Please Give (2010) Poster


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A solid character drama
napierslogs19 May 2010
"Please Give" is an independent, character drama. What I loved about this film was the interesting array of characters that it presented.

The characters that were on display for us to watch were all well written, fully-developed, interesting and funny as they each struggled with their moral dilemmas. I found myself being able to relate to all of them in one way or another.

The writer also leaves enough to your imagination so you can decide how much these characters evolved or learned over the course of the film. As you think about them, you find yourself applying these lessons to your own life.

The lack of plot leaves you wanting more because the best movies are usually able to deliver both plot and great characters. Although this is not one of the top echelon of movies, the compelling characters makes this better than most films you'll be able to find today.
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Ghosts of Furniture Past
David Ferguson6 June 2010
Greetings again from the darkness. If not for a friend's recommendation, I probably would have avoided this one on the basis of writer/director Nicole Holofcener's last film, Friends with Money. I found that to be a miserable film filled with miserable people. This one, on the other hand, is a wonderful film filled with miserable people!

OK, that is a slight simplification, but it is an extremely well written story that showcases the imperfections of people, social situations and society as a whole. Sometimes it seems the harder we try, the worse things turn out. Such is the life of Catherine Keener's character. She and her husband (Oliver Platt) run a furniture resale shop. She carries this enormous burden around because they stock the store by buying cheap from grandchildren stuck with death's aftermath ... and then reselling to arrogant metrosexual types who live for kitsch and cool. Keener spends her time trying to scrape off the guilt by doling out money and doggie bags to the homeless.

There are many interesting characters in the film and this always adds to the fun. Rebecca Hall (uptight Vicky from Vicky Cristina Barcelona) plays the dutiful granddaughter taking care of her 90 plus year old monster granny played colorfully by Ann Morgan Guilbert. Many will remember Ms. Guilbert as Dick Van Dyke's neighbor in the early 60's sitcom. Her key job in the film is to get closer to dying so that Keener and Platt can take over her apartment and expand - the ultimate dream for a NYC resident. Hall's character is the budded flower - the one just waiting to bloom as soon as the rain hits (granny dies).

The mean-spiritedness of the grandmother is matched only by the vile spewing from Amanda Peet, Hall's less than caring and trustworthy sister who is obsessed with tanning ... and the girl who "stole" her boyfriend. Peet's character often just says what she is thinking which adds dimension to most conversations! There are some terrific scenes and moments and characters in the film, but the best written scene is the dinner party. Keener and Platt invite Hall, Peet and Guilbert over in an guilt-easing attempt to be civil while waiting for Granny to kick the bucket. The scene takes on an entirely new life when Keener/Platt's daughter makes an appearance. Sarah Steele plays Abby as a smart, insightful teenager. Oh, and she is also mad at the world and bitter about her complexion and slightly pudgy build (which makes finding the right jeans a quest). The whole scene is one uncomfortable statement or moment after another. Beautiful to watch.

I could go on and on about the intricacies of the characters and their relationships with each other and outsiders, but what matters is that the film is well written and well executed. It is not some sappy, save the world rom-com, but rather a character study of what goes on in real life and in real moments. Plenty of humor, but also plenty of truth. Amazing how often those two go hand in hand.
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Subtle and Strong
davdecrane13 May 2010
A strong ensemble piece anchored by Catherine Keener, the movie is a funny and plausible reading of the neuroses of a functional, likable but in-pain group of working middle class New Yorkers.

What's most positive and enjoyable about the film is the desire of its characters to deal with their problems even when they're not aware they're doing it. But a natural striving to consciousness takes hold because they're all just open enough to admit they don't have all the answers. Watching them on a path that ineluctably carries them to self-awareness, and then each other, is one of the great movie pleasures of this year.
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Please Take
jdesando8 June 2010
I've heard all the clichés about New York, and I have a daughter who owns an apartment in Hell's Kitchen, so I know what I'm writing about: If you want a superior cinematic exploration of the contradictions in one of the world's great cities, then see Please Give.

Upper middle class couple Kate (Catherine Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt) own a shop that sells mid-20th century furniture and kitschy items at prices non-Manhattanites would consider high.

As dramatically interesting is their bid to purchase an adjacent apartment as soon as the elderly grandmother dies. The death watch is the essence of the theme about shameless New Yorkers' acquisitiveness, for which, when it comes to expanding one's own apartment, anything goes. It's especially poignant to watch the liberal, goodhearted Kate give $20 bills to the homeless along the street, volunteer for work that makes her cry, give a valuable vase to a former customer she has taken advantage of, and yet wait for grandma next door to croak.

But that's where writer/director Nicole Holofcener gets it right—New York is full of life's ironic contradictions: Do good and bad in equal measure, feel bad about the bad, and go on living in one of the most glamorous cities ever crafted for the appetitive and the kind hearted. Holofcener treats the issues, from teen age angst to adult infidelity, with a dramatic restraint that allows the scenes to breathe lightly when a teenager berates her mom in public or a husband cheats on his beloved wife.

Keener is a delight with her nuanced, exemplary life, and Amanda Peet as Mary, the seductive granddaughter of the aging neighbor, is spot on in her self-centered charm. The scene in the elevator with Alex, Kate, and Mary is as uncomfortable as any director could hope.

It's all in a delightful, deconstructed New York minute, or so it seems to a former hyper Easterner now laid-back Mid-Westerner.
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Small "Crash"
Blacklumix9 May 2010
If you view people as case studies in arrested development, then everyone has an issue, and everyone has a story. It's how each deals with his or her issue that makes things interesting in life. And when those issues interrelate to family dynamics, things can get down right convoluted, both as tragic and comic. "Please Give" is such a vehicle. Everyone's issue is not only personal but becomes a family matter at some level. And in the end there is some truth to the concept that blood is thicker than water. Like the movie "Crash" we see how seemingly random personal issues bounce off of the others in our lives, how we react to the consequences given our relative family dynamics, and how we may move on. In the center of this mini-maelstrom is Kate, whose issue of guilt appears to be the nucleus of all matters. Everything seems to spread out from there, and like a galaxy in the distant sky, things coalesce or spin off into directions brilliantly. As usual, whoever makes up the trailer for this tidy package misdirects us completely, which is why I hate trailers.....
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Dead people's stuff
Chris Knipp23 May 2010
Nicole Holofcener is sort of an auteur, and accordingly has a following: she writes and directs her own films in pretty much her own way. She's a witty observer of current American customs and she's good with actors. She gets especially nice performances out of Catherine Keener, who seems too often relegated by other directors to secondary roles in their films but whom she features in all four of hers. These do sometimes have a TV flavor. Holofcener in fact has directed episodes of "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under," and other shows. Like a TV comedy writer, she works in short scenes with moments of pointed dialogue, a specific observation -- a twisted toe, a misshapen breast, a nasty crack. Eventually there's a bit of resolution.

In her last film, the 2006 'Friends with Money,' Holofcener manipulated a set of women ("Sex and the City" style) with different marital circumstances and levels of wealth.

This time unity of a sort is provided by a New York apartment building where the main people meet. There is just one (pretty) happily married couple, Alex and Kate (Oliver Platt and Keener), and a very blunt old lady who lives next door, Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert), whose apartment they have purchased. Alex and Kate have a quarrelsome teenage daughter, Abby (Sarah Steele), who's not happy with her complexion or her wardrobe. She wants a pair of jeans that costs two hundred dollars.

The old lady has two granddaughters, one of whom is mean and selfish, the other kindlier and shier.

"Please give" alludes to panhandlers, but also more widely to Kate's guilt. She is self-conscious about the fact that her business with Alex earns good money and that they are financially secure. She longs to do charitable work, though she runs crying from a center for the mentally handicapped, and her generous handouts to the homeless people on the block only seem to anger Abby. Abby thinks the money should go toward her expensive jeans. She isn't a very high minded or even pleasant young lady. But she's gong through a difficult age. So is Andra, who is infirm and in her nineties and probably not going to last long. Andra's older granddaughter Mary (a well-disguised Amanda Peet), an artificially bronzed woman who gives facials at a spa, has no such excuse. Mary is the mean and selfish sister. Her more shy and more dutiful sibling, Rebecca (Rebecca Hall), does mammograms; would like a boyfriend; but drops by every day to help out her grumpy old grandmother. Guilt, self-centeredness, death, and adultery are going to rear their heads eventually. Whenever Alex or Kate see Rebecca they feel guilty because Rebecca is trying to make Andra's latter days comfortable, but Alex and Kate are just waiting for her to die so they can enlarge their apartment. This is the kind of thing Mary is only too happy to make clear to Andra, as she gets to do when, out of guilt, Kate invites the grandmother and both granddaughters to dinner. This leads to some of the movie's most deliciously uncomfortable dialogue or, if you see it that way, offensive, nasty talk. For Alex what is said doesn't matter much because he is noticing Mary. She's beautiful.

It's ingenious the way Holofcener weaves her themes in and out of scenes; but she also hits the themes too hard. It's a bit obvious how customers in Kate and Alex's Fifties ("Mid-Century") furniture shop suddenly start asking where they get their merchandise. We know the answer, and Alex answers without guilt: they buy them from the children of dead people. But Kate has to go around looking for a charitable organization to donate time to. What she ends up doing, it seems, is giving expensive jeans to Abby. And if Abby's face still has blemishes, it's brightened by her smile when she receives this bounty. The inevitable happens and Andra dies, resulting in a moment when Rebecca and Mary lie quietly and cuddle. Alex has had a roving eye, but he and Kate are one of Holofcener's happy couples. Much drolly specific and tartly rude dialogue has gone by.

But is that enough? I might tend to agree with Variety's Todd McCarthy, who wrote in a review of 'Lovely and Amazing,' that it was "Engaging, intermittently insightful but too glib to wring full value out of its subject matter." One wishes she would take something a little more seriously, go into a little more depth, scatter around her focus a little less. And if the nasty talk and mean people she chronicles don't really matter, she ought to let them drift free into out-and-out farce; or if they do matter, she ought to give them a harder time.

But that is not her way. What she gives us is a keen ear for dialogue, good roles for women, and an even-handed distribution of likable and despicable characters. 'Please Give' made me laugh out loud, especially in the first half. Then the nastiness, first of Abby, then of Andra, finally of Mary, began to add up and the action stopped being fun. Then as dialogue and incidents came to seem too calculated to be convincing, relationships and outcomes became in turn harder and harder to make any ultimate sense of.

This weakness may have developed, oddly enough, out of a greater focus. In the earliest of Holofcener's films that I've seen, the 2001 'Lovely and Amazing,' there is a collection of intrigues, on the face of them perhaps wildly unconnected, that made it fun to see what was going to happen next. This time there are no surprises, only outcomes that are anticlimactic and sentimental. Cuddling with a bitch sister: somehow that was not what I wanted.
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A very New York City kind of movie
Red-12520 July 2010
Please Give (2010) was written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. It's a very New York City kind of movie. The plot revolves around the purchase of an apartment by two urban professionals. (They're not that young, so they're not yuppies, although they probably were yuppies in their day.) At present, they make an apparently excellent living buying up old "classic" furniture, and reselling it in their storeroom. Catherine Keener plays Kate, the wife, and Oliver Platt is her husband Alex.

The problem with the purchase of the apartment is that it's still occupied by an older woman, and the agreement is that she will live there until she dies. Into the mix come the woman's two granddaughters--Rebecca Hall as Rebecca, the "plain" sister, and Amanda Peet as Mary, the gorgeous sister. (Rebecca Hall is only plain by Hollywood standards, and Amanda Peet is gorgeous by those same standards.)

The film has several plot threads moving forward simultaneously, but the one that interested me the most was Kate's ambivalence about her source of income. Obviously, if you're selling any used furniture--classic or otherwise--you have to buy low and sell high. However, Kate is clearly guilt-ridden about making money because she knows furniture value and the sellers--usually children of a recently deceased parent--don't know these values.

She also feels guilty about street people, and tends to give them ten- or twenty-dollar bills as she walks along the street. She really wants to help disadvantaged people, and checks out a residence for the frail elderly and a day program for developmentally disabled people to see if she can volunteer.

Catherine Keener is an appealing actor, and her character is basically likable. However, as I thought about it, Kate's guilt doesn't lead to any really effective action. Yes, she agonizes about the furniture, but she buys and sells it anyway. And, although her motivation to help the less fortunate is clear, she doesn't actually accept the volunteer positions. She thinks about them, and she cries, but she doesn't really do anything. Still, you can't deny the honesty of her emotions.

This is a movie in which, objectively, nothing truly major happens. However, the characters are changed by the events in the film. They are imperfect and they don't become perfect, but they're interesting and you care about them.

As I wrote at the beginning of the review, this is a very New York City kind of movie. It crackles with realistic NYC atmosphere, and you get a real sense of the city. I could almost feel myself walking along the sidewalk with Kate or Alex.

All in all, I think this is definitely a film worth seeing, and it will work well on DVD. My guess is that opinions about this movie will vary tremendously. I liked it, but others may have equally compelling reasons to dislike it. See it yourself and make your own decision.
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Great Woody Allanesque Slice of Life But Doesn't Go Anyplace
FilmRap7 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Please Give- rm This Woody Allanesque movie set in New York City written and directed by Nicole Holofcener deserves more than the nearly empty movie theater that we saw it in on weekend evening. It is a slice of life movie that doesn't go anywhere except that some of the characters seem to be a little better off at the end of the movie than they were at the beginning and the viewer has had an insightful 90 minutes into these people laced with some humor. A husband and wife own an upscale furniture store in Manhattan where they buy furniture of deceased people at low prices and sell high. The wife (Elizabeth Keener) is a do gooder by nature and tries to slip twenty dollar bills to street people or those that look like street people much to the chagrin of their 15 year old daughter ( Sarah Steele) who is struggling with her acne and her desire for expensive jeans. Oliver Platt is the teddy bear type husband who while devoted to his family does have a slight itch. There is a crabby elderly woman next door played by veteran actress Ann Morgan Guilbert, who is nearly 80 herself, in a standout performance. She has two contrasting granddaughters who visit regularly to take care of her. Mary ( Amanda Peet) is the older by five years who makes no bones about the fact that she is waiting for her grandmother die and insensitively will say so as well as other things that are best left unsaid. Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) is the sweeter grandchild who is good and loyal to her grandmother. As noted the story really doesn't go any place but we felt good when it was over as we walked out of our empty movie theater. (2010) ***
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Very Enjoyable, Bitter Sweet
Melissaslist3 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Always liked Catherine Keener. There's something very real and endearing about her. I read in the paper that this was an "Allen-esque NY tale". which is what made me want to see it. I agree. Like older Woody Allen movies; this movie was very clever, funny, good characters and a slice of NY life.

This was the story of a married couple who collects "vintage" furniture from families who are clearing out the apartments of their deceased relatives. They then resell all this stuff in their shop in Manhattan for an elevated price. Naturally there's a certain amount of guilt involved in this sort of "ambulance chasing" practice and the wife/mother (keener) feels a lot of guilt and torn between making a nice living and wanting to give back to poor, homeless or unfortunate people in return possibly to assuage her feelings.

In addition to this they have purchased the apartment of an elderly woman in the building and basically just waiting for HER to kick the bucket so that they can begin renovation on their new, larger apartment when they take it over and break through the walls.

It's a really interesting story about how different people feel about things that they want, how they get it, and what they are ashamed of and how this manifests. Everyone WANTS to be good (that is except Mary, the sister played brilliantly and narcissistically by Amanda Peet)and the old lady, Edra who pretty much stole the movie and every scene she was in! All together a very enjoyable film.
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definitely a good one
Lee Eisenberg20 June 2010
Nicole Holofcener and Catherine Keener mark their fourth collaboration* with "Please Give", showing the contrasts in a New York couple's life. Kate (Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt) run a furniture shop selling objects that they have collected at estate sales. In the apartment next to theirs, elderly Andra (Ann Guilbert, better known as Millie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show") has moved in with her granddaughters, the benevolent Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) and the mean-spirited Mary (Amanda Peet). As Kate, Alex, and their daughter Abby (Sarah Steele) get to know Andra, Rebecca and Mary, Kate begins to have doubts about how her own family lives its life. Kate always makes an effort to give money to the homeless, while Sarah doesn't seem to appreciate everything that she has.

The movie does a great job with character development. From the start, we immediately know that Andra always says exactly what she thinks, and that Mary doesn't have a care in the world. Specifically, there's the dichotomy in Kate's attitude towards things: she does everything possible to be a good Samaritan, but eagerly awaits Andra's passing. Is Kate really the person who she sees herself as? All in all, I highly recommend "Please Give". It just might help you realize your own flaws. Also starring Kevin Corrigan and Thomas Ian Nichols.

*I actually haven't seen any of Holofcener's other movies. I guess that I'll have to.
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You might want "more" in a story, but this is so well made, funny, and moving, it's more than enough
secondtake13 March 2011
Please Give (2010)

A sharp, witty, touching, slice-of-life gem of a movie directed by Nicole Holofcener. It has some of the trappings of an Indie movie, with very ordinary people taking the leads and quirky low budget filming and music to make it undramatic.

But the cast is top notch. The leads--there are four of them in a well balanced ensemble--are nothing if not believable. Maybe most impressive as an actress is Rebecca Hall, who played Vicky in "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona," completely transforming herself into an awkward, kindly, thoughtful and slightly whining young woman. Playing her sister is a hardened and unlikable Amanda Peet, who also has a Woody Allen feather in her cap, "Melinda, Melinda."

Then there is a moderne era antique store couple, Catherine Keener (a regular in the director's films) and Oliver Platt, a comfortable couple who buy their antiques people who have just had a relative with an apartment full of stuff die. Yes, there is some black humor, hilarious stuff, and there are layers of contemporary New York life with its superficial and materialist angst, and charm. As events compound, usually with conviction, the characters become more rounded and intriguing. And sympathetic. By the end, you feel for everyone, whatever their weird and sometimes selfish cores.

If the movie seems like a cross between Sex and the City and Six Feet Under, it's not a surprise--Holofcener has directed episodes from both series. Throw in her early apprenticeship under Woody Allen, and you get the humor as well as the high standards of writing and directing, combined, that Allen inspires. "Please Give" is slight, somehow, in its intentions. It takes a view of life that isn't so strange really, and where nothing all that unusual happens--the weirdness is just a reminder that we all have weirdness in our lives--and it makes it salient. That's the magic overall, lifting everyday traits into the light where they matter. Or matter differently. With a laugh.

Don't miss it!
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No.1 Movie of 2010 So Far
dunmyer-111 May 2010
'Please Give' wins my vote for Best Movie of 2010 So Far. It's the funniest film I've seen in years, and it also has depth, originality and intelligence.

It tells the story of two families in middle-class Manhattan, each dealing with a range of issues. One of the most prominent themes is death and dying, but somehow the film is not a downer. Ann Guilbert's portrayal of a cranky 90-year-old is laugh-out-loud funny, as is Sarah Steele's raw and honest depiction of adolescent awkwardness.

Amanda Peet also does stand-out work as a woman on the verge of middle age still struggling to be a pretty girl.
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Awful! Nothing fun here at all
sunznc10 June 2010
If you are looking for something funny, uplifting, light and airy go look somewhere else! This isn't going to be any of those things. This is grim, dismal, sad, pathetic and uncomfortable to watch.

The characters all seem to be sad or unhappy about something. No one is at ease or comfortable with their own lives nor do they seem to love the people they are around. Lot's of anger and depression here.

Now, I could say that we have all experienced times in our lives where we felt the same way; sad, lonely, angry. But do you want to see every negative human emotion all compacted in 90 minutes? No!

There are a few moments that are funny. Very few. Even "Friends with Money" was more fun than this. I hate it.
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"Mild Funny & Mild Serious – Decent Movie"
kimi_layercake2 November 2010
"Please Give" is the story of a husband and wife who butt heads with the granddaughters of the elderly woman who lives in apartment the couple owns, how things are intertwined and how circumstances eventually gets to them in both right and wrong way.

Cast-wise, pretty good. Oliver Platt is very likable as the cool and flirty husband, with Catherine Keener playing his better half wondrously. Rebecca Hall is the core of this movie, giving a very powerful performance of a doting granddaughter, who sacrifices a lot for taking care of her grandmother. Amanda Peet does decently in her role of a beauty conscious stony-hearted sister of Rebecca Hall. A special mention for the two grandmothers, who were very natural in their act.

"Please Give" is not entertaining; neither will it remain in your mind for quite some time. It might get irksome someplace, but having said, it's because it has been made in a very lifelike or rather natural, devoid of unnecessary cheap entertaining stuffs. It gets funny most of the times, but not ROFL stuff. It's decent enough to be enjoyable.

Overall, "Please Give" is a sincere attempt to portray the life of two neighbors and their twist with life, once they get to know each other well or rather unwell. It's not recommended for people seeking fun and entertainment. Rather, it's a movie for someone looking for a mild funny, mild serious (non)-family movie.

My Verdict: 6/10
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A gentle slice-of-life
Tim Johnson22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Diane and I just saw this film some hours ago and both of us had roughly the same feelings about it. We are both sensitive (in the bad sense) to New York films but at least it wasn't Hollywood junk so it took a little time for both of us to acclimatise ourselves to the foreignness of this film; however, the longer you watch it the more engrossing it becomes and you find yourself really caring about the characters and the everyday situations they find themselves in. You care about the grouchy grandmother, the gentle infidelity, the teen's blemishes, the quiet sensitivity of the mother and the compromises she must make with her job. I did not feel the intrusion of the downside of New York living as much as was made of it in the publicity. Yes, the economic disparity is there but I do not think that it featured strongly. To me the film was a pastiche of the lives of many players and as the viewer you can pick which particular piece you want to follow and that makes, to me, a different sort of film and therefore, a good one.

There is much in this movie that is very good so if you go wait for at least 15 minutes before you leave thinking that New York, rather than being the heart of a person, is likely to be anatomically elsewhere on that body.
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slice of life (more accurately death) in manhatten
mauneen29 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
please give ( or counting my blessings )

i enjoy opportunities on t.v. or movies to recognize streets or shops I've visited on trips to Manhattan, blessedly this gave me something to do while watching writer/director Nicole Holofener's slice of life film, "please give".

Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, drag along Catherine's younger sister Elizabeth, Rebecca Hall and Ann Morgan Guilbert (formerly Millie Helper on the Dick van Dyke show and Vetta Rosenberg on the nanny) on this long, slow death march towards pointless. along with sight seeing, i spent a lot of time wondering if Rebecca Hall is related to Scarlett Johansson- the resemblance was distracting- blessing number two.

this is a film ( i can't call it a story ) that follows a group of people who interact because an old lady(Guilbert) who's attended to by two grand daughters (Hall and Peet) living next to a couple(older Keener and Platt) with a daughter (Keener the younger) is on death's door. when the grandmother dies the couple will knock out the adjoining wall of the two apartments to enlarge their own. this death watch fits right in with the couples chosen profession- selling vintage furniture bought from the heirs of the newly deceased. these ghouls live and breathe death, so it's no surprise when the wife starts showing symptoms of deep, deep depression. the surprise would have been if she was ever anything else but.

the third blessing of this morbid movie was the discovery that Ann Morgan Guilbert ( i like her) is still alive and kicking which is ironic as hers is the only character who actually dies. this film begs the questions- who green lighted this turkey? was is really the best project vying for funding? i have to believe it wasn't and that there is some twisted reason i blessedly will never know why people put so much effort into something so unworthy.
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An astute and interesting character study
iheart_ny30 June 2010
Nicole Holofcener's newest slice-of-life tragicomedy Please Give has one of the most shocking openings I've seen in any film in the past few years, and it addresses a subject that rarely is discussed in polite society - women and the misery that generates from the necessary yearly mammogram.

Rebecca Hall's character (also named Rebecca) is a mammogram technician, whose mother Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert) is on her way out. While helping her through everyday life, her flaky sister Mary (Amanda Peet) is useless in the quest to make the last years of her mother's life as painless as possible. The story of Kate (Catherine Keener), a bleeding heart Liberal suffering from an incurable case of white guilt, and her philandering husband Alex (Oliver Platt) is woven into the tale. They own a store that sells items purchased from children of recently deceased individuals. They want to buy Andra's next-door apartment whenever she finally croaks. Tension, awkwardness, and quiet chaos ensue from that point forward.

Holofcener is an autuer, much like Quentin Tarantino or Oliver Stone. Her films are usually driven by strong female characters, and they always tend to deal with matters that are very realistic and true to the viewer. While they might not be heavy on plot, they're very relatable, honest, incisive, and powerful, all at the same time.

Holofcener has grown, as a director since her last feature, Friends With Money, which I also enjoyed greatly. While the characters in that film struggled with being alone, being poor, and suffering through menopause, the characters in this film deal with different dilemmas, such as, when you see a person who is homeless on your street block, what exactly can you do? What, exactly, is pushing it too far? Is there any right answer to any of life's dilemmas?

Holofcener has also greatly grown as a writer since FWM. While some of the dialogue in her previous films felt somewhat contrived and forced, that's not the case here. The writing is top-notch. The audience may feel as if they're eavesdropping on the characters, which is always a good thing in a movie, for me. The characters feel so genuine and real, that you forget that they're even fictitious, and the dilemmas that they face are extremely realistic, and relatable.

One of the marks of a Holofcener film is the presence of the great Catherine Keener. She is one of the few people in Hollywood who can do no wrong in any film that she stars in. She, however does her best work in Holofcener films, and this is no exception. Her character, in this one, is particularly well written, because of the character's realism. Her character has a soul, and doesn't have the typical, plastic, flat persona that Hollywood usually brings on for a woman in her mid-40s.

While I don't think this film will translate to every audience, I think it's a gem for the summer. It's light on plot, but heavy on realism and insight. It's a character study that I've found more interesting than any film so far in 2010.
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Filled with sharp wit, humor, and humanity
Howard Schumann23 May 2010
According to Werner Erhard, guilt is a position of no responsibility. In other words, if you fail to openly acknowledge that you have acted in a way that is inconsistent with your integrity, you end up feeling guilty and beating yourself up about it. In Nicole Holofcener's latest acerbic comedy Please Give, the main character's lives are run by their guilt. Kate, played by Holofcener regular Catherine Keener, hates making money purchasing the belongings of the recently dead and selling them at an inflated price in her New York antique store but does it anyway and will probably continue to do it. To assuage her feelings of self-loathing, however, she hands out cash obsessively to street people but refuses to buy her cantankerous 15-year old daughter Abby (Sarah Steele) a pair of expensive jeans.

Kate is not without compassion and attempts to volunteer with the handicapped and elderly but cannot handle it emotionally. The guilt, unfortunately, is spread around the household. Kate's husband Alex (Oliver Platt) feels remorse about cheating on his wife with an attractive neighbor, Mary (Amanda Peet), who works as a facial massage therapist and has no qualms about giving Alex a facial and other kinds of massages. Like Holofcener's 2001 film Lovely and Amazing which explored women's responses to a culture obsessed with youth, celebrity, and physical beauty, the characters are not bad folks. In fact they are really endearing and the director provides them with a distinctive voice, one that can be sweet and full of gentle humor, but can also be acidic and unpleasant. They are not people you may feel like hanging out with but they are always real and can also be fun.

Please Give is not about the story but about the characters. Whatever story there is, however, centers on Kate and Alex's relationship with the daughters of their 91-year-old neighbor Andra (Ann Guilbert) who lives next door. The daughters, Rebecca, a lab technician who gives mammograms and Mary, the massage therapist, are both unmarried and the men they associate with do not have anything nice to say about them which seems to be what you attract if you do not feel good about yourself. Not that they are waiting for Andra to die or anything, but Kate and Alex have already bought the apartment next door and have made plans to enlarge their own apartment by breaking down the walls.

Naturally Andra is full of fears, leading Abby to say to her mom that "When she sees you, she sees a vulture." Kate tries to smooth things over by inviting the old lady and her granddaughters over for a birthday party for Andra but some inappropriate remarks and Andra's whine about her birthday cake and a nightgown she got as a present casts a pall over the proceedings. On paper, the story of some feisty rich people and their spoiled daughter may sound like something you would want to avoid. In reality, however, Please Give is exceptionally involving and highly entertaining. It is filled with sharp wit, humor, and humanity, and contains some wonderful performances that light up the screen, a film that is reminiscent of Woody Allen at his best.
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A New York Gem
inframan17 December 2011
Funny, insightful, poignant & terrifically well acted. This is a real slice of NYC life. Several slices actually, but as delicious as the best Katz's delicatessen pastrami. I grew up in New York City. Went to school & college there. Got married, had kids, moved to California, got divorced, got remarried & moved back to the upper west side. Citerella & Fairway. The whole magilla, yada yada.

There are people who won't be reached by the depth of humor & humanity in this film because their expectations of how life *should be* will not be satisfied. Too bad, their loss. Bravo to Nicole Holofcener for being an honest film maker & a brilliant artist.
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Please Please Give Me Now!
meeza28 November 2011
Please give me a few minutes of your time to read my punhilistic review of the indie comedy "Please Give". Well-renowned Independent film director Nicole Holofcener has given us another fine character-driven talky film. Holofcener- regular Catherine Keener stars as Kate, a middle-age owner of a used goods store which she runs with her husband Alex. Alex and Kate have a teenage daughter named Abby who is going thorough the standard adolescent angst. Kate is a giver and has a habit of giving out food and money to the homeless. She is almost like a homeless person's "quasi-groupie"; sort of speak. On the home-front, Kate and Alex would give their right nostrils for their older geriatric neighbor Andra to give herself to heaven or hell, so they can then expand their apartment when the walls come crumbling down. The problem is that Andra is like an infinite android who is ha ha ha ha stayin' alive, stayin' alive; Andra is not the sweetest granny on the block either. Andra's granddaughters Rebecca & Mary look after her with random visits; Sweet Rebecca being more the caretaker and egocentric Mary being more a la Jack Nicholson caretaker in "The Shining". I would give you more subplot points of "Please Give", but I would then be giving you too much information and thereby would ruin the viewing experience of this enjoyable little movie. Holofconer, who also scribed the film, once again excels in writing engaging characters. Her direction was also very sharp. Someone please give this woman an Oscar nomination already! The "Please Give" cast was giving it, giving it, giving it right. The consistent Keener once again shined with her Kate work. Oliver Platt was hilarious as the clever Alex. And the sister act of Rebecca Hall as Rebecca and Amanda Peet as Mary excelled in their astute performances. Hall continues to impress with every role. Ann Morgan Guilbert was grand as the scene-stealer granny Andra. Sarah Steele was not exactly a scene- stealer, but she was very impressive in her first acting performance playing the "craving for $200 jeans" teen Abby. I also enjoyed the bit performances of Thomas Ian Nicholas as Rebecca's vertically-challenged new boyfriend, and of Lois Smith as his grandma. "Please Give" has all the indie film ingredients that gives it cinematic justice. And even though I have exceeded my punmeter in this review by giving you way too many undesired puns, I still do desire that you please give 90 minutes of your time with a "Please Give" experience. I do care if you don't give a ….. so please give it a chance! ***** Excellent
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Keep Giving
Chrysanthepop1 May 2011
Nicole Holofcener explores intertwining stories between and around two families who live in a New York apartment building. There's a very opinionated, blunt and sometimes bitter 91 year old grandmother, Andra, who is regularly visited by her youngest granddaughter Rebecca while the self-centred elder one, Mary (who is put off by her grandmother's bluntness) obsesses about herself (especially her looks). Little does she know that she's pretty much just like Andra. Next door to Andra lives a married couple Kate and Alex and their teenage daughter Abby who complains about her looks. Kate and Alex, who own Andra's apartment, plan to extend it to their own after her death. Kate overwhelmed by the less privileged, always gives out money to the homeless (much against her daughter's wish) but at the same time she wants to do more charitable work. Yet, when the time comes she is just too overwhelmed to go a step further and runs out from the center of the mentally handicapped.

'Please Give' looks at the stories of these characters with humour. Holofcener touches themes like death, guilt, self-centredness, adultery and commitment but it's all done with a well balanced touch of comedy. Her writing is solid. It has a whimsical narrative similar to some of Woody Allen's best works. The intense sequences are subtle and effective. The characters are well-defined and recognizable. They are cleverly written with a comic touch.

It is also a well crafted little film. The sets are simple yet detailed. The cinematography is first rate. The editing is fine.

'Please Give' is loaded with excellent performances. Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall brilliantly downplay their parts. Amanda Peet is spot on as the bitchy Mary. Oliver Platt performs naturally. Lois Smith is a delight and Ann Morgan Guilbert is very good.

'Please Give' has heart, humour and substance. Thankfully, it is lacking in the kind of melodrama that has become an ingredient in many Hollywood films of this genre. Overall, Nicole Holofcener has made a fine little film that explores the (direct and indirect but significant) effects people have on others. I hope she keeps giving us little gems like this.
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meandering take on two small families in NY
kinderhead28 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Lets see...first of all there is no story really, no 'plot' to speak of, no clear direction of where the movies' going, no real humor, no reason to go especially to see it in a theater...if it comes up on TV, watch it until you fall asleep. Though I have to say that it started out in a positive fashion where you are 'treated' to an array of breasts on display in the cancer monitoring clinic! Couldn't accept Amanda Peet getting the hots for a fat porgy Oliver Platt and kissing him within 5 minutes of being alone. Don't know why they threw in the teenage daughters quest for jeans and clear skin - easily omitted and not relevant to the movie.

Its a slow meandering movie that shows in detail the boring lives of two rather mundane families going about their mundane lives, though the pretty Amanda seemed miscast as the uncaring granddaughter...

All in all, avoidable. And if seen, quickly forgotten.
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'Bad skin, romantic conflicts and guilt!'
Hellmant25 October 2010
'PLEASE GIVE': Three Stars (Out of Five)

Nicole Holofcener writes and directs this critically acclaimed comedy drama about family life and the struggle to do what's right. Holofcener once again teams with her usual partner in crime, actress Catherine Keener, for the fourth time (after 'WALKING AND TALKING', 'LOVELY & AMAZING' and 'FRIENDS WITH MONEY'). The film also stars Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Ann Morgan Guilbert and Sarah Steele. It's a quirky character study that critics are comparing to the film likes of Woody Allen.

Keener and Platt play a married couple named Kate and Alex who run a used furniture store that's highly profitable due to the fact that they purchase from children of the recently deceased, who have no idea of it's value. They recently purchased the apartment adjacent to theirs' and are impatiently waiting for it's 91 year old inhabitant (Guilbert) to die so they can take it over. Kate struggles with the guilt of this, as well as her business, and tries to make up for it by giving money to homeless people on the street and attempting to do volunteer work, which she cant emotionally handle. She also invites the two granddaughters of her elderly neighbor, the beautiful and bitchy Mary (Peet) and more plain and sweet Rebecca (Hall), over for dinner one night and she, Alex and their daughter Abby (Steele) all grow attached to them in different ways. Each of the other characters all battle their own personal problems as well (including bad skin, and romantic conflicts).

The film is a somewhat interesting character study but nothing too memorable. I haven't seen much of the writer / director's other work except for 'LOVELY & AMAZING' which I enjoyed a little more than this. The actors have all done at least somewhat better work as well. The film is all well acted and nicely written and directed but in my opinion nothing too exceptional. The film is both funny and emotionally touching but only to a very minimal degree, it doesn't excel at either level. Still it's not a bad way to spend your time, especially if you like quirky little character studies. I'd say it's worth checking out at least once.

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Heart touching-sweet drama-wonderful cast-a firecracker in the sky
drklabs21 October 2010
Great cast and great plot together with excellent portrait photography and heart touching musical score and flawless direction makes a great movie just through life . I loved it and i m sure you gonna love it too. Its the kind of movie that you can see again and again when you feel lonely , sad , with friends or without, it makes you appreciate those little things that you may never see or you passing by without to notice those small details that makes you feel human .This film will make you feel that you re part of this life again. The characters were amazing and the performances were great from all the cast and the story very tighten together.The thing that i was personally amazed from the performances was the simplicity but the deepness too in the performances the two edges that i was found in every single performance on this film maybe it was some kind of balance from the director to keep the tension between different ages or different and very strong personalities in the characters that trick was good maybe that's why this movie will end up to be the most loved movie of 2010.Don't miss this film definitely worth's every second you gonna spend for it.Also it happened all of the cast to be from my favorite actors so i was double happy and i love New York .Enjoy it
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Virtually plot less chronicle of quirky Big Apple next door neighbors
Turfseer13 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps the most interesting observations in 'Please Give', Nicole Holofcener's new 'dramedy' about two families that live next to each other in a New York City apartment building, are not the main characters' personalities but rather their professions. Cathy (Elizabeth Keener) and Alex (Oliver Platt) run a second hand furniture store, usually obtaining merchandise from home owners who have recently lost a family member. Then there are the two sisters who live next door: Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) who is a radiologist assistant at a mammography clinic and Mary (Amanda Peat) who does facials at a salon.

'Please Give' begins with unsettling closeups of womens' breasts at the mammography clinic. When viewing these images at the beginning of the film, one wonders if this is going to be one of those intense dramas about people afflicted with cancer. We soon discover, however, that 'Please Give' focuses much more on inconsequential concerns.

The title refers to Cathy's overly altruistic nature. This is a woman who feels compelled to give money to homeless people whenever she bumps into them on the street. Her teenage daughter, Abby, is appalled by her mother's misguided altruism; in one scene, Abby takes a $20 bill away from her mother, who then pulls out a $5 bill, handing it to the homeless person, apologizing anyway that she doesn't have more to give him. Later, Cathy tries to land a job doing volunteer work, working with children with special needs; unfortunately, she becomes overly emotional about the nature of the handicapped kids' situation, which interferes with her ability to assist them on a practical basis.

One of the main story lines involves Cathy and Alex purchasing their next door neighbor's apartment. The apartment will only be for sale when Rebecca and Mary's grandmother, Andra, kicks the bucket. She's a petulant old woman with a foul mouth. Additional conflict pops up between Rebecca who disapproves of the way her sister Mary treats their grandmother (Mary perhaps being the film's antagonist, due to her cold-hearted disposition).

Little much else happens plot-wise in 'Please Give': Alex has a brief affair with Mary; Cathy argues about Abby's desire to purchase some expensive designer jeans; Rebecca begins going out with the grandson of one of the patients at the clinic; Cathy struggles with guilt feelings over the furniture markups and Andra finally does indeed kick the bucket.

All's well that end's well when Cathy and Alex seem to resolve their differences with their teenage daughter and agree to purchase those expensive jeans she's been craving all along.

Ultimately, Holofcener fails to develop her characters into full-realized human beings. Each has a quirky aspect to their personality and are placed in situations that I would hardly call 'riveting'. 'Please Give' is incredibly slow-paced and the laughs are few and far between. This film would have been much more compelling if the stakes were somehow raised and we were treated to a plot replete with all kinds of unusual twists and turns.
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