A girlfriend of mine recently received an invitation from the Kalamazoo Public Library to a special screening of a movie at the Portage Celebration Cinema. And she knew just the friend who needed to accompany her—a friend who understood the complexity of this thought-provoking serious movie. Or as she put it, “I knew you’d like this, and that I could suffer through it.”
While many adults are hitting the movie theatres for the opening of “Oppenheimer,” a true story about the dark beginnings of nuclear weapons and the atomic age, another dark movie opens on this blockbuster weekend – “Barbie.”
OK, not dark, the most opposite from “dark” a movie can be. Colorful, funny, and with just the right balance of self-deprecation, “Barbie” is part “Toy Story,” part “Wizard of Oz,” and part “The Truman Show.” And like Woody in “Toy Story,” this story follows Barbie, who becomes self-aware and goes in search of her place in Barbieland and in the real world. “Barbie” stars the charming duo of Margo Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
While no one will accuse Barbie of being the new feminist anthem for today’s young women, the message here is a positive one to girls. And it’s fun enough for everyone else. And PINK. If you don’t embrace the color here, you’re taking yourself too seriously. Seriously, seeing the theatre goers embracing their inner and outer pink was as delightful as the movie itself. So, grab your girlfriends and grab your pinkest outfit. It’s all fun.
If you had Cable TV anytime during the last twenty years, you no doubt came across Double Jeopardy, a movie that seemed to be playing on as many channels as Pretty Woman. This smart thriller starred Ashley Judd as a woman trying to stay one step ahead of her parole officer, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Not surprisingly, the movie role put Judd on the A List in Hollywood. She followed up with a couple of other movies roles and…
Turns out, Judd didn’t suddenly fall out favor with movie audiences, she fell out favor with Harvey Weinstein, powerful movie mogul and rapist. In what was apparently the worst-kept secret in Hollywood, Weinstein assaulted a multitude of women, from assistants to famous actresses, with over 80 women coming forward after the New York Times broke the story of Weinstein’s criminal activities. With help from a few brave women, including Ashley Judd, Weinstein is now serving a 23-year sentence in prison.
Ashley Judd’s career came to a standstill because she refused Weinstein’s advances. Many others were too scared, young or unable to say, “No.” Ironically (or not), the film detailing the New York Time’s exposé on Weinstein, She Said has been snubbed by every film awards organization, maybe hitting a little too close to home. You can rent She Said now on Amazon Prime for $5.99.
If you think the “Me Too” movement was an overreaction, please educate yourself by revisiting this moment in time when women spoke up and were finally heard. She Said should be required reading or viewing in every high school.
This family could have lived in Alamo
Just in time for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards season, Steven Spielberg finally brings his inspiration for “E.T.” and his many other blockbuster films to the screen. With “The Fabelmans,” we are introduced to Spielberg’s family during the early fifties, when holidays and other family moments were captured on 8mm movie cameras usually held by fathers, and the image of the nuclear family was often a façade. But this is the story about Spielberg, and we learn how, as a youngster, he was first introduced to the magic of moviemaking with the screening of “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
But this film is so much more than “…and then he started making movies, blah, blah, blah.” While “The Fabelmans” is told through the lens of young Sammy (Steven Spielberg), the film could easily stand alone in the telling of the bittersweet story of Sammy’s troubled mother, Mitzi (played by Michelle Williams), a creative soul who gives up her passion to raise a family while grappling with marriage to a man who doesn’t stimulate her creativity and free spirit.
A parallel could be drawn between the majority of imaginative stories and the writers who endured a dysfunctional childhood. And having a “colorful mother” seems to be a recurring theme in movies that speak to audiences looking for a story with heart, and the reality of creative souls who become successful storytellers.
Look for this movie to be a dark horse in the race to the awards. “The Fabelmans” can now be rented on Amazon Prime.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and author of the novel, Chasing North Star – available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor
THE WALTONS: HOMECOMING – a 60 Second Movie Review
WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS PISS ANT SPOILER
When the CW announced recently that the beloved TV series, The Waltons would be receiving a reboot on their network, old people throughout the world rejoiced, and every young person went, “Huh?”
Never mind that. So, after trumpeting the news of this Christmas miracle, I feel obligated to providing my thoughts on the movie special that aired on December 28 on the CW Network – a holiday special featuring a family forced to deal with everyday life in the era following the 1929 stock-market crash and the hard times that followed.
Never watch a movie reboot with two sisters who remember every detail of the original adaptation and can’t get past the fact that every adaptation comes with new edits and dialogue. I understand their passion for tradition, but we are not the CW Network’s desired demographic. While I am sad that Mary Ellen no longer calls Elizabeth a piss ant (seriously, this is the best line in the original, and the mother’s reaction is priceless), I can only hope that this reboot brings a new crop of quotes to today’s younger generation. As a viewer who visited with the original Walton kids weekly, I have to say I was charmed by the new cast, with familiar faces filling the iconic roles (Hang on while I Google John Boy in Waltons Reboot. Oh yeah, 17-year-old Kevin from This is Us).
My only criticism is the needless Hallmark touch added to a show that attempts to depict life in an era that was darker and dirtier than what is shown in this sterilized version. But I am thankful and appreciate to be revisiting with this family on Walton’s Mountain. I cannot fathom this wholesome TV series surviving on a network full of shows overflowing with angst and superheroes, but something tells me that’s what they said the first time around.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor