Winter Review: A Tale of Love and Desire

Last night I watched the 2021 film “A Tale of Love and Desire”. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is French with English subtitles. “A Tale of Love and Desire” is a modern romance. It’s not my favorite romance but I enjoyed the film. Unfortunately there aren’t many romances being made these day and I love a good romance. I recommend “A Tale of Love and Desire” if you enjoy foreign, artistic films.

The film is a love story of two students at the Sorbonne who meet on campus and fall in love. Ahmed is a French man from a first generation immigrant family from Algeria. Farah is a foreign exchange student from Tunisia. The pair are from a similar cultural background but have different and surprisingly different viewpoints. A Tale of Love and Desire makes subtly commentary about immigration, identity, racism, traditionalism, feminism and sexuality. It’s an intelligent and thoughtful film with youthful sex appeal. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Winter Review: Top Gun Maverick

I recently watched “Top Gun Maverick” and I recommend it. “Top Gun Maverick” stars Tom Cruise as Navy pilot Pete Mitchell who also goes by Maverick. Pete is an instructor that teaches aviation skills to a young group of elite pilots as they embark on a dangerous and complicated military mission.

The plot is fairly simple and the movie is well done. The cast is great looking and the special effects are sharp. There is a wholesome love story between Maverick and Penny, played by Jennifer Connelly. There are swear words but aside from that this is a film that a family can enjoy together. Tom Cruise looked great but my one complaint of this film is that I wish Tom had some gray in his hair. A little gray would have at his temples would have taken Tom’s sex appeal up a notch in this film.

Despite the lack of gray hair this is an enjoyable film. It’s not a film that takes a social or political stance. It’s an old fashioned movie where you root for a hero to succeed at his mission and love life. Tom Cruise and all involved did a nice job on “Top Gun Maverick”.

Winter Review: M3gan

My Spoiler Policy: If the media is old or based on a book it is fair game but I will still warn you of spoilers. M3gan is a new release that is currently in theaters so I will give my review with sparse details as to not spoiling the plot.

I saw M3gan over the weekend. I recommend the film and I enjoyed it more than I expected I would. M3gan is about a nine year old girl named Cady who moves in with her career oriented Aunt Gemma who lives along and is a designer at a toy company. Aunt Gemma gave Cady a robot named M3gan (Model 3 Generative Android) as a companion. M3gan is Gemma’s creation and a prototype for a mass production of M3gans at her toy company.

The underlying theme of M3gan is that technology undermines parental authority in modern times. Institutions also challenge parental influence. A child and her toy are the center of this movie but adults can see themselves in Cady and ponder how much they are attached to technology and influenced by it.

Social media facetiously debated who is better between Chucky and M3gan. I think the better comparison is between M3gan and T-1000 from T2. M3gan is not a result of paranormal activity, demonic possession or witchcraft. She is a piece of technology with a purpose. M3gan is an action film and an old fashioned slasher movie.

Violet McGraw does great work playing Cady. Ronny Chieng did a nice job playing David, Gemma’s terrible boss at the toy company. He gave Mr. Spacely vibes throughout the film. Two actresses play M3gan. They are very talented as well. I was surprised to find out humans brought the android to life. I kind of thought it was a robot or CGI technology.

https://people.com/movies/who-plays-m3gan-in-m3gan-movie/

M3gan is an entertaining and thoughtful film with relevant commentary on modern society. It’s well acted and a good action and slasher film. I think you’ll be entertained by it. It’s worth your time and money if you’re looking for something to see at the theater.

Little Girls in Horror Movies Dress How Girls Dressed in the 80s

Little girls in horror movies all dress like little girls from the 80s. That’s true even for upcoming releases like M3Gan . But why? I don’t think young girls have dressed like that for decades. I usually see young girls dressed in hoodies, jeans and leggings. You don’t see bows, mary janes, ankle socks and dresses a lot anymore. Why does feminine clothing for little girls give people the creeps?

I dunno. It’s just kind of unfortunate that an old fashioned visual of girlhood is presented as evil and destructive. My thinking could be dated but I like to think of young girls as sweet and innocent people who are vulnerable and in need of protection. Perhaps that’s why this horror movie trope works. But it’s worth it to question what these stories of creepy and evil young girlhood do to our perception of feminine youth and innocence. What does this imagery do to young girls?

The evil little girl film trope is not new but it is enduring. In films like “The Bad Seed” and “The Shining” the creepy little girls were typical looking little girls for that time. Young girls now commonly wear clothes that are unisex or mature. So I think the choice to style creepy girls, even if they are an AI robot, in traditional little girl clothing is a deliberate action. I’m likely over thinking this. But I consider myself to be a film scholar and critic. Let me know what you think. Do you think horror films about scary little girls that actually look like little girls have negative connotations and ramifications?

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Fall Movie Review: The Laureate

This weekend I watched “The Laureate”. It was a little dry at times because I don’t care for films in this setting but it was an interesting story. “The Laureate” is about an English writer named Robert Graves who suffered from PTSD after fighting in WWI. At the start of the film he was a married man with a young daughter. His career and family life was respectable but he wasn’t satisfied.

Robert and his wife Nancy allow an American poet named Laura to move into their home and act as a tutor for their daughter. Laura is manipulative and a user. She also has mental delusions. Laura says she likes to challenge societal conventions but she is really just a selfish social climber. Her ambitions are more important than morals or family.

Laura thought she could position herself near Robert in order to achieve greater success for herself. Robert was in the flop era of his career. Nancy use to be cool but now she was a mousy housewife with a young daughter.

Nancy is a sucker who wants to be edgy so she opened her home and slowly her marriage to Laura who wreaked havoc on her life and ultimately destroyed her family. However, Laura was an effective muse and Robert’s career took off after meeting Laura. He is a writer of influential works from the WWI era.

The draw back of ” The Laureate” is that I don’t care for stories that take place in England around the 1920’s. Shows and movies like “Downton Abbey” and “Atonement” are very boring dark, quiet and dry to me. “The King’s Speech” would be an exception.

There was a point in this film that remind me of “The Color Purple” due to the exotic and exciting woman that moves into a married couples house. Both films take place around the same time period but the parallels end there. “The Laureate” is a good film. It’s interesting and it could start some good conversations. I recommend it.

Fall Movie Review: “Umma”

I watched “Umma” starring Sandra Oh over the weekend. This is a great movie and I highly recommend it. “Umma” is a psychological thriller with many layers. This film touches on matters of family dynamics, particularly the mother/daughter relationship, ethnic identity, spirituality and paranormal activity. It would be a great film to watch with a friend or group because it could initiate interesting conversations.

SPOILER ALERT

Amanda and her daughter Chris live in isolation in what seems to be rural California. They raise bees for a living on a farm. Chris grows up believing her mother is allergic to electricity. This is a great setting and set of circumstance for an eerie film.

Chris grew up without modern conveniences and technology which makes her a social outcast among her peers. She is home schooled and her only companion is her mother. Chris later finds out with the help of a visitor to the town she befriends that her mother’s allergy is a lie. It’s unclear if the lie is deliberate or a figment of Amanda’s imagination.

Amanda had a tense relationship with her domineering Korean mother. In an effort to be different from her she distanced herself from her mother, extended family. In the process she rejects society as a whole. Amanda never married. She had her daughter with a White man who played little to no part in Amanda and Chris’ lives. She didn’t teach her daughter anything about her Korean heritage.

Amanda’s attempts to not be like her mother failed. She was similar to her mother in some ways and had a complicated and controlling relationship with Chris. She also had old world expectations of her daughter who was born and raised in California.

I hadn’t heard of this film at all before running across it at the library. This is a great film that I think you will enjoy. It is creepy and has scary moments so it’s suitable for this time of year. It’s also an interesting commentary about family relationships especially the ones we have with our mothers. I highly recommend it.

Fall Review: The Northman

This will be short. This movie is terrible. I don’t have much to say because I can’t really tell you what happened in the movie. It was about Vikings doing Viking stuff but I don’t know why they were doing it.

I thought I would enjoy this film because I enjoyed the TV series “Vikings” but this isn’t that. The movie had an impressive cast with well known actors. They couldn’t help. It was terrible and a waste of time.

Summer Movie Review: American Gospel

I watched the film “American Gospel” over the weekend. I would recommend the film but wouldn’t describe it as good or enjoyable. The film is sad and disappointing but it is informative and eye opening. “American Gospel” is worth the watch.

“American Gospel” does a good job of presenting the gospel. Then it goes into the way the gospel is shared by well known American pastors. There are sharp differences. America’s most well known pastors are sharing a false gospel and their message gets shared around the world.

This movie shows clips from celebrity preacher sermons. The sermons can be described as blasphemous. They can also be described as scams. There are testimonials from people that have followed the teachings of mega church pastors and their regrets. A nephew of so called faith healer, Benny Hinn, who worked in his uncle’s ministry also tells his story in hindsight.

I don’t follow the ministries of celebrity pastors but for the most part I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and hope that some good comes from their ministry. The exception is Benny Hinn who is obviously a long time charlatan. The revelations by his nephew are worse than I imagined. They are heart breaking.

There were people in “American Gospel” who shared their experiences following mega church teachings. One woman ruined her career and financial standing. I don’t think she worked for the church but she followed the teachings of a popular preacher and quit her job believing she would be miraculously provided for. She wasn’t.

The bottom line of the film is that the popular American Gospel isn’t following scripture at all. They preach a message that is designed to sell books, get clicks and views and garnish donations, not teach the Bible and save souls.

The film also includes the testimony of a family where the wife is terminally ill and their faith and studies of the Bible. Their story isn’t miraculous and wouldn’t make anyone feel like a special snow flake. But they share what God’s word did for them and their family.

I would recommend watching “American Gospel”. It’s well researched and presented. I think it is fair. I think that viewers can learn a lot about the gospel and the difference between what the Bible says and the message being shared by popular preachers.

Summer Movie Review: Spencer

COURTESY SPOILER ALERT

One of my rules for spoiler are that if a book or film is based on a historical event there is no spoiler. This is a courtesy spoiler alert if you don’t want your expectations of “Spencer” influenced by my opinion.

“Spencer” is the 2021 film about Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales. The film takes place during Christmas season 1991. The film illustrates the burden Diana carried as the wife and mother of the future kings of England. The movie takes some patience but I enjoyed it overall.

Spencer was a bit slow moving in parts. It used symbolism which I don’t enjoy in books and movies. The musical score was also very dramatic and kind of loud. It was a symphony and it was overbearing in some scenes. The director was very artsy fartsy and indulgent at times. It made the story move like molasses.

You will be rewarded if you stick with it. The story comes together and begins to make sense midway through. “Spencer” is filmed like it’s a psychological thriller. The look is similar to that of “The Shining”, “Get Out” or even the “Friday the 13th Series”. It’s dark and hazy.

The film makes the claim that Diana was on the verge of or perhaps already having a nervous breakdown in late 1991. She had been in her royal position for over a decade. She was lonely and isolated. Diana was constantly surveilled and controlled.

At thirty years old all of her choices were made for her including where she lived and her clothes. She had little control over parenting her boys. Diana was treated well and respectfully but it was a matter of protocol. Everyone around her was loyal to tradition, patriotism and The Crown. There wasn’t much interest in Diana as a person.

Her only genuine interactions were with her sons. The scenes with the young mother and her two boys were charming and gave the film warmth. Her older son William was also loyal to royal protocol and tried to keep his mother on the straight and narrow. The boys were protective and seemed to see their mom as mentally fragile.

Diana’s relationship with her husband Charles was a matter of royal business. In one scene Charles justified his affair with Camilla by saying he needed two women because there were two of him; one public and one private. Charles was basically Diana’s boss and she was his employee.

The people around her including the queen played subtle psychological tricks on her. The queen made decisions to quietly let Diana know she was in charge and Diana was a political prisoner of sorts. Diana was the focus of intense media attention and she was not protected or sympathized with by her husband or anyone else except her sons. They were the only people who saw her humanity. It’s easy to believe that someone would lose their mind in that situation.

Kristen Stewart did a nice job as the princess. The casting was great and all the actors performed well. The 80s and 90s costumes were great. Diana was known for her short hairdo so the wig Kristen wore could have been better. It didn’t look bad but I could tell it was a wig. The stylist probably should have tried a weave cut into a short style so the hair would have more movement.

Overall, I recommend the movie despite it moving slowly in some parts. I don’t know if the movies claims are verifiable but they are believable. I like that the film maker was on Diana’s side and told her story.

Summer Movie Review: House of Gucci

SPOILER ALERT!

“House of Gucci” is about the family behind the famous, high end fashion brand. It was released in November of 2021. It’s long and a bit slow in parts but overall I enjoyed it. The story spans the 70s to 90s. I enjoyed the wardrobe and soundtrack. I thought it was a story about fashion but it’s mostly a story about a tumultuous marriage and family dynamics.

The film features pop singer Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci. Patrizia met Maurizio at a party in the 70s and she took a liking to him. They must have lived in a small town because she was able to find him after the party and create a meeting that seemed to Maurizio to be by chance.

The two began a relationship and Maurizio fell in love with Patrizia. The two married despite Maurizio’s disapproval. Maurizio’s family had a clothing business. They were successful despite not having the best business instincts. Patrizia came from a more modest background and had very good business instincts.

Patrizia’s instincts and under handed dealings made Gucci a very successful company. She also created tension among the Gucci family. Once Gucci became a top fashion brand Maurizio fell out of love with Patrizia and began an affair with an old flame.

Maurizio divorced Patrizia. He was very matter of fact and cold towards her but it was hard to feel sorry for her because of the way she treated Maurizio’s relatives and business partners. Patrizia thought she would be able to woo Maurizio back but she couldn’t. She became bitter and vengeful. Patrizia put a hit out on her husband with the help of her psychic advisor and friend played by Selma Hayek and had him killed.

I didn’t expect all of that from that story. I would recommend it especially if you enjoy 70s and 80s fashion and music. You’ll also learn a bit about fashion history.