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This film is a stand out performance by Jessica Lange, who t this point
in time appears in some films as the neurotic mother(as in "Prozac
nation"), which covers the issue of clinical depression in a rather
This film details actress Frances Farmer's life, early success, stage and screen, her contempt for Hollywood superficiality and the eventual downward spiral f her career, as well as her sanity.
The scenes with esteemed NY playwright Clifford Odets are interesting, well portrayed by Jeffrey DeMunn. Lange looks lovely, fragile yet tough, a defiant and independent spirit, especially considering this was the era of 1930's and 1940's.
Her mother is well-portrayed by the rather schizoid Kim Stanley ("Séance for Wet Afternoon'). Ms. Stanley portrays a narcissistic, controlling and even malevolent force in Frances' life.
When Frances tires of Hollywood facade and "glamour", she states to her mother she just wants to live her own life, quietly, and rejects Hollywood. This seemed to be the mechanism which enraged her mother, and eventually causes her to have Frances committed to the Western Asylum in Washington State.
Many books have been written (although the supposed lobotomy issue has been debunked), but clearly Frances underwent insulin and other barbaric treatments while committed to the barbaric asylum. Lange is very believable here, disheveled, angry, but also edgy and raw. And not necessarily "in the wrong" despite American society and it treatment of emotionally disturbed inmates at the time.
In a disturbing scene with psychiatrist, "Dr. Symington" it is evident at the time that railroading patients into involuntary commitment was all too commonplace. Frances may have been a common bipolar patient who would have responded to talk therapy, but this was never given a chance. Indeed, she was never given a chance.
The book "Will There Really be a Morning?" is also a good reference for those interested in delving into Frances Farmer's biography. While some have mentioned this film doesn't accurately portray the story, I think overall the audience gets a clear sense of the despair, longing and passion which were interwoven in Miss Farmer's life, and Jessica Lange does an excellent portrayal here. Highly recommended. 9/10.
Michael Douglas deserves credit for his part in this rather bizarre
supposed documentary. Other than passing factoids and news blurbs, I am
not familiar with Liberace, other than the obvious media stories and a
few appearances he had on Johnny Carson back in the day.
Liberace's sometime friend, Scott Thorson, while in real life is apparently a sordid character (We ARE in Hollywood, no one gets a free lunch). Anyway while Damon can be annoying in 'wholesome' type characters, he does okay here. Although I believe that for real facts one may want to research more.
At any rate the lifestyle of Liberace is explored, the sumptuous, over the top decor, the dogs, the hangers on, the users, the creepy plastic surgeon (well played by a nearly unrecognizable Rob Lowe).
Michael Douglas and his visual effects are quite stunning: the make up here is on the mark. It is something you may find yourself re-watching in disbelief. His effeminate characteristics are also similar to Liberace, the relationship with his mother, and how he actually was relieved once she passed away.
Douglas really does seem to be the bilious, blatant and attention seeking persona of Liberace, quite a contrast in performance to Wall street raider Gordon Gecko. Here Douglas transforms into a caricature, believable, humorous, or creepy at times.
The pastiche here probably doesn't follow reality, and clearly Liberace had many unsavory experiences, and so the tales we hear now may not all be true. The film makes Thorson a sympathetic jilted boy toy, but perhaps the real story is quite different. He certainly overcame the relationship quick enough to sue the Estate of Liberace for six figures.
Audiences not interested in this subject matte may be surprised, and Douglas' performance alone is well worth watching. 8/10.
Written from the perspective of Dean's long term friend Bast (well
portrayed by Robert Brandon), this film as some good quirks and sub-
texts to it.
Actor Stephen McHattie does have the affect and appearance of Dean in some instances, he portrays the early start of James Dean as a somewhat transient and alienated life. Living in NYC and finally getting accepted to the prestigious Actors Studio, but living with a big name actor, who is just someone he owes a debt to, and to "pay the piper" as he tells his friend.
The section regarding Dean's earlier family life could have been better explicated, but the audience does see his Hollywood relationships, including some decent cameos by Brooke Adams and Meg Foster (as Liz "Dizzy" Sheridan, who appeared in "Rebel Without a Cause"), and now plays Seinfeld's mother (credited as Liz Sheridan).
Overall worth seeing , but better to rent a DVD or purchase it, for the true researcher into Dean's checkered history. This film shown on MAVTV channel in US is terribly edited, and MAVTV is not a good viewing experience, at all. 8/10.
Carson McCullers wrote short stories on oddities and anomalies in the
south and its culture. This film gives us hints of the schizophrenic
nature of the south, which indeed still exists today.
The character of Frankie Addams is,without a doubt, disjointed and at times over the top. But she is at the awkward age of 14, and believes the world is revolving around her mini-drama and imagined victim-hood. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Janice and Jarvis (Frankie's older brother, headed to Camp Lejeune for boot camp and the war) are getting married, and this is a pivotal point in Frankies life. It seems nothing is good enough. Frankie is a reject in the neighborhood "treehouse club" and she is jealous (at first) of piano player Mary Littlejohn, who is more attractive to the boys of the neighborhood.
Ethel Waters and the subtext of Honey Brown, his trouble with local police, and the general prejudice of the south is touched upon.
Granted while Julie Harris is shrill and a bit annoying, it actually points to the fact that indeed her "problems" matter little in the grand scheme of things, in fact "The Wedding" itself is almost a minor aberration, when we look at the state of American culture during this era, segregation and the suffocating, alienating sense of it.
Ms. Waters sings in the film , it adds a touch of melancholy as we continue the narrative to its conclusion.Brandon De Wilde, as young Jon Henry also gives a sense of antagonism, and that "something is not quite right".
If you can get past Harris, the story itself tells of a niche in American history which no one seems to acknowledge, even at the present time. Recommended reading as well. 8/10.
A good film, while not classic, engages the viewer and makes them care
about the characters. Today in 2013, we see VERY little of this. Upon
re-watching Bugsy this past weekend (although it already has hundreds
of reviews) It is worth my noting that its more than watchable, has
some notable performances (Annette Bening looks lovely, although the
accent is a bit off). Beatty while some trite family scenes and
mistress vs. family man theme are utilized, is good.
I avoid all big blockbuster films because: story is what matters. (Maybe not to the demographic that watches trash reality TV) but, I prefer a good film noir with real actors. "Bugsy" delivers an engaging narrative, and plus we have Ben Kingsley as Meyer Lansky (excellent understated performance).
Harvey Kietel, Joe Mantegna, and Elliot Gould also as some of the members of Bugsy's "employees". The sets (especially of Beverly Hills home of Virginia Hill) are lush and interesting. The desert , and the scene of Ben Siegel's (Bugsy's) epiphany that casinos in Las Vegas could be a goldmine for the Mafia and its interests. Of note (and humorous) is Meyer Lansky (Kingsley) intoning that "what Ben is telling us is the desert is a good place to trap people into spending their money"...truer words about speculation and profit motive never spoken!.
Bening looks lovely as Mistress Virginia Hill, a Chicago mob accessory who had deep roots in the organization, if you read her true biography. Intriguing character for certain. Miss Bening is an excellent actress, she assumes the role without the awkward false performances we see in some other bit part actors (Bebe Neuwirth for example, is miscast as Countess Difrasso, and lacks authenticity. Most TV regulars do, in a big film which requires sublime performance, they seem cartoon like and ruin the scene.
Will not spoil the outcome, suffice to say there is adequate suspense, decent performances and an overall narrative that keeps the audience engaged.
Warren Beatty himself engenders some empathy for the character of Bugsy (no easy feat), and while he uses looks to accomplish the persona, it still works. Highly recommended. 8/10.
Well done, and nuanced the story is. Ryan Gosling and Miceelle Williams
portray a disaffected couple. They have a six year old daughter named
Frankie, the one thing initially that seems to keep them together.
Gosling portrays a man who , works as a mover, their neighborhood looks something like Staten Island (not upscale, not the worst) Their family of origin is rather absent, disinterested.
Williams always gives a good performance and does not disappoint.
She recites the names of US Presidents, proving she has good memory, she wants to attend medical school she says (This is before marriage and child puts an end to her aspirations).
The undercurrent is really, a ballad for a lost America. Indeed the scenes evoke a sort of blue, pallid environment. The world they live in is not promising. Gosling's wardrobe is notably lackluster and tattered, at the end of the film he is wearing an America eagle, a sign of faded glory.
The film makes you sad, not merely for the marriage that eventually dissipates, but also because it portrays a common story, young couple, just trying to endure daily life, and it becomes impossible.
Good performances in a rather sporadic, but interesting message film. Recommended.
This film has many aspects to it and requires more than one viewing. It
has several layers, including a theme of redemption through Uxbal's
children, Ana and Mateo.
Uxbal basically earns a living through the underground of Barcelona, and provides cheap labor and street merchants.He is also diagnosed with prostate cancer, in late stage.
His estranged wife Mirambra is bipolar and works as a sometime massage girl, her lifestyle is disjointed and confused.
The streets of the city are frenetic and colorful, appalling yet beautiful. The contrasts here are shown through his caring for the children . Mateo a 6 year old and his sister Ana, the actress portraying Ana deserves mention, she is especially sad and effective, played by Hanaa Boachio.
Overall, the photography bespeaks of a lost world, lost people trying to do the best they can to survive. Uxbal tries to help Chineses illegals by purchasing heaters for the warehouse, but a tragedy occurs. His soul is besieged with guilt, also knowing as he tells his fortune teller friend that he will leave is children behind in a hostile world, he does not expect the universe to "take care" of them.
The photography of the city at night especially is beautiful, flocks of birds taking off from the bridge, the steel and cold of the city, a mother walking her newborn in a carriage. There are also some redemptive scenes wherein he helps Ige, the wife of a Senegalese merchant who was arrested, to stay in his apartment with her newborn baby.
There is a good story here, excellent performance by Javier Bardem who manages to get empathy although his character is unsavory in this film. The city and its environs as a backdrop add to the narrative, plus evocative and disturbing photography. Highly recommended.
This is a well done romance genre that you may even be able to watch
with a spouse or boyfriend. "The Notebook" was far too sentimental and
trite. But this film has some good visuals, an unusual (if far-fetched)
premise. And solid performances by Robin Wright, Kevin Costner as
Garrett Blake, and Paul Newman in a cameo role as Dodge Blake, Garret's
Primarily Teresa Osborne is divorced, lonely, and on vacation finds a bottle with a love letter "Dear Katherine" The letter is a "mea culpa", an apology to a true love.
Osborne works for the Chicago Tribune, and returns from vacation, motivated to create a story and research the true origins of the bottle and who actually sent this to whom. Yes, this requires suspension of disbelief. At any rate, the region is traced to an Outer Banks, NC location.
The visuals, ocean and sense of loss are used repeatedly, beautiful and invoke a sense of longing and loss. Teresa at first meets Garret Osborne's father Dodge. He is humorous at times, drinks beer and tell his son (Garrett, who has been mourning the death of Katherine) that he needs to get on with his life.
Garret Blake, who has spent an inordinate of time in mourning for his wife, is the author of the letter. Teresa tries to engage him in more conversation about his deceased wife. Eventually as this is a romance, she and Garret develop an intimacy. It is visual, candles, ocean and rain. But nicely done and not overly talky or trite.
I will not spoil the ending as there is a twist to the ending in this story. It is an interesting story, and not overly mired in sentimentality. 8/10.
To begin, Director Terrence Malick films the scenes and juxtaposes
images. At times there is an incongruity. There are interesting visuals
of a forest, the beginning of time, and references to biological and
The story itself, Mr. O'Brien (Brad Pitt) as an ordinary working man in Waco, Texas in the 1950's with three sons to raise. His wife, portrayed by Chastain, does a good portrayal here of the mother, at times oppressed, at times happy and joyful just to have her children, especially when Dad is away trying to get his creative patents (which never come to fruition).
The authentic era of the 1950's is re-visited here, with elaborate music score and visuals. We see the mother hanging laundry outside on the clothesline. We see a small town where people dress formally just to go to the general store, and war veterans returning from World War II. We see the children playing in a seemingly idyllic American town, running under sprinklers, playing with dogs, chasing after a city truck spraying DDT randomly.
There is a sadness to the family story. Jack the oldest has ongoing conflicts with his father, and at first is consumed with anger for being disciplined. A father who is rigidly following the dogma of an "American Dream" in some sense.
Brad Pitt is believable in this role. Understated, but a strict religious man who believes God will provide as long as you go to work everyday and are a 'good man'. However even his 10 year old son sees the hypocrisy. The father may take them to church and explain the preacher's interpretations of Job and biblical references of material loss. Yet at the same time he drives the boys through well-to-do areas, coaching them on how they must succeed, and be hardened to 'get ahead' in America.
There are many nuances to the film, it needs to be viewed more than once, and granted the underlying themes are subtle.
The ending has visuals with references to, opening doors, entering gates of consciousness. As "adult Jack" Sean Penn is the embodiment of a boy's journey to himself.
The music is Brahms, and tells the unveiling of one boy's life, with references to incipient life itself at the start of the film.
This is not a film for the myopic, or any wanting concrete answers. It simply is about the reality of life, in that we are only human, a part of creation, but cannot presume to know what God wants. Or even what we ourselves sometimes want or need, until we have gone through the journey.
Highly recommended. 10/10.
Russell Crowe as a detective who is living somewhat in limbo. He has an
instinct Eric Komenko, a juvenile who killed his parents may kill
again. So he follows him through a void of nameless suburbs in upstate
The character of Lori, a disaffected teen who tags along with Eric. At first we aren't aware of her psychological motivation.
There is a connection Lori has to Eric, the actress portraying Lori is particularly affecting, she likes Eric, but he is interested in Maria, a girl he met in prison. Lori is a tragic figure, trapped and insecure. Wanting "out" but not sure how to change her life.
Eric is in his own way trapped from his past actions.
And Russell Crowe is very realistic here,an older retired detective, his wife is critically ill and this is sort of a final mission he feels he should complete.
The film is a bit slow but psychologically interesting. Crowe is out of character, and does well here as an 'everyman' trying to accomplish one possibly meaningful thing in his dead-end career.
Mysterious and ephemeral ending, but recommended.
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