In theory, feminism is an easy concept to understand and an even easier cause to get involved in. But for any number of reasons, some women see feminism as the enemy.
The new series, Mrs. America premiered last month on Hulu. Set in the 1970’s, it follows the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It seems that ratification is on the horizon. Writer/activist Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), Representatives Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), and journalist Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) are four of the women who are the faces of the feminist movement. Their goal is to see the ERA enshrined as constitutional law. Standing in their way is Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), a conservative activist and lawyer who will move political h*ll and high water to prevent the ERA from being ratified.
I’ve seen eight of the nine released episodes and I am hooked. The main thing that strikes me is that the issues that these women were fighting for fifty years ago are the same issues we are fighting for now. If nothing else, this series reminds me how far we have come and how far we need to go before American women are truly equal.
It also humanizes the characters, especially the ones that are based on real women. We see them as giants and icons, not as human beings who were as fallible as anyone walking down the street. That humanization also stretches to the women who were against the ERA.
From the liberal perspective, it would be easy to label them as right wing nut jobs who are siding with the patriarchy. But in this series, they are portrayed as women who are scared. From the time they were born, they were told that the ideal life is to marry, have children and maintain a home. When the second wave of feminism began to affect the culture in the 1960’s and 1970’s, it felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath their feet. I absolutely do not agree with their political or cultural perspective. However, I understand the feeling of not knowing what to do when you are told that everything you know and love is wrong.
I absolutely recommend it. I would also not be surprised if this series did very well come award season.
The final episode of Mrs. America premieres Wednesday on Hulu.
On paper, sequels look like an easy money-maker for movie studios. They know that there is a built-in fan base who know and love the characters. The question is, does this sequel hold up to reputation of its predecessor?
In 2008, Indiana Jones once again returned to the big screen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s been quite a few years since the audience saw Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). It’s 1957 and The Cold War is red-hot. A young man, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) bring Indy a cryptic message from an old colleague, Professor Oxley (John Hurt). Following the message, Indy and Mutt travel to Peru. Hot on their trail is Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), a Soviet spy who will do anything to complete her mission. It’s up to Indy, Mutt, Professor Oxley and Indy’s ex-girlfriend, Marian Ravenwood (Karen Allen) to discover the secret of the crystal skull and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.
Compared to other sequels, this film is is pretty good. It holds true to the Indiana Jones cannon while introducing/re-introducing characters that don’t feel forced or out of place in this world.
Heist films are nearly as old as Hollywood itself. The question, is, does the film standout within the genre or is it just too unbelievable?
Ocean’s 8 is the next chapter in the Ocean’s movie series.
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the protagonist of the previous Ocean’s films. When she gets out of jail, she gathers a crew together to steal a necklace worth millions of dollars at the Met Gala.
The crew includes Lou (Cate Blanchett), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Constance (Awkwafina), Nine Ball (Rihanna) and Rose Weil (Helena Bonham-Carter). The necklace is to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Ball in New York City.
I loved this film. While it helps that the main cast is made up of a group of diverse female performers, it is the narrative that makes the film enjoyable. It is funny, well written, thrilling and worth a trip to the movie theater.
*Warning: this review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk.
A sequel of a sequel of a superhero movie walks a fine line. It has to be entertaining, but it also has to extend the narrative and the character arc in a way that feels right to both the universe and the characters.
Two weeks ago, Thor: Ragnarok hit theaters. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer of this world. His previously unknown first child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), otherwise known as the Goddess of Death has returned from exile to return Asgard to the way it was before her exile. But to do this, she has to make sure that her brothers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are out-of-the-way. They find themselves in another world where Thor is a gladiator and fighting against The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). This world is ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who might be crazy. With the help of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor, Loki and The Hulk might be able to defeat Hela and save Asgard.
If there was a proper way to do a second sequel, especially for a movie which is based on a comic book, this film is the blueprint. It is funny, entertaining and takes the narrative and characters in new directions without feeling stale or overproduced. And of course, the two female characters, played by Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett are amazing. They contribute to the narrative, both standing on their own two feet and neither relying on the stereotypical female caricatures that exist in the genre.
Biopics, especially those revolving around those that are no longer with us are tricky. The movie has to be entertaining, but it also has to be truthful to the history and to the person who is the subject of the biopic.
In 1998, Elizabeth, the biopic of Elizabeth I of England was released. Born in 1533, no one expected Elizabeth to one day become Queen Of England. Her father, Henry VIII, had her mother, Anne Boleyn, executed so he could marry wife number three, Jane Seymour. The film focuses on Elizabeth’s early years on the throne and the bumpy path she would have to travel to become the beloved and respected Queen that we know her today to be.
Cate Blanchett is one the best performers of her generation for good reason. Elizabeth is one of her earliest introductions to the American film audience. Her performance is nuanced, powerful and human.
Hollywood likes reinvention. So much so, that every few years, an old story is recycled into a new adaptation that the film makers will be successful at the box office.
Hollywood’s most recent reinvention of Robin Hood occurred in 2010. Stepping into the shoes of the legendary outlaw was Russell Crowe. In this movie, Robin Hood starts with the name of Robin Longstride. Maid Marian, Robin’s love interest, played by Cate Blanchett was reinvented as the widow of an aristocrat. Marion’s father in law, Sir Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow) convinces Robin to impersonate his son, at least long enough to prevent the crown from confiscating his land. While Robin and Marian are pretending to live in wedded bliss, Godfrey (Mark Strong), a member of court who secretly helping the French plan an invasion of England. Robin is soon drawn into the dangerous mix of politics, secret aspirations and the threat of war.
Robin Hood has been done to death by Hollywood. Every generation has had it’s own Robin Hood.
But what I liked about this adaptation is that the filmmakers attempted to ground the story into history of the period, instead of relying purely on the myth. Another factor that appealed to me is that Marian was rewritten from the standard aristocratic damsel in distress to a strong, capable woman who stands up for what she believes in.
History is a surprising thing. Something when you think that all of the details have been shared, a new twist appears.
This is Monuments Men. The movie is based on a book by Robert Edsel, about a group of art specialists who are dispatched to Europe just after the Invasion of Normandy during WWII. Their mission to find and save precious works of art that are in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis.
They are led by Frank Stokes (George Clooney). The motley band of anti heroes include James Granger (Matt Damon), Bill Murray (Richard Campbell), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Cate Blanchett (Claire Simone), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas) and Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).
Among World War II movies, this is something new and different. It was little long, but I enjoyed the movie. The movie had a fish out of water quality to it, being that the characters that were part of the Monuments Men were not young men in their teens and early twenties, but men old enough to be their fathers. Cate Blanchett as the only woman, whose character is critical in assisting our heroes in reaching their goals is in the beginning questionable on where her loyalties lie, but it becomes clear as the movie progresses on what she is looking to get out of this journey.
I enjoyed it, I just wish it was a little shorter.
Woody’s Allen latest film venture is Blue Jasmine, a film about a woman trying to rebuilt her life while living with her sister in San Fransisco.
Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) appeared to be wealthy and spoiled his wife endlessly. That is until his less than legitimate business practices are revealed and Hal is arrested and put into jail, ending the life to which Jasmine was accustomed to living.
Jasmine’s only assistance comes in the form of her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), presently living in San Fransisco with her two sons. Sally is divorced from Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) and dating Chili (Bobby Cannavale), neither man has met Jasmine’s approval.
Jasmine’s potential re-emergence into her former life comes by way of Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), but she knows that her past may come back to haunt her.
While this is not my favorite Woody Allen film, its certainly an interesting one. Jasmine is a very complicated character living a very complicated life, Blanchett is the perfect actress for this part. This movie is almost feels like Streetcar Named Desire, with a main character who has a complicated past while conflicting with her present and the only family members that will take her in. Hawkins, as Ginger, with her ex husband and boyfriend makes for an interesting dichotomy between the two sisters. Sarsgaard as Dwight, comes in late into the film, but gives the audience a glimmer of hope that Jasmine will be able to return to her previous life.
It’s a little long, but its an enjoyable movie, which I think will generate nominations come award season.