Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mona Lisa smiles

Earlier this year our daughter gave us Roku, a device that allows streaming if you have an internet connection.  I selected quite a few movie channels, but most were just awful.  In fact, I didn't know there were so many terrible movies until I started browsing my Roku possibilities. Finally, I found a channel with Roku with some good movies (free), FXM. We watched Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts (2003) last night because I didn't care much for the program at Hoover in Lakeside. We'd seen it when it was fresh, but since it is a period piece (1954) it doesn't age, even if its view of the early 50s is a bit prejudiced (said to be based on H. Clinton's recall). True, college women thought a lot about marriage in those years (at least I did in the late 50s), and we'd joke about the PHT degree, putting hubby through, but when I see the serial relationships and rape charges today, or educated women starting families at 40, are college students so much better off or prepared for life's challenges in 2017?

Ebert opines: "Julia Roberts is above all an actress with a winning way; we like her, feel protective toward her, want her to prevail. In "Mona Lisa Smile," she is the conduit for the plot, which flows through her character. The major supporting roles are played by luminaries of the first post-Julia generation, including not only Dunst, but Julia Stiles as Joan Brandwyn, a girl smart enough to be accepted by Yale Law but perhaps not smart enough to choose it over marriage; Maggie Gyllenhaal as Giselle Levy, who is sexually advanced and has even, it is said, slept with the studly young Italian professor, and Ginnifer Goodwin as Constance Baker, who is too concerned about her looks."

It was certainly better than this Rolling Stone review:  "The girls are played by a who's who of young Hollywood womanhood — Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal — each given one emotion to play and each forced to stare at Roberts in awe for showing them the way. That Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Four Weddings and a Funeral) directed this insulting swill is beyond depressing. Women of the Fifties, rise up in protest."

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