Professor Marston & the Wonder Women
Sometimes a muse sits on your shoulder and whispers inspiration. In the case of the creation of Wonder Woman, there were two. And they had ropes.
Writer-director Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston & the Wonder Women adds an unexpected chapter to the year of the female superhero with an origin story that traces the character’s 1941 birth to a polyamorous trio with a fondness for BDSM.
Their unconventional relationship inspired Harvard psychologist and inventor of the lie detector William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) to dream up Wonder Woman, based on the feminist ideal he found in his lovers.
Set starting in the 1920s before jumping to the 1940s, Marston and his psychologist wife Elizabeth Holloway Moulton (Christine’s Rebecca Hall) fall in love with Radcliffe student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote of Fifty Shades Darker), who eagerly reciprocates.
Hall’s strong-willed Elizabeth emerges as the most interesting character, a self-aware free thinker outspoken in work and life, yet tentative when it comes to her relationship with Olive. As for Marston, he just comes off as creepy.
The movie came and went in multiplexes quickly and struggled to find an audience, so here’s your chance. And while a bolder approach and some trimming of the over-stuffed story would have helped, it still provides an interesting look at the beginnings of a beloved superhero.
Read my interview with director Angela Robinson here.
There’s nothing flashy about the last film from American actor Harry Dean Stanton, who died last fall at age 91. Loosely following the daily routine of Stanton’s Lucky in a small Western American town, he’s part of the daily fabric of the place and its residents. The big news seems to be a missing 100-year-old tortoise (owned by a character played by David Lynch) and Lucky’s recent slip and fall. Yet Lucky, who starts his predictable days with some creaky yoga, keeps smoking, sipping a daily Bloody Maria and otherwise chugs along. There’s gentle poetry here and a great, final performance from Stanton.
The story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, played by Jake Gyllenhaal with powerful realism, conviction and occasional dark humour, isn’t a typical stars-and-stripes hero tale. Focusing on Bauman’s life after the terrorist attack at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, after both his legs were blown off below the knee, his difficult recovery was marked by personal struggles and his discomfort with being dubbed a hero and made the public face of “Boston Strong.” Director David Gordon Green (Our Brand is Crisis) goes for the unexpected with the narrative. Rather than focusing on the bombing, it centres on its aftermath and the on-and-off relationship between Bauman and his ex-girlfriend, Erin Hurley, played by an excellent Tatiana Maslany.
Read my interview with the Canadian actress here