February 24, 2019

2019 Oscar predictions

First things first. Fuck the Academy for shunting cinematography, film editing, live-action shorts, and makeup/hairstyling to the commercials. People in these departments are critical to a movie's success and to deny them the opportunity to share their joy and triumph with the world is a dick move, especially in a year where there's not even a host to deliver an un-funny monologue for 20 minutes at the beginning of the telecast.

So in defiance of what they've determined to be "important" categories, I've decided to do a full roster of predictions, even in categories where I haven't seen any of the nominees. (This is, of course, an especially terrible year for me as I've seen less movies than any of the previous years, due to personal circumstances.) But I forge on anyway.

Reminder: my predictions are what I think will win, not what I want to win.

Update: the Academy wisely reversed their decision (after A LOT of backlash), but I'm keeping my full scorecard anyway. Feel free to post your picks in the comments and see if yours are better than mine!

Best Picture predicted winner: Roma

Look, I know I didn't get to all the Best Picture nominees. It's not my finest year. I battled illness in the weeks up to the Oscars, severely limiting my stamina and ability to sit through movies. So some just fell by the wayside. That doesn't affect my choice not to watch Green Book, or the fact that I'm picking Roma to win. From the ones I watched, The Favourite was by far my ahem, favorite, but I know the Academy likes things with gravitas, and I have a feeling The Favourite is a bit too comedic to pull down the ultimate award.

  • Black Panther: A big barrier was broken when this superhero movie was nominated for Best Picture. I do not think voters are ready to crown a superhero movie Best Picture yet.
  • BlacKkKlansman: This is a good alternative from Green Book for a white Hollywood that wants to pat itself on the back for being "woke," but even while this movie plays it a bit safe, it's still too risky to win
  • Bohemian Rhapsody: With fresh allegations against director Brian Singer for child molestation, there's no way anyone in Hollywood wants to draw any more attention to this movie.
  • The Favourite: This season's underdog, for sure. While pretty universally acclaimed, it's also just really weird. (Though just to note, not weirder than love story with a fish-man, but the Academy has never held consistent standards)
  • Green Book: Nope nope nope-ity nope. I've read the description. I've read the statements from Don Shirley's family. I'm not interested in supporting this movie, even to review it.
  • Roma: This is totally on me, especially considering it's free on Netflix. But sometimes when something is so readily available you put it off in favor of other things, meaning to get around to it, before you finally run out of time. Or maybe it's just me. Either way, I know what the story is about and I think it sounds like a movie voters would see as Best Picture material. It also lacks a lot of the controversy many of the other nominees have.
  • A Star Is Born: I'm not super interested to watch this one either, but I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually.
  • Vice: Just didn't have the opportunity. *shrugs*

Best Director predicted winner: Alfonso Cuaron

I found the inclusion of Pawel Pawlikowski to be sort of shocking, especially considering Cold War wasn't nominated for Best Picture, but it's an exciting twist on a normally straightforward Best Director race. And Spike Lee is loooooong overdue for recognition, but I don't think it's going to happen this year.

Best Actress predicted winner: Glenn Close

I actually think this is a two-person race between Glenn Close and Olivia Coleman and that it could really go either way. But while I'm pulling for Coleman, I have a sinking feeling they're going to give it to Close, which is a shame because The Favourite is a better movie in every which way. And honestly, disability doesn't get nearly the platform it deserves.

  • Yalitza Aparicio, Roma: Hope this is launches her career, despite the thinly veiled racist efforts to derail her happening in Mexico. =(
  • Glenn Close, The Wife: Her performance was good, sure, but not nearly as complex as the movie wanted us to believe. 
  • Olivia Coleman, The Favourite: She was a delight. Absolutely brilliant.
  • Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born: Did you know that in a room of 100 people, you only need one to vote for you? Of course, you won't win an Oscar that way, but I'm sure Gaga is happy just to nominated.
  • Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Her acting made the movie, which is what Best Actress should be about, but this performance isn't going to outshine the frontrunners.

Best Actor predicted winner: Rami Malek

  • Christian Bale, Vice: Did you know Christian Bale even has the same birthday as Dick Cheney? That's commitment to character. ;)
  • Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born: Look, I know I didn't see the movie, but I just want to comment on the fact that all the previews make me want to dump a bucket of soapy water on his head. Like, did he not shower for the entirety of the shoot?
  • Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate: Sorry, Willem. I just didn't make it to your movie. And from the people I've talked to, neither did a large swath of the population. *shrug*
  • Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody: He should win solely for talking with those eff-ing false teeth. And he will.

Best Supporting Actress predicted winner: Regina King

  • Amy Adams, Vice: Amy Adams is always great, but there's been virtually no buzz surrounding her performance.
  • Marina de Tavira, Roma: No comment.
  • Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk: Considering Regina took home the Golden Globe, I'm betting on her to win here. Also, since she was the only nomination for the movie, I think voters are going to want to reward it where they can.
  • Emma Stone, The FavouriteFor the first time ever, I endorse the nomination of more than one actor from the same movie in the same category
  • Rachel Weisz, The Favourite: But...I still think Rachel Weisz was better

Best Supporting Actor predicted winner: Mahershala Ali

  • Mahershala Ali, Green Book: It's unfortunate to earn accolades for a movie that Ali himself seems to be cringing about now (see this face when it won at the Golden Globes), but he seems to be the clear favorite in this category.
  • Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman: This might be the first time I didn't want to punch Adam Drive in the face. So there's that. But like, how is his performance deemed better than John David Washington's, who didn't garner a nomination?
  • Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born: I still think of Tombstone when I see him and I probably always will. Whether that has anything to do with the movie I have no idea. 
  • Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?: He should win just based on his video reaction to finding out he was nominated.
  • Sam Rockwell, Vice: No one wins it two years in a row. They just don't. 

    Best Original Screenplay predicted winner: Green Book

    • The Favourite: Splitting Best Picture from Screenplay, I think this should be the winner. But I also don't think voters are smart enough to pry themselves away from the racist train-wreck that is Green Book
    • First Reformed: Another one I missed.
    • Green Book: If you don't know the story (and controversy) behind this one by now, you're not paying attention.
    • Roma: Since I'm picking this to win Best Picture, I think voters will kick the Screenplay award to someone else.
    • Vice: I find Adam McKay to be a genius in turning otherwise undesirable subjects into engaging movies and I don't doubt this is any different, so this would be my runner-up pick.

    Best Adapted Screenplay predicted winner: A Star Is Born

    This might be the closest we have to an honest-to-God toss up. Each of these scripts is unique and though some were more commercially popular than others, the only one I can safely eliminate with confidence is the Coen brothers one, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Not because the Academy doesn't love the Coen brothers (they do), but because it has the lowest profile of the nominated movies and therefore is the least likely to have been watched by voters. Maybe that's unfair, but there's a reason more nominations usually equals more wins. I don't make the rules, I just play the odds.

    That being said, I think Can You Ever Forgive Me? was the most interesting in that it took what is otherwise not a super interesting story and stretched it into a full length feature worth watching. But BlacKkKlansman stayed very true to its source material (which I think should be rewarded). Ultimately, I'm cynical and think the Academy voters can't wait to give A Star Is Born an Oscar for something while simultaneously depriving Spike Lee of ever winning anything, so I'm not willing to bet that the best screenplay will actually win here.

      Best Makeup & Hairstyling predicted winner: Mary Queen of Scots

      Best Costume Design predicted winner: Black Panther

      I'm still a little miffed that Colette didn't get a nomination for this.

      Best Cinematography predicted winner: Roma

      Best Original Song predicted winner: "Shallow," A Star Is Born

      • "All the Stars," Black Panther: I expect Black Panther to clean up on all the "minor" categories, but not this one.
      • "I'll Fight," RBG: Uh, I watched this movie and I could not for the life of me tell you when this song occurred. 
      • "The Place Where Lost Things Go," Mary Poppins Returns: TBH this wasn't even my favorite song of the movie
      • "Shallow," A Star Is Born: Honestly, I'm not a fan of a song that draws out a 2-syllable word into 4 when it could have just inserted another word to compensate, but I dunno, people are crazy over this so I assume it'll win
      • "When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: This movie doesn't appeal to me, on any level. I assume it really only got watched by voters because of the Coen brothers name.

      Best Original Score predicted winner: Mary Poppins Returns

      I mean, it's a musical. It feels like it would be hard to top a musical for this category.

      Best Documentary Feature predicted winner: Minding the Gap

      • Free Solo
      • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
      • Minding the Gap
      • Of Fathers and Sons
      • RGB

      Best Animated Feature predicted winner: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

      I did watch Incredibles 2. I swear I did. I just didn't feel motivated enough to write about it after watching it, which I think says something. I think it says this is the year Disney gets de-throned, even with 2 offerings in the mix. I don't know a single person who watched Spiderman and didn't love it. Not one. And damn it, that means I'm going to have to reverse me strict NO MORE SPIDERMAN MOVIES rule.
      • Incredibles 2
      • Isle of Dogs
      • Mirai
      • Ralph Breaks the Internet
      • Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

      Best Foreign-Language Film predicted winner: Cold War

      • Capernaum (Lebanon)
      • Cold War (Poland)
      • Never Look Away (Germany)
      • Roma (Mexico)
      • Shoplifters (Japan)

      Best Sound Mixing predicted winner: Bohemian Rhapsody

      Best Sound Editing predicted winner: Bohemian Rhapsody

      Ok, to be honest, I just assume the same movie wins for both of these categories. I know it's lazy, but c'est la vie.

      Best Production Design predicted winner: Black Panther

      Best Visual Effects predicted winner: Avengers: Infinity War

      • Avengers: Infinity War: Yes, yes, I realize I'm probably the only person in the world who hasn't seen this movie, but I've read all the spoilers on the Internet (unavoidable), so I feel informed anyway?
      • Christopher Robin: I was more impressed by Ewan McGregor's acting, knowing the visual effects were added later, but the animals themselves didn't blow me away. Pooh definitely could have been cuter.
      • First Man: Too realistic and it'll feed the rumors that the moon landing was faked! LOL
      • Ready Player One: It certainly looked like the inside of a video game, which I suppose is a triumph, but nothing about the movie felt special.
      • Solo: A Star Wars Story: From what I heard, literally no one liked this movie, so...

      Best Film Editing predicted winner: BlacKkKlansman

      This isn't normally the category I pay the most attention to (because frankly, you really only notice it when it's really bad), but considering it was one of the categories the Academy tried to boot into the commercials, I especially wanted to take the time to highlight it. Also because of all the tings Bohemian Rhapsody did right, film editing was NOT one of them. So I'm optimistically going with what I thought was the best that I saw, which was BlacKkKlansman. But the Academy has a way of always letting me down, so I'm sure I'll be wrong.

      Best Animated Short predicted winner: Bao

      • Animal Behaviour: Ah. Where to start. I could probably write an entire entry on this one there was so much going on, but I will just say that while it was clever, I was so turned off by the animation style I could barely watch it. I really hate ugly animation and this is very crude drawing.
      • Bao: Oh man, I cried so much watching this. This was far and away my favorite. I liked it better than the movie it preceded in the theaters, even. (Incredibles 2)
      • Late Afternoon: Annoyingly, the "Oscar shorts" package I rented on Comcast didn't include this one, so I didn't manage to see it.
      • One Small Step: This had the most straightforward plot of all the entries (without speaking to the one I didn't see, I suppose), but it was still enjoyable. Clean animation, easy story that yes, maybe manipulated the heartstrings a little too easily, but I still enjoyed it.
      • Weekends: This one was odd. The animation was very pretty and the story invoked a lot of visceral reactions, but was a bit scary and I found the ending a bit unsatisfying.

      Best Live-Action Short predicted winner: Marguerite

      I'm guessing completely blind on a few of these categories, not having seen any of the entries. It's like March Madness, but in February!
      • Detainment
      • Fauve
      • Marguerite
      • Mother
      • Skin

      Best Documentary Short predicted winner: End Game

      • Black Sheep
      • End Game
      • Lifeboat
      • A Night at the Garden
      • Period. End of Sentence.

      Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

      Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant

      First, a petition to stop making Melissa McCarthy utterly hideous in every role she plays. She is a lovely actress and it's patently unfair that she always has to play these gross, schlubby characters. I want to see a glammed up McCarthy in a romantic comedy with the hot guy she deserves.

      Okay, now that that's out of the way, I can agree the reason she probably keeps getting cast in these roles is because she's so damn good at playing them. She's so skilled at injecting just the right amount of humor you sometimes forget you're watching a drama at all.

      This movie could have been bad. It could have been really bad. After all, who really cares about memorabilia collecting? And sure, people love a good story about a con artist, but without McCarthy's expert performance, we could just as easily have been left wondering why this story was made into a movie at all. Instead, she reels us in with juuuuuuuuust enough sympathy to ride along as she counterfeits her way through the art (letter?) world, while reminding us that this is not a hero's story. McCarthy is the reason we stay conflicted, stuck in the tension of wanting her to pull it off while simultaneously hoping she gets what she deserves. 

      But ultimately it's the scenes with Richard E. Grant (who, btw, filmed an utterly delightful reaction video to his first ever Oscar nomination for the role) that bring this movie to life. Their interactions-the comedy between them--stand in stark contrast to the seriousness of the crimes they are committing. And that is really what this movie is: ridiculous comedy in the heart of something that takes itself very seriously.

      Final word: Underestimate Melissa McCarthy at your own risk

      The Wife (2018)

      Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce

      I love a good story about long suffering, resentful people. Especially when said people are women. But there needs to be more. I need more than a simple narrative about a woman who never got credit for her work. (It's not really a spoiler, they basically tell you in the trailer.) 

      What the movie does well is its nuance. Glenn Close manages to straddle the line between righteously angry and placatingly stoic and delivers an entire performance while uttering a bare minimum of words. But besides her performance, what does this movie give us that's new? The story lacks originality. It lacks sizzle. It even lacks compelling characters, outside of Close. Jonathan Pryce is easily pegged as an insecure narcissist. Their son is a petulant, needy, overgrown man-child. And Christian Slater, who pops up almost unexpectedly in this movie, is a journalist who makes your skin crawl every time he talks. The end result is a cast no one cares much about, telling a story you can already figure out.

      I don't know, maybe I'm too optimistic, but I want to see stories about women burning it all to the fucking ground. I want to see them rise, a la Colette, and claim what's rightfully theirs. And if they are going to stand by their man, so to speak, then they'd better have a damn good reason. And Jonathan Pryce's character does not seem like a good reason. But like I said, maybe I'm too optimistic.

      Final word: Meh.

      February 21, 2019

      RBG (2018)

      Biographies are tricky. Biographies about people who are still alive are always, always trickier. Sure, you get the chance to interview them, but is it worth the trade-off of being under scrutiny. In this case, I have no doubt the creators of the documentary meant this to be a shining portrait of the iconic Supreme Court Justice. But I think that in and of itself is problematic. 

      When I watch a documentary, especially of a person, I want fresh insights into that person. I want facts I've never before heard, interviews from people I didn't know about, pictures from their past, etc. This movie only sort of partially delivers on that. While yes, it gives pictures of a young RBG and interviews a couple of her childhood friends (adorable, btw), it mostly rehashes much of what anyone who knows about her already knows. It's a very basic documentary.

      Don't get me wrong. I don't want to hear about RBG's scandals (if any exist) right now. So I understand the desire to make what it hyped as a "love letter" to the justice, but it was BORING. I didn't fall asleep or anything, but it didn't wow me or hold my interest the way I expected. I mean, I was watching a documentary about the life of a woman I deeply admire and respect and I was BORED. 

      It shouldn't have been boring. This women has done incredible, nation-changing things. So hopefully someone will make a more comprehensive biography in the future that can perhaps be a bit more candid, and one that doesn't include interviewing Orrin fucking Hatch. 

      Final word: I'm hoping the feature film about her is better than this.

      Won't You Be My Neighbor (2018)

      I think there are certain images we hold in our heads about what documentaries look like and what they are like to watch. This movie, to me, fits that classic description--it's quiet, it pulls heavily from original footage, there's a lovely voiceover narration, and it's chock full of interesting behind-the-scenes looks.

      Of course, not all documentary subjects are created equal. For this one, the connection comes from a deeply ingrained nostalgia for the show so many of us grew up on. The sight of Mr. Rogers in his red sweater, tying his shoes, and grabbing the trolley stirs instant, albeit fuzzy, memories of childhood and a vague sense of comfort. I may not remember specific episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but I distinctly remember watching, and loving, it.

      So the way this movie is successful is by focusing on the show and nothing else. The entire documentary is about the show. Not Fred Roger's personal life, not lives of his family members or crew, or anything not directly affiliated with the show. Everything in the documentary relates only to the show. Its genesis. Its episodes. Its longevity and reach. Everything you've ever wanted (or in most people's cases, didn't know you wanted) to know about Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

      But even if you didn't grow up with Mr. Rogers telling you you're special and loved, this documentary is so well plotted and focused that it's interesting even to those who may not have been aware of the show previously. In fact, by the end, if you're not bemoaning the current state of children's television and calling your elected representatives to ensure continued funding for public broadcast stations, I'll wonder if you were even paying attention to the damn movie.

      Final word: It was so good it even made me like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood more.

      February 19, 2019

      Christopher Robin (2018)

      Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael

      How do I adore this movie? Let me count the ways.

      No seriously. I rented this movie, watched it, then watched it again before the rental expired. I loved it that much.

      How much of that is due to cheerful memories of Winnie the Pooh is hard to say. Where Mary Poppins Returns fell flat for me due to a lack of connection to the original material, this movie hit all my favorite nostalgia points. And the movie is oh-so-clever about it. The entire film is littered with references to past Winnie the Pooh moments, which I love because it's enjoyable even if this is your first film with the characters, but adds a layer of depth if it's not.

      And of course, Ewan McGregor. I LOVE Ewan McGregor. I'm not sure how it's possible not to. But even if I didn't, I'm convinced there needs to be a separate category of awards for people who act with imaginary objects that are CGI-ed in later. He does such a good job. To make us feel a real connection with these stuffed animals, and care about them the way we do, is a triumph. 

      But even beyond all that, nearly everything in this movie is flawless. The acting, especially from Bronte Carmichael, is wonderful. (And you know how I feel about child actors.) The animation of the animals, which I was definitely skeptical of going in, was also wonderful. (Though I have some lingering questions about why all of them were stuffed animals but Rabbit was an actual bunny.) Even the production design, set in what looks to be the 1920's, is well executed. 

      Overall, this movie mixes just the right amount of nostalgia with sweet charm and comedy at exactly the right moments. And as much as the industry overuses this word, there's not better way to describe the movie than heartwarming.

      Now excuse me while I go watch it a third time.

      Final word: I'm shocked this movie didn't receive more buzz.

      Mary Poppins Returns

      Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda

      Emily Blunt is a treasure. Let's start there. Comedy genius, action star, singing nanny--is there anything this woman can't do? No one can feel confident remaking Julie frickin Andrews, but Emily Blunt is flawless. Her voice even manages to take on a little extra British nanny-ness if you know what I mean. (If you don't, go watch a few scolding episodes of Super Nanny and you will.)

      Lin Manuel, on the other hand, is fine. He is also a treasure in his own right, but he doesn't seem to bring the same charm here that Dick Van Dyke did in the original (though his accent is markedly better). Everyone else, from the kids to Ben Whishaw to Emily Mortimer, does a perfectly good job. Everything in this movie is good. Even the songs are good! And yet...

      I don't know, maybe I just don't love Mary Poppins. I never did much as a kid, I suppose I shouldn't be shocked this version of it didn't connect to me either. The movie is good, undeniably so. It doesn't have any major flaws or even points of weakness. I just...don't care.

      This feel like kind of a bummer of a review, but for once, I'm giving this disclaimer that my indifference shouldn't deter people from watching it. I know that my opinion is probably a bit of an outlier on this one. Who knows, maybe it just caught me on an off day.

      Final word: I'm sure other people will like it.

      February 13, 2019

      Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

      Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie


      I want a do-over. I want a do-over of every history class I've ever taken, where the narrative is centered around the woman. Around the minority. Around the person whose story was never told to me before because "history is written by the victors." But most of all, I want those stories to have their day in the sun because they deserve to be told to everyone--not just people like me, who seek them out.

      But for that to happen, these stories need to be told well. This one is not.

      It has flashes of brilliance. Saoirse Ronan, for one, is absolutely captivating as Mary Stuart. She plays a multi-faceted character that is both strong and stubborn while simultaneously humanizing her and showing vulnerability, all while keeping the poise of a queen. The interactions between Ronan and Robbie, who plays Elizabeth I, are equally riveting, with the two women showcasing an unspoken bond of comraderie atop a layer of distrust and tension because the bullshit patriarchal society has set them up to be rivals. Oh wait, did I add that last part in myself?

      Seriously though, this story is interesting if no other reason than because it's not the dominant narrative. But that also leads to the precise problem with this movie, which is that it expects the viewers to already be familiar with this history. The story dives in with little more than a few lines explaining the preceding 18 years of Mary's life, while dumping her onto beach with a bunch of French-speaking handmaids and no clue as to what the hell is going on. It's sort of explained as the movie goes along, but the crumbs of knowledge come so slowly you'd be better off Googling it so as  follow along properly. Because honestly, the movie does follow history for the most part. There seems to be far less fiction in it than most historical movies. But what good is that if the viewer has no idea what's happening?

      Part of the issue is that the Mary/Elizabeth rivalry spans a number of years. So to maximize the drama and truncate the plot to fit into a reasonable-length movie, a number of things are cut. Namely, transitions. Scenes jump from one to another with little indication of how much time has passed or events in the meanwhile in an attempt to keep focused on the main conflict. It gives the illusion of a dual POV with both Elizabeth and Mary showing their struggles, but it is really only Mary's story with the occasional glimpse into Elizabeth to show what Mary could not know. It's an unbalanced view that adds little, other than to enrage the viewer with repeated examples of misogyny toward women in power and their attempts to minimize it or strip it away entirely.

      Ultimately, what has stayed with me from this movie is the gentleness that was shown to the female characters. For all of Elizabeth's talk of "becoming a man" to survive in a man's world, it showcased both hers and Mary's love of their respective countries in a completely different way than the men around them. It showed women leaders and the environments they navigate, and how that couples with what society expects of them. But more importantly, it centered their stories (though really, much more Mary's than Elizabeth's) in a historical setting that is often told with them as a plot point in someone else's progress instead as the hero to their own story. So yes, I want more of these. I want to see the nuance in every goddamn woman in history, from the Queens of England to the women who were never allowed to rise up the ranks in the first place. I want their stories, and I want them told with this kind of care. Just, you know, with better editing and plotting.

      Final word: It feels sort of wrong to bag on a historical movie about women when Hollywood has put out about 1,000 terrible war movies starring only men, but this could have been better. Especially considering women only "get" so many movies made about them.

      February 4, 2019

      The Favourite (2018)

      Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone

      This movie is bananas. I honestly don't know how to better summarize it.

      First of all, it's historical fiction. But somehow the only fictional parts are the rabbits (which actually serve as a shortcut for key plot points, so still necessary), and an unconfirmed romance. So while making a movie about a bisexual love triangle about people who may not have actually been bisexual might seem like a completely fictitious movie, somehow it's not? It's hard to even explain.

      What's completely bonkers about this movie is that where in my last review I complimented BlacKkKlansman for following the exact rules of tight storytelling, this movie works for the exact opposite reason. This movie follows almost no normal conventions, with tiny, choppy scenes, weird section breaks, humor in completely odd places, and you know, all-female sex scenes. And yet...

      The reason this movie works is the acting. Generally, I roll my eyes when all the major characters from a movie are nominated for Oscars because come on, they can't all be that good. (cough, cough, American Hustle, Three Billboards, The Master, Doubt) But here? I honestly had to give it some real thought as to who did the best job. (I did eventually decide on Olivia Coleman.) Even Emma Stone, who I loathe for vague and impossible-to-pinpoint reasons, was excellent. And her accent was on point, which is always always always a problem for me when Americans play British. (See: Jena Malone as Lydia Bennett in Pride & Prejudice.) The three women in this movie each play such complex characters, shifting between good and evil, kind and cruel, even sane and crazy--completely seamlessly. You can't decide who you like and who you hate from scene to scene. And the more you think about it, the more complex it becomes. The relationship dynamics, politics, power structure--they're all intertwined, but laced with incredible wit and a constant reminder that women run the fucking show.

      I don't know, man. I really don't know. I feel like I'm sitting here, trying to write this review, but all I can do is shake my head and how strange the whole thing was and wonder how on Earth I can write a coherent review of it without spoiling the plot. And maybe all I can say is that I can't. That's it's one of the rare movies you really have to be there to get. So be there. Watch it. And come back and tell me what the hell to think about it.

      Final word: 48 hours later I'm still thinking about it.

      February 2, 2019

      BlacKkKlansman (2018)

      John David Washington, Adam Driver

      If you go to Spike Lee's IMDB page, it lists 82 directing credits to his name. EIGHTY-TWO. He's literally been directing things for the last 50 years and this is the movie he finally gets recognized by the Academy for. Huh.

      Here's the thing: there's nothing really wrong with this movie. It's a fabulous premise, well acted, and very powerful at times. It was obviously written with a lot of thought and intention, and not a single scene is wasted or fluff. In that regard, it's a Masterclass in storytelling.

      It's also 100% for white people. Let me explain:

      This movie, while entertaining, was basically a PowerPoint presentation where every slide reads "racism is bad." There was an attempt to add nuance in the police's role in upholding and perpetuating white supremacy, but wasn't dug into nearly as much as drawing parallels between the behavior of the KKK and current crops of MAGA-hats, with little winks to the language used by Donald Trump and even a whole reel of footage from the racist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. Make no mistake--this movie has a message to deliver.

      To be clear, I am in favor of messages in movies. I don't mind a little leading toward a drawn conclusion, nor do I like a "both sides"-ing of issues like racism or the KKK. I do, however, want to think at least a little bit during a movie. Watching this was like being on autopilot, the only drama coming from not knowing the exact outcome of this particular situation. So while this movie should have drawn me in by this exact, particular situation, the continued references to our current day pulled me out into the broader, political crisis of today. So while that was definitely the point, and a helpful lesson, it felt a little like a color-by-numbers picture. Like, the final result is obvious before even starting to color so there's no surprise.

      What I will comment on, positively, is the way this movie handled the blurring between fiction and non-fiction--a common complaint I have with biopics (see: Bohemian Rhapsody). They stayed as true as possible to the story, and the additions (like Stallworth's girlfriend, who was likely fictitious) only enhanced the story without forcing major changes in the overall plot.

      Overall, it feels like the reason this movie, more than any previous film directed by Spike Lee, is garnering attention because it was made to help white people feel triumphant that they are siding with the correct side of this story. They can point to this clear-cut portrayal of racism and say "that there is bad and I condemn it" while also feeling like they've learned about black history through a monologue from one of the founding members of the Black Panther party. It's coddling. It's telling audiences, "here are the bad guys and they can be defeated." But even with the little nods to systemic oppression, with police brutality against blacks or microaggressions at work, this movie does a disservice to white audiences by letting them believe that ultimately, people will do the right thing. History has shown us that the people in power in this country will not cede their power or adapt to change willingly. Hell, there are elected representatives right now (like the infamous Steve King of Iowa) who talk openly of white supremacy and white nationalism without consequence. So while this movie might make you feel good to watch, it's a hell of a letdown when you realize it's lulled you into a much rosier picture of what racism looks like and how it manifests. The KKK is the easiest, most obvious target to decry when thinking about racism against black people. But compared to the police, the judicial system, and even academia?

      It might seem unfair to judge this movie on what it could have been or what I think it should have been. I don't mean to. The movie, as it is, is a good movie. Is it Spike Lee's best movie? Hell no. Is it even one of the best movies of the year? I don't know, that remains to be seen. All I'm saying is that for a movie that takes itself so seriously, it could have been more, well, serious. It's entertaining, but let's not hold it up as anything more than a hell of a story and a light introduction (pun intended) for white people into racial oppression in America.

      Final word: Good, but simple. Like a baby step into fighting racism.

      January 24, 2019

      Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

      Rami Malek

      Biopics. They can never quite seem to satisfy everyone.

      Too accurate and the surviving people contest their portrayal. Too much artistic license and the purists contest the facts. A truly good biopic is hard to find. (Cue a hundred responses to this pointing out all the good biopics I'm overlooking.)

      So here's the thing. Bohemian Rhapsody is a mostly enjoyable movie. It is not a good biopic.

      First of all, the inaccuracies. There's just so many of them, some created for no reason. For example, the formation of the band. Why would it be necessary to lie about this? For extra drama? It didn't even seem realistic. In fact, it was so unrealistic I literally Googled it while watching the movie because it didn't seem believable. Which then, of course, made me suspect everything else in the movie. In short, it's distracting and unnecessary. If you're going to bend the facts about certain events, there damn well better be a purpose. 

      But even then it gets tricky. Like Mercury's AIDS diagnosis. The way it was portrayed in the movie was obviously to add drama for the band's final performance at LiveAid. Except that wasn't the band's final performance. Mercury (and the band) continued to make music for YEARS after that. So while I can understand wanting to culminate on a powerful performance, it shouldn't mislead the viewer into thinking Mercury died shortly after that (which yeah, the movie definitely insinuated). Not to mention the complete fiction of the band breakup...

      Much like adapting a book to a movie, this story will anger many longtime Queen fans with its inaccuracies. It angers the LGBT community with its sanitized portrayal of Mercury's sexuality. (Side note: in case anyone still doesn't understand, bisexual =/= gay. Portrayals of people on different parts of the spectrum are important. It's not that hard.) And it should anger anyone who's ever had to take a plotting course because the first 25 minutes of this movie are utter garbage fiction. (I nearly turned it off I was so annoyed.)

      It also inspires. The one thing this movie DOES do well is capture the brilliance and creativity of Queen. In a world where every movie, every song seems to be a poorly copied version of something else, it's inspiring to watch four utterly wacky minds come up with the kind of music Queen did. They were absolutely brilliant at reinventing themselves, reinventing what rock and roll music was, and reinventing the limits of what a song could or could not do. The power of their music is on full display and it's what makes this movie worth watching. (And unless you are one of those diehard Queen fans or you know, alive during the 70's, you'll probably be surprised to find out they are the artists behind some of the most iconic songs you hear all the time.)

      Also, Rami Malek. His performance is not to be overstated. Not only does he nearly identical to Mercury (it's uncanny, really), he embodies the role in such an incredible way. And to do it with those ridiculous teeth? It's a wonder he could even say his lines, let alone act through those chompers. If you do watch the movie, do it for his performance alone. Also, so you can Google the cast afterward and see how well they cast the thing. 

      Final word: Conflicted. Much like this movie.

      January 11, 2019

      Boy Erased (2018)

      Lucas Hedges, Joel Edgerton, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe

      Sometimes movies can be really difficult to talk about it. The emotions they evoke, the stories they tell--even the powerful lessons gleaned from them. Some stories are so difficult to discuss that I'd rather people just watch them and spend some time reflecting on them. But then of course, there's the risk that certain populations would never watch it at all. Or watch it and somehow still not come away with the lessons they should have. Because while art is supposed to be left to interpretation of the consumer, this movie most definitely has a lesson, and there IS a wrong conclusion to draw from it.

      So, I'm going to dive in.

      For those unaware, this movie follows the true story of an 18-year-old son of a Baptist preacher who is sent to church gay conversion therapy after being outed to his parents. It is a painful watch. It's sad, dark, and emotional. But what makes the story powerful is actually the nuance woven into the story. It's presented in a delicate way so as to not turn off the viewer immediately. What do I mean by that?

      First off, Hedges' parents, portrayed by Kidman and Crowe, are not Bible thumping monsters. Yes, they send him to conversion therapy. But they aren't physically abusive. They don't scream at him or hurl hateful insults about him (or other gay people). They show moments of love and tenderness and show just how common it is for parents to believe they are doing the right thing for their child, even when that thing is completely monstrous. They don't see it. They don't see themselves as monsters. And much of the outside world doesn't either, which only makes it more complicated and difficult for the child affected by all of it.

      The conversion therapy they send him to is equally nuanced. I mean, it's not, in that it's clearly terrible to subject children (or anyone) to this kind of shaming and proselytizing about their sins, but it's also not electroshock therapy and physical abuse (which yes, also happens at some conversation therapy "camps.") So while it was clearly horrific for me to watch, I could also heavily religious people see all of this and sort of tsk tsk while thinking to themselves it doesn't seem that bad. By not crossing that line into the cartoonishily villainous (which I think electroshock therapy counts as), it keeps the audience engaged and frightened the entire time. 

      Yes, I meant to use the word frightened. Because this movie is terrifying. It's sad, to be sure, but more than anything, it's frightening. It's frightening to think that gay conversion therapy on minors is allowed in 36 states (as stated in the movie's postscript). It's frightening to think that parents could beat, abuse, or even just excommunicate their child because he/she is gay. It's frightening to think of these children, dealing with so much already (including assault or other harassment they can't talk about for fear of outing themselves), losing the support and love of their parents. And it's frightening to think of the millions upon millions of people in the world who would like nothing more than to use religion to tell gay people that they should hate themselves. That is really the hardest part of it all to watch.

      So yeah, this movie is difficult to watch. And it's even more difficult to talk about. But we need to. Because like the movie said, gay conversion therapy is still allowed on minors in 36 states.

      Final word: Oh My God. Literally.

      P.S. I really did not want to knock anything about this movie because it's so good, but two Australians faking Texas accents was... not my favorite.

      January 9, 2019

      Colette (2018)

      Keira Knightly, Dominic West

      Let start by saying I am 100% about this trend of highlighting women's stories, especially those whose work went uncredited for too long. Let me follow it up with my wish for those stories to be as accurate as possible.

      It's not the story I have an issue with. It's the fact that it starred Keira Knightly. Now, I adore Keira. I've said it about a million different times in a million different forums. I will watch absolutely anything with her in it.

      But she's not French. And honestly, if you're going to make a movie about one of the most prominent French novelists of all time, it seems more than a tad disrespectful to cast it with British actors. Like, how are you going to show Colette writing in French with a British-accented voiceover? 

      The other thing: I love a good post-script after a movie has wrapped. But I found this particular post-script lacking. For all the work they spent building up her genius, they neglected to highlight the mind-boggling volume of work she actually put out over her lifetime. I understand the decision to focus the story only on a small portion of her life, but again, if you're going to do a post-script, at least do it justice.

      That being said, there is a lot to like about the rest of the movie. It's a story about writers, which I will almost always love, even if I get frustrated at the portrayal that writers sit down and knock out a book in one sitting with minimal re-writes. (Who knows, maybe they used to back in the day.) But more than that, it's a story about female empowerment and the audacity of women pursuing their own happiness and worth. So naturally, my type of movie. 

      It also leans into the LGBTQ aspect of Colette's life, showing her same sex relationships with the same unflinching sensuality that is usually reserved for heterosexual couples. It uses proper gender pronouns for "Missy," her long-term androgynous partner, and even delves into the politics of fashion at the turn of the century. Not to mention, the dresses. Oh God, the dresses (and hats). Let's just say I want the costume designer on this set to dress me in real life. 

      So, the authenticity problems aside, it was still enjoyable to watch. But what do I know? I'm bound to love almost anything Keira Knightly is in.

      Final word: Interesting story, but would have been more authentic with French actors.

      P.S. If this movie doesn't get nominated for Best Costume Design at the Oscars, I'm going to flip a friggin table. I have never wanted to look like someone in a movie as much as I did in this one.

      December 15, 2018

      A Wrinkle In Time (2018)

      Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey

      Oh, Ava.

      I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to love it. I love the book. Even years after I'd read it for the first time, it held up as an adult. In such a short book, Madeline L'Engle managed to capture the nerve-wracking insecurity of the tween years and complicated familial relationships while simultaneously whisking young readers into a world filled with magic--both good and evil. It is somehow both optimistic and at the same time, terribly dark and foreboding--something I appreciate in a story for kids.

      Fast forward to the movie, which is styled like a Disney princess puked all over it. I don't know, maybe I'm just a cranky old lady now who doesn't want precious memories from my childhood being changed, but why oh why are the witches bedazzled and sparkled like Glinda on steroids? Don't get me wrong--they're beautiful. They're just not supposed to be. They're also not supposed to be young. So while I like both Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling as actors, I have no idea what either of them are doing in this movie. And while I don't necessarily object to Oprah (because she's been around long enough she can do pretty much whatever she wants), her character is never actually supposed to be seen, so...

      But the styling choices are just the first of my many grievances. Is it the end of the world that they inexplicably made Charles Wallace an adoptee and old than the toddler he is in the book? Not really. Was it unnecessary to add Rowan Blanchard as a next door bully who then gets her own sympathetic backstory as a sort of PSA to tweens watching the movie? Yes, but not a dealbreaker. But cutting out the sequence of planets landed on, the nature of IT, Camzotz, and even the attempted rescue is unforgivable in favor of fabricated "action" to liven up the story is unforgivable.

      Look, the story is pretty introspective. For a fantasy, not a lot happen, action-wise. Meg spends a lot of time in her head, and a lot of the bad stuff involves more insidious feelings than external evil. But in adapting that for the screen, we somehow lose the actual suspense or evil involved. For as bright and colorful everything is, the whole story lacks punch. Everything has been stripped back to a very blah, straight-forward search and rescue story with some magic sprinkled over it. It's boring, frankly.

      When I read this story as a kid, I was terrified of IT. The book did a good job of making the setting dark and creepy, without the need for flashy fight scenes or theatrics. The mental game was suspenseful and the anguish real. This movie, in its rush to add pizzaz, glossed over everything that made the story great and instead made a somewhat boring, overblown children's movie that tried to be everything except what the actual story was.

      Final word: It feels traitorous to say I didn't like this, but I didn't like it.

      December 4, 2018

      Paddington 2 (2018)

      Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, et al

      I never reviewed the first movie, though rest assured, I did watch it. It was honestly so baffling and not enjoyable that I didn't even bother writing about it. While I thoroughly enjoy skewering a bad movie, sometimes I can't even bring myself to do it because that means I have to spend time thinking about the movie to even write about it (see: John Carter).

      So when the reviews for Paddington 2 came out, I was even more confused. People loved it? So much so that they were willing to rave about it? And Hugh Grant in particular? I was damn near convinced there was some kind of hypnosis happening at theaters across the globe, putting critics and audiences in some kind of trance.

      But I have kids, so I knew I'd watch it eventually. Because no matter how terrible it seemed, it had to be better than sitting through one of those insipid Tinkerbell movies.

      I'm sure you know where this is going...

      I liked it. I can't believe it, but I liked it. It's still stupid and ridiculous and definitely baffling (especially the part about a simple b&e carrying a 10 year prison sentence), but somehow much more enjoyable this time around. It's simple in its joy of Paddington's goodness and hard lines it draws about selfishness and and unkindness. In terms of a kid's movie, it's uncomplicated and sweet. No snarky jokes made for the adults, no mouthy friends that say things you wish your kids wouldn't repeat--nothing but an animated bear and a clear villain.

      Speaking of the villain...it is almost uncomfortable to recognize how good Hugh Grant is in this movie. I think we take him for granted as an actor because he is so good at playing a particular role that when we do notice his brilliance, it's almost awkward. The first time I noticed was in Florence Foster Jenkins. The second time was here. Maybe the less I expect of a movie, the more I appreciate him. 

      At the end of the day, I understand why audiences were so charmed with this movie. I love a dark or funny or exciting children's movie, but sometimes we need a break to indulge in some good old-fashioned clean entertainment too.

      Final word: Finally, a sequel better than the original!

      November 24, 2018

      Alex and the List (2018)

      Patrick Fugit, Jennifer Morrison

      Look, it's a never a good sign when there are a bunch of famous people in a recently-released movie you've never heard of. I know this. And yet...I watched it. Because I made poor life decisions, apparently.

      So basically, this is a story about a guy who's dating someone we're meant to believe is "out of his league." She then proves this by providing him with a list of things he needs to change about himself before she can seriously consider marrying him.

      Some are superficial and stupid, like whitening his teeth or changing his wardrobe. Petty, but whatever. Plenty of people in relationships coax their significant other to change their appearance. We can argue about whether or not that's acceptable at a later time.

      Others are obviously thrown in to paint her as excessively materialistic and shallow, like her telling him he needs to drive an expensive car and get a new job. And still others are just flat out stupid, like her requirement that he love football to please her dad. Not simply watch it--LOVE it.

      Whew. Where to start. First of all, I suppose I should say kudos to the writer of this movie for subverting the abusive boyfriend trope by making the girlfriend low-key emotionally abusive. They went above and beyond the usual "nagging" and waded into a field absolutely chock full of red flags. I mean, who would seriously consider changing basically everything about themselves unless they already had some major self-esteem issues? (Which, you know, fine if they do, but then this would be a very different movie) But somehow, the worst part of all of it is that he doesn't even consider fulfilling the list until he sees a hot guy moving in on his girlfriend. So he's apparently just as shallow and petty.

      So, all of this terrible plot, mixed with Gilles Marini pretending to Italian, a Russian sex chat girl, and trying to convince us Patrick Fugit is lovable because he trains dogs, is A LOT. Like, added-every-idea-that-came-up-in-the-writers-room lot. But I can't help but give kudos for writing a romantic comedy that is neither romantic or funny, at literally any point in the movie. It takes skill to write something this terrible and still convince established actors to star in it.

      Final word: I can't ever un-see this movie, which is the real tragedy.

      October 30, 2018

      Ready Player One (2018)

      Tye Sheridan (aka fake Miles Teller), Olivia Cooke, et al

      When I read this book, all I could think the entire time was this would make a much better movie than a book. I don't want to be that person, but I think it's sort of impossible to discuss this movie without discussing the book, so...

      The book is basically a tome of 80's references blanketed over a straightforward plot. And when I say tome, I mean tome. No movie, TV show, video game, or song was off limits. Having been born partway through the decade, I appreciated, but didn't understand most of the references in the book. I thought a movie would be able to incorporate them in a more meaningful way that didn't require me to pull myself out of the story to wrack my brain to figure out if I'd played a particular game or heard a particular song.


      The movie is entertaining. It would difficult not to be. It's an action story, after all, and one that exists almost entirely within a virtual reality, so the filmmakers were not bound by the laws of physics or reality so they could really go wild--and did.


      The movie bears little actual resemblance to the book. So much of the world building and even many of the game references have been stripped out in favor of flashy action sequences and moving the plot forward. I understand that movies will never be able to dive into the amount of detail that books can, but by simplifying the story to extent that it does, it also takes away what makes this story special and different from any other quest-type story. So what if it's set in virtual reality? It's the details that make the story memorable!

      Gone is nearly any reference to Wade's real life. Gone is the layered complexity of each challenge, including making up two entirely new challenges that didn't even exist in the book. Gone is the build up to meeting his virtual friends, who they are, and even how they meet. Gone is the ending, the beginning, and pretty much everything in between. Like the movie adaptation of Ender's Game, this movie is fine on it's own--it's just not the story the book tells.

      It's hard to separate my feelings of disappointment watching this movie from what it actually was, so I asked my husband to weigh in with his unbiased opinion. "It was okay," he said. "Nothing special." I can't summarize it any better myself.

      Final word: This should have been a lot better than it was. Maybe someone will re-do it properly one day.

      October 17, 2018

      Smallfoot (2018)

      Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common

      First, let me just say how far Channing Tatum has come. No, this isn't a reference to his stripper days (though let's be honest, those are fun to reference too), but his acting ability. Like, not once was I pulled out of the movie by some vocal tic of his or anything that reminded me that it was Channing Tatum's voice and not simply the voice of the character. And any reader of this blog knows what a big deal that is to me. So kudos, Channing.

      Ok, onto the meat of it. This movie is so surprisingly clever. I know that sounds like an insult, but I mean it. I've sat through so many mediocre or even terrible kid's movies that I'm honestly surprised when anyone other than Disney puts out something of quality. (And even Disney mucks it up sometimes. See: The Good Dinosaur.) This is one of those stories that has two levels: one superficial, cute level with a nice moral for the kids, and another, higher level that parallels adult topics so we enjoy it more than just nodding along to cute animation. In a weird way, the overall theme of the movie reminded me a little of Sausage Party, except you know, all the dick jokes.

      What threw me in the movie was the fact that it had musical numbers. It's just so rare these days, and even more rarely done well. (Thank you, Common!) The whole movie just kept surprising me for the better.

      In the end, I'm not certain whether the movie was as good as I thought it was, or if it was just a result of having such low expectations, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

      Final word: It's still not Disney, but it's worth watching.

      October 9, 2018

      Ocean's 8 (2018)

      Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, et al

      I wanted to like this. I really did. For one thing, I like heist movies. For another, I live for Cate Blanchett. (She does not disappoint in this movie. Her whole look is a mood.) But making this movie as part of the Ocean's franchise was a mistake.

      For one thing, isn't everyone sick of the Ocean's movies? I know I am. 11 was great. 12 was terrible. 13 was tolerable. Let it die already! Instead, this movie decides it's important to keep paying tribute to the franchise by way of cameos and constant references to George Clooney. It's maddening. Just let it be a heist movie on its own! It literally adds nothing to the story to make it related to the other movies. I argue it makes it weaker.

      Secondly, the movie just isn't very good. Like, it tries, but it lacks the both playfulness and drama, leaving the movie rather...bland. Everything just sort of happens. I didn't turn the movie off or anything, but at no point did I feel fully engaged with the story or literally any of the characters. In fact, the best person in the entire story was probably Anne Hathaway, who was the only person to show any depth of character. Everyone else was very one-note. Very. I will add that's probably not the fault of the actors themselves, but the writing. I mean, since when does Helena Bonham Carter struggle to be interesting?!?

      Anyway, I was hoping for a successful female spin-off/remake/whatever you want to call it to prove the haters wrong, but sadly, this wasn't it. On the other hand, I'm not terribly disappointed at the prospect of letting this "franchise" die a quick death. Try it again, but with a better script.

      Final word: Totally forgettable.

      October 4, 2018

      Nanette (2018)

      Hannah Gadsby

      I've watched and reviewed a lot of things over my past 6+ years as a blogger. Hundreds of movies, documentaries, TV movies, and even the occasional book. But this is the first stand-up comedy routine I've written and I'm doing it because it really is as good as everyone says it is.

      Comedy is a tricky thing, most obviously because not everyone has the same sense of humor. But even within people who like more cerebral jokes (which this absolutely is), there is a question of format. Nanette sits at the generally unpopular intersection of being super smart, super gay, and told in story format. Here's what I mean by that:

      1. Gadsby's jokes rely on a certain amount of knowledge from the audience. For one thing, a not-insignificant portion of her set is devoted to jokes around art history and Impressionist painters. Another long joke centers on the multi-layered perspectives of Picasso. This isn't "forget your problems and laugh" comedy. It's comedy that makes you think and I am here for it.

      2. If you didn't already know Gadsby is gay, well, she tells you. Repeatedly. In fact, it's the crux of the entire show. And if that turns you off right there, well, this isn't your brand of comedy. But that's too bad because anyone who doesn't want to watch it because she talks about being gay is exactly the kind of person who should be watching it in the first place.

      3. Hannah Gadsby is not a comedian. I mean, of course she is, but not in the way you'd expect. The "traditional" way. She doesn't stand up there and tell jokes. Instead, she weaves personal a personal narrative that's both uncomfortable and sprinkled with jokes, much like Hassan Minaj in his brilliant stand-up special, Homecoming King. But here, Gadsby takes it a step even further by breaking down the process by which she tells jokes, making that a story (and a joke) in and of itself.

      I'm trying, in vain, to convey the depth and brilliance of Nanatte without much success. When my husband and I finished watching it, we both sat in silence for a few moments, in awe at the way she crafted the set to come full circle. Every single moment of it serves a purpose and there is not one wasted joke or line in it. It is a mastery of comedy, storytelling, and tension. It's so good, in fact, I'm not entirely certain it is a stand-up comedy special. It seems more like a documentary on how marginalized people in our community cope with society. It is both important and entertaining, funny and sad. It is every contradiction you can think of and if this special isn't referenced as one of the most important cultural moments of 2018 I'm going to throw a fucking chair at something.

      This comedy special/stand-up routine/whatever you call it captures the indelible sadness and rage of both women and the LGBT+ community around the world right now. Gadsby pinpoints the exact moments of discomfort that exist and somehow turns them into laughs, but not cheap laughs--laughter that comes through tears; laughter that knows we are only laughing because what the fuck else are we supposed to do. So please, please, please, I am begging you. Watch this. And laugh. And cry. And even if you do neither of those things, please just watch it until the very end.