Throwback Thursday: The Beguiled (2017)

Love and jealousy often go hand in hand. The question is, how much will jealousy color a relationship and have a hand in destroying love?

The 2017 movie, The Beguiled, is based upon a book by Thomas Cullinan and a reboot of the original 1971 film. It takes place at an isolated girls school in Virginia during the Civil War. Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) is the headmistress. One of the teachers who works under her is Edwina (Kirsten Dunst). When Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), a wounded Union soldier arrives at the doorstep, his presence upsets the delicate equilibrium that already exists within the building’s walls. With the women competing for his attention in and out of the bedroom, will they open their eyes about this stranger or fall prey to his charms?

I haven’t read the book or seen the 1971 adaptation, so I cannot speak to how good or bad they are. Overall, I liked this movie. The performances are fantastic, each actor is in their element in their particular role. The problem is that the sexual tension is not what is promised. Maybe it’s me, but I didn’t feel it as I expected to.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Being the Ricardos Movie Review

I Love Lucy is one of those television programs we have all seen. The antics of wannabe performer Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) have kept audiences howling with laughter for seventy years.

The new movie, Being the Ricardos, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, is a biopic that takes audiences into one turbulent week of the personal and professional lives of Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her then-husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). While trying to go through the weekly process of putting together a show, issues in Ball and Arnaz’s home lives complicate matters. Lucy is pregnant again and trying to figure out how this change will be worked into the program, if at all. She also suspects that her husband is (again) cheating on her. To make matters infinitely worse, the McCarthy witch hunts have accused her of being a communist. If these allegations are proven true, everything that Lucy and Desi have worked for will be destroyed.

When I originally saw the trailer, I thought that Debra Messing would have been a better choice to play Lucille Ball. I was wrong. Kidman is fantastic in the role. We mostly see the woman behind the iconic role with snippets of her on-screen persona. She is tough, driven, intelligent, and able to succeed in a world dominated by men. Bardem is as close to the real Arnaz as this biopic could have gotten. He does not look like Arnaz, but the spirit of the man and his work is evident in Bardem’s transformation.

One thing that I greatly appreciated is the conversation between Ball and co-writer Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat). Pugh points out that Lucy Ricardo is often infantilized, needing Ricky’s permission as if she was his daughter and not his spouse. The character is both a product of her era and an early feminist, pushing boundaries in a time when the ideal life of a woman was that of a wife and mother.

My main issue is not that Sorkin took liberties with the timeline of events. He is not the first and will not be the last screenwriter to do so. It is that this film is not as good as it could have been. It started to drag in at about the 2/3rds mark. By that point, I was starting to get a little antsy. Is this film entertaining and engaging? I would say so. Is it spectacular? No.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Being the Ricardos is in theaters and available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Bombshell Movie Review

Since the beginning of human history, sexual assault and sexual harassment has been the norm. Especially by powerful men who use sex as a tool against female subordinates or women who lack power. In our era, the balance is starting to tip against the men who use sex as a weapon, but not without the brave women who have come forward.

The new movie, Bombshell, tells the story of Fox News sexual harassment scandal from the perspective of the women who broke the scandal and stopped the harassment in it’s tracks. Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) are the headliners. Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) is the newbie. Rumors of sexual indiscretions against the female staff by the late Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) have been floating around for years, but have not been verified.

The women must make a choice. Do they speak up and lose their jobs? Or do they stay silent and let the toxic atmosphere remain?

This movie is incredibly timely and at times, incredibly uncomfortable. But, I suppose, that is point of this film. Lithgow, as Ailes, is creepy, but not overtly so and not in the first few minutes of the audience meeting him. It is that initial lack of creepiness that makes the audience think that maybe he is not so bad.

If there is anyone to give kudos to, it is the makeup and hair teams. At first glance, one would not know the difference between the really Megyn Kelly and Charlize Theron in character. The resemblance is uncanny.

But, if this film has one flaw, it is that the slow burn is too slow. Anyone who watches the news knows how the movie ends. But it takes a little too much time for the filmmakers to get to that point.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning towards yes.

Bombshell is presently in theaters.

Aquaman Movie Review

Disclaimer: I know nothing of the cannon Aquaman from the comic books, this review is strictly based on the movie.

When a character is torn between two worlds, he or she must make a choice. It is that choice that defines who they are.

In the new movie, Aquaman, (based on the comic book character of the same name) Aquaman/Arthur Reed (Jason Mamoa) is caught between two worlds. His father, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) is an ordinary man who manages a lighthouse. His mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) a Queen of Atlantis. While they are in love and happy to have a life together, the reality is that there are opposing forces to their love.

As an adult, Aquaman/Arthur Reed knows that he is born of two worlds. While he plays the super hero game, he is not ready to accept that he is a Prince of Atlantis. Then Mera (Amber Heard) comes to him and begs for his help. Mera is a member of another royal family of the sea and engaged to Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman/Arthur Reed’s younger half-brother. Orm not only has his eye on the throne, but he is angry about the destruction of his world by pollution.

Can Orm be stopped and more importantly, can Aquaman/Arthur Reed find his place in the world?

I am not particularly a fan of super hero movies based on comic books, but I loved this movie. Jason Mamoa was tailor made for this role. I appreciated that the female leads (Mera and Atlanna) are bad ass and far from the sexualized, 2D romantic partner/damsel in distress female characters that often appear in comic books. I also appreciated the message about pollution and doing our part to ensure that we do not destroy our environment.

Though, I have to admit that the choice of hair color for Mera for me, as a redhead, is a little questionable. While I understand that Mera is a redhead in the comic books, I would have preferred a more natural red instead of a red color that looks like it came from a kool aid container.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Aquaman is currently in theaters. 

 

Throwback Thursday- Sandra Bullock Triple Feature- Practical Magic (1998), Miss Congeniality (2000) & Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Every generation in Hollywood has the girl next door actress. She is actress who plays mostly rom coms and dramedy’s, but every once in a while, she will jump to a completely different genre that may surprise audiences.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, that actress was Sandra Bullock.

In 1998, she starred with Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic.

Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) are not average women. They come from a long line of witches. After the death of their parents, they were raised by their very eccentric aunts, Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest). But in their small town, where everyone knows that the Owens women are witches, their lives are not as easy as the other women in town.

A centuries old curse states that the men who love the Owens women are pre-destined to die young. Trouble really starts when Gillian is trying to escape from an abusive relationship and her boyfriend dies, forcing the sisters to use magic to keep their secret. But the secret backfires and the sisters must find a way to fix the problem.

I like this movie. I like the themes of acceptance, self love and being open about who you are. It also carries a nice pro-women message.

Two years later, Bullock walked into the law enforcement/Pygmalion comedy hybrid of Miss Congeniality. FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) can be described as anything but lady like.  But when she is forced to go undercover as a contestant in the Miss United States pageant, she and her colleague Eric (Benjamin Bratt), turn to Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to ensure that Gracie’s cover will not be blown.

I like this movie. It’s funny, charming and overall, very enjoyable.

Finally, another two years after that, she starred in Two Weeks Notice. Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer. She takes on the job of being legal counsel for playboy and sometimes business man George Wade (Hugh Grant).  George needs a babysitter more than he needs legal counsel. Lucy takes the job, receiving a promise from George that a local community center will not be torn down and replaced by a development. But when George becomes too needy, Lucy decides that it’s time to go.

Again, I like this movie. It is charming and just very well done.

I recommend all three.

 

The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Betwitched (2005) & The Stepford Wives (2004)

For every brand new idea that has come out of Hollywood, there are reboots and revivals that try to present an old idea in a new way. Sometimes, these reboots and revivals are successful.  But most of the time, these reboots and revivals fall flat on their faces. Such is the case with Bewitched (2005) and The Stepford Wives (2004).

Bewitched

Based on the 1960’s television series of the same name, this remake stars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Isabel Bigelow  (Nicole Kidman) is a witch who is determined to live her life without magic. Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) an actor with an ego bigger than the state of Texas,  is trying to revive his career. The vehicle to revive his career comes in a remake of Bewitched. Meeting Isabel randomly at a cafe, he offers her the part of Samantha opposite his Darrin. Isabel finds herself attracted to Jack, but Jack sees an unknown actress who can unknowingly play second fiddle to him.

Were the critics wrong? Nora Ephron was the director and co-writer on  this movie.  Nicole Kidman is an excellent performer, but not in this haphazard, sad attempt of a movie. Will Ferrell is one of the best actors Saturday Night Live has ever had on their stage, but he is not a rom-com leading man material. I will have to side with the critics on this movie.

The Stepford Wives

A modern reboot of the 1975 book and movie of the same name, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick star as Joanna Eberhart and Walter Kresby, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Trying to revive their relationship, they move from Manhattan to the suburbs of Connecticut. But the town they move is very odd. The wives are oddly docile and submissive to their husbands. The husbands disappear behind the door of The Stepford Men’s Association.

Were the critics wrong? To be fair, I have never seen the original movie, nor have I read the book. Again, Nicole Kidman is an excellent performer. But she and Matthew Broderick are lacking in the chemistry department. The movie is trying to be a comedic thriller.  While the original movie was commenting on the then burgeoning feminist movement, this movie just tries too hard. For the second time, I will have to side with the critics on this movie.

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