3 items from 2001
17 September 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
"Lovely and Amazing" is filled with neurotic women, but filmmaker Nicole Holofcener embraces their neuroses. Indeed, they virtually define her characters. Holofcener's first film, "Walking and Talking", looked at the tensions, jealousies and joys of female intimacy. "Lovely and Amazing" adds the element of kinship to such intimacy.
To accomplish this, the writer-director takes chances with her narrative. She makes tonal shifts where serious issues darken an otherwise comedic outlook. Nor is she anxious to resolve the conflicts that beset her characters, either with one another or within their own psyches.
But older and especially female audiences should respond to a film that views life as being more than a little messy and is unwilling to embrace conventional happy endings.
The reigning character trait of a Los Angeles family of females is an obsession with weight and appearance. Brenda Blethyn plays the matriarch, who is about to undergo plastic surgery to remove tummy fat. Her eldest daughter (Catherine Keener) is an ex-beauty queen trapped in a loveless -- and nearly sexless -- marriage. She in part attributes its demise to what age has done to her former beauty.
At least her younger sister (Emily Mortimer) can obsess about her appearance for professional reasons: She is an actress with huge insecurities. She also reacts poorly to rejection. To fill the emotional void, she takes in homeless dogs.
The most original and provocative character in the movie is a third sister played by Raven Goodwin. An adopted black 8-year-old, she has developed a preoccupation with the color of her skin and the curls in her hair.
Pressures mount on all of the women when complications from Blethyn's operation force her hospitalization. The elder sisters must scramble to help each other even as their lives fall apart.
Mortimer's boyfriend dumps her, and she fails to get a major role in a movie. Keener's failure to sell any of her artistic knickknacks prompts her to take a low-paying job where her boss, a 17-year-old played by Jake Gyllenhaal, gets the hots for his new employee. And Goodwin has her hair straightened without permission.
Holofcener displays a keen eye for telling details in human behavior. Humor mixes with pathos without any pretensions. While men come off poorly for the most part, her writing is free of any bitterness.
Her cast plays these roles beautifully. Blethyn personifies the loneliness that can drive an older person to foolish actions. Keener's face provides a devastating read of her inner life: One moment it can express disappointment and resignation, then change so swiftly when she finds herself an object of male desire.
Mortimer gives a brave performance as a woman who subjects herself and her body to rigorous self-scrutiny. And Goodwin mixes girlish curiosity and confusion with a quiet determination to do things her way.
Rounding out the ensemble cast are Dermot Mulroney as a hilariously cocky movie actor and James LeGros as Mortimer's aloof boyfriend.
Cinematographer Harlan Bosmajian uses a 24-frame high-definition video camera to keep things up close and personal with these troubled souls.
LOVELY AND AMAZING
Blow Up Pictures presents a Good Machine production in association with Roadside Attractions
Producers:Anthony Bregman, Eric d'Arbeloff, Ted Hope
Executive producers:Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente, Michaelk Kafka
Director of photography:Harlan Bosmajian
Production designer:Devorah Herbert
Costume designer:Vanessa Vogel
Running time -- 92 minutes
No MPAA rating
Scream star Neve Campbell sets out on a "sexual voyage of discovery" in her latest film. She will be joined by French actress Julie Delpy in the romantic movie Investigating Sex. The cast will also include Dermot Mulroney and Jeremy Davies with Alan Rudolph directing. The story focuses on two stenographers, played by Campbell and Delpy, who set out to scientifically tackle the issues of promiscuity and infidelity. Friends of Campbell say the drama is the most explicit project she has been involved in since she made Wild Things. One pal says, "She has always had a big thing about no nudity but she put her trust in Rudolph and the results are amazing." »
Film director Peter Bogdanovich has sensationally revealed that River Phoenix's drug habit was the talk of the set of Thing Called Love, The (1993), the late star's last film. Phoenix, 23, died of a massive drug overdose on Halloween 1993 outside the Viper Room, a club part-owned by Johnny Depp, on Hollywood Boulevard Bogdanovich who romanced tragic Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten says that Phoenix had boundless talent, but a propensity for delving into - and almost becoming - the characters he played. The director approached Phoenix during filming when talk of the actor's possible drug use began. Phoenix denied having a drug problem claiming that he "didn't even eat meat". Phoenix played a country singer trying to make it in Nashville in the 1993 film, which co-starred Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney and Sandra Bullock. Bogdanovich says, "The irony was that the more brilliantly convincing River was in playing a self-involved, arrogant, drug- savvy, talented singer-songwriter, the more people believed that was River." »
3 items from 2001
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