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Richard E. Grant
A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".
Jean François Heckel,
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as the former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.
In 2003, 38-year-old graphic artist Oliver Fields has just lost his father Hal to cancer, 5 years after his mother Georgia's death. Oliver is naturally sullen because of his relationships with his parents growing up (especially his mother, who had a unique view of life) and watching their cordial but somewhat distant marital relationship, but he's more so now as he deals with his personal losses. He embarks on a relationship with French actress Anna, hoping that his re-energized relationship with Hal following Georgia's death, and Hal's new outlook on life, will show him how to act in a loving relationship. After Georgia's death, Hal came out of the closet and began to live with a new joie de vivre and have an open relationship with Andy, a much-younger man. Oliver's relationship with Anna has other obstacles, including her own vagabond lifestyle and Oliver inheriting Arthur, Hal's very needy Jack Russell terrier.Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. This is a terrific little art-house character study with comedic elements, fine acting and superb writing. Mike Mills is responsible and he was also the writer and director on another excellent little movie from about 5 years ago called Thumbsucker. When I say little movie, I mean intimate and poignant with a nominal budget.
Three time periods are presented in overlapping form to an effective end. One period shows us Oliver (Ewan McGregor) as a young kid interacting with his mother (Mary Page Keller). Another period shows Oliver's father Hal (Christopher Plummer) confessing to him that he is gay (this is a few months after the mother/wife dies). The third period has Oliver trying to forge a relationship with Anna (Melanie Laurent) whom he met at a costume party.
While that may sound like a simple set-up, I assure you that the complications created by these characters is both realistic and head-spinning. It turns out Hal knew he was gay prior to marrying Oliver's mother, but claims she promised to "fix" him. Once he proclaims his gayness, Hal jumps in with both feet to all causes gay. He thoroughly enjoys himself and even meets a new, younger lover. And just when he admits to joy, inoperable cancer is discovered in Hal's lungs. This begins the second major secret of his life.
The scenes from Oliver's childhood provide crucial evidence on why he is so solemn and afraid of relationships. He suffers just as his mother did. Things begin to shift for him when, dressed as Freud, his party sofa becomes occupied by Anna - a beautiful, alluring French actress who, it turns out, is just as messed up emotionally as is Oliver. They make the perfect threesome ... including Arthur, Hal's Jack Terrier, who speaking through subtitles, lets us know when things are OK or not. Arthur takes a great deal of the heaviness away.
There are many elements of this film that I really like. The houses of both Hal and Oliver are full of as much personality as either of the characters. The look and pace of the film is meticulous and steady given the material. It seems to be naturally lighted from windows and interior sconces. Nothing even comes close to looking like a Hollywood set.
Ewan McGregor plays his part very close to the vest and conveys the pain and uncertainty that Oliver has learned over the years. His defenses are up! Melanie Laurent was my favorite part of Inglourious Basterds (she was the cinema owner on a mission) and here she offers both hopefulness and melancholy. To me, the heart of the film is Christopher Plummer's performance. He portrays an elderly gay man with grace and then takes it to another level in his "sick" scenes. He is a wise man who may or may not understand how selfish he was, but is intent on showing Oliver that it's never to late to be a "beginner" in love.
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