The Seagull Movie Review

To say that human relationships are complicated is an understatement.

In the new film, The Seagull, based on the Anton Chekhov play of the same name, Irina (Annette Bening) is an aging actress whose current significant other is Boris (Corey Stoll), a younger writer who is one of the most recognized writers in the country.  Irina takes Boris to meet her brother, Sorin (Brian Dennehy), who lives on a country estate and is in poor health. Irina’s son, Konstantin (Billy Howle) lives with his uncle and wants to be a playwright. He is also in a relationship with Nina (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl from a neighboring estate. Nina develops a girlish infatuation for Boris, but he rejects her as Irina rejects her son.

I know nothing about Chekhov or his work. My review, therefore, is strictly based on the movie. The reason for seeing the movie was the cast.  The problem with this movie is that while the cast is excellent, the narrative is slow and I found it hard to connect to the story.

Do I recommend it? Not really.



Throwback Thursday- Love Affair

There is something wonderful and satisfying about a love story done right. The anticipation, the wonder and finally, the happy ending. Even those of us who are skeptical about love can’t help but shed a tear and smile.

The film Love Affair (1994), is not the first time this familiar narrative has been seen on the big screen. Audiences were first introduced to the story in 1939’s Love Affair, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and then in 1957’s An Affair To Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

In 1994, the narrative was revived a third time with IRL couple Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. Simply by pure luck, Mike Gambril (Beatty) and Terry McKay (Bening) purchased a plane ticket for the same flight. When the plane is forced to land midway through the flight, the passengers are ferried back to safety on a ship. Despite the fact that both Mike and Terry have significant others waiting for them, there is an obvious spark between them. To test if the attraction is real (and potentially long term) or a momentary twist of fate, they agree to meet up in New York City three months later. When one of them does not show up for their previously agreed upon appointment, doubts begin to form. Are Mike and Terry meant to be or just two ships in the night, just passing by each other?

What I appreciate about this movie is that despite the fact that it has two predecessors, it stands on its own two feet. It’s the kind of love story that I can appreciate. It has all of the highs and lows of the genre, without being too over the top or mushy.

I recommend it.

Flashback Friday-The Siege (1998)

September 11th, 2001 is a day that forever changed the world. Before 9/11, the idea of a terrorist attack within the borders of the United States seemed more fiction than fact.

That is the premise of the 1998 film, The Siege. When the leader of a Islamic religious sect is abducted by the US military, the response is a series of terrorist attacks on New York City. Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) is the head of the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Task Force in New York. Working with Elise Kraft (Annette Bening), a CIA operative, they must work together to find the terrorists who are attacking the citizens of New York. While Elise and Anthony work on finding the terrorists before they wreak more havoc and take more lives, General Devereaux (Bruce Willis) takes control of the city and declares martial law.

What strikes me about this film is life has imitated art, especially in the last 15 years. While this film is obviously a work of fiction, some of the elements in the film have become part of our every day lives. It also reminds me of how innocent we all were in the pre-9/11 years.

I recommend it.

Flashback Friday-Actor Spotlight-Annette Bening- Mars Attacks! (1996) & What Planet Are You From (2000)

Tonight’s Flashback Friday post and actor spotlight is Annette Bening.

In 1996, she was part of all star cast in Mars Attacks!

Martian spaceships are circling Earth. A meeting is arranged in hopes of keeping the peace. But the Martians do not plan to keep the peace.  And they have a sick sense of humor.

This movie is a throwback to the alien movies of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  It is also a little campy, but not in an over the top way.

Four years later, she starred in What Planet Are You From?

Harold Anderson (Gary Shandling) looks like your all-American banker. But he is not. He is an alien from another planet, devoid of emotion and natural reproduction. Their plan is to take over the world. Harold’s mission is to find a mate and have a child. Enter Susan (Annette Bening).  They meet, marry and become pregnant, but Harold’s mission still holds. Will he become human and emotional or just stick to the plan?

This movie an interesting mixture of an alien invasion/dry humor romantic comedy. It also asks some important questions about relationships and how we navigate the sometimes rocky roads we travel while in relationships.

I recommend them both.

Throwback Thursday- American Beauty (1999)

The American suburbs are supposed to reflect the ideal life. A husband and wife, 2.5 kids, a dog perhaps, all behind a white picket fence.

That image, like all mirages is a fake.

The 1999 film American Beauty, revealed what really happens behind closed doors in suburbia. And it is not always pretty.

Lester and Carolyn Burnham (Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening) appear to be the ideal married couple. Their teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch) appears to be the average teenage girl. But appearances are deceiving.  Carolyn is having an affair. Lester, in the midst of a midlife crisis, is simultaneously depressed and attracted to his daughter’s best friend, Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari).

While her parent’s are going through their crisis, Jane is going through one herself. She is spending more of her time with Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) the mysterious boy next door who is being physically abused by his father, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper).

This movie was one of the best movies of 1999 for a reason. This dark dramedy reveals what life is truly like and who we truly are when we take down the mask and reveal our true selves.

I recommend it.

Flashback Friday- The American President (1995)

A person in power is always attractive, especially in politics. But what happens when the person in power is attracted to someone across the political spectrum?

In The American President (1995) Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas) is the President Of The United States. He is also a widower with a growing daughter. The voting public likes his work, the next election seems like a piece of cake. Then Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a paid political activist for an environmental lobby enters his life. Politics and personal life will soon clash as Sydney’s past comes to the light and Andrew must decide which (and who) is more important.

I like this movie. Douglas and Bening work well together on screen. The what if element of a single president a lobbyist from across the political spectrum makes for an interesting story.

I recommend it.


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