Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

20th Century Women

I had been looking forward to this - movie buff Martin had it as his "personal favourite" film of 2016 - and we all like Annette Bening. But I found I did not go overboard for this at all, finding it tedious, plotless, pointless, like the worst of indie cinema, so why bother reviewing it?

The story of a teenage boy, his mother, and two other women who help raise him among the love and freedom of Southern California of 1979.

Well, Annette Bening is marvellous as the perfect Mom, worrying about her 15 year old son - rather a blank here as played by Lucas Jade Zumann.  Elle Fanning is as dull and blank as she was in THE NEON DEMON and Greta Gerwig can't make much of her punk photographer, while Billy Crudup completes the lineup as the other lodger.
Set in Santa Barbara in 1979 it captures American suburbia nicely, with the hippie-ish folk. We watch in amazement as Bening lights up one cigarette after another (there is a price to be paid for that...), and has some rather nice moments when alone with her cat, and there is that nice climax as she flies over the ocean. But really, if I had been watching this in the cinema I would have walked by the half way point, and so it seems would a lot of the writers of the comments on IMDB, so its a rather polarising film which one will either love completely or feel mainly indifferent to. I felt the same about BOYHOOD the other year, another mainly plotless, aimless movie covering the same territory. 
Bening of course has been marvellous in so many things, from THE GRIFTERS to AMERICAN BEAUTY to THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT and here, 
Funnily enough I liked Mike Mills' previous film more: BEGINNERS from 2010, where Ewan McGregor is the son of aged Christopher Plummer who comes out as gay in his old age. That moved along nicely and had a plot one could relate to. His new film is semi-autobiographical, based on memories of his own mother and influences on his childhood. It all just seemed far too long and repetitive, but I better say no more about it in case others love it to death.  

1 comment:

  1. Michael- Great minds think alike. I disliked this film, too, and resented it for wasting my time. I like all the adjectives that you apply to it. I'd add senseless. I mean, Bening (for reasons that make no sense) asks the two most unlikely people (Fanning and Gerwig, who seems to be channeling Kristen Stewart here)to help raise her teenage son and then freaks out when they do just that, disapproving of how they handle it. But what did she expect from another teenager and someone who is older but acts and thinks like a teenager? Oy.