Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: ryan gosling

“Barbie” Movie Delivers Way More Than Sparkle at the Box Office

I was one of those little girls who was given a baby doll  to mother. Barbie dolls did not exist until 1959. By that point, I was entering high school and done with dolls. I do remember when my friend Beverley’s little sister, Bonnie, got her first Barbie doll. We older girls looked at it as though it were from another world. This was nothing like the Kewpie doll or the dolls with big heads that we were to mock feed with bottles. This creature was something else entirely.

I entered college in 1963 and graduated with a degree in English. When I wanted to go to law school, my father, born in 1902, said, “A woman shouldn’t take a man’s job.” While he and my mother thought it was fine if I wanted to go on to graduate school in English, law school was not something they would help me finance.

The only “acceptable” careers for a woman as I headed off to college in the early sixties were secretary,  nurse, or teacher.  A fourth possibility might be the less professional hairdresser. Yes, Ruth Bader Ginsberg made it through law school, but she had an extremely supportive husband who assisted her. I did not have any support from my family for a career other than the “acceptable” ones mentioned above.

As a result, I went on to get my Master’s (plus 30 hours) in English with a Journalism minor. I taught for 18 years before I took my own money and invested it in an entrepreneurial idea that bore fruit. I ended up establishing and being CEO of two businesses and left the low-paying teaching job I had labored at from 1969 until 1985 behind for good.

I talked my husband into accompanying me to see “Barbie” because another critic (male) whose opinion I respect sang its praises. Since one (of only two) theaters in our Quad City area just closed (and the weather was beastly hot) we ended up having to sit in the very first row of the theater at 5:05 p.m. on a Thursday. We couldn’t sit together—which is just as well, since my spouse went in with a negative attitude and emerged with an even more negative attitude. His remarks after the film ended were all uber critical. (Gee…maybe I should call him “the most negative person I’ve ever met” which he once said to me, for a bit of inaccurate hyperbole).  I think he is just the wrong gender to really be able to relate to most of what the film was articulating about the way women have traditionally been treated in our society. You gotta’ be female to really get that. He’s not.

I loved the “Barbie” movie. I hadn’t expected to, but it entertained while really flinging some zingers at society’s treatment of women versus men, historically.

The cast is great. The fashions and music are to-die-for. The script is the best. Only those who, in the face of ample proof, deny that “it’s a man’s world,” or are arch-Conservatives, would hate this clever, well-written movie.

Of course, when a liberal Democrat marries into a Republican conclave, there will be disagreements. This is one of them. Trust me: I’m right on this one. And the Never Trump one, too.

One sure-fire Oscar nominee is probably Billie Eilish’s theme song, with others to come.


 I will be recapping a few of the script’s better lines. Be warned.

What is the plot?

Barbie and Ken journey from Barbieland to “the real world” and—much like films as far back as “Time After Time”—they are strangers in a strange land, trying to adjust to the realities of what is referred to as “the patriarchy.” (My spouse apparently does not believe in the patriarchy, but that’s on him. It exists and has existed since time immemorial.)

Barbie is being visited by thoughts that are totally UN-Barbie-like—thoughts about death and dying, for one thing. Baumbach’s last film “White Noise” (Adam Driver) also involved thoughts about death and dying.  Baumbach, who co-wrote the script with his life partner Greta Gerwig (who directed) mines his own life for themes. Many deal with dysfunctional family relationships or divorce, like “Marriage Story” and death is a concern, as it is in the works of Woody Allen.

But “Barbie” is Greta Gerwig’s triumph, because, after all, she’s female. She just had the biggest opening week for a movie directed by a woman in history, a $162 million debut, the biggest of the year.

Noah Baumbach may be more aware of “the patriarchy” (or what we used to call “the Good Old Boys’ network) than most men, but Greta has nailed all the things that women of MY generation were expected to cope with to be a desirable, acceptable female in “the real world.”  As one prescient line from the outstanding script says, “Everything exists to expand and elevate the presence of men.”

What things, you might ask disingenuously?

Let me share some of the lines from this film that “nail” the idea that women have, traditionally, been put down and kept down and had to behave in certain ways in order to get by in our society.

“A woman must appear helpless and confused.” Add to that the thought, spoken by Barbie, “I like not having to make any decisions.”

“ Power (on the part of a female) must be masked under a giggle.”

“A woman must pretend to be terrible at every single sport ever.”

“Either you’re brainwashed or you’re weird and ugly.  There is no in-between.”

“Every night is boys’ night.”

“I’m not good enough for anything.”

Some of these “truths” are now changing, and all are being challenged, but, remember: this is the world I grew up in, not the one my granddaughters are growing up in.

There is a terrific monologue (by America Ferrera) that articulated the “required” things for females in America. That one scene, alone, is worth the price of admission, describing, as it does, the tightrope that women in America have to navigate.

“Everything is your fault.”

“We must tie ourselves into knots so that people will like us.”

“We must reject men’s advances without rejecting them.

“It’s best if you don’t think about it too much.  Don’t overthink it.”

Barbies, says the film, represent sexualized capitalism. The rise of the Barbie doll “set the feminist movement back fifty years.” The term “Fascist” is thrown around, even though Barbie immediately says that she doesn’t have anything to do with railways or the flow of commerce.

At one point, a male character says, “I’m a man with no power.  Does that make me a woman?” (I laughed out loud at that one.)

Greta Gerwig is one clever writer. If you didn’t laugh at “Lady Bird” you probably need a humor transplant. “Lady Bird” also had the ability to encapsulate the mother/daughter relationship so perfectly; mothers and daughters everywhere could relate.

With “Barbie,” females of any age will be able to relate. Men? Not so much.


Another Big Plus for me—a child of the sixties—were the outfits that the gorgeous Margot Robbie and the handsome Ryan Gosling wear. I loved the blue dress with the white collar and cuffs, although it was very short—even shorter than the mini skirt years I wore in my prime. Loved, loved, loved the green and pink outfit with the matching hat.  Ken’s outfits didn’t make him appear as attractive as Barbie’s, although, as the script says, “He’s one nice-looking piece of plastic.”


When you’ve got Ryan Gosling willing to take a career risk like this, you’re on a roll. There was a really interesting interview with Greta Gerwig in the “New York Times” where she described how she called Gosling up and convinced him to be her Ken. Will Ferrell portrays the CEO of Mattel and his encounters with the discontinued Pregnant Midge Barbie and the Proust Barbie ( Rhea Perlman plays the part of the creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler.


Lots of good music, but listen for the closing theme by Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?” Potential Oscar nominee.


Terrific! And another move forward for the talented Greta Gerwig after her debut with “Lady Bird.” She and partner Noah Baumbach have made an important movie. I would not have dreamed that this movie would deliver as it has, but the thoughts are true and the truth will out.

A line that resonated with me—a former proud wearer of an ERA bracelet (look it up)—was this one:

“We mothers stand still so we can see how far our daughters have come.” In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, this certainly rang true. And, as the script puts it, “anxiety, panic attacks, and OCD sold separately.”



Opening Night of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival on Oct. 13th


Claude LeLouch with interpreter.

Claude LeLouch with interpreter.

Now that I have your attention, may I mention that the lovely creature featured in the tribute above is the co-author of French director Claude LeLouch’s (2015) film “Un & Une?” You may recognize Valerie Perrine from her Oscar-nominated role as Honey Bruce, wife of Lenny Bruce, in the 1974 film “Lenny” or any of her many other film roles. She accompanied LeLouch to the opening night and is a lovely and vibrant 73-year-old (LeLouch is 79).

Damien Chazelle, Writer/Director of "La La Land" and "Whiplash."

Damien Chazelle, Writer/Director of “La La Land” and “Whiplash.”

The current hot director who attended the Opening Night of his film was Damien Chazelle, whose musical “La La Land” has been well-received virtually everywhere it has screened. In Venice, on August 31st, the opening sequence on a Los Angeles freeway received a standing ovation. Since then, the film has opened to kudos at Telluride and Toronto and Emma Stone won the Best Actress award for her role (She is being prominently mentioned as a Best Actress Oscar contender). The chemistry that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone displayed in “Crazy, Stupid Love” (he told her his signature move was the lift from “Dirty Dancing”) remains.

Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker

Another classic flick brought back to life for the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival was “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, an indie film directed by John McNaughton and starring Michael Rooker. The film premiered in Chicago in 1986 and has achieved cult status over the intervening 30 years. Rooker, himself, now 60, has gone on to appear in such films as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Days of Thunder” (1990), “The Bone Collector,” and as Merle in television’s “The Walking Dead.”

When McNaughton was asked his advice for aspiring filmmakers who want to make an independent film he said, “Ill give them the same advice my father gave me: become a dentist.”

Rosemarie DeWitt of "La La Land."

Rosemarie DeWitt of “La La Land.”

In addition to Writer/Director Chazelle of “La La Land”, actress Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays Gosling’s older sister in the film, came to Chicago and her comments to me about the film were, “I think Damien made something very beautiful and very fresh that is going to make you very happy and maybe even make you cry.”

Ryan Gosling: The Hottest Actor Currently Working in Hollywood

Ryan Gosling: now appearing in a movie theater near you.

Ryan Gosling, who turned 31 on November 12, 2011, is in George Clooney’s new film “The Ides of March,” which is to open the 68th Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2011. Clooney both acts and directs in the film, portraying the fictional Governor Morris, based on Dr. Howard Dean, in a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Gosling will play Governor Morris’ spokesperson, with Paul Giametti as a rival campaign manager. I was there at “the scream heard ‘round the world” (ValAir Ballroom, Des Moines, Iowa, 2004) and I  look forward to seeing how the movie makes use of that climactic moment in the Dean run for the roses.

Gosling also just acted in his first romantic comedy (“Crazy, Stupid Love”) with Steve Carell and Emma Stone. Next up will be his turn as an action hero in “Drive.” It seems that the handsome, idiosyncratic actor can play anything and is everywhere, these days, just as it seemed as though Shia LaBoeuf was everywhere with the “Wall Street” reprise, “Transformers” and his role as Indiana Jones, Jr. just a year or so ago.

With Gosling, however, you get the sense that— like Marlon Brando whose accent he says he copied after  living in Florida  with Canadian roots (born in London and grew up in Cornwall, a mill town on the border of Quebec and the United States). —it’s more about the craft of acting.


Gosling has been acting since the age of 12, after winning a spot in the Disney troop alongside such future stars as Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Brittney Spears. He beat out 17,000 other child actors and, with his mother (Dad, a paper mill worker, had split), he and Mom moved to the Yogi Bear trailer park in Kissimmee. Ryan’s acting paid the bills and was the duo’s sole income.

Of his Disney years, Gosling has said, “I loved the idea that Walt Disney had this dream of a place and then made it a reality.” Later, in discussing the David Lynch film “Blue Velvet” Gosling says, “It’s so clearly one person’s singular dream.  The fact that somebody believed in their idea so much to make it a reality…I want to be that kind of person.”

Gosling has become that kind of actor, with indie cred but also the bankability of roles such as his 2004 starring role in “The Notebook” opposite Rachel McAdams. After “The Notebook” hit, he took a job in a sandwich shop near where he lived.  Why?  “I’d never had a real job.” Noting that “The problem with Hollywood is that nobody works” he concludes that it would be “a much happier place” if actual work were performed there.

Oscar Nod

Gosling has done some serious work in films that were honored by the nomination committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, most notably his leading actor nomination for the role of drug-addicted teacher Dan Dunne in “Half Nelson.” Most experts predicted he would be nominated last year for his leading role opposite Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine,” but only his co-star got the nod. Of that film, Gosling says it’s the best film he’ll ever make and comments on Director Derek Clanfrance’s dedication in having the cast actually live together in a house, as a family, prior to shooting the film.  Clanfrance had spent 12 years on the film, declaring it “the film that I was born to make” and he allowed his actors to improvise much of their dialogue. “They had so much to do, so much to say in it,” says Clanfrance.

“Blue Valentine”

As for Gosling, he appreciated the opportunity to become part of the dream of a happy couple whose marriage falls apart, saying, “I thought it was really smart of him (Clanfrance) to do that, because even though you don’t see it in the film—they’re not scenes in the movie—I think you can feel it.” He also commented on the onscreen chemistry, saying, “It’s a love story, you know, and physical intimacy is a part of that and we were trying to capture that in a way that was not gratuitous or trying too hard to be sexy or something.” Gosling felt another dream world had been created and said, “Michelle and I found it hard to take off our wedding bands when it was over.  We’d built this castle and then had to tear it down.” He does note, “What I like about the film is that it leaves it open.”

By that, Gosling means the end of the film, where the young couple seems as though they could, conceivably, reconcile. Or not.  In that way, “Blue Valentine’s” ending was similar to Nicole Kidman’s film “Rabbit Hole.” Kidman was Oscar-nominated as Best Actress last year in that film, which also leaves the viewer to decide if the couple, (whose son has been killed in an automobile accident), is going to survive the tragedy or not.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Gosling’s onscreen chemistry with his leading ladies has been remarked upon repeatedly. In “The Notebook,” his scenes with Rachel McAdams were so incendiary that they almost earned the film an ‘R” rating. After making “Murder by Numbers” with Sandra Bullock, the two were a couple from 2001 – 2002, despite the fact that Gosling was 22 at the time and Bullock 37, a 16-year age difference. (The 47-year-old Bullock is rumored to be dating another younger Ryan, the twelve years younger Ryan Reynolds, age 34, her co-star  in “The Proposal,” who is just out of a brief marriage to Scarlett Johansson.)

Doing It His Way

In a career that, despite his relative youth, has been ongoing for 18 years, Gosling is making his mark, and he’s doing it his way, selecting films that are idiosyncratic, like “The Believers” (2001) or “Lars and the Real Girl” (2007) and then switching over to his most recent box office offerings.

As he said, “There’s this idea in Hollywood, and I’ve seen it work for people, where the unspoken rule is, ‘Do 2 for them and 1 for yourself.’ And that’s kind of considered a fact.  I’ve never really found that to be true for me.  I’ve gotten more opportunities out of working on things I believed in then I ever did on things that weren’t special to me.”

For this actor, who points to Gary Oldman as his favorite actor, that method works for him. And it works out quite well for his audiences, as well. It is rumored that he will reprise Michael York’s role as “The Sandman” who catches “Runners” in the film reboot of “Logan’s Run,” the ’70s movie made from the classic William F. Nolan book.

Whatever Gosling does, it will be interesting.

“Crazy, Stupid Love:” Who or What Is A Jonah Bobo and Why Has He Ruined This Movie

“Crazy, Stupid Love” is the latest Steve Carell vehicle, co-starring the uber-cool Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone—seemingly the ingénue flavor of the month. The tagline for the movie is: “This is stupid.” I couldn’t have said it better.

I saw this movie the day it opened, but waited to write about it until I figured out why it didn’t work that well. Two words: Jonah Bobo.

What? You don’t know what a “Jonah Bobo” is? To answer that question, he’s the child actor hired to play Carell’s son Robbie (age 13). The young man delivers his lines well. No question about that. He’s just wrong for the part. He looks like neither of his film parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Carell), has a haircut like a sheepdog, is short and—let’s face it—somewhat androgynous. The entire subplot revolving around Robbie’s (Jonah Bobo’s) huge crush on the 4-years-older Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) is made ridiculous by the lumpy kid who, in certain light, could be mistaken for a girl. He has a very Jewish kid look about him, while, to the best of my knowledge, neither of the onscreen parents would qualify in that department.

The other flawed part of the film, as written by Dan Fogelman and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is the finale scene. I won’t spoil that by saying anything other than that it involves a miniature golf prop and the writers just didn’t know when to quit with that scene. Over-the-top just barely describes it.

The best parts of the film come when Julianne Moore as Carell’s wife asks for a divorce. Reason given? She slept with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Carell is then taken under the wing of the womanizing Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) who dispenses wisdom on being cool like, “Don’t wear New Balance sneakers ever.” Upon meeting Carell in a bar, Jacob says, “I don’t know if I should help you or euthanize you. Do you have any idea when you lost it?” Carell’s character of Cal says, “A strong case can be made for 1984.”

The theme rammed down our throats throughout the movie is that “When you find the one, you never give up.” Like father, like son, in that regard…only the son (Jonah Bobo) really ruined it for me. Marisa Tomei has a small part as Robbie’s English teacher and my spouse considered her scenes among the movie’s strongest. I liked the Jake-teaches-Cal parts and hated the ending. Waaay too many coincidences and over-the-top clichés stuffed into that ending, boys.

It was just crazy. And stupid.

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