October 24th, 2022

Blonde: This Netflix movie with Ana De Armas as the iconic Marilyn Monroe. It is 2:45 long! This was released at TIFF, and there was a buzz in it that it was rated NC-17. The idea was that it was revealing the hidden life of Marilyn and her relationships along the way. Initially I thought to myself that De Armas doesn’t have the classic Marilyn physique, as she is more slight. She also being Cuban facially would be different. I will say that in mannerisms and facially that she had expert make up and hair. At times, like the performing “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend” that she was a remarkable resemblance.

Ana De Armas remarkably looking like the classic Marilyn

Starting with the childhood with a young Norma Jean and her troubled Mom, the fatherless girl struggles with a family life that is challenging at the best of times. You can see her being forced to grow up sooner than most her age. The relationship with Mom remained strained throughout her life.

Part of controversy in this latest film on Marilyn has been her earlier relationships. Like the suggested threesome that she had with the sons of Edward G Robinson and Charlie Chaplin. The suggestion is that not only was she having this threesome, but she ended up pregnant and decided to end the pregnancy. This factually is up for debate, and it isn’t confirmed. Both of the young men died very young.

Norma Jean with her two BFs (sons of famous Hollywood actors)

Later we see her married to Joe DiMaggio and he is shown as an abusive husband, looking to curtail her career and avoid this sexpot image that had made her famous (and would have been a major attraction no doubt for him to her). But once he has her, he wants to keep the focus on him. Later she marries playwright Arthur Miller, played by Adrian Brody. That was short lived and then near the end of her life is a short snippet with her interacting with JFK, the President as he is on the phone he forces her to do something that she is uncomfortable.

All in all, we have a lengthy film reaffirming the known story of Marilyn as a tragic figure. She was a woman who was a product of her time, but also was a trail blazer. I think that she was shown as being more emotional, crying often and struggling mentally despite her work and career. I watched feeling that the Elton John song “Candle in the Wind” was a really good representation of her life. I think that De Armas did an admirable job. Without her performance the story and film simple fall. She is good enough to watch, but it is too long. I think she is much better than Michelle Williams who played Marilyn with My Week With Marilyn from 2011 with Eddie Redmayne. What we don’t see is the smarter Marilyn who was busy saavy and was active in producing. She was much more than the ditzy, buxom blonde. It was interesting that she referred to a couple of her husbands as “Daddy” which for me is a little troubling. It just seems odd. Perhaps on top of wanting to know who her Dad was, she maybe have looked for a father-figure, but sadly in the end she chose poorly with the men in her life. on top of that I found that the film tried really hard in showing De Armas on film in one of the many well known poses of Marilyn from posters and magazines. The clothing matches, with the black sweater and black and white checkered pants. The bathing suit and the pose with Arthur Miller in the rural setting. All match these pictures in trying to bring them to life.

So is this worth watching? For De Armas, yes. If you set aside that not everything is necessarily factual, then it becomes whether it is entertaining. It was a bit slow for me. It is long and you feel the time. The end showing the end of her life certainly makes some claims that are thought-provoking. Her relationship with Bobby Kennedy was ignored. Having watched Blonde shortly after seeing Respect, two iconic women are shown as figures with troubled childhoods that were quite extreme.

House of the Dragon: Season 1 completed with episode 10 entitled The Black Queen on Sunday. Ten episodes to basically establish that Rhaenyra Targaryen is pissed. She wasn’t REALLY pissed before, but now she is. She was showing signs of maintaining the peace in the way her weak father did, but she has been turning. Sadly this season is muddled and not that compelling. Crave re-showed tthe first episode of Season 1 of Game of Thrones right after this conclusion. The difference is that introduction and this season is dramatic. Morew houses are introduced, competiting interests with Starks, Lannister, White Walkers, Danny etc all in the first episode. This spin off spent ten episodes showing why there was going to be trouble. But it could have been condensed without losing the substance, unlike Season 7 and 8 of Game of Thrones that condensed so quickly that the transformation of Danny from benevolent Queen who was fair but firm to the Mad Queen intent on revenge and destruction was striking and shocking sending fans everywhere to lament the u-turn!

Rhaenyra is pissed

So here we are with a war to get started with various houses, finally addressed by their name, seeking support in a battle to come for the crowd. I don’t feel like cheering for any side really. Rhaenyra’s Uncle played by Matt Smith is a hothead, intent on destruction himself and doesn’t bring about sympathetic feelings. We are missing the Jon, Breanne or Sam or Arya who were more of less likeable characters that one could cheer. Of course it has some of the most unlikeable characters ever, like Joffrey or Ramsey Bolton but they were so nasty that they fun to watch. In the end this was not a great first series nor opening to a new story to tell within Westeros. The bar was raised to probably and admittedly to a standard that no series could ever match (much like Better Call Saul after Breaking Bad). This will have an audience and maintain but for me it will have to show that it is worth the time as they enter into the wartime phase of this Targaryen story. If there are viewers who ask whether they need to have watched all of Game of Thrones in other to watch this, the answer is no. In fact they may benefit to not have all these points of comparison. I guess I can remain hopeful that this can be better.

Love is Blind 3: As a guilty pleasure, one that I take no pride in watching, this season performs as you would expect. People in their 20s and early 30s who want a kick start on love (and exposure to the world on a grand scale) put themself in a show where they meet people but from behind a screen. They learn about the person/personality and not relying on looks so much. Traits like honesty, being well spoken, funny, intelligent and well rounded shine on through. But like the similar show Married at First Sight, then the business of being together and a couple takes over. Of course it is a train wreck, and of course there is a history of failure in these shows. Still people sign up for it.

While having her male suitor pour his heart out to her, Raven decides to work out

I found this season with Raven and her actions particularly troubling. Being behind a blind means that the person on the other side doesn’t see you. Of course they later WILL see you when the series is played. Raven the pilates instructor, decides during the latter stages of really hearing about someone’s character to work out while half-listening to the guy ramble on. How rude! This is your potentail mate, and fiance, and you decide that hearing about him isn’t as important as doing some crunches or stretches? But the show gets all types. Sadly they focus in pretty quickly on those that will be moving to the next stages and you don’t really see the other potential companions and what they talked about. Raven decides to participate further despite her lack of focus. Others include people who propose in what seems way too soon! They are professing love with someone that they barely know, and without seeing them. Quite a leap to take, as the cameras roll. But they get to hang out in California in a nice mansion. I will continue watching to see what transpires and then await the after-show where we find that none of them have stuck together. Sometimes you just have to check out and entertain with mind candy. Hallowe’en is coming after all!