Best Picture Baking Project: Kramer vs. Kramer

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Well now that this blog is just a monthly Best Picture newsletter – happy end of May! I celebrated by watching a classic of divorce cinema and making “Banana Split Dessert” (split, get it? ….I’m sorry.)

Had I seen this one before?

Nope. I knew the basic premise and that it gave both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman their first Oscars.

Top 3 Observations on this viewing? 

  1. The kid (Justin Henry) deserved an Oscar for sad-slouching alone. He steals every scene he is in, but without ever getting cloying or overly practiced like a bad kid actor can. He was even good at being a nervous performer in the Halloween pageant scene.
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I seriously can’t even handle it

2. There was a joke going around the internet last awards season about how this and Marriage Story exist in the “Divorce Cinematic Universe” and having now watched them both there is some poignant truth to it. What I take away from both, and especially the cruelty of the courtroom interrogation scenes, is that the legal system is a very cruel way to determine emotional guilt and innocence (if that even exists.) It forces people to make villains of each other and that’s very hard to watch.

3. The ending of this movie (spoilers for a 40 year old film I guess) where Meryl, having won, changes her mind and then just gets in an elevator to go tell the kid, makes no sense to me and felt super abrupt and frustrating.

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I do not care that she looks terrific. Of course she does, she’s Meryl Streep. Is that kid going to be OK? 

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

All That Jazz – I love this deranged movie so, so much

Apocalypse Now – I’ve never seen it all the way through, but obviously a classic.

Breaking Away – How fun that this got a Best Picture nod!

Norma Rae – A classic, of course.

Wow, what a stacked year. I’m sure the critical consensus is probably that Apocalypse Now is the standout here, but I love that the quiet family drama could win. My personal award would go to Fosse’s fever dream though.

Bechdel test pass? 

Nope. There are 3 named women, but we only see 2 of them talk once – in the courtroom, about Dustin Hoffman’s character. And even then, it’s not really a conversation so much as Jane Alexander (whom I love and is great in this) talking at Meryl.

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On the overall question of whether I think this movie is sexist, its more complicated. I think that by casting Meryl Streep, Robert Benton gave the mother character a full, if flawed, humanity. And by depicting Hoffman’s struggle to hold a high powered hob and be a present parent, the movie highlights the struggles many feminists were trying to bring forward, but it doesn’t really acknowledge that what he was able to do (talk his way into a job day of) wouldn’t have been quite as available to most women at the time.

Anyway – they did split up – and that kid sure did like ice cream – so here’s my recipe. It tastes good, but you need to let it soften a bit to eat easily.

Banana Split Dessert

Ingredients 

  • 3.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 4 to 5 medium bananas
  • 1 carton of Neapolitan ice cream (Note: A block carton is best, but quarantine Bronx market needs must, and I used a circular Edy’s carton which was a little unwieldy but worked fine)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl, mixing until crumbs are evenly coated
  2. Press into a 15×10 (or simiarly sized) pan
  3. Slice bananas width-wise and layer over crust
  4. Cut open ice cream carton and slice into even sections, placing them over bananas until an even layer is formed
  5. Sprinkle with nuts
  6. Cover with foil and place in freezer
  7. In a large saucepan melt the chocolate chips and butter
  8. Stir until smooth
  9. Pour over the ice cream and then return to freezer
  10. In a large bowl whip cream until stiff peaks form
  11. Spread over chocolate layer and replace in freezer
  12. Remove from 15 minutes (at least) before serving

Best Picture Baking Project: It Happened One Night

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Happy second month of self isolation! I miss going to the movies, and bars, and parks. But I can still bake and watch classics, so here we go!

Had I seen this one before? 

Nope. I always meant to. I knew I would lobe it, and was thankfully proven right.

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. This basically invented every trope that would define rom-coms and did them all perfectly. (I think its also the only rom-rom to ever win Best Picture – depending on how we define Annie Hall, I guess.)

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2. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert may have been the two most charming people ever captured onscreen and their chemistry is wonderful. (The perfectly named Roscoe Karns is also hilarious in a supporting role.)

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Roscoe!

3. This scene, where a bus full of people start singing and dancing is perfect and strange and a classic Capra move to just basically pass off the movie to some perfect character for a minute.

 

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Cleopatra – Also Colbert! Haven’t seen it.

Flirtation Walk – Never heard of it, but I would give it an Oscar for Best Title

Here Comes the Navy – I love Jimmy Cagney, but not enough to watch this

Imitation of Life – Wow Claudette was busy that year

One Night of Love – Opera movies (except Amadeus) don’t tend to work for me

The Barretts of Wimpole Street – This has a stacked cast but I don’t know it

The Gay Divorcee – I love Fred & Ginger, but I don’t think I’ve seen this one

The House of Rothschild – Have no idea what this is

The Thin Man – Oh this one is fun

The White Parade – Apparently an ode to nurses, which I support, but I don’t see this as a challenger

Viva Villa! – The poster for this looks racist, so probably best left to history

Obviously I can’t truly judge, but I think The Thin Man is fun, but It Happened is pretty perfect.

Bechdel test pass?

According to the site – yes. But I feel like only technically. But Colbert’s Ellen is a great female character and the movie and all the men in it respect her so I’ll take it as a win.

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You can’t say she doesn’t know her own mind. 

I made a “depression era” cake for this, based solely on the year it won, though interestingly, the Depression goes unremarked upon in this movie about a Wall Street banker’s daughter. Although she is “slumming” by taking the bus and sleeping in haylofts, the movie doesn’t make much of the economic situation it would have been released into. It definitely fits the bill of escapism though, which maybe speaks to its popularity. The cake was fine, nicely spiced, but dry (I topped it with whipped cream, which I guess undoes the “milkless” part, but whatever.) Had I seen the movie before I may have chosen to make a carrot cake, but oh well…

Vintage Eggless, Milkless, Butterless Cake

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup lard
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Grease a loaf pan
  3. Place water, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, lard, nutmeg and salt, in a saucepan and mix
  4. Place on heat and bring to a boil
  5. Cook 3 minutes
  6. Remove from heat and let cool
  7. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder
  8. Pour in cooked mixture and stir until combined
  9. Place in the loaf pan
  10. Bake for 1 hour

Best Picture Baking Project: In The Heat of the Night

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Hello from my apartment to your home. It’s a weird, scary time, but some of my best coping mechanisms just happen to be baking and watching movies, so I spent Saturday afternoon watching the 1968 Best Picture winner and enjoying a take on a Mississippi Mud Pie (because it’s set in Mississippi…)

Had I seen this one before?

Nope. Though I did recently read Mark Harris’s great book Pictures at a Revolutionall about this year’s Oscar race and the transition to what would come to be called the “New Hollywood” so I know a lot about it.

Top 3 Observations on this viewing? 

  1. Despite its heavy subject matter – murder, racism, a major plot point centering around an illegal abortion, this movie was fun to watch. It’s really quotable and the Who-Done-It was tricky without feeling too convoluted.
  2. Sidney Poitier has a perfect movie star face, and an arresting presence. He has wonderful chemistry with Rod Steiger. (Though how Steiger got the Oscar for leading actor for what is clearly a supporting role is a mystery.)

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3. This is well paced and interestingly shot, but the score is wildly incongruous (ominous at mundane moments, quiet in actual tension). They should have just have Ray Charles score the whole thing, because this song is great:

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Bonnie and Clyde – Unpopular opinion – I don’t love this movie. I appreciate its cultural importance, but I think it glorifies violence. Sorry, I know that makes me a square that Pauline Kael would make fun of.

Doctor Dolittle – Yep. Definitely watched this as a small child. I will say the stories of what a mess this production was are the most entertaining parts of Harris’s book.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – I saw this at some point. It’s mostly notable for its cast, and the fact that they gave Katharine Hepburn Best Actress is probably a good example of the Academy being old fashioned as not a new development.

The Graduate – Obviously a classic, though it makes me sad.

I think I’m supposed to say Bonnie and Clyde was robbed, but I think I’d give it to The Graduate, and honestly I’m not too broken up about Heat winning.

Bechdel Test Pass? heat058

Nope. There are three named women, and they are all given agency (though in one case its the agency to be incredibly strange.) But they are never on screen at the same time. It’s a pretty male story overall.

The dessert, which though named a pie is actually a tray bake, was easy to make though I had to adjust some ingredients rather than going to multiple grocery stores in this time of social distancing

Mississippi Mud Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 package (6oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 package instant cheesecake pudding mix (Note: Original recipe called for butterscotch) 
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • chocolate shavings

Directions

  1. Whisk together graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar.
  2. Pour melted butter into bowl, stirring until crumb mixture is evenly coated
  3. Press firmly into bottom of 9x13in pan
  4. Blend together the whipped topping, 3/4 cup sugar, and softened cream cheese with a mixer.
  5. Spread mixture on top of crust with rubber spatula (Note: It is a marshmallow texture and will be hard to spread. I used my fingers a bit.) 
  6. Whip together the puddings and milk.
  7. Spread over marshmallow layer
  8. Place in fridge
  9. Whip the heavy cream into whipped cream
  10. Spread over cooled pudding layer
  11. Decorate top with chocolate shavings and return to fridge
  12. Chill for an hour before serving

 

Theater Adventure: West Side Story

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I feel a little bad for my mom. I keep inviting to the city to see revivals of classic shows she loves and they end up being “gritty” versions. (Not that – like Oklahoma! – West Side Story hasn’t always been dark, because of course it has.) In fact, during my first summer in New York (3.5 years ago – wow…that’s weird) my mom and I went to see this director’s “modern” take on The Crucible (starring Ben Whishaw and Saoirse Ronan), it was great, but a lot. So I felt prepared for what Ivo Van Hove would bring to this material. And for the most part I was right: A lot of video projection, modern sets/costumes, a commitment more to an idea of “realism” than reverence for the original production.

Some of this works well, the multiracial composition of the Jets adds interesting layers and the energy in the young cast (particularly Isaac Powell and Shereen Pimentel as the central couple) is wonderful. But, the video projections were over and inconsistently used. And I couldn’t help but feel like Van Hove was trying to bend the play to his point in a way I think did it a disservice.

My issue can be summed up with the choice to switch “Cool” and “Gee, Officer Krupke” in the score, so that the Jets sing the former not as a defensive mechanism after the rumble, but just a routing statement of identity, which makes it pretty redundant with the opening number. More importantly it changes “Krupke” from a moment of kids larking about to a harsh critique of police brutality and the carceral state, things definitely worth critiquing for sure, but maybe not best done through a song built around puns about being “punks” and “jerks.”

What “Officer Krupke” and the cut from this production, “I Feel Pretty” do in the original score is establish that these characters are kids playing at responsibility until they shatter their own illusions by playing out the consequences. Van Hove allows none of the characters this innocence. The tragedy of the end still hits, but I think there’s power in letting some joy in too.

To end on a good note – the choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker – is fantastic, wholly original while never losing the narrative function of Jerome Robbins’ iconic work. “The Dance at the Gym” is particularly great.

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Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/New York Times

The actor who plays Bernardo has been credibly accused of really gross behavior towards colleagues at the New York City Ballet. I’ve made a Filmanthropy donation to TimesUp

The show is running at the Broadway Theatre at 1681 Broadway 

Five Star Book: Year by Year – Poems by Lynne Sachs

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I had never heard of experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs before stumbling upon her poetry collection at McNally Jackson on a day when I finished my commute book on my way downtown, but if her films are anything like these sharp, personal, evocative time capsules then I can’t wait to watch them.

This collection, which is comprised of a poem for each year of Sachs’s first fifty, is a perfect example of how making art that’s specific and personal somehow feels universal. She, in telling her own stories of milestones both political (how watching the Watergate hearings with her dad she, “finally became real to him”) and personal (love lost and kept, children’s births, friends illnesses) perfectly captures the way that all of our lives interweave with larger events.

I read this book through 2 times on the day I bought it. Then I copied out lines I liked and took up 2 full pages of my notebook. I have a feeling it will be sticking with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

Best Picture Baking Project: How Green Was My Valley

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Sorry about the broken tile on my bookshelf. But this screengrab was too priceless to use anything else. Going in all I knew about this movie was that it was set in Wales, so I made a version of a Welsh tea cake, and a pot of Lady Grey, and my friends over for Sunday tea and tragedy.

Had I seen this one before? 

Nope. Like I said, I knew it was set in Wales, and I knew that it beat Citizen Kane for best picture (more on that below.)

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. The opening 10 to 15 minutes of this film are comprised almost entirely of voice over and Welsh singing. It’s a beautiful introduction to the idyllic memories that the narrator (played as a young boy by Roddy McDowell, whose wide eyes can be seen above) has of his mining village before “everything starts to change.”

2. Whenever I’ve heard people talk about this movie (again, almost always in comparison to Citizen Kane) it’s always described as a “sentimental family drama” and though that isn’t inaccurate, this was far less cloying and preachy than I expected. Sure, it’s a melodrama, but it leaves interesting space for class struggle and discussion of the hypocrisy of small minded Christians. (Not that all the theology and philosophy holds up. There’s a detour into miracle healing of a paralyzed child, that is, um…dated.) It helps that though the characters are archetypes, the acting is all naturalistic (for the time at least) and the family all felt human, even if the story was predictable.

3. John Ford really knew how to frame a shot. Who knew?

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(Also, Maureen O’Hara was beautiful.)

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Blossoms in the Dust – I’ve never heard of this. But it also stars Walter Pidgeon, who is great as the preacher/teacher in How Green

Citizen Kane – I haven’t seen this in years, but obviously, it’s reputation precedes it, and in my memory it mostly lives up to its hype.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan – My mom and I watched this once on TV when I was in high school and it’s fun, but mostly I like it as the basis for Heaven Can Wait, because I love Warren Beatty vehicles

Hold Back the Dawn – I don’t know anything about this, but it’s synopsis – “Stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration, Georges Iscovescu hopes to get into the country by marrying a citizen” is distressingly timely

One Foot in Heaven – Never heard of this one either, but it’s another episodic family movie

SuspicionOoooo a good (read – creepy as Hell) Hitchcock thriller about a too charming Cary Grant

The Little Foxes – I just read this play for the first time last fall, and I can imagine that Bette Davis makes a meal of it

The Maltese Falcon – Another classic I haven’t seen…

Obviously this year comes down to the narrative that How Green Was My Valley besting Citizen Kane is one of the examples of how wrong the Academy can get it. And, maybe in terms of filmmaking innovation and influence, I would have to agree that Kane should have won. But, please don’t throw this in with Crash and other films that are terrible because we wish they hadn’t beat our favorite at the Oscars. This is a lovely, well made, emotional drama. It didn’t change cinema, but it is also a great example of how the Oscars are a litmus test about what Hollywood wants to say about itself.

So, I’d give it to Kane, but I’m also glad that this winning made me watch it. And obviously I didn’t need that encouragement to watch Citizen Kane.

Bechdel Test Pass?

It passes! Most of the discussion is about men, but they also talk about other women, and needing to wash dishes.

So…it’s not a paragon of feminist representation, and there’s an episode about violence at the school that is pretty strong on toxic masculinity through violence, but it certainly wasn’t offensive.

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This is how you become a man

Apparently, traditional Welsh Tea Cakes are made on a hot stone or a griddle, but when I tried to do that in my frying pan they ended up burning on both sides, while leaving the center raw, so I baked mine in the oven.

Welsh Tea Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into pats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup milk, plus a splash
  • 1 egg

Directions 

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  2. Cut butter, and crumble until mixture resembles coarse meal
  3. Stir in raisins
  4. Place an egg in a 1 cup measure cup, beat lightly with a fork
  5. Add 1/4 milk to egg, stir
  6. Pour into flour mixture, stir with a fork
  7. Stir into a soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it is too dry
  8. On a floured surface, shape dough into a ball
  9. Knead lightly 5-6 times
  10. Roll to 1/4 in thickness
  11. With a floured small biscuit cutter (I used a juice glass) 
  12. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, turn the tray bake for another 10 minutes
  13. Flip the cakes onto the other side and bake for 5 more minutes
  14. Let cool completely and serve with tea

Award Show Round Up: Oscars 2020

What a difference a year makes huh? My little corner of film Twitter is ecstatic with the results last night, instead of declaring the end of the Academy’s relevance over Green Book. Also, it was a fun show! Bogged down a bit by a ho-hum original song crop, but with enough genuine surprises and moments of emotion to keep me engaged through the whole thing.

The opening was so weird and I loved it:

Sincere Brad Pitt is so much better than the schtick he had been doing this whole season up to this point:

So excited that “Hair Love” won!

There were a lot of great Bong Joon Ho moments last night (and I’ll be sharing more) but I think my favorite is how much of a dork he was as his cowriter was accepting for Best Original Screenplay:

(Also Diane’s excitement for them is adorable!)

ACADEMY AWARD WINNER JACQUELINE DURRAN!

(I know she had won before, but it also means we can say Academy Award winning Little Women so that’s worth celebrating to me.

And my first tears of the night were from watching Dianne Ladd watch Laura Dern win an Oscar:

Also – I know I don’t recap the Independent Spirit Awards but you need to see this:

OK, back to last night, there were lots of montages, which I’m a huge fan of, particularly, when for no given reason they end with an Eminem performance that clearly thrilled people exactly my age and confused everyone else:

(Sorry about the poor quality – ABC hasn’t posted the full performance yet?)

A well deserved second Oscar for Sir Roger Deakins:

While we’re talking about 1917 I feel terrible about how hilarious it is that these three men won an Oscar and forever there will be two adults dressed as cats in the frame with them in every picture of the moment:

Cynthia Erivo can sing:

But…Bernie and Elton Forever:

I have no idea if the score for Joker is good, but I do know that this moment was important:

Bong Joon Ho’s Directing speech was one of the most gracious moments I can remember at an awards show:

Look, I know that thing about the cow is a bit much, but the moment when Joaquin tries to talk about River at the end of this speech is heartbreaking and I love him and I’m just really glad he has an Oscar and a fiancée and seems happy:

Renée rambled and I love her for it, since it also means its the Oscar speech in my memory to randomly thank firefighters (shoutout to Kathryn Bigelow):

THEN PARASITE WON BEST PICTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jane Fonda did a great job presenting that award, and the cheer from the crowd was thrilling. Love Cynthia’s nod and Joaquin’s extra large clap, just everything about this. And Tom and Charlene’s fight to being the lights back up.

Fashion-wise it was a night of fun sparkle and strange volume, but generally lovely glitzy.

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America Ferrera in Alberta Ferretti (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Mindy Kaling in Dolce & Gabbana (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Beanie Feldstein in Miu Miu (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Lily Aldridge in archival Ralph Lauren (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Janelle Monáe in Ralph Lauren (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Rebel Wilson in custom Jason Wu (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Maya Rudolph in Valentino (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Natalie Portman in Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Also her cape is embroidered with the names of non-nominated female directors and I love that!

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Vera Wang (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Brie Larson in Celine (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Renée Zellweger in Armani Privé (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Adam Driver in Burberry and Joanne Tucker in Oscar de la Renta (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Christine Lahti in Romona Keveza (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Sigourney Weaver in Dior Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

And The Nominees Are 2020: Final Round

Happy Oscar Sunday! In the grand tradition of this blog, I have a few nominees to share my thoughts on, all of which were from shows that have already happened that aren’t nominated tonight, but oh well. (And actually two of these movies are nominees tonight, but I keep forgetting that The Two Popes  exists…)

Just Mercy

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Why aren’t more people talking about this movie? Is it because the trailer makes it seem like it might be either a formulaic procedural or a Hallmark movie? Well its partly both of those things but its also one of the most beautiful and visceral pieces of art about the horrors of the death penalty that I have ever seen. I adored writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton‘s first movie, Short Term 12, about a group home for teens, and I feel like this belongs in the same category of though to watch social drama filled with fully realized characters, that are designed to make the audience think about the lived reality of people our society has sequestered from general view.

The acting here is great, how Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan weren’t at the center of a nomination conversation is crazy to me. (Slight spoiler warning.) But I really want to praise Rob Morgan, who plays an inmate suffering from PTSD, the sequence leading up to his execution by electrocution is one of the most searing and effective pieces of film making I’ve ever seen. And it highlights the horrible contradiction of supposedly “humane” capital punishment. I know this probably doesn’t sell it very effectively, but more people should see this movie.

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Wild Rose

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The music in this movie is very much for me. Jessie Buckley performs it well and does a great job with the rest of the movie’s heavy emotional material. (As do the supporting cast, particularly Julie Waters as her mother.) All that being said, I had a very hard time getting through this. I think that I have developed a very low tolerance for stories about people who are their own worst enemy (see also my less than rhapsodic response to Uncut Gems). The last third of this surprised me by not ripping my heart out and stomping on it, but still I can mostly recommend the music:

How is this not nominated for Best Original Song? Come on Academy!

Pain and Glory

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This is a lovely, personal, quiet film, which manages to be engaging and vibrant and pure Pedro Almodovar without ever raising its voice. The color saturation is classic Almodovar and no inch of the frame is wasted. But the star here is literally the star. Antonio Banderas’s performance is settled and subtle. I felt deeply for his character’s pain and laughed out loud at something as simple as an eyebrow quirk. The elements of this story could easily have been melodrama, but there is a frankness in tone that keeps it firmly in this world.

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The Two Popes

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Can someone tell me what director Fernano Meirelles‘s plan was for this movie? What is essentially an extended conversation between one pope (Benedict – Anthony Hopkins, making the bold choice to not alter his accent at all) and a cardinal who will become a pope (Jonathan Pryce who looks remarkably like Pope Francis and does a great job benefiting from good casting) becomes a confusing middle of styles. The stylistic choices (random shaky cam, odd shots from below faces that focus our gaze up the two men’s noses, odd sound effect volume, the choice to have flashbacks be in black and white and then suddenly not) were so baffling I kept getting taken completely out of the story. And while I did learn a lot of the back story of the current pope, which was moving, but I wish the film had given the same courtesy to Benedict. Instead, he is cast only as a foil, stodgy, conservative and awkward. Mostly this felt like a movie made around a title instead of a story.

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Award Show Round Up: BAFTAs 2020

OK, I’ll start with a confession: I didn’t actually watch the BAFTAs this year. I got invited to a Super Bowl party, and I got my timing wrong in trying to watch when it was airing in the UK through a VPN, so instead, I just followed along on Twitter and then found videos this morning, but I still think I can give you a good recap, but if there were any small moments in otherwise not important clips, I’m sorry that I missed them.

Anyway, Graham Norton is good at hosting things:

1917 obviously won big, as there is usually a slant towards the British and especially the historically British so obviously, but again, I think it’s very good. So I’m not mad.

I’m also not mad about Jacqueline Durran winning for Best Costumes for Little Women not only are her clothes gorgeous, Greta talked in this Vanity Fair clip she talked about how character driven the choices were and it makes me really happy to see that recognized: 

I continue to love Laura Dern, and also continue to pretend that she is winning these awards for Little Women and not Marriage Story, because though she is lovely in both, her character in the latter is so unrealistic to me:

Also very much enjoy Florence’s gasp for her in this clip.

I also love Taika Waititi (and I liked his movie quite a bit) but he’s holding Greta’s award. He does give a good speech though:

We got 2 Bong Joon Ho speeches!

(Also would kill QT to show like even polite happiness for him?)

Brad Pitt, despite not being there managed to still continue his “divorced-guy” comedy tour:

(Great cut to the Cambridges on that Harry line too!)

I love the Rising Star Award, and this year it did introduce me to a talent I was unaware of, can’t wait to check out Michael Ward’s work!

I’m super glad there is a Casting Award at BAFTA now and I would love for our Academy to add it as well, but I’m not glad the inaugural one went to Joker.

I’ve loved Sam Mendes for a long time, and I love Bong Joon Ho’s enthusiasm for him in this clip:

I can’t believe he never won a BAFTA before! I guess that his other awards movies have actually been about America…still, interesting.

Joaquin Phoenix obviously wins for speech of the night for addressing the all white acting categories:

Renée continues to be rambling and wonderful and I love her:

Then the least surprising thing happened:

This is my prediction for Best Picture next week, but there are enough split wins at the union awards that I’m really interested to see what happens!

Fashion wise, it was a continuation of the full volume and spangly cut out trends we’ve seen all season (some working more than others of course), here were my favs:

 

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Greta Gerwig in Gucci (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Zoë Kravitz in Saint Laurent (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in Alexander McQueen (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Kaitlin Dever in Miu Miu (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Amber Anderson (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Naomie Harris in Michael Kors Collection (Photo Credit: Getty Images) 

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Hildur Guonadottir (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

73rd British Academy Film Awards, Arrivals, Royal Albert Hall, London - 02 Feb 2020

Joshua Jackson with Jodie Turner-Smith in Gucci (Photo Credit: Matt Baron/Shutterstock)

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Laura Dern in Valentino Haute Couture (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Best Picture Baking Project: Hamlet

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I have, as longtime readers may recall, read and seen many versions of Hamlet (including a postmodern ballet!), so I was primed for the 1949 Laurence Olivier version. I, of course, made Danishes, because it was a pun I could not resist. But first, the movie:

Had I seen this one before? 

Nope! I’d heard of it, but had never felt the need to sit down for a black and white Hamlet.

Top 3 observations on this viewing? 

  1. I obviously knew that Olivier was a legend of acting, but I hadn’t ever gotten a sense of him as a director, and here at least, he has a really distinctive style and used editing in particular, to convey Hamlet’s unstable of mind. The sequences with the King’s ghost is genuinely creepy (and also a clear influence on a certain other cinematic father…)

2. Olivier does a good job making the most memorable speeches feel fresh, without signaling too strongly that, “hey, hey this is the famous part.” In fact, I found a lot of the acting in this more naturalistic than I was expecting.

3. The costumes (which did win an Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black & White) were fantastic. Lots of tights and billowy sleeves.

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Also many of the sleeves are shiny

What did it beat? Did it deserve to win? 

Johnny Belinda – I’ve never seen this, but the plot description of it is wild.

The Red Shoes – Definitely saw this as a child, and remember it being disturbing, but pretty? Not going to lie though, my main reaction to this is hearing Val from A Chorus Line saying “let’s get one thing straight. See, I never heard about The Red Shoes, I never saw The Red Shoes, I didn’t give a fuck about The Red Shoes.”

The Snake Pit  – I’ve never heard of his but please click that link to look at the questionable poster art.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – Obviously a classic.

Hmmm. There are probably a lot of film people who would give this to Sierra Madre, and maybe I would to, but then there would never have been a Shakespearean Best Picture, and that doesn’t feel right. So, I guess I’m OK with Hamlet. 

Bechdel Test Pass

There are two named women, but I don’t think they ever talk to each other. (Gertrude is present for Ophelia’s break down, but Ophelia isn’t really speaking to anyone in reality in that section.) But honestly, I would fail it no matter what give the fact that Olivier cast an actress (Eileen Herlie) to play his mother, who was ELEVEN YEARS YOUNGER THAN HIM!

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There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark indeed…

I found a super easy, Ina Garten recipe for danishes that turned out delicious. They use frozen puff pastry, because I am not a contestant on Bake Off no one has time to roll out their own laminated layers.

Easy Cheese Danish

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest of two lemons
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper
  3. Please cream cheese and sugar in bowl of mixer, cream them together with low speed until smooth
  4. Add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest
  5. Mix on low until just combined (don’t whip!)
  6. Lightly flour a board
  7. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry
  8. Roll slightly into a 10in x 10in square
  9. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife
  10. Please a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares
  11. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center.
  12. Fold over other 2 corners so the danishes are an envelope
  13. Brush the top of each pastry with egg each
  14. Place onto the prepared pan.
  15. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry
  16. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes
  17. Bake the pastries for 10 minutes
  18. Rotate pan
  19. Bake for additional 10 minutes or until puffed and brown