As I was watching I Care a Lot, I found that, for various reasons I’ll go into later, I really did not care a lot for our fearless protagonist—or any obstacles or challenges she faced.
And why is that, you may ask—well mainly because the central character (played all too well by Rosamund Pike) is an attractive, amoral predator who targets vulnerable senior citizens and, with the help of an unscrupulous doctor and a legal system intent on looking the other way, basically imprisons these people in an assisted living facility (or nursing home) while summarily stripping them of all their assets. Pike’s business is thriving, as she (as well as her partner) take immense pleasure in the pain she inflicts on the victims and their families. And were one think this is all fantasy, if one were to do some research, one can see her character is indeed based on real-life “court-appointed caregivers” (especially one who operated in Nevada—until she herself found herself behind literal bars). Early in the film, Pike sets her sights on Dianne Weist, who is (according to Pike’s medical accomplice) a “cherry,” someone who has plenty of assets and no immediate family to contend with or pose legal challenges. Luckily for the film—(not so for Pike), Weist’s capable and competent “victim” does have some people who care about her—and miss her after she’s gone. Chief among them is Peter Dinklage, who has money, power and connections—and he is willing to do anything to engineer Weist’s release from her new environs.
When I think about I Care a Lot (and I probably won’t after I finish this review) J. Blakeson’s film aims to entertain and unsettle, and does a good job with both. The problem for this viewer is that it is so successful at showcasing the corruption and abuses within the system that one wishes the heartless protagonist to “receive her comeuppance” long before the end of the nearly two-hour running time. Assuming this is the reaction the filmmakers desire, then yes, the film is pretty effective, and does gain traction once Dinklage enters the scene. But then it makes the mistake of getting a bit soft in the middle (does this woman have a trace of a heart…??) before it somewhat recovers. Adding to the entertainment value is an excellent portrayal from Dianne Weist as the one senior citizen you don’t want to mess with, and several tense scenes of one-upmanship between Pike and her opponents with one particular scene, between Pike and Chris Messina’s clever, persistent lawyer, the highlight of the film. Without spoiling things, viewers can watch the film, be somewhat satisfied by the end—and have no need to ever watch it again. Available on Netflix.
Also on Netflix is the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes, a limited series that I had to finish watching in a hurry, in the event that I accidentally glimpse an online explanation of the “puzzling, shocking ending.” I had stumbled upon the series and found myself sticking it out—and generally enjoyed it despite some (big) reservations. Simona Brown (superb) is Louise, a divorced mother of one living in a London suburb and making end meet doing clerical work in a doctor’s office. On a rare night out (her girl friend doesn’t show) Louise meets a handsome newcomer (Scottish accent and all), hits it off, but…he is married. The very next day, the practice is welcoming a new psychiatrist and who should it be but…her missed-opportunity one-night stand, Dr. David Ferguson (nicely played by Tom Bateman). And while she Louise and David try to establish the boundaries of their working relationship (as in “will there be boundaries?”), Louise bumps into—and becomes friendly with David’s wife Adele (Eve Hewson, excellent). If you continue with the series (and I’m thinking you will), there are any number of twists and turns, whether it’s in the evolving relationships, Dr. David’s treatment of the fragile Adele, flashbacks with Adele and her even more fragile friend Rob (Robert Aramayo) and mysteries concerning a fire, a well, a will—and some unconventional modes of travel. It’s a well-acted, well-paced, fairly creepy thriller—the extent that you enjoy it will probably depend on certain developments that occur in the fourth episode—and how much idiotic behavior you’re willing to accept from supposedly intelligent characters. I went with it, and was not too sorry.
Finally, if you have Netflix and you’re a Martin Scorsese fan who loves to see him laugh (who doesn’t), you’ll be beside yourself watching Pretend It’s a City, his documentary/profile of humorist Fran Lebowitz. Whether he is interviewing her onstage or more “informally” at the Players Club, he evidently finds Lebowitz consistently hilarious. The surprise, at least for me, is I did too. Lebowitz is an observant, wry, sardonic commentator, and much of her humor is quite self-deprecating (much to her and the viewer’s benefit). There are seven segments, each loosely based around a theme (sports, culture, transit) that gives Lebowitz free rein to recount her road to cultural prominence and to expound on everything she finds endearing and infuriating about New York (this was filmed before the pandemic). Alec Baldwin, Toni Morrison (a long-time friend), Olivia Wilde and Spike Lee also appear (the latter being genuinely and humorously shocked at Lebowitz’s disdain for sports, in one of the show’s highlights). If you give the first episode a try, I think you’ll stick around for the last one.