20th Century Women (2016)

20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills
Writer: Mike Mills
Cast: Lucas Jade Zumann, Annette BeningElle FanningGreta GerwigBilly Crudup
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) lives with his mother Dorothea (Annette Bening) who raised him all her own. They share their home with photographer Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and handyman William (Billy Crudup) and as often as Jamie’s best friend, the slightly older Julie (Elle Fanning), stays over, you could say she lives there as well. As Jamie tries to navigate puberty, his mother tries to make sure he becomes a good man, while Jamie is more interested in convincing Julie to have sex with him.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Beginners and unfortunately, 20th Century Women didn’t really blow me away either. The cast was good but as so often, the film focuses on the wrong guy. With emphasis on the guy part.

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Re-Watch: Valmont (1989)

Director: Milos Forman
Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Milos Forman
Based on: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel
Cast: Colin Firth, Annette Bening, Meg Tilly, Fairuza Balk, Siân Phillips, Jeffrey Jones, Henry Thomas, Fabia Drake
Seen on: 1.2.2016

The Victome de Valmont (Colin Firth) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Annette Bening) are thick as thieves, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Madame de Tourvel (Meg Tilly) who is staying at his aunt’s (Fabia Drake) summer home and who is widely known for her morals and her loyalty to her husband. The Marquise, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on ex-lover Gercourt (Jeffrey Jones) who just got engaged to the naive Cécile (Fairuza Balk) who has spent practically her entire life in a convent. So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cécile.

Valmont is in many things much less faithful to the original novel than Dangerous Liaisons, but that doesn’t hurt the film one bit. It’s a fantastic, enjoyable film with a great cast.



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Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Ginger & Rosa
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Elle FanningAlice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, Jodhi May

1962. Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) grew up together and are best friends. While Rosa’s father left a while ago and she fights a lot with her mother (Jodhi May), Ginger’s parents Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and Roland (Alessandro Nivola) are still together, if barely. But as nuclear warfare is threatening the entire world, so is Ginger’s world starting to crumble and bit by bit things start to slip away.

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Ginger & Rosa was brilliant. Beautiful and wonderfully made, it went straight for my heart and I bawled my eyes out.


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Ruby Sparks (2012)

Ruby Sparks
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Toni Trucks, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan, Deborah Ann Woll, Elliott Gould

Calvin (Paul Dano) wrote a critically acclaimed bestseller when he was very young – and has been stuck ever since. He can’t really write anything, he’s afraid that he won’t live up to his own reputation. But then he starts writing about Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) – the perfect girl for him – and literally falls in love with his own creation. That is, until she actually shows up in his kitchen. At first, Calvin believes that he’s finally cracked, but other people can see her, too. And so Calvin doesn’t question it, instead starts enjoying their relationship. But how long can anybody remain perferct?

Ruby Sparks is the perfect take-down of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. And not only that, it is also a wonderfully charming, touching and funny movie with an extremely excellent cast.


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Mother and Child (2009)

Mother and Child is Rodrigo García‘s newest film, starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, David Ramsey, Shareeka Epps and David Morse.

35 years ago, Karen (Annette Bening) was a teenage mum and gave up her daughter for adoption – a fact that she never really got over. She’s grown to be quite eccentric and still obsessed with her lost child, when new co-worker Paco (Jimmy Smits) starts to break through her shell.
Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is a successful lawyer and knows exactly what she wants – and a child or any kind of stable relationship is definitely not part of her plans since she’s pretty traumatised by having been given up for adoption herself. But an affair with her new boss Paul (Samuel L. Jackson) fits perfectly.
Lucy (Kerry Washington) can’t have children herself. Therefore she and her husband Joseph (David Ramsey) are looking to adopt.

Mother and Child was a weird bit of film. It wasn’t bad but there were quite a few what the fuck moments. In the end it dies of its own seriousness, despite the good cast.

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The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right is the newest movie by Lisa Cholodenko, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a rather average couple: They love each other, but their relationship is spiked with a thousand small problems. They have two teenaged kids: bright Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and slacker Laser* (Josh Hutcherson), both conceived with sperm from the same sperm donor. Now Laser wants to meet his “father”. Joni plays along and together they find Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who quickly turns all their lives upside down.

The Kids Are All Right is nice, has a brilliant cast and some great moments. Unfortunately, it drags on a little too long. And then it just stops without really ending.

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The Women (2008)

The Women is a remake of a 1939 movie. I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t compare the two.

The reason I wanted to watch the movie is the concept behind it – there are no men in the movie. All the actors, extras and animals are female. Plus, I like Annette Bening and Meg Ryan. But I have to admit that I was really disappointed.

First, the plot, let me tell you it.

Mary (Meg Ryan), a rich New Yorker, finds out that her husband is cheating on her with a sales woman (Eva Mendes). With the more or less help of her best friends (Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Debra Messing), she leaves him, struggles with her mother (Candice Bergen) and her daughter (India Ennenga) for it and finally goes her own way.


The thing is, you need more than an interesting concept and a good cast (strengthened further by Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler) to make a movie work. And this one didn’t.

It was shallow and boring and the fact that there weren’t any men in it, seemed awfully contrived. Not because I don’t think that a movie without men wouldn’t work or that you need men in a movie to make it interesting. The thing is, the movie fails on its first premise: It’s not about women and their relationships with each other. It’s about cardboard cutouts and their relationships with men. And that’s boring.

I mean, any movie should have characters. Fleshed-out, tangible and believable characters. And this movie doesn’t. It has stereotypes. Except for Annette Benning’s Sylvie, maybe. The rest – cliché after cliché piled up on one another. [And I love Bette Midler like the next person, I really do, but can she please NOT play an ageing hippy every once in a while? Although she’s great doing it.]


Plus – and this really surprised me – this movie almost fails the Bechdel test. Yeah, you heard me. You have got a movie full of women and most of the time they talk about men. [They are saved, but only barely.] At least, it feels like it. Which is exactly, why it didn’t work not to have men in the movie.

And apart from Annette Bening, none of them seemed to have a job and all they ever did was going shopping.

But what really, really drove me insane, was Meg Ryan. Or better, Meg Ryan’s after-surgery-face, which is not able to convey any facial expressions. Seriously. I kept staring at her, thinking, “please, wrinkle your forehead for me, only once. Or smile and let it reach your eyes. Goddammit, your eyes, woman! What happened!”

And that’s enough to ruin any movie. Even one better than The Women.