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Gloria Bell

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Gloria Bell

Gloria Bell is a provocative movie that is likely to stir women and bore men. For women it is a trigger to think about what it felt like after their last child had grown and left home – a time of new freedom that can carry great sadness for those who had been completely absorbed by roles they loved. As they stand newly free in their 50s, they face the challenge of figuring out their next life. They are standing in a chasm that is free of duty and empty of the love they had known.

Julianne Moore creates Gloria, a woman who has been single for fifteen years while raising her children to their adulthood. Now one is getting married and moving abroad and another is married with a spouse who is taking a break from him. As they leave, Gloria’s sadness is deep.

She tries repeatedly, and often wistfully, to help them but they don’t need help. One is marrying and moving to Spain with her new husband, one is raising his children while his wife is taking a respite from motherhood. She loves to dance and does it in a local bar, loves to sing and does it in her car but she is emotionally alone at too young an age. How can she, along with millions of mothers in that tough decade, fill the chasm?

She goes regularly to a familiar nightclub where she dances alone and is at peace. When Arnold (John Turturro) joins her at the bar, Gloria tells herself to like him, that he will fill the hole in her life. She does everything she can to love him, but the emptiness remains. A male view of this movie may well be that her sadness stems from the absence of a man. Not so. She is eaten by the vacuum left inside after spending two decades raising the children she loved.

Julianne Moore addresses all this by delivering the depth of those newly hollow years. Her Gloria wasn’t celebrating new freedom. She was looking for something deeper than that. She tries this and that – men, dancing, driving, exercise classes, friends, but nothing replaces the loss of what she had loved so much. She sings songs to her car radio. Where is that elevation she used to feel?

As a lover to Arnold, she still loves to dance and make love but her core never catches fire for the man himself. Each of them tries hard to make a second union work as they stumble over all the baggage each has brought.

Julianne Moore conveys all of this so convincingly that the movie may well help mothers who have the misfortune of being in their ‘50s before knowing all the good that can lie ahead. They can use the wisdom of their new age to design their new freedom – with men, with women, with career, with friends. Suddenly she sees that.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Gloria Bell
Word Count : 496
Running Time : 1:42
Rating : R
Date : 31 March 2019

Ash is the Purest White

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Ash is the Purest White

Do go to Ash is the Purest White. Let’s look at the tough part of this new film that is earning excellent reviews from the pros. The Chinese language pulls our eyes to the running translations at the bottom of the screen. That means we miss some important facial expressions and quick behavioral actions that are key to the culture and dialogue of this very good movie.

Aside from those hurdles we see some grand acting by Tao Zhao as Qiao and Fan Liao as Bin. As we watch their tale unfold, we are given several parts of China as Qiao makes her way through a tough journey. Watching the behavior, the gestures, and the intermingling as the landscapes and cultures change becomes progressively interesting as we get to know the main characters.

Qiao and Bin are a couple who oversee a gang of crooks with their own set of principles that they apply harshly. We meet Qiao as she strides with confidence through the mob. Bin asks the mobsters only that they behave with decency toward each other. We are suddenly on the inside of this gang of crooks where guns are illegal and smoking is ever present.

When Ojao violates the legal system in a big way, she goes to jail for five years. On her release, she crosses the country again in search of Bin and hands us another chance to see a piece of China. As we follow her journey, we see differing cultures, writings, illustrations, habits. And yet they, and we as we watch, are all human beings figuring out their lives.

The differences between our cultures and theirs seem so great and yet here we all are on the same round earth, many countries touching others, citizens alike with similar bodies that allow us to function in like ways. It’s our brains, every single one different from every other, that make us individuals. But how is it that neighboring countries – Canada/America/Mexico here, or China/ Russia/North Korea there – live just steps across border lines and yet have thoroughly different cultures and languages?

That’s the fun of watching this movie. As we follow Qiao on her long journey through differing cultures, China seems new to us in every way and we are very lucky to have her as our strong, quiet guide. Actor Tao Zhao earns a big salute as she creates Qiao’s life. She is a fine actor who earns great credit for leading us through several Chinese cultures.

Our time with this film is filled with the details and behavior of those faraway cultures that linger far beyond our leaving the theater. Our guide has given us a tour of various Chinese lands as seen by a young woman searching without money for the man she loves. The surprising thing is that we need no more plot than that as we follow her. A salute to actor Tao Zhao and writer/director Zhanke Jia.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Ash is the Purest White
Word Count : 496
Running Time: 2:16
Rating : R
Date : 24 April 2019

This review was posted on March 24, 2019, in Drama, Romance.