FAVORITE ARTICLE 2016: Girls Rule. Women Are Funny. Get Over It.

I am ending this year by posting one of my favorite articles of 2016. It is a movie review, but also so much more, and that is why I value it so. 

I am sure you all remember the hate and negative reviews the remake of Ghostbusters received when it was released this summer. I have rarely experienced a movie being so detested as this one, especially with such an adored cast. It wasn't about the talent attached; it was simply about a movie studio daring to remake everyone's favorite with an all-female cast. Oh, the shocker! 

I no longer for pay attention to both the positive or negatives rants by fans or even film critics; I was burnt when I trusted the critics and fans and sat through Snowpiercer. But of course I couldn't completely ignore the outlash against Ghostbusters and was aware that it had been reviewed negatively, but that was all. So when I finally went to see the movie; many weeks after the first release, because I hadn't found the time; I was tentative and had little to no expectations. But I was very pleasantly surprised about how funny, well-crafted, well-acted and just guilt-free entertainment this movie was. So, of course, I was flabbergasted about so many "bad" reviews, especially since I was not the only one in the theater who had enjoyed it. My friend loved it, and the packed movie theater roared with laughter throughout.  

When I got home, I had to finally give in to reading the reviews and commentary to understand what this was all about. You can imagine my shock when I found out that the negative reviews predominately were not about the filmmaking, the story, the delivery or anything else concerning the movie itself, but about the public taking an affront about an all-female cast. How could this be, I asked myself! 

Of course, in July no one thought, including me, that it was too soon for a female president as well. We were all still living in our safe bubble of believing that women had finally achieved equality. How wrong we all were! But one good thing is that when a shockingly politically incorrect outlash like this happens against a movie or the best presidential candidate loses the election predominately because she is a woman, we wake up to reality and realize we need to get up off our comfy seats and do something.

And this article by Manohla Dargis and the NY Times spoke out about the truth right away by simply letting a good movie be good movie and fairly stating an obvious, regardless if it might bring trolls and hate mail: GIRLS RULE. WOMEN ARE FUNNY. GET OVER IT. Hat off and thank you!

So if you haven't seen the movie yet because you believed it was not a good movie, please watch it without judgment and let the world know if you enjoyed. It's one of the best things you can do in 2017 because you will help change what the movie industry perceives as marketable and hence will let diversity on screen become a norm. One of them being: GIRLS RULE. WOMEN ARE FUNNY. GET OVER IT.

From left, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig in “Ghostbusters.” Credit: Columbia Pictures

From left, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig in “Ghostbusters.” Credit: Columbia Pictures

Our ‘Ghostbusters’ Review: Girls Rule. Women Are Funny. Get Over It.

GHOSTBUSTERS Directed by Paul Feig Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi PG-13 1h 56m

By MANOHLA DARGIS via nytimes.com JULY 10, 2016

Sliding into theaters on a river of slime and an endless supply of good vibes, the new, cheerfully silly “Ghostbusters” is that rarest of big-studio offerings — a movie that is a lot of enjoyable, disposable fun. And enjoy it while you can because this doesn’t happen often, even in summer, which is supposed to be our season of collective moviegoing happiness. The season when everyone jumps onboard (whee!) and agrees that, yes, this great goof is exactly what you were thinking when you wondered why they didn’t make summer movies like they used to.

Oh, wait, because whatever else you can say about the new “Ghostbusters,” it’s a lot like the old “Ghostbusters,” except that it stars four funny women instead of, you know, four funny men. In other words, it doesn’t have a lot of XY chromosomes and basso profondo voices, though its token hottie, played by a game, nimbly funny Chris Hemsworth, pulls his weight on both those counts. Otherwise, the redo is pretty much what you might expect from Paul Feig, one of the best things to happen to American big-screen comedy since Harold Ramis.

Mr. Ramis helped write the old “Ghostbusters” and played one of its “professional paranormal eliminators” — as Larry King describes them in the movie — alongside Dan Aykroyd (the co-writer), Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray. A triumph of casting and timing, the first “Ghostbusters” remains memorable for Ray Parker Jr.’s inane, dementedly catchy theme song (“Who you gonna call?”) and for Mr. Murray, who dominates it even more than its Godzilla-sized Marshmallow Man monster does. It’s peak Bill Murray with a minimalism that exerts a powerful gravitational force and a deadpan that recast Mad Magazine’s what-me-worry grin with the sickness-unto-death laughter of National Lampoon.

No one performance dominates the new “Ghostbusters,” which is for the most part democratically comic (a Paul Feig signature), although Kate McKinnon’s magnificent, eccentric turn comes close. She plays Holtzmann, the in-house mad-hatter who whips up the ghost-busting hardware (proton packs included) with a crazy leer and page after script page of playful-sounding gobbledygook. Ms. McKinnon makes for a sublime nerd goddess (she brings a dash of the young Jerry Lewis to the role with a glint of Amy Poehler) and, in an earlier age, would probably have been sidelined as a sexy, ditsy secretary. Here, she embodies the new “Ghostbusters” at its best: Girls rule, women are funny, get over it.

Written by Mr. Feig and Katie Dippold, the redo follows much of the original’s shambling arc and even revs up with a haunted-house boo, except that this time the scares happen in a mansion, not a library. After the usual narrative table setting, Holtzmann and her partner in kook-science, Abby (Melissa McCarthy), join forces first with another scientist, Erin (Kristen Wiig), and then a transit worker, Patty (Leslie Jones). Voilà, the new Ghostbusters are in business, complete with a vintage Cadillac, some funky digs and a cute secretary, Kevin (Mr. Hemsworth). Ghosts and mayhem ensue along with turns from the likes of Cecily Strong, Andy Garcia and Matt Walsh.

From left, Chris Hemsworth, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in “Ghostbusters.” Credit: Columbia Pictures

From left, Chris Hemsworth, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in “Ghostbusters.” Credit: Columbia Pictures

It’s at once satisfyingly familiar and satisfyingly different, kind of like a new production of “Macbeth” or a Christopher Nolan rethink of Batman. As it turns out, the original “Ghostbusters” is one of those durable pop entertainments that can support the weight of not only a lesser follow-up (the 1989 sequel “Ghostbusters II”), but also a gender redo. That the new movie stars four women is a kind of gimmick, of course, but it’s one that the filmmakers and the excellent cast deepen with real comedy chemistry and emotionally fleshed-out performances, particularly from Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Wiig, who are playing old-friends-turned-sort-of foes who need to work some stuff out.

They do, which means that “Ghostbusters” is also a female-friendship movie, but without the usual genre pro forma tears, jealousies and boyfriends. Friendship here, even at its testiest, is a given, which means that Mr. Feig doesn’t have to worry it and can get on with bringing the funny with his stars and toys, his ghosts and laughs. As is often the case with big-budget flicks, it grows progressively louder and bigger, climaxing in an overlong battle, though not before Mr. Feig has offered up some unexpected touches, including a cavalcade of beautifully designed old-timey ghosts and a genuinely creepy bathroom scene that adds a few horror-flick shivers.

Part of what makes “Ghostbusters” enjoyable is that it allows women to be as simply and uncomplicatedly funny as men, though it would have been nice if Ms. Jones had been given more to do. (If this were a radical reboot, she would have played a scientist.) In the end, these are Ghostbusters, not Ghostbusting suffragists, even if there’s plenty of feminism onscreen and off. It’s hard to know if the movie started off being as meta as it now plays, but when these Ghostbusters are labeled frauds — or crack jokes about ugly online comments or take on a fan boy from hell — it sure feels as if Mr. Feig and his team are blowing gleeful raspberries at the project’s early sexist attackers.

Big box-office hits are like ghosts: They haunt studio executives. It’s no surprise then that Sony Pictures wanted to resurrect the “Ghostbusters” franchise in some form, just as it’s no surprise that it took someone like Mr. Feig to figure out how to make it work, mostly, by not really messing with it. Even so, what he’s doing onscreen — by helping to redefine who gets to be funny in movies — is what makes him a thoughtful successor to Mr. Ramis, who made a series of memorable, soulful comedies about what it means to be a man (“Groundhog Day,” “Multiplicity”). Now, if we could just get women and men to be funny together, that would be revolutionary.

“Ghostbusters” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Ghost and zap-gun violence. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes.

I can't wait for THE YOUNG POPE

It is not so much the subject matter, but the obviously fantastical and devilish take on it, which makes excited for this mini-series. And of course, that this is directed by non-other than one of the greatest directors, Paolo Sorrentino. Also, I cannot wait to see Jude Law and Diane Keaton light the screen on fire as they already do in the trailer. Check out the trailer and you will know what I mean.

'The Young Pope': Venice Review

via hollywoodreporter.com by Deborah Young

Jude Law is a dangerously iconoclastic Pontiff and Diane Keaton his chief advisor in Paolo Sorrentino’s Vatican-set satire made for Sky, HBO and Canal+.

Who knows where Paolo Sorrentino’s amusing, unpredictable and irreverent Vatican fantasy, The Young Pope, will lead over the course of its 10 episodes? From the look of the first two hours screened in Venice, this is a potential hit for Sky, HBO and Canal+, combining the Italian director's sardonic, Fellini-inspired gift for the bizarre with the world’s ever-growing hunger to peep behind the screens at St. Peter's — a match made in heaven. The miniseries has already sold widely and the door is open to a second season. 

Sorrentino's taste for the grotesque at times gets out of hand, but generally serves him well in this comic approach to the hidebound traditions of the miniscule Papal state. It's a far cry from the gentle, respectful humor of Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope, where Michel Piccoli played a newly-elected Holy Father so overcome with self-doubt he refuses to take office. The Young Pope is closer to the acid spirit of Il Divo, Sorrentino's merciless portrait of the Italian politician with nine lives, Giulio Andreotti, than to his contemplative recent films like Youth and 2014 Oscar winner The Great Beauty.

Shot in mixed English and Italian, the miniseries is galvanized by a commandingly arch Jude Law as Lenny Belardo, who has just been elected Pope Pius XIII. Not only is he the first American pope, he's only 47 years old, as well as arrogant, whimsical and hilariously destructive. How he ever got elected will no doubt be revealed in later episodes, but suffice it to say he comes off as a borderline anti-Christ not only in his power-mad dreams, but in all his dealings with the cardinals and the Curia.

Devilishly handsome and of uncertain intent, he refuses to let the canny head of Vatican marketing (Cecile de France) use his image or even show his face to the public, all to increase the air of mystery and power surrounding him. In his first homily to the overflowing crowds in St. Peter's, which he insists on holding at night, the clear sky is streaked by sinister lightning and the faithful are drenched in a sudden downpour. But that's nothing compared to the dire future he lays before their eyes as Catholics who need to think only of God, 24 hours a day. Could he be about to turn the Church into an extremist, fundamentalist organization? One thing is sure: His message has nothing in common with the love and brotherhood preached by the current Pope Francis.

Other alarming things: He drinks American filter coffee and breakfasts on Cherry Coke Zero. Oh, and he also wants to check out all the gifts sent to him, like an appalling kangaroo he has released in the Vatican gardens.

His main antagonist, one who is bound to give him a run for his money, is the wart-faced Cardinal Voiello (played by Moretti’s comic muse Silvio Orlando), the Secretary of State. Though he's the most powerful man in the Vatican, you can tell he's a good soul by the fact he loves the Naples soccer team and secretly takes care of a boy in a wheelchair. He also has sexual fantasies over the Venus of Willendorf. Pitting his human warmth against Lenny's icy control freak, it's clear who is likely to emerge the ultimate winner.  

But the story is just warming up, and one has the feeling the Pontiff is so unpredictable he could swing either way, to God or Mammon. In a scene high up on the dome of St. Peter's, he tempts his humble confessor with immense power if he'll break the secret of the confessional and tell him all the cardinals' sins, at the same time informing him that he personally doesn't believe in God. The poor priest is so shocked he has to backtrack. Tipping into the outrageous, this scene may prove to be the limit for some devout Catholics, but one has to wait and see if some redemption is in store for Lenny.  

In answer to the powerful cardinals who plan to run the show for him behind the scenes, he calls in as his chief counselor Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), who ran the orphanage where he grew up. Keaton gets a laugh just for wearing a nun's habit and makes a delightful addition to the wacky team. But even their Shakespearean co-rule is short-lived. When Sister Mary admits to admiring the speech about love Voiello has written for him, he makes her stop calling him Lenny and forces her to use His Holiness as her form of address.

Summoning Cardinal Spencer, his mentor who helped him reach the papacy (played as a tough old bird by James Cromwell), Lenny offers to kick out the head of the Congregation of the Faith on grounds of homosexuality (!) and let Spencer replace him. The cardinal all but spits in his face.

Spanish actor Javier Camara dons the robes of the saintly Cardinal Gutierrez, whose trim beard and sober, classic features are illuminated like a painting whenever he appears. He seems to the be only positive influence on Lenny, a figure he can't dismiss contemptuously.

Law makes the new Pontiff a memorable megalomaniac, but who can call it delusions of grandeur when he's the head of a billion Catholics around the world? Enigmatic and eerily composed in his impeccable white robes and wide-brimmed hat, he recalls Terence Stamp (who incidentally played a pope in the film Vatican Conspiracy) with a hint of Anita Ekberg in her Vatican visit in La Dolce Vita. Only here Sorrentino's fantasy has run even wilder than Fellini's, and verges on the incomprehensible when he tries to psyche out Lenny's dark mind. The editing could be clearer in certain parts.

Working with top Italian technicians, Sorrentino presents a majestic and slightly creepy Vatican City, whose marbled halls and stunning statues and architecture acquire a sense of timeless beauty in Luca Bigazzi's lighting and Ludovica Ferrario's production design.

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Out of Competition)
Production companies: Sky, HBO, Canal+, Wildside, in association with Haut et Court TV, MediaPro
Cast: Jude Law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Javier Camara, Scott Shepherd, Cecile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli, James Cromwell
Director-screenwriter: Paolo Sorrentino
Executive producers: Lorenzo Mieli, Mario Gianani, John Lyons, Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta, Simon Arnal, Jaume Roures, Javier Mendez, Nils Hartmann, Roberto Amoroso, Sonia Rovai  

Director of photography: Luca Bigazzi
Production designer: Ludovica Ferrario
Costume designers: Carlo Poggioli, Luca Canfora
Music: Lele Marchitelli
Editor: Cristiano Travaglioli
Sales: FremantleMedia Intl.