Re-watching Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” (2019) starring Adam Driver & Scarlett Johansson

Marriage Story (the 10th feature film by Noah Baumbach) was given a theatrical release of 30 days. It was the 1st film to be distributed primarily by a streaming service (Netflix) to win an Academy Award in an acting category. Also, it’s the first streaming film to win a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in acting categories. The budget was less than $19M and it was shot over only 47 days. Marriage Story premiered at the Venice Film Festival. This film is part of the Criterion Collection; there is a behind-the-scenes (BTS) documentary included. As many critics/viewers have noted, this is a mix of genres: drama (domestic, legal); comedy (incl. the kitchen scene at grandma’s house); and musical. For inspiration, Baumbach looked to screwball comedies from the 1930s- 40s, such as Twentieth Century (1934) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). The close-ups were inspired by Scenes from a Marriage by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. One of the framed items seen at grandma’s house is The New Yorker mag article titled Scenes From A Marriage featuring Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson).

Nicole: I never really came alive for myself; I was only feeding his aliveness.

Writer/director Baumbach brought in 3 of his actors (“collaborators”) before he wrote the script for this film: Driver (a close friend), Johansson, and Laura Dern. He interviewed many individuals, from friends to those involved in the business of divorce. It was Driver’s idea for Charlie Barber to be a theatre director. Charlie lived in Indiana before moving to NYC; Driver grew up in that state. The toys Nicole and Henry (Azhy Robertson) play w/ during the opening montage are from the Star Wars franchise, a reference to Driver’s role as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in the sequels. Sheets w/ Guardians of the Galaxy characters can be seen in Henry’s bed in the NYC apt. That movie is from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), as is Johansson’s character Black Widow. Early in her career, Nicole starred in a hit teen sex comedy called All Over the Girl; Baumbach’s ex-wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) was one of the young stars of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Ted: Criminal lawyers see bad people at their best, divorce lawyers see good people at their worst.

Some viewers asked: “Who is the bad guy in this story?” Well, Charlie had a brief affair w/ his co-worker, Mary Anne (Brook Bloom), so he’s NOT blameless. Nicole describes Charlie as being selfish and wanting things his way, at home and in the theater. The true bad guys could be the divorce lawyers (aside from Bert, played by veteran actor Alan Alda). I esp. liked Driver and Alda’s scenes together; Bert also serves as an empathetic father-figure to Charlie (I noticed on this re-watch). Nora Fanshaw (Dern) is based loosely on celeb attorney Laura Wasser; she represented Dern, Johansson and Baumbach during their respective divorces. The mediation scenes were filmed in Wasser’s office building. Ted (Ray Liotta- who passed away recently) is a shark who fights w/ Nora in court.

Due to location availability, the LA scenes were filmed before the main cast moved to NYC. Charlie’s LA apt is an actual apt; the production rented it, along w/ the unit directly upstairs. No dialogue or moments of hesitation are improvised in this scene; everything was scripted. Driver ended up punching the wall 15 times (ouch); Baumbach famously likes to shoot many takes. At one point, Driver punched so hard that he almost punched through the wall behind the breakaway wall. Over 2 days, Driver and Johansson did 50 takes of the fight- wow! The juice box that Nicole sips on, then sets down before the fight remains on the floor until the final shot of the scene. Baumbach explained: “The juice box is [their son’s] presence in their lives… he’s not here… he’s really powerless in this situation.”

The world of the theater plays a big part in this story; Charlie was directing Nicole’s acting for several years. Nicole’s name recognition brought in much of the audience in the early years; during the separation, Charlie is awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant. The diverse group of actors in Charlie’s troupe serve as his chosen family. You may recognize a few of their faces: veteran theater actor Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton; guest star on S6 of Girls), and Mary Wiseman (Star Trek: Discovery). In an interview, Driver said that he and Baumbach discussed making a film version of Company (long before this film). Driver’s performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Being Alive from Company was recorded live and done in one take. Both Baumbach and Driver were fans of the 1970 Broadway musical. Nicole, her mom, and older sister sing You Could Drive a Person Crazy (another song from Company).

Charlie: [Reading Nicole’s letter to Henry] I fell in love with him two seconds after I saw him. And I’ll never stop loving him, even though it doesn’t make sense anymore.

I’ve seen Marriage Story 5x over the past 3 yrs; I don’t re-watch shows/movies much (unless it’s an Austen or Shakespeare adaptation or maybe holiday film). For me, the dialogue (writing) in a film is the most important element. Another element I admire is realism, or real-world themes. On a recent re-watch, I noticed that Baumbach also knows how to make the silence powerful. My fave moments are silent: Charlie sleeping side-by-side w/ Henry when the boy is worried; Charlie and Nicole pull the gate of her LA house shut; and Nicole tying Charlie’s shoe (the last scene; perhaps also a homage to The Way We Were).


[1] Overall, you see Johansson and Driver put on some amazing performances….so amazing that I’d be shocked if they aren’t at least Oscar-nominated for this film. Well done in every way…and one of the better movies of 2019.

[2] There is some humour in this movie, at times it is sad and raw.

[3] Marriage Story is a beautiful and heartbreaking film about the end of a marriage. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson have magnificent performances and chemistry and the direction of Noah Baumbach is top-notch. This film is not to be described by words but watched.

[4] The movie is brutally honest and feels brutally real. I don’t condone everything being said or done. By neither of the two main characters. But motivations are clear and the story is really well told. The drama unfolds and it does not seem to be made up, rather really slow burning and quite reasonable (well as reasonable as some of the things can be).

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“The Report” (2019) starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, & Jon Hamm

The Report is a thriller based on actual events. Idealistic staffer Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) is tasked by his boss Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program created in the aftermath of 9/11. Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth leads to findings that uncover the lengths to which the nation’s top intelligence agency went to destroy evidence, subvert the law, and hide a shocking secret from the American public. The Report is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, and the film also stars Jon Hamm, Sarah Goldberg, Michael C. Hall, Douglas Hodge, Fajer Kaisi, Ted Levine, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Blake Nelson, Linda Powell, Matthew Rhys, T. Ryder Smith, Corey Stoll, and Maura Tierney. -Synopsis (Amazon)

This movie (acquired by Amazon Studios) is available for free on Amazon Prime; I saw it 2x (to get a better understanding on the issues). If you follow the news/current events, have an interest in politics, and/or enjoyed The West Wing– check this movie out. This has more of a documentary-style approach, so I wouldn’t call it a typical “thriller” (as classified on IMDb). Just before filming, the original plan of 50 days shooting was cut to a 26 days; the $18 million budget was slashed to ONLY $8 million! Burns revealed that ALL the actors (incl. Driver) were paid next to nothing on this project. Burns originally planned to approach the material in a satirical Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) manner; the more he delved into the facts, he realized it had told in the most realistic fashion. The film premiered at Sundance and received a standing ovation for the real Dan Jones (who was present).

Sen. Feinstein: If it [waterboarding] works, why do you need to do it 183 times?

After completing the screenplay, Burns shared it w/ frequent collaborator, Steven Soderbergh, w/ a view as to who he’d suggest for the lead. Driver’s name came up almost immediately; Soderbergh directed Driver in Logan Lucky (2017). In 2007, Dan comes to Capitol Hill as an idealistic young man (wanting to help his country); we learn that he was a Math teacher in Baltimore w/ Teach for America (3 yrs). After 9/11, he switched his classes to national security while at grad school (Harvard). Dan gets a job working for Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He ended up working on the torture report for 5+ yrs- wow! Jones was available to provide feedback on set; Driver found this very helpful.

Gretchen (CIA Agent): You may not realize, but we were trying to protect this country from people who wanna destroy everything we believe in.

Dan: You may not realize it, but we are trying to do the exact same thing.

The term “enhanced interrogation” has no meaning under law; the tactics aren’t used by professional interrogators. It was created by the CIA to describe tactics that would otherwise be considered torture or unlawful detainee abuse. The science finds that rapport-based approaches to interrogation are the most effective, as FBI Agent, Ali Soufan (Fajer Kaisi), tells Dan when they meet in NYC. Soufan’s flashback was eye-opening and troubling. I’m now curious to see The Looming Tower, a HBO miniseries (w/ Jeff Daniels and French-Algerian actor, Tahar Rahim, as Soufan) which focuses on the FBI’s response to 9/11. The physician assistant, Raymond Nathan (Tim Blake Nelson), who came to oppose EIT, meets w/ Dan late at night in a parking garage (reminiscent of Deep Throat in All the President’s Men). The psychologists, James Mitchell (Douglas Hodge) and Bruce Jessen (T. Ryder Smith) were put in charge of not only creating and implementing the EIT program, but also evaluating its effectiveness. This is (obviously) a conflict of interest, as Dan explains to Feinstein in the 2nd hr. of the movie.

Evan (NYT Reporter): If the Times had your report, we would print it, tomorrow.

Dan: No. If it’s gonna come out, it’s gonna come out the right way.

I live just outside DC, so got a kick out of seeing Driver running past the national monuments. Then there are the (relatable) boring office buildings, basement rooms, and working on computers- LOL. Driver has a scene w/ his wife, Joanne Tucker (who he met while they were students at Julliard)! Tucker plays Gretchen (blonde CIA Agent working under the mysterious Bernadette, played by Maura Tierney); she confronts Dan and his colleague in the restaurant scene. Matthew Rhys plays Evan (the NYT national security reporter); he’s a friend of Driver who acted w/ him off-Broadway and appeared on HBO’s Girls. Corey Stoll (who also appeared on Girls) plays a lawyer, Cyrus Clifford, who Dan consults w/ after the CIA goes after him. Driver and Stoll played brothers in the comedy movie This is Where I Leave You (2014).

[1] The late Sen. John McCain gets the last word here, appropriately, with archive footage of his impassioned speech on the Senate floor regarding the necessity of forbidding the U.S. from engaging in torture, regardless of what the country’s enemies do.

[2] The cuts in time work well to put meat on the bones and helps to mix the political, ethical, and real life aspects of it. […]

It is more important than engaging though, and could have been a stronger film for embracing the complexity more than it did.

-Excerpts from IMDb reviews

Official trailer for The Report.
The director and actors talk re: The Report at Sundance Film Festival with Variety magazine.

“The Dead Don’t Die” (2019) starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, & Tilda Swinton

In Centerville, PA (FYI: Hudson Valley, NY is where they filmed), Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) respond to a report from farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi) re: a missing chicken. They briefly interact w/ Hermit Bob (Tom Waits), a bearded/armed eccentric who lives in the woods. On the way back to the station, Cliff notices it is still daylight after 8pm; Ronnie’s watch and cell have stopped working. At the local diner, Hank Thompson (Danny Glover), hears a radio report on “polar fracking.” Two zombies reanimate when night falls; they drink coffee and kill two women (Fern and Lily) working at the diner. When Hank comes by early the the next morning, he finds their mutilated bodies- yikes! Ronnie believes zombies killed the women.

Officer Ronnie Peterson: Is our plan to inform people about the zombie danger before it gets dark?

Chief Cliff Robertson: I guess so.

Ronnie: Because we passed Farmer Miller’s place a little while ago, do we need to inform him?

Cliff: F**k Farmer Miller.

Ronnie: Oh ok.

I learned that this is the 1st film of director Jim Jarmusch’s long career to receive a wide release in theaters here in the US! It contains deadpan humor (which is common for Murray) and is meta (self-referential). You’ll probably notice more if you’re familiar w/ the horror (esp. zombie) genre. I’m NOT one of those viewers- LOL! Also, the pacing is quite slow and the characters aren’t well-developed. I didn’t know what to expect here, BUT this is NOT my kind of movie. The zombie makeup and special effects seemed OK to me; I didn’t expect to see the more gruesome (bloody) stuff though.

Zelda Winston: Ah, Star Wars. That’s good fiction.

When Ronnie comes to the diner in his little red Smart car, the sounds are taken from a Star Wars vehicle. Later, when he hands the keys to the Scottish mortician, Zelda (Tilda Swinton), she notices his Star Wars key chain. Of course, most of the audience will know Driver as Kylo Ren in the latest sequel trilogy. He ONLY had about 3 wks to shoot this movie, as he was due back in England for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Driver’s hair is NOT too long; it looks really good/natural. He also wears (nerdy) glasses, but still has the Kylo (action star) body- what a combo! I felt a BIT bad for him seeing this movie- it just didn’t work (for most critics/viewers).

SyFy Channel Interviewer: “If you were a zombie, what would you be obsessed with?”

Driver: “I’d say cereal. I like all kinds of cereal.”

Sevigny: “Well, it’s not a thing, but vintage shopping.”

Frank wears a red baseball cap w/ the words “Make America White Again.” RZA is the driver of a WU-PS delivery truck; he’s a founding member of The Wu-Tang Clan musical group. The gas station manager, Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones), knows a LOT re: zombies; this actor appeared in Get Out. The young “hipsters” coming through town (in a Pontiac Le Mans) are driven by Zoe (Selina Gomez). I learned that this car was prominently seen in George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Each zombie says only one word, related to something from their past or an item they are obsessed w/: coffee, Chardonnay, wi-fi, Snickers, popsicles, Alexa, etc.

[1] The zombie material is extremely familiar and there isn’t much to be said or done about endless scenes of humans battling zombies, but some of the quirky character interplay hits the mark; I was just left wanting more of that and less of the generic.

[2] Director Jim Jarmusch is trying for a meta hipster zombie comedy. It’s a more dead-pan and less funny Shaun of the Dead. […] This one is simply trying for fun. It’s not trying to be that smart. Bill Murray is perfect for the dead-pan especially without the anger to taint it. The cast is talented and they’re having fun.

[3] The zombie make-up was good, so that at least counted for something, but it wasn’t enough to make up for everything else where the movie either lacked, came in short or just didn’t even bother to make an effort.

[4] …if you like the filmmaker, go see it. But don’t expect greatness. Even I as a huge Bill Murray fan, who also likes Driver, cannot say this was a great movie.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” (2019) starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, & Mark Hamill

While the First Order continues to ravage the galaxy, Rey (Daisy Ridley) finalizes her training as a Jedi. But danger suddenly rises from the ashes as the evil Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) mysteriously returns from the dead. While working with Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to fulfill a new mission, Rey will NOT only face Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) again, but will finally discover the truth about her parents. She’ll also learn a deadly secret that could determine her future and the fate of the ultimate final showdown to come.

Luke Skywalker: [preventing Rey from throwing her lightsaber into the fire] A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect.

I (finally) saw this movie 2 wks ago; I saw the previous 2 sequel films in the theater (A Force Awakens and The Last Jedi). Wow, was it a disappointment; I’m sure you’ve heard that before! Now, I’m NOT a huge Star Wars fan, but I do have some interest in it. Director J.J. Abrams undoes a LOT of what Rian Johnson did in the previous film. The first thing I noticed was how unfunny it was; the lighter moments come off as too obvious. A few of the actors are phoning it in; others are doing the best they can (w/ the material that has been given to them). They way that Gen. Leia Organa’s scenes were put together come off as awkward (esp. on the re-watch); Carrie Fisher passed away before this movie was made. Some viewers felt like Leia’s death and her funeral weren’t handled well either.

[through the Force]

Rey: I see through the cracks in your mask. You’re haunted. You can’t stop seeing what you did to your father.

Kylo Ren: Do you still count the days since your parents left? Such pain in you. Such anger. I don’t wanna have to kill you. I’m going to find you and I’m going to turn you to the Dark Side. When I offer you my hand again… you’ll take it.

Rey: We’ll see.

We still have the “force time calls” (LOL- love that term) btwn Rey and Kylo Ren; they kept that from the last film. As w/ the last movie, there is good chemistry between Ridley and Driver. I also thought Ridley and Boyega worked well together before; however, Finn doesn’t have as much to do here. Poe has even less of a role than Finn; from interviews w/ Isaac I could tell he wasn’t enthusiastic about this movie. And what about Finn’s love interest, Rose (Kelly Marie Tran)? If you’re NOT paying attention, you’ll miss her (few/short) scenes at he Rebel base. Rose gets a pat on the back from Finn (no kiss here); more importantly, she doesn’t go on any adventures (ugh)! Some viewers assumed that Finn was in love w/ Rey; others commented that he wanted to talk to her re: being “force-sensitive” (which I also thought).

Finn: The Force. The Force brought me here. It brought me to Rey. And Poe.

Jannah: You say that like you’re sure it’s real.

Finn: It’s real. I wasn’t sure then… but I am now.

We get to see some new planets and aliens (some cute/some weird), BUT we don’t spend much time on anything! I watched some YouTube reviews and podcasts re: this movie; several used the term “fetch quest” (as characters are going from place to place in search of a “MacGuffin” which drives the action). It was fun to see Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) again; he is one of the few highlights. As for the action itself, I didn’t have any issues w/ it (though Rey’s lightsaber cutting off the wing of Kylo’s TIE fighter was unexpected). It looks like Rey can also heal w/ her touch; I don’t think this was seen in previous films w/ other Jedi. Perhaps this was explained somewhere else, BUT the casual Star Wars viewer won’t know that.

Finn: Why are you helping us?

Gen. Hux: I don’t care if you win. I need Kylo Ren to lose.

There are more new characters to meet, BUT they aren’t V developed. We now have the imposing/eldelry Gen. Pryde (Richard E. Grant); I assumed that Gen. Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) would have more to do. When they travel to the planet Kijimi, we meet Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell- mostly hidden under a big helmet), an ex-gf of Poe. A tiny alien droid expert, Babu Frik (voiced by Shirley Henderson), works on C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). One critic compared Kijimi to “a Victorian X-mas village”- LOL! Finn is surprised/happy to learn that Jannah (Naomie Ackie- who I liked) and her people are also former First Order stormtroopers (who escaped to the planet of Kef Bir).

Emperor Palpatine: Long have I waited, for my grandchild to come home! I never wanted you dead. I wanted you here, Empress Palpatine.

The stakes aren’t that high, as several critics commented. In one (tense) scene, it looks like Chewbacca (Joonas Suatamo), was killed on a transport ship! Rey blames herself; she has been fighting Kylo for power to control the transport. But soon after, we see Chewie merely being held as a prisoner. Zorii somehow has a token that can help Poe and his friends avoid the First Order patrols around her planet. This part reminded at least one viewer of a video game (ugh).

We (finally) learn re: Rey’s true parentage- she’s a Palpatine (which surprised MANY viewers)! It turns out that her parents weren’t “nobodies”- they were hiding from the Emperor. FYI: Rey’s mom is played by Jodie Comer (who was recently in The Last Duel). Many commented that Palpatine looked/sounded like a cartoonish villain; they weren’t impressed w/ his planet or his crowd of Sith (?) followers. Also, the evil version of Rey just looked like bad CGI (and NOT scary at all). As for the kiss between Rey and Ben Solo (after Kylo left the Dark Side), then Ben’s instant death, some audiences laughed (which wasn’t what the filmmakers intended)! The editing comes across as slap-dash; Disney wanted it released in time for the 2019 holiday season. I could go on, BUT I won’t… b/c I’ve spent enough time already.

[1] The first critical error the film makes is by telling us that a secret message has caused a stir in the galaxy: the Emperor is alive. You know, instead of a scroll, perhaps this event — probably the most important thing that’s happened in all three of these post Return of the Jedi films, could have been shown to us so we could grasp just how mindblowing it is. Nope. It’s in words on the screen. The dead speak! This is lazy filmmaking.

It turns out that everything evil in the past few films has come from Palpatine, including Snoke who is just a clone.

[2] With so little time to breathe in the story, the film feels far too rushed which made it very difficult to digest the more convoluted parts of the story. There is also too much going on so the film feels very cramped by the final act, and also too many characters.

[3] The film is running on double time and the speed seems to be used to hide from story questions. Everybody is rushing. History is being revised. No one is throwing away a light saber in this one. Finn never actually say the thing to Rey. It is emotionally safe. I thought they would keep Carrie Fisher in the first act, but they dragged her out there for too long. I won’t say that it’s disrespectful, but it is a little awkward. Overall, this one tries to quickly wrap up the story in a fan friendly way and the last person turns out the lights.

[4] If you want lightsabers and space battles then you get it here. However if you put aside the technical feat, it is very much hollow. I struggled to care about anyone in the film; the dialogue was often clunky, and there was almost nothing natural or organic in there. The writing doesn’t help itself by doing things that seem fan-service at best, and cynical at worst.

[5] This episode boiled down to everybody chasing Rey. Fin was chasing her, Poe was chasing her, Kylo Ren was chasing her, and Palpatine was chasing her. Either someone wanted to help Rey as she wandered away lone wolfing it or someone wanted to convert Rey to the Dark Side–in any case Rey was always being chased. […]

We found that Rey was the most powerful being to ever grace the Star Wars franchise. Master Yoda hadn’t reached the power level of Rey and he lived 800 years! Which is weird because she was exhibiting amazing power though she wasn’t yet a Jedi. Which makes me realize I have no idea what a Jedi is. I thought once she knew how to use the force she was a Jedi, but apparently she was not.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Spoiler-Free Reviews of Trending Movies (OCT 2020): “Borat 2,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” & “Rebecca”

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (Amazon Prime)

Yes, Rudy is in this mock documentary (and doesn’t come off as so innocent)! Of course, y’all can see and judge if you’re curious. This is NOT the type of humor for sensitive viewers, as some of it is quite gross, vulgar, and cringe-y. This time, Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) is joined by his wide-eyed teen daughter, Tutar (24 y.o. Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova), who may be interested in becoming a journo also. Bakalova may be the breakout star here, as she can go toe-to-toe w/ the British comedian/filmmaker! Look out for a touching scene involving Borat and two elderly Jewish women. There is also a Black woman (babysitter) who gives Tutar some good advice. If you’re already a left-of-center (liberal) individual, you may be LOL-ing at the politically-charged stuff. I almost couldn’t believe that Cohen snuck into CPAC (which took place in FEB 2020 in DC)!

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)

In Chicago 1968, the Democratic convention was met w/ protests from activists like the moderate Students for a Democratic Society led by Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and the militant Yippies led by Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong from Succession), which led to violent confrontations w/ police. Seven of the accused ringleaders are arraigned on charges like conspiracy by the hostile Nixon administration, incl. Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II- a rising star in Hollywood) of the Black Panthers (who wasn’t involved in the incident). What follows is an unfair trial presided by Judge Hoffman (veteran actor Frank Langella) and prosecuted by a reluctant, but duty-bound Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Two of the defense lawyers are William Kunstler (Mark Rylance- a British theater star) from the ACLU and Leonard Weinglass (character actor Ben Shenkman), an expert on constitutional law.

I saw this last week; I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing (though haven’t seen all of his shows). Sorkin was approached by Spielberg several years ago re: writing this film- WOW! If you’re into US history, costumes, legal drama, and politics- you’ll enjoy the movie. Otherwise, it could come off as a bit boring; the directing style Sorkin uses is simple/straightforward. I liked the humor (which was mainly provided by Baron Cohen and Strong) and I learned some new things, too. I enjoyed seeing the subtle acting from Gordon-Levitt (now almost 40- whoa), Rylance, and Shenkman (who you may know from Angels in America).

Rebecca (Netflix)

Here was the (short) review I shared via Twitter last FRI night: Not sexy, not suspenseful, not one bit scary- just cliched, colorful, & clueless! Fans on my Alfred Hitchcock Facebook group were (mostly) reluctant to watch this version, though it’s not a remake. This is an adaptation of the novel (which I didn’t read); I suspect it’s not totally faithful. Though it delves into class issues, there is very little age gap between the leads. Viewers looking for the LGBTQ element to be explored further (w/ Mrs. Danvers) will be disappointed. The director (Ben Wheatley) doesn’t do much w/ light and shadow- a missed opportunity!

I don’t love or hate Lily James, but I don’t think this role suited her. The same goes for Armie Hammer (tall/conventionally handsome); he acts wooden, lacks mystery, and has no romantic chemistry w/ James. His accent is way off- it’s more Mid-Atlantic than British. I haven’t seen much of his acting, but I thought he’d be a LOT better than this! I did enjoy seeing Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale) and the (still gorgeous) Kristin Scott Thomas. What we have is a movie where the costumes and scenery overtake the people in the story. The supporting actors did well w/ what they were given, esp. the prosecutor (in the third act). The ending scene looks like it belongs in a different movie- MANY viewers were confused!