Ok – getting to the nitty-gritty here on Day 6 of my ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown with “Best Director”. Once again I give who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ.


Christopher Nolan
While I liked Dunkirk – it was also scattered character wise and pretty much overall. War movies are always difficult to tackle with having to give the truth, but also add a cohesive storyline to it.

Jordan Peele
I know some people just love this film – and for a first film, I do give it kudos. But it’s just not a great film for me. I also think winning your first time out is a tough card to put forth. And if it wins, which there is a really good chance it can, it shows that experience means nothing and I do believe it does.

Greta Gerwig
Another strong first timer here and if I had to pick between the two, I would pick Greta. While I feel the same about this film as Get Out – as in I liked but not loved it – the storyline maybe resonated with me a touch more having once been a teenage girl. ha!

Paul Thomas Anderson
I am a fan of Mr. Anderson body of work for the most part – but this movie just isn’t a winner in this category for me.

Guillermo del Toro
Not only am I a huge fan of del Toro’s work – well for the most part, but this stunning story was just done in such a great fashion with such great direction – all with a miniscule budget. The imagination alone was enough to win for me. Plus he truly is one of the nicest, most fun guys I’ve ever had the honor to meet. Hands down – no questions asked – the winner for me.




Well here we are! The ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ are back. You know that magical time of year where once again, I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories- who I think will win – and what my pick would be – as those two choices sometimes differ. This year I’m starting off gently with the writing categories or “Best Adapted Screenplay” & “Best Original Screenplay”


Screenplay by James Ivory
I think I would be best served by reading the book on this one, as I didn’t love the film.

Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
A fun romp this was, but not a winner for me.

Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold
I really enjoyed this movie and it would be very nice to see the last film of this franchise win something like this. But it won’t.

Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
We all know Aaron Sorkin can write TV – and now I know he can write a film also.

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees
Not my favourite film nor can I imagine if it follows suit of the book, would I care for it either. The parts about the U.S = real, the parts about Europe = not so much.


Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Cute script/movie

Written by Jordan Peele
While I commend this first write of a decent film, it just wouldn’t be my pick, but it’s a very possible winner.

Written by Greta Gerwig
Another decently done script. But I can only give it a like.

Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro
Completely stunning story. Where these ideas come from is from a truly brilliant mind.

Written by Martin McDonagh
McDonagh said in his interview that years ago, was driving somewhere in rural US and saw a billboard that while he can’t remember what it said, noted that it stuck in his mind to the point where he wrote a story about it.

REVIEW: “JACKIE” (2016) Fox Searchlight


Jacqueline Bouvier. Jackie Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie O. Jackie. There are many ways to refer to this iconic woman – and many ways to remember her. That breathy voice. That educated and sophisticated demeanor. Her sense of style… including that pink suit stained with the blood of her husband. Holding her own as she watched the Vice President Lyndon B. Johnon (John Carroll Lynch) be sworn in merely hours after the President’s assasination.

“JACKIE” is about all of this. Though the film fills the span of only short perod in time – the day of and the few days following then President John F. Kennedy’s (Caspar Phillipson) assasination in Dallas, TX on November 22, 1963. The story is told in the narrative of Jacqueline Kennedy herself (Natalie Portman) to “Life” Magazine writer Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup), who arrives at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts to interview her just one week after the assassination. Mrs. Kennedy is concerned that her husband may be forgotten – or misunderstood by history. White is deferential, firm but professional. He finds a woman who is clearly still grieving her horrible loss, but who is also very much in control of herself – and very much in control of what she wants regarding her husband’s legacy – even to the point of making sure she edits White’s notes during the interview.
While returning periodically to the scenes of the interview, most of Jackie’s story is told in flashback scenes of her as First Lady – especially on that fateful day in November of 1963 – and the four days that followed. With a lot of the story being told in this fashion, the film is trying to paint us a picture of who Jackie really was while First Lady. We get the famous televised tour of the White House that she did, the first ever of it’s kind. And while some parts of this come off as sometimes portraying her as a caricature at times, it’s also giving us a glimpse into something never seen before by the American public at the time.
We get insight into her strengths and weakness in the days following. How she interacts and stands up for what she wants for the funeral to Special Assistant Jack Valenti (Max Casella) but yet, sleeping pills, chain smoking and alcohol are also playing a big role in her coping mechanisms.
“Jackie” is fascinating and compelling. The script and direction shed a lot of light on what happened (and might have happened) during the private moments of this very public national nightmare, while painting a very personal portrait of Jackie Kennedy. At times the editing and the chronology of events, while not very difficult to follow, simply jump around too much. Portman is really good here and it was great to see Crudup back in a strong supporting, even if he looks completely different and Greta Gerwig as Jackie’s long time assistant, Nancy Tuckerman and Peter Sarsgaard does well as Robert Kennedy even though he looks really nothing like the real RFK, which also was quite noticable with other actors also.
The films score also ‘scored’ with me as it seemly was a life of Camelot to all of those looking in from the outside.

All in all, this film moved me. I rarely get emotional or cry during a film, yet the tragedy of it all got to me more than once. This film might have it’s misses, but all in all, it’s very special and should be seen.

Grade: B+

Media Review Screening: Friday, November 18, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot,
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as Camelot.

“THE HUMBLING” (2015) – REVIEW ~ incl. Q & A w/Al Pacino


The humbling
What happens to actors when they can no longer remember their lines or worse when they can no longer deliver them? Well this film might have your answer and was simply quite fun to watch while finding out.

Al Pacino plays fictional acclaimed stage actor “Simon Axler”. We first meet him backstage, warming up before going on stage, talking to the mirror, asking his reflection how good his recitation is. He has two masks, one representing comedy, the other tragedy, and these masks could very well be the metaphor for this film. We watch the tragedy of a man losing his talent and losing his mind, but at the same time there are lots of laughs to be had on the way. Axler gets lost backstage and finds himself outside boxed in an alleyway. When let back in, he isn’t recognized and is kicked out of the theatre and though I felt like I’d seen this scene before ala Michael Keaton in Birdman, it didn’t lose it’s luster here.
the humbling 1
As the film moves along we discover that this is all in his head and this is where the fun parts of the film kick in as we are not always certain that what we see is occurring or whether it is a figment of Axler’s quite funny and oh~so~vivid imagination. After throwing himself off stage, Axler heads to rehab where he meets “Sybil” (Nina Arianda) who is hysterical in this role and probably my favourite character after Simon in film. She wants Axler to kill her husband, who she claims is sexually abusing her daughter and as she turns into one of the funniest stalkers ever, popping up at the most inopportune of places and times, you can’t help but wonder is she really batshit crazy or did any of what she says.. really happen. I’m guessing it’s the former.

Back home, Axler receives a visit from “Pegeen” (Greta Gerwig), the lesbian daughter of his old theatre friends “Asa” (Dan Hedaya) & his wife (Dianne Wiest). Pegeen has worshipped Simon since she was a little girl and her childhood obsession was with a successful actor, not this old man who can’t seem to pick up a bag without throwing his back out and she lets him know this in no uncertain terms, even though he is supporting her every whim to the point of bankrupting himself. Herein lies the question of the film…How long can Simon resist not only the lure of the stage despite its risk of further humiliation for him, but the fact that he needs to make money is also paramount here.
the humbling 2
As the film leads towards Axler’s return to the Broadway stage, the situation around him becomes ever more chaotic and surreal, leaving us to wonder just how much of all this is really going on. But it doesn’t really matter because it is all real to him. Pacino is in every scene of the film and we see everything from his viewpoint, real or not real, this is his experience. For Simon Axler, life and performance have somehow become fused and there is no way for him to work out what the difference is any more.

As he has done so often in the past, Levinson has made an intelligent, funny and most human film. The cast, including Charles Grodin as Axler’s agent “Jerry”, and Kyra Sedgewick as “Louise Trenner” the jilted lover of Pegeen, are all a pleasure to watch. Pacino’s wonderfully fun performance never wavers and though of a similar age as his character, but so unlike him in real life as his legendary talent seems far from burning out.
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After the screening we were treated to a Q & A with the man himself, the consummate storyteller both on and off screen, Al Pacino. The man is a just a treat to listen to explain not only this role & film, but stories about ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, another of my fav directors, Sidney Lumet whom he worked with many times, and so many others. As he spoke noting a few fun things about making the film making us all laugh: “It was about an actor, so I thought, ‘Gee, it’s possible I could make this into a film.’ Because at least it’s a little something that I know about — an actor on the way out,” “The world it’s in, it’s sort of my wheelhouse.” “It’s an advantage to know the world you’re making a movie about”
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Grade: C+
*Note: Oscar screening series took place on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at The Landmark (Westwood). The Humbling is in very limited release with a set release date of January 23rd, 2015.

(See grading scale)