Thursday, February 20, 2020

NOT SO LONG AGO

I like this photo taken several years ago (I don't remember when or by whom) not for the way I appear (not crazy about that) but for the books. I'm still a book lover (and writer, always have at least four or more prose and poetry books I'm working on and a dozen or more I'm reading) and these are the two bookcases that contain my favorite and/or most valuable books (not written by me) in one corner of my bedroom/office.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

THE DEBATE

Elizabeth and Bernie are still my top choices of those left, and I can't help still liking Joe. Mike is a mirage and Pete presents as amiable as Howdy Doody but the strings are visible. And Amy, a fighter who can land some punches but can't get a knockout.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

FORD V. FERRARI

There's almost no women in the cast of this film except, thankfully, Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (the star of the cable series OUTLANDER), whose presence alone made seeing this buddy flick worth it. Why isn't she in more movies? As for the men, a lot of fine actors, starting with the two leads, Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Two of the best, who make all the buddy-movie tropes much more palatable and even fun. Watching them work is like watching any great artist perform their art: delightful.

One of the many good performances is by Tracy Letts (the playwright/actor who made an impact in LITTLE WOMEN as well) as Henry Ford II. He has a scene with Matt Damon in a race car that is also worth the price of admission. All in all a pretty entertaining experience, despite the sometimes hyper masculinity and jingoism.

Monday, February 17, 2020

RAIN WORTHINGTON

There's lots of poems in my books that mention or are about or dedicated to Rain Worthington. We lived together in downtown Manhattan of the late 1970s where I witnessed her early development as a composer of unique genius (in my opinion then, and still). Yesterday her music was performed at Carnegie Hall, an event I could not make but wanted to. I highly recommend seeking our her music and reading this article about her: https://www.amny.com/news/the-villager/from-the-8bc-to-carnegie-hall-the-improbable-journey-of-composer-rain-worthington/?fbclid=IwAR2nBYzFHfn1SMrkXLphC6nrvvClR-kQ9tMojS0vu89GrvOypW5FaEMUUOw

Friday, February 14, 2020

MY VALENTINE TO YOU

Happy Valentine's Day from me and Frank and "The Kid From Redbank" (Count Basie) (and that's Quincey Jones conducting the band)...gotta watch it all the way through for those last three notes!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

BACK IN THE DAY

Here's a throwback to the 1980s...in back is my old friend the multi-talented Eric Trules (look him up) and my oldest son (then my only one) already a musician, Miles Lally...and in front filmmaker Carol Dysinger (who had won a student Academy Award in 1978 and would go on to win a regular one last Sunday for Best Short Documentary (LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WAR ZONE (IF YOU'RE A GIRL)) (look her up) and me...

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

1917 & BOMBSHELL & JOJO RABBIT

I binged nominated films before the Oscars but didn't have time to post about them all, so here's three:
Pretty satisfying movie experience, and an impressive technical achievement. It uses the basic movie imperative: to move, and the basic movie plot to achieve that: the quest to reach the goal before the movie ends. The illusion that the entire flick is filmed in one extremely long take is almost overwhelming at times (at other times it can feel like a one-trick pony, though the "trick" works), but mostly creates a tension that kept me anxious at times in that action movie visceral way that can be so exciting. Worth watching.
I didn't think I was interested in this story but watched it to see why it was nominated, and from the first scenes was knocked out by Charlize Theron's transformation into Meagan Kelly! You might think, two attractive ambitious blondes, what's to transform, watch and see. Somehow Theron got every aspect of the character's physicality, including and especially the voice, so accurately I forgot I was watching the actress and felt I was watching Kelly play herself. The other totally impressive performance was Margot Robbie's in a supporting role that easily could have won a mess of awards. Again, worth watching.
Like a lot of folks I couldn't figure out what this was about from the poster and trailer, but watching this political satire full of humor and tragedy was a unique trip. Along with PARASITE, I'd say JOJO RABBIT is the other most original movie of 2019. The fact that it was written and directed by a man of part Maori descent (thus his acceptance speech emphasizing indigenous peoples) who also co-stars as a caricature of Hitler, makes it even more exceptional. Plus Scarlett Johansson gives one of her most engaging performances ever. And the boy who plays the lead deserved his own Oscar! Again, well worth watching for my taste.

RECENTLY

that's my two oldest kids in front, Caitlin Hotaling and Miles Lally , and me in back with my arms around my youngest, Flynn Lally (in blue cap), and grandson Donovan Lally, and behind Cait my other grandchild, Deak Hotaling, who is either looking at their phone or rejecting the camera...

Monday, February 10, 2020

OSCAR SHOW

I mostly enjoyed it. After the wardrobe glitches in her "Mister Rogers" opening, Janelle Monae displayed her glorious talent in her usual knockout ways and entertained the shit out of the audience with the rest of the performance. She and others (the rapper from Hamilton for instance) hammered home the disappointing reality of Oscars-still-so-white (in terms of who was nominated) and made the show seem a little more-up-to-date.

Joaquin Phoenix's acceptance speech was long but engaging as he articulated the argument for social justice in every arena including for all sentient beings (to my mind everything is sentient in some way). There were other acceptances that I loved, including Brad Pitt's who's one of the actors I can't help liking no matter what (he's good too), but especially Carol Dysinger's (an old friend I haven't seen in years but am happy for) acceptance for the Best Short Documentary Award ("Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (if you're a girl)"), check it out (yay Carol!).

Among the other highlights for me was Cynthia Erivo's performance of the song from HARRIETT, which she starred in and should have won the Oscar for Best Actress for. What a singing voice! And PARASITE winning so much. It and JOJO RABBIT were the most original movies of 2019, to me, and I would have liked seeing the latter win more than it did (as well as Scarlett Johansson, who was great in it and MARRIAGE STORY, as usual), same for LITTLE WOMEN (I would have liked Florence Pugh to have won Best Supporting Actress, and Greta Gerwig so deserved a nomination for Best Director!).

All in all it was typical Hollywood, which means there were moments of not-so-typical Hollywood to give the appearance of progress (PARASITE!) amid otherwise predictable outcomes. For me the most poignant thing about it was seeing the now old established Hollywood folk—like Jane Fonda, and Al Pacino, and Marty Scorcese (all of whom I've met and in some cases became friends with for awhile back in my "Hollywood years")—and remembering when they first appeared at Oscar ceremonies and how it seemed like such a generational change from the names that had dominated my youth to my own generation, and now they're (we're) the old ones...

Saturday, February 8, 2020

KEVIN CONWAY R.I.P.

I first knew Kevin in NYC in the 1970s. After I moved to L.A. in '82, I often ran into him at events there. He could be as abrasive and confrontational as I could, which I always attributed in part to our Irish heritage. But he was a terrific actor, and I'm glad I had the chance to work with him on an episode of JAG not too long before I moved back East and as far as I can remember never saw him in person again. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

BOOKSMART & OFFICIAL SECRETS

BOOKSMART is a high school comedy in the tradition with a few new twists. The leads are Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. The latter has gotten most of the attention from critics and others, partly because she's Jonah Hill's sister, but mostly because she gives a great performance in what is usually the sidekick role. But Dever's performance as an attractive and smart but insecure introverted lesbian was the most impressive to me. A well done little movie that deserved some nominations, and I wonder if it had been directed by a man rather than Olivia Wilde if it might have gotten some.

 Keira Knghtly can do no wrong as an actress in my opinion. She's always mesmerizing to watch and as committed to her roles as any movie actor. But she is sometimes miscast only because of her hard to disguise model good looks, as in OFFICIAL SECRETS, where the real woman the story is about looked more like Florence Pugh, who would have brought a more obvious authenticity that only Knightly's acting talent allowed her to at times achieve. There's a lot of the usual terrific Brit acting in this flick. The story is meant to be inspiring, and definitely has its moments, but overall it's mostly a quiet display of the kinds of courage those impeachment witnesses modeled in the Congressional hearings for which they are now paying the price for.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

LITTLE WOMEN

I chose to go out to the movies tonight to see LITTLE WOMEN. Before it was even over, I was thinking the reason Greta Gerwig didn't get nominated for Best Director could only be sexism, because it is among the three or four best directed films of 2019. I was worried when I heard Gerwig had deconstructed the narrative timeline of the book, but she did it so brilliantly it truly heightened my engagement with the film and the emotions it kept generating in me.

I laughed, I cried, I felt fear and hope and joy and moved and inspired. The cast was so good everyone in it deserves high praise, but Saoirse Ronan especially, once again proving she is among the greats of our time, of all time. Meryl Streep was a delight to watch work, and Chris Cooper in only a few scenes in the movie did more with only a few lines, or even none, and equally few gestures, than many actors nominated for awards did with multiple scenes and lines and gestures in the buzzed-about movies of 2019.

Seeing it on a big screen highlighted the deep artistry of Yorick Le Saux, the cinematographer, too. Half the scenes in the film were worth framing and hanging on your wall. Greta Gerwig's LITTLE WOMEN turns out to be a true work of cinematic art, an instant classic, and for my taste maybe the best movie of 2019.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

LATE NIGHT RUMINATION

Caught up with the Super Bowl halftime show on YouTube, loved the Latinx pride, especially the point that Puerto Rico is part of the USA (highlight: JayLo's daughter's extraordinary vocals) and Shakira's explosive opening (at 43 more energy than a typical kid on a sugar rush) (and JayLo at 50 with more stamina and moves than a teenage tennis player). They (Shakira and JayLo) and their teams should have been in charge of the Iowa Caucus results.

Monday, February 3, 2020

HUH

Had to be somewhere else and don't watch football anymore cause of the brutality and injuries. But I played in my high school years in the 1950s and used to love it, so when I arrived home after the halftime show and a little into the third quarter I put it on in the background while I did some night time chores and with a 10 to 13 score I thought at least it's competitive (unlike the ones I tried watching now and then in the last ten years) and then I noticed it seemed a little less brutal, in fact seemingly safer, and then in the last seven minutes of the game it got totally compelling and crazily entertaining. Huh.