Belle will be in theaters May 2. It looks good to me and has a terrific cast. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw from Touch, Undercovers, and Larry Crowne. The film is based on a true story about an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle.
Also featured in the cast are Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Sarah Gadon, James Norton, Tom Felton and several more well-known actors.
Themes around race, class, and the status of women promise to make this film meaningful. The mindset of the British in the 18th Century is under the microscope here, but the same issues are still with us today.
I hope it isn’t one of those films where the good white folks save the poor helpless mulatto girl – the preview doesn’t sound like it will be.
The cast talks about the film in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The director Amma Asante also appears in this interview.
One of the greatest living writers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, as well as Purple Hibiscus, and most recently, Americanah. If you have not read her books, I urge you to give them a reading.
Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a movie. It’s a story set in Nigeria and stars Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anika Noni Rose, Joseph Mawle, and John Boyega.
The story involves personal relationships and intersection of the personal and the political. The political story deals with the Nigerian civil war that created the Republic of Biafra between 1967 and 1970.
Here is a preview:
The film has not been released on DVD yet and isn’t available on any streaming services at this time. That gives you plenty of time to check out the books by Adichie in preparation for watching the film when it is released for home markets. The film released in the UK, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2013. The American release is set for July 2014. The film may be called Half a Yellow Sun in some areas.
Let me explain what you’re looking at in the poster for Adore. If it makes you cringe, the you don’t need to bother to read the rest of this review.
From the left you see Lil (Naomi Watts), a 40 something mom. She’s holding hands and making googly eyes at Tom, (James Frecheville) the 20 something son of her best friend Roz. Next you see Roz, (Robin Wright) a 40 something mom who is snuggling with Ian, (Xavier Samuel) who is the 20 something son of her best friend Lil.
Still with me?
Okay, I’ll back up a bit. Lil and Roz grew up together on the sun-drenched coast of New South Wales in Australia. They lived near each other, they swam together and worked together and stayed friends. As married women, they raised their sons side by side and the sons were BFFs just like their moms.
As the moms hit their 40s several things happened at once. Lil’s husband died. Roz’s husband moved to Sydney for a job and they divorced because Roz wouldn’t leave her idyllic home by the sea. The two boys turned into young men who were almost godlike in their beauty.
And then there was sex. Did the sons seduce their best friend’s mom, or was it the other way around? Either way they all consented.
It sounds incestuous and vaguely distasteful, but it didn’t feel that way to me as an observer of the film, or to the people involved in these delicate arrangements of love and passion. The characters had depth and nuance and subtlety as they explored the relationships between the four principal characters.
I don’t want to give you too many spoilers, but I will say that the two women came to the conclusion that the arrangement had to stop. The young men both married women their own age and both had daughters, who learned to swim in the beautiful sandy bay where their grandmothers adored and worshiped them. But that isn’t the end of the story. I won’t give you the end.
The film was directed by Anne Fontaine, a French director. This is the first film she’s directed in English. The film had a non-judgmental Frenchness to it where love and sex are concerned, and this allowed the actors to give a lot of meaning to their relationships. Odd as it may seem to say, this was not a purient movie. It was an intricate exploration of friendship, parenting, love, loneliness, and desire.
On of the most telling lines in the film came in a scene between Lil and Roz as they talked in a crisis moment toward the end of the film. Roz thinks it’s all her fault. Lil says, “it couldn’t be your fault, because you’re the only one who isn’t behaving badly.” Roz answers, “Then it really is my fault.”
The look of the film, with scenes of sun-dappled ocean, sand, gorgeous vistas, beautiful homes and beautiful people was breathtaking.
Have a look at the trailer.
If you’ve seen this film, I’d love to hear what your reaction to it was.
A delightful looking remake of Annie is schedule for release on Christmas. It stars Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie with Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, and Cameron Diaz.
The producers are Jay Z and Will Smith. The director is Will Gluck.
It’s wonderful to see young Quvenzhané Wallis in a role that has traditionally gone to white actors. Ditto for Jamie Foxx. Looks like a fabulous film and one that I think everyone in my family will enjoy seeing on Christmas Day on our yearly holiday movie outing together.
Generally speaking, I don’t like Seth Rogan movies. I know he’s supposed to be funny, but I think he’s mainly funny to 20 something guys, and not to elder women. On the other hand, I love Barbra Streisand. I’ve been a devoted Streisand fan since the 1960’s when those 3 one hour specials she did on TV just blew my mind completely. Streisand and I have grown old together and my love for her talent has never wavered.
Along comes The Guilt Trip, starring exactly two people: Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand. Obviously, I watched it, or I wouldn’t be typing about it right now. It was excellent. It didn’t make me a big Seth Rogan fan, but it does force me to admit that he’s good at what he does. Rogan and Streisand are fabulous together as a mother and son – a Jewish mother and her long-suffering son – which is a good thing because the two of them are pretty much the whole movie.
They drive in a small car, share hotel rooms, talk, argue, kvetch, reminisce, reach some understanding with each other, and find a way to be a new version of mother and son. It’s lovely. That’s my final judgement: lovely. A lovely movie. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Here’s one of the trailers for the film.
One other thing I learned from watching this film: Barbra Streisand remains fabulous!
And While We Were Here is set on the Italian island of Ischia. It’s full of picture postcard views and gorgeous scenery. The film stars Kate Bosworth as Jane, Iddo Goldberg as her viola playing husband, and Jamie Blackley as a young American slacker Jane meets while in Italy.
Overall, And While We Were Here is subdued and reflective. Even the “fun” escapades Jane has with her young American are muted. The story, seemingly about a love affair, is really about loss and the letting go of loss.
Jane and her husband are in Italy for his work as a musician. She’s writing a book about her grandmother’s experiences in World War II and listens to recorded conversations with her grandmother a great deal of the time. (The grandmother is voiced by Claire Bloom.) This couple have suffered several miscarriages. They are still hanging in, still care for each other, but the marriage isn’t working.
The young American lover is merely a way for Jane to accept the inevitable consequences of her losses and move on with her life. He’s a way to unlock from the past and move toward the future.
As the film ended, I decided I would give the film a rating of 3 out of 5 stars, meaning it was worth watching but not fabulous. Then the credits rolled and Jennifer Warnes starting singing “Famous Blue Raincoat” and the whole story suddenly made sense. It was a movie version of “Famous Blue Raincoat.” I looked the film up and, indeed, the writer and director Kat Coiro was quoted as saying that she was inspired by the Leonard Cohen song. This knowledge doesn’t make we want to improve my rating, but it certainly puts the film into context and deepens my understanding.
If you enjoy introspective films that unfold slowly and deal with human efforts to “go clear,” you will enjoy this film.
Here’s the trailer.
The film was released in 2012. I found it on Netflix, so I’m sure it’s available on other streaming services as well.
Frankie & Alice stars Halle Berry, Phylicia Rashad, and Stellan Skarsgard. It’s been finished since 2011 and is just now being released in the U.S. It will appear in theaters on April 4.
The film is based on a true story. Halle Berry plays a woman with multiple personality disorder. One of her personalities is racist.
The performance we see in this brief preview looks masterful and worthy of award nominations. This film looks like an exciting showcase for Halle Berry to show once again what a powerful actress she is. I’m not sure why it took so long to be released in the U.S., but it’s coming soon and it looks good.
Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, is based on the true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini. The movie isn’t due out until December, but this preview emphasizes Zamperini’s Olympic career and was released during the Olympics.