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2 items from 1998

Film review: 'Living Out Loud'

16 September 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

"Living Out Loud" should be living large for New Line Cinema. An edgy, thoughtful and very funny relationship film from Jersey Films, it stars Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito in wonderful performances. Mature audiences who want more from a film than chases and explosions will delight in the vital human story.

Written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, the film stars Hunter as Judith Nelson, a 40-ish, Upper East Side woman who has just divorced her husband (Martin Donovan), an accomplished cardiologist whose conjugal life was not governed by notions of merely the heart. Post-marriage life is a lonely abyss for Judith, who takes to tipping back straight-up martinis and haunting a black jazz club. She feels isolated, bingeing on junk food and becoming increasingly estranged from and agitated by the world outside her cushy condo.

Living in June's world but hardly part of it is Pat (DeVito), a faceless schlub who toils as the doorman in her tony condo. Pat has similar problems of loneliness: His longtime wife has thrown him out, and his beloved daughter is terminally ill. Compounding Pat's plight is his gambling problem, which reduces him to living on his successful brother's (Richard Schiff) couch and enduring all sorts of unsolicited life advice.

In essence, Judith and Pat have no personal identity: She has long since abandoned her childhood friends, and he has burned too many bridges with elusive dreams and petty schemes. While LaGravenese's screenplay wobbles at times in trying to bring the unlikely lovers together and is a tad overwritten in its thematics, it's a brilliant work -- funny, sad and magical. Look for end-of-year screenwriting honors for LaGravenese.

Hunter's performance as a woman who has lost herself is fantastic. Her sinewy energy mixes with almost pathetic vulnerability. DeVito's performance will surprise many for his capacity to play a romantic character. His feisty demeanor is coated with an undeniable charm and likability.

Queen Latifah brings forth one of the best supporting performances of the year as a sultry songstress who has learned to settle for less. Her effervescent presence and scrumptious rendition of some jazz classics bring vibrant dimension to the movie. Pencil her in for year-end honors in the supporting actress category.

First-time director LaGravenese's visuals are a bit stiff, but his work with the actors is laudable. Adding luster is the movie's delectable score, courtesy of George Fenton. Highest praise also to executive music producer Anita Camarata and song producer Mervyn Warren for bringing us a true musical treat.


New Line Cinema

A Jersey Films production

Producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg,

Stacey Sher

Screenwriter-director: Richard LaGravenese

Co-producer: Eric McLeod

Director of photography: John Bailey

Production designer: Nelson Coates

Editors: Jon Gregory, Lynzee Klingman

Costume designer: Jeffrey Kurland

Music: George Fenton

Song producer: Mervyn Warren

Executive music producer: Anita Camarata

Casting: Margery Simkin



Judith Nelson: Holly Hunter

Pat: Danny DeVito

Liz Bailey: Queen Latifah

Bob Nelson: Martin Donovan

Philly: Richard Schiff

The Kisser: Elias Koteas

Mary: Suzanne Shepherd

Donna: Mariangela Pino

The Masseur: Eddie Cibrian

Running time -- 102 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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Film review: 'Ever After'

27 July 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

An old yarn has been restitched with '90s lacing in 20th Century Fox's "Ever After", a captivating new spin on the classic "Cinderella" story. Featuring Drew Barrymore as a sprightly, decidedly feisty Cinderella figure, the sumptuous film should especially delight young girls. Enchantingly lensed, adults will find it appealing as well, and down the line it should be a hit as a slumber-party rental.

Danielle (Barrymore) is no ordinary 16th century girl: She is prone to quoting Sir Thomas More when not scampering about her father's castle, climbing trees and tossing apples at itinerant princes. But Danielle's world is shattered by the death of her kindly father, and she must endure the treachery of her cruel stepmother (Anjelica Huston) and two stepsisters -- one a manipulative beauty (Megan Dodds) and the other a lethargic tattletale (Melanie Lynskey). While Danielle is subjugated to servantlike duties, her high spirits remain intact: In the '90s lexicon of much of the script, she is no victim.

Narratively, "Ever After" is ever amusing. It's a refreshing blend of adventurous escapades, personal treachery and individual growth. Screenwriters Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant (who also directed) and Rick Parks have concocted a frothy blend of all the best fairy tale ingredients and condensed it to a keen story of one girl's valiant personal battles against great odds. It will surely be an inspirational grid for young girls everywhere -- not to mention us older coots -- as they follow Danielle's daily battles.

Barrymore is enchanting and charismatic as the young girl who must survive the backbiting of her siblings and stepmother. Her spunky, athletic performance imbues her Cinderella-esque character with a dimension we haven't seen before. Huston is wonderful as her evil stepmother, while Dodds is well-cast as vainglorious, beautiful stepsister Marguerite. Dougray Scott is both dashing and humble as the apple of Danielle's eye, Prince Henry, while Lynskey brings particularity to the other stepsister, Jacqueline. Jeanne Moreau graces the production briefly, fittingly playing a Grande Dame.

Adorning the central story and magnifying it to its fullest dimension are superb technical contributions. Director Tennant ("Fools Rush In") has magically mustered his cinematic palette to most vivid scope. Under his wise, spry hand, "Ever After" is a visual treat. Cinematographer Andrew Dunn's atmospheric lensings of magnificent, castlelike settings truly give the film a sparkling air, while Michael Howells' production design is fittingly earthy, both harrowing and funny. Costume designer Jenny Beavan's adornments are eye-popping and clue us to the characters' personalities; in particular, Huston's intimidating hats are both amusing and forbidding. Topping it off is George Fenton's robust but dreamy score, another technical high note in this well-spun old/new tale.


20th Century Fox

A Mireille Soria production

An Andy Tennant film

Producers: Mireille Soria, Tracey Trench

Director: Andy Tennant

Screenwriters: Susannah Grant and Andy Tennant & Rick Parks

Director of photography: Andrew Dunn

Production designer: Michael Howells

Editor: Roger Bondelli

Costume designer: Jenny Beavan

Co-producers: Kevin Reidy, Timothy M. Bourne

Music: George Fenton

Casting: Priscilla John, Lucinda Syson

Sound mixer: Simon Kaye


Danielle: Drew Barrymore

Rodmilla: Anjelica Huston

Prince Henry: Dougray Scott

Leonardo: Patrick Godfrey

Marguerite: Megan Dodds

Jacqueline: Melanie Lynskey

King Francis: Timothy West

Queen Marie: Judy Parfitt

Auguste: Jeroen Krabbe

Paulette: Kate Lansbury

Gustave: Lee Ingleby

Running time -- 121 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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