Lisa’s Week In Review: 3/18/19 — 3/24/19

Bleh.  I might to watch a lot of movies and write a lot of reviews today but, as I sit here writing this, I am currently so sick that even looking at the glowing screen of my laptop gives my motion sickness.  Like seriously, I had to take a Dramamine just to be able to move the arrow across the screen.  Hopefully, I’ll be a bit better tomorrow.

Tragically, we lost both John Carl Buechler and Larry Cohen this week.  Buechler’s audio commentary for Friday the 13th Part VIII, which he recorded with Kane Hodder, is a favorite of mine.  As for Larry Cohen, he was a true maverick and his independent spirit represented the best of American cinema.  My favorite Cohen film?  God Told Me To.

Films I Watched:

  1. A Daughter’s Deception (2019)
  2. The Atomic Submarine (1959)
  3. Behind the Curve (2018)
  4. Disclosure (1994)
  5. The Inventor (2019)
  6. Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
  7. Lifeforce (1985)
  8. One Night With The King (2006)
  9. Queen of Blood (1966)
  10. Surf Party (1964)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1
  2. The 43
  3. American Idol
  4. A.P. Bio
  5. Bar Rescue
  6. Brooklyn Nine NIne
  7. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  8. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
  9. Dynasty
  10. The Fix
  11. Ghost Whisperer
  12. Ireland’s Wild Coast
  13. King of the Hill
  14. Saved By The Bell
  15. Superstore
  16. Survivor 38
  17. The Voice
  18. World Figure Skating Championship
  19. World of Dance

Books I Read:

  1. Hollywood’s Eve (2019) by Lili Anolik

Music To Which I Listened

  1. Adi Ulmnasky
  2. AJR
  3. Armin van Buuren
  4. Avicii
  5. Avril Lavigne
  6. Bob Dylan
  7. Britney Spears
  8. The Chemical Brothers
  9. The Crystal Method
  10. DJ Judaa
  11. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
  12. Kevin Garrett
  13. Moby
  14. P!nk
  15. Phantogram
  16. Rita Ora
  17. Robert De Long
  18. Sleigh Bells
  19. Swedish House Mafia
  20. Susana
  21. Tiesto

Links From Last Week

  1. Larry Cohen dies at 77.
  2. John Carl Buechler dies at 66.
  3. High Schoolers Perform Stunning Play Based on Ridley Scott’s Alien
  4. The Director Who Doesn’t Care What You Think of His Movies
  5. Oregon Blockuster outlast all the others to become the last on Earth
  6. The musical ‘Oswald,’ with 27 songs and Broadway ambitions, will have its world premiere in Dallas
  7. Marvel Television Props & Costumes To Be Auctioned for the First Time Ever by Prop Store
  8. The 2020 Democratic Candidates as Michael Scott Quotes
  9. It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD
  10. Barbra Streisand says Michael Jackson’s accusers were ‘thrilled to be there’ and his ‘sexual needs were his sexual needs’
  11. Brute kicks elderly woman on Bronx train; bystanders take cell phone video and don’t help
  12. Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday
  13. We should probably talk about Lauren Duca
  14. I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  15. On my music site, I shared music from Avril Lavigne, The Chemical Brothers, AJR, Avril Lavigne again, P!nk, Bob Dylan, and Armin van Buuren!
  16. On her photography site, Erin shared: A, Flowers, Frog, For the Love of Trees, Watching the Sky, Bridge, and Peace.

Links From The Site

  1. Case reviewed Triple Frontier!
  2. Erin shared the covers of Clark Hulings and the final scene of Eight Men Out!  She also shared the following artwork: Nita’s Place, Murder on the Purple Water, Gehrig’s Final Farewell, The Guy From Coney Island, The Tigress, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Argosy!
  3. Gary paid tribute to 20th Century Fox, Larry Cohen, and Harold Sakata and reviewed Three on a Match!
  4. Ryan reviewed Bronze Table of the Blade Masters and Doom Patrol, along with sharing his weekly reading round-up!
  5. I shared music videos from Avicii, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Armin van Buuren, Adi Ulmansky, The Crystal Method, Kevin Garrett, and P!nk.  I reviewed Disclosure, Captain Marvel, and The Inventor!  And I shared my Oscar predictions!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Have a great week, everyone!

Lisa’s Far Too Early Oscar Predictions For March

So, it’s that time of the month again!

No, not that time.  I meant, that it’s time for me to share my Oscar predictions.  Here are the usual disclaimers: I haven’t seen any of these films, it’s way too early in the year for me to attempt to do this, this list is all about instinct and wishful thinking, blah blah blah blah.

To see how my thinking has evolved, be sure to check out my predictions for January and February!

Best Picture

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Call of the Wild

Fair and Blanced

Ford v. Ferrari


The Irishman

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Little Women

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


Best Director

Greta Gerwig for Little Women

Kasi Lemmons for Harriet

Martin Scorsese for The Irishman

Joe Talbot for The Last Black Man In San Francisco

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Actor

Ben Affleck in Torrance

Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

John Lithgow in Fair and Balanced

Eddie Murphy in My Name Is Dolemite

Best Actress

Amy Adams in The Woman In The Window

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section

Saoirse Ronan in Little Women

Afre Woodard in Clemency

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon in Ford v Ferrari

Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild

Danny Glover in The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Malcolm McDowell in Fair and Balanced

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern in Little Women

Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen

Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch

Janelle Monae in Harriet

Margot Robbie in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

A few notes on the predictions:

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is a biopic about Mr. Rogers.  Mr. Rogers is played by Tom Hanks and this sounds like the type of role that could get him his first Oscar nomination since …. well, forever.

Call of the Wild is an adaptation of Jack London’s novel.  It apparently features a CGI wolf.  It also has a potentially good supporting role for Harrison Ford, who has only one previous nomination to his name.

Fair and Balanced is about the history of Fox News and it was directed by Jay Roach.  It sounds terrible but if Vice and Adam McKay could get a nomination just for attacking Dick Cheney, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fair and Balanced manages to do the same.  John Lithgow plays Roger Ailes while the never-nominated Malcolm McDowell plays Rupert Murdoch.

Ford v Ferrari is a film about cars and competition and, if it’s a box office success, it sounds like it could pick up some nominations.  The film stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon.  I placed Damon in the supporting category because he plays Bale’s boss and his character is described as being “eccentric.”

Harriet is a biopic of Harriet Tubman.  It just sounds like it should be an Oscar nominee.  Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet while Janelle Monae …. well, I’m not sure who she plays.  But I’m going to predict she’ll get a supporting actress nomination.  What can I say?  It’s early in the year and supporting actress is always hard to predict.

The Irishman is directed by Martin Scorsese and it has a cast to die for: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, and more!  The Irishman should also have the full force of Netflix behind it.  My one concern is that the film is apparently going to use CGI to “de-age” its cast so that they can play characters who are in their 30s and 40s.  If it works, it’ll be great.  If it doesn’t, it’s going to be a huge distraction from whatever else is going on in the movie.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco was a big hit at Sundance.  Can Joe Talbot get a nomination for his directorial debut?  Can Danny Glover score his first ever nomination?  We’ll find out!

Little Women is Greta Gerwig’s follow-up to Lady Bird.  Previous adaptations of Little Women have done well at the Oscars.  I’m predicting acting nominations for Saoirse Ronan and Laura Dern but Meryl Steep is also in this film so she’s definitely a possibility as well.  At this point, Meryl could get nominated for appearing in a two-minute video on YouTube.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is Quentin Taranino’s 9th film.  Tarantino’s film usually do well with the Oscars and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is about Hollywood’s favorite subject, itself.  Some would say that Brad Pitt is overdue for an acting win.  Margot Robbie, meanwhile, is a rising star and some feel that she should have won for I, Tonya.

Torrance features Ben Affleck in what sounds like an Oscar bait role.  Affleck plays an alcoholic who ends up coaching a high school basketball team.  Director Gavin O’Connor previously worked wonders with Warrior so Torrance sounds right up his alley.

My Name is Dolemite is a biopic of the comedian and blaxploitation film star, Rudy Ray Moore.  Eddie Murphy plays Moore and the role sounds like it could allow him to display both his comedic and dramatic skills.  In theory, the Academy loves a comeback.

The Woman In The Window is based on an excellent novel and features Amy Adams as an agoraphobic woman who thinks that she may have witnessed a murder.  Adams is definitely a bit overdue for an Oscar.

The Rhythm Section is also based on a novel.  While it’s thriller plot doesn’t sound like typical Oscar bait, the film’s release was moved from February to November.  That would seem to indicate that Paramount has faith in both it and Blake Lively’s lead performance.

Clemency was another hit at Sundance.  Alfre Woodard is an acclaimed actress who has only been twice nominated for an Oscar.  A nomination here would honor not just Woodard’s performance but her entire career.

The Kitchen is a crime drama.  Tiffany Haddish, who is definitely an up-and-coming star, plays the wife of a Irish mobster who, when her husband is sent to prison, takes over his rackets.  It sounds like a good role and there are a lot of people who think Haddish’s performance in Girls Trip was unfairly snubbed.

The Goldfinch is based on a novel by Donna Tartt.  Nicole Kidman plays a wealthy widow who adopts the survivor of a terrorist bomber.  It just sounds like the type of role for which Kidman would be nominated.

In the end, nobody knows anything.  Especially me!  We’ll see how all of this plays out over the next few months!




Film Review: The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley (dir by Alex Gibney)

Oh my God, this was such a creepy documentary!

The Inventor tells the story of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, who, at one point, Forbes named the wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America, and who is currently facing criminal charges of defrauding not only her investors but also a countless number of doctors and patients.  After dropping out of college, Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos, a Silicon Valley-based company that claimed it had devised a method that would revolutionize how blood was tested and which would lead to people leading longer and healthier lives.  (“No one will have to say an early goodbye,” as Elizabeth put it.)  It all had to do with a blood-testing device called the Edison, a device that Holmes designed, patented, and made a fortune by licensing.  That the Edison didn’t actually do what Holmes claimed that it did put lives at risk and ultimately led to her downfall.

So, what makes The Inventor such a creepy documentary?  A lot of it has to do with the fact that Elizabeth Holmes herself comes across as being so creepy.  With her endless supply of black turtlenecks and her rather monotonous (not to mention notably deep) voice, she comes across as being a cult leader in the making.  When we see archival footage of her being interviewed or of her giving a speech to her worshipful employees, she has the type of demented gleam in her eye that one would normally associate with a particularly enthusiastic Bond villain.  When her former employees talk about her, they not only mention her drive and her dedication but they also mention the fact that she rarely blinked.  In fact, she so rarely blinked that other people also felt as if they shouldn’t blink in her presence.  Theranos was a company full of people with thousand-yard stares.

Despite the fact that, as many people point out, Elizabeth Holmes had no experience in the medical field and that the majority of her lies were easily exposed, she still had little trouble getting wealthy and powerful men to invest in her company.  Among those who invested in Theranos and sat on its board of directors: two former secretaries of state, one former and one future secretary of defense, and several prominent businessmen.  Though the documentary doesn’t explore this angle as perhaps it should have, it’s interesting to note that the majority of Holmes’s backers and defenders were 1) elderly and 2) male.  The one female investor that Holmes tried to bring in easily saw through Holmes’s lies.  On the other hand, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz became enthusiastic backers of Holmes and her “vision.”  Meanwhile, attorney David Boies — who was best-known for being Al Gore’s personal attorney and who later was hired to head up Harvey Weinstein’s defense team — is on hand to intimidate any Theranos employees who might be on the verge of turning into a whistleblower.  Elizabeth Holmes may currently be an indicted pariah but, before that, she spent many years as a proud member of the American establishment.

In fact, several other members of the Establishment makes cameo appearances in The Inventor.  At one point, we see Holmes being interviewed by Bill Clinton.  At another point, Joe Biden stops by Theranos and praises the company.  We see pictures of Elizabeth Holmes in the Oval Office, visiting with Barack Obama.  Holmes is put on the covers of magazines.  Numerous publications declare her to be the next Steve Jobs.  She’s held up as the future of not just blood testing but also the future of business.  It’s only after one reporter has the courage to actually investigate her claims and two employees risk their futures to tell the truth about what they saw at Theranos that Elizabeth Holmes is revealed to be a fabulist and a con artist.  Was she ever sincere in her desire to make the world a better place or was that just another part of her carefully constructed persona?  The Inventor is full of people still struggling to answer that question for themselves.

The Inventor was directed by Alex Gibney.  Gibney previous directed the Going Clear, an expose of Scientology.  Watching The Inventor, it’s hard not to make comparisons between Scientology and the cults of Silicon Valley.  Watching Elizabeth Holmes give a speech to her employees is like watching that infamous video of Tom Cruise pay homage to L. Ron Hubbard.  And just as Scientology takes advantage of those with a need to believe in something bigger than them, Elizabeth Holmes did the same thing.  Everyone wanted the promises of Homes, Theranos, and the Edison machine to be true.  They wanted it to be true so much that they became blind to the reality that was right in front of them.

The Inventor is a fascinating documentary about power, wealth, fraud, and the prison of belief.  It can currently be seen on HBO.



Music Video of the Day: Keep Hope Alive by The Crystal Method (1998, dir by Doug Liman)

This video was directed by the same Doug Liman who would later go on to direct Go, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow, and American Made.  He also served as executive producer of The O.C., a show that definitely deserves to be revived at some point in the near future.

With its Jesse Jackson vocal samples, the song may be political in theme but the video feels more like a mini-heist film.  It’s better than Stephen Soderbergh’s last few heist films.