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2 brief movie reviews: 3 Billboards, Novitiate

So I’ve seen a couple of good movies in the last couple of days, wondered whether others have as well.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Of course Frances McDormand was excellent, as a grieving mother seeking answers and accountability (and revenge?) for her daughter’s rape/murder. It also had good turns from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. I liked the script a lot, in how it worked in shades of gray rather than the easiest stereotypes. And her jumpsuit was a great costuming choice; to me, it connotes “No Easy Access” to the character of Mildred. She should be up for Best Actress, if there’s justice in the world (there’s not; Taraji P’s snub for Hidden Figures tells us that, I think she should have won!) — and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s up for Best Pic/Director. It’s the kind of movie I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to watch, but once there, thought “this is a good movie!” at several points throughout its runtime. It did not sufficiently address the issue of racist cop behavior, however.


Novitiate: Andie MacDowell’s daughter, Margaret Qualley, is a far better actress than MacDowell herself. Of course, so is my desk lamp. Qualley led the story of a girl going through her discernment, postulancy, and novitiate in the peri-Vatican II era of the Catholic Church, from 1964-66. It had some script problems; I was concerned with a question of consent, at one point. Melissa Leo played the Reverend Mother — she kept her voice precise and gentle in her meanest moments, and that was very effective. I like Julianne Nicholson a lot, was happy to see her. And Dianna Agron can act — who knew? (Glee didn’t do her all that many favors, IMHO.) Its main throughline was Qualley’s story, but there were interesting side threads about the other girls and women, and a very strong undercurrent of Vatican II which yields heartbreak at the end. It all made me think a lot last night about the value of a contemplative order, on a personal and community level, and the way people go/went about managing such a thing. (I’m a lapsed Catholic who was never devout.)

So, two interesting and thoughtful movies. I’d give Three Billboards four stars out of four, and Novitiate three stars. Anyone seen these, or anything else interesting?

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