Friday, December 13, 2019

Film Review: Little Women (A)

Beth, Jo, Meg and Amy
Most of us are already familiar with the Louisa May Alcott 19th century bestseller, Little Women novel. A book that has been embraced by little girls, women, boys and men for nearly 150 years, and in its 8th theatrical adaptation by director Greta Gerwig, this beloved story remained true to its roots, but was given a fresh injection of 21st century feminism that today's audience will relate to and embrace its cultural relevance. I have not read the book, but I have seen the 1994 Winona Ryder version, and I thought it was sweet. But Gerwig's version is absolutely gorgeous, funny, spicy, and sad, but it ends with the most fulfilling cinematic scene that these dark days welcome.

Writing is Jo's life and source of independence
Of the four March sisters, in order of age, there's Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Amy (Florence Pugh). All have different personalities and temperaments, but have a strong love for each other that is heartwarming. Little Women has a non-linear narrative style spanning a seven year time frame that has a steady flow to it once you make note of the length of the girl's hair (hint). In this version, we see how all four girls are on their own journey to what they believe will lead to their personal happiness. In this version, Jo is especially spunky in her desire to be a fully independent woman who earns her own money from writing, without the support of a man, so that she can take care of her family. Her Aunt March (Meryl Streep) is wealthy and tried to take Jo under her wing to marry well, but she soon deems Jo a lost cause and focuses on nurturing Amy's talent for painting and presenting her to society so that she can marry a rich man.

Laura Dern as Marmee March has a modernized touch of a 19th century homemaker whose husband, played by Bob Odenkirk, is at war fighting for the Union. So Marmee is both mom and dad, as well as a community leader in that she looks out for the poor and war torn families, even at the risk of the limited comforts and food for her own family. The most pronounced enhancement of Gerwig's Little Women is that all the girls, save for poor Beth, have moments of where they clearly state their future goals in life. Jo doesn't want to get marry, she just wants to write and earn money; Meg yearns to get married, and have kids and be a housewife; and Amy wants to travel to Europe, become a famous painter and marry rich, in that order! Beth dies young due to complications from Scarlet fever, but even she seems content with accepting that she's going to die, but not before she asks Jo to write for her. And this dying wish energizes Jo to write with conviction, For Beth.

Laurie and Amy
Timothée Chalamet as Theodore 'Laurie' Laurence, is the secret weapon for Little Women. His Laurie, under Gerwig's smart direction, is used in this film much more than any other Laurie, and he has a connection with each sister, and key private scenes with each sister, it's as if he's their brother and counselor who offers supportive words of wisdom from a boy's perspective to keep them on track of what is more ideal for them. He's flawed, he's irresponsible, a dreamer, a wanderer, and could be curt with the sisters, but he's a good young man who needs a strong woman in his life. Chalamet easily conveys the complex nature of Laurie magnificently. Laurie is told he's beautiful, twice by Amy and Jo, and his love at first sight affections for Jo is cute and obsessively sweet. She only sees him as a cute neighbor boy who is fun to do things with. But he's also a man who could get in her way of maintaining her fierce independence if she were to allow herself to love him back. However, Amy has been smitten with him since she first saw him as a child, and seven years later, after Jo doesn't accept his marriage proposal, the chance encounter of meeting Laurie in Europe and her looking at him with all her love ignites their inevitable smart union. 

I enjoyed Little Women much more than I did with Gerwig's Lady Bird. Her writing and direction on Little Women is much stronger and gives us a glimpse into her future as her becoming an Oscar winning director one day. Along with the beautiful costume designs by Jacqueline Durran; the set decoration by Claire Kaufman; cinematography of Yorick Le Saux; and the timely, lovely music by Alexandre Desplat, this is an Oscar caliber film that is stand out with prestige quality in all these categories. So that's why it is all the more shocking that in this past week as the Golden Globes only gave Little Women two nominations, and the Screen Actors Guild totally shut it out. I won't dwell on the reasons why, but moving forward, Sony will need to have multiple screenings in the coming days, and have screeners sent to each Oscar voter so that Little Women has a chance to be nominated in the previously mentioned artisan groups, but also Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Supporting Actress (Pugh), Supporting Actor (Chalamet), Adapted Screenplay (Gerwig), and Best Director (Gerwig).

In this unusually strong year of so many excellent films, I fear that no female director will make the cut for Best Director, and that just kicks me in the gut. Therefore, I strongly feel that if there is a huge FYC campaign for Adapted Screenplay, this is where Gerwig could become an Oscar winner. It'll be a spectacular consolation prize from the industry in shutting out Greta, and other women directors, from the Best Director line up.

Little Women opens on December 25th, Christmas Day, appropriately. But in this shortened Oscar season, it opened too late (and without the promotional benefit of a film festival screening), I'm hopeful that Little Women can garner several high profile Oscar nominations, and take home all or at least one Oscar, so that Gerwig & Co. won't go home empty handed like they did in 2018 after six nominations for Lady Bird. The time has come, especially this year, to celebrate a woman filmmaker and writer for the brilliant work women have done this year!

Grade: A

Garrel, Ronan, Gerwig, Pugh and Chalamet at Paris Premiere 12 December

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Quick Film Review: 1917 (A+)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Quick Film Review: Knives Out (A)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Quick Film Review: Dark Waters (A-)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Quick Film Review: Ford v Ferrari (A)

Monday, November 11, 2019

LA Event: 4th Annual Hollywood Enchanted Nights

Multi-talented artist and event host, Mary Harris.
It was great fun to join the Rich Girls TV Production crew, lead by Joy Parris to cover the 4th Annual Hollywood Enchanted Nights event hosted by the multi-talented artist and inspirational singer & songwriter, Mary Jane Harris. The goal of the event is to bring local LA artists together in a fun and safe space to share their gifts of art, fashion design, beauty, and music, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the RAISMUP MOVEMENT, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting and helping others to become their best selves.

The event took place at the Little Amsterdam Coffee & Art cafe at 1412 S. Redondo Blvd. on Saturday, November 9th. Along with a red carpet, beautiful art, great food, and excellent music, there was also a fashion show featuring two local designers, Phree and Macy Lee. Some of the guests in attendance were: Joshua Mock - Owner of Little Amsterdam Coffee & Art; Aaron Wilson - Motivational Speaker; Nasreen Bhatt - Innersoul Hair Oil; Shay Phillip - Steel pan performer; Staci Alexzarderia - Singer, Ashley Edwards - Sould on Nails; Shay Franklin - Director/Producer; Bradford Downs - Musician; Chuk - Actor; Macy Idzakovich - Lemon Perfect; Tyler Jacob - Singer/model; and Rick Star - Singer/model.

Rich Girl TV Productions
Designer Phree
Designer Macy Lee of Clutch of Africa
Little Amsterdam Coffee owner, Joshua Mock
Aaron Wilson
Mary Harris singing

Guests enjoying the art on display

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Quick Film Review: Harriet (B)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Quick Film Review: Motherless Brooklyn (B)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Quick Film Review: The Aeronauts (B+)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Quick Film Review: Jojo Rabbit (A-)

Quick Film Review: The Lighthouse (B+)

I attended the Q&A for The Lighthouse at The Landmark in LA, and was in the second row. Overall, I was very intrigued by the film, it was a crazy mind trip and the black and white film gave it a more claustrophic, isolating feel to the film. Listening to director Robert Eggers, and actors Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson discuss the film making process, helped me to better understand the mystical elements that were incorporated into the story, and the great attention to detail that was given to make the set and props more authentic. The Lighthouse is a film that needs to be seen several times to truly appreciate it. I would like to see it again as it's one of those films that's like a bottle of fine wine - you need to give it space and time to "breathe" to fully enjoy it. Willem Dafoe, as usual, was brilliant, but The Lighthouse was Robert Pattinson's time to shine and showcase that he's a serious actor whose work we can enjoy well outside from his breakout role in the Twilight franchise.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Quick Film Review: Parasite (A+)

It's rare that I feel a film is so exquisite that it deserves an A+ grade, and Parasite is that film. I was apprehensive going into watching this movie because of the rabid hype since it won the Palme d'Or from Cannes Film Festival back in May. I missed it by two days at the New York Film Festival, and I finally saw it this past weekend with a Q&A from the brilliant director, Bong Joon-ho!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Quick Film Review: Joker (A)

The smear campaign against the Joker movie has failed, the film is set to earn $95 million at the US box office this weekend, and $110 million from overseas. For a film that cost $55 million to make, it has recouped double its production cost and can easily make $500 million before its theatrical run ends, making it one of the highest earning box office blockbuster for a film released in October and for violent R-rated film.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Film Review: The King (A-)

A long planned holiday to New York City for my birthday in late September turned out to be fortuitous as one of my favorite actors was having a North American premiere of his latest film, The King on October 1st. With the surprise premiere announced just a week before my holiday, my original plans were to leave NYC on October 1st, but there was just no way I could leave town and miss seeing a film I was highly excited to see. So, after confirming an invite to said premiere, I added an extra night at the hotel, and rescheduled my departing flight. I feel a sense of  "professional fan" obligation to make myself available for this unique opportunity, and demonstrate my commitment to covering public events of Timothée Chalamet that I can legitimately attend if logistics and access allow. Those are two key elements moving forward in covering Timmy at his events. With that said, I've had my fill of standing along the red carpet for Timmy, and I'm going to retire from the red carpet after Toronto and New York. I'll continue to cover public Timmy events in many other ways, but trust, I will be at events I can attend in measured doses for years to come.

Timothée Chalamet was pre-destined to portray the boy king, King Henry V 'Hal' of England. Hal is Timmy's middle name, a unique name of German origins for a young man of Jewish-French heritage. As the oldest son of a dying Henry IV, Prince Hal is reluctantly thrust onto the throne after his father dies, and angry that his younger brother died in an ill coordinated battle of hubris. Committed to not being a warmongerer like his father, King Hal wants peace, he's a pacifist. However, insidious palace politics long in the making force the hand of this young king after a failed assassination attempt from the French. Or so that's what it seems. Not knowing whom to trust, Hal relies on his devoted friendship with Sir John Falstaff, gloriously played by screenwriter Joel Edgerton. Taunted and disrespected by The Dauphin of France, played by Robert Pattinson, Hal makes way to France.

Aussie director David Michôd took some creative liberties with the Shakespearean Henriad plays to make a brilliantly coarse and tense medieval political film that modern audiences can make correlations to today's politics. The Battle of Agincourt was particularly brutal and executed with using wide and up close camera views to make it suffocatingly close for the viewer to feel the intimate horror of that battle. After all the deaths in the wet mud, Hal comes to learn through the wise words of his future wife, Catherine, played by Lily-Rose Depp, that his haste to war mirrored his own father's cruelty without thought and care, will he be just like the former King? Enlightened about a political betrayal revelation, King Hal delivers swift judgment in a brilliant finale with William, played by the outstanding Sean Harris.

Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V | Image: Netflix

Chalamet brings to life a reluctant young King who truly commands his people and army with a strong voice and presence. There are several scenes where Chalamet speaks French, and uses his voice and tone with believable righteousness to protect and defend England. The British should be proud of this American boy doing justice to a favorite old King. The film could have used an extra 20 minutes to give more development of the behind the scenes dirty politics to present the viewer with more insight because the reveal near the end begs for more background on that issue. Overall, The King is an enchantingly exciting film on medieval England and its battles with France.

Grade: A-

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Quick Film Review: Ad Astra - Grade (A)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Quick Film Review: It Chapter 2 (B-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Timothée Chalamet Stole the Show at 76th Venice Film Festival

Timothée at Venice Film Festival Photo: Stephania D'Alessandro
Timothée Chalamet attended the Venice Film Festival for the first time on September 2nd for his his new Netflix film The King, which had an Out of Competition World Premiere there. So far, he has earned raved reviews from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Playlist, Vanity Fair, The London Times, etc. The film will debut in theaters on October 11th and then air on Netflix on November 1st. I'm really looking forward to this freshened up Shakespeare play. While I'm not the most well versed when it comes to Shakespeare's Henriad group of plays covering Richard III, Henry IV (Parts I & II) and Henry V, which is the young King that Timothée plays. It's been noted so far in some reviews that it takes an actor of Timmy's stature to pull off playing such a young King and apparently he does it very well. I for one can't wait to see The King in theaters here in the LA area and repeat viewings on Netflix. If Timmy makes the cut to participate in his third consecutive awards season, then so be it, and I'll continue to do my job at Club Chalamet to support him!

Two other important things to note is #1, that suit!!! Timmy was the talk of town on Monday and Tuesday with his beautiful silk grey suit from the Haider Ackermann 2020 Spring Collection. With Timmy's lithe model like stature, he was the perfect celebrity body to introduce this elegant beautiful suit to the world! Read this fashion review at Paper.

Photo: Ernesto Ruscio

And #2, what I was really looking forward to was seeing Timmy and his reported girlfriend, and The King co-star as his future queen Catherine of Valois, Lily-Rose Depp, on the red carpet together. Although they did not deliberately pose together for photographers, they were close enough to be in a few shots together and making them look like the perfect young royal couple. Yeah, I know, that's cheesy, but they are cute together, periodT. I think this was dictated by PR as to not flaunt their relationship in front on Timmy's fans. Sadly, many of his fans are very sensitive about his personal relationships and his private life. Anyway, both of these kids are half-French and speak the language fluently, and get along well, so, why not just support them and be happy that they're happy? Isn't the world messed up and dark and ugly enough as it is to not be happy for your favorite actor and his private life? If you aren't, then you need to re-evaluate a few things in your own life. Timmy looked BEAUTIFUL, not handsome, he's beyond that, he's beautiful, and Lily-Rose looked gorgeous in her pink Chanel gown.

The next festival stop for The King is the BFI London Film Festival. I don't know if Lily-Rose will be there, but she should and I can't wait to see what they wear there!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Netflix's The King Coming this Fall

As an English history buff, I have been very excited to see Timothée Chalamet's The King, directed by David Michôd by Netflix. Filmed over a year ago, and having a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 2nd, I am surprised that it has taken the film's lead actor to drop the one sheet poster of the film today. The actor is doing the studio's job! I'm put off by Netflix's nonchalant attitude towards this film. Shouldn't they have not only dropped this poster weeks ago when it was announced that The King would debut at Venice, and release the trailer this week? I'm sure The King will be an exciting and entertaining film, but it appears to me that Netflix has two other films on its Oscar campaign wish list, and The King isn't one of them, and they are treating it as so. I certainly hope this isn't the case and I'm proven wrong. All hail the King, all hail Timothée Chalamet for stepping up when his studio didn't!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

MindHunter Season 2 on Netflix

If you haven't seen Mindhunter and you're looking for a brilliant show about serial killers and the actors that present them in new light, watch Netflix's MindHunter. Grade: A+ (S2), (S1 A-)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Quick Film Review: Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood - Grade (A-)

Monday, July 22, 2019

My First Comic Con - July 2019

While I was living back home in Michigan, every July for the past eight years or so, I closely monitored the Twitter updates, and media articles about all the activities related to the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). I knew that once I moved to California, I would have to try to attempt to attend one day. In late Spring of 2018, it was revealed that a sci-fi project that I was very familiar with, Dune, was going to have a new adaptation done by one of my favorite directors, and it was going to star Timothée Chalamet. Once I learned this, my interest in getting personally acquainted with Comic Con immediately took on new urgency.

I registered with Comic Con in July, and waited for badges to on sale in November. The first round of sales is a pre-sale that occurs in late October, for those who attended the most recent Comic Con, it's a head start on those who skipped the most recent con, and those who have never attended, or haven't attended in a while. Thankfully, in early November, I was able to buy a badge for the Friday and Saturday. Although when I was granted access to the site, all 4 days, including the preview day was still available for purchase, I only wanted to do two days to start. Now after attending my first comic con, I will add on the Thursday, so I can have more time to visit the exhibit hall and off-site activities.

Thursday, 18 July -

I arrived in San Diego around 3:30 pm. Checked into the hotel that I won the lottery for - Hampton Inn San Diego Downtown. It's along the Pink shuttle line, but it's an easy 28 minutes walk (for me) to manage. The shuttle takes approximately 30 minutes. I walked around the San Diego Convention Center to familiarize myself with the logistics of the convention, as well as the off site activities (which I unfortunately was not able to take advantage of). I did have a Stranger Things fan party to attend, and luckily I was one of the first ones there and got in rather quickly and easily. I hung out for just over an hour as I had planned. Needed to get back to the hotel to be well rested for my first Comic Con day.

Friday, 19 July -

After collecting my lanyard, comic con guide, and bag, I proceeded to the rest of the Exhibit Hall and to say I was overwhelmed is a serious understatement.

It is stimulation overload when I first entered into the exhibit hall. You just let your eyes guide you and your feet take you where you naturally gravitate towards. It's similar to shopping at a mall, the weekend before Christmas with a very specific list of things to buy and only so much money. My eyes glazed over many of the fabulous exhibits there as they were interesting, but since I was not a fan, nor familiar with the product, it was easy to just look from afar with a smile and I kept moving to the next exhibits. I would say that the majority of loyal SDCC attendees are such hardcore fans, that at least 80% of the exhibits there will appeal to them. For me, I would estimate that maybe 30% of the exhibits appealed to me. And that's fine because of that 30%, those exhibits had 110% of my attention. I put so much money into the badges, which is like $70 per day, I spent approximately $110 on pre-sale items, and the hotel and parking fees, that I had a strict $100 spending budget for the exhibit. My total comic con trinkets spending wound up to a mere $62. Huzzah! This includes reimbursing my GA who nabbed the last remaining Dune boxes for us while I was trapped in Hall H.

I participated in a Star Trek Discovery 'beam up' exhibit, which was a lot of fun. But for this ONE activity I wanted to participate in at 10 am on Friday morning, I waited in line for about an hour. This was OK, it goes with the territory. Star Trek has a lot of fans and it's just something that you do at Comic Con: wait in line. But I have my limits, and there are only so many hours in the day. Can you imagine waiting in line for 1-2 hours for several exhibits each day of the con? That's why people attend all four days so that they can play the wait in line game for as many exhibits as possible. That's fine for some people, but thankfully for me, I'm only interested in doing this for a select few exhibits, and Star Trek was the only one worthy of my line waiting attention this year. Now, had Warner Brothers been on the ball and had Wonder Woman and The Joker at their exhibit, instead of focusing on their TV shows I don't give a damn about, I would have lined up for them. Warner Brothers is expected to return to SDCC next year, as they are the studio for Dune (hint), and to properly introduce Robert Pattinson as the new Batman.

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne entering Carnival Row Ballroom 20 panel stage

Ballroom 20 screen

By 1 pm, I was loaded down by stuff I collected, so I headed back to my hotel for a breather before I dealt with the line for Ballroom 20, another conference room for popular panels that is a beast to get into. The new Amazon Prime series, Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom was scheduled at 4:45. After my break, I headed back to the convention center to get in line for Ballroom 20. This is a 3500 seat auditorium, so it can fit half of Hall H. The most popular and highly anticipated TV programs are presented in this conference room. The line was quite impressive and when I was directed to the end, I was exasperated. But alas, I was informed by one of the volunteers that this line was nothing and that I would definitely get in. So word to the wise, if you plan on attending Comic Con in the future, and don't like the length of a line (other than Hall H), don't let that concern you too much, just ask volunteers around you and they will assure you that you'll be able to get in. If not, they will also tell you so. I had a good seat in Ballroom 20, just one seat off from the aisle (my preferred seating). I could see the stage clearly, but had to rely on the large screen for up close views of the faces of the people on the stage. We saw several impressive clips for Carnival Row, cementing my interest in seeing this show when it comes on in late August.

After I left Ballroom 20, I went into the exhibit hall once more realizing the Saturday was going to be monopolized by Hall H, so I quickly walked through it again to pick up a few more things. My suggestion about how to navigate the con is to ID the exhibits you MUST participate in and plan to wait in line for however long you desire. Then after that, walk through the con per each zone, directly in the middle of the path, looking left and right to see what's on both sides. Some exhibits that weren't on your radar may stand out, and you go there and you may find something that you didn't realize you wanted. It's all about pacing yourself and know what you like. If you don't READ comic books, there's no need to go to the comic book section. If you love limited edition comic art, then focus on that section and look for interesting art to buy. If you NEED a Funko exclusive, enter the lottery and hope you win. I entered autograph signings and exclusive lotteries and didn't get a thing. So, that saved me money.  I left the exhibit hall around 6:30 to go get dinner in the Gaslamp area. I was back at the hotel by 8:30 as I needed my rest to get up early for my Hall H adventure. (more after the cut)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Quick Film Review: Stuber (B)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Quick Film Review: Midsommar (A)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Quick Film Review: Anna (B+)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Quick Film Review: Aladdin (A)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Quick Film Review: Godzilla - King of the Monsters (B+)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Quick Film Review: Brightburn (B+)

Closing down Fassinating Fassbender

On the eve of the red carpet premiere of the latest X-Men film, Dark Phoenix, I find myself reminiscing about the actor who played Magneto in these films, Michael Fassbender, and how I dedicated nearly 10 years being a devoted fan of his. I managed a fan blog, Fassinating Fassbender (FF), and it was so well received that I impressed him and his management enough to be granted an interview with him at the near height of his new found fame in 2010. However, in 2018, I decided to stop writing on the blog and focus on other things in life, and in writing things for this blog, ToZ.

As I received an email notice yesterday informing me that it was time to renew the domain for FF, I thought about it for a full day, and then decided that it was time to just pull the plug. My intentions were to keep it up and running for archival purposes for the next several years. But I'm interested in moving on now and not looking back. Of the nine years of writing great articles for FF, I decided that the one article that was worth preserving was my brilliant interview with Michael. So with that, I copied the interview, and the fan comments to ToZ and on it's own page.

If you're interested, please go to this link:

Just two years ago I would have gone through hell and back to try to attend the world premiere red carpet of the latest X-Men movie, but now, I can't be bothered with it, and I truly find that sad.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Quick Film Review: Rocketman (A-)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Quick Film Review - John Wick 3 (Grade: A)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Finally, A New Job!

On this day, the 22nd of April 2019, two years and six months since I moved to Southern California, I have accepted a full-time job offer with the company I have been a contractor at since December 2017. The peace of mind that I have long sought, and the security of my future has now finally been given the opportunity to come to fruition. There were a few times during my first year in the LA area where I wondered if I did the right thing in moving here. The job search was getting scary and demanding. I had not one, but two God awful jobs that were so terrible, I had to quit with very short notice. But after so many bad years at home in Michigan, I was determined to make a fresh start here in the LA area and I did. I'm with a large and well respected health care provider, and to be employed with this company all but assures that I'll have not only excellent access to health care, but at an excellent 'discounted' employee rate. This is so important, especially at my age and being single. My title is Compliance Consultant, and I'm finally out from under that administrative assistant umbrella that I have been getting sucked back in every other role.

I have a professional job title, professional responsibilities, an excellent salary with an excellent organization. This is finally happening in 2019. If I could go back in time and tell my 2009 self that I will be OK and succeed but in another state, I would do it because I was hurting so badly back then. I speculated that just past the two year mark of moving here, things would finally settle in for me.

Next big target: My own apartment. This won't happen until late 2020 after my trip to Italy and paying off my car that summer.

Thank you celestial beings for looking out for me!!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Quick Film Review: Captain Marvel - Grade A

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Good, The Bad, and The Ridiculous Oscar Season

I've been pretty occupied for the first two months of this year so much, that I have failed to post an update here at ToZ. See, I've been busy as a Film Independent member watching films to participate in the Spirit Awards voting (Feb 23rd), as well as preparing for my Oscar Fan Experience that I have been excited about since I found out on January 2nd. However, my fan experience was significantly dampened when I learned that my favorite young actor, Timothée Chalamet, did not earn a well expected Oscar nomination for Beautiful Boy. Without rehashing that disappointment, it did deflate my interest in the red carpet, but I still attended and had a very good time. What follows is a brief summary in separate sections.

The Spirit Awards

My friend Tracy and I (she also joined me at the Oscar fan experience) attended the member's screening of the Spirit Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday where we ate great food and sat in the nice office space of Film Independent. I have not had the pleasure of sitting through an entire awards show ceremony in years, let alone with a group of fellow cinephiles and actual voters. But it was a lot of fun seeing how our votes either came to fruition, or if they did not, we were still pleased with the amazingly smart and diverse group of winners. The Spirit Awards are what the Oscars should emulate if politics and pettiness did not rule over that group.

Oscar Fan Experience Bleacher Seats

I won a First prize award sponsored by People magazine for two seats in the bleachers along the red carpet. The fun of that experience could not be more enjoyed without a good friend with me. The process to get officially approved was intimidating (had to provide personal information on myself in order to pass a background check), but of course we passed quickly enough. Communications from the sponsor was thorough and gave the impression that it would be a unique opportunity for film fans to enjoy the red carpet festivities of a ceremony that is the finale of a six-month award campaign season. Ever since I was a kid, I have been interested in the Oscars, so it was so exciting to be a part of this with People magazine. The fan experience for 740 fans included a half dozen activities of leisure and pampering before the show began, and we got a gift bag (kinda flimsy if I must admit; a bit disappointing), and we were very well fed.

The red carpet itself was amazing to experience, just so much fun seeing all the nominees, all the other A-list stars, industry movers and shakers, and a cast of entertainment industry folks, all glammed up to attend the show. The red carpet lasted for 3 hours, and our butts were getting numb sitting there (even with a nice People seat cushion). We could not stand up as to avoid blocking anyone's view. It was tight, which made the really uncouth fans (like the crazy girl behind me) who were prone to uncontrollable screaming, to scream so loudly and without a sense of self-control and self-respect. She was the worst part of an otherwise fun experience.

After the red carpet ended, we were escorted to the El Capitan Theater for dinner and to watch a 15 minute delayed Oscar telecast. This was to allow us to watch the show in its entirety because it started immediately after the red carpet and it took us about 20 minutes to get situated and have over 700 people go to the theater. The buffet was excellent, all the food was good. But we should have been given something to hold our food, like a cafeteria style food tray. However, because I wasn't in the mood to watch/support this year's Oscar show (see below), I ate my food quickly while watching Queen perform and I saw Regina King win. With that, I finished up, and left. I was able to make it home at 6:30, just 1.5 hours after the red carpet ended.

I'm very grateful to be a winner for the bleacher seats, and I do look forward to entering contests again in the future. I just hope that I'm in a more celebratory mood to be actively interested in the Oscars if my favorite(s) are actually nominated. Way too many snubs this year, and films and performances that didn't move me much, were honored instead.

The Oscars (sans Timothée Chalamet)

Since last September at TIFF, when Timmy made a great impression in Beautiful Boy, we expected him to get his second Oscar nomination; just a year after his first historic Oscar nom for Call Me By Your Name. But on January 22nd, when the Oscar nominations were announced, Timmy did not receive that expected nomination and it greatly upset me. Not to the point of tears, but just frustrated none the less by what I strongly believe was a deliberate action by The Academy in pumping the brakes on 'the boy' and forcing him to stay in a lane that none of us knew existed. Be that as it may, and without slamming the talent who did receive an Oscar nomination, and the films celebrated by the Oscars, I'll just say this: The Academy nomination process is not as organic and democratic as we're lead to believe. What the academy wants as its winners represent how they want society to view the academy. Like the old adage, 'You are what you eat'; the Oscars are, 'We are what we nominate and deem as the winner'. As perfect as timing would have it, this tweet below explains how the academy membership is at the present:

So, it's clear how they vote, what they find as worthy of being nominated, and what is actually worthy of taking home an Oscar in the respective categories. Of all the 24 categories, I will say that I was utterly shocked that Glenn Close did not win the Oscar. Olivia Colman won, and I cannot fault her as I thought she could win it as she was superb in The Favourite (but, gee, another Brit playing royalty). Glenn won so much praise and awards for The Wife, and it's her 7th nomination at 71 years old, surely she was going to win, but, yet again, the Academy brilliantly does what I call, 'Elegantly cruel'.She was even dressed up all in gold, just like an Oscar.

I am so glad this Oscar season is over, it was particularly dirty, long-winded, and frustrating. It was so much fun being a part of the Oscar red carpet experience, and being a voting member of Film Independent to honor the very type of films, and female directors that the academy thinks are too minor and irrelevant to honor. It's a mind trip seeing both sides of the coin, Indies vs Blockbusters within 24 hours, but I can tell you, I'm more of an Indie kind of gal.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year - Reflections

It is now the year 2019, one year before we go into the 3rd decade of this still young century. Ten years ago, in 2009, my life was a complete shambles. My sister died in mid-2008 and I was still in mourning; I was laid off for the third time in six years; I found low paying, back breaking work that was literally beneath my skill set and educational background, but rent demanded I set aside pride and do whatever work I could to pay bills. My credit rating was completely fucked, I refilled my last prescription of muscle relaxants so that I could relax and get good sleep so that I could be strong and focused for the next day's bullshit. I sent out so many resumes and went on a few interviews, but nothing. The recession destroyed Michigan, and my spirit. It was then that I decide that I would have to move out of state for my personal and career well being, and spiritual growth and happiness.

Ten years later, I wake up this New Year's Day in California, and I'm so incredibly grateful that I survived some of the toughest years as an adult. I'm amazed that I'm not addicted to drugs or alcohol, because I have had so many missteps and mistakes with my career that I recall quite easily. Sometimes things have to happen in order for destiny to force you to make an out of the box decision regarding your life. I've seen too many unkind, unprofessional, uncouth, backstabbing, stupid people ascend to the levels of success that were just a dream to me, and it gutted me. But alas, I dealt with the shocking bullshit and I'm here, now, I'm happy. I still have some goals to accomplish, but for the most part, I'm glad to be alive, healthy, and still a nice person who is patiently waiting for the final puzzle pieces to add to my life.

The year 2019 is going to be good and fun, here are just a few events and goals I'm looking forward to:
  • Securing full-time employment. I'm a contractor at an excellent organization, I may be offered a full-time job in my current department, or get one in another department. This is the year I secure a benefited position with a company I can retire from.
  • Becoming much more dedicated to the practice of yoga, and meeting some other fitness goals including losing 10-12 lbs. I want to run in a 5k race in the next 12-18 months.
  • I'll be attending the Palm Springs Int'l Film Festival next weekend
  • My family is coming to visit me in April
  • I will be attending Coachella for the first time the week after my family visits.
  • My long overdue trip to Italy is in May
  • I will be attending Comic Con in San Diego in July
So at least the first half of the new year will be quite exciting for me, and I know the second part will be fun as well.

If you're reading this and your life has seriously sucked in recent years and you have a black cloud hanging over your head like I did, you need to sit down and think about what you need to do to make yourself happy. There are things that have happened to you and will happen to you that will be completely out of your control. But what you can control is how you respond to those events. Get in the driver's seat and guide yourself as to where you want to be in a year from now, or even further down the road. Some plans take time and cannot manifest overnight. 

Don't get caught up in material desires, just deal with the most basic things that you can afford right now and take care of yourself. Even during my most darkest days, I treated myself to a day at the museum, or my favorite sushi meal, or went to see a movie. I plotted and planned my big move to California for five years, and with very, very hard work (as well as going back to college for a graduate degree), somehow, I was very confident that I would succeed. Do you know why? I was so far below what my expectations were for how I wanted to live my life, that there was only one way out of my situation but UP.

I'm committed to making 2019 a great turning point in my life where I will reflect back in 2029, and be in a position to write about what a great year 2019 was for me ten years ago!