Friday, December 18, 2020


December 18, 2020


Director: Eliza Hittman

Writer: Eliza Hittman

Autumn (Sidney Flaningan) was only 17 years-old when she had an unplanned pregnancy. She had decided to terminate her pregnancy, but she needed her parents' consent in her home state of Pennsylvania. After her efforts to induce an abortion failed, she decided to go to New York City to have it done there where it was possible to do so. Her cousin and best friend Skylar (Talia Ryder) went with her and supported her decision. However, the process was not as simple as she had anticipated. 

The unusual title was derived from one quietly moving scene where these words were choices in an interview questionnaire that Autumn needed to answer. Watching this brave indie refreshed the stress of watching another unbearable film about abortion, Cristian Mungiu's 2007 Palme d'Or-winning "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (MY REVIEW). This sensitive topic by itself is not for everyone. The way Hittman told her story with her two raw young actresses had so much grit and realism, it became an even more uncomfortable watch, but it was likewise compelling and informative.  8/10.


Director: Unjoo Moon

Writer: Emma Jensen

In 1966, a young single mother from Australia named Helen Reddy (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) arrived in New York for an audition for a recording contract which never happened. Helen became close friends with journalist, feminist and fellow Australian Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald). Later, she met and married a charming talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). He brought her to Los Angeles to launch her career, which peaked with the release of the women's movement anthem "I Am Woman" in 1972. 

The clear strong singing voice of Helen Reddy was familiar to me growing up, with her songs like "You and Me Against the World," "I Can't Say Goodbye to You" and of course, "I Am Woman." It was quite a surprise to learn about how ironic her real life with husband Jeff Wald was. Cobham-Hervey portrayed Reddy as a weak, hapless and clueless victim, in stark contrast to the strong feministic message of her signature hit. The film wallowed in melodrama most of the way, but it was her famous songs that pretty much kept it afloat. 7/10.


Director: Tara Miele

Writer: Tara Miele

Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) were new parents, but their marriage was in a very rough patch. One night, after coming home from a party, the two had an argument in the car which was cut short by another car crashed into theirs. When Adrienne woke up, she lingered in a state which felt like limbo, not knowing if she was alive or dead. Unlike others, Matteo was able to see her. so the two confront each other about their relationship, going through events in their past as these shaped their course as a couple.

The concept of this film was very interesting with the troubled couple trying to heal their relationship beyond the confines of life. I knew what it was trying to do but it was difficult to follow exactly what was going on, which was real and which was not. However, the performances of Miller and Luna succeeded to draw me into their stories, made me care and root for them to figure things out between them. This makes people realize how sometimes the most seemingly minor words or events can actually mean so much to their partners. 7/10.


Director: Kitty Green

Writer: Kitty Green

Jane (Julia Garner) had been working as a junior assistant for an executive at a film production company in New York City. In the course of a single day, she would see how her boss espoused sexual harassment and infidelity in various forms. Jane tried to express her observations with Human Resources head Wilcock (Matthew McFayden), but he even accused her of being jealous. Jane knew then in order to keep her job, she should just learn to turn a blind eye to matters like this.

I knew Julia Garner from TV series "Ozark"  where she played Ruth Langmore, the direct opposite of her character here. If Ruth was spirited, street-smart and confident, Jane was mousy, shy and introverted. Writer-director Kitty Green was not afraid to take her time to document Jane's even most mundane duties in the office and errands outside. This will tax the patience of audiences who could not wait for something to happen. Nothing big ever did really, but Green's message about misogyny in the workplace was well-appreciated. 6/10.


Director: Zeina Durra

Writer: Zeina Durra

A British volunteer doctor Hana (Andrea Riseborough) was on a leave from her harrowing duties at the war zone on the border of Jordan and Syria. She decided to return and spend time in the ancient city of Luxor.  While walking through the city, she unexpectedly ran into her ex-boyfriend Sultan (Karim Saleh), an archeologist who was working on a dig there.  The two reconnected while walking through the pyramids and temple ruins, as Hana contemplated on the uncertainty of her future. 

If you thought "The Assistant" was slow, this one was even slower. Writer-director Zeina Durra followed the reticent Hana as she walked though the different places of interest in Luxor and experienced some of its culture. Exposition was so spare, such that if you blink and miss that one key scene in the temple, you'll be in the dark why Hana was even in Luxor. Riseborough was an epitome of restraint and introspection here. She never really let us in on what Hana was thinking about in her desert sojourn, up to its nebulous end. 5/10

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