Discussing A Fantastic Woman

A discussion group at the Broadway to celebrate the Oscar win of “A Fantastic Woman” and discuss trans issues raised by the movie and in Nottingham now.
Hearing stuff I was unaware of.
One remark struck me in particular – (something like) – ‘I don’t know whether I want to start taking hormones, and then have surgery; I just know I’m happier when I’m trans.”
Other references to people in Nottingham being trolled, and stories of violence against trans people (particularly in Brazil).


A Fantastic Woman

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A younger woman comes into the life of an older man, who leaves his wife and family.  The younger woman is a talented singer, is resented by the wife and family, and yet is understanding and a model in calmness.
When the man dies suddenly, and with unusual injuries, it takes a while for matters to be sorted out but in the meantime various members of the family stop the younger woman from taking part in the funeral and other events, and try to drive her out of the flat, require the car to be handed over and even take the dog.  It also becomes clear the younger woman takes certain drugs and can be racy.
The film shows the younger woman win out on much of what she wanted – saying goodbye to the body and having the dog back (very satisfying) – although (unusually for a drama) not all the steps in between are shown.
Oh, and the younger woman is transgender.
And some of the resentment is a hatred that trans people can suffer, and in this story turns to assault.
The movie also includes a pre-occupation on what a trans woman might look like downstairs and a scene where she has to pretend to be a man again – apparently clichés for movies featuring a trans gender as a lead.
The movie is also a tad slow – a lot of lead character stares into the camera.
But it’s now an Oscar winner – best film not in English – and being celebrated by the trans-community.
(36: 3e, 4s, 3p)


Of course the Oscars are wrong

800 oscar nominated films 2018 montageLast year’s Oscars ceremony was memorable for the coach tour of film fans being walked through the ceremony and the wrong film being announced as film of the year.
This year, the outing of sexual abuse within the industry will come to the fore.
The American movie industry in particular is reported to be stuck in a rut – having bet on superheroes and sequels for the Summer, when perhaps the products have been too long and lacking quality stories, and the audiences have moved on.  I’m told the Italian film market is also in trouble.

020 i tonya movie stillIn “I, Tonya”, the lead character chastises us through the fourth wall for watching the film because of “the incident” – instead we’re currently checking the movie’s claim for an Oscar award.
The planning and timing of certain types of movies to be considered for the Oscars is firmly set so January and February tend to be the season for movie watching.
Of thee movies I saw in 2017 “(Paddington 2“, “Dunkirk“, “England is Mine“, “The Journey, Their Finest“, “The Salesman, Lion“, “Elle“, “Viceroy’s House, 20th Century Women“, “Hidden Figures“, “The Founder“, “Fences“, “T2: TrainspottingDenial“, “Moonlight“, “Jackie“, “A Monster Calls)”, only 6 (check) of the 19 count for consideration in the 2018 Oscars.
So far this year, “I Tonya“, “Dark River“, “Lady Bird“, “Call Me by Your Name“, “The Shape of Water“, “Phantom Thread“, “The Post“, “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri“, “Darkest Hour“, “Molly’s Game“, “The Death of Stalin” (that’s 11 with “A Fantastic Woman” and “The Square” already booked).
Looking forward already to “Sweet Country”, “Journeyman” and “Isle of Dogs”,  and possibly “You Were Never Really Here” and “I Got Life”.
Thanks to Broadway Cinema.

To judge the performances of actors is beyond me – and I often think that at this level of excellence, what people judge is the character and the character’s story-line.
As for films, what do I look for – perhaps
– entertainment;
(total effect, oh and it mustn’t hurt like some of the top contenders did);
– main story;
(strength, worthiness, marks off for poor history);
– production;
(quality, coherence, richness, range of stories, quality of characters etc.)

So my ranking for films seen is –
Paddington 2” (100: 5e, 4s, 5p; er, it’s a kids’ film?);

The Shape of Water” (80: 4e, 4s, 5p; an experience);
Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri” (80: 4e, 4s, 5p; celebrates redemption, some fantastic surprises but the Police are not credible);

Lady Bird” (60: 4e, 3s, 5p; thought story was a tad harsh with the Mother);
The Post” (60: 4e, 5s, 3p; very worthwhile);
Dunkirk” (60: 4e, 3s, 5p; some of the sub-plots were nonsensical);
I, Tonya” (60: 5e, 3s, 4p; bit unsure of some of the conclusions drawn);

Their Finest” (48: 4e, 3s, 4p; really pleasant);
Call Me by Your Name” (48: 3e, 4s, 4p; it’s me – I don’t like romances);
The Journey” (45: 3e, 5s, 3p; incredibly worthwhile);

The Salesman” (36: 3e, 4s, 3p; a worthwhile Iranian thriller);
Dark River” (36: 3e, 3s, 4p; spoilt by the manslaughter element of the story);
England is Mine” (32: 2e, 4s, 4p; special for me but a missed opportunity);
The Death of Stalin” (32: 2e, 4s, 4p; so hard to be funny when staff shown are set to be executed);

Darkest Hour” (24: 3e, 2s, 3p; poor treatment of the history);
Molly’s Game” (16: 1e, 4s, 4p; story should have been put together better);
Phantom Thread” (15: 1e, 3s, 5p; a painful experience and it shouldn’t have been).
Apologies to “Get Out” but I don’t like horror movies.

Of course the Oscars are wrong – for so many reasons.
But of the choices available (that I’ve seen) :- best film – “Three Billboards …”; best direction – “The Shape of Water”; best actor – Timothée Chalamet, best actress – Margot Robbie; best support actor – Woody Harrelson; best supporting actress – Allison Janney.



I, Tonya

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Mainly unpleasant people, in an extraordinary story,  yet most striking is the domestic violence, and dysfunctional family life – almost melted away in the moment when Tonya first approaches a trainer at the age of 3 on the ice to be coached.
The movie
essentially says Tonya Harding was wronged throughout her young life and career, and at the end re-emphasises how Tonya was a skating great, but does not take much opportunity to show that Nancy Kerrigan was a victim.
But it is a very good movie. Go see.

Written from the viewpoint of many “I”s, the themes are much richer than “the incident” that made Tonya Harding notorious.  A “red neck” – notice how we don’t talk about “chavs” any more – whose athleticism broke barriers in figure ice skating, but struggled more on the artistic / grace side of the sport (contended by the movie to be in part class and social prejudice).
Some of the other “I”s decide to send the same death threats Tonya has received to rival Nancy Kerrigan / break her knee with a baton.
In negating Tonya’s responsibility, you can almost miss Tonya’s condemnation of Nancy being unhappy with only winning silver, when no doubt an interruption to the preparation for the Olympics could indeed have cost her the gold.


Dark River

A Rose Tremain story; about the daughter and son of a tenant sheep farmer and who wrestle to run the farm, now that the farmer’s dead.
It’s about more than that of course, but the sadness for me (whose Dad’s Dad was a shepherd and whose Mum’s Dad was a part-time farm manager) was that the story veers away from the optimism of turning a farm around to the despondency of a manslaughter.
Studying long distance shots of (North Yorkshire), learning some basics about livestock markets & shepherding, of the wildlife sustained by meadows, and cute scenes with sheep & dogs (& barn owls) is entertaining.
Critics have been less than generous. Perhaps the audience for this is too narrow.  And it’s way better than ITV’s Emmerdale.


Boris has no recollection

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“I have no recollection, Senator. That is the phrase you will have to learn.” – a Deputy Direcor of the CIA, from Clear and Present Danger.
How does a former London Mayor, in an age of electronic data and social media accountabilty, decide to declare that he cannot remember the rationale for backing a public project that wasted £40 million?


City Centre snow scenes

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