Wonder Woman

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

Wonder Woman

The timing of the release of Wonder Woman is rare and perfect. Could anyone have foreseen that its arrival in theaters would coincide with both women’s frustration at their lack of power and their anger at war as a tool for settling arguments? A woman director and a fine actor have crafted some grand symbolism just when the world needs it most. A comic book hero speaking to the troubles of today? Let’s look.

Director Patty Jenkins has said that she wanted to tell a story “about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind.” She has done just that. By allowing only women on the set, she created an atmosphere that reflected the innocent essence of the Amazon nation. There would be no room for cynical thinking in this movie.

Gal Gadot, a former combat instructor in the Israeli Defense Force, creates Diana, daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), queen of the women on the Amazon Island. Diana rescues Steve (Chris Pine) when his plane crashes off-island, the first man anyone on the island has ever seen. With a craving to see the outside world, Diana leaves with him and steps into the tricky role of sticking to her principles during the carnage of World War I. This woman who has never seen war steps into the savage slaughter as young men erase an entire generation of their peers on both sides by orders of their elders.

Armed with golden bracelets, knives, and a terrific “lasso of truth,” Diana attacks brutality wherever she sees it on her way to eliminate Aries, the God of War. Like her fellow Amazons, Diana is innocent in all the ways of the prevailing world and brings to that a firm determination to end war. When, in that innocence, she makes it clear that she can’t understand why men would do this to each other in 1918, she hits the nerve that is rattling us with the same question nearly 100 years later. Same men, same thinking, worse weaponry.

Why does this projection work so well? Gal Gadot, with her dignity, her quietness, and her smile, is thoroughly credible as she makes choices from her heart. Her physical beauty is rooted in the expression of her feelings. When she dances with Steve, she asks, “Is this what people do when there are no wars?”

How often does a comic book hero trigger the contemporary emotions that are spreading through theaters now? And through me. I bought the first Superman comic book in 1938 for ten cents and love him still. How often does a peace message reach more than 150 million people in one weekend? If director Patty Jenkins hadn’t fallen in love with Superman when she was a little girl, this super hero movie wouldn’t resonate the way it does. But she did, and it does. Ask your kids to take you along.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Wonder Woman
Word Count : 497
Running time: 2:21
Rating : PG-13
Date : June 11, 2017

 

This Melancholy Movie Season

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

This Melancholy Movie Season

What are the summer movie options when studios hold the good ones back until fall so they will be fresh in the minds of important people at Academy Award time? From April through June we are bombarded with on-screen violence and cheap thrills that are bait from the producers to lure young people. It’s a terrible time for audiences and for reviewers. This is the melancholy movie season.

And so, here comes a recap of a few outstanding ones from this year in case you missed them. Each is better than the current crop and you can find them on Netflix or Amazon. It hurts to recommend watching at home over the fun of immersion in an audience, but here goes.

The Lost City of Z lies in the jungles of Bolivia where men have searched for oil and gold. Not one of them has ever returned alive. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is looking not for oil but for an ancient civilization he believes once existed. Fawcett and his wife (Sienna Miller) agree to his three year absence. Both have inner qualities that set them apart from the stereotypical demands of England in the 1900s and they hand us two of the finest performances of this year.

A United Kingdom is a true story, beautifully told, as racism in reverse. The young king-in-waiting of Botswana is sent to England for education where he falls in love with a white woman who eventually becomes his wife. When his country exiles him to England because of the marriage, she stays behind in his country and endures resentment and anger. Their love story and their intelligence are portrayed with compassion and grace by David Oyelowe and Ruth Williams.

Land of Mine is a Danish film set in 1945 when the Danes forced German prisoners to search for and dismantle mines buried on the beaches of their country. It is a horrific mixture of brutality and bravery that reduces audiences to profound silence. This fine film is a deep study of what happens when men acquire the power of life or death over others, especially when the power shifts from one side to the other. The movie is overwhelming as it asks the crucial question of why men still discuss and use war as a solution to disputes. Credit the Danes with addressing both sides of that question.

For a lovely gentle comedy that you can still see in theaters, go straight to Paris Can Wait, a low key story of a traditional wife and her husband’s close friend who woos her with the beauties of both France and creative meals. Diane Lane is perfect as the middle-aged woman discovering her core while the scenery between Cannes and Paris is a simple immersion in beauty.

If you are desperate, you can hustle off to see Captain Underpants, Pirates of the Caribbean, Baywatch, and Guardians of the Galaxy on current screens. Good luck until September brings more good ones.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : This Melancholy Movie Season
Word Count : 496
Date : June 4, 2017