June 28th, 2021

Supernova: Love is love, which I think has been well established. Love comes in all forms, and partnership, companionship and a life partner is a goal that many strive to have. Life, sadly, can interrupt those plans in the most cruel of ways. In the days with superhero movies, and horror movies and science fiction movies, it is refreshing to see a movie about humans and relationships. Something that less some truths that are taken for granted. Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, both excellent actors bring forth a story very well that has been addressed in others before. It doesn’t mean that it takes anything away from it, nor the performances. Together they play a couple who is taking a road trip in an RV to the northern part of England. There are a couple of stops along the way. You see their relationship from the banter between them in the RV. What slowly emerges is that both of these successful, creative, artistic men are connected. One of them, we learn, is suffering from dementia. It isn’t apparent at first how far along that he is. The story goes on to observe how these two men are dealing with it. Two people are impacted by an event that neither one can control. While you may think at first that the impact is mostly on the one who is sick, it isn’t true. Both of them have plans, or think that they have plans, which haven’t been well communicated to the other. It’s touching and emotional. It reminds me of Still Alice, where Julianne Moore plays an accomplished professor who slowly loses her mind, and also the movie Euphoria with Eva Green and Alicia Vikander as sisters who are coping with the one sister’s illness. This was very good and I would recommend it if you can find it. I saw on Crave. No one gets through this life unscathed, and in many ways it is all just a lottery. Sometimes that lottery misses you directly, but can impact you with the ones that you love. The message in the end is to enjoy the time that you have with the people in your life that matter, because you never know when that may end. A good message to have when we continue through a pandemic and one can bog down in thoughts of not being able to do some things or go some places.

The Little Things: I wish that I had more positive to say about this one. The cast with Denzel Washington, Remi Malik and Jared Leto is impressive. All have Oscars to their name. Yet it didn’t work me. Washington plays an aging police officer in a small town. Malik is a detective in a larger one, who I think was miscast. I think it’s really my fault for thinking that since I found him hard to understand at times, and I kept expecting to break out into singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Leto plays seemingly another one his creepy guy roles, where he looks like he hasn’t washed his hair in months, he is a smart ass, and pops up in places when you least expect him. Some women have gone missing, and the police are trying to figure it out. The movie title comes from something that Washington says to Malik about the reason why people get caught, and them messing up the details. For those of you, like me, who think that the role of the police and law enforcement is to find the truth of a situation and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, then this movie may not work for you as well. There were aspects of it, and why they are suspecting the Leto character that just didn’t add up to me. In the end, I wasn’t all that entertained and found it somewhat disturbing, which likely was one of the messages that they wanted to deliver.

As a follow up to the HBO documentary Framing Britney, Britney herself appeared in a California court to address her conservatorship. She delivered a 25 minute speech that was rambling, profane at times (which I think is a great mistake in a courtroom) and expressed her determination to avoid jumping through any more hoops that show her mental health. She wants her life back. Plain and simple. She wants her father and family out of her life. She wants to have freedom and autonomy over her body and relationships. There was a time when her erratic behaviour cried out for some intervention. I am not clear whether this was the proper vehicle to get there. But at 40yo, and being expected to run another stay in Vegas with her successful show as well as juggling teenage kids, I think it is safe to say that she can take care of herself. She may remain eccentric, but find me other successful artists who aren’t? Elton John? Please!! Interestingly she hasn’t even made the formal application to end the conservatorship. You would think that Legal advisors would point that out. You would think she could get her own lawyer (another thing that she would like). So we will see how this plays out. The world is denied her talent, because she refuses to perform without this being removed from her life. I think that this makes a lot of sense, and it is good for her to stand up for herself and her rights in an otherwise “free” country. Let those who profit from her find other ways to make money on their own. The story evolves.

March 8th, 2021

The Last Full Measure: The title name for this movie is from a speech from Abraham Lincoln back in the Civil War. The movie takes place at the end of 1999, near the end of the Clinton Administration. A young up and comer in the Pentagon is asked to meet with an older man about a request that has languished for many years. William Hurt plays the veteran, who is looking for a posthumous upgrade to an Air Force paramedic, Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr. (“Pits”) to a Medal of Honor. Seems the young Pits was aboard a helicopter seeing an Army unit (The Big Red One) being ambushed by a Viet Nam, when the Army medic was brought aboard the helicopter and he decided to replace him, heading down to the fire fight. He saved many men before meeting his demise. Hurt was one of the many soldiers that he saved and impacted. Others included Samuel L Jackson, Peter Fonda, Ed Harris and others. These are present day versions of these veterans as well as a re-telling of the horrific events of that day. The story goes from the past to the present. It tries hard to pull on the viewer’s heart strings. The events of course are tragic. As they unfold, you realize that there were other forces at work politically, both then and now, which prevented the award. The veterans want closure, and for someone to acknowledge the incredible selfless act of this Airmen, who helped out Army soldiers when he didn’t have to. He also has his aging parents, with his father who has cancer. The other parties in one way or another seek redemption as well. Things happened and you realize that it went down thirty two years ago not as expected. One of the messages is that of the many Medals of Honor, only three had been given to Air Force enlisted men. Most have gone to officers. That seems a little out of sorts. In looking into the movie a little further, I found out that lead character Huffman never existed. Some of the other characters didn’t either. The father did in fact have cancer (played by Christopher Plummer). In the end, I would have liked a better story for these actors. I cannot recommend it, as for me it was a little too manipulative.

Framing Britney: This documentary just came on Crave on Friday. It was previously on Hulu in the US. It outlines the meteoric rise from rural Mississippi at the age of 8, to worldwide singing sensation. It also shows how one who becomes so popular has the paparazzi follow them, in the days before stalking laws and the death of Princess Diana. In many ways, Britney Spears could have had an in depth conversation with the late Princess and talk about how to deal with people who can make a million dollars for one picture of you. At a very early age she was on top of the world, and then her world begin coming apart at the seams. Some poor choices with people she hung out with, then married became turning points in her life. Some erratic behaviour followed by any measure, and ultimately she ended up in a precarious legal position of being in a conservatorship. A conservatorship basically is like a Power of Attorney where you can have your financial situation and/or your person. The interesting and scary aspect of it becomes that it the event the Conservatee wants to take care of their own business, they must make an application to the Court. But the burden of proof is on them to prove that it should be removed. In this case, because of her behaviour, likely showing aspects of mental illness (with a 2020 lens on it), she had a court impose this on her. Strangely, unlike most situations like this with elderly or incapacitated individuals, Britney is still expected to perform, earn money, be the superstar. Even post-conservatorship she had a successful residency at Las Vegas. So she can make money, earn money for “the Brand”, but her father, who has never shown any ability to handle money is the Conservator. Odd. When she was growing up, it was her Mom who was closest to her. A movement has arisen called Free Britney, and they are wanting this Conservatorship to end. A woman in her 40s, who can make money, and have children, should have the ability to make financial and personal choices. She has been under this order since 2009; 12 years!! I agree that initially this made a lot of sense, but time has passed. She won’t perform again without her Dad being removed. In the end, I do think that she should find a way to spend some time before a judge and show them that she is lucid and capable. Not through lawyers. Not in the social media. This is an ongoing movement, and the story unfolds. I would like to think that it will get sorted out, and that a more critical eye can be put towards real situations where such legal arrangements are necessary. This was worthwhile to watch and I enjoyed it. The lawyer in me is shocked by the lack of rights for someone who needs assistance. It is scary that someone with obvious conflicts of interest (her father) has the ability to make decisions about her. Stay tuned.

Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy: In short this is a really great series showing a visual smorgasbord of cities around Italy and the foods that are known in the region. I have seen three episodes. It started with Roma, then Firenza and Amalfi and then Bologna. The dishes included Spaghetti Carbonara (which I had to make shortly after viewing the episode). Other dishes include a zucchini dish in Amalfi that he raved about and then other episodes showing the making of mozzarella cheese, proscuitto and others. It has some history, some sites, and dish after dish of delectable pasta and other delicacies. Naples showed pizza. Not just any pizza, the marguerita with simple ingredients. Having travelled the regions, except Bologna so far, I can attest that the lemons, the tomatoes, the bread, the pecorino cheese (oh! that cheese!) are all phenomenal. I would return again in a heartbeat. I look forward to the other episodes and being able to do what I can do make other dishes! Worth viewing for anyone who has been to Italy, or who has ever dreamt of going. If you believe the San Marzano tomatoes that you buy at the local Longo’s come from Italy, and this small area near Naples, they just aren’t. It is a small area. Sorry to let you know.