Archive for the ‘Daryl Hannah’ Category

The Gingerbread Man

02 Apr

The Gingerbread  Man – directed by Robert Altman. Noir. A lawyer leaps to the rescue and finds himself trapped. 113 minutes Color 1998.


The key ingredient in Noir is casting the female, and this one fails on the basis of its being so badly miscast as to wreck the movie. The female in noir, one way or another, must hypnotize us, or cause us to be desirous of being hypnotized. She should baffle and enchant and fascinate us, against our will if we profess to have a will in such matters. Lauren Bacall appears, and which of us is not helpless to know anything rational ever again? Who is there who can figure out the beauteous Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy? Not I.

In this case we get an actress playing for sympathy or pity or innocence, but the wanness she aims at to achieve this sympathy emerges as a frailty verging on the tubercular. Sympathy is a dull aim for an actor to strive for in a performance. It just won’t do.

And what really won’t do is to have cast an Australian actress in a part which she plays as though her father, brilliantly realized as a mean mountain man by Robert Duvall, had not produced an equally unpredictable cracker in his daughter. Instead the actress in question makes no attempt at a hill-billy accent. Instead of someone peppery and full of tang and fun, we get a droop.

In Noir, the female is more important than the male lead in the sense that our entrancement with her paradox is the element which carries us away from any attention whatsoever with the mad mazes of the plot, which we are not expected to follow and indeed which her presence is there to discourage us from following. So it goes that the plot of this film shoots itself in the foot with all the subtlety of a flare gun, as our attention wanes from the actress in question to the scowl emerging in our brains at the unnecessary and far-fetched plot twists to which we are finding our credulity to be subject.

What did it need? It is obvious that it needed Tuesday Weld.

What it does have is Duvall with oh-such-dirty feet, and the excellent Daryl Hannah as the gal Friday, and Tom Berenger perfectly cast as a lower caste barge captain, and the quirky and inventive genius of Robert Downey Junior as a private eye.

Pierre Mignot shot it gorgeously in Savannah, Georgia, a place which does not register as Savannah but registers like all get out anyhow. The lead is played with mighty dispatch and address by Kenneth Branagh, who evinces all the technical chops needed to play a Southern attorney of great muster and confidence. So the film has that. What it has not is a femme fatale. And without that, we are bereft of our sense of our own potential for self-corruption which Noir is intended to trigger and for us to harmlessly enjoy.


Cowboy Up

16 Mar

Cowboy Up – Directed by Xavier Koller. Modern Western. Two bronco brothers bond and break up over romance and career conflicts. 105 minutes Color 2001

* * *

Acted and filmed so beautifully, it becomes obvious how badly written it is. The worst sort of conventional TV bunk, solid only in its colloquialisms. Everyone else deserves a hand. Melinda Dillon is just marvelous in keeping that mother from turning this into a weeper. She has one good line: when she is mad with her son and he comes down for breakfast and is off camera, she says, “Use a glass.” He was pouring milk into his mouth from the container. You watch Kiefer Sutherland say those lines and you have to admire his great craft in turning them into something possible, and not just the lines but the scenes themselves. Molly Ringwald is a strong actor in any part, and admiration follows her in any part because of her solidity of character and willingness to give it her all. Daryl Hannah is a little shaky as the travelling lady, true, but Pete Postlethwaite comes through in a brilliant single scene at the end as the long-lost father-from hell, in which his famous son tracks him down and the father does not know either that the son is famous or that he is his son. What you have here really is an inside story of bullriding, and it is inside because the camera rides right in there with it. From the opening sequences which are fascinating, to all the work at the arenas, it is marvelously filmed by Andrew Dintenfass. It takes you into a world. The bulls are monsters. Innocent monsters, but monsters. The boys that ride them are just innocent, if innocence can include a monstrous desire to make a name for oneself.


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