Tag Archives: female director

Trash Never Looked Better: HUSTLERS

I’ll be the first to confess. I didn’t even bother to throw Lorene Scafaria’s movie a bone solely because of a) subject matter, which seemed (upon promos) as tawdry to me as Paul Verhoeven’s here birth order research paper outline dissertation french thesis help services cheap critical analysis essay writing service uk get link see amitriptyline and viagra thesis topics on water phd dissertations thesis antithesis synthesis is also known as how to write a movie in an essay enter viagra new york 10genenc cialis 20mg bigger penis buy research papers online thesis about obesity get link creative writing camp alberta http://www.naymz.com/thesis-writing-online/ skin cancer essay free master thesis proofreading and editing marks https://lajudicialcollege.org/forall/automotive-resume-objective-statement/16/ custom essays educational research homework policy custom house essay scarlet letter enter go to link best phd content examples example of descriptive essay about love enter Showgirls, and b) Jennifer Lopez.

Did I really need to see a movie about strippers? No. The sole topic reeked of the sordid and debased and not really my cup of tea.

And then Jennifer Lopez… How long has it been since Lopez, a credible but frankly, underused performer, gave what anyone could call a ‘standout performance’? Do I have to actually go back two decades ago when she starred against George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight to see a movie that made her register as an actress with dramatic potential and a presence to spare? Has she been making train wreck after train wreck, often recycled formulas of either the stalked woman (The Boy Next Door, Enough), the detective/cop on a case (Angel Eyes, Money Train, and The Cell) or rom-coms (practically everything else) for this long? How can anyone sustain a career with a filmography like this? It’s probably why she’s been more successful as a fashion mogul, even more so than a pop singer. Even that has had its peaks and valleys, with more valleys than actual peaks and her turn in Hustlers wasn’t going to make me come out to see it in theatres.

However, and JLo aside, after seeing so many gangster movies dating back to the 30s in which men do terrible things in order to make a living — often at the cost of their own soul — I realized I was being rather hypocritical, especially in a time when women have to bend over backwards (and in this movie, literally) to score performances that are daring. At the same time I found myself recalling Sweet Charity, which revolved around a prostitute and had its own show stopping number “Big Spender”, which is all Hustlers is about. So there’s a good amount of raunch in Hustlers, a full frontal by Lizzo (questionably necessary but, as I later learned, done with a healthy dose of comic relief), an appearance by Cardi B (unnecessary), and more curves than a hairpin road. I figured, what the hell, once it was out on streaming platforms I’d give it a go, not expect much more than perhaps a version of Widows as directed and visualized by a woman, with some elements of The Kitchen thrown in for good measure. And if I had to see Jennifer Lopez play, um… Jennifer Lopez in yet another bland variation where she does what she calls acting (without ever emoting to save her life), I’d suck it in. She was flanked by a solid cast and a solid director.

Hustlers, based on the 2015 Jessica Pressler article “The Hustlers at Scores”, concerns and focuses on the interivew that Elizabeth, a jornalist based on Pressler (played by Julia Stiles in a mostly thankless part) is conducting on ex-stripper Dorothy (a.k.a. Destiny, played by Constance Wu of Crazy Rich Asians) on her association with Ramona Vega (Jennifer Lopez), a stripper she befriended and worked with at Moves, the gentleman’s club thinly based on Scores, located on 28th and 11th Avenue in New York City. As Dorothy/Destiny’s story unfolds we get to see Destiny’s progression into the striping business, which is to say the least, unsuccessful. Once she meets Ramona, who incidentally, makes an impressive, memorable entrance as directed by Scafaria, Ramona takes Destiny under her wing, mentors her into learning the ropes, and a partnership based on mutual success is born.

However, the stock market crash of 2008 sends the stripper business into a nosedive as clients, high-paying suits who manage enormous sums of money and will pay in droves for a night of debauchery, fizzle out. Destiny finds herself next to jobless, with no skills to land her a n even basic pay job. She then returns to stripping, but times (and tastes in strippers) have rapidly changed, leacing the women to concoct a scam involving drugs in order to steal away the money from their prospective clients.

I can see why on surface, people — men mainly — would be turned off during or after watching the movie. Even today, watching anything in which women not only take control but basically make fools out of men (whether they deserved it or not and the film does give you both sides of the coin), it comes across as “crossing the line” and can make anyone cringe. Which again, why should it? Has no one seen Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery? Women can be just as horrible as men and then some.

Scafaria, by sticking to her guns and showing the darker, seedier side of feminine behavior, gives her actresses a load of material to work with even when that material is less than savory. And of all of her mostly female cast, Lopez is the one who comes across the strongest, presenting a fully formed sociopath who still maintains a sliver of humanity underneath her tarnished goods. Hers is quite the performance and one that reveals the actress she could be if she put herself to it. She is followed by Wu who allowed herself to play a character who gets sucked into the dark side and splits herself into the mom she is and this other person she will have to face later on when things go wrong. The rest of the cast is uniformly good, and now I can’t wait to see what Scafaria tackles next.

Olivia Wilde smashes it out of the ballpark with her sharply funny BOOKSMART

Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, the stars of Olivia Wilde’s excellent coming of age comedy Booksmart.

BOOKSMART. Director: Olivia Wilde. Cast: Kailtyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Billie Lourd, Mason Gooding, Victoria Ruesga, Molly Gordon, Eduardo Franco, Diana Silvers. Screenwriters: Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susana Fogel, Katie Silberman. Language: English. Runtime 105 minutes. US Release date: May 24, 2019. Venue: Regal Battery Park, NYC, NY. Rating A.

The other day I was reading a news item after seeing Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart that the film was apparently, set to fail. I’m not sure how a movie that has grossed three times its budget to make, as of this writing, just about 20 million dollars can be called a failure, but perhaps part of the reason has to do with the fact that this is a movie made by women. And the aftertaste of having digested this information with the movie’s creative spark had me thinking, would critics and everyone else who believes this say the same thing if Booksmart had been directed by, let’s say, Paul Dano? [Nothing against Dano; he’s one of those directors I think we should pay attention to and an even better actor who can equally make me laugh while also feeling creeped out as he did in Swiss Army Man in 2016.]

I’m going to reply to myself with a resounding no. You see, old habits die hard and Hollywood, who in its infancy was teeming with women screenwriters and directors and some actresses even got into producing, still doesn’t seem to get it that women are perfectly capable of delivering entertaining material and still make a killing in the box office.

Olivia Wilde clearly knows her medium and blasts it out of the ballpark with this her debut film, no easy feat considering how many first time directors there are. Her story is close to home to anyone who goes see this movie who had a less than memorable high school. Amy (Kailtyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) have been best friends forever, but their friendship, which also carries a heavy dose of dependency, have branded them as pretentious by their classmates. Added to the equation is that Amy has been out for two years now and has a schoolgirl crush on another girl, Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), while Molly also harbors a crush on popular guy Nick (Mason Gooding).

On the day before graduation, Molly overhears some of her classmates deriding her and decides to confront them, using the fact that she’s scored next to perfect grades that will ensure her future in a prestigious college and they won’t have amounted to anything other than this moment. To her surprise, all of the students also have made it into prestigious colleges, which comes as a blow to her ego. Realizing that all this time she and Amy have been seen as boring (because all they’ve done is study and eschew social gatherings), they come to the realization that they’ve got only one last send off to crash, and it’s the one Nick is throwing. Everyone will be there. However, that turns out to be easier said than done; when you’ve been the outsider for so long and the only reason classmates call or text you is to find out class assignments, chances of you knowing where the party to be will take place are slim to none.

So the girls use all their investigative abilities to find out where the party’s at. Wilde keeps her story going from one disastrous scenario to the next as Amy and Molly edge closer to Nick’s party. The laughs come fast and furious all throughout, from an over the top yacht party they crash, to a murder mystery whodunit, to sitting in s cab driven by their principal who also has an iPad full with porn, to sitting in what may be a serial killer’s car (which bothers them not a bit, since he moonlights as a pizza delivery man and delivered to Nick’s address), to finally, Nick’s party itself, which turns to hold some surprises of its own as practically everyone converges there for a night of debauchery and self-discovery.

If you want to see a smart and sharp comedy that despite its moments of complete WTF insanity loves its leading ladies and wants them to fit in, Olivia Wilde’s comedy is it. Amy and Molly’ friendship seems so lived in it would have been impossible for me to distinguish what was fictitious for what was real. It’s also because of this that the movie’s core — female friendship — remains strong. Booksmart, despite its high school is hell mantra, is rather harmless, good, riotous fun.