Tag Archives: Annette Bening

CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) – My rating: 8.7/10

Captain Marvel is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the twenty-first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, with Geneva Robertson-Dworet also contributing to the screenplay. I was dying to see Captain Marvel but wasn’t sure I’d like Brie Larson in the lead role.  Good thing I saw the movie, she’s fantastic.

In 1995, on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala, Starforce member Vers/Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) suffers from recurring nightmares involving an older woman, The Supreme Intelligence /Mar-Vell / Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), her mentor and commander, trains her to control her abilities while The Supreme Intelligence, an artificial intelligence and the ruler of the Kree, urges her to keep her emotions in check.

****  SPOILERS BELOW  ****

During a mission to rescue an undercover operative who is infiltrating a group of Skrulls, (alien shapeshifters with whom the Kree are at war) Vers is captured by Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) then taken aboard their Earth-bound vessel and subjected to a memory probe. Vers manages to escape in one of the Skrull mini vessels but crash lands in Los Angeles. Her odd attire attracts S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose interrogation is interrupted by a Skrull attack. In the ensuing chase, Vers recovers a crystal containing her extracted memories, while Fury kills a Skrull who is impersonating Agent Coulson, who is fairly new to S.H.I.E.L.D.  Talos, disguised as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Keller, orders Fury to work with Vers on the condition he does it alone in the event of other Skrull imposters.  Fury takes Vers to a US Air Force base and discovers she was a pilot presumed to have died in 1989 while testing an experimental engine designed by a Dr. Wendy Lawson, whom Vers recognizes as the woman from her nightmares. A S.H.I.E.L.D. team led by Talos tries to capture Vers and Agent Fury but they manage to escape in a cargo jet, with Lawson’s cat Goose.  Based on Vers’ recovered memories, they fly to Louisiana to meet Vers’ best friend and former pilot, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), the last person to see Vers and Lawson alive.  Talos arrives at Maria Rambeau’s house just as Vers discovers her real name is Carol Danvers. He reveals the Skrulls are refugees searching for a new home and Dr. Lawson was a renegade Kree scientist helping them. He then plays the recovered black box from Dr. Lawson’s crashed plane, prompting Carol Danvers to remember the 1989 plane crash.  Carol also remembers that Dr. Lawson died at the hands of Yon-Rogg before she could destroy the engine’s energy-core, forcing Danvers to do so at the cost of absorbing the energy from the ensuing explosion and losing her memories.

This is a good point to stop because I wouldn’t want to give away everything.  Captain Marvel goes into deeper accounts of how Carol Danvers becomes Captain Marvel.  I found the movie exciting, fun and quite interesting.  Considering the above information, one will have to determine if Talos is telling the truth or setting up the entire team.  I learned that Brie Larson worked out for nine months preparing for this movie. She took Judo, boxing, wrestling and sharpened her knowledge by visiting Nellis AFB and meeting with active airmen before taking on the role of Captain Marvel. This is a remake of the character as Captain Marvel was introduced in 1940 by Fawcett Comics.  His (Captain Marvel was originally a male) reign lasted through 1953 until a 1951 copyright infringement suit appeared from DC Comics and Fawcett’s trademark ostensibly lapsed. Marvel debuted its new Captain Marvel character in 1967 but it didn’t take off as expected. After many tries and undergoing many changes, it looks like a female Captain Marvel is here to stay. The movie has already taken in $215.9M. Captain Marvel is being cleverly reintroduced before the next sequel of “Avengers: Endgame” which is scheduled to be released on April 26, 2019. We now know the call that went out for help on Fury’s beacon in “Avengers: Infinity War” was to Captain Marvel. If you go to see Captain Marvel, stay beyond the credits. As I always say, Check It Out!

20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016) – My rating: 7/10

20thcentrywomen20TH Century Women is a slow comedy-drama directed and written by Mike Mills about a young boy (himself) who was raised by his mother and two other women. I found the situation to be pretty normal for a single mom who worked and needed help raising her son.  The film is set in 1970s Southern California and focuses on Jamie Fields (Lucas Jade Zumann), Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), Jamie’s determined single mother in her mid-50s, who decides the best way she can parent her teenage son is to enlist her young tenants,  Abigail “Abbie” (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home and Julie Hamlin Porter (Elle Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor. Also included in the pact is William (Billy Crudup) a mellow handyman.

20th Century Women is no simple coming-of-age story. Much of the movie’s power comes from its talented actresses. Elle Fanning is perfect as Julie—her appearance gives her an air of innocence that contrasts her rebellious lifestyle of sex and drugs. Despite the details of her troubled home life, Elle never makes you feel sorry for Julie, however, her delivery and expressions appear annoying at times.

Interestingly, Greta Gerwig displays the opposite effect: her short, messy red crop matches Abbie’s taste in punk music and hardcore feminist literature, but as the movie progresses, the you begin to see her softness. Gerwig’s tone remains tough and caustic even during expressions of her vulnerability and she allows Abbie’s flaws to come through as clearly as her strengths.

Most notable, however, the incomparable Annette Bening shines as the slightly frumpy, brutally honest and stubbornly practical Dorothea, who cannot seem to find her place in any generation of women. Most of Bening’s acting makes Dorothea into a humorous, sometimes frustrating, character. But throughout the film, her insecurities burn holes in her confident persona like the glowing tip of her ever-present cigarette, which can be nerve racking. Balancing Dorothea’s loud, brash strength with her subtle self-doubt and fear of the future seems impossible, but Bening accomplishes it with ease. Bening’s performance is most powerful during her interactions with Jamie and in their scenes together, it is clear that Bening’s talent inspires unparalleled performance in Zumann as well, whose character flows between self-assurance and uncertainty like any real teenager.

Realness is at the heart of every character in 20th Century Women: each is unapologetically human, which makes the movie timeless despite the music, costuming and references that heavily dictate its setting. In fact, the release of the film on  Inauguration Day could not have been more timely—20th Century Women reflects the themes and struggles of the recent Women’s March and other feminist movements, establishing links between generations of activists, questioning “progress” and warning against the dangers of falling backwards. If you’re not into the feminist movement, nor analytical enough to bear with 20th Century Women literally, then this movie is not for you.  I think it has it’s moments and definitely has it’s messages.

[20TH CENTURY WOMEN is nominated for Best Writing Original Screenplay]





RULES DON’T APPLY (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

rulesdontapplyRules Don’t apply is basically a semi-quasi romantic comedy and story of a later time in the life of Howard Hughes, brilliantly played, produced and directed by Warren Beatty. If you think Warren Beatty is old and done, you’re only half right. He may be old but he’s not done. I absolutely loved the story (which takes place between 1958 and 1964) and the way it was presented on screen. An inspiring young actress, song writer and singer named Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) and her mother, Lucy Mabrey (Annette Bening) comes to Hollywood for a screen test that would make Marla a star. Marla is currently under contract with RKO, receiving $400 a week and living in a home paid for by Hughes and his associates. Marla and her mother, Lucy is also assigned a driver, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) who takes them anywhere they want to go. Levar Mathis (Matthew Broderick), who also works for Howard take turns driving Marla and Lucy as well as preforms other task for Hughes, including reminding Frank that any one working for Hughes cannot have a relationship with any contract actress signed to the studio.  As Marla and her mother await results of the screen test, it becomes clear that the movie is never going to happen and all has been a waste of time.  Upset, Lucy suggests the two move back to Virginia since no progress is being made.  However,  Marla decides to stay behind.

In the meanwhile Frank and Hughes develop a relationship while Hughes begins to descend into odd behavior.  Later, Noah Dietrich (Martin Sheen) informs Hughes that he should see a doctor as he is forgetting and saying bizarre things. Hughes fires Noah and replaces him with Frank.  Hughes asks to travel the world alongside Frank and Levar. They head to London, where Hughes flies his plane opposite a Colonel (Steve Coogan), but Hughes does bizarre things in the air, scaring the Colonel and Frank. They then travel to Nicaragua, where the president (Julio Oscar Mechoso) informs Hughes he is being sued by the U.S. government for $645 million. They then fly back to America, where Hughes discovers he would have to sell his father’s company in order to pay for the debt.

The movie then cuts back to 1964, where Frank, Levar, and Nadine Henley,(Candice Bergen) who is a long term friend and employee, sit in Acapaluco, Mexico, waiting for Hughes to make a call to the press, revolving around a novel written by Richard Miskin (Paul Schneider), who claims Hughes has no memory of anything that has happened in the last five years.

Excellent movie, entertaining and funny.  I thought Rules Don’t Apply was worth my time and cost of the ticket to see.  The cast was stellar and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Check it out.  There are many twist and turns to this story and one big surprise at the end. A nice change of pace.