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Archive for the ‘Oliver Platt’ Category

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.

 

The Oranges

11 Oct

The Oranges – directed by Julian Farino. TV Drama. Two close families fall apart when the daughter of one seduces the father of the other. 90 minutes Color 2012.
★★
Yes, but where is the fun in it? It’s a sex farce played serious, “for real,” at the pitch of a dirge, Bugs Bunny in a hearse. The great ones, Allison Janney and Oliver Platt, look as if they are about to jump out of their britches at any moment with the humor of the situation, but they are never allowed to reveal that humor in any way, since the rest are playing it on the level of TV soap, that is to say, for a small screen whose emotional responses, on the huge Big Screen, are facial and patented. Moues to mark an emotion, but which look gauche, mechanical, copied, and huge. The two principles need to be played by Steve Martin and any one of Goldie Hawn’s daughters. By which I mean actors with a point of view. Catherine Keener is woefully miscast, and, in any case is not an actor with the sort of comic mania for retribution that would permit her to drive her car killing dead all the Christmas lawn decorations of her husband’s home. Oh, to have seen Bette Midler play that scene: the relish in her wicked eye! There is moreover no connection between any of the members of the two households, either in writing or acting. You never believe they are related or married to one another, and I sat through the whole film not being able to sort out or remember who was the child of whom and the husband and wife of whom, and there are only seven principles in the cast. The premise is that the families have become constricted, lifeless, and routine. But routine marriages do not stay together with flimsy glue. They may not be lively, they may not be sexual, but they are held together by important natural habits of financial custodianship, regulation of meals, and tact. But not here. Platt is a collector of idiotic gadgets; Janney never listens to him and pesters her daughter. Only their negative routines are shown, never the routines that ground their lives as two families bound together and as individuals bound to one another. So in condemning the routine, the film becomes routine. But the problem with the film is not just this, or that its actors do TV acting (I exclude Janney and Platt from this denomination), but that the director and writers seem not to have seen the material for the sex farce it is. A wonderful title for a farce: The Oranges. And, instead, alas, all one can do is throw a little fruit at it.

 

Impostors

02 Feb

Impostors — directed by Stanley Tucci — A 30s-style  farce aboard an ocean liner, in which two bad actors imposturing as good actors fall afoul of a bevvy of impostors —

* * * *

Farce is the hardest dramatic form of all — because it is the hardest to sustain. And Stanley Tucci, who wrote and directed this piece, illustrates the point. It is also true that stage farce works better than film farce because stage farce is best played broad, whereas film farce requires something to quiet it down. The bigger the screen the subtler it must be. If not, it splatters like a custard pie, right in the viewers face. Farce also requires fixed settings,which the stage provides and the movie camera forbids. Of course, here we have wonderful players, but all of them fall into the trap of playing over-broad. The watchword for film farce is Buster Keaton, whose dead-pan took the leaven out of his insane physical comedy such that one could watch it with a kind of rollicking amazement. Here, instead, we have a series of custard pie actors, imagining that we are having as much fun as themselves. This does not destroy all the fun, but it does leave the actors exhausted in their invention before the piece is over. Isabella Rosselini is so bent on pretending to hide that she is A Queen In Exile that she is virtually invisible. Alfred Molina playing a ham Hamlet throughout not only chews the scenery but digests and excretes it. Of course, Molina is an adorable actor as are Tony Schaloub as the resident terrorist and the great Allison Janney as a slinky faux Frenchwoman. Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci are heavenly actors. They all are, but the only ones who survive the artistic exhaustion are Lili Taylor who plays it straight as the ingenue and Campbell Scott as a mean German staff captain. He stays rigorously within the tight confines he has set himself, and so he is always welcome to our view. So, instead of bunch of actors putting on a show for us, we have a bunch of actors putting on a show for themselves. With such gifted people there are still considerable rewards. Stanley Tucci is a director whose invention does not flag even after his energy has. I liked this film. And I like his films and I want to see more.

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Love And Other Drugs…

05 Jan

Love And Other Drugs… –– directed by Edward Zwick –– romantic drama in which a supersalesman roué falls in bed with a lady with a dubious future. 2010 color.

* * * * *

Jill Clayburgh’s last film, and the sort of picture that she and Burt Reynolds would have made forty years ago beautifully. That is to say a rather modern-mouthed and good looking young woman meets a handsome swordsman, and they bed down and they clash over some issue or other and then they make up. You know what I mean: the sort of film in which everything depends on the wit and the skill of the script and the wit and skill and personalities of the two actors, and the ground of the quarrel somehow dissolves by the last dissolve, doesn’t it? Here, however, the obstacle for both is that one of them has Parkinson’s, which will not dissolve. This seems like a put-up job in a way, but everyone does take it as seriously as they can, given a script which, while most times smart and fun and surprising, nonetheless becomes sometimes routine. In romantic drama the director must never run the risk of the grounds for a redundant emotional effect. Jake Gyllenhaal is inventive, lively, and various as the male, and Anne Hathaway is fascinating as the female. Won’t they get Golden Globes or Oscars or both? Probably. Oliver Platt is wonderful as Gyllanhaal’s boss, and Hank Azaria is remarkable as his hapless brother. One doubt one must set aside is the certainty that a sexual relation of such ferocity would not end up in a relationship. And another trouble is that the love affair lacks the relief and slant of any spirit of community, of friends, of town-folk, and there is but one short scene of Gyllenhaal’s family with George Segal as his father and as his mother the great, the elegant Jill Clayburgh, who has but one small moment on screen, her last, her final word being: “cake”!

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