Emily The Criminal

Trailer: https://bit.ly/3itskNr

Aubrey Plaza is wicked good.

Just a couple of hours ago, I was thinking how the movies are over. Except for the superhero flicks, because really they’re like series, you know, the Marvel Universe is like a multi-season extravaganza on Netflix.

But the real movies, the soul of the industry, the stories, based in real life… They can’t open anymore. Oh, they can promote ’em, put ’em in theatres, but people just won’t go. They posit the audience, mostly oldsters, who support these flicks are afraid to go because of Covid…but in truth, they got out of the habit. Never mind it’s so much more convenient at home.

My mother, bless her soul, gone just over two years now, was addicted to the movies. That was her go-to. If there were a few hours, some empty time, which she hated, she’d pick out a flick. It was a religion.

It was also art. Something to believe in and live for. She went to the Judith Crist weekends…

Fewer people today know Judith Crist than Johnny Carson. I’ll bet no one under thirty, maybe forty, has a clue who she was. But she was the film critic for “New York” magazine, amongst other periodicals. Back in the heyday of film criticism, the late sixties and seventies, when movies still counted, before “Jaws” and “Star Wars” ruined the paradigm.

You see there was too much money in blockbusters. Just like there’s too much money in finance and tech. And there are some who can resist, but not many.

I was introduced to a friend’s friend in Two Elk, the day lodge atop Vail. He too was from Connecticut, but the relative boonies.

So I asked him how he got out of there, ultimately he coughed up that he went to Harvard.

So what did he do after that?

He went into “investments.”

What a waste. He could have changed the world, but he just wanted to get rich.


You need enough money to live, but how much is that?

And that’s just the point of “Emily the Criminal,” she needs the money.

They set it up pretty well. How she got into this hole.

And then she makes choices…

I guess that’s got to do with your background too. If you grew up in a middle class family, your values are such that…

The middle class has evaporated. And the truth is those on the bottom will do anything to survive. Desperate people do desperate things, and Emily is desperate.

Is it wholly believable?

What we needed was a few hours to set up a slow transition. But you don’t have that time in a movie. So when Emily makes certain choices, they don’t ring true.

But that’s the script, the plot. The film’s execution is great, as is Aubrey’s performance.

I know Aubrey Plaza’s name, but prior to tonight I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup. Ever hear the host of SNL and wonder who it is? Impossible in the seventies, de rigueur today. At least I knew Aubrey Plaza’s name.

And she impressed me by being real. Sans plastic surgery. A regular person. The kind you’d meet, maybe not on the street, and would be intrigued by. Then again, Emily’s so down and out she doesn’t say much. Until…

Ultimately this movie is about standing up for yourself. It’s very well articulated. I tell friends this all the time. If you don’t stand up to bullies, they’re going to push and marginalize you. That’s how they became successful, by making you feel you’re inferior, taking advantage of you.

Emily says you must make your own rules.

Wow, that resonated. You’re either the boss or the employee. And if you’re the employee you haven’t got much power. Sure, there are nascent unions. Then again, everybody agrees to arbitration and the company always wins and…

Life is hard. Friends can be two-faced, they don’t want to take a risk for you.

And all of this is in “Emily the Criminal.”

I was aware of it, I caught the buzz when it was released in theatres, but I had no intention of seeing it. Until two people e-mailed me about it, I checked the RottenTomatoes numbers and the critics’ number was 94. Sure, the audience number was only 79, but I trust the critics first. And my cutoff number is 80, and 79 is close enough.

You’ll enjoy “Emily the Criminal.”

But it would have been better as a streaming series.

P.S. “Emily the Criminal” is a Sundance movie, as in it premiered at the festival and was acquired based on the buzz. But it stiffed in theatres, it only grossed $2.2 million in North America, which barely exceeds its budget. And since theatre owners take half the gross…

P.P.S. The festival model if not dead, is dying. You know, where distributors show up to skim the cream. Now that the films don’t do well, the glow is off. “The Los Angeles Times,” the industry newspaper of record, said this. Furthermore, the paper said that it doesn’t make sense to travel to Utah, when insiders can just screen the movies at home. You can go to the film festival as a punter, just don’t think you’re on the cutting edge, the festival circuit is now niche.

P.P.P.S. “Emily the Criminal” is on Netflix. 

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