The Woman in the Window: Avoid this Film – Netflix Review

I’m providing you a warning, this was not worth it.

SUMMARY

Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is a therapist with agoraphobia who has recently separated from her husband Edward (Anthony Mackie). Anna suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of going outside. She spies on her neighbors, the Russells, and drinks while taking a number of pills. Jane Russell, the matriarch of the family (Julianne Moore), comes over to visit and the two become friendly. Anna also meets her son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger), who implies that his father Alistair (Gary Oldman) is abusive. One night, Anna witnesses someone murdering Jane. She calls the police, only for them to find out that there is a woman named Jane Russell, but she’s now played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Anna’s downstairs tenant, David (Wyatt Russell), claims he didn’t hear anything. The question becomes whether Alistair is a murderer or if Anna is going insane. 

It’s not a remake of the 1944 Woman in the Window.

END SUMMARY

I’m not spoiling this ending only on the off chance that you still want to watch the film, but I’m telling you right now that this film was such a disappointment that I moved it up in the order so that I could make sure I told people to avoid it. This was not just a poor remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it’s inferior to the Shia LaBeouf-led remake Disturbia. The thing is that this film is trying to do too many cliches and too many references and too many pastiches at once. It aspires to be an homage to Hitchcock, but it somehow doesn’t understand what was good about Rear Window or most of Hitchcock. It doesn’t have the mastery of film technique and atmosphere that make for good suspense, instead trying to borrow credibility from those who did.

Suspense??? Not so much.

The film fails to ever really come to life. It’s not suspenseful, it’s not exciting, it’s just slow. I was surprised that the running time was only 100 minutes, because I’d have pegged this film at 150 if you’d asked me during the viewing. It’s mostly made worse by the fact that the nothing you’re seeing onscreen never feels like it’s building, instead it just feels like it’s constantly trying to throw in another interesting idea that it will never follow through on. 

Wyatt Russell doesn’t get used to his full potential.

This is not to say that the performers in the movie aren’t good. Amy Adams does a great job making herself ambiguously crazy and Gary Oldman similarly makes himself into a figure that could either be a murderer or a man getting upset at having a crazy woman spying on his family. Unfortunately, this is also part of the problem. Most of the characters are depicted as being extremely vague in whether they’re sinister or just misunderstood and the result is that it’s difficult to ever know what these people are actually like. 

Oldman is REALLY not used to his full potential.

Overall, it’s just a waste of talent and money. I think the fact that they tried to advertise it with an “anatomy of a scene” breakdown tells you just how desperate they were to try and convince people this film was artful rather than awful. But, if people are looking at a painting and feel nothing, explaining what you were trying to do won’t make them feel more.

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Mank: Hollywood Loves Its Own Stories – Oscar Netflix Review

The story of the screenplay for the greatest American movie ever made.

SUMMARY

It’s 1940 and Herman J. “Mank” Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) is recuperating from a broken leg when he is asked to write a screenplay for a film by Orson Welles (Tom Burke). Mank dictates the story of a newspaper magnate named Charles Foster Kane to his secretary Rita Alexander (Lily Collins). Periodically, the story cuts back to the 1930s when Mank and his brother Joe (Tom Pelphrey) were working for Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) of MGM fame and Mank became an acquaintance of William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) and his mistress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). While they start off as friends, Hearst’s actions, particularly towards Upton Sinclair (Bill Nye) and other liberal platforms, and Mank’s alcoholism lead to a slow and painful separation between the two and eventually to Mank writing a screenplay based on Hearst.

There’s a lot of suits and pointing.

END SUMMARY

Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, particularly during one of their “golden ages.” This story is probably the peak of that, since it’s almost entirely about the inner workings of MGM during the 1930s and about the events that led to the writing of Citizen Kane, a film that consistently ranks as being among the best ever made. I’m going to be frank, I think that it’s only because of this self-obsession Hollywood has that this movie was nominated for Best Picture. Even in a year with relatively few releases like 2020, this still should not have been considered in competition for the best movie of the year. Particularly when things like Hamilton and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and even Soul were not given such an honor. 

I think people liked the Sorkin-esque walk-and-talks.

That’s not to say this isn’t a bad movie, but most of it feels like it’s based on gimmicks. The film is shot in black-and-white and the sound is edited so that it seems like it was made in 1940, just like Citizen Kane. A lot of people have the fake “Mid-Atlantic” accent that was so popular at the time for actors, even when they’re not acting. The flashbacks in the film are structured similarly to the film Citizen Kane, a thing which even the movie acknowledges can be hard to follow. They try to make up for it by having a number of titles on-screen which describe the time period and location, but I actually think that addition is an admission that they couldn’t figure out how to convey the passage of time without them. 

No, being the period where “everyone wore hats” does not clarify it.

The performances, though, are amazing. Naturally, Gary Oldman does a great job portraying Herman Mankiewicz, a man frequently stated to be one of the funniest men in the motion picture industry in the 1930s. He’s witty at all times, but deeply flawed, mostly by his alcoholism and his mistreatment of his wife. Amanda Seyfried gives a lot of depth to Marion Davies by making her more observant and smarter than she lets on, something that is probably more accurate than most of her portrayals as a drunk and a golddigger. Charles Dance, who can play a bad guy better than almost any living actor, really just lets the historical Hearst’s dickishness and pettiness seep through and do a lot of the heavy lifting until the third act, in which he takes it up a level. 

Remember when she was the ditz in Mean Girls? God, Amanda Seyfried is talented.

Overall, it’s a well-performed movie, but I think it would be considered mediocre if it weren’t for Hollywood’s lust for its own history.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.