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Archive for the ‘Annette Bening: ACTING GODDESS’ Category

20th Century Women

24 Jan

20th Century Womendirected by Mike Mills. Dramedy 119 minutes Color 2017

★★★★★

The Story: The mother of a teenage son enlists the help of her friends to rear him.

~

When we are teenagers we become secretive to our parents. If we are not secretive already, still we pull away into the unknown experiment called independence.

Annette Bening does not understand this about her son because she does not remember that she did the selfsame thing in adolescence. She does not remember and she is not aware that she does not remember.

This makes her character a gem to watch. Because it means we who watch it can fit into her ordinariness and her error. We can fit into it by means of seeing how disordered her hair often is and how unaware she is of that disorder. And how she, most of the time, is unconscious of any notion of being aware of it to begin with.

How we live our actual lives seldom gets to the screen. Movies are often about tying things up. From the very first reel they aim in that direction. And it is a fine direction to aim for, because wrap-up is one good way to end a story.

I liked the way the story unfolds. I liked the this-and-that of it. The foolishness of the endeavor. I liked what Bening found in this woman. I liked what the writer put in the woman to begin with. Such a woman allows us to forgive everyone we ever met, including our difficult mothers. Forgive them, and forgive ourselves, for they, like us, lived their hours and days in untidy life. Not silly. Not without purport. Not without accomplishment. But not camera-ready.

I tend to adore Annette Bening.

 

 
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Posted in ACTING STYLE, Annette Bening: ACTING GODDESS, Billy Crudup, DRAMEDY, Elle Fanning, FAMILY DRAMA

 

Danny Collins

22 Apr

Danny Collins – writer, director, Dan Fogelman. Comedy/drama. 106 minutes Color 2015.

★★★★

The Story: A 70-year-old rock star decides to stop touring and write songs again and also to look up his long-lost son.

~

This is star-acting. Movie-star-acting. It’s a sub- or super-genre under the rubric of acting, and it requires space to shine in. This space is usually provided by a series of long scenes.

They are given. But they are interrupted by scenes which interlope the procedures necessary for star-acting. The story goes off the rails when we are asked to believe even for one Manhattan minute that his manager and his new girlfriend and certainly his own common sense could appear at a nightclub to debut only one number, when he would actually need thirty new songs to debut anything at all. 

Here again we have the write-director fallacy, the one unable to hear the other throw up. 

This side-track, so phony, kills the real interest of the material, which is: can he actually write a new song after thirty years of hackwork singing other people’s songs? 

We end up in a byway of a mawkish drunk claptrap, that we are spared the worst only by the playing of the long-lost son by one Bobby Cannavale, a lovely actor, whose strategies opposite the star capture us despite the cheap failed trick of the diversion. 

The star-acting is done by Al Pacino, I hope. And I hope you do not think you will be in for anything less. He is not offering a miniature, a water color. He is offering a big canvas, a Rubens. He covers an entire wall. His work is not about realism, naturalism, The Method, or any such. It is rather the projection of the actor’s imagination to create a world towards which the world itself must respond. The danger of star-acting is that it turn hammy. Pacino does not. Pacino is an actor of rich imagination, and even a playful modesty. He is worth beholding, as Bette Davis is worth beholding, and for the same reason. They’re big. If you don’t like Big get out of the kitchen. 

Annette Bening, another star-actor, dims her glow to support his importance, like a stewardess does a pilot. We needed more of her to hold the story true to writing songs, a highway we loose in the blue roads of the plot. Jennifer Garner helps a lot, and so does a little girl, Giselle Eisenberg, as does Christopher Plummer as Pacino’s doughty manager. 

Pacino is a real entertainer. Go. 

But remember: you don’t go to an amusement park because a roller coaster is absent.

 

Ginger And Rosa

18 Apr

Ginger and Rosa –– directed by Sally Potter. Drama. Two young best friends enter the arena of adolescent betrayal. 90 minutes Color 2012.

★★★

I went to it because Sally Potter directed Yes, one of my great movies.

But this one – oh, dear.

The problem is that it is based on an unrecovered resentment, a form of autobiography which always lacks penetration and balance. The author/director has not gotten over it, whatever it was. She’s still getting back at the one that done her wrong. The consequence is that a load of approval falls on the shoulders of one girl, Ginger, and scants the other, Rosa. Emptiness results.

It all ends with a confrontation scene, identical to the one at the end of another current film, The Company You Keep, in which the love-object justifies her miscreance by spouting liberal political boilerplate. Neither scene is well directed. And in this film the actor with the liberal agenda, simply does not go for it enough to make us realize what a hollow old lie he is telling.

I also went because Annette Bening and Christina Hendricks are in it, and, yet the picture is not about them. Christina Hendricks proves once again what a magnificent actress she is. Annette Bening, of course, by now doesn’t have to prove it at all. Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt circle around the proceedings and are in fine fettle, but their parts are shelved largely because of the imbalance of attention give to Ginger (ably played by Elle Fanning).

I can only say that I await Sally Potter’s next film with abated interest.

 

What Planet Are You From?

25 Sep

What Planet Are You From – Directed by Mike Nichols. Penis Comedy. An Alien is sent down to take over Earth by impregnating a woman. 105 minutes Color  2000.

* * *

All the women in this picture are dressed badly, all the men are dressed so beautifully it is as though Fred Astaire had haberdashed them. Why is that? I can understand frump in Annette Bening’s case because her character’s a dither-head. But why would the sensationally sexy Linda Fiorentino stalk into her husband’s bank office in a see-thru skirt is baffling.

Anyhow, it probably fits with the monstrously minute mental elegance of Garry Shandling who wrote this one low joke comedy. Strange that no mature comedy is available for grown-ups, when Irene Dunne and Cary Grant were middle aged when they made their great ones.

Sir Ben Kingsley is present intoning orders from on high, meaning A Star Up There. While it is true that those gifts from the Gods, Camryn Manheim and Richard Jenkins, momentarily beguile us, this does not compensate for the presence before us of Shandling himself looking like a doomed sheep. What are his eyes always appealing for? What is that? Why does anyone find him funny? I mean funny in the sense of amusing, not in the sense of peculiar, which he certainly is.

This leaves us with the sleazy charms of Greg Kinnear, who is a master of them, and wins one’s heart with his vileness and his beautiful suits.

And with the great, the indissoluble, the loveable, the gifted, the sweet, the sexy, the imaginative, the tribute to American womanhood, and marvelous character leading actress, Dame Annette Bening, she who holds the Columbia torch!

One star for Annette Bening, one for Greg Kinnear, and one for John Goodman, who races around magnificently in chase of the answer to it all.

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