January 18, 2021

Ammonite: Set in the early 1800s, this period piece stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. For that reason abut forgotten lone I wanted to check out this TIFF film from September. This movie follows a now more familiar pattern; it is a repressed time for women who are told that they must live their life in the service of a husband and for his benefit. She is meant to have children and be valued less. She has no ability to be herself and follow her own dreams, even in the eyes of her own father and family. I am reminded how even 140 years later, Queen Elizabeth isn’t given a proper education by her parents because she just doesn’t need one. She disagrees. Winslet here plays Mary, an accomplished but forgotten (mostly) archaeologist who studies fossils found along the shores of her English home. Single, aging, and living only with her elderly mother. She early on in her life found a fossil that is in the British Museum and which paid for life for her sizeable family. Ronan plays a deeply depressed married woman who has recently lost a child. Her husband has an avid interest in fossils, but also yearns for his wife of earlier days. He leaves for a lengthy business trip but pays Winslet to look in on his wife. Winslet gets more than bargained for as she begrudgingly accepts the task, but Ronan falls ill. Much goes unsaid. Much is assumed. Wrongly or rightly. The viewer tries to piece together what has happened to both of these women. How have they been wronged? What has lead to the rather lonely existence of Winslet and her hardness? Ronan appears to be more of an “indoor girl” to borrow the words of Jack Dawson when speaking of Rose in Titanic. Mary alternatively is more sturdy and rugged. She is more outdoorsy, with dirty nails and no appetite for traditional women’s interests. She takes good care of her Mom and the sick Ronan. Mary is though rather awkward and uncomfortable around people. Things happen. Some more surprising than others. Portrait of A Lady On Fire was a very similar story. I think that it was told better. The difference being the star power of the main characters. This film has two top A-list stars who are showing more in many ways than expected. In the end I think we can better appreciate how difficult that these times could have been. Many would have lived, loved and fit directly into society. But quite a few would have had a great deal of difficulty and feeling as though they were likely living in the wrong time. I expect in a lean year that Oscar nominations will likely be forthcoming for one or both.

Downhill: A few years back at TIFF the Swedish foreign film Force Majeure was released and it was a dark film showing the tensions in a marriage when a husband and father at a ski resort betrayed his wife and family in an unexpected way and suffers the consequences. In truth I don’t remember the comedy elements. I just remember that there were uncomfortable situations and tension. Then, presumably Wil Ferrell and Julia Louis Dreyfus saw this as a movie to remake as more of a comedy. It doesn’t work. It’s not funny, but more contrived. I didn’t laugh. I marvelled at the mountain ski resort in Austria. The views and skiing makes me wish for a year ago at Whistler. But otherwise, this dysfunctional family is not where I would want to spend time. Like many Hollywood remakes of European films, this was not a good idea.

Wanda Vision: This new series on Disney + has been advertised hard in the past few weeks. It stars Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen (the best actress in the Olsen clan). Both accomplished actors. After seeing the first episode and 10 mins in the second episode, I have to ask myself “what the hell were they thinking?!” This is bad in a way that I haven’t seen in quite some time. Episode one is a black and white Bewitched remake feel, with the robot “Vision” as Darren and Olsen playing Wanda (a woman with magical powers). I don’t know the point. I don’t the background. I don’t know the Marvel “superheroes”. Frankly, I don’t give damn.

Bridgerton: Saw the end of this. Enjoyed Season 1. I think that the ultimate resolution was satisfying if not altogether predictable. It was a good story. The characters were engaging. It was well written and well acted. Check it out.

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