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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 53 Florence Foster Jenkins

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I agree that it lost my interest the first time around,and I didn't make it through in one sitting. Yesterday, I watched it all and found the second viewing more enjoyable. I was reading the Wiki pages for her, Sinclair, and Cosmo, and I watched some interviews with the actors, and I think there's a lot there that could have been told, but wasn't. The movie doesn't quite live up to the richness of her story. It drops a lot of one-liners about her history, like how her father cut her out of the will and he taught piano to make ends meet (also her bit about playing for the President is true). But it could have also dropped in that her father absolutely refused to let her perform, and once he died her mother was slightly more lenient but kept a tight seal on who could see her, so she really didn't get a chance to perform in public until she was in her 60's. I think all of that would have made her a much more sympathetic figure in the film.

Because of her histtory, I think she knew she was untalented, but she kept her performances closed to basically just close friends and supporters. I imagine many people fawned and faked around her, not necessarily for access to her will, but for future endowments. I agree that the film has us laughing at her at first, but I didn't feel that way the second time I watched it. I did feel like I sympathized with her love for music and performing, and the people around her who arguably just wanted to let her live out her fantasies. One can argue whether it's better to keep Florence sheltered from the truth or whether it would be more kind to be honest.

ETA: I really enjoyed Meryl in this.

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I think what I would have liked more is if the movie had been more from her point of view. In a way, this movie was more about St Clair and Cosme than her. Maybe they were trying to make her a more mysterious figure (i.e., interesting) but it didn't land for me. We never actually know how she felt. We would just get glimpses when she would let her guard down. Not only would we get a little more insight into what made her tick, but I think it would have been absolutely gut-wrenching if we were to witness the reveal of her lack of talent talent through her eyes. Like what if all the performances were performed as it had in her head on her death bed?  And through her eyes, we would see her (apparently) killing it, and then the movie could change focus and we would realize the people aren't really cheering her on, but laughing at her.

I'm not really sure if that would jibe with the how in real life she was aware she wasn't a great singer, but this movie wants to pretend she didn't know that until the very end either, so whatever.

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I wish they explained why she was afraid of pointy objects.  

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Another thing that kind of bugged me was how the movie ends on this vaguely triumphant note, where she sees herself as a beautiful singer, but then kind of throws up some kind of depressing cards about what happened to St Clair and Cosme. Like, why even include the fact that Cosme never enjoyed success as a pianist again or that St Clair struggled for the rest of his life? I believe it said St. Clair helped continue to support the arts “as best he could” despite his “modest” means. I mean, if I were really interested, I’d Wiki it. Those cards felt like something you’d put up for the villains of your movie. If your central character didn’t inspire the other characters to greatness, then do we really need to know that Cosme became a weightlifting judge?

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Re: Florence's dream sequence on her deathbed - I chucked that up to the CNS symptoms commonly seen in the tertiary stage of syphilis, including delusions and dementia.  So...it was kind of depressing.  

Anyhoo, I made potato salad (in a bowl)!  I blame the movie.

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18 minutes ago, tomspanks said:

Re: Florence's dream sequence on her deathbed - I chucked that up to the CNS symptoms commonly seen in the tertiary stage of syphilis, including delusions and dementia.  So...it was kind of depressing.  

Anyhoo, I made potato salad (in a bowl)!  I blame the movie.

Chives?

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9 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Chives?

My team is scouring Manhattan for chives at this very moment.

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16 hours ago, Cinco DeNio said:

I didn't see any chives in the bathtub potato salad.

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This is my hell

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15 hours ago, Cinco DeNio said:

Off-Topic: I still can't believe it's Chris Sarandon doing Jack Skellington's speaking voice in The Nightmare Before Christmas.  When I think of Chris I think of Prince Humperdink and the vocals don't match.

That's because it's not him.  MovieBitches just did a retro review about it and apparently it's famed composer Danny Elfman when he sings. 

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Ok so not to be a period racism police but I know from reading an article about segregated rock concerts after we watched The Girl Can't Help It that the African American service men and other concert goers would not be allowed to sit with their fellow white attendees. Not that I'm like... Yearning for more racism and social injustice.I'm just a dumb nerd.

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So St. Claire CLAIMS that Florence knows about Kathleen but that's bullshit right? No one in an open or poly relationship is going to make their other partner hide if his wife stops by. Furthermore why does he have an apartment at all? Why not sleep in a guest bedroom if they absolutely can't sleep in the same bed? Surely that large apartment has one? The only reason for a separate apartment is because he wants to sleep with or be with someone else. I think he cares for Florence but I really don't think he loves her romantically . I honestly think he was originally with her for the money and as time has gone by he's become fond of her. He  treated her like a beloved aunt throughout the film. I genuinely thought he worked for her, that husband was a term of affection, and Kathleen was his real wife.

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Ok so basically this movie is telling me bad reviews kill confirming my fear of being critiqued or criticized. Constructive criticism is deadly and I must never hear it!!!!it

but in all seriousness I find it hard to believe that such a formidable, can do, take charge woman who will record a record on a whim and pass it out to everyone would  collapse from one bad review or two people. She knows people laughed at the beginning so that wouldn't come as a shock. I feel like she would be the type to brush one bad review off as being the fault of the reviewer and not herself. 

I'd rather have seem her just randomly collapse from her illness and reveal that she always knew her singing wasn't the greatest but she loves it so she performers and by god they can't say  that she didn't sing! So she isn't pitiful and the butt of the joke. She goes out on her own terms head held high. I feel like the ending was very cruel to her character, people laughed at her, she finds out everything is a lie and they think she sucks, she dies. It's AWFUL!  Maybe have someone else from the concert tell us why they love her( like the husband of the blond) because she has such theatricality or stage presence. Or because of how much heart she puts in her performance.  Give us a reason to love her performance too besides her being the supposed main character.

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I agree with what has been said about just not caring that much. I think what it came to is I just found so much of the performances to be so hammy. Like the caricature of a hot young New Yorker second wife and almost everything Big Bang Theory was doing had me questioning things. I don't know how much of that is him or the director though. Like he decided to play him very, sorry if this is offensive, fey. I don't know Cosme's sexual orientation but the movie seems to imply and they way he decided to play him just read as a little questionable to me. The main thing it has nothing to do with the story but the performance so broad you can't help but focus on a non-issue. Again he's portraying a real person and maybe that's how he really was but at times I just felt like it was a little too much or a little too broad. I think in the end just the overall broadness of some of the performances prevented me from getting emotionally invested.

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In a weird way this movie remind me of song poems. It's kind of the reverse of the movie actually. Basically a company would advertise they are looking for poems to make into songs, and people could write whatever they wanted and submit it with a fee and in return they would receive a record of their poem/song being sung and set to music. This leads to some bizarre songs that people write, but there are collectors that enjoy them in the same way people enjoyed Florence Foster Jenkins. If anybody is curious there is a documentary about them called Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story that PBS did years ago.

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5 hours ago, gigi-tastic said:

Ok so not to be a period racism police but I know from reading an article about segregated rock concerts after we watched The Girl Can't Help It that the African American service men and other concert goers would not be allowed to sit with their fellow white attendees. Not that I'm like... Yearning for more racism and social injustice.I'm just a dumb nerd.

I noticed this too. At first it didn't bother me, as I was just glad people weren't being erased altogether, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like presenting a false history is kind of dangerous. It allows dumb-ass racists to look at a period piece and think, "See, it wasn't that bad. Everyone got along back then. It's so much worse now. Thanks, Nobama!" 

It feels like a tough nut to crack, though. I think the idea was to show that Foster appealed to all types of people, but I don't think the movie wanted the audience (i.e. us) to be distracted by the negative image of a segregated section when racism wasn't really an issue the movie was ready, or trying, to tackle. Honestly, I'm really not sure what the answer is - if there even is one.   

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7 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I noticed this too. At first it didn't bother me, as I was just glad people weren't being erased altogether, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like presenting a false history is kind of dangerous. It allows dumb-ass racists to look at a period piece and think, "See, it wasn't that bad. Everyone got along back then. It's so much worse now. Thanks, Nobama!" 

It feels like a tough nut to crack, though. I think the idea was to show that Foster appealed to all types of people, but I don't think the movie wanted the audience (i.e. us) to be distracted by the negative image of a segregated section when racism wasn't really an issue the movie was ready, or trying, to tackle. Honestly, I'm really not sure what the answer is - if there even is one.   

I agree. I think the movie is more about a evoking a feeling than a fact. Or it's trying to be. 

 I don't think I would ever have noticed if I hadn't read about it it to be honest.

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On 12/4/2018 at 3:57 AM, gigi-tastic said:

Ok so basically this movie is telling me bad reviews kill confirming my fear of being critiqued or criticized. Constructive criticism is deadly and I must never hear it!!!!it

but in all seriousness I find it hard to believe that such a formidable, can do, take charge woman who will record a record on a whim and pass it out to everyone would  collapse from one bad review or two people. She knows people laughed at the beginning so that wouldn't come as a shock. I feel like she would be the type to brush one bad review off as being the fault of the reviewer and not herself. 

I'd rather have seem her just randomly collapse from her illness and reveal that she always knew her singing wasn't the greatest but she loves it so she performers and by god they can't say  that she didn't sing! So she isn't pitiful and the butt of the joke. She goes out on her own terms head held high. I feel like the ending was very cruel to her character, people laughed at her, she finds out everything is a lie and they think she sucks, she dies. It's AWFUL!  Maybe have someone else from the concert tell us why they love her( like the husband of the blond) because she has such theatricality or stage presence. Or because of how much heart she puts in her performance.  Give us a reason to love her performance too besides her being the supposed main character.

 

On 12/4/2018 at 8:21 AM, Cam Bert said:

I agree with what has been said about just not caring that much. I think what it came to is I just found so much of the performances to be so hammy. Like the caricature of a hot young New Yorker second wife and almost everything Big Bang Theory was doing had me questioning things. I don't know how much of that is him or the director though. Like he decided to play him very, sorry if this is offensive, fey. I don't know Cosme's sexual orientation but the movie seems to imply and they way he decided to play him just read as a little questionable to me. The main thing it has nothing to do with the story but the performance so broad you can't help but focus on a non-issue. Again he's portraying a real person and maybe that's how he really was but at times I just felt like it was a little too much or a little too broad. I think in the end just the overall broadness of some of the performances prevented me from getting emotionally invested.

I think a big part of the problem was the compressed timeline.  IIRC the movie started in 1944, shortly before her death.  In reality her performances had gone on for years.  She started making records in 1941!  I mean, just think about it.  In that era nothing got done quickly, certainly not putting on grand performances in two halls, making at least one record and distributing it, hiring and rehearsing a new accompanist, etc.  She died on November 26th, 1944.  Even if the movie started on January 1st that's only just shy of 11 months to do all that.

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6 hours ago, Cinco DeNio said:

 

I think a big part of the problem was the compressed timeline.  IIRC the movie started in 1944, shortly before her death.  In reality her performances had gone on for years.  She started making records in 1941!  I mean, just think about it.  In that era nothing got done quickly, certainly not putting on grand performances in two halls, making at least one record and distributing it, hiring and rehearsing a new accompanist, etc.  She died on November 26th, 1944.  Even if the movie started on January 1st that's only just shy of 11 months to do all that.

Also, in my reading up on the real Florence, she died following a heart attack that occurred in the weeks following her Carnegie Hall performance. My understanding is that the whole hiding of the newspapers bit and a bad review causing collapse, was all artistic license. 

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58 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Also, in my reading up on the real Florence, she died following a heart attack that occurred in the weeks following her Carnegie Hall performance. My understanding is that the whole hiding of the newspapers bit and a bad review causing collapse, was all artistic license. 

And I’m fine with artistic license, but it should serve a greater theme. Something I think FFJ tries to do, but doesn’t really nail.

It might be a bit cliche, but I think I would have started the movie with her recital for President Hayes. It would show how much true promise she truly had, and how that promise got taken away from her. This way, playing Carnegie  at the end would feel like a more impactful moment than just enabling the delusions of a wealthy socialite.

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17 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

And I’m fine with artistic license, but it should serve a greater theme. Something I think FFJ tries to do, but doesn’t really nail.

It might be a bit cliche, but I think I would have started the movie with her recital for President Hayes. It would show how much true promise she truly had, and how that promise got taken away from her. This way, playing Carnegie  at the end would feel like a more impactful moment than just enabling the delusions of a wealthy socialite.

I agree. The movie would have had a much bigger emotional impact if we got a chance to see the different ways she tried to make it in music before, and how much it was a part of her life. Here, it's just, "oh, I need to take singing lessons . . . again." When did she take them before? Was she actually better before? FFJ is a pretty rich story that either got left on the cutting room floor, or was never really introduced at all, despite its run time. 

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It was kind of weird that in the movie, Kathleen walks out on St Clair, but Wiki says that St Clair married Kathleen after Florence died.  I guess we can chalk it up to artistic license again.  

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On 12/6/2018 at 5:25 AM, WatchOutForSnakes said:

Also, in my reading up on the real Florence, she died following a heart attack that occurred in the weeks following her Carnegie Hall performance. My understanding is that the whole hiding of the newspapers bit and a bad review causing collapse, was all artistic license. 

What struck as a bit odd about the ending is that a few scenes earlier Florence gives this speech to Cosme about when she first started seeing St Clair and she hid bad reviews from him. Yet when he does it for her, and let's face it all the signs were there that's what he was doing, she goes and does it anyway. Dramatic licensing I'm sure, but having her talk about it the day before it happens just seemed like an odd choice to me.

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I'm sorry that I've completely lost all ability to join in on these conversations, y'all. Apparently getting myself to pay attention to anything after work is near impossible.

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31 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I'm sorry that I've completely lost all ability to join in on these conversations, y'all. Apparently getting myself to pay attention to anything after work is near impossible.

No apologies necessary :) Life gets in the way. We all know we all need to pop in and out from time to time.

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