Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

Marriage Story Movie Review

In our culture, there are more than enough stories about falling in love. There are not enough stories what happens we fall out of love.

In the new movie, Marriage Story, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have been married for ten years and have a young son. The marriage is falling apart. Charlie is a theater director and Nicole is an actress in Charlie’s theater company.

Knowing that her marriage is at an end, Nicole accepts a job in Los Angeles. Charlie does his best to see their son and keep his life in New York intact, but that is evidently becoming more difficult. They promised that they would keep the divorce as simple and lawyer-less as possible.

Then Nicole hires Nora (Laura Dern). Charlie hires Jay (Ray Liotta) and Bert (Alan Alda). Bringing in the lawyers both helps and hurts the divorce proceedings. The question is, can this couple divorce peacefully (as much as that is possible) or will it become painful?

I have mixed feelings about this film. Based on the experience of writer/director Noah Baumbach, watching this film is almost excruciatingly painful at times. But, I suppose, that is the point. At best, the divorcing couple are mature and come out of it with an adult understanding of their relationship and their relationship with their child(ren). At worst, the divorce devolves into a shouting match and accusations that get worse by the day.

My problem with the film is that while is excruciating for the characters, it is the same for audience. Clocking in at a little over two hours, I feel like the narrative could have been scaled back. There were moments that felt like the end, but then the movie continued on. By the time the credits rolled, I was more than ready to leave this world behind.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Marriage Story is presently in theaters.

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What Took So Long For the Black Widow Movie to be Made?

For the last ten years, movie fans have come to expect a new Avengers film every year or so. All of the major male heroes (with the exception of Hawkeye) have had at least one stand-alone film over the course of those ten years.

For most of the franchise, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was the only woman on the team. Up until very recently, she was also without a stand-alone film of her own. The trailer was released earlier this week for Black Widow.

The movie looks fantastic. The supporting cast (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour) looks equally fantastic. But I have to question why it took so long for Marvel to greenlight a Black Widow film?

It feels like an afterthought. Its as if Marvel is trying to stretch the franchise as far as it can go instead of following the natural narrative. This film feels like it is akin to a child giving in to the pressure from their parents to eat their vegetables. I wish it was not this way, but this is the reality that we live. Women still have to fight for the opportunities that come naturally to men.

This movie is on my must-see list for 2020. But being that it will not be released for another 6 months, we can only speculate about this film. My hope is that it does well and finally breaks the glass ceiling on female superhero films once and for all.

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Avengers: Endgame Review

Note: This review will be as spoiler free as possible.

The final film in any film series should pack an emotional punch, ramp up the drama and end with the feeling that the audience has seen everything that they need to see.

After months of buildup and expectation, Avengers Endgame premiered this weekend.

Starting off where Avengers: Infinity War ended, the film begins with a feeling of grief. After their numbers of have been decimated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), the surviving Avengers are not themselves. The loss of their friends and colleagues has cast a pall over the team. But Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) may have the resolution to their problem. But the plan is dangerous and has the possibility to not be completed as expected.

Can Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and  Scott Lang/Ant-Man bring back the lost Avengers or are they doomed for failure?

If there any definitive comic book super hero movie, Avengers: Endgame is it. Despite it’s 3 hour-ish run, it is not boring, predictable or has the feeling that some scenes could have been left for the extras section of the DVD. It has plenty humor, heart pounding action, feels emotionally authentic and has an ending that feels just perfect.

I also loved that the female Avengers were given just as much screen time and ability to kick ass as their male counterparts.

I absolutely recommend it. I also absolutely recommend that you use the bathroom before going into the theater. Trust me, you do not want to miss a moment of this film.

Avengers: Endgame is presently in theaters. 

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Flashback Friday-Scoop (2006)

In the world of journalism, an unsolved murder is like catnip.

In the 2006 movie, Scoop, American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) has a hot tip regarding the murder of fellow journalist Joe Strombel (Ian McShane). She follows the tip to doorway of British aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). But things get weird when Sondra begins to fall for the man who maybe Joe’s killer and begins to question if Joe might have been wrong.

Every filmmaker has at least one film where the tried and true becomes dull and predictable. Unfortunately, this is that film for Woody Allen. While his cast is stellar, they cannot make up for the fact that screenplay needed work.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Whitewashing-Again

Hollywood has a problem.

They think it is 1966 and not 2016.

The latest controversy is the film adaptation of the comic book the Ghost In The Shell.

The problem is that instead of casting an Asian actress in the lead role, Scarlett Johansson was cast as Kusanagi.

Not that there is nothing wrong with Scarlett Johansson, and I’m not a casting director, but there are plenty of Asian actresses who I’m sure would have been just as good in the role.

Wake up, Hollywood. We are not in 1966 anymore. Actors of colors can not only play roles where the character is not Caucasian (shocking, I know), but they can play roles where the race of the character might have been Caucasian.

This white washing has to end.

Ghost In The Shell will be hitting in theaters in 2017. 

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Star Wars And Feminism

Star Wars, despite the appearance of being the standard science fiction boys club, has a strong feminist streak. Even with the lack of female characters, the simple act of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) grabbing the blaster and shooting at the storm troopers in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope forever changed how women are portrayed in the science fiction genre.

Unfortunately, that feminist streak does not extend to all areas of the Star Wars Universe.

Any Star Wars fan knows that with the premiere of the movie comes the plethora of new merchandise. The one question that fans, especially young female fans, were asking was #WheresRey.

Hasbro claimed that they withheld from producing Rey merchandise because they did not want to give away the plot before the film’s premiere.

Pardon my French, but that is b*llshit.

This is not the first time Hasbro has done this.

With the release of the most recent The Avengers film last year, many fans asked the same question with the lack of the Black Widow action figure.

Wake up Hasbro. It is the 21st century. There is absolutely nothing wrong with boys playing with a female action figure. Women are just as loud and proud (and shockingly have money to pay for memorabilia) about their fandoms as men. It’s time they were represented in the toy stores.

In related news, NY Post columnist Kyle Smith called out the fact Carrie Fisher is no longer the younger woman that she was when A New Hope premiered (again, shocking). Her response is brilliant.

News flash, we all get older. Our bodies change.  The figure we had at twenty may not be the figure we have at fifty. Ms. Fisher is also a mother. Having a child forever changes your body.

Kyle Smith, being a man, will never have the experience of being a woman who is judged by her looks and put aside after a certain age because she has gotten older.

Bravo, Carrie Fisher.

Star Wars is 39 this year.

There is no one on the planet who does not know something about the series. It’s legacy of feminism and strong women will live on and continue to inspire women to speak up and fight for what they believe in.

 

 

 

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Thank You, Saturday Night Live

One of the more vocal complaints that has come out of audiences and female members of the Hollywood community is the limited number of strong female driven films and television programs.

Last night, Saturday Night Live hit the nail on the head.

Last year, a study of the top grossing films released in 2013 revealed that only 15% of the films had women in the lead role.

The host was Scarlett Johansson. Her latest movie, Avengers: Age Of Ultron seemed to be the audience favorite this weekend.

As much as I love this series, I have to wonder, when will Black Widow get her own movie? Every male character (except Hawkeye) has had at least one film under his own name.  Is Marvel afraid that she cannot carry a film?

I think she can, with  the right script and the right supporting players. It’s just a matter of taking that chance and finally proving that female characters can carry an action film as much as they can carry a rom-com or a drama.

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Not Funny And Not Acceptable

In making their rounds with the various media outlets to promote their new movie The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, actors Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner have made rather unpleasant comments about co star  Scarlett Johannson’s character, the Black Widow.

They quickly apologized, stating the following:

“We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize”- Chris Evans

“I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone,” he said. “It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour”.- Jeremy Renner

I will give them that they maybe exhausted. Answering the same questions asked by different reporters for days on end sounds like it becomes tedious quickly.

But that is still no excuse.

The other issue within this article is the double standard. Why are we so quick to attach a love interest to a female character, but not to a male character?  No one would think to ask if Thor or Iron Man would hook up with Maria Hill and the implications of such a hookup, if it was within the plot of the film.   As I have seen and enjoyed this franchise so far, Black Widow is just part of the team. The fact that she happens to be a female does not make the audience or the other characters question her role in the film.

And even if Black Widow was to become involved romantically with one of her teammates, that should not be a barrier to her ability to defend the world from the villain.

It is not funny and not acceptable.

The Age Of Ultron is in theaters on May 1st.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review: Yes, Captain

Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you have not seen this movie, do not read. I will not be offended.

Superhero movies, especially sequels to superhero movies, can be a tricky prospect. If the movie does well, it means that there will be more movies in the future. If the movie bombs, the fans will be up in arms and will trash the movie for all eternity.

That being said,  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is thankfully the former and not the latter.

The movie starts off several years after the first Avengers movie. In Washington DC, Shield has setup headquarters where they employ Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and The Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson). When Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is assassinated by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) assumes command, the truth about Shield is brought to the surface. Falcon/ Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) joins the fight against the now corrupted Shield with Captain America and The Black Widow.

I enjoyed the movie. It was long, but it did not feel long. The action was non stop, but not over the top.

I only have one criticism. I wrote a post several weeks ago about women in film and how we are still often portrayed as the fainting, needed to be rescued damsel in distress.

After seeing this movie, the scene where The Black Widow is unconscious and has to be carried by Captain America makes sense. However, I still wish she would have walked out instead of having to be carried out.

I highly recommend this movie.

 

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I am part of the generation born after the second wave of the feminist movement. I have an extreme amount of pride for my generation. We have achievements and opportunities that our grandmothers and great grandmothers would have not even considered.  But as I pointed out in my post about International Women’s Day, we still have a long way to do. For every one step we have made going forward, we have gone back two steps.

Case in point, two movie trailers:

The first, for the upcoming movie reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Back in the day, TMNT was one of the best cartoons on television. To this day, I can still sing the theme song.  April, the female lead, was strong, independent and part of the group. No different than her mutant male counterparts.

In this trailer, April, played by Megan Fox, upon meeting two of the turtles, appears to faint.

Not cool.

The second movie trailer is the sequel to Captain America. Returning to role of The Black Widow is Scarlett Johansson.  The Avengers was one of the best super hero movies of recent memory. A huge plus for the movie was that the Black Widow was just simply one of the Avengers. She was not a love interest, she was not a damsel in distress.  She had no problems taking care of herself.

In this trailer, for reasons that will be revealed when the movie opens in theaters next weekend, The Black Widow is unconscious and has to be carried to safety by Captain America.

I had hoped that by 2014, the movie industry would not still be writing females as fainting and unconscious damsels in distress who must be carried away by the male hero.

One step forward, two steps back.

 

 

 

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