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Posts Tagged ‘Laverne Cox’

Carey Mulligan

“PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN” My rating: B+ (Theaters Christmas Day)

113 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A heady mashup of female revenge melodrama,  black comedy and ruthless personality study, “Promising Young Woman” will leave audiences laughing, wincing and infuriated.

Writer/director Emerald Fennell (also an actress, she plays Camilla Parker Bowles in the current season of Netflix’s “The Crown”) displays such a firm command of her medium that it’s hard to believe this is her first feature.

When we first see Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) she is slumped splayed legged on a leather bench in a noisy dance club. A twentysomeything guy (Adam Brody) accepts a dare from his  friends to rescue this drunken damsel from her vulnerable position.  He gives her a ride back to his house, pushes more drink on her, deposits her on his bed more or less unconscious, and proceeds to pull down her panties.

And then she sits up, totally sober, and asks him just what the hell he thinks he’s doing.

This, we learn, is Cassie’s M.O.  She pretends to be wasted, allows some jerk to get her in a compromising position, and then forces him to confront his own creepiness.

Funny how quickly a guy can turn from lust to panic.

Fennell’s screenplay carefully rations its revelations as it follows several narrative paths.

In one Cassandra continues her vengeful quest, choosing as her targets not only random predatory men (she has an apparently inexhaustible wardrobe of come-hither fashions, wigs and makeup) but also individuals who were involved in an sexual assault scandal dating back to her college years. Among those who run afoul of her fiendish (though not usually violent) machinations are a college dean (Connie Britton), an old classmate (Alison Brie) and a lawyer (an uncredited Alfred Molina) whose specialty is defending men charged with sex crimes.

Turns out our heroine is really good at dreaming up Fu Manchu-level sadism.  You gotta wonder if she’s a genuinely psycho.

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Lily Tomlin, **

Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner

“GRANDMA” My rating: A-

78 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Fuelled by an Oscar-worthy performance from Lily Tomlin, “Grandma” is a comedy with something on its mind.

It’s often bitterly funny, with Tomlin (age 76) totally nailing her character, a grumpy granny with a foul-mouthed sarcastic streak.

But in this look at three generations of women from one family, writer/director Paul Weitz mines some serious material.

Love (lost and realized), regret, familial ties, aging and death all find voice here. But shining  through it all is a fierce passion for life.

When we first view Elle Reid (Tomlin) she’s dumping Olivia (Judy Geer), her girlfriend of just four months. When Olivia protests that they mean something to each other, Elle sneers: “You’re a footnote.”

Besides, Elle says, Olivia is a young woman while she is “rapidly approaching 50.”

Caustic and self-deprecating, Elle — who prides herself on being an early feminist — appears to be one tough cookie. But once Olivia has grabbed her stuff and fled, this failed poet retreats to her shower and sobs.

She won’t have much time for self pity. She’s soon interrupted by her teenage granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), who needs $600 right away. Sage is 10 weeks pregnant and has an appointment for an abortion that very afternoon.

She explains that her boyfriend promised her the money but has failed to deliver.  Sage cannot possible go to her lawyer mother for help.

Elle is broke. In an antiestablishment snit she has even shredded her credit cards. But she packs Sage into her ominously knocking 70-year-old sedan and sets out to raise the cash.

This day-long quest leads the pair to first confront Sage’s oafish and bad-tempered boyfriend (Nat Wolff), who learns not to swear at an old lady if you value your testicles.

Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott

Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott

Then it’s off to a local tattoo parlor, but Elle’s trans friend Deathy (Laverne Cox) is tapped out.  Elle has a scheme to sell some of her signed first-edition Germaine Greer and Betty Friedan books to another friend, the coffee shop owner Carla (the late Elizabeth Pena in her last role) — but she has wildly overestimated the volumes’ value.

In desperation she turns to Karl (an excellent Sam Elliott), with whom she had an affair more than 40 years earlier. That doesn’t work out, either.

“So you used to like men?” Sage asks.

“Oh, I always liked women.  I just didn’t like myself.”

 

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