By Sarah Payne
Movies out this month
Table 19 – March 3rd – Now that I’m finally at the age when all of my friends are getting married, I’m in three weddings this year. Even just a couple of years ago, I would get excited about a wedding invite. Now I just think about how much money the dresses and parties are going to cost me and how every weekend from now until September seems to be filling up with wedding plans. So I can relate to Anna Kendrick’s character in Table 19, where she is stuck at the table of random strangers at her friend’s wedding after getting dumped by the best man (played by Wyatt Russell, who was hilarious in 22 Jump Street). The film is directed by Jeffrey Blitz, who directed 11 episodes of The Office from 2006 to 2013. That could be why Craig Robinson from The Office also stars in Table 19, as one of the other random wedding guests. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad Anna Kendrick movie, so this could be fun one to see with your best girlfriend.
Beauty and the Beast – March 17th – Not only is everyone my age getting married, but we’re all oddly nostalgic for the 1990s – this includes all of the Disney princess movies (which I find hilarious as we approach the age of 30). So you can imagine there’s been a lot of hype for this live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, since the first trailer was released last fall. Of all the actresses that could have played Belle, I’m glad they chose a strong feminist like Emma Watson. After all, Belle is one of the few Disney original princesses that focuses on learning and reading instead of waiting for a prince to come save her. I love that this message will reach a new generation of young girls. And did you know that Watson actually turned down the role of Cinderella? She told Total Film that Belle’s character resonated with her more: “In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring. She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She’s not easily swayed by other people’s perspective.”
Hidden Figures – What can I say? We need more fun, uplifting, and educational films like Hidden Figures. Based on a book by the same name, the film tells the story of three African-American female mathematicians (played by Taraj Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe) at NASA who help advance the U.S. space program. Even as these women were helping solve some of the most complex mathematical problems of their time, the film highlights absurdities of the day – like segregated bathrooms. There are several scenes featuring Henson’s character running back and forth between buildings at NASA just to use the colored restroom. And when she is transferred to an all-white male group, the tension in the room is palpable. One of her coworkers anonymously places a colored coffee pot on the break table. It’s incredible – and quite frankly, shocking – to think this was normal just fifty years ago. But the film isn’t all heavy. I love the friendship and support between the three women (which was written into the script). And for the ladies reading, Monáe (who’s also a model and singer) is totally adorable 60s garb and rocks the best outfits.
Patriots Day – I was apprehensive to see this film, as I think many of us in New England were, because it felt like it was too soon to dramatize the Boston Marathon bombings. I have no doubt that Mark Wahlberg produced Patriots Day because of his love of Boston – and it shows. With a few notable excepts, the film mostly resists the urge to be melodramatic (I could have done without a couple of Wahlberg’s monologues). From a production perspective, it’s very impressive how the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon was re-created (I still don’t know how they cleared the streets of Boston or got all those 2013 signs). The best parts of Patriots Day are after the bombings, during the car chase in Watertown. I had totally forgotten that the Tsarnaev brothers had stolen a car from Dun Meng, an Asian college student played in the film by comedian Jimmy O. Yang. The scenes of him in the car with the brothers put you on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding, wondering how he will escape. Also, make sure you have your tissues ready for the ending, which features a beautiful tribute to victims of the bombing.