YOU’VE EITHER GOT OR YOU HAVEN’T GOT STYLE: Mistress America and Queen of Earth


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Warning: SPOILERS
mistress 2In Mistress America, the new comedy of manners directed by Noah Baumbach and written by Baumbach and the actor playing the title role, Greta Gerwig, Tracy, a freshman in college who wants to be a writer, has trouble fitting in. She can’t get invited to a party. The snobbish college lit magazine rejects her story. The only person who has warmed up to her, fellow writer Tony, whom she hopes to date, suddenly shows up with another woman on his arm.
Desperate to find a way out of her slough of despair (to use a literary allusion), she finally does what her mother suggests: contact Brooke, the daughter of her mother’s future husband, who lives in New York. And when she does, Brooke takes Tracy under her wing and expands her horizons.
But Brooke is, well, quite a character, should we say. Which is good since, in many ways, Mistress America is a character study.
It’s also a very studied character study.
Critics have said that Mistress America is very quotable. And in many ways, they are right. Just like a play by Oscar Wilde, I could see almost every line possibly ending up in a Barlett’s.
But everything in the movie feels like it’s in quotation marks. The acting, the characters, the story, the mis en scene. It’s like a Restoration comedy that’s been produced within an inch of its life.
That sounds like I’m saying something negative about the movie. But I’m not really. Yes, everything in Mistress America seems punctuated, but still, it’s a thorough joy to watch. It is a rollicking good time. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 9/11-9/18/2015


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 9/11-9/18/2015
dear white peopleON NETFLIX: Writer/director Justin Simien’s Dear White People is a funny, witty, tongue in cheek, but not really, look at racism in a “post-racist” society. Four black students, one gay, navigate the difficulty of a majority white Ivy League college and what happens when some white students throw a black face party. Taylor James Williams, Everybody Hates Chris’ Chris; Tessa Thompson; Kyle Gallner; Teyonah Parris; and Brandon P. Bell help make up the first rate ensemble cast. One of the best films of 2014.
carnivalON HULU: Jaques Feyder and Bernard Zimmer’s 1935 comedy Carnival in Flanders is an absolutely delightful and incredibly beautiful film set in 1616 Flanders when a Spanish Duke and his army decide to spend the night in a small Flemish town. Terrified the village will be pillaged, the woman raped and the men killed, the menfolk panic and the mayor pretends to be dead, leaving it to the women of the village, led by the mayor’s wife, to take over and save the day, using their feminine wiles. With breathtaking cinematography inspired by the great Flemish painters and incredibly sumptuous costumes and sets (built in a suburb of Paris), plus a cast of thousands, including Francoise Rosay as the mayor’s wife (she was married to Feyder and was in a number of his films). Wonderful.
goodnight mommy 2FIRST RUN and OPENING: Goodnight Mommy, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Coming Home, The Visit, Dope, Grandma, Straight Outta Compton, Mistress America, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Second Mother Continue reading