Oscar and Lucinda 1997 Based on The Booker Prize winning novel by Peter Carey. Directed by Gillian Armstrong. Original. Fantastical. Australian Lucinda Leplastrier (Cate Blanchett) develops a childhood obsession with glass. When her parents die, she uses part of a sizeable inheritance to buy a glass factory. In hopes of encouraging R & R, her accountant introduces her to gambling, and Lucinda gets hooked. Oscar (Ralph Feinnes), training for the Anglican ministry, is also a (mostly successful) gambler. The two meet on a boat to New South Wales. Oscar loses everything and goes to work for Lucinda.
Inspired by a model and proving what the factory can do, Oscar and Lucinda create a full size, one room church for mutual friend Revered Dennis Hasset (Ciaran Hinds). As Oscar is afraid of water, it must be delivered overland until the last leg. The protagonists bet their inheritances against one another that the edifice can be delivered by Good Friday. Leading Oscar on the journey, Mr. Jeffries (Richard Roxburgh) turns out to be violent and mercenary. The denoument and finale are inspired as are Oscar winning visuals. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Notes on A Scandal 2006 Adapted from the novel by Zoe Heller. Directed by Richard Eyre. Close to retirement, history teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) disdains the school system and peers alike. When art instructor Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins the comprehensive (a school for elementary aged children that doesn’t select students on the basis of academic achievement), however, she perks up. The new staff member is married to much older Richard (Bill Nighy) and has a special needs child.
Barbara witnesses Sheba with 15 year-old Stephen Connolly (Andrew Simpso). It’s clear they’re having an affair. She confronts her so-called friend, but promises not to tell authorities. Her price is more time and attention…the blackmail victim is unwilling to give. When everything hits the fan, Sheba doesn’t realize it’s Barbara who revealed the illicit situation. There are realistic consequences for both women. Though it boasts an excellent supporting cast, this psychological thriller is a two-hander. Dench and Blanchett smoulder. Free with Amazon Prime.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2008 Loosely based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Told in flashback by dying Daisy Fuller (Cate Blanchett). 1918 New Orleans. Baby Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) is born with the appearance and infirmities of an old man. His mother dies, his father abandons him on the porch of a nursing home owned by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), who raises him. The boy meets seven year-old Daisy, whose grandmother lives in the home and they become friends. They both grow “up,” she older, he younger. Daisy goes to New York to study dance, Benjamin ships out on a tugboat to see the world. Adventures and relationships follow.
On a visit back home, Benjamin again encounters Daisy, now the “right” age to pursue romance. They fall in love, marry, have a child, and live happily until he nobly decides his age reversal will not be good for the family and leaves. Daisy embarks on a new life. Benjamin grows younger…and younger. They reconnect once more. The director used a camera system called Contour to capture facial deformation data from live-action performances. It’s unnervingly effective. A good tall tale. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Carol 2015 Based on the 1952 semi-autobiographical romance novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. Directed by Todd Haynes. Deft and moving. Christmas 1952. Aspiring photographer Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is working in the toy department of a New York department store. Her boyfriend wants her to go to France and marry, but the young woman is ambivalent. Glamorous Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), in the midst of a divorce from husband Harge (Kyle Chandler), comes in to buy a doll for her daughter. She leaves her gloves. Therese mails them back. Carol returns to thank her.
The women begin a relationship. Harge finds out and threatens Carol with loss of custody. The women part, but are not over. With Sarah Paulson. Carol received a ten-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival international press screening and premiere. Rent on Amazon Prime, Free with Netflix.
Cinderella 2015 Directed by Kenneth Branah. The age-old story adroitly manipulated- ie, updating barely shows and doesn’t adversely affect. Glorious to look at with inspired casting. Blanchett plays the wicked stepmother with Lily James as Cinderella, Richard Madden as the Prince, Stellan Strasgard as the Grand Duke, Derek Jacobi as the King, Sophie McShera as Drisella, Holliday Granger as Anastasia, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother
Time Magazine’s Richard Corliss said that Branh’s Cinderella successfully updates and revitalizes Disney’s “ill-conceived” animated film, and praised the empowered Ella, the visuals, and Blanchett’s performance. Rent on Amazon Prime
Where’d You Go Bernadette? 2019 Based on the novel by Maria Semple. Directed by Richard Linklater. A hoot with serious underbelly. Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was a promising architect. When faced with criticism on a meaningful project, she withdrew to her family almost becoming agoraphobic. Restless and unfulfilled, the heroine begins to act increasingly erratic. One day she literally disappears from home (out the window) on a trip to the Arctic scheduled as her daughter’s graduation present. With Billy Crudup, Kristin Wiig, Judy Greer, and Laurence Fishburne. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Elizabeth 1998 -the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, where she is elevated to the throne after the death of her half-sister and Elizabeth The Golden Age 2007 – the latter part of her reign Directed by Shekhar Kapur Free with Amazon Prime.
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