“The Party” celebrates life. Just kidding. 

In Entertainment, Movies on March 18, 2018 at 16:39

Patricia Clarkson shines in “The Party.” Or is it Bruno Ganz? Maybe it’s Kristen Scott Thomas or Timothy Spall?  “The Party” is a dark comedy about a series of events, disclosures really,  that could ruin any get together. One thing that makes the film so funny is that the people are so full of themselves and lack self awareness that we like to see them suffer. Well, mostly. And the all star cast makes the absurdity work. 

One scene I could watch again and again is when Bruno Ganz, playing mystical philosopher Gottfried to the hilt, discusses life, love, and loss with Tom, played by Cillian Murphy. Ganz looses himself in the role and Murphy plays Tom the angry wealth manager with aplomb. Tom has lost it, and by the time we learn why, it’s too late to go back.  It’s another in a complicated mix of betrayals and misunderstandings.  

“The Party” is a movie that ended too soon for me. Unlike the guest that won’t leave, “The Party” leaves us in the third act without a forwarding address. We want more, but we don’t. Is it good? Well, it’s brilliant. Is it entertaining? Well, that depends on what the experts say. Isn’t how we feel about life based on our outlook? Well, Gottfried would say that. 

The movie unfolds like a stage play. It’s not grandiose, there are no inventive angles or shots or fabulous edits. It’s in black and white, and that makes the stark dialogue work. It won’t change film forever nor will it kick off a genre, like I hope “Get Out!” will. 

It’s funny, but I wouldn’t recommend if for everyone. You have to be ready to pay attention, and you must have your wits about you. If you want generic entertainment, don’t watch. How ready are you to go to “The Party.”

Rating: Pay full price. 

It great to see Ganz have fun on the screen again after years of suffering from Downfall where he played Hitler. Yep, real upbeat film that. And Clarkson has great comedic timing.

Tex Shelters


Una Mujer Fantástica: Una Pelicula Maravillosa!  

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2018 at 16:41

A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean film about the challenges of being transexual in a heterosexual male dominated world. Marina, played by Daniela Vega, confronts the tragic end of her partner Orlando. What ensues are a series of indignities that are a hallmark of life as a transexual. 

Few people in the film use her real name, Marina. They either call her names like Magdelina, a similar female name, or like the police and medical professionals, insist on using her birth name, Daniel. Most of the people she interacts with can’t accept that she is female and the name confusion is emblematic of their resistance. Her relationship with Orlando is invalidated, for they are unwilling to accept that their dad or husband could have loved a transexual woman like Marina. 

One of the amazing accomplishments of the film is showing how attractive Marina is to the audience while keeping the repulsion others feel about her from being cartoonish. Moreover, not all of Orlando’s relatives are bigots. Gabo, Orlando’s brother, accepts Marina as she is and is understanding. Of all the characters in the film, Marina has the most dignity. Even though we might not like them all, siding with Marina as the audience does, the characters are true to their nature and the dialogue and acting make it work. 

The look of Una Mujer Fantástica reminds me of some Italian Neorealism. For example, when Marina is wandering through the streets of Santiago it is reminiscent of scenes from La Strada, Fellini’s classic. The use of rain and wind is an element that helped Kurosawa, one of Japan’s master filmmakers, become an international phenom. The weather is used to great effect in Una Mujer Fantástica as a stand in for society pushing against Marina. She triumphs, for now. 

Rating: Pay Full Price

Una Mujer Fantástica works as a drama and as social commentary. Though it is slow at times and the romance in the beginning of the film is awkward, the film triumphs like Marina does.  

2018 Oscar Predictions and Wishes

In Entertainment, Movies on February 28, 2018 at 16:55

Here are my Oscar predictions and desire for this years awards. Few films amazed me this year, but there are still some winners. I focus on the top categories and don’t go to the level of set design and make up. I will, however, address some sound and visual categories. If you want the full list, go to Variety 

Visual Effects:
“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
“Kong: Skull Island,” Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,”  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlan
“War for the Planet of the Apes,” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist

These all look great. I don’t have a favorite, except I really liked the look of “War for the Planet of the Apes” and would be happy if this underrated film won. However, nostalgia will win out and “Star Wars…” will take it. 

Original Song:
“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,” Mary J. Blige
“Mystery of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name,” Sufjan Stevens
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” Diane Warren, Common
“This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

“Mighty River” from “Mudbound,”  with Mary J. Blige is a great performance, though the lyrics, per usual, are a bit too trite for me. 

“Mystery of Love”, “Remember Me”, “This is Me” are all by the book. They demonstrate that the artist can write a good song, but that they have no originality.

Winner: The song from Coco, “Remember Me” will win. It’s cute and safe and not too Latino. In fact, the Anglo sounding voice is annoying.

Desire: “Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall,” is written by Diane Warren, Common and performed powerfully by Andra Day. You don’t need Common sticking his face in the song. These duos with male rappers sticking their hands on a great female vocal need to stop. It is so yesterday and it was never that great to begin with. Still, “Stand up for Something” is my pick. 

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro

I hope it’s not Nolan. This wasn’t even his best directing job. Gerwig might win. I think she’s the favorite. Peele? He earned it in the script, not with directing. And while “Shape of Water” is not the most original plot, the direction is outstanding. del Toro gets my vote.

Supporting Actress:
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”

I didn’t see Mudbound. It left town before I learned about it. I hear Blige is great. Metcalf in “Lady Bird” was also good, Spencer in “Shape of Water” was okay, but Janney in “I, Tonya” was off the charts. Manville in “Phantom Thread” plays a character that while challenged, is too well adjusted. She won’t win. I think Janney will win and I hope she wins. 

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Dafoe, Dafoe, Dafoe. He was great and I think he will win for “The Florida Project.” Harrelson was not as good as Rockwell in “Three Billboards…” Jenkins was good, but I don’t see him winning. Plummer? He’s got the name and history, so he might pull out a surprise. Best supporting actor goes to Willem Da…what, wait…Christopher Plummer for replacing a sexual (allegedly) criminal.  I don’t care who wins, just that Dafoe earned it.

Lead Actor:
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

One of these things is not like the others…

I don’t see how Oldman will lose this one. Gary Oldman does the most challenging performance in a role the academy will love. He did earn it as well.


Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

These are all good performances. I think it is the year of the mother, so Frances McDormand will win.

If the academy voters actually see “I, Tonya”, Robbie will get some votes. I hope Robbie wins where Harding didn’t. However, I won’t whack the other contestants in the knee for her. 

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”                                        Nope
“Darkest Hour”                                                        Nope
“Dunkirk”                                                                 Hell no
“Get Out”                                                                   Okay
“Lady Bird”                                                               Hmmm
“Phantom Thread”                                                  Only for modistes.
“The Post”                                                                  Better than I excepted, but nope.
“The Shape of Water”                                             Good, but no.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”    Hell no!

“The Shape of Water” will win. It covers most of the Oscar bases. It has a mute main character, it has an animal, and it would make the acedemy seem edgy. And, a Mexican directed it, so if they vote for him, they will show they aren’t racist. But he’s not black. Phew. 

“Get Out” would get my vote. It was the most difficult film to pull off. I have no hidden gems this year to write in on my ballot. 

So there you have it. Where did I mess it up? Let me know. 

Tex Shelters