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Archive for the ‘Blythe Danner’ Category

I’ll See You In My Dreams

05 Jun

I’ll See You In My Dreams – directed by Brett Haley. 92 minutes Romantic Drama 2015.

★★★★

The Story: A middle-aged widow moves through her days happily, her routine interloped by a romance with a handsome stranger.

~

I’ve seen Blythe Danner most of her performing life, starting with her playing young romantic leads at Williamstown with Frank Langella and Mildred Dunnock. Her acting energy was never teeth-clenching dramatic. A soft allure surrounded her and was taken for granted by the roles she was cast in as the natural focus of sexual attention.

This halo has stayed with her throughout her long career. She is an actress whom it is understood must be given so much that she has not earned. Everyone – everyone – expects her to be the focus of romantic attention.

What I am describing here is, of course, the quality of a type – the true leading lady.

The looseness of our expected attributions to her are embodied in her vague, carefully unkempt hair. She is an actress who is expected to give little and does so give. She is naturally elegant, and this is brought forth sternly by the three bridge-playing cronies who surround her, all of whom are short and homely. Her clothes hang on her easily. She is one of those women who always looks so svelte you never know what their figures actually look like.

The romantic interest is brought on by Sam Neill, in a role which is marked, of course, by machoistic shallowness. He plays sexual confidence with a self-satisfied and knowing smile which reduces every move he makes to smugness.

At any rate, it’s not about him. It’s about Blythe Danner. And, sure enough, she is both the one you are given to watch and the one you do watch. Some women are like that on the screen. Catherine Deneuve is such an one. For all the attention I bestow on Blythe Danner is done knowing she is – unlike her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow – cold. To act she sometimes moves her mouth. Incorrectly. Why, then, do I root for her? It’s because she’s so lovely.

The theatre was packed. It’s still packed. The actor I loved in it was Martin Starr as a diffident pool guy. The script is badly underwritten, and yet Starr makes everything he says true and funny. But this is not a story about young people. For there is an audience for stories about and for people who are over 24 years-old.

To see Blythe Danner for me is to rest in the expectations and hopes of my youth, as though, this time, they might be met. I gaze upon Blythe Danner’s complexion, which at 72 is unmapped by time, and wonder if only she had the right husband, maybe me. That is to say, we have all of us who ever saw her, and see her still, to give her only as much as what her coolness dares inspire, a focus for our own vanity.

 
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Posted in Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, PERSONAL DRAMA, Sam Neill

 

The Little Fockers

11 Jan

The Little Fockers – directed by Paul Weitz – low comedy in which an Irish don hands over his mission in life to his Jewish son-in-law.   120 minutes color 2010.

* * * *

This is Abey’s Irish Rose as a movie. That most long running and now long forgotten of all plays and radio shows was about the Jewish boy who married a Colleen. Same here. In those days, back in the 30s and 40s, the conflict was based on immigrant wars, the Kikes against the Micks, the stubbornness of the territorial and cultural and religious protectorates of the tribes who had just or almost just come here – and intermarried. West Side Story is musical version of it. But here we have as befits the theme a series. This is the third, and there is nothing wrong with it at all. You have a fine cast. Barbra Streisand plays her usual self-pushing self. Laura Dern does the chilling principal of a fancy modern school. Owen Wilson is the clueless sybarite best friend. Dustin Hoffman is the fool Jewish father. Harvey Keitel is a the bellicose earth-mover. Blythe Danner is the elegant mother of the Irish don. What brings the movie down is that Robert de Niro is no more an Irish don than a plate of spaghetti is. He takes off the shelf his generic technique and mugs and moues throughout the piece. And there is some cause, it is true, for we are looking at low comedy here. But it is Ben Stiller who carries the piece. What a marvelous player of comedy he is. Has anyone noticed that yet? How subtle he is? How intricate in his response? How real? Check out the moment when he accepts the honor from de Niro; he has taken on the hero’s fullness; he simply asks his son to eat his food; the child vomits on him. But the vomit is not what’s funny. What’s funny is Stiller’s barely discernible inflation. The piece ends in a branagan at a child’s birthday party, a fight which is unconvincing, since no one seems to notice it, but that is the fault of the crudeness of the script, a script which is sometimes quite witty. I enjoyed myself. But then, in asking for so much, I accept so little.

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