Lisa’s Week In Review: 1/1/20 — 1/5/20


The first week of 2020 is in the books and I think we did a pretty good job ringing in the new year here at the Shattered Lens.  The Oscars are approaching.  The Super Bowl commercials are being filmed.  We’ve got a lot to look forward to.

But, first, let’s look back at the week that was:

Films I Watched:

  1. A Lover Scorned (2019)
  2. Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story (2019)
  3. Am I A Serial Killer? (2019)
  4. Best Friend’s Betrayal (2019)
  5. Deadly Assistant (2019)
  6. Escaping My Stalker (2020)
  7. Gamera vs. Monster X (1970)
  8. Her Deadly Reflections (2020)
  9. Is My Daughter Really Dead? (2019)
  10. Logan’s Run (1976)
  11. Love You To Death (2019)
  12. Psycho BFF (2019)
  13. Psycho Granny (2019)
  14. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2017)
  15. Secrets In A Small Town (2019)
  16. A Star Is Born (2018)
  17. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
  18. Uncut Gems (2019)
  19. Was I Really Kidnapped?
  20. Westworld (1973)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Beverly Hills 90210
  2. The Circle
  3. Couples Court with the Cutlers
  4. Ghost Whisperer
  5. The 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards
  6. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  7. Judge Jerry
  8. Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court
  9. The Love Boat
  10. Newsradio
  11. Project Runway
  12. Saved By The Bell

Books I Read:

  1. Imaginary Friend (2019) by Stephen Chbosky
  2. The Wallflower Wager (2019) by Tessa Dare

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Adam Rickfors
  3. Adi Ulmansky
  4. Alvin Risk
  5. Amy Winehouse
  6. Armin van Buuren
  7. Avicii
  8. Big Data
  9. Blanck Mass
  10. Bloc Party
  11. Bob Dylan
  12. Britney Spears
  13. Cage the Elephant
  14. Cedric Gervais
  15. The Chemical Brothers
  16. Coldplay
  17. The Crystal Method
  18. Dillon Francis
  19. DJ Judaa
  20. Fitz and the Tantrums
  21. Icona Pop
  22. Jakalope
  23. Jake Bugg
  24. Joywave
  25. Lady Gaga
  26. LAKS
  27. Moby
  28. Muse
  29. Neon Indian
  30. Phantogram
  31. Radiohead
  32. Rich White
  33. Robert DeLong
  34. Saint Motel
  35. Sleigh Bells
  36. Swedish House Mafia
  37. Tiesto
  38. UPSAHL

Awards Season Links:

  1. The Houston Film Critics Society
  2. North Carolina Film Critics Association
  3. The Dorian Nominations
  4. Georgia Film Critics Association Nominations
  5. National Society of Film Critics
  6. The Golden Globes

News From Last Week:

  1. Joker Success Not Related to Batman, Says Phillips
  2. Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Ex-Boyfriend Nick Gordon Dies at 30 from Drug Overdose
  3. Captain America Actress Arrested For Allegedly Killing Her Mom
  4. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the dominant book of the decade
  5. Marianne Williamson Has Laid Off Her Entire 2020 Campaign Staff
  6. LORI LOUGHLIN HIRES EXPERTS TO PREPARE FOR PRISON AMID COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL

Links From Last Week:

  1. Goodbye 2010s! A Decade in Review
  2. Classic “B” Movies! Body Heat! Battle Royale! Bogart Too! Cinema’s Greatest Films That Begin With A “B”!

Links From The Site:

  1. Erin shared Peaceful Fountain, In The Beginning, Double Detective, The Wanton, and Commuting Wife!  She also shared the Covers of Master Detective!
  2. Doc wished everyone a Happy 2020!
  3. Jeff shared music videos from Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Europe, and Yello!  He paid tribute to Max Julien and Leon Isaac Kennedy!  And he reviewed Delta Force 2, White Mile, Extramarital, American Outlaws, and The Take!
  4. Val served the 25 Best, Worst, and Gems that she saw last year!
  5. Necromoonyeti shared his top albums of 2019!
  6. Ryan reviewed Snake Creek, Faults, Constantly, and Keeping Score!
  7. I reviewed Escaping My Stalker, Her Deadly Reflections, Coming Home, Darkest Hour, Hope and Glory, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and A Star is Born!  I shared my Oscar predictions for January!

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon!  Please consider subscribing!
  2. Over at my online dream journal, I shared My First Dream of 2020!
  3. On my music site, I shared songs from LANKS, Robert DeLong, UPSAHL, Bob Dylan, and The Crystal Method!
  4. On her photography site, Erin shared: New Year’s Day, Speed Bump Ahead, City, Mood, and Lighthouse!
  5. On Pop Politics, Jeff shared: My 2020 Resolutions, Julian Castro is Out, Friday Notes, and Is It Time For Tom Brady To Retire?

Check out the last week of 2019 by clicking here!

 

Here Are Your 2019 Golden Globe Winners!


Best Actor, TV Musical or Comedy — Ramy Youssef in Ramy

Best Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie — Russell Crowe in The Loudest Voice

Best Supporting Actor, Series, Limited Series, or TV Movie — Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl

Best TV Series, Drama — Succession

Best Actress, TV Musical or Comedy — Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

Best Foreign Language Film — Parasite

Best Actor, TV Series Drama — Brian Cox, Succession

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture — Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Motion Picture, Animated — Missing Link

Best Supporting Actress, Film — Laura Dern in Marriage Story

Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy — Fleabag

Best Original Song, Motion Picture — “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from Rocketman

Best Supporting Actress, Series, Limited Series. or TV Movie — Patricia Arquette in The Act

Best Actress, TV Series, Drama — Olivia Colman in The Crown

Best Director, Motion Picture — Sam Mendes, 1917

Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie — Michelle WIlliams in Fosse/Verdon

Best Limited Series or TV Movie — Chernobyl

Best Original Score, Motion Picture — Joker

Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture — Brad Pitt, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor, Comedy Motion Picture — Taron Egerton, Rocketman

Best Actress, Comedy, Motion Picture — Awkwafina, The Farewell

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical — Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor, Drama, Motion Picture — Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Best Actress, Drama, Motion Picture — Renee Zellweger in Judy

Best Motion Picture, Drama — 1917

 

The Take (1974, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis)


Lt. Terrence Sneed (Billy Dee Williams), a tough and suave cop from San Francisco, is sent to New Mexico to help Police Chief Berrigan (Eddie Albert) take down the local crime syndicate.  No sooner has Sneed arrived in town than he’s helping to prevent a prison break and killing gangsters.  Berrigan is impressed and explains to Sneed that the local crime boss is Victor Manso (Vic Morrow).  Even though everyone knows that Manso is crooked, the police haven’t ever been able to put together a case that will stand up in court.  Maybe Sneed is the man who can do it.

What Berrigan doesn’t know is that Sneed is a crooked cop, himself.  As soon as Sneed leaves his meeting with Berrigan, he goes over to Manso’s office and collects his money.  Manso assigns Sneed to work with another crooked cop, Captain Dollek (Albert Salmi).  However, it turns out that Sneed has plans of his own.  While still on Manso’s payroll, Sneed starts to put together a case that might finally take Manso down.

The Take is full of good actors in small roles.  If you have ever wanted to see Billy Dee Williams share a scene with Frankie Avalon, The Take is the film for you.  Avalon plays Danny James, a small-time hood who is arrested and interrogated by Sneed.  At first, Danny is cocky and arrogant but, as soon as Sneed removes his jacket and his watch and makes a fist, Danny starts crying and begging Sneed not to beat him.  Danny is soon turned into an informant and then disappears from the movie.  The beautiful model Kathirine Baumann plays Danny’s girlfriend.  While only wearing a towel, she gives Capt. Dollek the finger and looks amazing doing it.  Sorrell Brooke, who later found fame as Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard, also has a few good scenes as Sneed’s deceptively respectable money launderer.

The Take can be a confusing film to watch because it’s never firmly established just how corrupt Sneed actually is.  Sometimes, Sneed just seems like he’s trying to make a little extra money and then, other times, he comes across as being a full-blown gangster.  Despite being on Manso’s payroll, Sneed seems to be determined to take him down and the film never makes clear why.  Billy Dee Williams is his usual supremely cool self but he seems almost too cool to play a morally ambivalent cop.  More impressive are Vic Morrow and Eddie Albert, who both shamelessly chew the scenery as two leaders on opposite sides of the law.

The Take is often mistakenly referred to as being a blaxploitation film but it’s really just a cop film with a lead actor who happens to be black.  Unlike the best blaxploitation films, there’s no political subtext to be found in the movie.  Sneed could just as easily be a corrupt white detective and, with the exception of one throwaway line, race is never mentioned.  While this is a minor cop film, it features a few good action scenes and, again, it’s your only chance to see two very different pop cultural icons, Billy Dee Williams and Frankie Avalon, acting opposite of each other.  That’s not a bad pay-off for 91 minutes of your life.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: A Star Is Born (dir by Bradley Cooper)


Happy birthday, Bradley Cooper!

Bradley Cooper is 45 years old today.  With all the recent talk about how people’s lives have changed over the past decade, let’s take a minute to appreciate just how spectacularly things have gone for Bradley Cooper, career-wise.  Ten years ago, Bradley Cooper was probably best-known for playing the smarmiest member of The Hangover‘s quartet of friends.  Now, Cooper is known for not only being one of the best actors working today but also for making an acclaimed directorial debut with the 2018 Best Picture nominee, A Star Is Born.

Cooper not only directed A Star is Born but he also starred in it.  He played Jackson Maine, a country musician who has been drinking for as long as he can remember.  He used to drink with his father and when his father died, Jackson continued to drink alone.  (At one point, Jackson says that he was a teenager when his father died.)  Managed by his older brother, Bobby (Sam Elliott), Jackson became a star but his career has been in decline for a while.  For all of his talent and for all of his belief that he has something worth saying, Jackson is drinking his life away.  He stumbles from show to show and is often dependent upon Bobby to tell him what he missed while he was blacked out.

When Jackson stumbles into a drag bar and sees Ally (Lady Gaga, making her film debut) singing a song by Edith Piaf, he is immediately captivated by her talent.  Ally, whose father (Andrew Dice Clay) is a limo driver who once aspired to be bigger than Sinatra, is at first weary of Jackson but he wins her over.  After she punches a drunk and he takes her to a grocery store to construct a makeshift cast for her hand, she sings a song that she wrote and Jackson decides to take her on tour.  Soon, they’re in love and, before you know it, they’re married!

Unfortunately, Jackson’s alcoholism threatens both their happiness and their future.  While Ally’s star rises, his continues to dim.  Will Ally sacrifice her career for Jackson or will Jackson sacrifice his life for Ally?

It’s a familiar story, one that’s been told many times.  The first version was 1932’s What Price Hollywood, which featured aspiring actress Constance Bennett falling in love with an alcoholic director played by Lowell Sherman.  In 1937, What Price Hollywood? was unofficially remade as A Star Is Born, with Janet Gaynor as Esther, the actress who falls in love with faded matinee idol, Norman Maine (Fredric March).  The next version came out in 1954 and featured Judy Garland as Esther and James Mason as Norman.  Significantly, the 1954 version added music to the plot, with Judy Garland singing The Man That Got Away.  

In 1976, the story was told a third time.  This version of A Star is Born starred Barbra Streisand as singer Esther Hoffman and Kris Kristofferson as a self-destructive rock star named John Norman Howard.  The 1976 version was terrible, largely because there was zero chemistry between Streisand and Kristofferson.  And yet, one gets the feeling that the 1976 version is the one that had the most influence on the 2018 version.  Not only does Bradley Cooper’s version of A Star Is Born make the story about aspiring singers but one gets the feeling that Cooper watched the 1976 version, saw the lack of chemistry between Kristofferson and Streisand, and said, “There’s no way that’s going to happen in my movie!”

Indeed, it’s the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga that makes the latest version of A Star Is Born so compulsively watchable.  I mean, we already know the story.  From the minute that Jackson and Ally meet for the first time, we know what’s going to happen.  But Cooper and Lady Gaga have got such an amazing chemistry, that it almost doesn’t matter whether the movie surprises us or not.  There’s a scene where Ally says that she’s always been told that her nose is too big and Jackson responds by nonchalantly touching her nose and, with that one simple and very naturalistic gesture, the film convinces us that Jackson and Ally are meant to be together, even if just for a while.  It also makes it all the more upsetting when a drunk and jealous Jackson later uses Ally’s insecurities against her.

(Of course, I should admit that I’ve always been insecure about my own nose so, at that moment, I totally understood what Ally was feeling.)

It’s an unabashedly romantic and sentimental film but it works because, as a director, Cooper brings just enough of an edge to the story.  Cooper, who has been sober since 2004, has been open about his past struggle with alcoholism and, as both an actor and director, he’s smart enough not to romanticize Jackson’s addictions.  In many ways, Jackson Maine is a pain in the ass to be around.  We watch as he goes from being a fun drunk to a sad drunk to a mean drunk, all the while lashing out at anyone who gets too close to him.  At the same time, Cooper also captures the spark of genius and the hints of inner goodness that would explain why he is never totally rejected by those that he’s hurt.  Cooper offers up hints of who Jackson could have been if he hadn’t surrendered to pain and addiction.  We understand why Ally and Bobby stick with him, even if we wouldn’t blame either one of them if they refused to have anything more to do with him.

Lady Gaga, meanwhile, gives a performance is that is down-to-Earth and instantly relatable.  Anyone who has ever been insecure or who has ever felt as if she was being punished for being independent or thinking for herself will understand what Ally’s going through.  At some point, we’ve all been Ally and we’ve all had a Jackson Maine in our lives.  Sadly, these stories rarely have happy endings.

For most of 2018, it was assumed that A Star Is Born would be the film to beat at the Oscars.  While it was eventually nominated for 8 Oscars, Bradley Cooper did not receive a nomination for Best Director.  (Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliott were all nominated in the acting categories.)  In the end, Green Book won Best Picture while A Star Is Born only won one award, for Best Original Song.

Of course, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of that song was perhaps the highlight of the entire Oscar ceremony.

That’s the power of good chemistry.

 

 

The National Society of Film Critics Honors Parasite and Little Women!


Yesterday, the National Society of Film Critics announced their picks for the best of 2019!

Now, it’s not really a surprise that Parasite won best picture because Parasite has been popular with the critic groups this season.  For me, what’s more significant is just how well Little Women did, coming in second for Best Picture and winning Best Director for Greta Gerwig.  Could this be evidence of a late surge in momentum for Little Women?  Or is it just of one those quirks of the awards season?  There’s always a tendency to read too much into the results of these contests, especially when the guilds are usually the best precursor to go with.

Anyway, here are the NSFC winners!

2019 NSFC Winners:

Best Picture: PARASITE (44 points)
Runners-up: LITTLE WOMEN (27 points); ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (22 points)

Best Actor: Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY (69 points)
Runners-up: Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY (43 points); Adam Sandler, UNCUT GEMS (41 points)

Best Actress: Mary Kay Place, DIANE (40 points)
Runners-up: Zhao Tao, ASH IS PUREST WHITE (28 points) Florence Pugh, MIDSOMMAR (25 points)

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (64 points)
Runners-up: Joe Pesci, THE IRISHMAN (30 points) Wesley Snipes, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME and Song Kang Ho, PARASITE (18 points each)

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, MARRIAGE STORY and LITTLE WOMEN (57 points)
Runners-up: Florence Pugh, LITTLE WOMEN (44 points) Jennifer Lopez, HUSTLERS (26 points)

Best Director: Greta Gerwig, LITTLE WOMEN (39 points)
Runners-up: Bong Joon Ho, PARASITE (36 points); Martin Scorsese, THE IRISHMAN (31 points)

Best Screenplay: Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, PARASITE (37 points)
Runners-up: Quentin Tarantino, ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (34 points); Greta Gerwig, LITTLE WOMEN (33 points)

Best Cinematography: Claire Mathon, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE and ATLANTICS (41 points)
Runners-up: Robert Richardson, ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD (29 points); Yorick Le Saux, LITTLE WOMEN (22 points)

Music Video Of The Day: Oh Yeah by Yello (1987, directed by ????)


“First I did the music and then I invited Dieter to sing along, and he came up with some lines which I thought, ‘no Dieter, it’s too complicated, we don’t need that many lyrics’. I had the idea of just this guy, a fat little monster sits there very relaxed and says, “Oh yeah, oh yeah”. So I told him, ‘Why don’t you try just to sing on and on ‘oh yeah’?… Dieter was very angry when I told him this and he said, ‘are you crazy, all the time “Oh yeah”? Are you crazy?! I can’t do this, no no, come on, come on.’ And then he said, ‘some lyrics, like “the moon… beautiful”, is this too much?!’ and I said, ‘no, it’s OK’, and then he did this ‘oh yeah’ and at the end he thought, ‘yeah it’s nice’, he loved it himself also. And also I wanted to install lots of human noises, all kind of phonetic rhythms with my mouth; you hear lots of noises in the background which are done with my mouth.”

— Yello’s Boris Blank on Oh Yeah

This is it.  This is the Ferris Bueller song.  Or maybe it’s the Secret of My Success song.  Or the She’s Out of Control song or the Opportunity Knocks song.  Or the Gran Turismo song.  Or perhaps you know it as the song that plays whenever Duffman makes an appearance on The Simpsons.

The point is, Oh Yeah has been featured in a lot of movies and TV shows.  For a while, whenever a hapless schmoe first spotted an sexy woman in a movie, you knew that the first thing you would hear would be “Oh yeah…”  Despite not being a huge hit when it was first released, it has since been used in so many films that Dieter Meier, the Yello vocalist who initially balked at doing the song, has reportedly made over $175,000,000 just by investing the royalties.  Think about that the next time you’re having to stay late at work for a conference call or you’re told to cut your hours so you don’t get overtime.

The video is just as strange as you would expect it to be.

Enjoy!