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Movie Frenzy October
Susie reviews Fair Play, Lessons in Chemistry, Reptile, Reservation Dogs, & Joy Ride
Notes From the Film Critic’s Desk:
One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingys — it’s time for my October movie and TV picks.
We have latest noir picks, a stunning original from the creators of “The Office,” radical femme raunch, and some deep dives that didn’t make my published beat in the San Francisco Chronicle.
What have YOU been watching?
Sex thriller ‘Fair Play’ takes no prisoners
I was entertained by the hedge fund gender-bias-thriller Fair Play, but it only stoked my fire to return to second watching of some of my favorite Cutthroat Wall Street Thrillers:
Below is my detailed Chronicle review of Fair Play!
Would you like a side of erotic revenge this evening? How about a nightcap of noir?
If you have a taste for the savage, you might easily split the difference with “Fair Play.”
Director Chloe Domont made her melodrama for the big screen, where one may collectively mock, gasp and scream at the backstabbing travails of two lovers who should’ve known better than to conduct an affair at a pitiless hedge fund. Dollars win, every time.
Meet pretty Emily, a child-prodigy analyst played by Phoebe Dynevor (“Bridgerton”) who works side-by-steamy-side with handsome Luke, played by Alden Ehrenreich (“Oppenheimer”). Luke got his gig because he was “pushed on the firm” by a client. The two hotties aren’t supposed to be having an interoffice relationship, but of course that’s what makes it even hotter.
The film opens with their covert assignation, a make-out session where Luke performs a cinematically precedent-breaking sex act that will endear him to every woman in the audience. (Gosh, he must be a dream come true!)
Ah, but blood will be spilled more than once in this tightly wound reversal of fortunes.
When Emily gets a promotion bump instead of Luke, every viewer’s stomach will tighten in dread.
How much will she apologize for her success? How bitter and limp will he get? Even close readers of toxic masculinity and feminine masochism will not be prepared for how far these two take their lust and vendetta.
Continue reading . . .
Fair Play is Streaming HERE.
Brie Larson’s spicy wit in ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ captures the steely gaze of a woman denied
For fans of peak TV, the debut of “Lessons in Chemistry” is a sublime confection that sets a new table for period drama enthusiasts looking for a show with bite.
For fans of the bestselling 2022 novel written by Bonnie Garmus, the miniseries is a highly anticipated adaptation. (Don’t be afraid, it’s really good even if it messes with some of your expects)
An ensemble cast, led by showrunner Lee Eisenberg (“The Office”), stars Academy Award-winner Brie Larson (“Room,” “Captain Marvel”) slaying her role as a thwarted 1950s scientist named Elizabeth Zott who finds revenge — and redemption — as the host of a protofeminist cooking show.
Our heroine is a stoic 30-something chemist, employed as little more than a coffee maker at a venerated science lab. She is at the center of this classic woman-against-the-world melodrama, with spicy wit. When Elizabeth is finally thrown out of the lab for being an unwed mother, she stumbles into hosting a local TV cooking show, where her nonconformist expertise in the kitchen makes her a star.
Elizabeth is an odd bodkin who happens to look like Grace Kelly. When she falls in love with another eccentric scientist, Calvin, played by Lewis Pullman (“Top Gun: Maverick”), the two are irresistible.
Readers have debated whether Elizabeth and her paramour are on the autism spectrum. They are STEM smarties, sure, but they are also “social flops” who often misread the room, are picky in their habits and have difficulty managing their emotions that others read as insensitivity.
“NeuroTribes” author Steve Silberman, whose work is legend in autism civil rights, said we are witnessing a “golden era” in pop culture that celebrates the humanity of neurodiversity, rather than the 20th century cliches that showed those with autism as one-dimensional shut-ins.
Silberman, showrunner Eisenberg and show supervisor Shamell Bell (“The Hate U Give”) spoke to the Chronicle about the most powerful subplot: the razing of Los Angeles’ Sugar Hill, where Calvin and Elizabeth live and fall in love.
Sugar Hill, now known as the West Adams neighborhood, was an affluent Black neighborhood, and our two chemists are portrayed as its only white residents. In the 1950s, Los Angeles decided to build Interstate 10 through the Sugar Hill community, destroying it forever. There were protests at the time, and in this TV story, one of the leaders is a brilliant attorney named Harriet, played by Aja Naomi King (“How to Get Away With Murder”), who happens to be Calvin and Elizabeth’s next-door neighbor.
In the script, Calvin moves to Sugar Hill seemingly oblivious to the fact that he lives in a Black neighborhood, or the existential threats that face their community. He is “color-blind” and truly admires Harriet and her children. When Elizabeth joins him, it’s a regular “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Or is it?
Continue reading . . .
Lessons in Chemistry is Streaming HERE.
Here’s the thing: I want to swing with Benicio Del Toro and Alicia Silverstone’s characters in Reptile, and I don’t care who knows it.
It’s Benicio’s movie, for sure, but his couple chemistry and arc with his on-screen wife are such a tantalizing slow burn that I clapped my hands every time they appeared on screen.
It’s yummy noir mystery, cop corruption theme, a complete character study. Recommended!
Reptile is Streaming HERE.
Yes, I’m ready for the AAPI Bridesmaids! What a much-needed catharsis.
Every time a critic says they are afraid to recommend a “feminist raunch comedy,”it’s all I can do, to not rip it from their hands.
If you don’t get our cunt-wise bravado and dark uterine humors, GET OUT OF THE WAY. There is an appetite for this kind of comedy that has barely been touched.
Joy Ride is full of the slapstick, drugs, bad manners, and sexual “error of our ways” you could hope to expect, but it’s also about something heavy — a young Chinese-American woman, adopted by white parents, who is dragged kicking and screaming back to China to have a “reunion” with her birth parents, only to find out . . . her mother is not Chinese, and there’s deeper historic tragedies than her original “papers” or hot takes could ever have revealed.
I bet I wasn’t the only one,after laughing themselves silly, burst into tears. Bravo to filmmaker Adele Lim, whom I will be following without fail from here on out.
Joy Ride is streaming here.
Before Reservation Dogs
The best TV, the best film, of the past year, is without question, the third and final season Reservation Dogs. I’m not alone to call it one of the most powerful television stories of all time.
It kills me that the title stuck on HULU, where many people won’t see it. It will eventually be out on Blu-Ray/DVD, but the principals are still wrangling over the licensing. It WILL happen: the industry considers it a masterpiece.
Reservation Dogs was one of those miracles of finest comedy and heart-bending tragedy. Above all, it was original. They were brilliant to call it quits after the 3rd season, leaving us with a gem, a perfect moment.
As a tribute, below, I’ve posted a couple early guerilla videos from some of the R.D. Creators, long before they were famous, before anyone gave a goddamn. You can see all the wisdom and politics, the roots, right from the start.
Reservation Dogs is streaming here.
Thanks for enjoying my movie adventures. Would you consider a subscription? Thank you, cinematically!