Misbehaviour (2020) Review

Here’s another mini-review before I post my full June movie roundup sometime next week…

Misbehaviour (2020)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Starring: Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, Keeley Hawes, Phyllis Logan, Lesley Manville, Rhys Ifans, Greg Kinnear

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of women hatch a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty competition in London.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this despite my weird hatred for Keira Knightley. Her acting bothers me yet I seem to watch all her damn movies?! I prefer this longer Wikipedia synopsis to tell you what this is about: “The 1970 Miss World competition took place in London, hosted by the US comedian Bob Hope. At that time Miss World was the most-watched TV show in the world with over 100 million viewers. Arguing that beauty competitions objectify women, the newly formed women’s liberation movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.

This is a true story I knew nothing about but fully support because, let’s face it, beauty pageants are demeaning & sexist. But, yeah, I totally watched them as a kid & thought nothing of them as that’s just how the world was. Hopefully they’ve modernised them a bit nowadays?? I have no clue. But I liked seeing these Women’s Liberation activists disrupt this pageant after its host, Bob Hope, made a sexist joke. As with any film adaptation, though, I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate. Okay – I looked up the real footage and, yes, it was much more dramatic in the film. But Bob Hope certainly made plenty of sexist jokes! Icky. Here’s the footage but you can’t really tell that the women are throwing flour bombs at the stage.

What made the whole thing even more interesting was this (from Wikipedia, but it gives the result away if you don’t want to know that before watching the movie): “Even greater controversy then followed after the result was announced. Jennifer Hosten won becoming the first Black woman to win Miss World and the black contestant from South Africa was placed second.” So they rightly disrupted a very sexist pageant but, at the same time, it was the first of these pageants to give other women these opportunities & the winner was a very intelligent woman with a successful life & career following the pageant (whether or not that was helped by winning I don’t know but I’m sure it helps open some doors). So arguments can be made both for and against these contests but the movie doesn’t explore that quite as much as it could have. There’s also a bit at the end in the dressing room that you just know didn’t happen in real life but that they added just to make things more interesting for the film. That’s fine – I always say that if I want the true story I’ll watch a documentary.

This story is interesting enough that I would watch a documentary too but the movie does a decent enough job of bringing a story that probably isn’t well known to a slightly bigger audience even if the film doesn’t really dig too deeply into its subject matter. But I really enjoyed the movie & everyone did a good job, including annoying Knightley & Jessie Buckley as two of the protesters. I especially liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the contestant they focus on the most. Oh, and Greg Kinnear was surprisingly good as the truly smarmy Bob Hope. Was Hope always so smarmy?! Guess I don’t remember that from my childhood – I thought he was an American national treasure. Huh.

My Rating: 7/10

*Here’s a small complaint about the poster for this movie: Jessie Buckley is making that dumb selfie duckface. We didn’t make that stupid face before stupid selfies came along. I’m sure you can find some old pictures – I think Marilyn Monroe will have done “kiss face” type photos. But it’s more of a modern thing. So it’s annoying to see it on someone in a film set in 1970 even though I know she’s making fun of pageants & posing. Dumb complaint, I know, but the duckface annoys the hell out of me & makes me wonder if the people actually know how to genuinely smile anymore.

Judy (2019) Review

Judy (2019)

Directed by Rupert Goold

Based on End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

My Opinion:

I liked this movie a lot and way more than I was expecting. As much as I’m a film lover, I’ve not explored Judy Garland’s stuff at all and know almost nothing about her. It’s strange as The Wizard Of Oz has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid. I absolutely adore it and everything about it is so iconic. Why did I never watch anything else she’s been in? I suppose it’s because I’m not usually a big fan of musicals. Shameful! I really must explore more of her work.

Maybe I was able to buy into this more as I’m not a massive Judy Garland fan like so many people are? As I never saw much of the real Garland, I was able to fully accept Renée Zellweger as Judy. I’m not sure I’m a Zellweger fan as I’ve never really loved her in anything but I thought she was great in this. I do wonder what Garland experts thought of her performance. I have no idea but I loved it and I felt so much sympathy for her, which I think was important. I think people are often a bit dismissive of “troubled” famous people who overdose. I can’t imagine the pressures involved with fame but it’s clearly a big problem as early death is quite common for stars. And I guess I knew she was young when she died but, damn – it really hit me during this film upon realizing I’m almost the same age now. I know I’m far from young but also far too young to die. I even almost got teary at the end of this film and I’m not one to fall for tearjerkers very often. So, yeah – I think Zellweger did a great job in making Judy seem so human and so sympathetic and in making me want to know more about her now.

I maybe shouldn’t have mentioned the term “tearjerker”. It’s not at all how I’d describe this movie, although it certainly has emotional moments. I’m glad the movie told her story in a very straightforward way without making it into some heavy drama. I hate that over the top Oscar-bait and Judy doesn’t do that. It’s not contrived. It’s a little melancholy but not dreary. As so much of the focus is on her final performances, I would think that Judy fans probably got a lot of enjoyment out of watching this movie & hearing those songs.

I’d say, though, that if you want Garland’s life story this movie isn’t where you’ll get it. Which is fine. It just very much focuses mainly on her last year of life and a tiny bit on her very start in show business. There’s nothing whatsoever in between but, as I always say, if you want a factual full life story you should just watch a documentary. It also gives me a chance to find out more on my own & to explore the movies I missed (I’ve been meaning to watch Meet Me In St. Louis for years). I really liked the focus being that final year.

I should quickly add that everyone else did a very good job in the film as well and it was good to see Judy’s relationships in her final year. But this movie is truly Zellweger’s and Judy is the true star and center of attention. As she deserved to be. I do hope Zellweger gets an Oscar nomination for this and wish the movie had better reviews than it seems to have received. As I said, I think that may be because it’s not dramatic enough for the Academy. For me, it felt more real the way it was presented and I wish life had been easier for Garland.

My Rating: 7.5/10