Netflix review: Sydney Pollack’s “Tootsie” (1982)

Hollywood has a longstanding tradition of producing comedies about men dressed up as women.

Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959), in addition to its six Academy Award nominations, was voted as the top comedy film of all time by the American Film Institute on their “100 Years… 100 Laughs” poll.

While a man in drag shouldn’t be the butt of the joke in today’s climate (nor should they ever have been), these pictures, when viewed critically, can still yield a smile to your face.

Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie (1982) is one of the most warm-hearted, least mean-spirited of these examples.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Tootsie is available to stream on Netflix. The comedy was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, as well as Best Original Screenplay. Jessica Lange won for Best Supporting Actress.

Set in New York, Michael Dorsey (Best Actor nominee Dustin Hoffman) is an actor with a reputation for being difficult to work with.

When his friend, Sandy Lester (Best Supporting Actress nominee Teri Garr), tries out for the role of Emily Kimberly on popular daytime soap opera Southwest General, an unemployed Michael auditions as “Dorothy Michaels” and gets cast.

However, “Dorothy” becomes a star, forcing Michael into a dilemma wherein he must reconcile his success with his and Sandy’s relationship, and his feelings for costar Julie Nichols (Lange).

Tootsie is second only to Some Like It Hot on the AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs,” surpassing even Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), and it is preserved at the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

It is as romantic as it is comedic. Between Sandy and Julie, the dramatic stakes escalate the tension to a breathless climax.

Indeed, Lange defines star presence as Julie. One of the greatest actresses of her generation, she may be more recognized now for her tenure on FX’s American Horror Story (2011-), but she hits her marks as the infamously Method Hoffman’s love interest.

She can be funny without coming at the expense of her pathos, and you can’t help but fall for Julie, too.

Aside from the film’s questionable sexual and gender politics, Tootsie also suffers from Hoffman’s presence in it. After all, he was a name named as part of the #MeToo movement.

Not to mention, he made self-congratulatory comments during an interview about how he needed to play “Dorothy Michaels” to learn sexism is a thing.

Again, Tootsie is for the critical consumer. If you can look past the era it represents, you will find yourself taken by its romance and its wit. It is a movie with both a heart and a mind, which is what makes it as comforting for the soul as falling in love itself.

Whoopi Goldberg attached to climate change film

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In May, Whoopi Goldberg said she could see herself returning to the movie business in the future. (Image Courtesy: Inside Nova).

Extinction Rebellion has enlisted sixty-four-year-old Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg for their three-minute climate change film, The Gigantic Change, which goes live on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram for World Environment Day, according to Inside Nova. The short takes a look back from the year 2050 at how people came together to save the world and ends by directing audiences to a page outlining the most effective actions they can take to fight global warming. Goldberg, who has been a co-host on ABC’s The View (1997-) since 2007, announced earlier this year that her calling in life is to help people.

LeBron James film company to produce a documentary about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre

SpringHill Entertainment, a film company co-founded by Maverick Carter and his business partner, NBA megastar LeBron James, will produce a documentary about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre (with no release date as of yet announced), according to KTUL. Salima Koroma, who pitched the project back in April, will direct the picture, tweeting that, “The Tulsa Race Massacre is not just a black story but American history. The fabric of this country is soaked in racism and today 99 years later, we’re still fighting for change.” This week marks the ninety-ninth anniversary of white rioters destroying the prosperous black community in Oklahoma.

Women In Film Los Angeles responds to violence against Black Americans

Women In Film Los Angeles released a response to the ongoing protests in LA and around the world against the racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, according to Deadline. Calling for an end to anti-Black violence on their official Twitter account, Women In Film went on to encourage “real, systemic change,” while, at the same time, declaring their support for those among their members (as well as the LA community at large) who fight for racial justice. With this statement, Women In Film joins the many media organizations, agencies, and networks in the industry endorsing sociocultural change.

Amazon Prime review: Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” (2013)

“Imagine everything you ever wanted shows up one day and calls itself your life. And, then, just when you start to believe in it… gone. And, suddenly, it gets very hard to imagine a future… that’s depression.”

If you don’t know what to watch next, Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects (2013) is available on Amazon Prime. The psychological thriller stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. The filmmaker also cinematographed as well as edited the production.

After the release of her husband, Martin (Tatum), from a four-year prison sentence for insider trading, Emily Taylor (Mara) attempts suicide by crashing her car into the wall of a parking garage.

Doctor Jonathan Banks (Law), her assigned psychiatrist, prescribes her an experimental new antidepressant called Ablixa at the urging of her previous psychoanalyst, Doctor Victoria Siebert (Zeta-Jones).

When the side effects prove to be deadly, Doctor Banks finds his personal and professional reputation on the line.

Side Effects is Soderbergh’s masterstroke.

His filmography represents a range of genres, but an antiestablishment thematic stance (anti-corporate America in Erin Brockovich (2000), anti-DEA in Traffic (2000), anti-CDC in Contagion (2011), and anti-private insurance in Unsane (2018)) unites much of his work.

Side Effects takes on big pharma with an aesthetical style like only Soderbergh could be inspired by elegant muse Zeta-Jones to construct, as keen as the mise-en-scene in his Ocean’s series.

But it is Mara out of whom Soderbergh directs the performance of a lifetime. As mind-bending a character as Kim Novak in Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), Emily Taylor is a devastation for anyone who’s ever suffered from mental illness.

It is a sensitive, understated, multifaceted work of dramatic art.

But the film is almost a note-for-note twin to Phil Joanou’s Final Analysis (1992).

The Hitchcockian neo-noir thriller stars Richard Gere as a psychiatrist who meets a woman (Kim Basinger) through a patient (Uma Thurman), only to be caught up in the middle of a tumultuous marriage with her husband (Eric Roberts), to the doctor’s detriment.

If it feels like you’re seeing double, that’s because you are.

What Side Effects lacks in originality, though, it makes up for in quality – it is an evolution of Final Analysis, rather than a rip-off.

There is only so much wiggle room according to the generic conventions of the thriller – the goal is a single reaction, which is to thrill – and Side Effects is thrilling.

It is as thrilling for the critic to deconstruct as it is for the audience to be entertained by it, and that is what makes it the director’s magnum opus.

“The Guardian” takes a look back at Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” (1980)

The Guardian critic Erik Morse was twelve years old when he saw a heavily edited version of Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980) for the first time on late-night television. According to Morse, in the decade before the film started appearing regularly on cable as well as video rentals, the Italian “giallo,” the genre from which De Palma borrows most heavily, had been followed up by low-budget slashers and erotic thrillers. Morse writes, “Dressed to Kill’s kaleidoscopic atmosphere – its watery, soft-focus lens, garish colour palette and flashy, optical tricks such as slow-motion, mirrored surfaces, split screens and dioptres – was a feast for my languorous, pre-teen senses.”

Governor of California Gavin Newsom will release guidelines Monday to resume film and television production

After meeting with a panel of five filmmakers yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced he will issue guidelines Monday for film and television companies to resume production in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to The Mercury News. Among those sitting on the panel were director-producer Ava DuVernay, as well as Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. DuVernay, who lost a family member and a crew member to COVID-19, says the quarantine has had positive impacts on the filmmaking process, such as virtual writers rooms, in addition to fewer cast and crew crowding together on sets.

Warner Bros. Pictures will “#ReleaseTheSnyderCut” to HBO Max

After more than two years of campaigning on social media under the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, fans of the DC Extended Universe will get to stream the director’s cut of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017) on HBO Max in 2021, according to Fox Business. During the production of the film – which stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, uniting some of the world’s most famous characters to face an apocalyptic threat – Snyder’s daughter committed suicide, forcing him to leave the production while Joss Whedon reportedly reshot the movie. Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter today, “You probably saw one-fourth of what I did.”

A look back at Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (1989)

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) – written as well as produced by the filmmaker, and starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Turturro, Samuel L. Jackson, and Lee himself – is one of the greatest films of all time, according to Far Out Magazine. Regardless, the racially charged release was only nominated in two categories at that year’s Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay), winning neither. Some critics said the movie could “incite black audiences to riot,” to which Lee responded, “I don’t remember people saying people were going to come out of theatres killing people after they watched Arnold Schwarzenegger films.”

“The Guardian” ranks the “Alien” films

In celebration of Alien Day in April, The Guardian critic Ben Child ranked the eight films in the classic science fiction series from worst to best. Beginning with Paul W. S. Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator (2004) as well as Colin and Greg Strause’s Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) tied for last, Child argues James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) surpasses Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) as the greatest installment in the saga. Child writes, “Final mention, however, goes to Scott’s original Alien… At the time, there had simply been no more terrifying movie ever made by Hollywood, while [Sigourney] Weaver delivered a career-making performance.”