I’ve been under the weather, so I haven’t written much lately. I enjoyed the Academy Awards. I was hoping that Women Talking would win – without much hope. But my second favorite, Everything Everywhere All at Once grabbed almost everything. And besides, Everything is just so much fun!
A The Whale (2022)
This is a very difficult film to watch at times, but it’s also very much worth watching. It involves truths, lies, religion, hiding, not hiding, Moby Dick, massive guilt, and a massive human body. Brendan Fraser in a massive fat suit plays a man whose life is soon to end. He’s an English professor who probably hasn’t left his apartment in years, but through Zoom he manages to hide his extreme girth. (The camera on his computer “is always broken.”) In the few days in which the film is set, he gets visited by his angry daughter, a young member of a Christian cult, his ex-wife, and most of all, the nurse who’s the only person who cares for him. Samuel D. Hunter wrote both the original stage play and the screenplay. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
A- The Watermelon Woman (1996)
Cheryl Dunye made an exceptional film about race and sexual preference, film history, sex, and VHS movie rentals (that was a thing in the 90s). Along with writing and directing, Dunye plays the main character – a black lesbian obsessed with a forgotten African American Hollywood actress that no one else remembers. Meanwhile, Cheryl falls for a white woman, works in a video store that seems to be run by queer people. How cheaply was the film made? Some scenes were shot in video, which looked awful.
I saw Watermelon Woman at the BAMPFA.,
B+ On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
You probably know the story: Sean Connery refused to make another James Bond movie, and Eon Productions cast not an actor but a male model – George Lazenby, and the movie bombed. For decades, people thought that because of Lazenby, it was one of the worst Bond flicks. In fact, Lazenby was terrific. He was better than Connery – at least with this particular script, which has a serious romance. That didn’t happen again until Daniel Craig took the job. Some of the plot is ridiculous, but that’s always part of Bond. Telly Savalas is miscast as the evil Blofeld, while Diana Rigg, then famous as a British spy on the TV show The Avengers, shines.
B+ Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)
There’s not much of a story here. Jackie Chan plays a Hong Kong police detective. Michelle Yeoh is a similar investigator from the Chinese mainland. They work together to destroy a criminal drug ring. The bad guys are all very, very bad. The action scenes are amazing, thrilling, and often very funny. It’s amazing to watch what Chan and Yeoh could do in their prime.
B- Cleopatra (1934)
This Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza is twice as good as the 1963, Elizabeth Taylor version. Why? Because this one tells the story in half the running time. Claudette Colbert stars as the Queen of Egypt. I assume you know the basic story. Warren William and Henry Wilcoxon play Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. The sets are big and the clothing is skimpy.