my week at the movies: ‘The Women,’ ‘Burn After Reading,’ ‘Bangkok Dangerous,’ ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’

Update: A last-minute addition to my screening schedule this week: Happy-Go-Lucky [opens limited October 10]. This is the new one from Mike Leigh, who made the wonderful Vera Drake, though this one’s a comedy. It’ll be a selection at both the upcoming Toronto and New York film festivals.

It’s another sloooow movie week for me, as we wait for the serious fall season to gear up. The only major release this Friday, September 5, is Bangkok Dangerous, which won’t screen for critics, though I’ll check it out on opening day and report back.

So it’s just a couple of other early-autumn flicks for me this week. I’m guessing I’m going to hate The Women [opens wide September 12], because this is how it’s being sold to us:

In New York City’s modern whirl of fashion and publishing, Mary Haines seems to have it all–a beautiful country home, a rich financier husband, an adorable 11-year-old daughter and a part-time career creating designs for her father’s venerable clothing company. Her best friend, Sylvie Fowler, leads another enviable life–as a happily single editor of a prominent fashion magazine, a possessor of a huge closet of designer clothes and a revered arbiter of taste and style poised on New York’s cutting edge. But when Mary’s husband enters into an affair with Crystal Allen, a sultry “spritzer girl” lurking behind the Saks Fifth Avenue perfume counter, all hell breaks loose. Mary and Sylvie’s relationship is tested to the breaking point while their tight-knit circle of friends, including mega-mommy Edie Cohen and author Alex Fisher, all start to question their own friendships and romantic relationships as well.

None of which sounds like the New York I know, or any of the women I know. Nor does it sound like the kind of fantasyland I’d like to visit, either.

And then I’ve got the new Coen Brothers flick, Burn After Reading [opens wide September 12]. I’ve already gone into some depth about why I’m so excited for this one, but I’ll say it again: Yippee!

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Tue, Sep 02, 2008 1:14pm

The original The Women is a comedy classic, and it was fairly revolutionary to make a movie with only female characters at the time. Rosalind Russell is a riot in it, although the ending is pretty sickening.

It’s pathetic that they’re remaking the film now without significantly changing the script. The main premise of the film is that women (ALL women) have their own secret world that revolves entirely around being catty and possessive about the men in their lives (and buying clothes, of course).

That kind of antiquated gender stereotyping doesn’t really annoy me in a movie from 1939, but it’s ridiculous in a movie made in 2008. If this remake is a success, it’ll be a horribly depressing indication that gender roles haven’t really changed all that much in seventy years and that people actually still believe that most women spend their every waking moment thinking and worrying about the men in their lives.

I really hope it’s a colossal flop, even though the studios will blame its failure on the fact that it stars women, and not the fact that the ideas and world it presents are hopelessly out of date.

Tue, Sep 02, 2008 3:41pm

I was just going to post the same thing that amanohyo just said! Way back when I was in acting school we used scenes from this for my graduation showcase – it’s still tough to find plays that have lots of roles for women. Even at that point in my life the play gave me the heebie-jeebies and I found it very difficult to play the priveleged Mary Haines with the correct “motivation”. Your husband’s having an affair? Why not go kick his ass, instead of taking it out on the gf? Why is everything in this play called “The Women” still about men?

Yeah, don’t want to see 2 hours of girl-on-girl crime.

Tue, Sep 02, 2008 10:48pm

Further about The Women…

One of the major plot points hinged upon the fact that divorces were really hard to get in 1939. That in order to get one, you have to go to Nevada and live there for a month in order to get residency in order to get a divorce in a place that is a but more lenient before the advent of no fault divorce. And how are they going to work that here in 2008?


Remake Mildred Pierce. Or Caged.

Or come up with some new scripts.

Wed, Sep 03, 2008 10:52pm

Is it just me, or did they do a massive airbrushing job on Annette Bening’s face on that poster?

Thu, Sep 04, 2008 4:34am

There’s Annette Bening on that poster???

Well, her name is on the poster, but I absolutely did not recognize her in the least.

Der Bruno Stroszek
Der Bruno Stroszek
Thu, Sep 04, 2008 5:11am

Yes! I tried to post that yesterday, but it didn’t get through. She looks like Amanda Bynes! Apparently, when you’re trying to woo an older female demographic to the cinema, one of the first things you must do is let your target audience know that you find their appearance so hideous and shameful that they must submit to compulsory Photoshop before being seen in public.