Archive for the ‘Catherine Zetta-Jones’ Category

Side Effects

06 Mar

Side Effects ­– directed by Steven Soderbergh. Suspense. A psychiatrist prescribes a new drug to a suffering young woman, and the results are as prescribed, alas. 106 minutes Color 2013.


Side Effects, a right properly titled piece, falls into the category of Hitchcock suspense, by which I mean that it is arranged around a falsely accused man.

In Hitchcock’s many versions of this situation, To Catch A Thief, North By Northwest, Saboteur, I Confess, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Birds, Strangers On A Train, Rebecca, The Wrong Man, and so forth, something allows us to get behind the falsely accused character. This is not always solved by casting, but it is always enforced by Hitchcock’s treatment of the character. After all, these characters were not always played by Jimmy Stewart. Hitchcock’s usual strategy is to have the character thus falsely accused start the first act by evincing a really good sense of humor and be limber in his life. The humor may disappear with the tension of the story, but it has given us him as a human enjoying his life, and thus we don’t want him to lose it.

In the case of Side Effects, we have in Jude Law no Jimmy Stewart. He is a good actor but a cold one and seemingly empty. I don’t really care whether he lives or dies. And our chance to identify with him is crowded out by the fact that as written his character is not humorous but a workaholic. He is not enough fun for us to take to our hearts in such a tale.

Why a non-America actor is playing this part anyhow is a bafflement. His being from The British Empire adds nothing to the role. It would be a good part for Tom Hanks in his late thirties, and a perfect one for Adrian Brody and Robert Downey Junior right now – and for any number of other American actors, including black ones, presently in their thirties or early forties.

So the film fails to engage on a personal level, and we are left with a cunning story, beautifully told by the director and cinemaphotographer and editor. We go to a movie to see them, too, of course, and they do not disappoint, but they are not the one’s we need to identify with.

The story involves a troubled young woman sorely depressed upon the release from prison of her husband, well-played by Channing Tatum. Catharine Zeta-Jones is excellent as her former shrink. And Rooney Mara plays the young woman herself. She is taken to a therapist after an attempt at self-injury. The therapist is played by Jude Law.

The story held my attention from beginning to end, and I enjoyed and accepted its modulations into and out of peril. That is what suspense films are for, aren’t they? But I feared nothing for its hero, which is not what suspense films are for.


Rock Of Ages

16 Jun

Rock Of Ages – directed by Adam Shankman. Rock Musical. A launching pad of rock and roll legends is threatened with closure, as in it new stars arise and old ones rise higher. 123 minutes Color 2012.


Rock and roll passed me by. I was too old for it at the time. So I know nothing of it. For this reason, I believe, I found this whole endeavor consistently entertaining from start to finish. The words to the songs are audible, mirabile dictu, which means that although they do lack distinction they do not lack distinctiveness. Everyone is good in it and everyone sings good, too. The young lovers give strong performances, as they must, for they really have to carry the picture. She jumps off the bus in L.A. from Oklahoma, and he is already bussing dishes in the venue where it mostly takes place. They come to one another’s rescue throughout, for this is a fairy tale set in The Palace Of Fame, or at least in one of the outbuildings of it, The Grange Of Celebrity, a grungier pleasance. The point of the piece is immediately established behind the credits, not as parody, but as serious comedy in which everyone is played not for comment but for real, with a funny inner hat. Starting with Paul Giamatti as the star-maker manager: his prevarication of the question, “Is it true?” is hilarious, both as played and as written; you must not omit to see it. But it is not just a question of particular scenes but of consistency and sustainment of tone that made me smile from the start to the finale. That glittering puma, Catherine Zetta-Jones as the righteous mayor’s wife who wants to shut down rock and roll forever struts her musical comedy chops with great humor and knowingness. As do Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, the latter of whose humor is particularly telling as the superannuated hippy venue owner. The songs are energetic and the choreography is fortunate. There is a cast of hundreds. And into all of this saunters the always half nude figure of Tom Cruise as the rock and roll superstar pushing fifty – a sort of combination of Iggy Pop and Robert Newton, a walking Parnassus of Sex, his jewelled crown a codpiece of rubies, in an astonishing turn by an astonishing actor – who once again throws himself into a role hook, line, and sinker. He plays him as brain-damaged by fame. His joy in his craft is abounding. His actor’s imagination is unfathomable. For instance, his character’s seduction line is so used up that there is nothing further he can find to trade it in for, and he must repeat it, knowing it will succeed with any woman in question but not with himself. He makes his character a musical star so exalted that the view from his mountain top is wise beyond knowing, but perforce also hazy as to those who live so far below that he seems out to lunch, while the fact is that at all times he has already eaten lunch. It is a wonderful piece of work. He daringly develops this character into a full grotesque ,detail by detail; that is, his fingernails are painted aubergine and bitten to the quick, so that whenever we see his hands ten tiny eggplants flash before our eyes. Well, for all these wonderful actors, and because I like musicals, I smiled all the way through this one. See it in a theatre. It’s a big show. It doesn’t belong in your living room. You belong in its.

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button