Thursday, May 30, 2024

Review "Young Woman and the Sea" : Ridley Stuns and Earns Your Tears in This Beautifully Classical Movie

Young Woman and The Sea a defiantly big-screen, consistently enthralling biopic that both earns one’s genuine tears, and inspires everyone of all ages to dream a little bigger, go a little further.

“They don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” we wistfully say these days when praising skillful mainstream movies, ones that remind us of a past when Hollywood used to stir us more regularly through moving original films. There is truth in that overused nostalgic acclaim, even though few movies actually deserve it as much as Joachim Rønning’s (“Kon-Tiki”) classically glorious “

For the film’s wondrous rebel Trudy Ederle (a graceful, commanding Daisy Ridley), who became the first woman to swim across the treacherous 21-mile English Channel in 1926, that big dream at first wasn’t even becoming a legitimate athlete, let alone a history-making pioneer. Born to German immigrant parents of modest means in the Coney Island of 1905, Trudy just wanted to swim, whichever way she would be permitted. But respectable girls weren’t really supposed to play around and waste time in splashy pools, and the young Trudy — beautifully portrayed by Olive Abercrombie in a brief but memorable performance — wasn’t allowed in community pools anyway, having barely survived a highly contagious case of measles.

Affectionately adapted from Glenn Stout’s book “Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World” by Jeff Nathanson (of “Catch Me If You Can” and Barry Jenkins’ upcoming “Mufasa”), Rønning’s rousing film gives sufficient breathing room to Trudy’s childhood years, establishing her world and closest kin with exquisite care: her hardworking, headstrong mother Gertrude (Jeanette Hain) who won’t let Trudy give up on her ocean-bound dreams, her stubborn but affectionate father Henry (Kim Bodbia) who works as a proud butcher, her brother Henry Jr., and most importantly, her doting sister Margaret, a fellow swimmer played enchantingly by Tilda Cobham-Hervey in Margaret’s older years.

The two sisters are joined at the hip, even though Margaret is the only swimmer of the family at first. Eager to join her sister’s ranks and refusing to let her illness define her, Trudy sings to her dad day and night to annoy him, and force him into acceptance that Trudy must swim no matter what, even if that means severe hearing loss in the long run as the doctors fear. Well, this critic found Trudy’s tireless off-key chanting adorable, but the trick designed to irritate Henry works all the same, and before we know it, he decides to teach Trudy how to conquer the ocean, just to keep her quiet.

It can’t be overstated how delightfully these scenes play, bested only by the ones that follow Trudy in her teenage years, with the young woman still fighting for a spot in the community pool. Her mother comes to the rescue and makes a deal with the no-nonsense coach Charlotte Epstein (Sian Clifford) — Trudy would feed the boiler by the indoor pool, and practice after hours. Slowly but surely, she proves herself to her coach, surpassing the rest of the girls while Margaret’s life settles into a more common reality of the era: a marriage arranged by parents. But Trudy’s star rises to no end. After an efficiently constructed montage of her wins and a brilliant “You Go Girl!” sequence that would be too cruel to spoil, she finally finds herself in the big leagues: first, at the Paris Olympics and then, facing her first attempt to swim across the channel. But these avenues add up to no more than a pair of false starts, opportunities derailed by toxic men who just can’t let women compete and win as equals.

Women have always had it much harder, and this fact is a well-depicted, often blistering thread that runs through “Young Woman and the Sea.” From the headlines of scandalized newspapers that critique women’s skin-baring swimsuits to the condescending remarks Trudy frequently fields, several tidbits in the story remind the viewer that it isn’t only the dangerous currents and waves that Trudy is swimming against. Then again, the film sometimes spells things out too much, self-consciously applying today’s temperaments to the past. In one scene, for instance, an adorable, wide-eyed little girl approaches Trudy and thankfully gushes, “Because of you, they let me swim.” This moment feels jarringly redundant given women paving the way for future generations is already at the heart and soul of the entire film, one that abundantly celebrates the spirit of sisterhood.

“Young Woman and the Sea” searingly , culminating in a final stretch during which Trudy swims through the dangerous shallows alone and in the dark. It’s no spoiler to say that she will make it that’s history. But the real surprise here is the punch that Rønning manages to pack when the inevitable happens, an emotional feat that last year’s “Nyad” sorely lacked. In that, Trudy’s triumph followed eagerly around the world, including by her mom and brother in NYC  feels no less magnificent than that famous moment in “Apollo 13” when Odyssey finally reconnects with Houston.

Throughout Rønning’s sophisticated film and alongside Ridley’s stunning performance  a career highlight for her we all hold our collective breath and swim with Trudy. Talk about the kind of film they hardly ever make anymore.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Retro Asian Sex Help Prescribed by Netflix’s ‘Doctor Climax’ – Trailer

Netflix probes issues of sex education and societal taboos in Asia back in the 1970s in new series “Doctor Climax,” which it will upload from June 13.

Supposedly drawn from real events, the show’s central character is a skin doctor who dreams of becoming a novelist. In the meantime, he moonlights as a newspaper sex-help columnist operating behind a pseudonym.

A trailer gives viewers a taste of the sex and intimacy questions — including masturbation, premature ejaculation, foreplay, and STDs — that its protagonist fields. Storylines are inspired by actual letters from well-known newspaper columns of the era.

The doctor also begins an extra-marital affair with a woman at the paper’s art department, which threatens to cause a scandal.

Produced by Grammy Studios, the eight-part show is written by Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, writer and producer of the hit Netflix film “Hunger,” and co-directed by Jaturanrasmee and Pairach Khumwan (Netflix series, “Girl From Nowhere”). Production is by Ekachai Uekrongtham (“Beautiful Boxer”).

The series boasts a stellar cast, featuring Chantavit Dhanasevi (“Hello Strangers,” “One Day,” “Pee Mak”) in the title role, Arachaporn Pokinpakorn, Chermawee Suwanpanuchoke, Tonhon Tantivejakul and Chaiwat Thongsang.

To recreate 1970s Thailand, the directors and production crew drew on personal memories, as well as old photos, interviews, and movies sourced from the Thai Film Archive.

“During that time, the country had just undergone political turmoil, was still in the throes of the Cold War, and other significant events were continually in the air,” said Jaturanrasmee. “People felt constrained by societal norms, yet simultaneously were striving to break free and assert their own freedoms.”

Netflix says that the show is part of its ongoing investment in Thailand, following the success of other local titles, including the recently renewed “The Believers” series about wealth in the Buddhist priesthood, and hit films like “Hunger” and “Once Upon a Star.” Its 2024 Thai slate includes seven other new titles.

These include: anthology series “Tomorrow and I”; slick soap opera rom-com “Master of the House”; rom-com in a different universe “Ready, Set, Love”; horror series, “Terror Tuesday: Extreme Similarly,” and “Don’t Come Home”; a revived “Bangkok Breaking” series, and film spin-off “Bangkok Breaking: Heaven and Hell.”


Review "Young Woman and the Sea" : Ridley Stuns and Earns Your Tears in This Beautifully Classical Movie

Young Woman and The Sea a defiantly big-screen, consistently enthralling biopic that both earns one’s genuine tears, and inspires everyone o...