REVIEW: “PINK SKIES AHEAD” (2021) MTV ENTERTAINMENT STUDIOS

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Every few years we have our teen coming of age stories. The 70’s gave us “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, the 80’s was definitely the decade of teen films with ‘The Breakfast Club’ and every single John Hughes film, the 90’s gave us ‘Clueless‘; early 2000’s we went a little different with ‘Mean Girls’, and the most recent of the mid-2000’s gave us ‘Booksmart’ in 2019. So it’s no surprise we were in need of a new one, and writer/director Kelly Oxford delivers to us “PINK SKIES AHEAD”, just in time.

While is might be a 2021 release, ‘Pink Skies Ahead’ is set in Los Angeles in 1998, and is loosely based on events from Director Oxford’s life from when she was nineteen at the time. The film itself follows Winona (Jessica Barden), who after dropping out of college, moves back home to live with her parents in the San Fernando Valley. The blue-haired Winona is a bit of a hypochondriac, though still insists on seeing her childhood pediatrician only, one Dr, Cotton (Henry Winkler), who diagnoses her with an anxiety disorder. While she is completely skeptical of Dr. Cotton’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all — she does reluctantly agree to see the referred therapist, Dr. Monroe (Mary J. Blige). And then Winona just simplies carries right on with her wild, partying lifestyle and even though things begin to slowly unravel around her, it still takes a lot to face her truths.

There are sub-plots about meeting and dating a nice but boring boyfriend Ben (Lewis Pullman), that doesn’t go the way we expect, a possible affair she suspects her father Richard (Michael McKean) of having, and difficulties in trying to forge a relationship with her mom Pamela (Marcia Gay Harden). Mostly all of this is due to the fact that having had her at a late age, they want to sell their home and ‘downsize’ to a Westside apartment – without Winona in the picture. She also parties hard with her two best friends, one being compulsive shoplifter Stephanie (Odeya Rush), the other is Addie (Rosa Salazar), and both believe that Winona has the potential to be a writer, but are also baffled that she can’t even pass her driver’s test to get a license. And there is so much more leading into what makes this film a bit different than most teen drama’s, the mental health battle. With scenes that involve job interviews which range from flirtatious to disastrous, we follow Winona’s journey though it all and most of it, you should watch and discover on your own, as it’s a journey worth taking.

While it has it’s flaws, the acting is tight and well done, and at a tight 90 minutes, you wonder if the film is going to hit all the marks before time runs out – luckily it does by making Winona’s step forward with the projected happy ending, versus somewhere in than the middle and it’s a good choice for the films ending as after all, the title is Pink Skies Ahead…

C+

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Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ 42West PR

“PINK SKIES AHEAD” is debuting on MTV Saturday, May 8, 2021

7 DAYS OF OSCAR COUNTDOWN ~ DAY 3 ~ BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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We are only on Day Three of the ‘SEVEN DAYS OF OSCARS’ countdown and already we are at ‘Best Supporting Actress’. 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.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
NOMINEES

MARY J. BLIGE
Mudbound
Just flat out no.

ALLISON JANNEY ~ MY PICK/WINNER
I, Tonya
As if we couldn’t love Ms. Janney anymore – she comes out with the crazy, over-the-top role playing an actual real person, who is only mean, but funny. Hands down best performance.

LESLEY MANVILLE
Phantom Thread
okay now honesty gets the best of me here and I can say I haven’t seen this yet – Will be doing so this week so I can’t fairly judge this performance…yet.

LAURIE METCALF
Lady Bird
Laurie Metcalf was the best thing about this movie and I wouldn’t be mad if the Academy granted it to her.

OCTAVIA SPENCER
The Shape of Water
Before I saw I, Tonya or Lady Bird, my pick would have been Octavia. To me, she is always a standout in any movie she is in. I can love that she got nominated once again.

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Review: “Mudbound” (2017) NetFlix

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Dee Rees upcoming release ‘“MUDBOUND”, which has come with much film festival acclaim behind it – came off as a cliched and deathly slow-paced film about racism in post-WWII Mississippi. And while I’m not going to say it doesn’t make some great hard-to-watch storyline points, it also misses a lot.

We’re on a mud-drenched farm, owned by Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) a racist and small-minded man and wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), whose marriage was basically an arrangement as she was unmarried in her 20’s, which in this time & place, was almost as unforgiveable as being African-American. They come to live there with their two daughters, and his cruelly racist but caricatured ‘Pappy’ (Jonathan Banks), while the youngest brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), is off fighting in Germany. Also living on the farm are the black tenant farmers, The Jacksons, the father Hap (Rob Morgan), wife Florence (Mary J. Blige), along with their children, whom also have a son off fighting in the war, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell). And from what we gather, Ronsel is experiencing far more freedom than he ever found in the USA, which I kinda have to call horsepucky on as truth & history be told, they really didn’t.

The plot of the story, such as it is, sees Jamie and Ronsel return from WWII to completely different receptions from the town and begin to form a friendship through their shared trauma. Clearly nothing good is going to come of this due in a huge part to this being 1945 and in the backwoods of ALL backwoods in Mississippi, which is run entirely by the KKK and in due course we get a searingly violent scene set to a beautiful gospel hymn. In fact, it seems to kinda be an unintentional irony of this film that all the really truly horrifically crappy stuff happens either in church or when set to a hymn. There are some moments of absolute terrifying horror that I am sure really did happen to many who defied the KKK ruling back in those times. These parts of the story are the ones that break you and actually make this film come out of it’s slow draw into actual story-telling drama. I think the ending is meant to be uplifting, nonetheless, but I found it all rather patronising and fantastic – made to be as if Germany post-war was an utopia of racial harmony when nothing could be further from the truth.

Overall, this is a long drawn-out film, whose paper-thin characters can’t stand up to the weight of history thrust upon them. The stand-outs of those characters though are Hedland & Mitchell, both of whom make this film a better by their performances. Mulligan’s character comes off as superficial, annoyingly whimpering at times, but does redeem herself by showing her character to actually have a heart. I was completely looking forward to Mary J. Blige’s performance, but as such, found it to be glaringly at odds with the time frame of the picture as she wears a pair of designer sunglasses throughout most the film. Probably one of the best parts of the film is the cinematography by Rachel Morrison, as it’s crisp, gritty and very believable. Mostly though, the film comes off as an unvarnished understanding of the unglamorous, subservient pragmatism needed to survive as a black man in ’40s Mississippi, but it just isn’t very compelling or convincing as such.

Grade: C+
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Media Review Screening – Thursday, October 8, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Emmanuel Bates Communications & NetFlix
“MUDBOUND” will be out in selected theaters and available on NetFlix starting Friday, November 17, 2017