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Sensitive Skin (2014)
Nowhere near as good as the original
I binged on the original British series, which affected me greatly, but was a bit uneven in the writing. I looked forward to the Canadian version because I thought the bumps might have been smoothed out.
Yikes! The scripts for the Canadian version rely on sit-com clichés and even when scenes are close to the British original, the performances eliminate the humor and emotion.
Joanna Lumley said that one interpretation of the main character is that she is a potential suicide. Kim Catrall's Davina is too perky for that. She lacks the humanity and dry humor that Lumley brought to the role. Look at the first scene in the second episode. Lumley stands politely patronizing a high school aquintence, until she learns the woman's profession. Even though the Canadian script is almost identical, the humor of that moment of revelation is gone because the reality is not there. Catrall mugs and makes a big show of her responses. The acquaintance punches up her delivery. So the scene goes nowhere.
The less said about the rest of the cast, the better.
Ahead of its time
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm points the way toward so many later development in film. It manipulates reality by provoking the hapless cast, crew and bystanders to play roles by provoking them. The director of the film uses his own behavior as a Rorschach test. The whole genre of reality television as well as avant-garde documentary styles are anticipated in this film.
In addition to its historical importance the film is fascinating on its own terms for anyone who likes to think about the nature of performance vs. reality. Gender, race, sexuality and the march of time also make appearances.
Criterion has done its usual terrific job in rescuing this forgotten masterpiece from undeserved obscurity.
All That Glitters (1977)
Never a network show
Many people here seem to think that this was a network program--but it was not.
It was part of a new kind of programing, direct-to-syndication, that Norman Lear started with Mary Hartman. He tried to build on that success with All That Glitters, which tanked big time. The sad part was it had been on the air for a few months and had moved from foregrounding the concept to foregrounding the characters--which made it into something strange and fascinating.
Maybe there is a book someone should write about the days of pre-cable, when various producers tried to find ways to avoid the heavy hand of the networks....
The Last Days of Disco (1998)
There are not enough Whit Stillman films
Within the first few minutes it is clear that this is going to be an extraordinary film. Too often in his earlier films, Stillman does not trust the camera or the actors to make the point. But for some reason you can feel a greater confidence right from the first scene.
Given the intelligence, wit, and insight Stillman gives to young characters--an age that most films only present as either ridiculous or in a clichéd manner--why have young actors sought not worked to develop projects with Stillman? This film was such a breakthrough for him artistically....then nothing.....
Has Chloe Sevengy ever been better, luminous with bad posture.
The Baby Dance (1998)
How does this condone abandoning babies?
While The Baby Dance started out with stereotypical characters, I stuck it out till its powerful ending.
I am surprised that so many comments say that the film condones the adoptive family's decision to not take the baby. The shot of the baby without a name on its crib, seems to send the opposite message very strongly.
Unlike most TV movies, this film does not present idealized characters always doing the right thing. It is funny how viewers get so accustomed to that convention of TV movies that when something that when a film moves closer to the ambiguities of real life behavior, these viewers do not know how to respond.
Of course, this film is based on a stage play, which may explain its lack of adherence to the unwritten TV-movie code.