Movie Review: Rachel Brosnahan Assures Everyone, ‘I’m Your Woman’

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I’m Your Woman (CREDIT: Wilson Webb/Amazon Studios)

Starring: Rachel Brosnahan, Arinzé Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Bill Heck, Frankie Faison, Marceline Hugot

Director: Julia Hart

Running Time: 120 Minutes

Rating: R for Deadly Gunshots and Tough Guy Language

Release Date: December 4, 2020 (Select Theaters)/December 11, 2020 (Amazon Prime Video)

Do you think you would be entertained if someone told Rachel Brosnahan that she needed to leave her house immediately and then gave her a gun just in case, even though she’s never handled one before? Surely, there are plenty of people who believe that “woman on the run + gun” is a foolproof formula for quality cinema. When that woman is the star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, it turns out that she is more than up for the task. Did I mention that there’s also a baby in the mix? Because that’s pretty important. As very frustrated housewife (or house-less-wife) Jean, Brosnahan spends a significant portion of I’m Your Woman with a baby in one hand and a gun in the other. She’s not quite sure how she ended up in this mess, and neither are we, but goshdangit if she doesn’t convince us that we’re all going to make it through together unscathed.

It all kicks off as an unholy mix of The Godfather and Raising Arizona dressed up in the most 1970s of full-length trench coats. We meet Jean when she’s been struggling through miscarriage after miscarriage, but then one day her husband Eddie (Bill Heck) shows up at their front door with a random infant in tow. Soon after, he’s closing a door on her so that he can talk shop with some guys in private in much the same way that Michael Corleone kept Kay shut off from his business. While Jean never quite learns what Eddie is up to, she does know that it is very, very bad, as Eddie’s associate Cal (Arinzé Kene) soon shows up to whisk her and the baby off to a series of safe houses. Eventually Cal’s family joins in on the mission as well, and Jean basically becomes reborn as the ultimate survivor.

Structurally, I’m Your Woman works in fits and starts, kind of by design. There are significant stretches of Jean just sitting around watching TV and nodding off in the middle of the afternoon, occasionally waking up to look over her shoulder. These segments are rather numbing, but we’re meant to absorb her simmering anxiety. They’re surrounded by a series of high-tension car rides, nightclub shootouts, and good old-fashioned running towards some semblance of safety. Consistently carrying us through both all the numb and all the exciting is Brosnahan’s steely resolve. It’s a big ask to give any lead actor that much cinematic responsibility, but she’s ready to take care of us.

I’m Your Woman is Recommended If You Like: Focusing on the characters who are usually given short shrift, Long Tan Trench Coats, Aretha Franklin covers

Grade: 3 out of 5 Secrets

‘Spies in Disguise’ Preaches Weirdness, But It Could Stand to Be Weirder

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CREDIT: Blue Sky Studios/Twentieth Century Fox.

Starring: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, Masi Oka

Directors: Troy Quane and Nick Bruno

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: PG for A Pigeon Eating a Band-Aid, and the Like

Release Date: December 25, 2019

Spies in Disguise has two credited directors and two credited screenwriters (and a third writer with a “story by” credit), and it’s based on a 2009 short film made by someone who is none of the aforementioned writers or directors. Yet it feels like a very singular, personal vision, as though it were willed into existence by someone who really loves pigeons and wanted the world to know that they’re not just rats with wings, but rather, dignified and eminently capable creatures. The world of animated children’s films is filled with plenty of talking animals, so this isn’t out of the ordinary in that regard. But I haven’t gotten the sense that movie-going tykes have been clamoring for the pigeon niche to be filled in this genre. And yet that’s what has happened, with about as triumphant a premise as possible, as the fate of the world hinges upon what super-awesome spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) can accomplish when he turns into a pigeon.

If there are any pigeon aficionados out there, you will certainly be pleased by how lovingly they’re treated in this film. For everyone else, you’ll probably be floored by how out of time Spies in Disguise comes across. It feels like something that should have come out twenty years ago, when CGI animation was in its infancy and Smith was known primarily as a Man in Black. I actually appreciate some of its musty style, as it commits to a full-on opening credits sequence (a rarity in this era) that follows not one, but two, cold opening scenes.But the rest of my reaction to this film is basically being flummoxed by its outdated, non-specific definition of “weird.”

The other main character is socially inept young gadget guy Walter Beckett (Tom Holland), who is the one who accidentally turns Sterling into a bird. He’s spent his whole life believing that the world needs more weird, just like his mom assured him when he was a boy. But the thing is, while he may be a little awkward, I find it hard to believe that his line of work wouldn’t consider him weird so much as technologically essential. And while a man becoming a pigeon may be unusual in our world, it’s standard practice in this sort of movie. Spies in Disguise, you need to follow your own advice and be more weird.

Spies in Disguise is Recommended If You Like: Therianthropy

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Spies in Da Skies

SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Rachel Brosnahan/Greta Van Fleet

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CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Ken Instagram – This redux is not quite as masterful as the Barbie Instagram bit from the Donald Glover episode, which was my pick for the best sketch of last season. Luckily, it’s different enough to stand on its own and still be quite hilarious, thanks to Pete Davidson and Heidi Gardner’s daffy suggestions and Rachel Brosnahan’s unique darkness. Alas, it is also different in a couple of bad ways, as the timing isn’t always perfect and the ominous piano is unnecessary. But that’s just evidence of how difficult it is to capture magic in a bottle more than once. In this case, I’ll settle for almost-magic.