MAY DECEMBER – Review by Susan Granger

Do you remember back in 1997 when the tabloids were filled with juicy tidbits about Mary Kay Letourneau, a married schoolteacher who had an affair with a seventh-grade student? Pregnant, she was sentenced to prison and, when she was released, they married and had two more children. Those are the facts. Now filmmaker Todd Haynes has fabricated a story about what their lives might be like 20 years later – when a movie is going to be made about their relationship.

Read more

MAY DECEMBER – Review by T.J. Callahan

First time screenwriter, Samy Burch taps into a vibe of horror meets soap opera as she explores a May – December relationship that mimics that of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau’s illegal love affair and then lawful marriage from the late 1990’s. Directed by Todd Haynes, May December boasts a showcase of actors including Haynes staple, Julianne Moore as Gracie-Atherton Yoo, a convicted sex offender turned baker and controlling housewife. Natalie Portman doubles as the film’s producer and co-star playing Elizabeth, an actress who infiltrates the Yoo home to do research for a film about the family’s past, but ends up changing their future.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 17, 2023: MAY DECEMBER

May December, inspired by headline-grabbing true stories like that of Mary Kay Letourneau, introduces us to Gracie (Julianne Moore), a one-time teacher who’s been married for 20 years to Joe (Charles Melton), the former student she first slept with when he was 13. They’re living an uneasy but largely happy life in Georgia when well-known Hollywood actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) arrives to do some background research for the movie in which she’s been cast to play Gracie. By turns star struck and suspicious, Gracie, Joe, and the rest of their family members take Elizabeth into their lives.

Read more

MAY DECEMBER – Review by Sherin Nicole

May December is a duel between two women with unclear motives and serious pathologies. Elizabeth is ravenous in her need for adoration, while Gracie is practiced at verbal programming. The level of manipulation is stunning and Samy Burch’s screenplay so well written you’re not sure if it’s there at all—a prime marker of the abuse infusing the story. May December could easily be classified as horror. I was horrified, you likely will be too.

The title of the film is a play on words, referencing the colloquialism “May-December romance.” The word romance is missing because it doesn’t exist here. What we walk away with is the understanding that past wrongs can be inherited as seamlessly as hereditary diseases. And sometimes “the truth” isn’t the medicine we hope for.

Read more

MAY DECEMBER – Review by Loren King

With shades of Hitchcock and Bergman’s Persona, May December keeps viewers guessing and off kilter, in a good way. Subtle, strange and riveting, Todd Haynes and his two compelling leads present a stylish mix of tabloid sensation and a psychological portrait; it’s a heady mix of irresistible but uneasy entertainment.

Read more

MAY DECEMBER (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Todd Haynes is back, immersing himself neck deep in the exact kind of melodrama that he has thrived on throughout his illustrious career. It’s excess ahoy as it be expected, and the screen crackles with the electric ferocity of Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman’s on-screen chemistry. Considering the icky subject matter, then, the film requires a fairly delicate balance; the subject of women sex offenders is not a common site of interest in screen culture. While the camp excesses of the film would in the hands of a lesser filmmaker perhaps push the film into the terrain of bad taste, in Haynes hands, there is enormous empathy for the situation.

Read more

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER – Review by Brandy McDonnell

A lavish space Viking feast of a movie, Thor: Love and Thunder is delightfully laden with Oscar-winning talent, scene-stealing screaming goats, kaleidoscopic color schemes, 1980s iconography, A-list cameos, the Guardians of the Galaxy, thunderous action sequences, witty one-liners, a diverse horde of mythological gods and a bombastic soundtrack featuring Guns N’ Roses, along with Dio, ABBA and Enya. Academy Award-winning writer/director Taika Waititi’s second cinematic serving in the apparently endless banquet of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a deliciously over-the-top treat that’s sometimes refreshingly bittersweet.

Read more

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Thor: Love and Thunder has the verve of a glam-rock musical, full of Guns N’ Roses riffs, bursts of lightning, and technicolor travels along the Rainbow Bridge. But its core is the tender idea that we all crave and need love, even if it hurts to lose it. Taika Waititi, who blasted new energy and humor into the staid superhero with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, returns at the helm of this often-loopy vessel and still loves absurdity. Yet the humor works better here.

Read more

VOX LUX- Review by Susan Granger

This garish, gaudy mess of a musical melodrama begins on Staten Island in 1999, when teenage Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) sustains a life-threatening spinal injury as she tries to talk down the shooter during a harrowing massacre at her school. Comforted by her older, more talented sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin), Celeste is understandably traumatized. Working through PTSD, they write “Wrapped Up,” a tribute ballad, mourning the tragic violence. When their song goes viral, they’re courted by a sleazy manager (Jude Law) who seems both paternal and predatory.

Read more

WEEK IN WOMEN: Golden Globes 2019 Snub Female Directors – Brandy McDonnell reports

Once again, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has shut out female directors. No female helmers are nominated for best director for the 2019 Golden Globes. 2018 Golden Globes presenter Natalie Portman pointedly criticized the lack of female nominees during the televised show earlier this year, going off script to emphasize “And here are all the MALE nominees.”

Read more