Tuesday, May 14, 2024

More Good Movies You Might Not Know About, Part 2

[I review the new documentary "Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg," as well as an indie character study, "Mickey Hardaway," and the rom-com, "Somebody I Used To Know."] 

Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg (2023)

A documentary about a famous person you have probably never heard of....rock and roll muse, Anita Pallenberg, who was most famous for her relationships with the Rolling Stones (yes, more than one) in the 1960's and 70's, but who was much more than that. 

I was a child of the 60's and loved the Rolling Stones.  I knew who Anita Pallenberg was, but I didn't really know anything much about her.

What I knew:

She was a model and an actress who was the girlfriend of Brian Jones, then Keith Richards with a bit of dabbling with Mick Jagger.  Well, I didn't really know the Mick Jagger part. She was a style icon of the 60's and 70's, starred in some movies, and she and Keith were both addicted to heroin.

What I didn't know:

Born in either Rome or Hamburg (her early life is unclear), she moved to New York City at 19 and became part of Andy Warhol's Factory.  She became a model and traveled the world, meeting the Rolling Stones back stage in Munich in 1965. She was a free spirit who drew people to her infectious personality. Immediately attracted to Brian Jones (he was the handsome Rolling Stone), the two became an item and she gave up modeling and moved to London to be with him.  The two got involved in taking drugs, but Brian's drug use overtook him.  He was abusive to Anita, at which point Keith, who had always had a crush on her, moved in to rescue her, though she hardly needed rescuing.  When she and Brian would fight, she threw as many punches as he did. 

It didn't help the relationship with Brian when Anita discovered acting and starred in "Barbarella" and later the cult classic "Performance," the latter film also starring Mick Jagger. Those two hooked up briefly, though Anita always said she was never that attracted to Mick. By then, Anita had moved on from Brian to Keith and her affair with Mick upset Keith so much he wrote "Gimme Shelter." And when she went back to Keith, Mick wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Drugs had always been a part of Anita's life but with Keith, the heroin addiction began in earnest and when Brian Jones died and she had her first child, she started going off the rails.  There was the death of a child, a breakdown and and break-up but like a phoenix from the ashes, Anita endured.  She died in 2017.

After watching this riveting documentary directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill, now I know all about her and what a presence she was. Her impact on the Rolling Stones and others who knew her was enormous. She was the ultimate 60's rock chick.

Both of Keith's and her living children - Marlon and Angela (aka Dandelion) - weigh in on their mother's life and her impact on them.  At her death, an unpublished autobiography was found and in the film, Scarlett Johansson tells Anita's story "in her own words." Keith and Marianne Faithfull also weigh in along with others who knew Anita. The film is full of never-before-seen footage, film clips, photographs and home movies. 

Keith calls Anita "a piece of work (in a good way)," and others talk about her charisma, her intellect and talent and what a force of nature she was. Keith ends the film by saying "She made a man of me."  Mick does not weigh in.

Rosy the Reviewer says...an absolutely fascinating true story that is a must-see for Rolling Stones fans, and you Baby Boomers out there will enjoy reliving your youth. I know I did. (in theatres or for rent on Amazon Prime)
Note: A great double feature would be this film along with "The Stones and Brian Jones," another documentary I reviewed back in April. 

Mickey Hardaway (2024)

A young man tries to rise above the trauma and abuse he suffered as a child to follow his dreams.

Mickey (Rashad Hunter) is a talented artist who dreams of being a cartoonist and sketch artist, but he can't seem to rise above the abuse he suffered at school and at home. His father (David Chattam)not only beat him physically but beat down his dreams. He thinks art is a waste of time. But Mickey finds encouragement from his art teacher (Dennis L.A. White) and later his counselor (Charlz Williams) at the Art Institute where he was awarded a scholarship.  But sometimes, when abuse runs deep, even well-meaning people are not enough. After being taken advantage of by an employer who Mickey thought was going to help him with his animation career, he starts drinking and his life unravels.  But Grace (Ashley Parchment), his caring girlfriend, encourages him to seek help. He meets with Dr. Cameron Harden (Stephen Cofield Jr.), and in a series of flashbacks during his sessions, we see just what Mickey has gone through.

Filmed in black and white, with a brief bit of color, this is a grim character study, very neo-noir and talky with some actors better than others, but, you will keep watching, because you want to see what will happen to Mickey.  Will he make it?  And you care because of Hunter, whose portrayal of Mickey is poignant and effective. And when Mickey says things like, "When you feel the world doesn't give a damn about you, you feel you have nothing to lose," you worry about Mickey, and, as the film progresses, and he says,  "It's hard to be good when all you know is evil," you worry even more as you get insight into why some young men turn to violence.

Written and directed by Marcellus Cox and based on his short film of the same name, this is his feature film debut, a bit of raw naturalism reminiscent of early Spike Lee, and a look at what can happen when someone feels he has nowhere to turn after years of abuse and disappointment.  

Cox says the film showcases "the generational trauma and mental exhaustion that people, in particular black men, have to endure and how we're taught to keep moving on with life without discussing our emotions and seeking help until it's too late and even then sometimes it's not enough once you find it...it's a conversational character study that doesn't seek to give you answers but more to show how folks, in a time more than ever with depression being a mainstay, reach their breaking points...with mental health being at an all-time high in the Black community, I really wanted to bring this subject to a much needed forefront."

And Cox has done that.

Rosy the Reviewer says...some grim realism but the film shines a light on the effects of generational trauma and mental illness, and for a first feature film, Cox shows promise for a long career as a serious writer/director. Make some room, Spike! (Tubi)

Somebody I Used To Know (2023)

Workaholic Ally returns to her hometown and reconnects with her old boyfriend - trouble ensues.

Ally (Alison Brie) is a showrunner for a reality show called "Dessert Island," that is part "Survivor," part "Love Island" and part "The Great British Baking Show (sounds like my kind of reality show)!" In case you didn't know, a showrunner literally "runs the show," so Ally is a bit of a workaholic and doesn't have much going on except work.  And she has never taken the time to evaluate her life and ask herself if she is happy, so when her show is canceled she decides to go back to her hometown - Leavenworth, Washington and visit her mother (Julie Hagerty).

While there, she runs into her old boyfriend, Sean (Jay Ellis), at a bar and they spend the evening together reminiscing. Ally had always wanted to leave town to follow her dreams to become a documentary filmmaker, but so far that dream as eluded her, but Sean likes it in Leavenworth, thank you very much.  He is close to his family and even has a house on their property. With no job and few prospects, getting back together with Sean seems very appealing to Ally. Maybe she made a mistake to leave. The evening ends with a kiss with Ally wanting to go further but Sean begs off.  She finds out why the next day - Sean is getting married the next weekend. Awk-ward!  And even more awkward is the fact that Sean's mother, Jojo, insists that Ally come to the wedding and film it! Ally jumps at the chance because now she thinks she should be with Sean, not his fiance, Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). 

But wait, there is more awkward stuff.  With a nod to "My Best Friend's Wedding," Ally starts meddling in an effort to split them up.  But then things get complicated when Ally and Cassidy get to know each other and their initial suspicions about each other fade away. Things continue to be awkward and go from bad to worse... until they get better.

The Christmas-oriented Leavenworth, Washington makes for a scenic backdrop for a rom-com. Having lived in Washington for several years, I have personal experience about the cuteness of Leavenworth, and it has an interesting history.  It is a small town in the Cascade Mountains styled after a Bavarian village. In the 1960's when the lumber mills closed and the town was in decline, the city looked to tourism to revitalize the area.  They modeled the town after the Danish-themed town of Solvang, California, and today Leavenworth is a hotspot of tourism, especially at Christmas.  There are countless restaurants serving German food, pretzels and beer, a nutcracker museum and even a Snow Train from Seattle that takes visitors there (I've done that too)! 

Brie is a talented comic actress and she and Ellis are an engaging couple. Brie is especially good at awkward, and I mean that in a good way.  The rest of the ensemble are also first-rate and the town of Leavenworth also stars. 

Written by Dave Franco and Brie (who are married in real life) and directed by Franco, this is not your usual silly rom-com. It's a smart one with real, believable characters and a message about loving yourself before you can love anyone else. Instead of "boy meets girl, boy and girl break up and then get back together," this is more "boy meets girl and girl finds herself."  And there is even a satire on reality TV thrown in.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet and enjoyable rom-com with a serious message. (Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

No comments :

Post a Comment