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Roles for Women Though Bette Davis’ Eyes

Bette Davis and those Eyes

Bette Davis and those Eyes

by Sandra Olmsted

   When I teach film, I show Going’ Hollywood in the ‘30s because it laments the passing of the Golden Age of Hollywood for the lack of women stars and the lack of the really good roles for women. There’s truth to that observation and maybe, just maybe, good roles for women are coming back. By good roles, I mean complex leading roles portraying not just good girls but also bad girls because bad girls made many a Golden Age movie star.
   Playing the bad girl or rather very strong and complex characters made the talented actress Bette Davis a big star. Three recent films have roles for women that Bette Davis might have wanted.
   In The Mummy, Sofia Boutella’s role as the antagonist Ahmanet is the type of role Bette Davis would wanted to play although Davis would have insisted that Ahmanet’s motivation for her anger and the actions which cause her to be entombed as a form of eternal punishment had been further developed. The script did give Boutella a solid structure for her character’s motivation.
   Although once anointed to be the next and firs female pharaoh, Ahmanet’s throne is stolen when her father’s new wife delivers a male heir. Ahmanet kills her half brother and stepmother to maintain her path to the throne and is punished for it by eternal damnation and imprisonment. Before getting judgmental, remember dynastic monarchies the world over are littered with bodies for similar and lessor reasons.

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Everything, Everything: Again, Again

by Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

Director Stella Meghie revisits the drama and romance of a child with no immune system made popular with John Travolta’s 1976 protrayal of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) and repeated by Jake Gyllenhaal’s comic turn in Bubble Boy (2001). The big difference in Meghie’s filmis that the bubble-wrapped child is played by an actress this time, instead of an actor. Amandla Stenberg plays Maddy Whittier, an eighteen-year-old girl who can never leave her hermetically-sealed, highly-sanitized home, and Nick Robinson plays Olly Bright, the tempting boy who moves in next door.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Revisionist Legend

by Sandra Olmsted

Charlie Hunnam as young Arthur in Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam as young Arthur in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

The retelling of the Arthurian legend, or at least the origin story, has a first delights for effects fans, but little else. Revising the legend with color-blind casting might assure this expensive epic an international audience, but it might also get history buffs questioning the inclusion of an African resistance leader and a Chinese kung fu master in Arthur band of friends.

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April Films Recapped; May Films Previewed

by Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

Sandra Olmsted

In Theaters Now

FREE FIRE (A24 release) Although billed as crime comedy in the vein of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) or Snatch (2000), Free Fire lacks the dark humor, or much humor at all, just a brutal shootout played out in real or extended time. R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use and runs an excruciating 90m.

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The Fate of the Furious: Drag, Race

by Sandra Olmsted

fateofthefurious   The eighth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise varies vastly from an exciting and stimulating race and sometimes the movie drags, yet it does offer escapism. In terms of comparison to other movies in the series, it is by far not the worse, having benefited from improvements in special effects over the years and from F. Gary Gray’s direction.

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‘Gifted’: Cliched But Moving and Funny

by Sandra Olmsted

Chris Evans and McKenna Grace are uncle and niece in the heart-warming film 'Gifted' opening this Friday.

Chris Evans and McKenna Grace are uncle and niece
in the heart-warming film ‘Gifted’ opening this Friday.

Director Marc Webb’s Gifted tugs on the heartstrings at many turns, yet it also has humor and purveys a sense of redemption. Unabashedly manipulative, the tear jerk moments, especially a cat rescue, will make cat lovers swoon for the male lead, Chris Evans, even more. On the other hand, Gifted shares the indie film qualities of small-scale filmmaking and being driven by solid performances and strong, sparking dialogue, similar to Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. Gifted also has an old Hollywood feel because of the range of emotions plucked at, like Old Yeller or Pollyanna, with a sprinkling of The Trouble with Angels.

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