Movie of the Week: ‘Notes on a Scandal’

“Notes on a Scandal” (2006) – “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.” – Sun Tzu Barbara (Judi Dench) is history teacher at a London high school, and she’s been in the classroom for decades and nearing retirement.  It couldn’t come quick enough, as her patience is as thin as Timothee Chalamet on a hunger strike.  Never married and a social loner, Barbara is unhappy, but her mood turns when Sheba (Cate Blanchett) – a beautiful, tall, and cultured 30-something – arrives on campus to teach art.  Since Sheba…

‘Happening’: Diwan’s abortion film is a distressing, timely, and important cinematic experience

“Happening” – “Accept it.  You have no choice.” – Dr. Ravinsky (Fabrizio Rongione) Dr. Ravinsky voices this message to Anne Duchesne (Anamaria Vartolomei), a 23-year-old literature student, during a follow-up visit.  Even though he delivers these words with regret and empathy, the blow isn’t tempered to Anne’s ears.  She does not consent.  She cannot concede. Anne is pregnant.  She wishes to terminate her pregnancy. However, it’s 1963 in Angoulême, France, and abortion won’t become legal until 1975.  Anne is stuck.  She wishes to continue her studies and verbalizes her situation.…

‘Petite Maman’ – A perfect Mother’s Day movie

“Petite Maman” (2021) – Celine Sciamma’s modern-day fantasy begins with a loss.  Off-camera, eight-year-old Nelly’s (Josephine Sanz) grandmother passes away.  Nelly, her mom (Nina Meurisse), and her dad (Stephane Varupenne) travel to the late woman’s home to sift through belongings and settle customary affairs.  However, misfortune morphs into magic on the following day, when Nelly meets a new and noteworthy friend, Marion (Gabrielle Sanz), to distract her from yesterday’s sorrow.  In just 73 precious minutes, Sciamma opens a cinematic door, holds our hands, and leads us to a world with…