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Posts tagged ‘Woody Allen’

Luminous, Lucent, Transcendant Kate Winslet Could Win Her 2nd Oscar for “Wonder Wheel”

Wonder Wheel 3

Lustrous, luminous, transcendent Kate Winslet is the wonder of Woody Allen’s new “Wonder Wheel.”
Is there any American filmmaker alive today who writes  such great roles for women? No. There simply isn’t. And as photographed by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Kate Winslet seems to be a cinematic miracle of color and light, majesty and emotion,

You simply can’t take your eyes off her. Storaro and Allen have combined to give her a cinematic beauty that makes you gasp, in a multi-faceted role that makes you applaud. She is playing Ginny, a Brooklyn waitress, who works in a Coney Island Clam House. I have known SOOOO many Ginnys in my lifetime, and British though she is, Winslet absolutely nails her Ginny to the Coney Island boardwalk. And it’s  stirring performance in the grand tradition. She’s every woman. And every woman I’ve known, from Brooklyn, trying to make a better life for herself and her family. And trying to find love at the same time, having given up her dreams of being an actress earlier in her life.

Winslet’s Ginny seems the simplest of creatures.. But Allen’s writing and her bravura performance proves that every woman is as complex as a whirlwind. Or a rollercoaster. Or a Wonder Wheel at  Coney Island, to use this film’s great metaphor. Winslet has never seemed so bedeviled and so bewitching at the same time. She’s a housewife in waitress’ outfit that she wears like a queen, as she goes about her frantic daily work of cooking and cleaning for the whole of Brooklyn it seems.

Allen and Storaro capture the ordinary woman’s extraordinariness. She is married to a lout (James Belushi) and having a torrid affair with Justin Timberlake, the local lifeguard. Timberlake’s string-bean-ness seems out of place as a life guard, but he, too, has movie star charisma in buckets instead of muscles, that make all the women in the film falling for him make sense.Justin Timberlake Wonder Wheel He and Belushi have both never been better.Kate Winslet 1

She is playing Ginny, a common-as-they-come Brooklyn waitress, who is as uncommon, as she is earth-bound. Winslet’s a fiery red-head this time. And in Storaro’s use of orange and amber light, she seems so on fire, she is burning up the screen. It is no surprise then that her red-headed son is an arsonist, setting  a fire every time he’s left alone. The fires remind him of his mother.

And Juno Temple is Belushi’s neglected daughter, who turns up as a “Marked” woman, being chased by the mob, because she married a gansta, and became a “canary” who sang on her husband, making her a woman on the run for her life. She hides  out in Winslet’s and Belushi’s  humble household underneath the ever-present Wonder Wheel. Young, blonde Temple has the role of her career here, too, and is doomed from the first seconds we see her taking her first tentative steps under the Wonder Wheel.

In a simple car ride in a romantic rain storm with Timberlake, she becomes, as he says “as beautiful as the rain light.”Storaro has lit her in golds and blues to emphasize her beauty as well as her melancholy. She, too, is magnificent in this film.

Storaro  and set designer Santo Loquasto make more magic by making Coney Island in the ’50s look like the Riviera.

Winslet’s performance is so heart-breaking and towering it immediately recalls the great screen performances of screen queens past. Joan Crawford in particular. The shop girl who was not a shop girl.  The waitress who was not a waitress. And reminds you that not since the ’40s have actresses consistently seen parts like this. Winslet’s Ginny is the  working class version of Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine in Allen’s recent Oscar winner “Blue Jasmine.” “Wonder Wheel” is his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and is now one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. It’s right up there with the best. It reminds me why I love Brooklyn. And New York City.

“Wonder Wheel” is a movie movie about romance and melodrama and great actresses playing great roles. And it ends this year’s superlative NYFF with a BANG!

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Oscar Nominees Begin to Arise at NYFF


Oscar Nominees, potential Oscar Nominees, Begin to Emerge as the New York Film Festival reaches its’ much touted half-way point.

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The biggest winner so far seems to me to be Steve Carell, who has two strong possibilities in two films, one in the Festival, one outside it. The hilarious “Battle of the Sexes” and the somber “Last Flag Flying”.Steve Carell

I would say that his hysterical turn as blow-hard Tennis Pro Bobby Riggs is almost sure to be nominated in the Supporting category for Carell. I would’ve said that his MUCH more serious turn as the grieving father in “Last Flag Flying” was also a Supporting performance, but some are saying he’s lead.

It would be just like the mercurial Carell to end up in both categories. He’s well-liked and clearly at a career high, so it’s entirely possible.

I’m SURE they are going to nominate Emma Stone, last year’s winner for “Battle of the Sexes.” That would be in the Best Actress category for her portryal of closeted lesbian Tennis Pro Billy Jean King. Best Actress is now more jammed than ever with potential nominees clamoring to get in. Saoirse Ronan is pitch perfect at the rebellious teen in “Lady Bird.” She’s definitely an “In”. As is Laurie Metcalfe, also on a roll, after winning the Tony this year for “Doll’s House, Part 2.” Her put-upon hard-working mom to Ronan’s rambunctious teen daughter is as maddening as she is sympathetic. She’s “In” in Supporting, never having even been nominated for an Oscar before.

Another surefire “in” is Willem Dafoe in the magnificently original “Florida Project.” He could win in this category, Supporting Actor, but he’ll be up against Carell, or even Bryan Cranston AND Laurence Fishburne for “Last Flag Flying”. Though I would say Cranston and Fishburne are BOTH leading roles.”Florida Project” also has a secret weapon in six-year-old Brooklynn Kimberly Prince. Florida Project 1They nominated another six-year-old and quite recently, too. Quevezhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern WIld.” Hey, even in a crowded year for Best Actress , like this one, powerhouse charmer Brooklynn( that’s with two “n”s thank you very much.)could surprise.

A complete unknown still is Kate  Winslet’s performance  in the still unseen “Wonder Wheel” of Woody Allen. It closes the Festival and absolutely no one has seen it yet. But the buzz is deafening and the production photos look awesome.

Someone who is NOT getting in to the crowded Best Actress race is octogenarian Dame Judi Dench, who I’ve admired and loved all my life. But “Victoria and Abdul” is the worst thing she’s ever done. Sad to say. Long, slow, and although she’s her usual great self in the funny first half, in the second more serious half, she had sooooo many death scenes, I couldn’t WAIT for her to die. Which is an awful feeling for a potential Best Actress nominee. She’s been to the Queen Victoria well one too many times now. She’s been there, done that, and quite frankly her failure to carry this film through to the end, just sickened me. Yes, even Judi Dench is human. She just doesn’t know when to stop.

Can’t wait for “Wonder Wheel” this Friday and for “Wonder Struck” by Todd Haynes tonight at the NYFF. Their Opening Night film was “Last Flag Flying” and “Wonder Struck” is their Centerpiece and “Wonder Wheel” closes it.

A superb film that is none of those things but “Call Me By Your Name” is Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece and a gay love story to end all gay love stories. Timothee Chalament, is the teen in THIS coming of age story. He’s also playing a bad boy rock musician in “Lady Bird. ”

Army Hammer is the other half of this lovely gay love duo, and BOTH performances are so powerful, they could BOTH get nominated. Chalamet in lead and Hammer in Supporting.

As bizarre as it sounds all these films could get nominated for Best Picture. That’s how good the New York Film Festival has been this year.Call Me By your Name 1

“Cafe Society” Worst Woody Allen Ever? S.O.S. Same Old Story

Kristen Stewart 1As you can see by this ultra glamourous pic above ^ of Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen has cast her against type, as a nice little goodie two-shoes,compleat with bows in her hair and ankle socks, in “Cafe Society”. Her character, Vonnie, has to appear so beautiful that the men in the movie fall madly in love with her. The men being Steve Carell as well as his nephew Jesse Eisenberg. And they’re all very good in this magnificently shot and styled paean to old Hollywood in the ’30s.

But this is perhaps the worst movie he’s ever done.It’s soooo boring. It’s that we’ve seen it all before. Over and over and over and over again. We expect more from the man who gave us “Midnight in Paris”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and his Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” But this is not that. Not by a long shot.

At least his other recent sub-par look at the glamourous life circa 1920 “Magic in the Moonlight” had a very strong performance by Colin Firth. And it’s always the younger woman/older man scenario, but at least focusing as much of this film on the young Jesse Eisenberg, the edge is slightly off that scenario, but only slightly. But it doesn’t last for long. Before it’s back to the Carell/Kristen plot-line. Ho-hum.Or rather ho-humbug.

Eisenberg, an actor I’ve always had trouble liking, is appealing in this, and more amourously aggressive than I can ever remember him being.

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But try as they might, he, Carell and Stewart and all of the rest of this capable cast, just can’t rise above this bland, bland script.

I felt like I knew what lines the characters were going to say before they spoke them. Parker Posey, here a bubbly, throw-away blonde, is pretty much just window dressing. Corey Stoll is snidely effective as Eisenberg’s gangster brother.Blake Lively is, well, lively.

The only one who really broke through for me was Sari Lennick of the Coen Bros. “A Serious Man.” As Eisenberg’s hyserical, kvetchy sister-in-law and Stoll’s wife.

The biggest,.most consistent laughs in the film, and there are some, not much, but not enough, the most laughs come when Stoll’s character has killed some hapless or irritating sap, and throws the bodies into a ditch as a cement mixer pours cement on them in clearly a New Jersey setting.

Santa Loquasto has designed “Cafe Society” to a fare-thee-well and legendary lenser Victorio Storaro has shot it magnificently. It couldn’t look more glamourous, or be so empty. What a shame!

Do something NEW Woody!!! Surprise us!!! Don’t bore us…All our lives are too short for drivel like this.

#Woody Allen #Cafe Society #Kristen Stewart #comedy #Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress, Wide Open or Not?

sarah PaulsonRoonwy MARA 2Is this year’s Supporting Actress race wide open or not? I think the HFPA(Hollywood Foreign Press Association) who give out the Golden Globs, er, I mean, GLOBES, dynamited both the Best Actress race and the Best Supporting Actress races, by insisting that Rooney Mara for “Carol” and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” MUST be considered in lead.aLICIA vIKANDER1

And they are 100% right! Both are leading roles. However, after seeing how dismal Rooney Mara’s “Carol” turn is, and how GREAT Cate (the Great) Blanchett’s is in the title role, I think voters are going to have no trouble nominating Blanchett, and overlooking the sub-par Mara for “Carol.”

I would never have thought that yesterday. I had to see it to believe it. I mean, Mara did win Best Actress in Cannes, which I guess in this day and race really means nothing.

And since Best Actress is incredibly jammed already, there just may not be room for Mara AND Blanchett, and/or for Mara and Vikander, who gives a truly transcendent performance as the conflicted wife of a transitioning transgender man-to-woman in “The Danish Girl,” played brilliantly by probable nominee for Best Actor, and last year’s winner, Eddie Redmayne.

Brie Larson in “Room” and Saorise Ronan in “Brooklyn” SEEM locked and loaded as they say. And then there’s Blanchett in “Carol” and Vikander. With only one slot left for Carey Mulligan in “Suffragette” with Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” and Charlotte Rampling’s “45 years” nipping at her heels. Never mind Dame Maggie Smith coming up fast on the outside for her glorious, smelly, homeless woman “Lady in the Van.”

So who is going to fill up the now empty Best Supporting Actress race?

Well, as I said before, I would love it if Sarah Paulson (above top picture) got nominated for “Carol.” Since the HFPA’s Edict of Nantes, they CAN’T nominate Rooney,in Supporting, they might just go far Paulson’s steely Best Friend and ex-lover of Carol. That would be great and people WILL get to see “Carol”. And see Paulson in it and how good she is.

Paulson was pretty stellar in “Twelve Years a Slave” wherein she horrified voters as the vicious slave-owners wife, who throws a glass decanter in future Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo’s face, scarring her for life.

And then there’s room for probable nominee screen legend Jane Fonda getting in for a five minute scene in “Youth.” I bet they are going to nominate her sight unseen because she is well, Jane Fonda.Jane Fonda Youth 1

I keep banging the drums for Parker Posey in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” but no one seems to be listening to me. Posey has another juicy role coming up next year in Woody’s next opus. Maybe the Academy will wait for that role before they get on the Parker-Posey-is-now-legit(to us)-train.Itrational Man 2

I’ve mentioned before two look-alike blondes Elizabeth Banks and Rachel McAdams in, respectively, “Love and Mercy” and “Spotlight,” the front-runner at the moment for Best Picture. Both blonde beauties may have been pushed further inside the race than they ever might have been otherwise by the HFPA’s ruling on Mara and Vikander.Elizabeth Banks1Rachel McAdams1And let’s not overlook the wonderful Oscar perennial Laura Linney, who really holds Ian McKellan’s house and home(and picture) together as the put-upon drudge of a housekeeper in “Mr. Holmes.” If the voters view “Mr. H.” to see Sir Ian’s great nonogenarian detective, they’ll see how beautiful Linney’s work is opposite him. I thought people would forget this charming film and McKellan’s and Linney’s lovely work in it, but it seems they’re not.Laura Holmes 1And last but not least, you can never count out Dame Helen Mirren’s campier-than-thou take on the late real life gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in “Trumbo,.” who underneath her elaborate headgear was a ruthless red=baiter.Helen Mirren Trumbo

There’s nothing like a Dame as the ole saying goes. A rubric that AMPAS lives by. They’ve always have got to get a “sir” or a “dame” in there somewhere to give the evening class.

Have I left anyone out? Probably. But I’ll catch you up on these magnificent ladies on the flip side.

Woody Allen Back on Top with “Irrational Man”! Oscar Nomination for Parker Posey!

Irrational Man 3Itrational Man 2Irrational Man 1I have to say, I just LOVED “Irrational Man”! Woody Allen’s latest just sent me out of the theater with wings on my heels! Woody has done it again! And not only that, it’s not just an older man/younger woman (Joaquim Phoenix/Emma Stone)love story, but something much more, well, Hitchcockian, and he’s written a humdinger of a juicy part for Queen of the Indies, Parker Posey that very well may net her her first Oscar Nomination.

This is after the literally HUNDREDS of Indie films she’s starred in, always gracing them with her funny/perceptive presence. Here she goes to town with the role of the drunken Rita, a college chemistry professor who is literally the campus tramp. throwing herself with nutty abandon at every new man on the faculty. Jill does this with Joaquim’s EXTREMELY depressed guest Philosophy  prof Abe Lucas. He is only in town( Newport, Rhode Island never looked more beautiful! Cinematography by ace Darius Khondji.)for the summer, so Jill wastes no time in snaring him. Abe resists her at first, but it’s no use. Who can resist Parker Posey when she’s in full throttle vamp mode?

She forms the unusual (for Allen) third point of a quirky love triangle. This time being an age-appropriate love object for Phoenix’s suicidal professor, who plays Russian roulette for real, and thinks nothing of it.

The students, main among them Emma Stone’s Jill, is horrified and of course attracted to him. Sparks fly and I must say both Stone and Phoenix and also Posey, have never been better.

But the story is much more than that. It’s also, to my mystery-obsessed mind a whodunit. Or suspense thriller, when Stone and Phoenix overhear a random terrible conversation in a Newport diner (pictured above ^), it prompts Phoenix to go off the deep end in a way I’m not going to spoil here. But it’s very Patricia Highsmith (yes, her again! She’s everywhere this summer!) and begins to resemble her Hitchcock movie “Strangers on a Train” as well as Hitchcock’s favorite film “Shadow of a Doubt” with a little of Highsmith’s masterpiece “The Talented Mr. Ripley” thrown in! No, I’m not kidding!

Of course, it’s also awfully funny and his three stars are all at the top of their various, varied games! And all I have to say is, don’t let anyone spoil the twists and turns of Woody’s delicious plot. It’s his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and I think will be just as successful because it’s genuinely entertaining.

After another major mis-fire “Magic in the Moonlight” and the disappointing dud”To Rome, With Love”, “Irrational Man” really is a tremendous comeback, a relief. And a joy. There’s nothing like a good Woody Allen film! When he’s good, he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad Cate Blanchett wins an Oscar..

This is all very good news for Parker Posey, and maybe Joaquim Phoneix and Emma Stone, too.

The Academy tends to nominate and award actors in this films. Especially in the Supporting Actress category. So kudos to Parker Posey and everyone else connected with this daffy, dark delight!

Colin Firth Strong, Emma Stone Weak in Woody’s (NO) “Magic in the Moonlight”

“I want MAGIC” screams Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams classic “Streetcar Named Desire”. And I was screaming “I want magic, too!” As Woody Allen’s latest “Magic in the Moonlight” unspooled before me and I didn’t laugh once.

It LOOKS Magical. The cinematography of Darius Khondji is simply swoon-worthy. The Riviera never looked so lovely! Truly! But aside from a very, very strong performance by Colin Firth, it’s not much fun. Although Eileen Atkins as his sensible aunt (they’re both British of course) is also very good. But this film that looks like it should be a comedy, is simply not funny at all.

Firth has the challenge of getting up in yellow-face and being a stage magician  named Wei Ling-Soo, who makes elephants disappear and saws ladies in half, and is an extremely pessimistic curmudgeon. He spews venom constantly throughout the film in all directions, which is arresting, but not funny. Unlike the other recent magician in an Allen film, the great Splendini, in “Scoop” who Allen played himself. “Scoop” was set in London with Scarlett Johansonn in the female lead, a role Emma Stone essays so poorly here. “Scoop” was funny and good-natured as “Magic in the Moonlight” is bitter and grim. Good qualities in a drama, like “Blue Jasmine” but not is a half-baked pseudo-farce.

How can this much heightened sarcasm be not funny in a Woody Allen film? Well, for one thing his character seems an utter realist, if not a downright atheistic. Yes, that’s right. This is a film that is about atheism. Or a comedy about atheism. WTF? It’s seems like it should be by Ayn Rand and black and white and set in the ’40s.

Not the glamorous 1920s, a period Allen returns to again and again. And he’s done it better. I just watched “Midnight in Paris” for the umpteenth time last night and it delighted and chilled me all over again. I actually got goose bumps from it and from Mlle. Marion Cotillard’s superb performance.

And there were actually French people in it. And they spoke French! Imagine that! In “Magic in the Moonlight” we have the beautiful French countryside, but no French people are in it. At All.

And Emma Stone is very, very weak in this. As a supposed psychic, she’s a little spacey, a little kookie. Her red-hair flies beautifully in the wind. She has lovely large eyes, but Woody seems to have a problem with her overly large forehead which is covered up throughout much of the movie by her own bangs, which is fine and series of tam o’shanters, head-bands and hats with extremely low brows, which would look fine on Marion Cotillard, but on Stone they make her look odd. She is photographed soooo well in fact, she looked liked she’s acting, but she isn’t. The cinematography and costumes were acting FOR her.

I didn’t ever think I would miss Scarlett Johansonn, but in this film, I did. Stone is really out of her depth here, and she shouldn’t be.

I just attended a press conference for this film with Emma Stone notably absent. And Colin Firth when asked about working with her, just skipped the question entirely. “My Best Day?” he was asked, ” I guess the scene in the planetarium at night. I was wet. And I felt wet, so that was good.”

Unfortunately, it’s (no) “Magic in the Moonlight” that is all wet. Sadly.

Every OTHER film of Woody’s recently has been terrific. “Midnight in Paris” was a masterpiece. “To Rome, with Love” was a dud. “Blue Jasmine” won Cate Blanchett an Oscar for Best Actress, and so we were due for another disappointment, and unfortunately, we got it.

I can’t wait for the next one, however. That’ll be good again.

Woody did a press conference in New York today. He NEVER does that. I sensed Flop Sweat and I was right. But Colin saved the day, and Jacqui Weaver was buoyant, too.

Woody said “Life is meaningless.” And he meant it. And then added “Now that I’ve depressed you thoroughly, have a nice weekend.”Magic in the Moonlight 1Magic in the Moonlight 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provincetown Film Festival Wrap Up

Patricia Clarkson 1

Honoree Patricia Clarkson Exclaims “I’ve Never Been Kissed By So Many Guys!” as Provincetown Film Festival 2014 Wraps Up

Every year one of the unique things the Provincetown International Film Festival does is honor two or three film notables with career achievement awards. This year they were Patricia Clarkson for Excellence in Acting, Debra Winger for the Faith Hubley Career Achievement Award and David Cronenberg for Filmmaker On the Edge.
When I asked her how she liked Provincetown, Clarkson exclaimed “I’ve never been kissed by so many guys!” She told me “No matter how many times you are honored  like this, it’s STILL an honor. I’m thrilled!”
She gave a moving speech to the packed audience at Town Hall,which included her doing an impromptu imitation of Woody Allen directing. Which was hilarious. Allen directed her in two films “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Whatever Works” in which Clarkson shined playing an alcoholic Southern belle, a large role that Allen had clearly written for her. Two of her other films, career highlights both,were shown including “High Art” and “Pieces of April.” The festival opened with her latest film “Last Weekend” in which she gave a moving performance of a mother trying to hold her crumbling family together.
 David Cronenberg was clearly the King of PIFF this year,as in his “Conversation With…” director John Waters, he was able to show an extended clip from his much-anticipated new movie “Maps to the Stars” which was a controversial hit at Cannes. PIFF audiences thrilled to see Cannes Best Actress winner Julianne Moore in a long scene from “Maps” where she is literally freaking out over getting a film role once enacted by her mother as a young girl.
Her mother is appearing to her as a hallucinatory vision as a naked teenaged girl in a bath-tub, who is constantly mocking her. Cronenberg revealed that the film will be shown in its’ scandalous entirety at the Toronto Film Festival in Sept. If Julianne Moore’s performance is as powerful as this clip indicated, she is well on her way to an Oscar Nomination.
Cronenberg responded well to John Waters’ probing, incisive and funny questions. Waters opened with “We’re both obsessed with assholes.” Cronenberg agreed and revealed that he thought “Rehearsals” with the actors for film scenes “were unnecessary.” And when Waters pressed him as to how he has been able to make so many films over his long and varied career that spans decades, Cronenberg said simply “Canada” and credited his native country’s strong and historic government backing of filmmakers, emerging or established.
Debra Winger was evasive and a bit defensive with interviewer B. Ruby Rich. Her answers to questions weren’t satisfying or direct. Though her choice of being a mother to her three sons seemed to take precedence over all else, explaining why her filmography in recent years is so scant. Winger confounded many journos by not consenting to any on camera interviews, only print, though she still looked dazzling at 60.
John Waters, who is the unofficial Mayor of Provincetown, having lived there for over 4 decades, was having a career high of his own, with the success of his latest book “Car Sick” about hitch-hiking across the U.S. from Baltimore to San Francisco. He told me it was Number 8 on the NY Times Bestseller list. He was happier than I’ve ever seen him to be, claiming yet another metier as his own. And his book-signing had lines down the block.
I was thrilled to see the Beatles’ classic “A Hard Day’s Night” in a beautiful, newly re-mastered print with its’ monaural soundtrack and its’ scintillating black and white cinematography making it seem and sound like new. Pre-dating MTV & music videos, it captures the pure joy and craziness of Beatlemania. It was a great joy to see it again on the big screen.
Also in black and white(and color, too) was Nancy Gates’ definitive documentary “Regarding Susan Sontag”. A complete, revealing and intelligent chronicle of this important woman’s ground-breaking life. as an intellectual, writer, mother and lesbian. Sontag, a 20th century figure that I thought I knew, was a much more complex and challenging figure as “Regarding Susan Sontag” brought home.
On the Narrative feature side, I loved “One Chance” the fictional re-telling of tubby Wales cell-phone salesman Paul Potts’ life-transforming moment on “Britain’s Got Talent” when he sang Puccini “Nessum Dorma” and wowed Simon Callow and the judges, and became a house-word name and an opera star literally over-night.
Potts,was a life-long sad-sack with extremely bad luck, as the film details and “History Boys” James Corden enacts him brilliantly. Corden is the overweight British comedian who won the Tony for “One Man, Two Guv’nors” beating Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s “Death of a Salesman” two years ago on Broadway.
I also enjoyed “A Trip to Italy” British Comedian Steve Coogan’s follow-up to “The Trip.” It’s basically an improvised road-tour crossed with reality TV in which Coogan and fellow Brit Comic Rob Brydon, playing wry versions of themselves, riff, joke and eat their way from Piedmont in the north of Italy all the way down the Italian Riviera along the incredibly scenic Amalfi coast.
The mouth-watering Italian food they eat at the sumptuous restaurants and hotels they stop at are their splendiferous co-stars, and, as they say, hilarity ensues.
There were two French films I found disappointing in different measures Roman Polanski’s “Venus In Furs” and “Yves St. Laurent.”  A hit on Broadway “Venus” won a Best Actress Tony  and made a star out of actress Nina Arianda, and she is sorely missed in this French language(for no apparent reason)translation. It’s a two-character, one-set piece and as the uptight director Matthieu Amalric is sensational and Polanski mis-casts his real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner who is clearly in her 40s as the twenty-something aspiring actress. Both “Yves” and “Venus” were far too slowly paced,tedious and annoying at turns.
Also disappointing was “Love Is Strange,” a Sundance hit. A gay film with a very strong premise and a lot to say about gay marriage, it had a very good start and a solid cast (John Lithgow and Albert Molina as the couple and Marisa Tomei as Lithgow’s put-upon caregiver), and its’ heart was clearly in the right place, but it all fell apart with a unsatisfying and confusing ending.
Probably the best film on every level was “I Origins” a sci-fi/romance, er, well, sort of, but thrillingly original and creative and absolutely surprising and confounding and profound, too, in all the right ways. Michael Pitt and Brit Marling give exemplary performances as a team of young scientists in NYC trying to unlock the genetic mysteries of the human eye. And Astrid Berges-Frisby, the monumental mermaid in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” has the most unforgettable cinematic eyes ever. This will launch the Spanish/French beauty into the stratosphere. The direction by Mike Cahill, outstanding.
But Provincetown itself is its’ own greatest character. The village, at the far-most tip of Cape Cod, never fails to disappoint with its’ colorful , intoxicating atmosphere and a town-full of delightfully eccentric artists. Chelsea Handler said it was “gayer than San Francisco” and she should know.

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