Sils Maria

Someone needs to explain to me why it is TV stations like AMC and Spark feel the need to play films like ELF and HOME ALONE on a loop this time of year. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE might have become a classic thanks to repeat airings, but that sort of reaction to prolonged exposure is the exception…not the rule…

The #52FilmsByWomen  project resumed last week (with plans to be caught-up by Christmas Day) with Susanne Bier’s SERENA.

Bier is an Oscar-winning director thanks to her deft approach to bullying in the Danish film IN A BETTER WORLD. She has received wide acclaim for other efforts including AFTER THE WEDDING and BROTHERS, and even won an Emmy this year for her work in the AMC Miniseries “The Night Manager”. Seems like a prime candidate to make the leap to Hollywood, right?

Not so fast…

SERENA is a bad film from top-to-bottom. It’s certainly handsome, so if nothing else it is easy on the eyes…but that’s where the good news ends for a film starring two of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The story is toothless, the script is poorly written, and the actors seem to be sleepwalking.

The worst thing about this, is that one can’t help but get the feeling that there will be male producers in Hollywood who will point to this project and say “See!?…” They will make-up flawed logic about how this means that being a great foreign director doesn’t translate into the Hollywood system…and how even top talent can’t help an unknown quantity like Bier.

This all just makes me wonder what happened? What was it about the script that drew Bier in? What could possibly have presented itself in this stilted story that appealed to this talented storyteller? Was it part of the package to get the job on “The Night Manager”? Was it in response to Lawrence or Cooper asking her personally? Seriously – someone get an oral history of this project, please!

Susanne Bier is a stellar talent who one hopes will be back working on North American projects sooner rather than later. When she does, it will be despite SERENA…not because of it.


Here’s the week at hand…


ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY – Not THE FORCE AWAKENS, but certainly serviceable.
MISS SLOANE – Every American should be watching this movie this winter.

Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
SERENA – Yeah, I see what y’all were upset over now.
TROLLS – Very sweet, if weightless.
NERUDA – Beautiful, and a film I feel will get lost in the shuffle this year.

Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
WHITE CHRISTMAS – So many wonderful one-liners in this flick.
BATMAN RETURNS – I feel like modern comic film writers should study this as an example of balancing villains.
EYES WIDE SHUT – This marked the beginning of my “alternate Christmas” selections, and it’s becoming an annual ritual.
KISS KISS BANG BANG – I think next year, I might only watch Shane Black movies before Christmas.
THE HOLIDAY – Anyone out there do a good Mister Napkinhead?
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN – In 2002, I actually went to see this ON Christmas Day. Ah the days of being young and carefree enough to see movies on the twenty-fifth.


Boxscore for The Year
244 First-Timers, 131 Re-Watched
87 Screenings
375 Movies in Total

How’s about you – seen anything good?