Hollywood. You’re Killing Me.

We’re gearing up for the Oscars in my house, and that means we try to watch the nominated movies so we can have an opinion and a more thorough enjoyment of the experience. I made up a list of some of the movies and where to stream them and put it next to my husband’s favorite viewing chair. He’s usually on board with this annual task—or maybe it’s just easier to watch than to deal with me. I got to give George credit though, he’s been doing a lot of the dirty work this year, viewing the stuff I can’t handle. But we’re usually of the same mind with our opinions, so I trust him. Wait. Do I? Yes.

It’s a rough lineup this year, and you can glean several things from my cop-outs. I’m not interested in finishing the self-imposed mandated viewing list. Maybe for me, the Oscars are more about fashion, wine, and nachos. And I’m finding life and the world a bit hard and scary right now so I’m trying to take smaller bites of painful and disturbing “entertainment”.

Below is a partial list of our work. I’m up in the middle of the night writing this for two reasons. One, heartburn from the coleslaw and Popeyes chicken we had for dinner, and two, because of the first stupid movie on the list.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once ⭐ – I hated this movie. It was as much fun as being held hostage in an endless funhouse with strobe lights. Not that there were strobe lights in the movie, or maybe there were—I ran screaming from the room after 45 minutes. I should have taken more notice of the title—because it epitomizes the experience. Early in, I realized I picked the wrong dinner to accompany the purchased flick (yes, we paid $17 to own it). Fried chicken requires you to look at it as you pick around the bones to find the meat, but I could not take my eyes off the screen. I naively said, “Wow, this movie has a lot going on.” Understatement. What the hell was the story about? It followed a woman—Michelle Yeoh (the actor who hogged all kinds of precious time with her long Golden Globe speech) through multi-verses, multi-lives—like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop to stop someone who…. I don’t care. Where is she now? What’s happening now? There was no through storyline I could follow that made me want to finish it. I had a physical reaction. Anxiety and anger built and then a headache. It was like being in a wormhole of flashing images. And I adored the Umbrella Academy and Doctor Strange—other shows with time travel and multi-verses, but they had superior character development. I saw none of that in this movie. Just strange shit going down, over, and over, and over. I can’t imagine what the screenplay storyboard looked like nor how the feverish minds felt during production and editing. I went to bed and watched Downton Abbey to cool off.

All Quiet on the Western Front – From the book and a remake of the 1930 classic movie about the horrible physical and mental tortures of World War I. George watched it for me since he likes to watch more violent and gritty stuff than I do. No huge surprise, he said it was rough. And he was truly downcast. I’m sorry, George. Fuck you war-makers.

Avatar: The Way of Water – What can I say? I cried a lot during the first installment—and as my son said as he and George walked out the door for the theater—“You can’t handle it, Mom”. They both liked it and brought me some popcorn. Great review, huh?

The Banshees of Inisherin – ⭐⭐⭐ I loved the moodiness of the land and the people and was drawn into the story—but was left wondering about the deeper meaning. Was there one? Who greenlighted this project?

Elvis – Give the boy an Oscar.

The Fabelmans – It wasn’t available for streaming and I didn’t want to make this a movie-theater event. But I’m looking forward to seeing it. Steven Spielberg doesn’t put out crap. Based on snippets of information, I’ve got vibes like the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel/Dirty Dancing/The Sandlot/Brighton Beach Memoirs—all winners.

Tár – ⭐⭐ Why does this chick have an accent mark in her name? Is that a thing? Wait—I fell for it, thinking Lydia Tár—an uber-important conductor—was a real person. Nope. This is fiction. It opens with Lydia having a live audience interview with a real New York reporter. Fun trick, drawing us in. But wait again—no—it actually begins with a dark screen and what felt like ten long minutes of credits in unreadable text in 5-point type. Super annoying. Then the story began. Gawd. Did I even like it? Was it a chore to watch? I couldn’t hear and/or understand a lot of the dialog. Mumbled words, accents, whispers—I should have had the closed caption on. But even if I had, the esoteric dialog was often fast and filled with so many difficult words combined with technical music theories or composer shit that I would have needed a masters in music with a dictionary on the side to understand it. But there was just enough real-people speak and good acting for me to get the gist of the story. I have a love/angst relationship with Cate Blanchett. I kind of idolize her acting ability and beauty, but there’s something Hollywood creepy there. Like she knows shit the rest of us normal mortals can’t understand. I have a lot of questions about this movie. It would be fun to listen to a discussion from musically intelligent people who could dissect it. But would I understand them? Ah. The movie is a mixed bag.

Top Gun: Maverick –  Tossing my head back with laughter. Didn’t watch. Wouldn’t watch. Not in a million years. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original with all the alpha male bullshit—but recall it being okay. That was before I found out Tom Cruise was the head of a stupid cult. I can’t even look at him.

Triangle of Sadness– ⭐⭐⭐“Do I have to watch it?” George groaned. It was on the list after All Quiet on the Western Front. He was so dejected after that movie, but I explained that we should ignore the title of this one because it was supposed to be a comedy. So we rented it and watched. It opens with a funny scene with a bunch of Zoolander-type models referring to the ‘triangle of sadness’ as the area on your forehead between your eyes where you’d typically get Botox. So yeah. Funny. Moving on, it’s a dark comedy with Woody Harrelson. Woody is often in offbeat but super entertaining stuff, so that was also a selling point for me. He plays the tragic captain of a luxury cruise liner for the ultra-rich. I’m a fan of Bravo’s show Below Deck, so I thought this might be an upstairs/downstairs riff on that. And it was. Kind of. It’s definitely about class distinctions and it takes some wicked twists. Not only with some reversal of those class roles, but with shit – literally sometimes – that happens. People change. Spoiler fear – I can’t say much more other than the end is not what we expected. It will stick in your brain and bug the shit out of you. It’s an interesting flick.

Women Talking – Didn’t watch. Honestly, it looks good. And important. Women breaking from the violence of men who are protected under the laws of their religion. I should watch it. But then I just watched Stay Sweet, Pray, and Obey – where the old white men in the FLDS married little girls – all in the name of religion and the sycophantic following of their sick leader Warren Jeffs.

Blonde – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ -Ana De Armas played the lead role of Marilyn Monroe and deserves the Oscar for best actor. It’s really something to say that if you knew the whole story—no one would want to have been Marilyn Monroe. With all that fame—her life was one trauma after another. I realized immediately that I was watching something important and that this take on her life would focus on her trauma and the deeply disturbing events in her life rather than viewing a fluff glamour piece. We got Norma Jean’s mother trying to drown her in the bathtub, her mother in a mental institution, her mother filling little Norma Jean’s head with lies about Norma Jean’s unknown father. Norma Jean taking acting seriously and trying to build her life and heal her mind with deep and important introspection, then getting pushed face down on the casting director’s desk and being raped from behind to earn her first big role. And on, and on. Get on drugs to cope, then enter the Kennedy misogynists to bring it home. The big white man again. Ruling and raping the broads. Those were the good ole days, huh, boys?

Babylon – Haven’t watched it yet. Didn’t want to spend $20 to rent or $25 to buy.

The Martha Mitchell Effect ⭐⭐- I’d heard about this woman and was intrigued to learn more. She was the wife of the Attorney General for Nixon. He was a Watergate kingpin and Nixon pal who tried to control Martha by calling her crazy and spreading rumors about her mental health. Sweet. Martha was a bit of a zany bird—but in a good way—like a colorful character who kept it real and wasn’t overawed by peer pressure and social status. It was a short-ish documentary, but I didn’t learn much and was a little bored. White men ruled the world. They still do. Just shut up, sit there, and look pretty little woman.

The Elephant Whisperers – I didn’t have the guts to watch. I absolutely knew I would feel wretched and cry way too hard. I’m still traumatized from the torturous lives of the circus elephants. And by that image of the Jimmy Johns founder holding his rifle and manically grinning next to the big elephant he killed. What a fair fight! What a man. Hey big game hunters. . . fuck you.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Saw it at the movie theater. Can’t say enough about how wonderful this movie was. I wiped away tears more than once. They got it right.

The Whale – Didn’t watch. The pejorative title turned me off, yet I’m assuming it was a vehicle to show how painful bullying of the obese can be. I’ve heard good things about the movie though, and I hear Brendan Fraser did an amazing acting job. I saw him quite emotional during some speech. I’ll let Brendan do my crying for me. Because here was another one I didn’t think I could sit through.

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