Movies I’ve Recently Seen: CODA, Respect, Thunderball, & Annette

Over the last few months, my Movies I’ve Recently Seen articles have focused entirely on old movies, streaming into my home. But things are changing. Three of these four movies are brand-new. And two of them I actually saw in theaters.

A CODA (2021)

You rarely find so much in such a conventional story. Teenaged Ruby (Emilia Jones – very good) is the only non-deaf person in her family. That makes her the translator between her parents and the rest of the fishing town in which they live. She even must translate to a doctor about her parents’ sex life (a very funny scene). That’s not a good job for a teenage girl interested in music and boys. Meanwhile, economic problems threaten to destroy the family’s small business. But Ruby wants to become a singer – she has the voice – and her family can’t even understand what music means. In one brilliant scene, Ruby’s family attends her first concert (and their first concert), without hearing anything.

Although CODA is playing in a local theater, we streamed it off of AppleTV.

A- Respect (2021)

Biopics about entertainers follow a common thread. Bad relationships, moments of joyful discovery, too much booze or drugs, and redemption. But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem when you’ve got a great cast and the subject is Aretha Franklin. Despite following the formula, director Liesl Tommy makes it something special. Jennifer Hudson doesn’t really look like Franklin, but her performance makes you forget that. And then there’s Forest Whitaker as her dominating father, and an amazingly young actress Nevaeh Moore as Aretha as a child. And if nothing else, the music sequences – recreations of specific concerts and recording sessions – make you want to dance.

My wife and I watched it at one of the better auditoriums in the UA Berkeley 7.

B- Thunderball (1965)

I know that many people consider this to be one of the best James Bond movies, but I just can’t see it. Yes, Sean Connery is a great Bond, and the movie has plenty of Bond Girls along with Adolfo Celi as a villain who knows how to kindly treat his guests (and his sharks). But it takes much too much time before the plot finally comes along. Another problem: Underwater scuba fights just don’t work. People move their limbs slowly underwater, and you rarely get to see anyone’s face.

F Annette (2021)

This serious rock musical starts with a request that the audience not laugh or clap. The request wasn’t needed – groans would be more likely. None of the songs by Ron and Russell Mael are worth listening to. There’s no real choreography. There is nothing about the rich and famous couple – played by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard – in the center of the story that make you care about them. I could never figure out why anyone would like Driver’s stand-up comedian act. You can’t even worry about their child, because she’s played by a puppet. Literally, a puppet, and not even a good one. The only thing of merit in the whole 141 minutes is Driver and Cotillard’s well-shaped and skimpily-clothed bodies.

My wife and I suffered through Annette at one of the best auditoriums at the Shattuck.