Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thor, F.K.A. God of Thunder

As a child, I was a fan of Marvel Comics’ “Thor” series.  I beg my dear friends who memorized every frame of every comic to forgive me – I don’t actually remember them at all now. What I clearly recall is that, like some other good comics, “Thor” led me back to its source, and I added Norse mythology to my reading of Greek, Roman, and eventually Native American mythologies.  Not to mention folk and fairy tales.  My favorite characters were often tricksters, fellows -- or sometimes critters -- who, whether evil or just a little bit bad, live by their wits and are oftentimes witty. Tom Hiddleston makes his superheroes debut as Thor’s “brother” Loki, the trickster of Norse mythology.  Hiddleston is terrific, his narrow face alternately a mask of serious contemplation and one of wicked delight.  He holds his own with the powerful Anthony Hopkins as Odin and the brash lead, Chris Hemsworth, as Thor.

My friend Horvendile wrote in his review of this film that he believed director Kenneth Branagh whispered in his actors’ ears that this was really Shakespeare -- http://matthewslikelystory.blogspot.com/2011/05/you-will-believe-god-can-make-breakfast.html.  This may be true.  Not that it’s Shakespeare, but that Branagh and most of his actors (those in Asgard, at least!) gave every character and every word the weight of serious storytelling, and therefore much of this tale works.  The effects don’t particularly work -- one or two images involving the magnificent Idris Elba as Heimdall were awesome and memorable, but mostly not so much. 

Chris Hemsworth does well by the arrogant fool Thor – that is, Thor the son of a king, a ‘god’ to mere mortals who has unfortunately not yet been defeated and is therefore obnoxious in a comic book way.  While he’s no Robert Downey, Jr., Hemsworth plays Thor’s humiliation convincingly.  He’s a bit over the top as a god, but that is a nice contrast to Hiddleston’s low-key Loki and Hopkins’ discreet Odin.  The real power lies, of course, with the quiet old man whose words or tears can bring a magical object to life. 

Visually, Asgard, home of Odin, Thor, et.al., may be accurate to the comic, but does not convey the Asgard of my imagination from reading Norse mythology.  It just never seemed to me so shiny.  Of course, this film is based on the comics, so don’t crack open your mythology books.  In any case, the scenes in the upper realms are undeniably gorgeous, breathtaking, and fanciful. The concept of the bridge of the nine realms as a wormhole was fun, but the visuals didn’t move me as much as I would have anticipated.  

In general I found the fighting and battle scenes a bit choppy, special effects taking precedence over following what was going on, so I was not engaged in those sections.  Thor’s closest allies are not adequately introduced – I suspect the filmmakers assumed everyone who came to the movie would know who they were.  They popped up to offer analysis or to bump the plot forward but left no lasting impression.   

The cast is heavily weighted to residents of Asgard, with a few interesting humans:

  Chris Hemsworth is comic book broad as Thor the son of Odin, funny on occasion, a brash bully at other times.  Once in New Mexico, he has some really nice moments, some dull moments, some funny moments.  I didn't even recognize Hemsworth as George Kirk, father of the new Jim Kirk in the new “Star Trek,” despite my many viewings of that film.  He does good work in "Thor," worth watching as he grows.
  Tom Hiddleston is an utter delight, subdued and clever as the nice to naughty to villainous Loki. 
  Anthony Hopkins reigns as Odin, every inch a king, perhaps as wild as Thor in his youth, but wiser and kinder with age and experience.
  Idris Elba is gorgeous as Heimdall, majestic, all-hearing and all-seeing with his golden eyes.
  Colm Feore is as intriguing as ever as King Laufey, commanding, compelling, and contrarily vulnerable as the King of the “Frost Giants.”  Yes, the name is silly, but take one look at these guys, and they’re dangerous, not silly; nor are they monsters.  They are citizens of a conquered realm, and I found myself, just for a moment, rooting for them when the boastful bully Thor went against his father’s orders and made war with the ancient enemy. The frozen guys are worthy villains, big and angry and scary. 
  Rene Russo is classy as Frigga, wife of Odin, mother of Thor, quite believable.   
  Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, allegedly human, allegedly a scientist.  Don’t make me laugh. 
  Stellan Skarsgård is decidedly human as Professor Erik Selvig, scientist, friend and father figure to Jane Foster. 
  Kat Dennings is absolutely human as Darcy Lewis, the unscientific research assistant with the better lines. In a clear counterpoint to Ms. Portman, she’s cute and sassy.
  Clark Gregg is deceptively strong as the human, man-in-black, Agent Coulson.  He links the elements of the franchise together, and his appearance in the story made me sit up and say, ooh, what’re they up to now.

On planet Earth, the New Mexico scenes are dusty and entertaining, particularly when Skarsgård and Hemsworth go out drinking.  Guess who wins.  Thor the fallen “God of Thunder” in a desert town is out of place, and that’s always fun to watch.  Building the broader story and franchise, Agent Coulson from the “Iron Man” films shows up in the desert in his black suit raiding the headquarters of the “scientists” who found the fallen Thor.  Under Coulson’s leadership, a cool government-type complex is built around Thor’s hammer overnight, proving that S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a government agency at all.

While not a religious person, twice I was struck by certain overtones – first when Thor is cast out.  He is not merely sent to go learn his lesson; nor is this a vision quest.  He is cast out of Asgard, a realm seemingly high above the Earth, so it’s rather like …an angel being cast out of heaven by his father.  Stripped of his powers, unable to pull the sword – ahem, I mean hammer – from the stone, and beaten by the power of S.H.I.E.L.D. (those “men in black” who seem to be bad guys to the uninitiated), Thor cries out in agony, wordless, but in my mind I heard “Father, why have you forsaken me?” 

Yes, “Thor” has its moments.  It is more than a building block in the franchise, yet it’s not quite complete in itself, making it a bit of a tease (particularly in the all-too-brief appearance by Jeremy Renner).  There were some delightful moments and good scenes in this movie, but though some may be drawn to its effects, I don’t think that’s what director Branagh was focused on.  With the exception of Ms. Portman, I think Mr. Branagh was having fun with his actors, testing them, teasing them, giving them full rein, then pulling them in at precisely the right moments.  Ms. Portman has an interesting mask of a face, but is totally unbelievable and out of place here, so I choose to believe Mr. Branagh was stuck with her. 

In terms of the screenplay, I can only recall a single line of this film – it was delivered by Jeremy Renner, simply, sincerely.  Listen for it.  What I vividly recall are the faces – Hopkins, Hiddleston, Hemsworth, Elba, Feore – and the emotions behind them.  The story moves briskly, attention does not flag, so Mr. Branagh and the many screenwriters (Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne, based on a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich, and of course all of this based on the comic books by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby) have manipulated the words and the frames and the characters pretty darn well.

This is one of those movies that rewards viewers who watch the whole thing.  If you don’t respect the thousands of people it takes to make a movie enough to sit through the closing credits, you’re going to miss a delightful scene.  Nyah nyah. I laughed with pleasure as I stood alone in the theatre, enjoying the promise of things to come.  “Thor” is not up to the (unattainable?) level of the first “Iron Man,” but it is good summer fun.  Go on and sit in a cold auditorium for a couple hours.

~ Molly Matera, turning off the computer but not the light.  I need that to re-read some mythology….

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back To Square One

Earlier this evening, I set out on an uphill/downhill walk to the park. It’s a hilly neighborhood. The drizzles of the day appeared over, the sun shone wanly on the world, and the humidity wasn’t hot – yet. I needed the walk to clear the cobwebs from my brain. Time for a spring cleaning, polish the windows of my mind – there are windmills there, too, aren’t there -- for I needed a long, clear view, and I wasn’t getting it sitting in front of the computer or playing with the cats.

Up the hill I walked, fully determined to think strategically, to decide who I want to be when I grow up (this time) and what on earth I’m going to do with whoever she turns out to be. My job search has been sluggish from the start, for two reasons: First, the world has changed enormously since I last looked for a job, and I’ve been pulling myself up a learning curve. You’ve no idea how many webinars are out there on how to find a job these days, how much conflicting information and advice, how many websites you have to publish your entire life on – unless, of course, you’ve been looking for a job yourself since the economic downturn started turning. When I resigned last year, I had no idea what was going on out here! Second, since I haven’t yet grown up, I haven’t narrowed down what I want. That would require strategic thinking, not to mention commitment.

All of this planning of intended thought processes was done before I left home. Once I started walking, my mind did indeed clear. To nothingness. Well, that’s a start, is it not? Not winded but a little sweaty, I got to the Overlook in Forest Park. People played in every court, on every green, rode bicycles, walked arm in arm. Damp or not, it’s spring in New York, and we’re out in force in our parks. What is not out in force is the public bathroom. All doors barred. I determine to write an annoyed email to whomever is in charge of such matters once I circle back and stop in Starbucks to plan my future on paper.

But first I wandered through a well-to-do neighborhood, so my circle back to Starbucks was rather more elliptical, and when I arrived, all the indoor seats were taken. It’s spring, however, so the outdoor tables are in place. I got my soy chai latte, commandeered a metal table and chair, and angled myself so I could see my computer screen despite the weak sunshine.

And what did I do? Did I open up the document I had created with a list of companies to be researched? That would have been somewhat strategic. Alas, no. I went straight to the document with my notes on the new article I’m writing, and spent a few hours researching, taking notes, making tables…. Tactically valid. Strategically not.

Mind you, none of this entered my mind until I started the downhill trek home through the gathering dark. Pleased with the research (a bit more than was strictly necessary, but two articles back I was on my second revision before I realized I’d missed some important information by not asking one more question. Write and learn.), I knew I could write a quick first draft in the morning, and move onto other work. More tactical thinking.

So. Another weekend has passed since an old friend told me at my goddaughter’s wedding that I just had to grow up. Don’t be mad at him. Friends are supposed to tell friends the truth. This doesn’t mean I won’t catch a $7 movie on Tuesday and write about it! Tonight, though, if I think real hard about growing up in the 21st century, maybe in my dreams I’ll creatively visualize a grown-up, taller, thinner, smarter me in a new job. Instead of having my usual strange dreams about the old one….

~ Molly Matera, determined to turn off the computer and research inside my own mind.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Unforgettable Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” is shot inside the remarkable Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave in the Ardèche region of southern France.  The film is awe-inspiring and brilliantly filmed, despite the fact that Herzog was only allowed himself, cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, one sound recorder, and one assistant – hardly the size of your standard film crew.  Additionally, because the few people in the cave were confined to narrow metal walkways covering the fragile surface, all the machinery had to be particularly portable and battery operated.  Herzog had customized 3D cameras built for the project. 

I don’t like 3D – it makes me feel vaguely uneasy and tires my eyes.  Nevertheless, I fully comprehend Werner Herzog’s decision. With 3D, he was able to capture the contours, depressions, textures of the rock formations, the rock pendants, the stalactites and stalagmites, the depth of the cave itself in its different levels.  Most importantly, 3D shows the artists’ work to the best advantage.  For artists they were, 31,000 or so years ago, drawing sometimes with their fingers, sometimes with sticks, on the walls of the cave, using the contours of the walls to add life, depth, and even movement to the animals they drew. 

Inside the caves are bones, skulls, and skeletons, of cave bears, hyenas, an eagle.  Human activity in the caves is plainly seen by the handprints near the original entrance and in the depths of the cave, in addition to the amazing abundance of paintings.   The paintings:  horses running, mouths open, perhaps whinnying.  Cave bears, lions, a panther, antelope, rhinoceroses fighting, bison, mammoths, all adorn the cave walls.  These are neither level nor straight, and the animals are drawn using the shapes and surfaces available.  One can imagine seeing the drawings in motion by the light of flickering torches, much like early film projection.  Some are outlines, some shaded in a remarkably sophisticated manner.  The claw marks of bears are under and over the drawings.  For the human artists, they were another level and texture to add to the paintings.  But the drawings do not include humans in the scenes.  There is only one drawing that has been interpreted as human:  a woman’s hip, upper leg, and pubic triangle, painted on a rock pendant (a stone outcropping hanging down from the cave’s roof).  It/she appears to be commingling with a bison.  

Herzog shares these images with us, holding and moving the lights over the drawings so we can see, perhaps, what the artists saw all those millennia ago.  In addition to the overarching fascination of the cave’s interior, we also have the pleasure of viewing the magnificent Pont d’Arc natural land bridge. Herzog brings us outside to the lush Ardèche countryside (even to the Rhone River 20 miles distant with its nuclear plants) to relieve the claustrophobia of cave dwelling.  The humans who did the paintings in the cave presumably did not dwell in it.  No human skeletal remains were found, although there are human footprints.  This cave belonged to the bears.

Noxious gases, in addition to the desire to protect and preserve the site (the very breath of tourists in other prehistoric caves caused mold to form and the sites to be closed to visitors) limited Herzog and his minimal crew’s time in the caves, first to one hour, then to four hours a day for one week.  In that time, a miracle of documentary filmmaking occurred.  “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” may have a limited audience, but for those interested in documentaries in general, the subjects -- and there are several encompassed here -- in particular, and its handling by an expert filmmaker, seeing this film on the big screen is a treat not to be missed. 3D glasses and all.

~ Molly Matera, signing off to do some finger painting. If you want to learn more about the Chauvet Cave on your computer, go here.  http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/chauvet/en/index.html.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Planting

At long last, I'm ready to plant the garden.  

 First day:  Slept too late for the co-op’s plant sale, as I have done every year since I moved here.  So I went to Garden World where I could spend lots more money.  Since I’m unemployed, I have more time to lay out and plant this year’s annuals, so I cart the boxes from the car to the stoop, the stoop to the living room, where the cats gather round.  New smells.  While they investigate, I carry in the bag of mulch and a bag of topsoil with a tiny tear in one corner.

Once Chick and Wilbur decide the petunias should be chewed in addition to smelled, I move the flats outside.  No matter, they have the topsoil bag to roll around on, to smell, to test.  The cats have found a new friend.  It’s soft without being mushy, so Millie wants to keep it.

Second day: The plastic crates out back reveal half a bag of topsoil from last year and my gardening basket with a couple pairs of gloves, soft green fabric ties for the spent tulips, pruning sheers, and other hand tools.  The cats gather at the back door following my every move out there -- for the first half hour or so. Then they get bored.  If I’m out there, the squirrels aren’t, so the cats only check on me occasionally.  While I’m dragging leaves and vines out of places they never should have blown to but did, one or the other comes to the window or the back door to check on me.  Millie complains that I put the big blue tub (for ice and therefore beer and soda, not bathing) on the table where it blocks her view out the kitchen window.  I move it.

Pruning, raking, pulling out ivy vines (this is an annual activity, one day they’ll just take over everything), sneezing, pulling the larger weeds only to reveal many more, a sweaty hour and a half goes by quickly.  After lots of sneezing and some choking (lots of fine particulates out there), I come in for a break.  I see that the cats did not like the topsoil bag for its smelly contents alone.  They also liked the plastic covering on something soft, so once again they’ve dragged the big Ziploc bag containing bed pillows out of the closet.  I stuff it back into the farthest corner of the closet in hopes it’ll be safer there. 

After another two hours out there “cleaning,” I laid out the plants where they’ll live, cleaned the tools, set the sprinkler, and now I can happily call it a day.  Sunday or not, much other work to be done.

Third day:  All the preparation done, today is for planting.  A yellow Butterfly Argyranthemum, orange dahlia, ordinary impatiens and New guinea Impatiens, purple petunias and white ones, Heliotrope marine, and a Crown Blue Wishbone Flower.  All the topsoil used, all the mulch.  After two hours bending and crouching, digging and turning, my legs and back ache, but I want to finish so that for the rest of spring and summer, I can sit in my little yard and stare.

Certainly all non-living things still need sweeping, scrubbing, and rearranging, but the vital part, the plantings, is done.  From today on, I can sit out back and gaze at my flowers.  Through spring and summer, I’ll sit … and spot a weed.  And another, and another, and another.  Ah, the joys of gardening.


~ Molly Matera, signing off to make a cup of tea and sit out back and stare….

Water and Whiskey for Elephants

Water for Elephants” is an enjoyable movie, beautifully filmed.  My favorite characters are the elephant Rosie, the horses, the big cats, and the snappy little Jack Russell named Queenie.  These animals are incredibly well trained, and I know from prior reading that Rosie (an excellent performance from Tai) is cherished by her trainer, Kari Johnson.  For more on Tai, read Ann Downer’s interview with Kari Johnson at http://anndowner.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/like-popcorn-for-elephants-2/

Hal Holbrook tells the tale of his youth in the darkness of the Depression.  Young Jacob Jankowski is sitting for his final exam in veterinary science at Cornell (the source of his later nickname at the circus) when the word comes that his Polish-born parents have been killed.  Soon he learns that their house and all he thought belonged to his parents in fact belong to the bank.  As did so many others during the Depression, Jacob hits the road with the clothes on his back and a few belongings, which he loses when he jumps a train.  There he falls in with roustabouts for a circus.  This isn’t a jovial encounter – he is threatened with being thrown off the train, which is apparently a daily (or perhaps nightly) occurrence.  Daily survival takes a lot of effort on this Depression-era circus train.

The circus is a magical place, first as it grows in one day by the intensive labor of the roustabouts, and then blossoming fully when the acts appear to an awe-struck audience.  The scenes of eager locals (a.k.a. “rubes”) straining forward to watch the colorful acts that have invaded their dusty town are gorgeous, demanding excitement from the film’s audience.  “Water for Elephants” is beautifully shot, bringing us back to the Depression, the elegance amid the dire poverty, the sparkling bright colors breaking through the grime and dust of the road.  The story shows, day by day, the desperation, the fear, and yet the hope for better times. Nevertheless, the film has a few issues.

One performance that is certainly not an issue:  Christophe Waltz plays a sociopath quite brilliantly.  His August, owner of the travelling circus, is cold, possessive, angry, and vicious. Robert Pattinson is quite good as the ardent young vet who falls in love with the boss’ wife.  Reese Witherspoon as Marlena, the star act, the boss’ wife, is very interesting on her own with all sorts of things going through her mind that flit across her porcelain face.  However, both Pattinson and Witherspoon have better chemistry with Rosie the elephant than with each other. 

The acquisition and training of Rosie the elephant, as well as the growing relationship between Jacob and Marlena felt rather compressed.  That Marlena held back her feelings played true, as it would have been suicidal behavior for her to let anything show in front of her husband.  In fact, August and Marlena seem to get along quite well except when August goes a little crazy every other day.  Shots of Pattinson on his own made him a very likable character, falling like a naïve fool for the girl, taking his licks of initiation into the family of roustabouts. It was when the two young stars were onscreen together that it became clear that the spark is missing.  When they ran away together, I worried that about the elephant.  I kept thinking, “You left Rosie there at the mercy of the sociopath?” 

That parts felt a bit compressed to me I presume is a product of the transition from novel to film (which I have yet to read).  Except for that compression, the script by Richard LaGravenese based on Sara Gruen’s novel is very good, with many clear and colorful characters, like
  • Camel, a roustabout who takes Jacob under his wing, played winningly by Jim Norton.   
  • The hateful Blackie (Scott MacDonald) who beats up and kills whoever August tells him to, while
  • Earl (Ken Foree) protects August from all comers, including himself. 
  • Mark Povinelli plays Walter, an irascible animal wrangler with a Jack Russell who loves him and no one else.
  • James Frain makes a brief but notable appearance as Rosie’s last caretaker.
Characters and relationships among the small circle of roustabouts we come to know well grow naturally and realistically. 

Director Francis Lawrence puts the package together smartly.  It’s sometimes sweeping, sometimes intimate, a good old-fashioned story well told.  What must be noted is the exquisite production design by Jack Fisk.  The world he creates is magical, dreadful, terrifying and hopeful.  He doesn’t put all of his energy in the circus alone -- the circus train is a town, an entire civilization, and it’s remarkable.

Take note – there are ugly scenes in this film, as there must be to tell the story effectively.  There is abuse of animals and humans, some of it visual, some aural, all unpleasant but purposeful.  None of the ugliness is extraneous to the story.  All in all, I enjoyed the film with some tiny reservations.  Now it’s time to read the book by Sara Gruen.

~ Molly Matera, signing off.  Go see a movie.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo

With my niece’s wedding successfully concluded last weekend, this was my week for gardening. I didn’t get to it until yesterday, but since it rained a lot, I chose not to do wet raking. I find it inefficient. Today, however, is glorious, so out I went, foolishly ungloved, just to do a little bit of raking to start. Of course, that means raking up everything I should have raked in October and discovering all sorts of things underneath. Hunks of tree bark amid the ivy – what tree? Tiles, stones, pieces of plastic wrapping?? It was a rough winter on all of us, and the evergreens out back are hanging lower than ever as if the snow still weighed them down. Lots of pruning to do.

So, once I started, I raked up two big “outdoor trash” bags of leaves, twigs, branches, pinecones, vines, and whatnot. Today’s raking barely dented the back 20. That’s 20 feet by a good deal less than 20 feet, not acres. Day by day, little by little. While I was out there, I saw many dandelions, just as I had any other day the past two weeks walking along GCP. Big gorgeous dandelions.

When I was a child, I picked some dandelions for my godmother and presented them to her as if they were magnificent. Well, they were, and are, but at the time…. My godmother accepted them graciously, but later my mother told me they were weeds and that my godmother was allergic to them. Alas, so much for flower gathering.

Now, though, I look at all the dandelions and wonder how many dandelions it takes to make a pot of dandelion tea. I referred to my cousin Maggie’s blog, where she gives a recipe for dandelion wine. That’s my cousin for you. This recipe seems simple but requires patience, as it must ferment! http://albionmaggie.blogspot.com/2010/05/dandelion-wine-recipe.html

The answer to my original question is: To make tea you need the roots. Flowers are for salads and fritters and such like. While I felt my neighbors would not begrudge the picking of what they all consider just a weed marring their mostly bedraggled lawns, I am in the habit of reading thoroughly, and the web site on which I found a tea recipe warned the reader to be sure to pick flowers only where I could be sure no fertilizers had been used. Well. The only place I could be sure of that….. was not in Queens. So, I’ll just have some ordinary green tea, thank you. In a little bag. The lazy way for this city girl.

~ Molly Matera, signing off to luxuriate in store-bought green tea over a good book. And perhaps a dollop of brandy….

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alas, these umbrellas are not from Cherbourg

Potiche” is a sadly disappointing film. Like many an American film, its best lines are in the trailers. But this is a French film, this is François Ozon (whose “Swimming Pool” was absorbing and daring), this is Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu. I expected sophistication and wit. I got a tired film about the changes of the late 1970s thirty years too late.

Potiche is a French term for trophy wife, which is what Catherine Deneuve plays in the first part of this film. She is Suzanne Pujol neé Michonneau. Her husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini) runs her late father’s umbrella business, her “dowry.” He is terse, insulting, and cheats constantly. Luchini is reliably slappable and just right for this role. Their married daughter Joelle (Judith Godrèche) is flip, disrespectful and unkind to her mother, adoring of her father. Jérémie Renier plays her son, appearing at least a decade too old for the role. He’s clearly gay from the get go, but no one seems to notice, including himself. Perhaps this is what the film is about? Well, no. Neither he nor his mother figure that out until the end when all the little ribbons have been tied up in expected fashion.

Really, most of the people in this film are just awful, except for Suzanne, whom it is hard to like because she’s a dishrag. And then the factory workers go on strike, take the obnoxious Robert hostage, he eventually suffers an attack of some sort, and Suzanne takes the reins of the business. She is a born leader, loves her workers as her father had before her, and she turns the business around. Everything’s lovely until her husband returns. All quite predictable.

Gérard Depardieu plays a business owner’s enemy, a political officeholder of the Communist Party. Over twenty years before, he and Suzanne, from diametrically opposed social classes, had a very brief fling – too brief to call an affair. Depardieu is even more disappointing than the film, his facial expressions plastered on, his line readings leaping from dull to over the top. He encourages Suzanne to run the factory in her husband’s absence, and clearly hopes for more.

Karin Viard is marvelous, sharp, witty, sad, and hopeful as Pujol’s secretary and long-time mistress. While one would consider the adulterous secretary and the wronged wife to be natural enemies, they work happily together at the factory and promise to continue later on. Suzanne gives dictation as they walk through a factory that now manufactures bright red umbrellas, which of course make us think of Cherbourg. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to make this charming.

The only part of this film that is not predictable is the dreadful music. When Suzanne wins an election at the end of the film, she sings. At home, her husband, her pregnant daughter and the Pujols' two grandchildren watch her on television. Depardieu listens to her rapturously. It’s saccharine and sophomoric.

Back in 1983, Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy wrote a TV movie called “Potiche.” Perhaps it worked then. This 2010 release was loosely based on that and is credited to Barillet, Grédy, and Ozon. It is possible that this film could have been witty in the 1980s, but not in the 21st century.

~ Molly Matera, signing off. Clearly not nostalgic for the 1970s or 1980s, I’m going to listen to some rock or blues or anything unlike the music in the film, thankful those days are long gone.