In Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

2008’s Mamma Mia! was somewhat defiant in its shrugging off of the demands of self-serious audiences, presenting an escape from the evils of mundanity, logic, and pretension. It wasn’t something to wrap your head around, for in its haphazard lunacy it delivered tenfold precisely the ecstasy that its audience requested. Now ten years later, such escapism isn’t a mere trifle but a necessary antidote to ensure our sanity and survival. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, its slightly more sedated sequel, is like a soda administered during a diabetic collapse.


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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Death Becomes Her”


After all these years, Death Becomes Her is still a delightful romp – a broad blend of old Hollywood diva mudslinging, morbid farce, and goddess worship. As much as the film satirizes gratuitous ageism thrust upon women and its impact on the ego, the film adores its actresses. Isabella Rossellini reigns supreme, but Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep are audience catnip even at their most vicious. With this much talent, wit, and glamour in the frame, its no surprise that director Robert Zemeckis and director of photography Dean Cundey frame them like the queens they are.


No wonder gays and drag queens have kept the film alive with all this operatic idolatry – though where are the drag queens impersonating Rossellini’s sexual septuagenarian Lisle von Rhuman? Perhaps I just missed that one by a decade.




There is also a classic monster movie element to the actresses visual representation in the film. Mad and Hel are frequently scene lurking around a corner, behind a bush, stalking into the foreground to frighten Bruce Willis’s Ernest. Their eyes are lit like Dracula, their sexuality as threatening as it is enticing. What is Lisle if not a vampire empress, pulling you in precisely because she’s a bit spooky?

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In Review!: “Suffragette”

Rooted in the experience of an initially reluctant up-riser and later patriot of the British womens’ voting rights movement, Suffragette has deep wells of compassion and the ability to incite dialogue for the state of womens’ global rights. Sacrificing dramatic momentum and character context early on, a murky delivery sometimes undercuts the passion that drives the movie.


As played by Carey Mulligan, laundress Maud is first hesitant to participate and associate with the suffragette movement, but ultimately risks what little she has for the sake of the vote. Rendering the early lurches and halts of her character’s buy-in more believable for her understated delivery, the film doesn’t always serve her performance as it should. Presenting Maud so anonymously has clear narrative intent behind it – the film solidly upholds the value of any one person’s contribution to a societal effort – but that anonymity sometimes comes off as indifference. Director Sarah Gavron infuses the film with so much palpable passion that it’s a shame some of the creative risks don’t pay off.

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