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Archive for the ‘Harrison Ford’ Category

Morning Glory

19 May

Morning Glory—directed by Roger Michell. Comedy. 117 minutes Color 2010.
★★★★★
The Story: An eager-beaver producer scrambles to save the sinking ship of a famed TV show but comes up against a gristly superstar and a soured anchorwoman who do not believe she can do it.
~
One longs to sit down and sing her praises. She when young would have been given the leading role here, now played perfectly in a quite different manner by Rachel McAdams—that part: the scatterbrained, young woman on the rise.

Instead, Diane Keaton plays a senior anchorwoman on the oldest and most decrepit morning show in the world. It is a position by which the character has has reached the peak of her talent, ambition, and capacity. This means that she is playing, not the daffy subservient one, a part in which she was equaled only by Goldie Hawn, but The Long Established Star.

Watch her, a master of detail, create this individual without a word. How she pulls the hair on the sides of her face to make it frame it into perfect symmetry for the camera. How she applies an improvement of lipstick at the last second. How she arrives in shameless curlers for a conference with the crew. How she smoothes her figure for promo shots with her co-anchor. How she somehow arranges her inner being to show us how this woman gloms onto her Life role. How she accepts her position will never get better and respects that fact, so never gets above herself.

We have seen Diane Keaton for many years. Better in comedy, we would conclude. And that’s quite all right, because comedy has given her longevity. Comic parts are still written for senior actresses to play. Comedy. therefore, has her still before the cameras in principal roles. Comedy and her glorious smile.

And that her face does not seem to have endured any tell-tale procedures. Procedures that are meant to make actresses look young succeed only to make them appear immortal. In the way zombies are immortal.

And Harrison Ford’s face seems also to have escaped the sculptor’s knife. It’s crumpled as an old boot. He has never been better in anything than he is as the prideful, mean, grouse of a once-famous newscaster, choked by nineteen Emmys and a taste for vintage scotch. To see that face in action is To Witness The Ogre—a lion roaring at a petunia.

The story focusses its attention more on him than on Keaton because its actual focus is the ambitious, workaholic, blabbermouth Assistant Producer who tries to rescue from extinction the oldest morning show of all. She is able, devoted, and a little slip of a girl. Keaton succumbs to the new producer early on. So the main body of the story turns its attention to the stand-off between Ford as the old, retrograde superstar and the new girl in charge of him.

Rachael McAdams does her full justice. One thing you may notice about her seizing of that justice is that the story gives McAdams full opportunity to enter the role with her whole body at all times. She runs when she could walk. She is never still even when she should sleep. She makes love on the fly. She is physically obsessed. It is a great example for all actors of the absolute need for full bodily engagement at all times of the person one plays.

For some actors this comes naturally as rain. Jeff Goldblum walks—and you just want to sit there and watch. He’s not doing anything but walking in the way he normally walks, but that‘s why he’s a star. You want to watch such humans. You don’t want to miss a thing.

The movie does not fall into the shallow trap of linking either women up with the Harrison Ford’s character. We have instead Patrick Wilson as the juicy neighbor who sees through McAdams’ gaucheries and woos her still. He has something of the way and look of Paul Newman, so it no wonder he succeeds.

Beautifully directed by Roger Michell and perfectly written by Aline Brosh McKenna, perfectly edited, costumed, cast, cut, produced, and set. Morning Glory succeeds on all levels, including not resembling the Morning Glory movie of 1934 that won Katharine Hepburn her first Oscar, also playing a show business wannabe.

Instead, taste Morning Glory, a light comedy, as A Special on the menu.

One wonders how long such skilled players of light comedy, so important to weekend film-going, will still fill theatres when blockbusters and smaller screens have filched audiences from the multiplexes. What will happen to such comedic talents as Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Anniston bring us, when movie houses are the best place for us to love them?

Even though I saw Morning Glory in my own house.

Where I strongly urge you to gather soon and enjoy it too, whether I am home or not.

 

42

17 Apr

42 –– directed by Brian Helgeland. Sports Docudrama. In 1947, Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team ushers the first negro player into major league baseball, Jackie Robinson, and it aint easy. 129 minutes Color 2013.

★★★★★

I wanted this film to last forever. Is that true, I asked myself, and the answer was, Well, maybe as long as a baseball game.

It has a terrible musical score, full of triumphals and emotional sofas, whereas the material speaks for itself without outside assistance. But you just have to set this torture aside the same way as Jackie Robinson had to set aside the taunts and meanness and murder threats which dogged him as he underwent the ordeal.

What a valiant human being!

What a thing to do!

I lived in Queens when it went on, and my brother was a Dodgers fan with the radio on. It was happening five miles away. It was happening right there. The radio being a more intimate medium than TV, it was happening right in the bedroom I shared with him.

It was a scandal.

It was a scandal because no one much thought about blacks not playing on baseball teams in those days. Only a few black families lived where I lived, but Freddy Perkins was always first choice on the schoolyard team, so in a way it was a scandal also because so much was being made of it. And because we said to ourselves, Oh, right, I never thought of it in major league baseball. How odd of me!

But it was a big deal, and this film realizes that it is still a big deal. The human suffering hidden in black faces is of vast importance.

And that’s what we see in Chadwick Boseman who plays Robinson. I can’t imagine how anyone could be better or more right. While he does not have the monolithic aspect of Robinson, he certainly has the finesse for Robinson’s skills stealing bases and holding his ground while being heckled by crowds and boycotted even by his own team members. And he certainly is a gentleman.

As Branch Rickey, his sponsor in the endeavor, Harrison Ford gives a big hammy performance, which, from this actor, at least is something. The part is very well written, and Ford is quite stirring and entertaining in it.

There isn’t much more to say about the film.

Except that you owe it to yourself to see it. You owe it to your heart to be filled with compassion and gratitude for the valor it took for these two men, these two and no other, to do this for us. You just do.

 

The Devil’s Own

05 Feb

The Devil’s Own — Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Thriller. A young man on a revenge mission boards with the family of a cop, who has to choose between his friendship with the lad and his hatred of what the lad stands for. 111 minutes Color 1997.

★★★★

I don’t know if Harrison Ford ever knew how to act, but he certainly has forgotten how by the time he plays this character. He “acts” by “playing stern”. He does this by scowling and drawing down the sides of his lips and staring. That is to say, he makes faces. Too bad, because the result is that his vis à vis, given nothing to play with, takes every trick. The vis à vis in this case is the brilliant Brad Pitt, an actor whose every response seems right. As opposed to Ford whose every response seems righteous. We are presented thereby not with Ford’s character being tortured by his own perfection and the lack of it in others, but by an actor who never questions the foundation of and impossibility of such a rock-faced contrast. Harrison Ford has no way through his own fixed method, and no suggestion of one. We are faced with thickness. Brad Pitt, however, is all wit, susceptibility, openness, and so he makes the most unlikely situations plausible, although in this he is certainly helped by the editor. After all, it is a story with guns going off and no one getting hit. So with no one for Pitt to play against the film lies flat, save when we see him. We side with him wholly and throughout, which is not what we are supposed to do. At first it seemed that the film was set in Ireland, since the opening has everyone speaking the tongue; it was only with forced effort that I understood it to be taking place in Brooklyn. Pitt is running guns to Ireland and is lodged in Harrison Ford’s home. When Ford finds out what he is up to, oh dear! Because of Ford’s acting choice, the wrap-up goes for naught. The supporting people, particularly Treat Williams as the gun middleman, are excellent, and, this being Pakula, the production values are first rate. See it for Pitt – always worth our appreciation in lower-class roles.

 
 
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