Song of the Day #4,605: ‘California Here I Come’ – Al Jolson

Of the 49 2020 movies I’ve seen so far, too many have been disappointments of one degree of another. This year it feels like I’m more out of step with the critical consensus than usual.

The best example is The Assistant, Kitty Green’s first fictional feature, which follows a day in the life of a low-level assistant of a Harvey Weinstein-like movie producer. This movie has shown up near the top of countless year-end lists, but I was not on board. While I acknowledge the atmosphere of mundane dread Green depicts, I was bored rather than captivated. I should have listened to my parents, who gave it a thumbs-down earlier in the year.

In a year ripe with films directed by women, I felt a little guilty when a movie like The Assistant or Josephine Decker’s Shirley landed near the bottom of my list. And I had higher hopes for a trio of well-received films that have failed to crack my top 30: Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, Radha Blank’s The 40-Year Old Version, and Garrett Bradley’s Time.

It wasn’t just the ladies who let me down, though. I’m also bearish on Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, David Fincher’s Mank, and even the celebrated animated film Wolfwalkers, which I thought would rival Pixar’s Soul but left me thoroughly uninspired.

It isn’t always fun to be on the other side of the consensus. It’s like standing outside a party to which you weren’t invited.

But not getting a movie most people love, or loving a movie most people don’t get, is rewarding in its own way. It’s a reminder that art defies compartmentalization, no matter how hard Rotten Tomatoes or the Oscars try to suggest otherwise.

When the wintry winds starts blowing
And the snow is starting in the fall
Then my eyes went westward knowing
That’s the place that I love best of all
California i’ve been blue
Since i’ve been away from you
I can’t wait ’till i get going
Even now i’m starting in a call

California, Here I Come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers
Bloom in the spring
Each morning at dawning
Birdies sing at everything
A sunkissed miss said, “Don’t be late!”
That’s why I can hardly wait
Open up that golden gate
California, Here I Come

California, Here I Come (yeaaaaaah!)
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers
Bloom in the spring
Each morning at dawning
Birdies sing at everything
A sunkissed miss said, “Don’t be late!”
That’s why I can hardly wait (come on!)
Open up (open up! open up!) that golden gate
California, Here I Come

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,605: ‘California Here I Come’ – Al Jolson

  1. Amy says:

    Of those films, I’ve only seen 2 1/2. I came home from work when Maddie was just about halfway through Wolfwalkers and watched the rest with her. We created a stirring symbolic narrative about the suppression of the LGBT community, which made for a provocative film, indeed. What I saw was beautiful and moving but, I agree, not worthy of all the hoopla I’d heard.

    We disagree on the Trial of the Chicago 7, which was one of my favorite films of the year, especially for Eddie Redmayne’s subtle performance and Sorkin’s take on the early divide between factions of the left. Finally, I also saw and liked very much (though didn’t love) On the Rocks. The others I have been swayed from for one reason or another (Mom saved us from both Mank and The Assistant 👍🏼😀).

    I don’t mind disagreeing with critics nearly as much as with friends and family when it comes to our appreciation of the films we love so.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Couldn’t disagree with you more on “Chicago Seven,” so on that one you are on an island with both family and critics (other than your Sorkin-hating immediate family 😉) I too found “On the Rocks” to be good, not great, and have not seen the others you mention, nor do I have any desire to, especially and even more so when they are pretentious critic’s darlings that are not loved by the general public or family.

  3. Peg says:

    I am so happy I saved some of you from the Assistant. I also disagree with you on The Chicago 7 but agree on Mank. It’s true about wanting to like a movie that’s so well received by critics and especially family but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Now about First Cow . . .

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