I, Tonya reviews

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Uri » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:53 am

Breaking news! A shocker! Who would have guessed – I saw the full I, Tonia and I’m on Precious and dws’s side of this debate. I may not have found it as actively offensive as Precious (though I’m sure that had the director been MY compatriot, I would have taken this failure more personally) – for me it simply felt totally flat, never rising above a below average SNL skit which is all about pocking fun at people and making obvious “observations”, with the professional regulars doing their best to outshine that week young, lacking of any comedic chops, starlet host. Yes, I’m looking at you, Ms Janney. And apropos Janney, I saw a couple of episodes of her not that good sitcom Nom, and her onscreen daughter there is played by Anna Farris who, with her harsh features and short stature (plus 20 or 30 pounds) would have made a much better Harding. Yes, I’ve waited this long to gloat, but I was so right about how wrong Robbie is for this part.

As Marco so often remarks gladly these days, I’m a poor, yet willing, victim of the current PC movement, but even I find it hard to agree with those who say that artists are aloud to only deal with their own experience – no more male Flauberts writing about Emma Bovarys, no more White Artists painting Black victims of racism. Well, I just had a change of heart. From now on I’m allowing on White Trash to make movies about White Trash. There, I said it.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby dws1982 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:17 pm

With this one I have to co-sign much of what Precious Doll said. I couldn't stand this from the start--just a mean, hateful film. You get very brief moments--from Robbie, but more from Sebastian Stan--that suggest a more interesting satire, and a movie that might have something interesting to say about American attitudes towards class. But Craig Gillespie is much more interested in turning it into a vulgar freakshow, and most of the cast (especially Janney) is too willing to join him. And I have to agree with Uri, while not necessarily being so negative on Harding's looks, that Margot Robbie is very miscast, starting with the fact that she's a good five or six inches too tall, and that is an important factor. Even for me, eleven years old at the time, the height differential between Kerrigan and Harding was striking. But here it's Harding who towers over Kerrigan.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:45 pm

Big Magilla wrote:
I still haven't seen it, and probably won't until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray after the Oscars, but I wouldn't call Robbie deserving in Goodbye Christopher Robin which I just watched yesterday. I'm not sure if it's her performance or the way the character is written, but she's a total bitch as the self-absorbed wife/mother who thinks nothing of exploiting her eight-year-old son for personal gain. Kelly Macdonald is the heart and soul of the film as the mother substitute-nanny who Robbie cajoles into resigning when the kid needs her most. Too bad the film wasn't more successful, damned by that boring trailer and the perceived perception of it being another boring British bio, which it's not. If it had been more successful, Macdonald might have received more than just a nod from the British Independent Spirit Awards. She's second only to Laurie Metcalf among the year's supporting actresses in my estimation, now that I've seen it.


What I meant was she is so bad in I, Tonya that even her performance in Goodbye Christopher Robinson, though not Oscar worthy, would have made a more suitable nomination. Totally agree that Kelly Macdonald steals that film and was the only adult character that felt like a fully formed person.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:13 am

Precious Doll wrote:Margot Robbie is terrible. This would have to be one of the worst performances ever nominated in the lead actress category. She was far more deserving in Goodbye Christopher Robin. I adore Allison Janney in almost everything she does but she is terrible in this as well. The male actors are even worse.


I still haven't seen it, and probably won't until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray after the Oscars, but I wouldn't call Robbie deserving in Goodbye Christopher Robin which I just watched yesterday. I'm not sure if it's her performance or the way the character is written, but she's a total bitch as the self-absorbed wife/mother who thinks nothing of exploiting her eight-year-old son for personal gain. Kelly Macdonald is the heart and soul of the film as the mother substitute-nanny who Robbie cajoles into resigning when the kid needs her most. Too bad the film wasn't more successful, damned by that boring trailer and the perceived perception of it being another boring British bio, which it's not. If it had been more successful, Macdonald might have received more than just a nod from the British Independent Spirit Awards. She's second only to Laurie Metcalf among the year's supporting actresses in my estimation, now that I've seen it.
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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:29 am

Mister Tee wrote:The way I remember the Canavale line Sabin references is along the lines of "Regular news used to make fun of us, then they became us" -- and it's a very important sub-theme of the film. The news business was already in the beginning of its decline -- the 1992 campaign coverage centered on Gennifer Flowers had been disgraceful -- but the year or so including the Harding/Kerrigan story was when tabloid really took over. We had the first blast of the "Michael Jackson is a pervert" coverage (which went ballistic with almost no credible evidence), and by late Spring the OJ story obliterated things completely. But I always felt the legit news obsession with Tonya/Nancy was when the compass was lost entirely. The night Tom Brokaw's lead story was "Nancy leads after the first round of compulsories" was the night I knew the news business as defined by Murrow/Cronkite was gone forever.


Well, Australia can make claim to having it's media (TV and print) act in the most appalling and disgusting manner 10 years earlier with the treatment of Linda Chamberlain who, despite no confession, no body, no motive and no witness was sent to prison for the murder of her baby daughter. The coverage was relentless and the public lapped it up. Being one of the very few people around who would defend the Chamberlains I coped lots of abuse but I and more importantly Linda Chamberlain have been vindicated and since those disgusting actions buy the media no one has been dished out with such treatment for possible crimes against children until it has been proven by a court of law that they are guilty.

Which brings me to I, Tonya, which I just got back from watching. I fucking hated the cunt of the thing (not Harding but the film). I'm using the language because if it was good enough for the film to endless dish it out at least one sentence from me referencing it isn't going to hurt.

I got no sense of Tonya Harding, of over poverty or the abuse dished out by her mother. Those early scenes were handled as comedy but they frankly sickened me. As the film progresses, still no real sense of Harding or her place in figure skating or her relationship with her boyfriend - more violence thrown in there for laughs.

The interview style worked not one bit and even worse was when the film was in it's 2:35:1 aspect ration a character would turn around and address us, the audience. Ugh. Lazy filmmaking all around. And to top it off a well known pop song played every 5 minutes (Devil Woman by Cliff Richard, Everyone's a Winner by Hot Chocolate, Gloria by ????, a Fleetwood Mac song) give it a fucking breaking.

And the one moment I thought the film might start to gain some traction when Harding is making a statement dickhead director Craig Gillespie, who has never directed anything of merit for the cinema that I have seen, cuts away to something else.

I really resented the depiction of the characters. They were all horrible, ugly (on the inside), repulsive, violent people. Surely there is more to them then that. My thoughts kept drifting back to Halley (Bria Vinaite) in Sean Baker's The Florida Project. Now there was a character I would not want to meet in real life but Vinaite portrayed her warts and all but with humanity and love as well. Like when she takes the kids out to a field near the motel to watch the Disneyland firecrackers and says "This is for you" and hugs her daughter, it was simply impossible not to feel empathy and worth towards Halley. This is also illustrated towards the end of the film when Moonee (Brooklyn Prince) is going to be removed from her mother. It's very painful to watch and we know its for the best but nevertheless have sympathy for both daughter and irresponsible mother.

I, Tonya never approaches those nuances. Margot Robbie is terrible. This would have to be one of the worst performances ever nominated in the lead actress category. She was far more deserving in Goodbye Christopher Robin. I adore Allison Janney in almost everything she does but she is terrible in this as well. The male actors are even worse.

"At one time Bill Clinton & myself were the two most talked about people in the world" Wrong there sweetheart. Maybe in the U.S. but outside of the U.S. you were a minor news story that most people didn't give a shit about.

This was a horrible experience for me to sit through. I felt violated by it's aggressive and combative manner with no insight into it's subjects. They were undersold. No more Craig Gillespie films for me. He was already on my shit list but this did some promising. Blown buddy I simply won't watch anymore films by this guy.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:43 pm

I saw this a few weeks back, and never got around to talking about it.

I happened to see it in the same period when I saw The Post and Battle of the Sexes, which left me feeling much of my remaining movie-going life would consist of reliving media events I'd experienced first-hand. Of the three films, I, Tonya is easily the most enjoyable and inventive. Presented with the logistical problem of conflicting narratives from interested parties, the film cleverly chose to illustrate the worst actions (slapping, shotgun firing) while having the perpetrators deny to our face they ever happened. It's the peril of not knowing who to believe thrown in our faces -- are we most persuaded by what we're seeing depicted, or by the sweet denials of the principals?

This works especially well with the central character of Tonya, about whom the film seems divided. She was certainly more a victim than was widely thought at the time...but she's likely not as innocent as she'd like us to believe. I should say that, even at the time, I had a little sympathy for Harding; it wasn't hard to see the class bias underlying media coverage that made her the demon and Nancy Kerrigan the angelic princess. But this film still has raised my view of her some --seeing the hopeless odds against which she struggled -- without blinding me to her likely culpability in the infamous deed. Even if general audiences only move that far -- from seeing her as villainess to seeing her as mistreated but still guilty -- that's a big gain for her public image.

Let me join with those objecting to Uri's use of the word ugly to describe Harding. I think her features are perfectly fine (more my type than Kerrigan's, to be frank). But she did project hardness, and that, I think, was fatal to her in a world that thought Kerrigan's gauzy softness was some sort of ideal. So, while casting Robbie here has a touch of Grace Kelly/Country Girl plain-ing down, the fact that Robbie is pretty isn't fatal to the film. I think she does a quite good job, and indicates she has more to offer than her generally exploitative casting has so far shown. Janney, of course, has a sure-fire role, one well within her wheelhouse, and she does what you'd expect her to -- thought I do agree with Sabin: I was surprised she pulled a disappearing act in the second half. I'd probably favor Laurie Metcalf in their face-off, but it'd be a near thing.

The way I remember the Canavale line Sabin references is along the lines of "Regular news used to make fun of us, then they became us" -- and it's a very important sub-theme of the film. The news business was already in the beginning of its decline -- the 1992 campaign coverage centered on Gennifer Flowers had been disgraceful -- but the year or so including the Harding/Kerrigan story was when tabloid really took over. We had the first blast of the "Michael Jackson is a pervert" coverage (which went ballistic with almost no credible evidence), and by late Spring the OJ story obliterated things completely. But I always felt the legit news obsession with Tonya/Nancy was when the compass was lost entirely. The night Tom Brokaw's lead story was "Nancy leads after the first round of compulsories" was the night I knew the news business as defined by Murrow/Cronkite was gone forever.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:15 pm

It feels like the movie's makeup and hair has flown under the radar, but it is certainly worthy of consideration for all the spot-on period work and the demystifying of Robbie.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Bog » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:45 pm

Uri wrote: Casting Robbie in this role is the equivalent of casting Lena Dunham as Grace Kelly.


Uri...you made me laugh there at the end. Without sounding as ridiculously cliched as possible...you are as wrong as I was when the first frame began of her at her kitchen table documentary-style. Without having seen the trailer or read a word of review prior to viewing I said Holy Shit! they nailed it. The fact they did it in a sneaky 'you still know you're watching the even out of Jordan Belfort's league actress but more like how Harvey Levin would snap her at the automatic door of the 7-11 on a snowy Saturday morning at 7am when she popped in for (soy) milk. It even worked when she was "dolled" up for Nationals or the like...and I honestly don't even know how they did it...

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:01 pm

I wouldn't call Tonya Harding ugly looking. Short, chubby and graceless, OK, but not ugly, though some of the faces she made were, and her behavior certainly was.
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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:25 am

You really should watch the film before attacking Robbie's casting. No, she doesn't go the full Charlize Theron/Montser route of chubbing up and uglifying, but nowhere in the film does Robbie's Harding look or feel attractive. Perhaps that's partly her upbringing, or perhaps it's because of her aggressive and harsh personality, but not once in this film did I get the impression that this was a pretty girl who could have won hearts with a more effervescent personality, though that certainly might have helped. I'm reminded of how Surya Bonaly looked almost exactly as Harding did and yet she was still treated far more fairly and had much better success than Harding did. It's not always about looks, but about talents and Harding was talented, but she also let her own headspace control and distort her potential for success.

It very much digs into the world of figure skating the way one might do digging into the world of beauty pageants as they aren't terribly far apart in terms of qualifying success by how pretty someone is.
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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Uri » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:26 am

I haven’t seen it – it’s not going to open here for another 3 weeks, and when it does, I’m not sure I’ll be able to go out and see it. But I did see the trailer.

Tonya Harding wasn’t who she was and did what she did because she was born on the wrong side of the track or because she had a monstrous mother or because she fell with the wrong kind of people. Well, none of it helped and all the above most definitely contributed to her sorrow string of misfortunes, but the real factor was more basic. She was short, chubby, ugly and graceless, and in her chosen sport, where the shade of the lipstick a female athlete is wearing is more important than her ability to land triple jumps, she simply had no chance. Had she had Margot Robbie’s figure, posture and facial bone structure, bad wigs or no bad wigs, her life would have looked totally different. Casting Robbie in this role is the equivalent of casing Lena Dunham as Grace Kelly.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:48 am

Watched 'I, Tonya' again because my girlfriend wanted to see it and she was very taken by it. Pretty much every woman I speak to these days loves it without hesitation. The men I speak to have reservations about its tone, its nastiness, and the tightrope it walks, almost as though they're slightly protective of Tonya Harding and the treatment of women in general. The women I speak to have no such qualms and view it as a film about survival. I think they're also thrilled to see a film about a female character who is so many things in one film. Yes, she has a victim complex, but she's not wrong that her fate isn't entirely up to her. Her husband unequivocally destroys her career, she's constantly judged on her appearances, and a judge takes her career from her in a moment that feels like she's being told she can't have children. But she's also a total piece of shit. Margot Robbie shines in this role. It's almost impossible to avoid comparisons to Sharon Stone. Both broke through baring it all with their blonde goddess bodies playing bad girls. But there was always something fussy about Stone, like she was brought in by central casting. In every performance Margot Robbie gives, she seems to wink to the camera as if to say "What you're seeing? I'm worse."

I suspect a few on this board will dislike this film, but I think it's just a little too entertaining to deny. The second half of the film is substantially less entertaining than the first, but the first has a fizz to it that may be derivative but works. I was initially a bit letdown by Allison Janney expecting a bigger role. There's a bit more shading to her performance on second viewing and she probably has enough to win the Oscar. 'I, Tonya' has only one great scene in it, it's near the end, and Janney owns it. Put it this way: if Melissa Leo can win for this performance, Allison Janney can because she's better.
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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:02 pm

My favorite line from 'I, Tonya' is when Bobby Cannavale's Hard Copy producer says something along the lines of "Everyone used to shit on Hard Copy and now that's what all the news is." It's delivered in a very throwaway manner but it sticks because he's absolutely right. When I think the 1990's, I think the Geraldo Rivera, Hard Copy, and a revolving door of freak-shows trotted out before a live studio audience to be laughed at, applauded, booed...it's impossible to talk about Tonya Harding without thinking about that tabloid era. I think the biggest mistake that 'I, Tonya' makes is that it keeps impugns us, the spectator, as the co-hort. And it never quite pulls that off because it never really makes us understand what Tonya Harding meant to that tabloid television. For a movie that delights in jumping around here and there, you'd think it would be possible to explain how Tonya Harding was a watershed moment for them...then again, perhaps she isn't and the movie just wants it both ways. Either way, it comes off a bit too flip. Craig Gillespie is convinced that he's making a tabloid American tragedy, but in truth it's a little more of a sketchy lark that has shades of something more meaningful.

But 'I, Tonya' is a pretty good movie, even if it shameless apes 'Goodfellas.' But there's a sharply-written screenplay underneath. It's no mistake that when Tonya Harding ditches her abusive husband and begins valuing herself, she does well, and then the minute she welcomes him back, she loses his focus. Another writer would devote endless screen-time to showing this struggle rise and fall, but Steven Rogers just gives it a moment and shows it as a battle lost. Watching this back to back with 'Molly's Game' was an interesting study in writing female characters who don't value themselves enough. This is clearly the more fascinating subject because while, yes, she is the product of an emotionally abusive parent, let alone an abusive husband, she's always wildly self-absorbed with her own victimhood. Margot Robbie embraces it all. I don't think she's going to win for this, but she'll be nominated for sure. I'm not sure Allison Janney is going to win either. It's her strongest film role to date, for sure, and her final scene with Tonya is a heartbreaker. Her villainy just seems a little too broad and disconnected from the struggles of the film. Laurie Metcalf's role is more integrated to a film they probably liked more.
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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:36 pm

Sabin wrote:I'm really enjoying your early screening reviews, BJ.


Oh, thank you! I've tried not to be too spoiler-y, especially because I know some folks won't see these movies for another month or two, but I find it's a lot easier to get my thoughts down right after I've seen something. And the studios are out in full force screening this season's movies for the Academy & Guilds right now.

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Re: I, Tonya reviews

Postby Sabin » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:20 pm

I'm really enjoying your early screening reviews, BJ.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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