“Thor: Ragnarok”: well, imagine a civilization built from landfill trash, among other things

I’m not an aficionado of comic plots or of Thor particularly, but it seems like “Thor: Ragnarok” (directed by Taiki Waititi) gives us a tour of the inhabited universe, where space travel takes us to ancient-like worlds of 50s Fox Ciinemascope spectacles (the film is from Marvel and Disney).  The director himself will play the voice of the fiery giant Korg at the end.

The Asgardian civilization resides on a planet I’ve seen before, with a huge spectacular harbor and a long “boardwalk” out into the sea for the spaceport.   I want a room in a Wyndam hotel with a harbor view.  Sorry, the spire palace will be destroyed.

From a distance, the planet looks like an annulus, so the physics of it isn’t very probable. The planet seems tied closely to another planet where the entire civilization (even the big cities) is built from landfill  trash and toy parts.

The film is a vehicle for a lot of big stars. The centerpiece, not necessary deserving, is Chris Hemsworth as Thor.   He’s all fit for a centerpiece gladiator battle in an amphitheater that could come from Rome (“Demetrius and the Gladiators“) or maybe from “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”. That battle is with a new enemy, the Hulk (Bruce Banner) who in his other life is played by an aging Mark Ruffalo. But the arch enemy is the empress Hela (Cate Blanchett) who wants her fill of executioners.

There’s one scene, two-thirds the way through, where the maidenhead women prep Thor for his final battles by prodding his chest with hot irons to remove any hint of chest hair.  Such indignities for a man who will never be a 40-year-old virgin. But does he need to become a clone of Victor Mature?

The giant wolf appears on the boardwalk, without the loving care of Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

The movie is also grounded with some scenes in the Big Apple, like an earlier scene at a Bleeker Street bistro set up to look like La Poisson Rouge (one of my favorite haunts) and where Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Strange, approprirately geeky and a seeming caricature of pianist-composer Timo Andres.  The people who made this movie have watched a lot of young stars rise.  The actual music score is by Mark Mothersbaugh and doesn’t seem that remarkable.

There is a piece by Ashkey Nkadi in The Root, shared on Facebook, “Why is society intent on erasing black people in fantasy and Sci-Fi’s imaginary worlds?” and she discusses the tokenizing of Idris Elba as Heimdall.  I’m not sure she accurately characterizes what goes on in comics or fantasy movies, but I need to be mindful of this in my own future writing.

Wiki of Yggdrasil and the nine worlds of Asgard .

Typical rocky extrasolar planet (wiki).

Name:  “Thor: Ragnarok
Director, writer:  Taiki Waititi
Released:  2017/11/3
Format:  2.35:1 Imax 3-D
When and how viewed:  2017/11/8 Regal  Ballston Quarter daytime small audience
Length:  130
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios
Link:  official 

(Posted: Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM EDT)

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”: Life in the ultimate model world populated by aliens; De Haan shines

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, directed by Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) tells us what we have to look forward to as a species if we survive Donald Trump, North Korea, and Putin, and take civilization to the stars.  The movies is based on graphic novels and comic books by Pierre Christin and Jean Claude Mezieres.

Unfortunately for the 3-dimensional space city of Alpha, it has a leader who is like a combination of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, played by Clive Owen.  “Foreigners” whose desert planet (“Dube”) he had once destroyed, played by “Pearls” (like the beings in “Avatar” (2009))have infiltrated.  They seem to have placed a radioactive core “tumor” in the heart of the city.  It’s up to special operatives Major Valerian (Dane De Haan) and girl friend Lauraline (Cara Delevingne) to find and destroy.

De Haan, with his boyish skin and looks (he is 31) plays the role with great charisma, a real hero.

Alpha has many physical spaces, inhabited by all kinds of creatures.  AI bots looking like flies make up the computers.  The humans live in a vertical city sort of like a Hong Kong.  Toward the core there is a red district where no foreigners are allowed (hint: Trump) but drag queens are,  that looks like an open air gay bar running for blocks, embedded into a Disney theme park.  You expect to run into Sean Spicer in leather at any moment.

The desert planet was also interesting before it got blown up, with its own lego-city underground and rather bizarre lake beaches.

The film was shot in studios in France (Toulouse) and Quebec.

The title of the film makes me think of the “Valley of 1000 Smokes” in Alaska.

Here is an imdb image of what Alpha looks like.

Name: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director, writer:  Luc Besson
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1 3-D
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, sneak, small auditorium, fair audience, 2017/7/20
Length:  129
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  STX, Europa  (French Canadian production, in English)
Link:  official

(Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017, 8:30 PM EDT)

“Wonder Woman: Rise of the Warrior”: who needs (cis, virile, manly) men anymore?

Patty Jenkins gave a passionate interview on, as I recall, ABC’s “Good Morning America” to explain her new DC Comics action film, “Wonder Woman: Rise of the Warrior”, from Warner Brothers.  She wanted to show a female heroine who was the equivalent of a Christ figure (my analogy), not “just” a Virgin Mary.

Indeed, the Amazonian society shown in the early 20th Century as the film starts seems to be all female (parthogenesis, perhaps), that doesn’t need men. The future wonder woman Diana (Lilly Aspell, then Gal Gadot as an adult) grows up as a warrior.  It looks like it came right out of the Burroughs Tarzan series, with women warriors.

There is some pagan mythology here.  Diana’s mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) wants to protect her daughter, who is determined to become a hero worthy of a future Star Wars. The overlord god Zeus loved mankind, but Ares considered man corrupt and let man play “survival of the fittest tribe” with increasingly destructive wars.  Finally, Antilope (Robin Wright) convinces Hippolyta that daughter Diana can become the comic world equivalent of a Navy Seal. (I recall Hippolyta as a name in high school.  A high school friend once mailed me a huge post card of little tunes and signed it Hippolyta.  I wonder if the card is somewhere in the attic.)

The story starts moving when  Diana rescues a British spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from drowning. There’s a little skin shown here, and it looks like the encounter with her  laser-emanating “lasso of truth” costs Steve his chest hair.  Steve educates her about World War I, the War to End All Wars, or The Great War.

The remainder of the plot seems to deal with a desire of the British (David Thewlis) to make an armistice with Germany to stop the war, while a villain (Elena Anaya), with a mask to cover a burn-scarred face that would scare off crows and inspire Hannibal Lecter, concocts an unprecedented deadly poison gas that dissolves everything.

So here we have alternative fact history.  Wonder Woman and Steve’s interventions keep the Allies together until the Americans enter (although nobody gets into the politics of Woodrow Wilson, the draf, and his sedition laws) and in the end, England celebrates victory, only to brace for battles to come in two more decades, needing a wonder gay man (Alan Turing) to save them with “brains over brawn” (like “The Most Dangerous Game”)

This film has been popular in the gay community the week before Capital Pride.

Generally, I’m not as interested in the alternative comic book world presenting history as the real history itself.

The symphonic poem during the closing credits by Rupert Gregson-Williams was interesting.

Name:  “Wonder World: Rise of the Warrior”
Director, writer:  Patty Jenkins
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1, 3-D, Imax
When and how viewed:  AMC Courthouse Plaza, Arlington,, 2017/6/8, late, moderate audience
Length:  141
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Warner Brothers, DC Comics
Link:  official

(Posted: Friday, June 9, 2017 at 2:45 PM)

“Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”: can a young man be a god and not know it for a little while?

Can a young man first born in the American Midwest to a seemingly average pair of young lovers find out that he is supposed to become a god and be immortal?  Can one be a god or angel  (or human-looking alien from another planet) and not know it until some initiation in young manhood?  Maybe Chris (or Christian, like in the Sibelius King Christian Suite) is the best name for such a character or the Hollywood star who plays him.  Donald Trump would never suspect a thing; his travel bans won’t apply to UFO’s from other planets.

That seems to be the gist of the new franchise sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” written and directed by James Gunn (based on the Marvel comics series by Dan Abnett).

Minnesota-born (from the Iron range) Chris Pratt (remember him as the teenager “Bright” in the WB Series “Everwood”) plays the archtype superhero Peter Quill, or Star-Lord.  Chris, approaching 38, does look a little more weathered, and as I recall had at one time gained weight, which he shed. Now, well post-adolescence, there is a mop of hair decorating the middle of Chris’s chest, which is at risk from the laser probes through his bod toward the end.  (That also happened to the young Clark Kent on Smallville near the end of Season 2, resulting in a keloid scar for a few episodes.)  Chris’s character needs to add some art to his people skills: how about singing bel canto, playing piano, directing plays, and making short films.  He does carry others on his back.

After a prologue set against the disco radio music of 1980, we jump to 2014, when Peter (who, without relativity, would be the same age as Jesus during his ministry) visits the High Priestess (that was the name of a friend’s cat when I lived in NYC) on a golden throne in a golden palace in a city on some other planet looking like Dubai.  He’s sent on a quest to find his father and his ancestry. How he gets past the speed of light barrier is not explained.  Does he rent a digital holographic replica of his body from Hertz when he streams instantly to a new planet?  Oh, they show in him spaceships with a co-pilot Rocket, a talking raccoon with voice of Bradley Cooper.  And there is a little wood spirit (whose learning abilities play a critical role in the resolution at the end) with voice of Vin Diesel.

There are some other planets, like one with an open market in what looks like a town in Siberia, but he finally meets his real father, Ego, played by a foppish but aging Kurt Russell.  Ego has created his own living planet in his name, the size of the Moon – making us wonder how it has near Earth gravity. (Ever notice how these planets all have the same atmosphere as Earth?)  Ego wants to expand, so that the entire universe (or at least Milky Way Galaxy) becomes him.  The planet has wonderful scenery:  organix spires of plant material, with red and violet colors as well as the more common photosynthetic green.  Are any of these planets tidally locked?

We do see planets explode at the end, at least Ego.  And there is a scene where a blue mass (remember “The Blob”, which was pink) encroaches on a town (is that back in Missouri?)

And finally, after Peter is reassembled one last time it seems like he will become a god whether wants to or not.

Remember the pretext of the NBC series “The Event”, where Jason Ritter’s character saves everyone but doesn’t know he is an alien?

Wiki chart of sizes of exoplanets known so far.

Name:  “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Director, writer:  James Gunn
Released:  2017/5
Format:  2.35:1, 3-D, IMAX
When and how viewed:  AMC Potomac Mills, Woodbridge, VA, 2017/6/4, late, small audience
Length:  136
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  Marvel, Walt Disney Pictures
Link:  official

(Posted: Monday, June 5, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT)

“Beauty and the Beast”: in the end, “smooth” is still “desirable”

Beauty and the Beast”, directed by Bill Condon, has a simple enough moral:  physical beauty may be skin deep, but real love is soul-deep.  I’ve been there before.  I heard that speech in 1978.

The film is Walt Disney Studio’s remake of the 1991 play of the setting of the Broadway play, about 1990, by Alan Menken (lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. That in turn is based on the fairy tale by Linda Woolverton.  So, we have children’s literature.

When I worked as a substitute teacher, I did an English class (10th grade) where the assignment was to write a fairy tale.  One of the boys wrote a tale starting, “Once upon a time there lived a banana”.  Imagine where that could go.

In fact, for all the artistry surrounding talking teacups and living heirlooms in a dark castle in medieval France, this sort of classic works better for me on stage, like “Wicked”.  Yes, the songs are wonderful.

As for the morality tale, the prince (Dan Stevens) gets transmuted into a beast after he turns away a homeless old hag.  He’s really worse off than “the Rich Young Ruler” in the New Testament.  In nearby towns (or maybe Paris), Belle (almost out of “Days of our Lives” in the past), played by Emma Watson, has to fend off a suitor Gaston (Luke Evans), who warns her about the fate of spinsters – they drop out of eternity.  She runs away to the castle (the climate transmutes from summer to winter without much change of altitude, just like in “The Shack”) and meets the prince, and of course falls in love with him.

So she looks beyond the obvious.  I could just pretend that she is attracted to hairy men (after all, Caucasians evolved in colder climates, where that sort of natural selection of a cis-gender manly-looking secondary sexual characteristic might be logical).  Maybe he just looks Neanderthal (and it’s possible that Europeans benefited from the best Neanderthal genes, as they took over).  Gaston will follow her, with guide Maurice (Kevin Kline), and Josh Gad will play LeFou (sounds like the name of a government teacher).  In the final scene, though, Beast changes back.  It seems that “smooth” (or “thmooth” – that is, immature) is what is “desirable”, even for men, after all.  David Skinner (author of the 1999 essay “Notes on the Hairless Man”) will celebrate in the world of conservatism.

I do recall in the early 1970s, before “My Second Coming” (Chapter 3 of my “Do Ask, Do Tell I” book) a couple of women tried to encourage me to adopt an “alternative” appearance to appeal to them — head shaving, hippy beads, body art — as if I could cover up my physical flaws and get away with it. That confounded my own idea of virtue.

Name:  “Beauty and the Beast”
Director, writer:  Bill Condon
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1  Imax, 3-D
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, 2017/3/21, afternoon, small audience
Length:  129
Rating:  PG
Companies:  Walt Disney Studios
Link:  official

(Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 9:30 AM EDT)

“Dream Big: Engineering Our World”: outstanding young female engineers make wonders for professional tourists

As it gets more taxing and risky to travel around the world, IMAX 3-D documentary films offer a surrogate opportunity.

Dream Big: Engineering Our World”, directed by Greg MacGillivray and produced by his own film company, now shows in Imax science museum theaters, and it offers in its 42 minutes a large number of sightseeing opportunity, a chance to play professional tourist.

The narrative (spoken by Jeff Bridges) is seen largely through the lives of female minority engineering students, and their teachers.

The attractions include the Burj  Khalifa Dubai, the Shanghai Tower (with its twists to make it storm resistant), a rail bridge in southern France, an earthquake resistant skyscraper in San Francisco, the University of California Santa Barbara campus (which I visited in 2002 in connection with my books), rural Haiti, and a temple area in Katmandu, Nepal during an earthquake.  (Katmandu is said to have inspired the fictitious city L’Himby in the Third Dominion in Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica”.)    There is a desert prototype for a 700mph maglev train, and stunning subway sequence in the opening (I think in Tokyo).

There is an interesting “middle section” explaining the construction of the Great Wall of China (using rice-based mortar) which runs along the top of a ridge.  I have not seen “The Great Wall” yet, but the mention of the Wall is here is politically coincidental, to say the least.  Yes, I would have used Asian cast and leads in making the big budget monster movie (for authenticity).  And I think that Donald Trump’s idea of a Great Wall poses more an issue of actual practical effectiveness than engineering (or ideology).

There is a climactic science fair scene (at UCSB), after high school engineers drive their solar-powered jalopies through the Australian outback (starting at Darwin and going to Adelaide).  I thought it would have been nice to cover the inventions of Taylor Wilson (fusion nuclear reactor) or Jack Andraka (new cancer test).

The film was financed in part by Bechtel Corporation, which was on my list of possible first employers back in 1970 when I was getting out of the Army.

Name:  “Dream Big: Engineering Our World
Director, writer:  Greg MacGillivray
Released:  2017
Format:  IMAX 3-D  1.44:1
When and how viewed:  Smithsonian Air and Space, 2017/3/2, morning, small audience
Length:  42
Rating:  G
Companies:  MacGillivray
Link:  Bechtel

(Posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 7:45 PM EST)

“Assassin’s Creed”, based on the game franchise, seems genre-silly, but poses one interesting question

Assassin’s Creed”, directed by Justin Kurzel, is a genre sci-fi fantasy film based on the video game series, and the filmmaking style is perhaps reminiscent of comic book franchises.

After a prologue set in 1492 Spain, where there is a presentation of the idea that the disbanded Knights Templar was trying to unleash the “Apple of Eden” and end free will for mankind, justifying the need to assassinate its members, the film moves to present day, first in 1986 where Callum Lynch is growing up in Baja California and witnessing family violence, to 2016, where the adult Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is being executed by lethal injection in a grim chamber at the Huntsville, TX penitentiary.

But Lynch goes through an interesting NDE, and wakes up to a new existence in a laboratory in Madrid, run by Abstergo, where he will be fed the memories of his ancestors, and sent back to 1492 to rescue humanity.   The lead scientist is Sophia (Marion Cotillard).  The lab, which picks up Lynch with huge pincers and throws him around in a simulator, is rather hard to describe, and the depiction of 1492 Granada is standard video game stuff, not terribly interesting.  It’s also unclear often whose side the Abstergo minions are on.  The complicated plot (it’s on Wikipedia ) leads to a showdown in London where the Apple is presented and mankind must be saved from being changed into obedient surfs – envisioning a world that crosses between Donald Trump (a convenient coincidence) and Mr. Snow in Hunger Games.  Some autocrats or groups believe that it is their purpose to impose moral on the world (a “final solution”) and remain as combative as necessary to do so.

There’s a good question embedded in the movie:  how could someone experience the memories of another, after some sort of reincarnation?  Is the brain, with the neuronal microtubules  a receptacle for consciousness that already exists?  (link)  If so, is there some link to others through the DNA (through genes) of biological lineage?  That would actually have real significance for “family values”.

Name:  “Assassin’s Creed”
Director, writer:  Justin Kurzel (wr. Michael Leslie, et al)
Released:  2016/12/21
Format:  2.35:1, 3-D
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Common, 2016/12/28, late. small audence
Length:  115
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  20th Century Fox, Regency
Link:  official, game

A comparison could be made to Paolo Barzman’s TV-mini series “The Last Templar”, January 2009 on NBC.  The Templar, of course, appear in Dan Brown’s novels and movies, especially “The Da Vinci Code” (2006).

Wikipedia panorama of Granada, Spain, link.

Wikiepdia picture of Huntsville, TX prison, link.

(Posted: Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 at 11:30 AM EST)

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”: a “standalone” prequel to the original 1977 film, and an unfortunate metaphor for Syria today

Name: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director, writer:  Gareth Edwards
Released:  2016
Format:  2.39:1 Imax
When and how viewed:  2016, AMC Tysons, 2016/12/19; noon show, not crowded
Length:  139
Rating:  PG-13
Companies:  LucasFilm, Disney
Link:  official

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, directed by Gareth Edwards and written with Chris Weisz and Tony Gilroy, is an immediate prequel to the franchise opener “Star Wars”, now known as “A New Hope“, in 1977.  That movie was considered “so good” and I remember seeing it on a big screen in midtown Manhattan.

The story gives us an uprising by the Rebel Alliance led by a young woman, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) after her mother (Valene Keene) had warned her dad (Mads Mikkelsen) about the Empire’s plans with the “Death Star”, very much a franchise icon.

The action happens on many planets (with only a Alcubierre hyperdrive to jump among the various solar systems), and it stretches credibility that the Galaxy would have so many planets with about the same gravity, same breathable atmospheres, and mild climates – and yet each planet would emphasize a single ecosystem (rather like the 4-world kingdom of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and the 1984 film). But the plot focuses particularly on Jedha, largely desert with rocky plateaus, on top of one of which there is a model city looking a bit like Aleppo (to the point that the whole plot may come across as an unfortunate metaphor of current events in Aleppo) and Scarif, looking rather like lower Florida, with one huge Citadel Tower where the Empire holds its death star secrets. Much of the film was actually shot in Iceland, Jordan, and Maldives (for the low-lying tropical lagoon-and island landscape of Scarif).  There are also some scenes on the city-planet Coruscant with a lot of pyramid-like skyscrapers.  The Jedha plateau city, while looking Islamic, has more spherical buildings than would happen in the Middle East (even Jerusalem).

The film has many other appealing characters, including two pilots played by Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed.

The movie has an accompanying booklet from Entertainment Weekly that provides timelines and game board maps for the entire Star Wars franchise.  It’s interesting to see how so many plot threads are put together, and how new narratives can be inserted, without fraying into loose ends. LucasFilm calls this new movie a “standalone film”.

The LucasFilm franchise now is connected to Disney (it used to be Fox), and I don’t know when Disney will open its Orlando Star Wars Land attraction, to give visitors a chance for some virtual space travel (in addition to the Mars virtual reality ride at Epcot).

(Posted: Monday, December 19, 2016 at 8:15 PM EST)

“Doctor Strange”: a neurosurgeon gets to see the Multiverse — and it’s a good thing that “he’th’mooth”

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Name: Doctor Strange
Director, writer:  Scott Derrickson
Released:  2016/11
Format:  2.35:1  Imax 3-D
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Common 2016/11/16 small audience
Length 115
Rating PG-13
Companies: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Productions
Link: official 

 

Doctor Strange” (or “Dr. Strange”,directed Scott Derrickson), as another Marvel franchise initiator, seems to rework some story concepts from “Inception”, along with some space-time ideas we just saw in “Arrival”.

This 115-minute fantasy follows the screenwriting conventions of a distinct middle, beginning, and end.  After a rather superfluous prologue where dark angels demonstrate they can make the streets of London fold over (Inception-style), we’re thrown into modern New York City, where a suave neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) plays Ben Casey a lot in a Greenwich Village emergency room.   Now Strange, even at 40, looks appropriately smooth (or “thmooth”), his arms almost hairless from repeated scrubdowns, and this will prove convenient later when he needs other operations.

Strange has a Trump Tower pad, and is quite cocky about his skills.  One night he goes on a call up the Hudson and flips his sports car after some distracted driving.  The resulting operations on his hands and arms mean his career as a surgeon is over.  His girl friend Christine (Rachel McAdams) tries to talk him into “changing” and he resists, when she demands an apology.   He meets a companion in a basketball playground who urges him to go to Nepal and learn meditation.

The middle section of this ternary movie takes place in Katmandu, filmed on location, and made to look like L’Himby in Clive Barker’s Third Dominion (if “Imajica” finally gets filmed).   Rescued from street robbers by Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) he is led to a sanctuary run by guru “Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton, forced to go bald herself).  Pretty soon he finds himself in “The Library”, where certain Sanskrit books are off limits until he reaches certain stages.  The books, along with other magic devices (one looks like an astrolabe) can open up floating rings into the “multi-verse”.  There is also a concept of a room surrounded by mirrors.  Like events in dreams, events inside these rooms are not supposed to affect the outside world, but (as in “Inception”) these events certainly have a “Hawking radiation” effect.  One of the techniques to reach cosmic consciousness and obtain super-powers (maybe like Clark Kent’s self-teleportation) ironically is total submission, in the sense of Rosenfels-like psychological growth,

The “multiverse” is presented quite effectively, in 3D special effects, as a collection of floating dark spheres and illuminated channels.  Strange will revisit the Multiverse after returning to New York and then visiting Hong Kong (the third alpha city, besides New York and London, protected by the Guild) for a final showdown with the “Great Satan”, or whatever.

In the middle, in a multiverse scene, the script seems to refer to Lucca Rossi’s novel “The Branches of Time” (index).

And, oh yes, I saw the black-and-white “Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” with a hairy Peter Sellers, by Stanley Kubrick (1963), in 1978 at a theater on 8th St. in the West Village with a friend.

(Published: Nov. 17, 2016 at 10 AM EDT)

“Summertime”: filial piety challenges a lesbian relationship in 1971 France

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Name: Summertime
Director, writer:  Catherine Corsini
Released:  2016
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Vimeo private screener 2016/11/14
Length 105
Rating NR (but would normally be NC-17; this is a legitimate, professional adult film with major social issues explored)
Companies: Strand, Pyramide (DVD available 2016/11/15)
Link: official

 

Summertime” (originally “La belle saison” or “The Beautiful Season”, 2015), directed by Catherine Corsini, gives a pretty thorough exposition of family values in France in 1971.

Georges Pompidou is talking about family values on French television as Spanish professor Carol (Cecilel de France) consorts with other radical feminists.  They hear a story about a gay man put into a mental institution for electroshock treatments (this late) but still find the comparison of a pregnant woman to a “car” carrying an unwanted baby more offensive than what can happen to gay men.  Carol meets Delphine (Izia Higelin), a twenty-something from a family farm apparently in Provence (judging from the scenery). They fall in love.

Suddenly, however (at 40 minutes into a 105-minute film) Delphine gets a call from home, as her dad has had a stroke.  She goes home, finds Dad (Jean Henri Compere) comatose, but gradually coming of it.  Delphine has no practical choice, out of filial piety, but to stay and run the family farm, and sacrifice her newfound lesbian passion.  This is about family responsibility that happens for the childless, regardless of their choices.

But Carol goes down to the farm to be with Delphine and resume the relationship. Passions resume, despite the fact that each woman has wannabe male suitors.  Eventually, Mom (Neomie Lvovsky) find out, and the results are not pleasant.  Mom may regard lesbianism as a perversion, but what’s obvious is that she feels she has lost a future lineage.

There is some suspense at a sad scene in a rural train station.  There is an epilogue, six years later, where we learn Carol is even more deeply into feminism and abortion assistance. Is this film “anti-baby?”

This is a lavish-looking, very professionally shot “patently adult” film – again, there is a need for NC-17 material in film to present some issues.

A good comparison is “One True Thing” (1998, Universal) where a college professor goads his yuppie daughter into giving up her own life and returning home to take care of mom dying of cancer.

Wikipedia attribution link for Provence photo by Civodule, CCSA 3.0.

(Posted: Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 at 8:45 PM EST)