Movies I’ve Recently Seen: Let the Sunshine In, The Chaperone, & The Miracle Woman

I didn’t see any of these movies at a film festival. They weren’t sent to me for review. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of them in theaters. But here’s what I think about them.

A- Let the Sunshine In (2017) Netflix Blu-ray

This Claire Denis film opens with a fairly explicit, but not very erotic sex scene. These middle-aged lovers seem to be working a bit too hard to be having much fun. Following the desire to have sex doesn’t bring happiness in this sad drama. Juliette Binoche is still extremely sexy, even if her character has an unhappy love life. One lover is married and has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. A gorgeous stage actor has mixed feelings about having sex with her. And no, the message isn’t “Men are awful.” Binoche’s character is essentially selfish and emotionally messed up. But the film closes with a really bad scene involving Gérard Depardieu as a fortune teller.

B+ The Chaperone (2018), PBS

As the title should tell you, this period piece is not really about silent screen star and icon Louise Brooks. Instead, it’s about the 40ish housewife (Elizabeth McGovern) who oversaw the future movie star on her first trip to New York, where Louise is to study dancing. Aside from trying to control the headstrong, talented, beautiful, and free-thinking young Louise (Haley Lu Richardson), the chaperone researches the secrets of her own birth, tries to adjust to the big city, thinks about her failing marriage, worries about her adult children, and falls in love with a German immigrant. I don’t know if this chaperone is a fictitious person, but the film suggests that she was the first woman liberated by Louise Brooks.

D The Miracle Woman (1931), Criterion Channel

I expected something better from Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck, especially in a drama about religious hucksters. Stanwyck’s character is way too nice to be a huckster; in fact, she’s too nice to be an interesting Stanwyck character. The real villain is her cigar-chomping, murdering crook of a manager (Sam Hardy). As her too-good romantic love interest, David Manners plays the least believable blind person in cinema history.

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