Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies!
Ginger and Cinnamon (2003) original title Dillo con parole mie
Starring: Stefania Montorsi, Giampaolo Morelli, Martina Merlino, Alberto Cucca
Director: Daniele Luchetti
Genres: romance, comedy, adventure
Synopsis: A couple that are each 30 years old feel mutually frustrated with each other and break up. The woman’s headstrong 15 year-old niece decides not to go with her friends to the school’s group trip and ends up at her aunt’s door. Further, the teen finagles her aunt into taking her on a vacation to a Greek Island Io’s resort with the name, “Isle of Love.” The teen is determined to lose her virginity and get as sexually experienced as she can while there and becomes infatuated with an “older man” who is 30 years old. At the same time a young man decides he wants to lose his virginity and gain some sexual experience with an “older woman” and chooses the aunt to pursue.
Impressions: I wondered how risque the movie was going to be when I read the plot synopsis. Thankfully no laws were broken on film, either by actuality or suggestion. It’s a fun romp in a beautiful location. Lots of funny conversations going on between aunt and niece. Only negative is how wordy it can get at times.
Etc.: Italian film with English subtitles
Awards: none listed
Rebecca (2020) netflix
Starring: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Ann Dowd, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Sam Riley, and many more
Director: Ben Wheatley
Genres: mystery, historical romance
Synopsis: A young woman is hired as a personal assistant to an older rich woman who likes to travel and ends up meeting a standoffish grieving widower, who also happens to be fabulously wealthy and own a palatial home called Manderley. The young woman and the handsome widower spend a glorious week together and his gloom appears to lift when he’s with her. When the older rich woman decides to leave the next day for America, the handsome widower asks the young woman to marry him and come to Manderley. It doesn’t take long for the young woman to see all is not right at the estate. Her new husband is gone much of the time and she is left in the clutches of the domineering head housekeeper. Things go from bad to worse fairly quickly. The mystery of how the previous wife, Rebecca, died begins to consume the new wife.
Impressions: Well-done with lush sets and two good leads. Kristin Scott-Thomas is appropriately menacing as the deluded housekeeper trying to keep the memory of Rebecca alive. The tropes of a million historical romance novels play themselves out in Rebecca without many surprises. The entertainment value is more visual. Don’t look for too many deep thoughts here.
Etc.: based on a book and is a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock movie
Just as in the book and the previous movie adaptation by Hitchcock (1940), the new Mrs De Winter is never given either a first name or maiden name, whilst the late Mrs De Winter is constantly referred to by hers.
Awards: too soon
Starring: Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf, and several more
Director and Writer: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Genres: Comedy and Drama
Synopsis: Wadja is a young girl (guessing about age 10-12) who has a mind of her own and an enterprising spirit. She is determined to earn or save enough money to buy a bicycle, despite every person who learns of her dream (except for a few) telling her only boys ride bikes. She learns that there is a contest at school that has prize money enough to buy the bike, so she fervently studies her religious verse for singing recitation that can help her win the prize. A sub-plot is that her father is considering marrying another wife which throws her mom into a tailspin as mom tries to influence his decision to not do it.
Impressions: Up close and personal observations of a society that is male dominated and where women have tightly prescribed behaviors that are allowed. Wadjda’s mom is one vacillating with the old ways, and that ambivalence is a big influence on her daughter who dares to dream beyond them. It’s a movie of female empowerment and a joy to watch.
Etc.: Saudi Arabian movie with English subtitles. This is the first feature length film made by a female Saudi director.
Awards: 23 wins and 33 nominations
Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Denis O’Hare, Elizabeth Marvel, David Rash, and many more
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Genres: drama, thriller
Synopsis: A female retail worker finds herself married to a wealthy businessman who is partnered with his father in their business. Father and Mother buy the newlyweds their own fabulous home on a hill overlooking the river. While son goes to work all day, his new wife is bored out of her mind, obsessively cleaning and preparing pretty meals to serve her husband who is appreciative but most of the time staring at his cell phone. Tension begins to build and the bored housewife learns she is pregnant and finds a new hobby – swallowing small objects then waiting for them to “pass” so she can add them to the growing collection on the dresser. Just how far will she take this game, and just how far will her husband and his parents go to stop her from it.
Impressions: Strange idea for a movie and even stranger to see it play out on the screen. It’s difficult to tell who is the most messed-up of this cast of characters; maybe they all win first prize. Denis O’Hare has a small role but he’s riveting in it.
Awards: 16 wins and 11 nominations
The Painted Bird (2019)
Starring: Petr Kotlár, Nina Sunevic, Alla Sokolova, Stanislav Bilyi, Ostap Dziadek, Zdenek Pecha, Michaela Dolezalová, Udo Kier, Lech Dyblik, Jitka Cvancarová, Daniel Beroun, Marie Stripkova, Milan Simácek, Martin Nahálka, Stellan Skarsgård, Dominik Weber, Petr Jenista, Irena Máchová, Josef Bedlivy, Tomás Kraus, Pavel Kríz, Harvey Keitel, Ondrej Malina, Tim Kalkhof, Jan Monczka, Julian Sands Petr Klimes, Julia Valentova, Alexander Leopold Schank, Denis Pfauserova, Radim Fiala, Aleksey Kravchenko, Alexander Minajev, Barry Pepper, Petr Stach, Andrej Polak, Jan Meduna, Krystof Rimsky, Filip Kankovsky, Petr Vanek, and many more
Director: Václav Marhoul
Genres: drama, war
Synopsis: A 6 year-old boy in Eastern Europe during World War II is left by his parents where they think he will be safe until they can return for him is subjected to one horrific trauma after another after he is forced to take to the road to try to get home. The format is a series of vignettes as he makes his way on the road through seasons and terrains. In black & white.
Impressions: One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time; perhaps one of the best I’ve ever seen. There is very little dialogue, so when it does happen you pay keen attention to it. The cinematography is spectacular. The storyteller in unflinching in depicting some of the most disturbing and shocking acts humans can do to each other – and to animals! Beware, there are not only haunting cruelties to humans but upon animals of all kinds. I pray these were special effects but no guarantees at this time (hoping to find out.) There are some graphic sexual scenes, some disturbing/paraphilic.
Etc.: filmed in Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Based on a book of the same name written by Jerzy Kosinski, who claimed it was autobiographical but was later debunked.
Director Václav Marhoul called the language spoken by the villagers in the movie ‘Interslavic’ or ‘Slavic Esperanto’, made up from several Eastern European languages. Although the original novel on which the film is based is situated in Poland, Marhoul did not want to associate the film with a specific country, hence the fictional language.
Awards: 15 wins and 22 nominations
In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) netflix
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Rudi Dharmalingam, and many more
Director: Jim Mickle
Genres: adventure, sci fi
Synopsis: Philadelphia police are on the trail of a serial killer who strikes only one night every 9 years and who kills in a way nobody has ever seen before. As the decades pass, only one man doesn’t give up on trying to stop the killer, who he learns more about every 9 years. There is a link between the killings, the moon, and time travel.
Impressions: Not a bad “movie-of-the-week” type like what used to be on tv when there were only a few channels. Maybe today it would make a network SciFi channel offering. The main character is what kept me watching as he’s kind of cute.
Awards: 1 nomination