie has a lot of bad things, but in a good way.

Sicario is the Spanish word for hitman. This movie is about the Mexican drug cartel and how our “government” sometimes has to deal with it. There are those who “know” what’s going on in the mission and those who don’t but are essential to the task. Enter Emily Blunt as Kate. Kate is an FBI agent who mostly deals with kidnapping scenarios who gets recruited by Josh Brolin‘s character Matt who is part of another government arm designed to take care of the messy stuff. Shortly after being recruited, Benicio Del Toro makes his presence known playing Alejandro who is the liaison between the cartel and the government. Kate–and the audience– is kept in the dark by both Matt and Alejandro about the mission, putting her in situations and giving her answers that don’t add up, until it does. Emily Blunt’s Kate isn’t the typical hard ass female we see in the usual type. She’s more of an everyday woman, working by the rules, getting her butt kicked by a guy larger than her, and trusting the process even though she questions it and doesn’t like it. She’s not super slick. It made me relate to her even more and drew me in like a great suspense movie should. I spoke to the television as if what I was saying was going to help her somehow. It didn’t.

Josh Brolin plays Matt with a smarmy-ness like an arrogant used car salesman willing to add his daughter to the undercoat package in order to make the deal. Just another day at the office. We good? He’s necessary and he’s good at what he does and maybe he has to be hard like that in order to do the things he has to do. Benicio Del Toro….ah Benicio. Your quiet demeanor disarmed me. I trusted you, still trust you, and by the end I feel sorry and relieved for you. I don’t forgive you for Silvio but I understand.

Written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, Sicario is suspenseful, intense, and seems all too real with the grittiness and violence depicted in some scenes. The music helps build the intensity within while watching and you cannot help but be one with Kate as she learns the truth as it unfolds morsel by morsel. I loved this movie so much. Watch the trailer below. Click HERE for rental or purchase.

Butterfield 8

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Butterfield 8, the tragic story of a young woman who has an affair with a married man. I suppose in 1960, this film would have been tragic. This is what happens to girls who “get around” and mess with married men, ladies, so beware…. Elizabeth Taylor as Gloria, won a Best Actress Oscar award for this movie. Probably due to the massive undertaking of acting like she’s in love with a man she has no chemistry with. Also, her tragic monologue about her worthless life and how she wants respectability. Her award should have been for being able to breath while shooting this movie. Her waist is cinched to an unnatural tininess, it’s distracting. Eddie Fisher plays her best friend Steve, a composer and catch all for Gloria’s drama. Laurence Harvey plays the tormented married man Gloria falls for. I was tormented watching him over act every scene he was in.

Written by Charles Schnee and directed by Daniel Mann, based on the novel by John O’Hara, this movie is clunky, forced, and tragic but not for the reasons it set out to be. The ending is a relief. Knowing Gloria is forever free from her boyfriend and this movie is a gift. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

Trainspotting

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Trainspotting follows Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, as he struggles in and out of his heroin addiction, the prevalent drug scene of his environment, and the desire to get clean once and for all. Like most people trying to get clean, your friends support you until you make it out only to do everything they can to draw you back in. Misery loves company. Renton’s friends include Ewen Bremner as Spud, the dimwitted friend; Johnny Lee Miller as Sick Boy, the “ring leader” of schemes; Kevin McKidd as Tommy, the goody two shoes athlete; and Robert Carlyle as Begbie, the unstable nut job who always seem to have a knife out ready to rumble.

Directed by Danny Boyle, Trainspotting gives you an inside track on the allure of heroin, the delusion heroin feeds the mind, and the harsh reality of who gets left behind. Heroin is the ultimate lover. What it gives these characters is more important than life. Literally. And the connection to it keeps them coming back for more despite the reality. Talk about an abusive relationship. At one point, Renton exclaims they are the “shit” of the world which justifies using all the more. What’s the point if you’re worthless anyway? Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

Bikram

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Bikram is a documentary which details the life of Bikram Choudhury, the famed yoga instructor who brought hot yoga to the United States in the 1990’s. Bikram the yogi is no doubt charismatic bringing his knowledge of yoga and healing to thousands. He’s charming, a tyrant, and a predator. But many men with his power often are. Bikram insinuates himself into the Hollywood elite and the everyday yoga fanatic with heat intensive yoga sessions which not only heal but strip the person down to the nothingness Bikram requires in order to control. Those who experienced Bikram’s teacher training will tell you how transformative the 9 weeks were for their bodies, their mental well-being, and their success of being able to teach Bikram yoga in their studios.

What this documentary also focuses on is the sexual abuse, rape, and emotional abuse suffered by many associated or involved with Bikram and his teachings. The women will say they knew, they should’ve seen the red flags; but they’ll also say they couldn’t have benefited without it. The shame of needing to be on both sides but not wanting to choose is unbearable for some. Like many predators with Bikram’s financial and social status, he has help acquiring new victims and maintaining the widespread abuse of power. His wife being number one. His attorney’s being number two. Those who send instructors for his trainings knowing the possibility of abuse, being number three, and those who continue to pay for the teaching without doing the research and ultimately pay the price, being number four. A predator without victims is just a sad, weird guy wearing a speedo. Unfortunately, Bikram has plenty of people keeping the victims coming his way.

Once the story comes out in the news and he is found guilty, Bikram redistributes his assets and flees the U.S. before he can held accountable, financially or otherwise. To this day, not one penny has been paid in the settlements or judicial awards and he continues to hold massive teacher trainings in Mexico and Spain.

It sucks when you work so hard for something only to have success hinge on some narcissistic weirdo in power who holds the key to your future. The world knows it’s wrong and yet as long as people keep accepting certain behaviors as a price to pay for the ability to do what they want, it continues. Meanwhile, those who stand against it end up standing alone with nothing to show for their sacrifices. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

Her Smell

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Her Smell, written and directed by Alex Ross Perry and starring Elisabeth Moss is supposed to give you glimpse of punk rock chick in the middle of a downward spiral but what it actually gives is a regurgitation of every punk rock, spiral, drugs, genius is too much for the mortals, blah, blah, blah….we’ve seen it. Show us something new. Moss plays Becky like a Tasmanian devil of female punk rock royalty while everyone near her sits by with looks on their faces like they’re tired of it but hey, she’s our meal ticket so buck up.

This movie has all the required parts for a punk rock movie: unstable female lead singer, check! Heavy black eyeliner and glitter smudged down her face, check! Shaman doing rituals so she can perform, check! A toddler she barely knows because she’s a druggie punk rocker who only thinks of herself, check! Underappreciated band mates she dismisses, check! Rock bottom scene, check! Touching reunion with her child and band mates, check, check! Final victory show while sober, check! Do I care? No. The only scene worth anything, for me, was the post-sober scene with Becky playing the piano and singing Bryan Adam’s Heaven to her daughter who is now 7 years old. Oh, and the scene right after making small talk with her ex-band mate Marielle, played by Agyness Deyn.

This movie is sterotypical bunk and frankly offensive in a way. There’s nothing empowering, nothing glamorous, nothing authentic. I think it tries but it relies on narratives we’ve seen before. It won a bunch of independent awards and there’s a bunch of name actors like Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen, Amber Heard, and Cara Delevingne, but they don’t really bring much except expressions of exasperation. Available to rent on Amazon. Watch the trailer below.

The Souvenir

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Written and directed by Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir tells a the story of a young woman who falls in love with druggie boyfriend. Nominated for a bunch of indy awards, this is another disappointment for me in the land of female writer/directors. Why must women keep telling the same anti-female narrative? Another movie I watched asking myself if I cared.

Honor Swinton Byrne plays Julie, a film student who has a naive relationship with a man older than her who gives her advice on film stuff. Julie is played like a spectator in life with no choice but to go along because that’s all she’s worth experiencing. She’s naive and blind to the fact the bruises on her boyfriend’s arms are track marks–he tells her he doesn’t know how the marks got there–until a dinner party guest mentions his heroin habit. *Note: I kept thinking Honor Swinton Byrne looks like a cross between Winona Ryder and Keira Knightley. It was distracting.* Tom Burke plays the junkie boyfriend as all junkie boyfriends are played except with better clothes and manners. He lies! He steals! She gives me money! Money she borrows from her parents! She falls behind in school taking care of her loser boyfriend! She enables him over and over. Until it’s over. Then she cries. Tilda Swinton plays Julie’s mother.

I’m offended by this narrative. I would have liked the story where the film student falls in love with a man, or person, only to dump him/them when she discovers he’s/they’re a junkie. She goes on to create a masterpiece of a movie, the junkie goes back to destroying their own life, and everyone lives happier ever after. OR, the film student falls in love with a junkie who ends up giving her HIV/AIDS and she dies and he’s left to deal with the fallout of his choices. Available on Amazon. Watch the trailer below.

3 thoughts on “Week in Review 11/22 to 11/28”

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