Sunday, October 11, 2020


all on Amazon Prime, because I don't really have anywhere else to get movies

The Glorias
I was looking forward for this one to come out, because while I don't know that much about Gloria Steinem, I've been very impressed with past movies by Julie Taymor, the director. And it's got the surreal Taymor touches. The Glorias are five women and girls who portray her at different ages, including the real one; occasionally two or more of them meet up on Greyhound buses in black and white and discuss their life. There's also some striking montage scenes, and one spectacular one embodying Gloria's fantasy about what she'd like to do to a male tv interviewer who tells her how sexy she looks: he goes through a nightmarish melange of the witches from Macbeth and the twister from The Wizard of Oz.
One thing I learned from this movie is that Steinem was very much opposed to being taken as the one pre-eminent public face of the women's movement. That being the case, why is there a movie about her? Ironically, it's less about her than a bio-pic should be. Much of the early part (while not in chronological order, it's not entirely out of sequence either) focuses on her eccentric and colorful father (played by Timothy Hutton), and much of the later part is devoted to speeches by other women (Flo Kennedy, Bella Abzug, Wilma Mankiller) while Gloria applauds or takes notes. If it were framed as a history of the women's movement and not as a bio-pic of Gloria Steinem it wouldn't feel as curiously vacant. Still, it was a striking movie, even sometimes inspiring.

I'd found a no-additional-charge miniseries, The Loudest Voice, about Roger Ailes, starring Russell Crowe in a fat suit. I watched the first episode and thought it spread thinly enough that I wouldn't want to watch seven of them. And then I remembered, wasn't there a feature film about Ailes that might be better than this? Indeed, so I watched that instead. This time John Lithgow plays Ailes in a more decrepit fat suit than Crowe is in, but to be fair this takes place at a later stage than the first episode of The Loudest Voice does. But most of it is about the women newscasters of Fox News. They're all glamorous blondes in similar clothes, so despite the fact that I know previous work by all the actresses I found them pretty interchangeable in appearance. It ends with Gretchen Carlson's suit against Ailes for sexual harassment; but though Ailes is classically sexist in trumpeting his demand that women show off their bodies on-air (always wear short dresses, etc.), there's only one scene of pure sexual harassment, a horrifying moment of a leering Ailes and a tearful composite character played by Margot Robbie. But if Ailes falls, Fox News goes on; so, like The Social Network, this is a film about evil in which evil wins.

Mission Impossible: Fallout
I'd liked the original Mission: Impossible tv show, way back when, but I'd never seen any of the movie remakes. But then this film was on a list of the 100 best movies currently on Amazon Prime, and even though the list includes some movies I thought were dreadful, it was no additional charge, so I thought why not? If your desires for an action movie include taut pacing without relentless pushing, a comprehensible plot without too many nonsensical twists, precision teamwork among the heroes, a minimum of endless shootout scenes, and exciting music that doesn't just whirl in place (references to the old Mission: Impossible tv show themes a plus), then this one will fit the bill. There was one big plot twist that involved a substitution that, even on rewatching, I couldn't see how the characters did it; and in the big helicopter chase scene I wasn't entirely sure on first viewing who was in which helicopter; but the movie was exciting and kept me occupied during some of those lonely hours when I'm awake in the middle of the night.

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