Jump to content

Marcianne Miller

  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Marcianne Miller

  • Rank

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. RED JOAN GENRE: Biopic/WWII spy drama Director: Trevor Nunn Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Treza Srbova, Ted Hughes, Stephen Campbell Moore Rating: Rated R for brief sexuality/nudity Women are the spies in Red Joan, an engrossing WWII British tale that proves a country’s worst deeds can be accomplished by its meekest members. Fictionalized (from a novel) and dramatized (by the filmmakers), it’s based on the true story of Melita Norwood (1912-2005), who Stalin considered his most important spy in Britain. Helmed by legendary Royal Shakespeare company stage director Trevor Nunn, telling details impel the story—mink coats, Spanish Civil War rallies, B&W newsreels, claustrophobic bunkers, blackboards covered with scientific equations that will change the world. Red Joan is not action-packed, but rich in compelling performances, fantastic vintage costumes and “dark fairytale” music that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like a provocateur, the film also raises essential questions about the nature of heroism, but won't answer them. The film story: In 2000, one day after a knighted Foreign Office official dies and the press uncovers his tawdry secrets, MI-5 investigators arrest widow Joan Stanley (85-year old Judi Dench, glorious in her frumpy hair and deep wrinkles) for 27 breaches against the Official Secrets Act. Ridiculous, her outraged lawyer son protests. (Ah, yet another child who doesn’t really know his mother.) But soon the mind-boggling truth comes out. In flashbacks, the “Granny Spy” remembers… It’s 1938 in England, in the terrifying years of WWII and shifting international alignments. Great Britain, Canada, Russia and Germany are competing to develop the nuclear bomb, and to prevent the U.S. from claiming that dubious honor. Though Russia is now fighting Nazi Germany, the Brits refuse to share research with their new ally. Into this political chaos comes a brilliant, idealistic physics graduate student (played by the marvelous Sophie Cookson.) Joan becomes an assistant in the top secret Tube Alloy project, headed by patriotic genius Max Davis (Stephen Campbell Moore). In wonderfully historic and sometimes sexy scenes, Joan falls under the hypnotic glamour of Russian/German refugees Sonya (Treza Srbova) and her dashing cousin Leo (Ted Hughes), who makes Joan his “beloved comrade.” In the often hilarious sexist behavior of the times, no one pays Joan much attention—thus allowing her to act with impunity. Horrified that the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Japan – two times—without warning, Joan becomes convinced that the nuclear playing field should be leveled so that no one government will ever again have the sole power to kill so many people. For almost 35 years, the KGB knows her as "Agent Hola." Was she a high-minded ultra-civilized humanitarian, working to prevent another nightmare war--yet blind to the truth of Stalinism? Or a narrow-minded traitor? Or both? As a classic example of someone who thinks they are doing good, even if it’s criminal, Joan’s actions reverberate to today. Is she any different from conscientious objectors? Or an information dumper like Julian Assange? Or Trump administration leakers? Where is the line between good and evil in these world-wide and speed-of-light conundrums? Too bad Agent Hola and her successors never learned Dorothy Day's advice: "The greatest challenge of the day is: How to bring about a revolution of the heart,, a reovolution which has to start with each one of us? Marcianne Miller has reviewed films in Los Angeles and Asheville. She is a member of SEFCA and NCFCA.
  2. No, there's no plot. There's no logic whatsoever to why Gloria has been alone for so long. And it has little if anything to say about the realities of late-life dating. The film to me, is merely a character study about a woman who keeps getting up and dusting herself off in the face of overwhelming loneliness. There's nothing really wrong with her, nor with men her age. She doesn't change her behavior, or get any insight. She just revives herself and keeps on going. It's a fairy tale.
  3. Let's meet! Alas, Scott was shabbily let go recently from Xpress and a new crew is in charge. Contact me off line for info. Best, mm
  4. My short review of Gloria Bell for Mountain Xpress, Asheville... Gloria Bell charms us with a rare movie heroine--a gutsy, infuriating, totally human woman who happens to be both single—and in her late 50s. Played by Julianne Moore (in a brilliant, mesmerizing performance), Gloria is stunning, of course, even with her silly over-sized eye glasses. But she’s not a cute young thing, she’s a mature beauty, who must pluck hairs on her chin and style her hair to draw attention away from her wrinkles. Gloria’s been divorced for over a decade, so you can’t help but wonder why she’s still single. Perhaps because she doesn’t join a church or get involved in politics where she might meet suitable men. She doesn’t even have a hobby. Instead, dance-crazy, Gloria tries to find love in a neon lit adult dance club. One night, she clicks with newly divorced Arnold (a surprisingly appealing John Turturro). They dive into a passionate affair, with plenty of frontal nudity of the lovely Ms. Moore. And then Gloria has to deal with that horrible bugaboo of all romances--reality. Gloria Bell is an almost identical remake of director Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 film, Gloria, set in his homeland, Chile, and starring Paulina Garcia. He’s a director who loves women characters (2018 Best Foreign Language Oscar for A Fantastic Woman). He feels no need to rush their stories—this doesn’t mean his films are boring, exactly, just subtle and slow. For me, Gloria Bell unfurled like a long pale chiffon scarf captured by a breeze—it snagged often on the relentless thorns of friends’ constant reminders to Gloria that life is short, balled up in the lives of her two independent grown children (Michael Cera and, Caren Pistorius), then ripped to shreds on the flimsy new branch with Arnold. But Gloria’s spirit is powerful. Like all goddesses, she can revive herself, especially if she has a strong potion like Laura Branigan’s rousing dance song. Gloria Bell will make you sad, and glad, and really mad, which is why it’s good to remember that sometimes the only solution to a broken heart is a well-aimed act of revenge.
  5. Keen to support women filmmakers, I was eager to review High Life. It’s the 14th feature film, the first in English, from 73-year-old darling-auteur of French cinema, Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In). The early reviews were raves. Happy me. Then I found its rating: Rated R for disturbing sexual and violent content including sexual assault, graphic nudity, and language. Uh oh… A baby squeals in a playpen set up in a space ship that has seen better days. Making repairs outside the ship, her space-suited father coos to her. Lovely, eh? Haunting, unforgettable. Only after suffering through the entire film, do you realize these endearing early images anesthetized you to the horrid images that follow. Was such numbness, God forbid, the purpose of the film? The premise of High Life is classic sci-fi: The Government offered a deal to death row inmates: they won’t be executed if they go into space as medical guinea pigs and then head into a black hole to see what happens. Surely a mission with a low potential for success. The positives: Cinematography, sound and music are top-notch. All actors, including the international supporting cast, are terrific. Monte, played by Robert Pattison (the five Twilight films), is outstanding as the solitary prisoner who finds hope in raising his daughter Willow (14-month old Scarlett Lindsey and teenager Jessie Ross). Unfortunately, you do wish you could forget the brilliant performance of Juliette Binoche (my favorite actress, Oscar for The English Patient), who is too-convincing as Dr. Dibs, the insidious reproduction-obsessed crew doctor. Director/co-writer Denis claims High Life is about what it means to be human. (Life in really High places, get it?) The loving father/daughter thread exquisitely portrays humanity at its best. But the surrounding story is humanity wallowing in its worst. Unending isolation means life is nothing more than maintaining existence. It’s 24 hours a day of being a hopeless victim, insanely seeking relief in drug addiction, endless exploration of bodily fluids, masturbation, rape, murder, and suicide. Without even one ounce of humor, High Life is 110 minutes of emotional pummeling. You’ve been warned. Marcianne Miller has reviewed films in Los Angeles and Asheville. She is a member of SEFCA and NCFCA.
  • Create New...