Talking About the Golden Globes

I thought the GG Awards show was dreadful. I can take Host and MC Ricky Gervais being mean-spirited, and I can take Gervais being cruel while he thinks he’s being cool. what I can’t take is how smug he is about it.

If you want to be cutting edge while you are being callous, and on the wrong side of good taste – that’s fine; but Ricky acts as if it is his sacred rite to skewer all and sundry, and he’s so bloody proud about how well he thinks he does it.

Yes, most in the audience do take it in and are able to laugh about it. Hollywood has tons of experience in doing so – what with all the roasts, and a lifetime of having Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles on hand or in nearby Las Vegas, they all should be used to taking a verbal shot to the chin and rolling with the punches.

From another standpoint – a lot of it wasn’t all that funny.

The 2016 Golden Globes Awards Ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Now I’ve nothing against Beverly Hills, and even less against that particular Hilton hotel. The event takes place in the Hilton’s International Ballroom which means the 1,300 guests both eat and drink throughout the evening. So without auditorium seating, the lucky folks who need to get to the stage have to negotiate a veritable obstacle laden maze to find access.

This naturally takes up valuable time, and in many, no, make that most cases, the award winners actually vanish from sight as they go behind some decorative panels to find a set of steps that takes them to the back stage area or what is likely called the off-stage wings.

Then when some one is particularly long-winded in their acceptance speech they are give the instructions to PLEASE WRAP. Heaven forbid they should speak too long. The sky would fall in. Kudos to Taraji P. Henson, the Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a TV Drama. When she was cued to please wrap, she said, I’ve waited 20 years for this. Now you will just have to wait.

And she took her time.

Of course there was a lot of time wasted by that ridiculous faux bear-head skit by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Or Ricky Gervais simply standing there and grinning. Never mind how much it costs to attend this event. By the way tickets are NOT available to the general public. What about the waste of our time.

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Then there’s the censoring of the improper language by those on stage. This is 2016. This is an event that rewards the best of the best for their professional efforts in Film and TV. These are adult actors performing in adult roles. Many of the topics in these films and dramas involve sex, rape, imprisonment, murder, criminal activities of every stripe, and/or people living out their lives that likely have moments of super frustration and anxiety. We hear all sorts of words in what we watch and what is considered Golden Globe Material – yet we have to put up with censorship at the Awards Ceremony.

I don’t get it.

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Side Effects

 Steven Soderbergh and his screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have crafted a psychological thriller which stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. It is a gripping and involving drama made all the more interesting due to the lack of the usual overload of explosions, gun fire, and car chases that we get in movies these days. Simply, this is a fine film that makes you think.

Rooney Mara has never looked better on-screen, and she commands most of the screen time. Jude Law also gets a bear’s portion of face time as well, and his performance is well done.

The film has a good many twists and turns, and even the trailer keeps some secrets. The trailer is at the end of my review which I’ve done my best to keep it spoiler free, so feel free to skip watching the trailer. The title of the film is Side Effects. Which leads you to the thought that this is about a big pharmaceutical company fending off a law suit.

That’s been done before, only with a big Agro-Chemical firm. That film starred George Clooney, and was called Michael Clayton. Side Effects is just kind of similar. The difference between Michael Clayton and Side Effects is that the battle lines are much fuzzier and we watch but not from an attorney’s perspective.

At times, we aren’t sure that what we saw was real or a hallucination. At other times the we lose track of who are the victims and who are the perpetrators. The film will keep you guessing, and things change-up time and time again, and as you watch, you’ll find that you’ll need to go back and re-work your theories.

Of course none of this is rocket science. But you will need to pay attention as there are clues – some of which are important and telling, and others are  false clues. And I think that’s what makes the film worthwhile.

I almost said ‘fun’ rather than worthwhile. This is not a fun film. But this isn’t a morose affair either. The fun is that you do become involved. You do try to figure out stuff. I’m not sorry to say that my conclusion as I walked out, was that I was impressed, and I enjoyed the 105 minutes.

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Rooney Mara is a tiny woman and here she’s been given a huge role in this film. We only got a brief glimpses of her in a few scenes in The Social Network and she sparkled. From there, she got a star’s turn, and definitely a major career boost, when she was signed to appear in the David Fincher version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels.

While Mara was superb as Lisbeth, the role was a distance from most of us. I’m not talking about the film being set in Sweden. Instead I mean that, while most of us were rooting for Lisbeth, there was no doubt that she was a strange woman. It wasn’t that she was admirable, but rather that she was scary.

Here, in Side Effects, Rooney plays a character, Emily Taylor, that is much easier for us to identify with. I found her performance mesmerizing.

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Haywire

For regular folks like you and me, when your employer decides to downsize, or decides that he wants someone other than you on his payroll, you get your walking papers, which are also known as the pink slip. Generally the following message is delivered: We are sorry – your services are no longer necessary or required.

In the world of government trained or hired contract operatives otherwise known as assassins – things work a tad differently. You don’t get called to take an asap meeting in HR, nor do you sit down with a person hired to fire you a la George Clooney in Up in the Air. No, in this world, you get, as Noah Vosen said in The Bourne Ultimatum, the sharp end of the stick.

Vosen also said – “Issue a standing kill order on Jason Bourne, effective immediately”. He later went on to add, “All agents have shoot-on-sight authorization.

That’s how it went for Bourne, only he proved to be not only unwilling, but also the toughest target they ever went after.

So too is Mallory Kane, played by Gina Carano, in the brand new Steven Soderbergh helmed actioner called Haywire which opened today. The references to Bourne are unavoidable. As are references you might want to make about Jolie’s Salt. Similar stories, different year, different stars. Speaking of stars, Soderbergh, as usual, has cast a rather lengthy list of well-known  actors some of whom will be summarily butt-kicked by Ms Carano.

Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton,and Channing Tatum are the male headliners, or nearly the universe of the major male players in this film.

So much for the ‘Who’. Our next question might be ‘What’s it about?’ Aside from the obvious which you can surmise from my intro – that Mallory Kane’s days are numbered – we have missions that aren’t really explained all that thoroughly, motives that aren’t really clear, except when McGregor’s Kenneth says, ‘It’s always about money’.

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