Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a biographical film directed by Marielle Heller. The screenplay is by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on Lee Israel’s 2008 memoir of the same name. Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the true story of a writer who has fallen on hard times and turns to illegal methods of making ends meet. This movie has flown way under the radar, as it appears to have been looked on as the book Lee Israel wrote in the movie. I’m so glad I got to see Can You Ever Forgive Me? it’s truly a block buster in it’s own right.
**** SOME SPOILERS ****
Following the critical and commercial failure of her biography of Estée Lauder, author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is struggling with financial troubles, writer’s block and alcoholism. Because her agent Marjorie (Jane Curtain), is unable to secure Lee with an advance for a new biography, she is forced to find another way to make money. Lee lugs a ton of heavy books to a pawn shop for books but can only get $2.00 and some nasty attitude for all her effort. Further, her beloved cat is sick and needs medication. Lee decides to sell a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to Anna (Dolly Wells), a local book dealer in order to cover her expenses.
While at the library conducting research about Fanny Brice, for a novel she’s planning to write, Lee happens upon an actual letter from Ms. Brice folded in the book. She swipes the letter and offers to sell it to Anna, who can’t give much due to the letter’s lack of interesting content. That’s when Lee begins to forge and sell letters by deceased writers, playwrights and actors, by embellishing them with juicy, intimate details that command a higher price. Anna, who is a fan of Lee’s writing as an author, attempts to initiate a relationship with her. Lee being very private and unfriendly most of the time, rejects the relationship with Anna.
When one of Lee’s letters written by Noël Coward raises suspicion for its unguarded discussion of his sexuality, she is blacklisted by her buyers. Unable to sell the forgeries herself, she has her new best friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) sell the letters for her. While Lee was away attempting to enhance her forgery business, she trusted Jack to take care of her apartment and her cat. Upon her return, she ends their relationship after finding her apartment trashed and her cat dead. Later Jack and Lee are served with a court summons by the FBI for forgery.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is based on a true story and presents a nice change and a nice rest from all the action movies. There are times when you think Lee is going to do something predictable, then surprised when she does something totally opposite. Although I’ve told much of the story, I’ve also left out much of the story. Melissa McCarthy has given a fantastic performance if not her best performance. She is completely believable and convincing as the writer, Lee Israel. Richard E. Grant was absolutely brilliant as Jack Hock, a friendly gay man with a secret. I was thoroughly entertained and learned a thing or two about the world of authentic letter buying. For me, this movie is what going to the movies is all about. Excellent story — Brilliant acting — Check It Out!
[Can You Ever Forgive Me? is Oscar nominated for Best: Actress, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged Agent Solonas, Alan Schmidt, andre, anna, Anna Deavere Smith, Arlene, ben falcone, Brandon Scott Jones, can you ever forgive me?, Christian Navarro, Craig, Dolly Wells, Elaine, erik laray harvey, Glen, Gregory Korostishevsky, harry, Jack Hock, Jane Curtin, Joanna Adler, Kevin Carolan, kurt, Lee Israel, Lloyd, Marc Evan Jackson, Marjorie, Mary McCann, melissa mccarthy, Michael Cyril Creighton, Nell, paul, Richard E. Grant, Shae D'Lyn, Stephen Spinella, Tim Cummings, Tom Clancy
Life of the Party is a comedy directed by Ben Falcone and written by Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. It is the third film directed by Falcone and co-written by the pair, following Tammy (2014) and The Boss (2016). While I love Melissa McCarthy, I don’t think her last couple of movies were that great — hence, I was reluctant to see this one. However, not one to abandon a great talent like Melissa, I ventured out and invested my time and money to see Life of the Party. At the end of this review, I will tell you if I made a wise decision or not.
Life of the Party opens with Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) going with her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) to drop off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon), to her senior year at Decatur University in Atlanta, GA. Before they get started for home, Dan tells Deanna he wants a divorce and has fallen in love with someone else. To make things worse, he is selling their house since everything is under his name, causing Deanna to have to move out. Deanna goes to her parents home, Mike (Stephen Root) and Sandy (Jacki Weaver). Their opinion; Dan was always a jerk for making Deanna drop out of her last year of college when she got pregnant, as well as making her put up with his overbearing ways, during their marriage.
While playing Racquetball with her best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph), Deanna reflects on her life, then decides that she won’t just sit around and let her X ruin it. Deanna announces to Maddie while on a surprise visit to her dorm, that she and Dan are divorcing. Additionally, Deanna has decided to attend Decatur for a year in order to graduate, earning a degree in archaeology. Maddie introduces Deanna to her friends – Amanda (Adria Arjona), neurotic Debbie (Jessie Ennis), and Helen (Gillian Jacobs), who was in a coma for eight years and is now getting a chance to go to college as well. Deanna later meets her roommate Leonor (Heidi Gardner), who is agoraphobic and chronically depressed. One of Deanna’s classes is in archaeology and her professor is a former classmate from back in the day. As in most schools, there are bullies, in this case a “mean girl” Jennifer (Debby Ryan) and her friend Trina (Yani Simone) fits the bill. Deanna later goes to sign divorce papers, taking Christine with her when Dan shows up with his new fiancée, Marcie (Julie Bowen). They exchange a lot of insults through the mediator.
Maddie takes Deanna to hang out with her and her friends. After being mocked by Jennifer again, Maddie gives her mom a makeover so that she can look more party-ready. Deanna meets Maddie’s boyfriend, Tyler (Jimmy O. Yang) and another boy named Jack (Luke Benward). After many shots and beers, Deanna and Maddie wake up the next morning mortified to see each other leaving a frat house doing the “walk of shame”, which leads Maddie to realize Deanna slept with Jack who starts to constantly text Deanna since he has basically fallen in love with her.
From this point, Life of the Party takes on an adventurous turn with both Deana and Maddie discovering who they are in this space and time. Interaction with the “mean girl” & company, new boyfriends and Dan’s wedding prove to be pretty funny. Out of the last 2 movies, Melissa McCarthy has starred in, Life of the Party is a vast improvement. The jokes were very funny but the story didn’t make a lot of sense. I’m not sure how you can be married to someone long enough to have a senior college aged child and not be entitled to half of all assets. While I’m not a lawyer, I do know they were not rich and did not have a prenuptial, so I’m not sure how Dan got away with owning the house all to himself. As far as boyfriends go, Deanna and Jack made absolutely no sense. The movie, however was still funny and relaxing, which is a blessing now-a-days! I would however, wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray. Life of the Party was not a total waste of time, as I was entertained.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged adria arjona, amanda, christine, dan, deanna miles, debbie, debby ryan, gillian jacobs, heidi gardner, helen, jack, jacki weaver, jennifer, jessie ennis, jimy o yang, julie bowen, leonor, life of the party, luke benward, maddie, marcie, matt walsh, maya rudolph, melissa mccarthy, mike, molly gordon, sandy, stephen root, trina, tyler, yani simone
The Boss is not a particularly great movie but Melissa McCarthy made it the best it could possibly be. Her character, Michelle Darnell grew up in an orphanage with children awaiting adoption, if they were lucky. Michell was adopted twice but twice returned because she was not considered to be a good fit. This reputation apparently followed her to adulthood. Never having a family molded Michelle into a tough, no nonsense, sarcastic but successful business woman who struck it rich and who also became a motivational speaker. Full of herself, popular and the 47th richest woman in the world, Michelle and her assistant Claire Rawlins (Kristen Bell) boards a helicopter after being confronted by her rival, Renault (Peter Dinklage) who tricks her into confessing that she was involved with insider trading. Renault rats her out to the FBI and she goes to prison for 4 months, loosing everything she owned. Ben Falcone (Melissa’s true life husband) directed The Boss and also makes a cameo appearance as her lawyer (Marty). Kathy Bates plays an old friend and mentor (Ida Marquette) who Michelle screwed out of a deal. After being released from prison, Michelle ends up living with Claire and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Their journey begins when Michelle and Claire start a business while reinventing Michelle as America’s sweetheart. Despite the spoilers, there’s many twist to The Boss. You can’t imagine how much more there is to this story. What The Boss is lacking is the smoothness and confidence I usually see in Melissa’s movies. It seems as if they’re all trying much too hard. There are many funny moments but the movie is a little too contrived. All in all The Boss is funny enough to entertain you when you need that pick-me-up. Peter Dinklage and Melissa are hilarious together.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged americas sweetheart, ben falcone, claire, ella anderson, ida marquette, kathy bates, kristen bell, marty, melissa mccarthy, michelle darnelle, peter dinklage, rachel, renault, the boss
Being a Melissa McCarthy fan, I must say, she didn’t let me down, Spy was great. I laughed all the way through the movie. Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a trained spy, but works in the basement of the CIA HQ where there are bats in the ceiling and mice running all over the place. She is the trained eyes for her teammate Bradley Fine, (Jude Law) when he is in the field. She is secretly smitten with him and pines her life away hoping someday he will give her more than the time of day. She gets no respect from the higher ups and no prospect of ever getting out of her current work situation. Without giving away spoilers, the situation changes and Susan goes out into the field where she becomes a super spy. While there’s a lot of unbelievable stunts, Susan’s role takes on a new meaning, giving entertainment a life of it’s own. McCarthy brings her own brand of comedy to the film and has you routing for her every step of the way. It was truly fun to see straight actors like Jason Statham, who played Rick Ford and Richard Brake, who played Solsa Dudaev in a comedy of this caliber. Rose Byrne’s role as Rayna Boyanov was played to perfection, as the ruthless daughter of an arms dealer who’s father was killed earlier in the film. After meeting Rayna, McCarthy was transformed from an uninteresting, grandmother looking type to a sexy fighting machine who had it all together. Spy was more than I expected — it was just a fun, fun, fun movie. There were a couple of twist and a couple of surprises. I highly recommend seeing Spy. It’s not slap stick or stupid and has a fantastic cast.
There is something about Melissa McCarthy that is so likable. She is funny and a fantastic actress. She seems down to Earth — I don’t know if she is but that’s how she comes off. Tammy is another one of her silly little comedies that just makes you laugh and have a good time watching it. It’s not the greatest comedy but it sends some messages that are pretty profound. Susan Sarandon was great as grandma with diabetes, swollen feet and a drinking problem. The two of them made a funny, wild pair of misfits who just needed to get a grip on reality. Some of Melissa’s scenes were very funny, however the element of surprise was taken away because Hollywood insist on over shooting the trailers. I think Melissa is well known for how successfully funny she is without revealing a quarter of the movie in the coming attractions. Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh rounded out “Tammy” to make it worth seeing on the big screen. Good cast, good script and good acting. Being the trailers told so much of the story, I won’t spoil it further with too much information. I think Tammy’s a winner.