Accidentally Good Times at the El Royale House

I accidentally saw the last 90 minutes of Bad Times at the El Royale at Soho House last night–


Remember in Sin City when he thinks she’s saying “STOP!” but she’s actually saying “He’s a COP!”? That’s how I tried to see Hocus Pocus and ended up accidentally in BTATER. I thought it would end in 15 minutes and HP would start at 7… it didn’t. 
ANYWAY. It must have been fated because it changed my mind about two actors: Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth (while I revisited a favorite and discovered a few new greats!). I never saw any of Johnson’s work and only saw the first Thor of Hemsworth’s years ago.
I’m happy to say both Johnson and Hemsworth delighted me in this stylish and very classy pulp fiction by Drew Goddard.

Dakota Johnson

I finally discovered Johnson’s on-screen appeal which is VERY lovely but it didn’t sink in right away. I then understood how she hadn’t been on my radar all these years (I read 50 Shades and it sucked, so I didn’t see any of the movies) Her talent doesn’t deliver in a sucker-punch style, it’s much more nuanced and easy to overlook. She could shine very bright in her own rays of light if she’s nurtured and directed correctly.
She needs a script written like a custom perfume blend: Tailored to her uniqueness in a balanced way. The layers of her talent are time-released fragrances that shouldn’t be rushed. A good screenwriter can layer and pace her “top”, “base”, and “middle” “notes” over the course of a two-hour film. 

Chris Hemsworth


I was also delightfully surprised that Hemsworth is as talented as he is attractive. I also noticed how different his voice sounded, or maybe, that I didn’t remember his voice sounding like that? His voice stands out because his chest and packs of muscles are displayed for 100% of Hemsworth’s screen time (that I saw, though I’m preeeeeetty sure he was topless the beginning of the movie too) and that’s what you end up staring at.

I hadn’t thought about him much since Thor 1– wait, I think I saw something he was in where he had short hair with cuts in the side, but I know I fell asleep so I forgot what it was. Anyway, so when he appeared on screen I just waited for the movie to end (as I still thought HP might start after whatever this was ended soon, silly me) and watched the strings of each of his muscles twitch, contract, and loosen at his will. Or I’d be looking at the deep shadows between the mountainous abs of 6 or I’d be gazing at the lean lack of any substance between pure muscle and well-moisturized and tanned ab muscle-covering skin and mental-monologue respect for his discipline to eat clean because I love chocolate donuts and bread and butters and ethical meats and cheeses and to get abs like that you have to eat really clean and lean because no matter how much you work out you can’t compensate for a bad diet and that’s how I know I’ll never want 6 separate ab muscles because I’m quite slender and having a trim enough waist is enough to keep me happy– I then noticed that distinctive voice of his and was brought back to the movie plot. I kept listening to it and it’s really quite interesting. He could do very well in lots of different noir-ish homages (like BTATER but where we can root for him) or stories featuring unique characters made so by their voices and beliefs. I hope he gets the chance.

He was good, but only as good as he’s written. He can do more and it’s easy to see why he’s overlooked, his abs are blinding…. I’d really like to see Hemsworth as a mortal hero who uses his emotion and his unique (literal and figurative) voice to conquer the bad guys and and save the word in a different film… He’s more than good enough for BTATER though, as he also dances a funny ab-dance which will be a gif soon enough. 

Billy Lee might be written a bit lazily, I really don’t know. I didn’t see the beginning of the film to see if he’s more developed than what I saw. Or perhaps Hemsworth was incongruent between the first and second half in some way. I don’t know. I am inclined to think Hemsworth could’ve done more if he had more to do, writing-wise, in BTATER though. I feel like he was written as “vain sexy self-absorbed cult leader” and that was that. He, unfortunately, cannot do what Cynthia Erivo can do… read on to read what that is!

Everyone Else

I already know and LOVE Jeff Bridges. He was, as he always reliably is, perfect <3
His voice is so evocative of sympathy it’s uncanny. Goddard uses him perfectly in BTATER.
Last night I fell IN love with Cynthia Erivo, she’s simply magic and someone to watch. I can’t believe we’ve been going on all this time without her in the public consciousness. We need more of her. Her imdb lists three upcoming films: Chaos Walking and Needle in a Timesack which are both in post-production. It looks like she’s currently filming Harriet as Harriet Tubman!! I might be expecting too much from the script but I know whatever she’s given she will give it back having multiplied it’s worth tenfold somehow.She will do that. Cynthia Erivo took a sheaf of paper Drew Goddard gave her and gave him back Darlene Sweet. I still hope they write her very very greatly in the Tubman bio-pic. Her voice is H E A V E N and the first time I heard her sing on camera I felt truly privileged ^_^Cynthia made this role her own and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it; she’s

 a double-threat: she can both act AND sing. This isn’t to be taken for granted, because there’s usually one that’s more favored or more adept than the other. Beyonce is more of a singer than an actress. Nicole Kidman is more of an actress than a singer, but she still sang in Moulin Rouge!

Cynthia Erivo makes it difficult to discern which she can do better (act or sing), as she oozes easy talent doing both at the same time as naturally as I’m sure she reads the morning newspaper, and probably just as graceful.
 Lewis Pullman makes acting look effortless. He’s natural, he’s real, he’s present and very reactive. He’s feeling every single thing newly, freshly, in the moment, moment to moment. He’s actually just as perfect as Jeff Bridges.
Lewis Pullman is alive on camera and it’s fascinating to watch.
This is also due to Drew’s good writing, and armed with a stellar script Pullman’s talents are clear and confident. It was wonderful to experience him and I hope we see more of him too.
Written and Directed by Drew Goddard, I predicted 25-30% of it. But after about 20 minutes I stopped even trying and that’s the best part. I noticed that the great things I clocked were consistent and that I was watching something sophisticated and therefore pleasurable (sapiosexuals will enjoy this film). He steered his project successfully and artfully.
Goddard is clearly another deep thinker, dedicating thought-forms to philosophizing, reflection, and imagining. The product of all that alone time is clear in BTATER: his pulp fiction characters representing multiple sides of the philosophical arguments in his head. The way they express themselves showcase Goddard’s creativity in a classy and stylish fashion. While he could’ve taken it much further philosophically and mentally– he relaxed and leaned a lot on the style and genre, he still did an amazing job on this project he got to both write and direct. 
I loved the cast, the story, and the overall filmmaking. Bravo, everyone!


I ALSO LOVE THAT HE PUT ‘THE LETTER’ IN THE MOVIE because it’s one of my favorite songs. I would sing it with my little sister and our father in the car growing up <3