Showing posts with label Spoiler Alert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spoiler Alert. Show all posts

Saturday, December 10, 2022

"Spoiler Alert" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Spoiler Alert" as well as the Brad Pitt action film "Bullet Train" and the romantic rom-com "Look Both Ways."  The Book of the Week is "Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon" by Kate Andersen Brower]

Spoiler Alert (2022)

The film version of Michael Ausiello's memoir "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies."

We all know what a spoiler is, right?  It's when someone in an earlier time zone posts the winner of "Dancing with the Stars" before you've seen it or when you tell someone you are going to see a certain movie and she says "You know she dies at the end, right?" 

But spoiler alert?  Do you know what that is?  As someone who writes about the movies, I am acutely aware of that term because I sometimes get accused of telling too much.  And when I am aware that I am doing that, I am supposed to display "Spoiler Alert" prominently so my readers will know to stop reading in case I reveal a twist or ruin the ending of the film for them. 

That said, I think there are two different camps when it comes to spoilers.  There are those who will bite your head off if you give away too much about a film and then there are those who don't care, who just enjoy the journey.  I am part of that latter camp.  I don't really care if I know how it ends because I am much more into the journey that takes me to the end.

And speaking of the journey...the title of this film warns you about a spoiler and in and of itself is a spoiler.  First of all, Michael Ausiello's memoir upon which this film is based was titled "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies" and if you didn't already figure out what was going to happen, the film begins with one of the main characters dying in the hospital and then the film proceeds in a series of flashbacks.  So I don't need to warn you with a "Spoiler Alert" at the beginning of this because it's already been spoiled...and not by me.  

But no worries.  Even though you know how it's going to end, like I said, it's all about the journey and there are many surprises along the way.

Jim Parsons ("Big Bang Theory") plays Michael, a young rather uptight gay man working as a journalist at TV Guide in New York City. He doesn't drink or do drugs and is timid emotionally since being traumatized by the loss of his parents at an early age.  His passions are Christmas and TV, so making a living writing about TV is a lifelong dream. Growing up watching soap operas with his mother, he imagined his life as a TV sitcom (a device which the movie recreates and it doesn't really work).  

Michael meets the handsome and outgoing Kit (Ben Aldridge), a sexually active fellow that Michael considers completely out of his league.  In fact, in an intimate moment, Michael reveals himself as a FFK - Former Fat Kid.  He's insecure about his looks and body, though he is no longer overweight, but the two connect and embark on a long term relationship despite Michael's obsession with Smurfs and diet Coke. But Kit has his issues, too.  He has not come out to his parents, Marilyn (Sally Field) and Bob (Bill Irwin), but eventually does in a very funny interlude. 

Michael and Kit have a witty and fun rapport and clearly love each other, but as happens in even the closest of relationships, after 13 years, Michael and Kit hit some bumpy patches and they separate, and then the film moves from a funny, witty rom-com to a drama as the film takes a tragic turn. Kit is diagnosed with cancer, something very difficult for Michael to deal with since he had lost his mother to cancer at a young age but despite their estrangement, and despite Michael's difficult past, Michael decides this is love and he is in it for the long haul, no matter what.

Naturally my friend and I were blubbering away at the end - that was the whole point, right? These kinds of movies bring up all kinds of feelings in us - fear of dying, remembrance of loved ones dying, remembering "Love Story," probably the first of the romantic movies with death-at-the-end genre.  There is homage here to "Love Story," when Michael gets up on Kit's hospital bed and lies next to him as he lay dying.  When Ryan O'Neal did that to comfort Ali McGraw in "Love Story," I completely lost it.  

But this time I also lost it as I remembered my Dad dying.  When he was dying, I was able to travel back home to help my mother and say goodbye to my Dad.  As he lay dying and gasping in the last stages and appeared to be out of it, one of the hospice nurses said that it would probably help him to go if I told him it was okay and that we would be fine.  So as I sat next to my Dad I told him that he had been a wonderful father, that it was okay to go and that I loved him. With that he was able to say "I love you too" and he left us. When that same sort of scene happened in this movie - Michael telling Kit what he had meant to him - it brought back that memory.  But it also reinforced in me of how important it is that we gather around our dying loved ones to say goodbye and tell them what they meant to us.  

Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge are engaging and believable as Michael and Kit, two men devoted to each other, and Bill Irwin and Sally Field provide some comic relief as Kit's parents. Speaking of Sally, she reminded me of what a good actress she is. Her Marilyn was so annoying that I could totally understand why Kit didn't want to tell his mother he was gay!  So Sally did a good job there! 

Watching the film, I was struck by the lack of films where the central theme is a gay love story.  Often when there is a gay love story, it is a tangential feature of a straight rom com.  Gay rom coms should be as mainstream as straight rom coms and every other romantic iteration out there. Hopefully this and the recent "Bros" are signs that more like this will get the green light.

A sweet Christmas movie. Despite the death part, it's all about love and family, and at this time of year, which is rife with emotion, there is nothing like a good cathartic cry and you will get that with this film.  Bring tissues.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a good movie will bring up memories and emotions and this movie written by David Marshall Grant and Dan Savage and directed by Michael Showalter ("The Big Sick") did just that because it is a good movie. (In theatres)

Bullet Train (2022)

A slew of assassins with different agendas all board a bullet train. Mayhem ensues.

Ooh, Brad Pitt.  I have never forgotten his first big splash in "Thelma and Louise" and he has just gotten better and more handsome as he ages. But like many really handsome actors, it seems like he does not want to rely on his looks and play romantic leads. Darn it, Brad. I want you to play romantic leads!  But it seems he wants to be taken more seriously, so he goes for the edgier stuff now and this film is edgy.  But, Brad.  What are you doing in this mess of a movie?

Here Brad plays a former assassin, code name, Ladybug, and he is in Tokyo for a job he doesn't really want. He has had a run of bad luck lately and has wearied of killing people but thinks that retrieving a briefcase should be a piece of cake. Not! Brothers Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who happen to be assassins, are also on the train to rescue the son of a Russian-born Yakuza boss called "The White Death." Sadly, the son is poisoned and another assassin, "The Wolf (Bad Bunny)," thinks it was our boy Brad, so attacks him.  Then "The Wolf" dies. A schoolgirl character strangely called "Prince" wanders around the train getting involved leaving destruction in her wake. Then Ladybug gets into it with Lemon and other assassins and the whole thing is a big confusing mess, though it turns out all of the assassins are somehow related. I like action films, and I don't mind some violence now and then, but by the time it was all revealed, I didn't care anymore.

Written by Zak Olkewitz (based on the book by Kotaro Isaka) and directed by David Leitch, the film is part Japanese video game, part cartoon and part Tarantino-esqe dark comedy with some slapstick thrown in, but the violence overshadows what humor there is and it just all became wearying after awhile. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...despite Brad's presence, a very weird and not very enjoyable film experience. Brad, can't you make this old girl happy and do a romantic movie once in awhile? (Netflix)

Look Both Ways (2022)

What if you had taken that other road in life?

In her last year at the University of Texas, Natalie (Lili Reinhart) has sex with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez).  It's not about love and the two agree it wasn't a big deal. Natalie has a five year plan for her life after graduation and she means to keep it.  She plans to move to Los Angeles with her friend Cara (Aisha Dee) to become an animator. But a few weeks later, on graduation night, Natalie takes a pregnancy test and her life diverges into two parallel realities.  

In Reality #1, she is pregnant.  Reality #2, she is not pregnant.

Pregnant, Natalie moves back home with her parents who were enjoying the empty nest so they are not that happy to have her back. They are not too happy about Gabe, either, who is an aspiring musician.  But he steps up and the two struggle to coparent their daughter, Rosie.  But Natalie wants Gabe to have his own life and encourages him to date.  When he does meet someone, Natalie is not sure she has made the right decision to discourage Gabe.  But she throws herself into her artwork.

In Reality #2, relieved that she is not pregnant, Natalie moves to Los Angeles with Cara and they start their careers.  Natalie gets her dream job and becomes an assistant animator and she meets Jake (David Corenswet), who aspires to be a movie producer. They embark on a relationship but Jake is sent to Nova Scotia for a job and they struggle with a long-distance relationship.

Which path taken will turn out to be the best one for Natalie?

Written by April Prosser and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, this is one of those "what if?" films reminiscent of "Sliding Doors," the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film that explored what would happen if you miss your train.  Here we get to see what would have happened if the road not taken was taken. Will two different paths lead to the same destiny? The film goes back and forth between the two realities which you might think would be confusing but it's handled in a very stylish and understandable way.

The young actors are engaging especially Reinhardt who is the reason this film is so affecting.  Most famous for the TV series "Riverdale," I will enjoy watching her movie career unfold.

How often have we wondered how our lives might have been different if we had taken that other road - if we had moved East, not West; if we had accepted that other marriage proposal or not gotten married at all; or we decided not to have children or given up a career? The film is a reminder that no matter which path we choose, there will always be bumps, regrets and what ifs but it's our path.  It's called life.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet little story that will make you wonder about the path you chose but validate it. (Netflix)

***The Book of the Week***

"Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon" by Kate Andersen Brower (2022).

The definitive biography.

Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of the Hollywood movie star and one of the last to come out of the old Hollywood studio system. In her over 70 years in show business, she starred in 56 films, 10 TV movies and was the first actor to negotiate a million dollar contract (“Cleopatra”) and the first to use her fame for Aids activism.  However, her personal life often overshadowed her accomplishments - Eight marriages to seven different men, by 26 she had been divorced twice and widowed once and she struggled with addictions to pills and alcohol. 

Considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, she was kind, creative, empathetic and smart but she was also selfish, greedy, vulnerable, volatile and childlike and Brower uses Elizabeth’s unpublished letters, diary entries, off-the-record interview transcripts and interviews with 250 of her closest friends and family to capture those many sides of Taylor. Taylor never wrote a real memoir (she died in 2011 at the age of 79), but this well-researched biography gets as close to telling her story in her own words as we will ever get.

Rosy the Reviewer says...there have been countless biographies but this will stand as the definitive one about the legend that was Elizabeth Taylor.

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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