Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Suffragette City

Films: The Bostonians
Format: DVD from NetFlix on The New Portable.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Merchant/Ivory productions. Oh, I’m happy to admit that they are pretty and that they are well made. They just don’t interest me that much. Historical romances don’t really do a great deal for me in the best of situations (“Not always true!” I hear you say. “You loved Sense and Sensibility!”). It just seems that so many of the Merchant/Ivory movies are so timid, like everyone feels like touching another person will cause one of them to break. That being the case, I can’t say that I was too excited about The Bostonians.

The Bostonians is a weird sort of love triangle, one that today would almost certainly delve into the clear lesbianism of at least one of the characters, but that’s not what happens here. As the title suggests, we’ll be spending a great deal of our time in Boston, in this case about 10 years after the American Civil War. The apex of our love triangle is Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter), the daughter of Dr. (Wesley Addy) and Mrs. Tarrant (Barbara Byrne). He is a “mesmeric healer” while Verena has discovered a talent for oratory and a penchant for speaking on women’s rights. In this role, she has earned a number of followers and a friend in the press in the person of Mr. Pardon (Wallace Shawn).

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Today's Headlines

Films: My Sister Eileen
Format: DVD from NetFlix on The New Portable.

So my several months from hell are finally coming to a close, and it feels like I might actually come close to finishing my Oscar lists by the end of this year. At this point, virtually everything I watch is the last thing I need to see for a given year. That’s the case with My Sister Eileen, a film that wasn’t always available on NetFlix and then was. It’s apparently playing on TCM this month, too. If I’d known, I probably would have requested something else.

This is a film that has a great deal in common with His Girl Friday. What I mean by that is that it stars Rosalind Russell and that she is (at least initially) a newspaper reporter. When the film starts, Ruth Sherwood (Russell) is finishing up the last bit on a drama review for the newspaper in Columbus, OH. As it happens, she hasn’t seen the play yet, but she gives a glowing review to the star, her kid sister Eileen (Janet Blair). The review talking about the new acting sensation Eileen Sherwood goes out that night. It’s too bad that Eileen gets bumped from the role. Due to the embarrassment, Ruth is fired and Eileen feels she can’t show her face in town. With nothing else to do, the sisters decide to try their luck in New York. They’re sent on their way by their grandmother (Elizabeth Patterson) and given $100 by their father (Grant Mitchell).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday Horror: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Films: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
Format: DVD from NetFlix on The New Portable.

I don’t think that I’d be really capable of directing a movie. If I had to, I’d probably go for horror because it seems to me that horror is probably the go-to genre for a new director. Of all of the genres out there, thrillers are probably the hardest to do well. To make a really effective thriller, you have to do a lot of juggling of plot, character, what you show and what you hide, and a great deal more. The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is one of those movies that seems like it has such an obvious premise that you can’t believe it wasn’t done a couple of hundred times already. While there are certainly elements of horror here, since this is pretty much entirely believable, in my world it falls more into the thriller category.

Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) is pregnant with her second child and goes to a new OB/GYN for essentially a wellness check. The doctor (John de Lancie) gets a little more friendly with her than she would like and, freaking out, she confesses to her husband Michael (Matt McCoy) that she thinks he molested her. Eventually, she presses charges, and a collection of other women step up and make the same accusation. Months later, Dr. Mott is facing the loss of his medical license, fines, and possible prison. He commits suicide, leaving his wife (Rebecca De Mornay) with frozen assets and nowhere to go. Distraught, she faints and in the course of the trauma, loses her child and is forced to undergo an emergency hysterectomy. As she recovers, having lost everything, she sees Claire Bartel on the news and vows revenge.