Category Archives: Movie Review

Blonde: The New Movie

I recently viewed the movie Blonde which just came out on Netflix. I read the book Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates this summer and I wanted to compare the book to the new film. So, I took out a new subscription with Netflix to have this experience because I was disturbed by some of the online comments. In this day of trolling and negativity, I wanted to form my own thoughts. 

The book Blonde has 738 pages, and I took in every line. Joyce Carol Oates refers to this look into Marilyn Monroe’s life as a fictionalized account and wisely so. However, she did in-depth research and the book was published twenty-two years ago. Of course, there is bound to be controversy.  

With the book’s content fresh in mind, I sat back and watched the new movie which is almost three hours long. Those who have read the book are better prepared for the onslaught of uncomfortable scenes. Therefore, they will not see the movie as being overly exaggerated or harsh. Let’s face it, Marilyn had a difficult time as many artists do. That is the dichotomy and thus, an artist was born. 

Andrew Dominik, the film director, did a phenomenal job. He was able to take so much material and put it into one flowing piece for viewing audiences. He had to leave out some years which also shaped Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe) such as her extended time in the orphanage and in foster care.

Her foster mother forced her to marry while she was still in high school because of her husband’s roving eye. She wanted her out of the house and Marilyn Monroe never forgave her and did not answer her letters once she became famous. As expected, that marriage, did not turn out well nor was it shown in the movie. 

I think that Ana de Armas totally embodied Marilyn. The movie stayed with me for hours after watching it and I think she did a masterful job. I did not detect her accent though some wrote that they found it to be a distraction. She was brave for even attempting to walk in Marilyn’s shoes. 

For those who study art, this is for them. It is amazing how the scenes go back and forth from black and white to color frames. When Marilyn was about to face another abortion, I liked the way they showed a small human being forming in her womb. Then, all could understand the depth of her pain and loss.

When she was involved in a threesome with Cass and Eddie, they just showed a merged, blurred picture of elasticity like a rubber band. This represented their physical and emotional interconnectivity.

The entire cast was superb! There was a lot of new talent on display and not surprisingly, Adrien Brody was great as Arthur Miller. This movie is keeper for those who read, first. Otherwise, three hours might be a bit much for those looking for a quick spin on 36 years of a memorable life. It took a New Zealand-born Australian film director and a Cuban-Spanish actress to put our beloved American Marilyn Monroe back in the spotlight again! 

Lynn M. 
October 1, 2022 

Bullet Train: A Movie Review

Seeing Bullet Train was a great escape for me and certainly two days after the Queen’s death. I needed to be on a different stratosphere for a few minutes and I was convinced that Brad Pitt could get the job done. He always brings a light touch with a slight sense of humor and of course, there is his undeniable charm.

In this caper, Brad Pitt (Ladybug) is a hired assassin in Tokyo, Japan. Once he enters a speeding bullet train, he is not able to get off because the action moves at the same speed as the train. It is non-stop. Several colorful characters, who are also passengers on the train, have their own agendas. They clash leaving dead bodies often in a grisly fashion, but still with a comedic twist. There are a lot of bumps, bruises and contact fights while all of them are in pursuit of the silver suitcase which houses the loot.

Ladybug regularly answers his ringing cell phone with his female handler on the other end who consoles him, encourages him and gives him his orders. In between calls, he runs into a host of other assassins who have their own varied methods of execution. He just wants to get off the train as viewers get a peak into modern Japanese culture and technologies. There is a memorable children’s car with human, disguised Disney-like characters who may well be another combative assassin.

Towards the end, few are left to tell the tale as Ladybug finally gets off the train after it crashes and burns. The woman that had kept him grounded on the phone then shows up and it is a shocker as she makes her cameo appearance. I won’t reveal her identity here.

Bullet Train is a great way to forget about the real and present world for a couple of hours. I crunched through a huge bucket of popcorn long before the excitement was over and it was worth every cent!

Lynn M.
September 20, 2022

Haute Couture!

In the movie, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Mrs. Harris is a cleaning woman in 1957 London. She is a widow and in living in sparse conditions and one day she sees a designer dress in one of her client’s closets and falls in love with it. Each day, she admires its beauty and wants one for herself. She starts thinking of ways that she could go to Paris to visit one of the fashion houses.

She and a friend go to the dog races and she bets all of her money on a greyhound called Haute Couture.  He stops mid-race and she is devastated. But then a series of events heave good fortune her way. She receives a surprise military pension back pay from her late husband, the man from the betting booth at the dog race returns her lost money and she receives a reward for returning an expensive piece of jewelry that she found on the street.

She decides to book a flight to Paris and has an abundance of cash on hand. Once there, she finds her way to the House of Christian Dion with the help of some local guys from the station. Of course, she doesn’t fit in with the high-end fashion clientele, but once they discover that she has cash, they are willing to work with her. And, a debonair gentleman asks her to be his guest at the fashion show when he sees that she is being ostracized by the others.

The fashions are breathtakingly beautiful and when she sees the dress she wants, a well-known snob sitting next to her bids on the dress first. She is forced to make another choice, but soon discovers that they make each dress for the buyer. Thus, she needs to stay in Paris for at least another week.

Things work out because one of the young workers has an extra bedroom and she is even allowed to wear his sister’s clothes. She enjoys Paris, is wined and dined and even hits a few hot spots. There are a lot of twists and turns but she makes friends and even encourages the workers to voice their concerns to Mr. Dior. She ultimately leaves with her tailored gown in tow.

Watching this movie reminded me of my own roots with fabric. With two designer sisters who could make coats and wedding gowns without a pattern, many memories flourished as I watched Mrs. Harris tour the fashion house. The cutters, the button sewers, the fitters all made me remember the hours that I painstakingly waited as a child as my mother slowly turned the pages in the huge pattern books at the fabric stores. I was so bored, but quite like osmosis, my first piece of furniture was a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet when I moved into my first apartment.

This movie was a great escape and I am happy that I caught it before it left the big screen. As the credits rolled at the end, they creatively put fashion designs on both sides of the screen. They changed every few seconds quite like a display window. Mrs. Harris ultimately discovered that there is no place like home where she returned to find even greater joy.

In the African American culture, when one visits the Mother Land (Africa), the best gift upon return for a true friend is a piece of fabric. Once that fabric is unrolled, there are so many possibilities.  Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris was another golden nugget in my 2022 summer adventures!

Lynn M.
July 30, 2022

God’s Pearl: A Movie Review

After seeing the movie, Respect a second time, I am finally ready to weigh in on this artistic piece. This biopic lies close to my heart for multiple reasons.

Aretha Franklin

First, I was living in Detroit in the 50’s, when the movie actually opens. Two, I remember where I was when I heard the song Respect for the first time. I spent my teen and young adult years listening to Aretha Franklin’s music. And three, Jennifer Hudson and I share our Chicago roots. I recall the day that Mayor Daley proclaimed a day in her honor after her Dreamgirls movie debut.

Having said all of that, I am somewhat peeved about some of the critics’ comments about this movie. Many of them do not understand black life and they do not get it.  They have not lived it and they misunderstand black life in all of its myriad forms. Yet, I sigh and take a step back as they have their rightful say. 

First, it would take a week to tell all of Aretha’s 76 years of living on this earth. Respect is quite like a short story.  It is not the whole enchilada. It offers its viewers a slice of life. Respect covers a twenty-year span of Aretha’s life and it does it quite well.

 It takes risks because it touches upon topics that most people would rather not deal with and certainly not view. Sexual and physical child abuse and exploitation are never comfortable subjects. She endured all of these and most often by those people she trusted the most, as a motherless child.

I compare Aretha’s life to that pearl that evolves after much wringing, aggravation and irritation that goes on inside of the oyster shell.  She was initially powerless to fight back against the powerful men who sought to control her. But, she took the reigns of the horses’ carriage and galloped on into greatness leaving them all gasping behind in the dust.

This pearl of God lives in the hearts of all. For those who are faint of heart, don’t see Respect and miss seeing what shaped this iconic gem. Those people should just go to YouTube and search for an Aretha concert and be entertained.  But for the true thinkers and reflectors of life, go see Respect and see a grand piece of art on the big screen!

Lynn M.
September 11, 2021

Little Women: A Movie Review

220px-Little_Women_(2019_film)The new movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women moves with great rapidity. It makes me think of Hemingway’s title, A Moveable Feast. It serves up scrumptious bites and small morsels from this well-known plot in a circuitous fashion.

If the viewer does not know the plot with some level of detail, he or she may have a hard time following at times. The new director (Great Gerwig) uses flashbacks but not in a linear way and it will take some time to reflect and see the whole scheme of things.

For those who know and love the Civil War Era story of the March family, it is a treat as one enjoys the creativity used in telling this age-old tale. The beautiful period dresses and clothes, the use of the actual Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, the low candle-lit rooms, the snowy scenes and the beach adventures all add to the beauty of times gone by.

The rivalry between the sisters, the death of a sibling and the absent soldier father help to display Jo March as the guts and backbone of this family of women. Her scribblings sustain her as she gets ideas from the theatrics that the wardrobed girls act out in the attic.

Jo is central to the story and though she does not get the trip abroad nor the boy next door, she gets so much more. She becomes a published writer and truly exemplifies Alcott’s legendary life. Filmmakers are still using her words over 150  years later.

In truth, Alcott did write for eight hours at a time and when one hand was tired, she wrote with the other hand. The movie showed her changing hands and it got many other facts right. It did not, however, show the sister’s art drawn on the walls of the home but then, one would have to take a trip to Concord to see it.  Also, the family often experienced poverty and despair due to the father’s progressive beliefs which made him ride against the tide. Alcott was the breadwinner for many years through her writing.  One would have to delve deeper and do some more research to know her real plight.

This new version of Little Women takes a lot of risks, but the fine acting helps to pull it into its final stop. Notables like Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper,  Meryl Streep along with several newcomers all assist as this story is told from an independent woman’s point of view. It closes with Jo March holding her newly pressed book in her arms after negotiating her royalties with her publisher. And that is fair enough!

Lynn M.                                                                         January 7, 2020

Bombshell: A Movie Review

Fireworks

It took me a while before I could weigh in on the movie Bombshell. I needed several days to let what I had seen and heard sink in, fester and digest. The movie focuses on three high-profiled anchorwomen at a major news station. They each harbor horrific secrets about how they climbed the corporate ladder and one has the wherewithal to breakaway and file a lawsuit.

The pace of Bombshell is fast with rapid movement, so it takes the viewer a while to truly realize the depth of what is going on in these women’s lives. Two of the women are mothers and the breadwinners for their families. It is up to them to keep up their current lifestyles.

These women are forced to dress in sensuous, short dresses so that the viewers can see their legs. They are never allowed to wear pants on the stage sets. They may be called from their work desks at any given time of the day to go and service some troll in upper management. One even had a private elevator for the women to be transported into his office.

The movie is tastefully done, and we are shielded from the actual acts that these women had to perform to keep their jobs. This could neither be about the need of the libido nor some regular sexual desire during a regular workday. It was about the abuse of power and a way denigrate vulnerable women who had few options.

It is interesting how these men that have been called out during the Me Too Movement hold their heads down in shame. What could provoke such heinous acts toward women? Was there a hatred for the mother figures in their lives? Is there some type of Oedipus complex operating in their psyches? Would they want some corporate powerhouse to do the same things to the college-educated women in their families who were trying to build a career?

These questions are endless but as the saying goes, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord John Dalberg-Acton). Again, people hang their heads in disgrace when their hideous deeds are unearthed. And I say people because in one instance from the movie, one of the women was being sexually abused by the head honcho upstairs and by a female coworker after late nights of heavy drinking.

I cannot think of any sane, well-balanced person that needs sex throughout the workday. It is simply a way to deny these women the right to feel whole and in control of their own lives and bodies. Bombshell was about women, but chances are there are some stories brewing about what some men have had to do to keep their incomes as well. How sad!

The major actors were outstanding and obviously Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow and Kate McKinnon made their roles quite believable. They gave me insight into a disturbing world and the movie Bombshell still has me thinking!

Lynn M.

December 31, 2019

When We Collide

220px-Queen_&_Slim_poster

Whenever you leave a movie cinema or play and you do not want to hear a sound, you know that you have just witnessed some great art form. You want to stay in the moment and continue thinking about what you just saw, heard and felt and you don’t want a song from the radio or a show on the television to interfere with your continual engagement.

I was hesitant to see Queen and Slim when I heard that they were a black couple on the lam after one of them shot a police officer. I felt that it would more than likely not end well but when I read that the Screenwriter (Lena Waithe) was educated at one of our local middle schools, graduated from the city’s only high school and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago’s Loop, I took a deep breath and dove in.

This movie still has me thinking because though it is a story that we all know too well, it is so much more. It is a journey into the hearts, minds and souls of two young people who were out on a first date in Cleveland when things went terribly wrong. They had just had a meal together and as he, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) was driving, he swerved after trying to get his cell phone from her. It was a light moment until they were pulled over.

After following all the commands of the police officer, things further escalated when Queen, (Jodie Turner-Smith) an attorney, got out of the car to ask for a warrant while her date was being frisked. The police office shot her in the leg for questioning his authority and Slim reacted by taking his gun and shooting him.

Thus, the story begins. Queen decides that she wants to go to her Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who lives all the way down in New Orleans. Slim simply wants to call his family but she feels that the phone call would be fatal for them both.

A scenic road trip with all genres of music playing in the background ensues and they first run out of gas in Kentucky. A sheriff picks them up and they eventually lock him in the trunk of their car and take his pick-up truck. They spare his life because they were not intentional killers but accidental killers.

They travel the American south, witnessing everyday life like people picking cotton, children out playing on skateboards late at night, people dancing in a honky-tonk or juke joint and they finally make love on a side road in a car. They start talking and baring their souls to each other and their bond strengthens.

By this time, their pictures are on every front page of the newspapers and there is a big price on their heads. On the other hand, their ordeal sparks protest by those who are compassionate with their plight. They make it to New Orleans and the uncle can only help to a degree. From there, their plan is to go to Georgia, eventually Florida and then to Cuba. A Georgian couple and a young a police officer both assist them at one point. In the interim, Queen finds her mother’s grave and makes peace with her. Slim slips and calls his father to tell him that he loves him.

You hold your breath as they continue their journey and when they get to Florida, they meet their Judas. They go to meet the plane when law enforcement shows up in full force. They continue to hold hands and she is shot in the heart. He bends down and picks up his Queen and raises her to a high status. They all fire on him and when he falls, they end with one on top of the other. It is powerful. And then, we see the he black, gold-grill wearing, marijuana smoking, trailer park sycophant counting his cash from his simony actions.

Queen and Slim is being compared to Bonnie and Clyde, but they do not continually kill anyone. They were just two young people who got caught up in bad situation. The music is great. The plot is well-oiled with no rusty hinges and the acting is memorable. Though the ending is sad, the journey is divine!

Lynn M.                                                                       November 30, 2019

Harriet: A Movie Review

HarrietI saw Harriet on its opening day! Of course, I was somewhat hesitant because I was hoping that is wouldn’t be another slave movie that left my blood boiling. Thank goodness, it gave this awful part of American history the gentle touch. I did not have to watch adults being whipped but we were shown the scars on their backs. That was enough to reveal the effects of that dark chapter.

When the movies opens Minty Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) is a young married woman who is about to be sold further south of Virginia where she lived. She had a terrible childhood injury which left her skull fractured and as a result, she has fainting spells. During these periods of loss of consciousness, she has visions. She is shown things that will occur in the future. She later said that the hole in her head was an opening for God to speak to her.

She keeps dreaming about running away and one day, she decides that it is time. She only tells her father and he advises her to go to the church to talk to the preacher before heading out. Her father also gives her a special keepsake of a whittled head as a good luck charm.

The preacher receives her and tells her to look out for certain landmarks and to follow the Delaware River. He also tells her to follow that Northern Star and  gives her the name of someone who can help her along the way.

She makes it 100 miles away to Philadelphia, which was a free city at the time. With the help of a freedman named William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), she starts working and making a living for herself. A year later, she makes her first return to Virginia to get her brothers and a few others. Thus, her mission in life begins.

She follows her visions and returns several times to get others. Then, The Fugitive Slave Law is enacted, and they are forced to move further north to Canada. Over time, she goes back and finally gets her elderly parents and by this time, The Underground Railroad had become much more more sophisticated with more people helping  the runaways. It is said that she helped over 750 slaves escape to freedom and at one point, she commanded a black unit of soldiers during the Civil War.  She lived to be 91 years old.

In the movie Harriet, the acting is so realistic. It was like getting a chance to really know Harriet as a  person. The actors are superb.  A few mentions are the British actor Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr., Janelle Monae, Vanessa Bell Calloway,  Joe Alwyn and Vondie Curtis-Hall.  The list is endless.

Kasi Lemmons did a phenomenal job as the director of this film. She shared this biopic without awakening emotions of anger or horror. Again, it was great. The plot was great.  The music was great. The scenery was great. And to that point, when it was over, the theatre audience applauded. So there. That says it all!

Lynn M.           November 1, 2019

Somewhere Over the Rainbow!

73e5e18a-3050-4fb4-90c6-a275ef2531ffRenee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland in the new movie Judy is certainly Oscar buzzworthy. She captures the look, the mannerisms and the total aura of Judy Garland in this new biopic.

I was hesitant about seeing the movie because I knew that it focused on the latter days of her life.  She found herself basically broke and homeless. She was unable to provide shelter for her two younger children so she was forced to leave them with their father.

Most of this film takes place in London where she was doing a long-running show. It provided her with a place to live but it was a step down from what she had once been exposed to in earlier years. Some nights on the stage were successful and some were filled with her meltdowns and subsequent taunts from the audience.

Through flashbacks, we see some of the things that contributed to her downward spiral into the use of pills and alcohol. Her life as a child star started at the age of two and later, she was forced to take pills to control her weight.  She was constantly reminded that she was not beautiful and there were also subtle suggestions that she was being abused by the powerful men who ran the entertainment business.

When the viewers meet her, she was simply tired of it all and our hearts cried out for her. Her bravery, her tenacity and her constant resilience sustained her to the end for she died at the tender age of 47. Yet, she left so much material as she reached legendary status from The Wizard of Oz to one of her signature songs, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The last time I saw Renee Zellweger display this type of great artistry was in the movie Chicago as Roxie Hart.  After spending years in her private cocoon, she has once again emerged and just like Tinkerbell she has rewritten the name Judy on the theatre marquee!

Lynn M.                                                                            October 19, 2019

Downton Abbey Movie: An Overview

Downton Abbey

Seeing the cast of the movie Downton Abbey was like entering a room of old friends that I had not seen in a while.  It all came back as I recalled which roles the main characters played and remembered why they left such memorable impressions.

Of course, Maggie Smith, the Countess of Grantham, stole the show with her one-liners and sharp wit as she responded to those around her.  She had people in the audience  laughing out loud and it brought us together as though we were attending a private viewing party.

The movie opened with the staff in a frenzy because King George V and Queen Mary were coming to the area and would spend one night at Downton Abbey.  The staff cleaned, polished and aired out the rooms as they got things ready for their royal visitors.

Mr. Carson had retired but was rehired by Lady Mary because she did not think that the butler Thomas Barrow could pull it off. There were several subplots and too many to share but the mood remained light, festive and even humorous most of the time. 

The King and Queen brought their own butler, woman of the house, chef and footmen and the regular Downton staff was appalled by that move. They had nothing to do until they came up with a plan to get the visiting staff out of the way.  I will not do too many spoilers, but I left the theater feeling happy that I had made the choice to see this movie.

It was a great way to escape into another world for over two hours. New people met and fell in love; spouses considered breaking up and  men secretly met at a gay bar almost putting reputations on the line. The lovable Betsy finally decided to plan her wedding much to Mrs. Patmore’s delight.

 Outside of the swift-moving plot, I enjoyed looking at the high fashion statements.   The dresses, the gowns with the long attached scarves and the rich jewelry gave me  ideas and I will try to replicate certain looks in the future..  One woman asked me if I liked the movie and all I could say was, “Those hats!  Oh, the hats.  Even the wait staff wore fancy hats.” This was a great vicarious journey back to the 1920’s as I  spent time inside of Downton Abbey!

Lynn M.                                                                 October 12, 2019