Being the Ricardos

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I grew up watching the wildly popular sitcom, “I Love Lucy”. If you are a child of the 50s or 60s, you are familiar with the half hour comedy that originally aired from 1951 until 1957. Although the series ran before my birth, it continued on in syndication for many, many years.

I Love Lucy captured the hearts of Americans, ranking as the most popular show on television for four of its six seasons. The series won five Emmy Awards including Best Situation Comedy and Best Actress for Lucille Ball.

Honestly, over the top comedy is not my favorite genre. And make no mistake…I Love Lucy was over the top, physical, slap stick style comedy. However, I watched it anyway, falling in love with Ricky from Cuba and his unpredictable wife, Lucy, who always seemed to land in a spot of trouble.

When I saw the previews for Being the Ricardos, I was instantly intrigued. Here is my movie review.

Being the Ricardos title meme

Being the Ricardos Cast

Being the Ricardos stars Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Madelyn Pugh and Jake Lacy. Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay and directed the biographical drama. This Amazon Studios film carries an R rating, for mild profanity, alcohol use and smoking, and has a run time of 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Oscar nominations were announced this morning. Being the Ricardos picked up three nominations: Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman and Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons.

Being the Ricardos at home
Being the Ricardos – early in their marriage

A Week with the Ricardos

The film unfolds in 1953, during a week in the lives of Desi Arnaz (Bardem) and Lucille Ball (Kidman). The successful couple faces challenges that could upend their careers and their marriage.

Lucy a Communist?

During the week time line in the film, the Los Angeles Herald-Express runs the shocking headline, “Lucille Ball was RED in 1936”. The story poses a real threat to Lucy’s career and Desi’s as well, through his association with her.

Lucy and Desi meet with the show’s producers and network executives, in an attempt to control the potential damage. Lucy did register to vote in 1936 and listed an affiliation with the Communist Party, primarily to appease her socialist grandfather. She supposedly never achieved active member status. And she appeared before the House’s Un-American Activities Committee and was cleared. That doesn’t stop the newspaper from releasing the article.

Desi first wants Lucy to state that she simply checked the wrong box. When she’s uncomfortable with that fib, Desi decides to meet the accusation head on, with the backing of the network. The tension mounts all week, as the cast and crew head toward the taping of the episode “Fred and Ethel Fight” before a live audience. The response of the audience likely foretells the response of the rest of the country and decides the fate of the show.

Being the Ricardos lucy
Being the Ricardos – Lucy’s voting registration threatens her career

Lucy Is Pregnant

While smoothing over Lucy’s Red Scare, the Ricardos surprise the executives and writers with an announcement: Lucy is expecting a baby. The couple already parent a young daughter, Lucie. The news of this second pregnancy is not welcomed by the executives or the story writers, Jess (Hale), Alia (Pugh) and Bob (Lacy).

In the 1950s the word “pregnancy” cannot even be spoken on a television show. The show writers scramble to come up with ways to hide Lucy’s pregnancy behind props and carefully planned camera shots. To their dismay, Desi proposes a different idea…make the pregnancy part of the show.

Desi and Lucy stand united in making their personal story Lucy and Ricky’s story as well. And Desi is willing to take his demands to the top studio executives.

Being the Ricardos on set
Being the Ricardos – fighting to make Lucy’s pregnancy part of the show

Is Desi Cheating?

During a week already fraught with challenges arises one that does more than threaten careers or the television show. A tabloid photo of Desi with another woman threatens the couple’s marriage.

Although it turns out that the photo is an old one, taken at an event with both Lucy and Desi in attendance, old insecurities trouble America’s favorite red head. Desi often comes home late, after performing with his band. Or he does not come home at all. Desi and Lucy rarely spend time together, other than on set or at the Desilu Productions Company they co-own.

Lucy turns to her co-stars, William Frawley (Simmons), who plays grouchy Fred in the series and Vivian Vance (Arianda), who portrays Ethel. Although Frawley drinks too much, and takes delight in arguing with Vivian, he cares about Lucy and Desi. And a tendency to compete with her co-star aside, Vivian is Lucy’s friend. “Help me save my marriage,” Lucy quietly pleads to them.

All three challenges come to a head at the end of the week as an audience gathers for the filming of the I Love Lucy episode, Fred and Ethel Fight.

Being the Ricardos fred and ethel
Being the Ricardos – Fred and Ethel

My Thoughts on Being the Ricardos

This beautifully created documentary style film gives an emotional peek behind the scenes of I Love Lucy…and into the lives of its two stars.

I felt like I learned new things about both Desi and Lucy. She is portrayed, accurately so, as brilliant, creative and a perfectionist in her work. There’s a huge difference between Lucy in the show…and Lucille Ball. Her style of kinesthetic comedy provides the slap stick humor that made the show so appealing to viewers. Lucille however is more quiet, intentional, introspective and demanding of herself and others than her tv counterpart. I can appreciate the woman behind one of the most successful series of all times.

And Desi truly is the one with the drive, passion and knowledge to bring the show and technology into new territory. Bardem and Kidman superbly step into their roles and deserve their Oscar nominations.

I appreciate too, the deeper glimpses into Frawley and Vance. I knew they did not exactly like each other, on set. However, their support of Lucy and Desi is endearing.

I loved too seeing the process of scenes coming together that I remember from my childhood.

Being the Ricardos wine making
Being the Ricardos – a familiar scene


Perhaps the most poignant part of this movie, for me, is Lucy’s desire to have a home. A traumatic childhood and years of struggling as a B movie actress create a deep longing for a happy oasis where she and Desi can raise their family and insulate themselves from the world.

That desire shapes all that Lucy does…even to insisting on doing I Love Lucy with her real life husband rather than a more well known actor. I confess to teary eyes when Lucy finally realizes where home truly exists and the cost of maintaining it.

See this movie, if you grew up watching I Love Lucy. It’s currently playing on Amazon Prime, free for Prime members. Click LINK for film. I’d love to know your thoughts about it!

Being the Ricardos i love lucy

Check out my movie review of The Power of the Dog. It picked up 12 Oscar nominations.

Not an Amazon Prime member? Get a 30 day free trial HERE.


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.

91st Academy Awards

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

It’s Oscar time, with the 91st Academy Awards.

In spite of hiccups leading up to tonight’s award show, I am so excited. There are many firsts that will take place tonight, and I am right here, watching, cheering and blogging as it all unfolds.

91st Academy Awards

Incredible Opening

One of the controversies shadowing the 91st Academy Awards is the lack of a host, for the first time in 30 plus years. Instead of a 20 minute opening monologue, the ceremony began with a  musical bang.

Although I’ve teared up before during moving speeches or when the Memoriam is played, I’ve never cried during the beginning of the Oscars. Tonight, I do. Queen opens the show, with Brian Lambert singing lead. To see Brian May and Roger Taylor on stage, playing their hearts out, moves me deeply. After a couple of songs, Freddie Mercury appears on the big screen behind them. What a start to a great night. Alone, in the intimacy of my bedroom, I stand along with the audience and applaud.

In lieu of a host, presenters are making the most of their time, handing out awards and having a bit of fun while doing so.

91st Academy Awards

91st Academy Awards

Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry present, with a hilarious nod to The Favourite.

Oscar Highlights

Lots of firsts tonight, among presenters, and among the winners.

Black Panther, the first superhero film ever nominated for Best Picture, garners early Oscars in Costume Design and Production Design. It also wins for Original Score.

Roma, to no one’s surprise, picks up Best Foreign Film, along with a well deserved Achievement in Cinematography.

Bohemian Rhapsody, dear to my heart, picks up 3 Oscars so far, for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Film Editing. “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds,” as Freddie’s father says.

Best Animated Feature Oscar goes to Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.

“Shallow”, from A Star is Born, picks up the Oscar for Best Original Song. Bradley Cooper, who feels nervous about singing at the Oscars, gives a magnificent performance with Lady Gaga

Best Original Screenplay award goes to Nick Vallelonga, for Green Book. For Best Adapted Screenplay, the Oscar goes to Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman.

91st Academy Awards

91st Academy Awards

The Biggies

As the 91st Academy Awards finishes up, and a delightful show it has been, the top Oscars are handed out.

Best Supporting Actress – Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk. This movie goes on my “must watch” list, so I can check out Regina’s winning performance.

91st Academy Awards

Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali for Green Book. He’s won every award he’s been nominated for this season, and deservedly so.

91st Academy Awards

Best Actress – Olivia Colman for The Favourite. She edges out Glenn Close, which for many will be a surprise. Olivia herself seems shocked. However, a more gifted woman one could not find. Her emotional acceptance speech brings more tears to my eyes. What’s up with me tonight?

91st Academy Awards

Best Actor – Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody. More tears, dang it. This man is one of the most kind and most gracious actors I’ve ever seen. I am beyond thrilled for his much deserved honor.

91st Academy Awards

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron for Roma. Predicted to win for his touching and beautifully done film, Alfonso has picked up several awards tonight. Will he get Best Picture? I’m about to find out….

91st Academy Awards

Best Picture – Green Book. Of course, I hoped Bohemian Rhapsody would win the Oscar. I predicted Roma or Green Book. Still, as the announcement comes, I feel happy surprise. Of all the nominees, Green Book is my second favorite film, right behind Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m glad it receives recognition.

91st Academy Awards

That’s a Wrap

I thoroughly enjoyed the 91st Academy Awards. I didn’t miss a host. The presenters moved smoothly from award to award and the show finished in a little over three hours. Bohemian Rhapsody took home the most Oscars, with four total.

I jotted down a list of films to check out, including Can You Ever Forgive Me? and First Man. During the Oscars an announcement was made about an Academy Awards Museum that’s being built. That just went on my “must visit” list. Who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll attend a Red Carpet event, as a tribute to a lifetime of appreciating movies.

I’m already looking forward to the 92nd Academy Awards.

91st Academy Awards

For a full list of Oscar Winners, click HERE

Download or rent Green Book at Amazon Prime Video or pre-order HERE

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Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

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The countdown for the Academy Awards continues this week. Next up for review, on the Best Picture nominated list, is the biopic BlacKkKlansman. I have the delightful challenge of watching the final four films before Sunday’s award show broadcast. As a movie buff, it is a challenge I am enjoying.

Bear with me as the blog becomes a movie review blog for the next few days. I hope you will enjoy my insights on these extraordinary films.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman Cast

BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Robert John Burke, Corey Hawkins, Jasper Paakkonen, Ryan Eggold and Harry Belafonte. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the crime drama is based upon the book Black Klansman, written by Ron Stallworth. The film carries an R rating, for language, moderate violence and scenes of injustice. It has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Driver, Original Score, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

First Black Police Officer in Colorado Springs

In the 1970s Ron Stallworth (Washington) becomes the first African American police officer, with the Colorado Springs, Colorado police department. Chafing at his entry level position, in the filing room, Stallworth convinces Chief Bridges (Burke) that he’s ready for more action.

The police chief sends Ron out on his first assignment as an undercover cop at a local Black Panther rally. Wired, and instructed to get a feel for what the group intends to do, Ron sits in on the meeting. Detective Flip Zimmerman (Driver) listens in from an unmarked car. A known activist, Kwame Ture (Hawkins), is scheduled to speak. At the rally, Ron meets Patrice (Harrier), president of the Black Student Union at the college. Ron listens, intrigued by Ture’s passionate words, and impressed with Patrice’s devotion.

Later Ron and Patrice meet for a drink. Off duty, but keeping his cover, Ron doesn’t tell Patrice that he is a cop, even when she recounts a disturbing experience from earlier in the evening. Driving Ture back to his hotel room, the car is pulled over and the occupants are harassed by a couple of officers.

After hearing Ron’s report, Chief Bridges declines to look further into the Black Panthers. The newly promoted officer is sent to the intelligence office, to answer phones and record leads. Not one to sit and do nothing, Ron makes a phone call that launches a risky undercover investigation.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Infiltrating the KKK

After seeing a recruitment ad in the local paper, Ron calls the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK. Speaking to Klan chapter president, Walter Breachway (Eggold), Ron poses as a white man, interested in joining the organization. Impressed by Ron’s Aryan rhetoric, the two arrange a meeting.

Ron realizes he can’t attend the meeting. However, Detective Flip Zimmerman can! Because Ron erred, using his own name, Flip becomes Ron Stallworth. He meets with Breachway and another Klan member, Felix (Paakkonen). Felix is immediately suspicious of Flip. He suspects the new recruit is Jewish and pelts Flip with questions.

Ultimately, Flip is accepted into the Klu Klux Klan. Flip and Ron coordinate an in depth investigation. Ron handles all phone calls, including frequent info gathering chats with the Grand Wizard of the Klan, David Duke (Grace). Flip attends all local Klan meetings, always wired, while Ron stalks the group from a distance, taking photos and listening in.

Meanwhile, Ron continues to see Patrice. She is disturbed by the number of Klan flyers being distributed in the neighborhoods.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Induction into the Klan

Flip receives his KKK membership card. For his induction, the Grand Wizard himself is traveling to Colorado, to attend. Duke is impressed with the young man, due to the lengthy phone calls they’ve had. In a wry turn of events, Ron receives the security detail for Duke.

Tension mounts in the community. Duke arrives to lead the induction of new members. Patrice gathers students to hear guest speaker Jerome Turner (Belafonte) speak of sad injustices from his youth. Ron warns Patrice that there are rumors of a planned KKK attack. He begs her to cancel a student march, revealing at last that he is a cop. Infuriated, she sends Ron away.

And a couple of Klan members intend great harm, secreting away a bomb while they wait for an opportunity. Will Flip’s cover be blown before the investigation is completed? And can Ron and Flip prevent the violence that is threatened?

Movie Review B;acKkKlansman

My Thoughts on BlacKkKlansman

This intriguing film pulled a range of emotions from me. Abundant humor sprinkled throughout the movie lightens a very heavy subject, without taking away from the seriousness of justice and equal rights for everyone. I loved the camaraderie between Ron and Flip. Both become acutely aware of racial injustice and work together to make changes. And both men uphold honor and the desire to protect, as police officers.

I’m always drawn to films based on true stories. The events portrayed in the movie actually happened. However, the true name of Ron’s undercover partner has never been revealed. Flip existed…in Ron’s book he’s referred to as Chuck…but nothing is known about who he is and where he is now.

Watching the movie, I also felt sorrow, shame, anger and finally hope. Several times I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. Racism is still very real, and it’s extremely difficult for me to understand how someone can hate another because of race or ethnicity. Some scenes were hard for me to watch in BlacKkKlansman. Injustice riles me and breaks my heart. The most moving sequence occurred as Jerome, played by Henry Belafonte, recounted horrific events from his childhood, while across town, the Klan watched an old black and white film depicting the very events he spoke about. I watched with tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat.

Spike Lee unapologetically offers a powerful, thought provoking film. I’m still thinking about it and feeling the weight of it…and longing for acceptance, equality and freedom for all.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Best Picture List with Reviews

Check out all of the Best Picture Nominated Films. Links are provided to the reviews I’ve written so far.

Watch BlacKkKlansman HERE on Amazon Prime, or purchase on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you


Happy Oscar Day

It’s here! The Oscars, the 90th Academy Awards. The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California is full of excitement and anticipation, and people who love what they do.

My heart is full too. This is one of my favorite nights of the year. Truly. No one has to understand it. It is enough that I know it and enjoy this award show. Movies have had a huge impact on my life. From attending 10¢ matinees as a child, to discerning deeper messages within the stories as an adult, to finding personal symbolism and meaning for my life from films, this industry is important to me. It has been Happy Oscar Day for me all day. I’ve had fun whispering the words aloud to people, just for the sheer delight of expressing joy over this “holiday”.

Happy Oscar Day

I am blogging tonight as the Oscars unfold, making full use of commercial breaks. I have a pot of thyme, fennel seed and lemon balm tea. I have veggie rolls for dinner and an assortment of healthy snacks. And…here we go!

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting for the second time, after a successful show in 2017. He immediately addresses last year’s major goof…the mixup that resulted in the wrong winner being announced for Best Picture. And he gives voice to the movements against sexual harassment that are changing Hollywood and creating safer environments for women and men…#timesup, #metoo and #neveragain.

It’s a historical show. A record setting 40 women are among the nominees tonight. The youngest and oldest ever nominees are up for awards. And tonight is the 90th anniversary. Old movie clips are part of the show. Legendary actors, such as Eva Marie Saint, are presenting. So many amazing memories for me. I love it.

The first award is for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Although Christopher Plummer would break a record by winning this Oscar, the competition is fierce. And the winner is…Sam Rockwell, for an outstanding performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I agree with this choice.

Thunderstorms are rolling through my area. I lost electricity and tv signal for a short time. Thankfully, both came back on in a few minutes, just in time for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award. I have not seen Mudbound or I, Tonya. Both are on my “must watch” list. I’ve picked Allison Janney for this Oscar, based on the few clips I have seen. And the winner is…Allison Janney, for her performance in I, Tonya.

Best Animated Feature Film award goes to…Coco. This is another movie on my watch list. Three of the five nominated songs have been performed. They are all beautiful. I’m looking forward to This is Me, which will be sung by Keala Settle. I’m hoping the power and tv signal stays with me! The storms are moving eastward and away.

Host Jimmy Kimmel takes a group of actors and director Guillermo del Toro to the Chinese Theater across the street, where attendees are catching a sneak peek of A Wrinkle in Time, to say “Thank You!” to the movie goers. Without people watching the films, there would be no Academy Awards. They hand out candy and hotdogs to the shocked attendees. The audience explodes with screams and cheers. I smile over this, and suddenly I tear up. I feel thanked as well, for my years of movie viewing.

Two tough categories tonight were Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. The nominees all created powerful stories. Winners were James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name – Adapted Screenplay, and Jordan Peele, Get Out – Original Screenplay.

There were five powerful performances tonight, for Best Original Song. Keala Settle was phenomenal, singing my favorite, This is Me. Remember Me, from the animated film Coco won the award. I cheered for This is Me, however, I appreciated all of the songs. Coco goes on my watch list.

We are down to the final categories.

So many great films, and directors. Greta is the only woman nominated for directing. And the winner goes to…Guillermo del Toro for Shape of Water. It’s his first Oscar. I love this film. Guillermo is well known for his monster movies. I am excited for him, for his win.

This is another competitive category. Strong performances by each actor makes a decision difficult. I can list reasons why each one should take home the Oscar. I am hoping Timothée Chalamet wins his first award. On my ballot, however, I picked Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. And the winner is…Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour. It’s Gary’s first Oscar, and well deserved.

More riveting performances, by such talented women. I am torn between Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins and Saoirse Ronan. I selected Frances but I will applaud any of these fine actresses. The Oscar goes to…Frances McDormand, for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Frances has all the nominated women stand, in every category, and that is an impressive sight. “We all have stories to tell!” she enthuses. Yes!

We are to the final award. Others may snort, but to me, the evening has gone by so fast! I chose Shape of Water as my top pick for Best Picture. However, I appreciate each movie and cannot feel disappointment, no matter what the outcome. It’s a big moment! And the winner of Best Picture is… … … Shape of Water! I whoop. I laugh. I tear up. I do love this film.

Guillermo del Toro gives an emotion filled acceptance speech. He says, “I want to dedicate this, to every young filmmaker, the youth that are showing us how things are done. Really, they are. In every country in the world. Everyone who is dreaming of a parable, of using the genre of fantasy to tell the story about things that are real in the world, you can do it. This is the door. Kick it open and come in.”

What a great Academy Awards. And what a huge difference it made for me, watching all of the Best Picture nominated films before the Oscars. I understood more. I got the references, the jokes, and I felt I had an investment in the outcome. And, I successfully picked all the winners in all the major categories. I think that is a first for me.

My experience changes things. Going forward, I will watch all of the Best Picture nominated films ahead of the show, always, and as many of the other films and documentaries as I can, in all of the categories.

When he accepted the Oscar for Best Director, Guillermo said, “The greatest thing our art does, our industry does, is erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that.”

Yes, please continue. And I will continue watching and being moved to erase the lines with you.

Happy Oscar Day

Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This was the day for the final movie in the Best Picture category. And, I did it…seven movies in seven days, plus two of the nominated films before this week, equals NINE movies. I’ve never seen all of the Best Picture nominated films ahead of the Academy Awards before. And I realize now what a difference it makes. I will be watching the Oscars differently this year, thanks to this fun experience.

Movie Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars Woody Harrelson, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Lucas Hedges, Sandy Martin, Peter Dinklage and John Hawkes. This crime drama, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, is rated R for language and adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Musical Score, Best Actress in a Leading Role (McDormand), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Harrelson and Rockwell both were nominated).

Mildred Hayes (McDormand) has experienced the unthinkable. Her daughter Angela was raped and murdered seven months ago, and the case appears to have gone cold. In the grieving process, Mildred is stuck in the rage stage. No arrests have been made, and in her opinion, Ebbing Police Chief Willoughby (Harrelson) is not doing enough to find the killer.

She takes matters into her own hands and rents three billboards just outside the city limits. The billboards express her frustration by calling out Chief Willoughby and asking, Why?

The Chief is a well liked man, respected by his men and the community. He explains to Mildred, with sincere sympathy, that although they have DNA evidence from the crime scene, there isn’t a match, not locally, not in Missouri, not anywhere in the US. They have no leads and the investigation seems to have hit a dead end. He reveals to Mildred that he is dying from pancreatic cancer. He doesn’t want emotions stirred up and the town in an uproar because of her billboards.

But Willoughby’s request to take down the messages is met with anger and a determination to keep the public aware of her daughter’s unsolved murder. Mildred’s wrath spills over on everyone, including her surviving child, a son named Robbie (Hedges), and her ex-husband Charlie (Hawkes), who blames Mildred for their daughter’s death. A somewhat rebellious teenager, Angela and her mother fought so frequently that the girl asked to live with her father. The dad told her to stay with her mom. Although there was a great deal of tension between mother and daughter, Charlie convinced Angela that her mom really did love her. A week later, Angela was dead.

The person who most resents Mildred and her signs is Officer Dixon (Rockwell). He is a complex person. Tough, with a bullying demeanor and a smart mouth, inwardly he doubts his abilities and feels unable to become the man he really wants to be. He lives with his controlling mother (Martin), looks to Chief Willoughby as a father figure, and has a very difficult time controlling his temper, which makes him a less than ideal police officer.

The whole town gets riled up by Mildred’s billboards, and her oft times unreasonable expectations. Underneath all her gruffness and sharp words though is a woman living in excruciating pain and guilt. Deep down, she blames herself also for Angela’s death. Rage is so much easier to keep honed and focused than grief and sorrow. But will anger fuel her determination long enough to find the person responsible and bring him to justice? And who decides what justice to mete out?

Pain is the word I would use to describe this movie. Everyone is in so much pain. For Mildred, the lack of closure creates a pain of loss that is unending and time is moving too slowly. For Chief Willoughby, the pain of cancer is literally eating him away and destroying the life he loves, and time is moving too quickly. The son hurts every minute of every day, because of his sister’s brutal death. And Dixon covers the pain he feels over his inadequacies and thwarted ambitions by hurting others.

There is humor sprinkled throughout the film, primarily through Dixon’s childish outbursts or his mother’s crude remarks, but this is a dark story. James (Dinklage) lightens the tone of the film in the scenes he appears in, until he feels rebuffed by Mildred on their one and only date. And then his pain rises to the surface as well.

I have to say that I was relieved to learn that this is not a true story, but loosely inspired by an event that happened twenty years ago in Texas. Ebbing, Missouri is a fictional town.

The acting is incredible in this film and all three actors deserve the nominations they have received. For me, however, this was a depressing story with no redemption or transformation for anyone. The characters are in pain, and they stay there. Chief Willoughby is the most likable of the major characters, a good hearted man with a wife and two young daughters, but his impending death drives him to choose the time of his demise.

Dixon has an opportunity to shift and grow and for a moment, it appears that he will become the man he really wants to be. But disappointing results from his attempt to do a heroic deed dump him back into reactionary mode. And Mildred…heartbroken, guilt ridden, furious with life and the world Mildred…well, she at last decides to take the law into her own hands and act. Or will she? As the movie screen fades to black, I saw just a hint of softening, and the tiniest release of long held tension.

Nine amazing films, and a host of incredible performances. It must have been difficult to choose which movie wins the Oscar. I’m still considering in what order I would rank the movies. How grateful I am for the privilege of watching so many fine films this week. And I am grateful to Regal for presenting the opportunity through their Best Picture Film Festival, and I am thankful I have a Movie Pass card.

I’ll be watching the winners Sunday night, at the 90th Academy Awards. Watch for my review of the evening!

Movie Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Movie Review: Get Out

Down to the last two movies as I watch all of the Best Picture nominated films this week, today I saw Get Out. I purposefully avoid reading about the movies before I see them, so that I can watch without others’ opinions clouding my perspectives. I therefore knew nothing about Get Out. And now…I can’t stop thinking about it.

Movie Review Get Out

Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root and LilRey Howery. This psychological thriller, written and directed by Jordan Peele, is rated R for language and violence, and has a run time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Get Out is nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Kaluuya) and Best Original Screenplay.

Chris (Kaluuya) is headed out for the weekend with his girlfriend of five months, Rose (Williams), to meet her parents. It’s often a nerve wracking experience, to meet the parents for the first time. Chris feels even more apprehensive when he realizes Rose has not told her mom and dad that he is black. She assures him that her parents are not racist and they will welcome him with open arms.

Rose appears to be correct. Dean (Whitford) and Missy (Keener) Armitage embrace Chris, figuratively and literally, claiming to be huggers, and also make it known that they admire and respect former President Obama. “I would have voted for him a third term!” Dean says with a laugh. Missy is a psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis and Dean is a neurosurgeon. They live on a beautiful estate in a remote location.

However, as Dean shows Chris around the property, he begins to wonder if all is as it seems. A black couple, Walter (Henderson) and Georgina (Gabriel), works for the Armitages, as a grounds keeper and cook, respectively. Although they seem friendly enough, always smiling, Chris notices there is something “off” about the pair. His attempts to have conversations with them are unsettling.

And Rose’s younger brother Jeremy (Jones) walks a fine line between being welcoming and making disparaging remarks, couched in obnoxious humor. Worst of all, there is a huge party scheduled for the next day, and friends of the family will show up. Chris, who is an excellent photographer, had hoped to spend a quiet day capturing nature photos.

Later that night, after a strange encounter outside with Walter, Chris feels forced into a hypnotic session with Missy, who wants to help him quit smoking. He finds the experience disturbing, and although he now dislikes cigarettes, he has strange dreams about being in a sunken place, paralyzed by fear.

The next day, the Armitages’ wealthy friends arrive. They fawn over Chris, trying to relate with comments about Tiger Woods, or by saying that black is in, but they also make inappropriate remarks as well. Chris grows increasingly uncomfortable, although he remains polite and somewhat detached. He meets a blind art gallery owner (Root) who envies Chris’ photographic eye, and another black man, who is about his age. This man, Logan (Stanfield), looks vaguely familiar, but he is awkward in his conversation and manner, just like Walter and Georgina. When Chris takes his picture, the flash causes Logan to snap. He screams at Chris, “Get out! Get out!”

Chris’ best friend Rob (Howery) becomes extremely concerned when he hears about the weekend over the phone. He begs his friend to leave. Chris sends him the photo he snapped of Logan, and Rob, who works as a TSA at the airport, uses his detection skills to uncover that Logan is really a jazz musician named André, and he was reported missing six months ago.

Convinced he needs to leave, Chris finds it may be impossible, after all, to get out. And, he at last discovers the horrifying truth behind all the odd behavior at the Armitage Estate.

As thrillers go, this one is well done, reminiscent of the 1975 film, Stepford Wives. I jumped more than once, and some of the scenes, coupled with the music and the timing, were genuinely creepy. Humor is interspersed throughout the movie, provided primarily by Chris’ friend Rob, breaking the tension when it needs to be broken. And Chris is a genuinely nice guy, devoted to his lady, so much so that he strives to rise above the remarks that get tossed his way.

The actors portraying the Armitages and their hired help do an excellent job of playing people who are more than they appear to be. There are frightening moments captured perfectly through their odd behavior or dead pan expressions.

I enjoyed the film. And yet, I confess that at first, I couldn’t understand why it was nominated for Best Picture. This genre normally isn’t. As I thought about the film, and discussed it with Greg, I realized its proper category is social satire. Satire is defined as “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose stupidity or vices, especially in the context of contemporary politics or other topical issues.”

As a satire, the perspective on this movie shifts dramatically. Get Out brilliantly exposes our current social situations in regards to race, by examining the wealthy liberal white and how some put out an appearance of not being racist, while yet attempting to exert control over minorities. This is a deep, and complex subject, that needs to be discussed more openly. Without revealing the ending of this shocking film, I can attest to the fact that it certainly caused me to think and feel and question.

It could be agued that racism goes in multiple directions, and that is true. However, Jordan Peele makes a heartfelt statement that needs to be heard, and in doing so creates in me a desire to listen…really listen. That’s the mark of a great movie, and an invitation for social change.

Satire comes from the Latin word satura, literally meaning poetic medley. Get Out is that, indeed…a poetic story that brings a variety of elements together to offer truth, if we will have the ears to hear.

Movie Review Get Out

Movie Review: Darkest Hour

Another Best Picture nominated film and a Netflix TV series prepared me for this movie about British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Season One of The Crown, a series about England’s royal family, gives a glimpse into Churchill’s final years as prime minister. And the film Dunkirk dovetails perfectly with Darkest Hour. Together those two movies cover a historical event from two perspectives, creating a bigger picture.

Movie Review Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldham, Lily James, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Samuel West, Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane. This historical drama, directed by Joe Wright, carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Darkest Hour is nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Oldham), Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Cinematography.

In the early months of WWII, Hiltler’s armies are advancing across Europe. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced to step down. He appoints Winston Churchill (Oldham) as his replacement. This story gives an account of Churchill’s first 30 days in office.

And what a dark time indeed to become prime minister. England faces the prospect of invasion as countries fall to Germany. As Churchill gets his feet under him and formulates a plan of action, he encounters resistance and opposition, from King George VI (Mendelsohn) and Chamberlain and his own newly appointed war council.

Supporting him are his loving wife, Clemmie (Thomas), Sir Anthony Eden (West), whom Churchill grooms as a future prime minister, and Miss Elizabeth Layton (James), Winston’s new personal secretary.

As battles rage in nearby France, Lord Halifax (Dillane) pressures Churchill to seek peace. He makes arrangements for Italy to host negotiations between England and Germany, as the British and French troops are forced onto Dunkirk Beach, with little hope of rescue. Although Churchill feels strongly that they should fight to the end and defend themselves against “that man”, as he called Hitler, he begins to doubt himself.

King George comes to Churchill privately, after much reflection, and offers his support. The turning points, for Churchill, come after he launches a campaign that sends 860 private boats across the channel to rescue trapped troops, and when he loses himself among the British citizens and asks for their honest feelings and opinions.

In one accord, England’s people declare their desire to fight against invasion and protect their homeland and their families. They would rather die, they vow, than surrender to a mad man. With renewed strength and confidence, buoyed by the fierce courage of Londoners and the looming successes at Dunkirk, Churchill addresses Parliament, giving a hastily prepared speech that secures his place as Prime Minister, and in history.

I sincerely enjoyed this film. I love historical dramas, and this one was incredibly well done. Gary Oldham was convincing as Churchill. I appreciated the humor and complexities he imbued this towering figure of a man with. I’ve seen many portrayals of Winston Churchill, and this one is my favorite. Gary became Churchill.

I learned new things from this movie as well. I had no idea Churchill had such opposition as he assumed the role of prime minister. It makes what happened in his first thirty days all the more extraordinary. And, I didn’t know how close we came to seeing a different outcome early in WWII, that could have changed the world as we know it. So much hung in the balance. What a tremendous weight on this man’s shoulders and heart.

Most of the time, I propose peace, and I endeavor to live at peace with myself and my fellow humans. But sometimes, we must fight for what we believe in and fight for what we hold dear. By the end of this story, I felt deep gratitude for the man who fought, who stood against opposition and against Hitler, and ultimately ensured freedom and peace, not only for England, but for the rest of the world.

Movie Review Darkest Hour

Movie Review: The Post

Today the movie adventure shifted into “based on a true story” genre as I experienced The Post. In fact, the next couple of movies fall into this category. In creating a schedule, I inadvertently grouped most of the historical dramas together.

Movie Review The Post

The Post stars Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood and Matthew Rhys. This historical drama, directed by Steven Spielberg, carries a PG-13 rating, for language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

The Post is nominated for two Oscars, Best Picture and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Streep).

Set in Washington DC in 1971, this story follows the Vietnam War cover up that involved four presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. War analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Rhys) hands over copies of top secret documents, detailing the depth of involvement and deception, to the New York Times.

Scooped by the Times, the Washington Post’s editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) sends his reporters out to find Ellsberg and any other info they can, to get a major headline out as well. Meanwhile, the Times receives a federal restraining order, preventing them from posting further.

This presents a window of opportunity for the Post to get a story out. Journalist Ben Bagdikian (Odenkirk) meets with Ellsberg himself, securing 4000 pages of the security documents, known as the Pentagon Papers. The Post now has a decision to make.

Movie Review The Post

Kay Graham (Streep) is the owner of the newspaper. Her father created the company and passed it on to Kay’s husband. Upon his death, Kay became the sole owner. She has a board, all men, who advise her and oversee decisions, such as taking the company public. In particular, board member Arthur Parsons (Whitford) has a difficult time working with a female owner. Kay seeks support from her friend and ally, Fritz Beebe (Letts).

As the journalists sort through the papers at Bradlee’s house, and begin crafting a breaking story for tomorrow’s newspaper, Kay is faced with the huge task of deciding whether to actually print it or not. She is friends with Bob McNamara (Greenwood), former Secretary of State. He urges her to hold on to the story, as do her legal counsel and the board.

Under threats from President Nixon, Kay and Ben face imprisonment if they publish. More than that, Kay could lose the newspaper company her family has built. Should she back down, to protect her company and her family? Or publish and fight for the freedom of the press?

I calculated that I was 13 years old when this historical event was taking place. Which means I was oblivious to it and the significance it held. When I became more aware of the war in Vietnam, it was winding down. I was fascinated by this movie and the story as I watched it unfold.

The 70s don’t seem so remote to me. I was therefore surprised by the notion held then that a woman couldn’t competently run a company. I enjoyed watching Kay gain confidence in her decision making abilities and her surety that she was doing the right thing. One of my favorite scenes occurred when Kay turned to her doubting board member and declared, “This isn’t my father’s company. This isn’t my husband’s company. This is MY company.” She had to believe that first, before anyone else could.

The real Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee.

I enjoyed The Post. It was well acted and moved at a fast pace, so much so that it was strangely tense as the story unfolded. And at the satisfying conclusion, my fellow movie attendees and I clapped and cheered. I loved that shared moment between us.

I realized that I recognized several in the theater audience. They appear to be doing what I am doing…watching all of the Best Picture nominated films…and they happen to be tracking with me, appearing at the same movies at the same times. I so appreciate that Regal Theaters opted to create the Best Picture Film Festival this year. They had a poster up today. There was even a special price for the series, although I used my Movie Pass card. What a great idea, though, and no wonder others are taking advantage of this fun opportunity.

As I shared previously, I had no prior knowledge that this festival was coming. I just expressed a desire to see all of the best picture nominated movies before the Oscars aired…and voila!

I sincerely hope this is a yearly event!

Movie Review The Post

Movie Review: Call Me By Your Name

Who would guess that at 4:00 on a Monday afternoon, I would have the privilege of watching one of the most moving films I have ever seen. With a small group of 20 or so people, I sat quietly watching a love story unfold, while a host of emotions swirled around my heart. Today was Best Picture nominated film number five, Call Me By Your Name.

Movie Review Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name stars Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar and Esther Garrel. This romantic drama, directed by Luca Guadagnino, is rated R for adult themes and sexuality, and has a run time of 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Call Me By Your Name is nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song “Mystery of Love” and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Chalamet).

In 1980s Italy, seventeen year old Elio Perlman (Chalamet) is spending the summer with his parents (Stuhlbarg and Casar) in their gorgeous 17th century villa in the northern part of the country. Elio is a gifted musician, an avid book reader and well versed in a variety of subjects. Elio has been raised in a culturally rich home, well loved by his father, who is a professor specializing in Greco-Roman art, and his mother, a learned woman who is a translator. Their idyllic estate is surrounded by fruit orchards.

Twenty four year old Oliver (Hammer) arrives from the US to work with Mr. Perlman over the summer as an intern. Handsome, charismatic and good hearted, Oliver attracts a great deal of attention from the local community. Elio finds him arrogant, and turns his attention toward the young woman he has been flirting with all summer, Marzia (Garrel).

However, as they get to know each other better, feelings shift, and a romance begins between Oliver and Elio. Over the long months of that beautiful summer Elio learns the joys and heartbreaks of falling in love. In the process, he ultimately discovers who he is.

Movie Review Call Me By Your Name

This was an incredibly well done film. The backdrop of Italy was especially poignant for me, as it is such a stunning country. Timothée Chalamet, whom I just watched in a minor role in Lady Bird, delivers an outstanding performance. If he wins the Oscar he will be the youngest, at age 22, to ever take home the golden statue for Best Actor.

This coming of age story focuses on several relationships…that of Elio and Marzia, Elio and his parents, and Elio and Oliver. And you know what? A love story is a love story. I appreciated that no one in this film was labeled in any specific way. Elio was Elio. He loved. He experienced joy. He experienced pain.

Armie Hammer, who portrayed Oliver wonderfully, said in an interview: “Anybody, regardless of your orientation or identification or age or race or whatever, you can watch this film and you can remember the first time you felt infatuated with somebody. Or the first time you felt comfortable enough to sort of present the open and honest, raw, unguarded version of yourself to somebody else and to have it received and appreciated and then reciprocated.”

How beautiful it is to experience such love. And how much it hurts when the relationship ends, or the love isn’t reciprocated, or the feelings simply fade away. We can all identify with the challenges of intimate relationships.

Which made the speech that comes near the end of the movie all the more powerful. Elio’s father sits with his heartbroken son, and offers these words with a quiet strength and complete compassion. It’s lengthy. But it’s too important, too crucial, to edit it.

Look, you had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their sons land on their feet soon enough. But I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!

I may have come close, but I never had what you two have. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there’s sorrow, pain. Don’t kill it, and with it, the joy you’ve felt.

Movie Review Call Me By Your Name

It has been amazing this week to watch these films on the big screen, as they were meant to be experienced. And to watch with an audience creates an energetic intimacy, as we share in the story. After that speech, the theater erupted with sobs and sniffles. Two older gentlemen sat near me, crying into their hands. Why? Because those are the words we all want to hear. That love can be both beautiful and painful. But it’s real. The pain makes us want to tear away huge chunks of who we are, so we won’t feel any more, so it won’t hurt. But don’t, Elio’s wise father says. Don’t. Stay in it. Feel. Feel the joy and the sorrow.

I choked up during that speech. A single tear coursed down my cheek as my heart thudded in my chest. I want to spend some time thinking and free writing my thoughts around those words. I’ve still got a lump of raw emotion caught in my throat. Writing and reflection will help me to process it.

I am undone by Call Me By Your Name. And that’s a good thing, I believe.

Movie Review Call Me By Your Name

Movie Review: Phantom Thread

Today I viewed movie four of nine, on the Best Picture nominated film list. Up today was the 1950s period piece, Phantom Thread. As is my custom, I don’t look up any info about these films before viewing. I’ve seen a couple of movie trailers, so I knew the fashion industry was central to this story. That’s all the knowledge I had as I took my seat in the darkened theater.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville. The romantic drama, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, carries an R rating, for language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes. Phantom Thread is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Music Score, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Day-Lewis) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Manville).

In 1950s post war London, Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Manville) are at the center of the fashion industry. Reynolds caters to the rich and famous as women order dresses from the gifted and fastidious man. Cyril manages their large London house and oversees the details of her brother’s life, including the team of women who painstakingly sew the garments he sketches.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

A man of many moods and routines, Reynolds nevertheless attracts a steady stream of women as lovers. He quickly becomes bored with each one, or finds them tiresome and a distraction from his creativity. Until he meets the charming Alma at a restaurant near his country home.

Alma is young, soft spoken and yet strong willed. Reynolds is enchanted, and inspired by her natural beauty. He immediately takes her measurements and his creativity ignites. Reynolds finds her body to be perfect for displaying his creations.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

Alma is charmed as well, by the handsome older man who creates such magnificent dresses. She discovers that Reynolds learned to sew from his mother, who died while he was a young man. To honor his mother, Reynolds sews messages or small items into his garments. He carries a lock of her hair within his jacket lining, so that he has his mother near him always. He feels that the dead continue to watch over the living, and he hopes his mother is pleased with him.

Reynolds moves Alma into his house, where she continues to inspire him artistically. The young woman is thrilled to be there, at first, and seeks to fit into Reynolds’ schedule and routines, which she defines as “fussy”. While she finds the man she loves difficult to get close to, Alma and Cyril become good friends.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

As is his pattern, Reynolds soon loses interest in his latest muse. He begins to find her habits annoying and her desire for attention frustrating. When he reaches this stage in a relationship, he typically has his sister remove the woman, gifting her with a Woodcock original dress as a parting “gift”.

However, Alma, while quiet, is much more resourceful than that and will not be cast aside like a worn dress. She loves Reynolds best when, exhausted and vulnerable after spending himself in his latest creation, he must retire for a few days to recover. Alma learns to create that situation at will, moving Reynolds into the space of needing her to care for him until he covers, both physically and artistically. Although totally unconventional, their unique relationship not only works for them, Reynolds, who is aware of her wiles, marries Alma and they look forward to spending the rest of their lives together.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

This was an exquisite film, visually, with all the beauty and grandeur of the British fashion culture mid century. I appreciated Reynolds’ artistic gifts and his love affair with both the female body and the clothing he created to enhance it. He spoke with such eloquence and passion about fashion. It made me want to dress up, and to experience the wonder of having a garment custom made.

Reynolds was not as gracious when it came to relationships. A confirmed bachelor, he claimed he was too set in his ways to change, nor did he want to. When he was in artistic mode, everything else became a distraction, which caused his mood to sour.

He met his match, however, in Alma. While she enjoyed being Reynolds’ muse, she longed for the chance to get to know the brilliant man in her own way. She constantly challenged him, something he came to dislike. I was cheering for Alma, right up until she decided to manipulate him and circumstances, for her own gain. The unexpected twist in the story has a dark undercurrent to it, and while it worked in their relationship, I found it unsettling.

Movie Review Phantom Thread

One of the signs of a good movie, for me, is that it makes me think…not just about what I saw, but about my own life as it connects to the story or characters. I thought about Phantom Thread as I drove home.

What I realized is that in relationships, all types including romantic ones, when we get bored or stuck in a rut or overly challenged by it, we tend to disrupt it somehow. We pick a fight, or withdraw from each other, or try something new. Consciously or unconsciously, we create change by creating disruption, often doing anything that will move us into a different space. Granted, it’s not the ideal way to strengthen a relationship. Such tactics can ultimately create more harm than good. But I understand how it can happen and even why it does.

Peering into my own relationships I can certainly see that while I have never attempted anything as drastic as Alma does, I have disrupted and manipulated in an attempt to dislodge old habits or create a fresh start. I am grateful that I have grown past the need to do such things. It was good today to be reminded of old behaviors and to go inward for a reality check.

Watch Phantom Thread if you enjoy gorgeous dresses, appreciate creativity, or want to witness an outstanding performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, who says he is retiring after this film. Watch this movie as well if you feel a bit stuck in life, and want a different perspective. And be prepared for a surprising…and unsettling…little twist!

Movie Review Phantom Thread