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Close-Up with Camenker Volume XXXIX, Movie Review: THE WOMAN KING, plus other pieces

November 2, 2022

Hi, readers! It’s been awhile. Hope everyone is doing well and has been enjoying the perfect foliage that only New Hampshire has to offer! It’s been a busy season for me and now that Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching, the movie business is preparing to ramp up with a plethora of releases, many of which have been screening at festivals and in limited releases to critical acclaim.

Red River, undoubtedly, will get many of these titles over the next three or four months, perhaps screening what eventually wins the Oscar for Best Picture, a feat not accomplished since PARASITE won in February 2020.

One film that has already gotten some big buzz and recently left Red River is THE WOMAN KING. I got the chance to see it in one of its final showings and enjoyed the piece overall, though I would not designate it one of the top dogs of the fall/winter stretch in film.

Set in the early 1800s in the African kingdom of Dahomey, a group of women warriors faces a major threat against a foreign group that could very well destroy the way they live. Based on true history that those of us in the United States would know very little about, the film is fascinating in its depiction of the era and the action-based lifestyle of these warriors.

The always fantastic Viola Davis is at the helm of this strong cast, playing the role of General Nanisca, and delivering another marvelous performance. Combining the society’s focus on battle, the theme of strength, and a fierce attitude that shows what a “go-getter” she is as a character, Davis is the show’s star as she so often is. 

A great ensemble, many of whom are new faces to me, accompany Davis on this epic journey, including standouts Thuso Mbedu and Lashana Lynch, as well as the talented John Boyega. Aside from their excellent characterization and focus on action, the film’s setting is beautifully executed through expert production design, costuming evocative of that era, and perfectly choreographed battle sequences.

Like many pieces in 2022, I again felt this film was about 20 minutes too long. In an age where so many are now used to streaming films from their couches at home or taking breaks during a “binge watch fest,” I marvel at the fact that studios are producing such long pictures. Attention spans are shorter, yet people still flock to the epic sized films it seems…

Speaking of long pieces that you can stream from your couch, I did also see the new film BLONDE on Netflix. A fictitious portrayal of Marilyn Monroe’s rise to fame and ultimate downfall with Ana de Armas unrecognizable in the lead, it was a breathtaking piece of film in so many ways. Her performance alone is stellar, as is the execution of this dream-like, fantastical depiction of Monroe based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates.

Unfortunately, Monroe’s life is just so sad that the film itself is a lot to take in. Even if you go in knowing that as I did, it’s not a happy ending or pleasant story, very hard to watch at times. The recognition for Monroe’s complexities, though, is nice to see, though the longevity of the movie again causes issues in my opinion. 

I’m on the watch for a couple other titles of awards darlings at Red River, including TÁR with Cate Blanchett and THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, a piece by Martin McDonagh that looks quite intriguing. Additionally, Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical THE FABELMANS will soon be in theatres and Netflix will eventually release a sequel to the hit 2019 film KNIVES OUT, which I loved. 

It’s hard to say at this point what the most anticipated movie of the impending awards season is, but one thing I think I can safely say based on seeing THE WOMAN KING and BLONDE is that the Best Actress race, surely to also feature Cate Blanchett, may again be a crowded and contentious race to the finish. 

See you all again soon! Happy viewing!

Stay tuned for Volume XL of “Close-Up with Camenker,” which will return soon!

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  • Red River is the best cinematic experience that my wife and I have ever had – viewing angle, sound, seating, snacks, staff, web site are top shelf, and the movie selections themselves are talked about for days.

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Main Office: 603.224.4697

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