Adrienne Shelly

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Waitress Review


Good
Keri Russell had a certain low-key, empathetic quality as the sensitive coed on the WB series Felicity, but nothing about that whispery, earnest role indicated she could carry a movie herself, especially as a different character altogether. In Waitress she plays Jenna, an unhappily married young woman who channels her frustrations into the creation of fantastic pies, and taps a reservoir of star quality; it takes considerable charisma for an actress to likably cuss out her unborn child (she doesn't fantasize about a son or a daughter; she writes the child letters that start with "dear baby").

The film, written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, opens with Jenna discovering this pregnancy, and despairing over the fact that it ties her to her surly, controlling husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). She dreams of escape plans, squirreling away tip money from her titular job and soliciting advice from her two friends and co-workers, while peevishly and secretly attending doctor's appointments with Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). In the back of her mind, Jenna seems to know that keeping secrets and extra cash may not be enough; her escape is attempted through a series of half-measures.

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Factotum Review


Good
While Bent Hamer's Factotum isn't equal to the source material, it's a must-see for all of us fascinated by Charles Bukowski, by his persona as much as his words. Adapted from the namesake novel by Hamer and Jim Stark, Factotum's central character is Henry Chinaski, Bukowski's fictional alter ego who, like its author, is a shambling, hard-drinking writer, slumming away at odd jobs, quartering in hole-in-the-wall apartments, while he scrawls away at poems and stories every chance he gets.To watch Matt Dillon personify Chinaski/Bukowski is thrilling: At least from outward appearance, the actor has nailed the role, and, at times, he seems to be channeling Bukowski from the grave. It's an eerie simulacrum: Dillon skulks about the screen, slouch-shouldered, sporting a scruffy beard, a mane of combed-back hair, wearing the short-sleeves and slacks that was Bukowski's standard wardrobe, regarding the world with hangdog eyes and a jaw jutting outward in a subtle show of defiance.Equally arresting is the always-fantastic Lili Taylor, playing Chinaski's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jan. She's his kindred spirit, which means the two get along best with a jug of wine between them. As Jan, Taylor projects a mannish energy. Wearing a perpetual sneer, keeping her frayed hair and shoulders tossed back, she enters any room like she's spoiling for a fight. Jan is also fiercely possessive of Chinaski and panics whenever any windfall threatens their low-rent, booze-sodden lifestyle. She's also the only person who can push the bearish Chinaski's buttons. When they break up, their trails lead back to each other and entwine, as before, then wind apart again, exactly like twin DNA strands.Chinaski's search for work and his rocky relationship with Jan form Factotum's nominal narrative thread. No sooner does Chinaski land a job that he gets bored with it or chafes under the authority of white-collar boobs, and leaves. He hates them so much -- in the same way he hates his father (as one scene implies) -- that he defies their authority in ways both direct and passive-aggressive: After one boss, finding him at a local dive instead of on the job, fires him, Chinaski calmly replies by offering him a drink. Midway through Factotum, we get a romantic interlude of sorts involving Laura (Marisa Tomei), a gold-digging floozy. Laura's got her hands in the pockets of a moneyed, European eccentric (Didier Flamand) who offers wayward women asylum in his morgue-like home. Chinaski's sojourn with Laura and her ilk takes Factotum into outer David Lynch territory, and, somehow, we're glad when Chinaski breaks free of them and returns to his sunnier, native habitat of the urban jungle.Like Post Office and Ham on Rye, Factotum is ultimately a chronicle of its author's anxious, unconquerable desire to write, to transcribe his toils, obsessions, and pains into the stuff of art. Beneath Bukowski's reticent surface, fires raged -- stoked by the man's angry, lustful, transgressive emotions. Words plucked from those fires were then hammered into shape and branded onto the page. It's that smoldering quality in the prose that missing in Stark and Hamer's handling -- the contradiction between the inner and outer dimensions of the writer. Rather than finding an expressive style that rendered the world as grotesquely as Chinaski sees it, a style to counterpoint the character's calm, composed exterior, the material settles for a safe, neutered approach. This Factotum is more eager and willing to put Bukowski's words in prettily composed frames. Hamer and Stark only get the outlines of Chinaski's life right -- the hand-to-mouth living and boozing in which all that spiritually sustains the writer are the hours spent hunched over his notepad with a ballpoint pen. Finally, Dillon and Taylor are the sources of Factotum's vitriol and sharpness. They seem willing to delve where Hamer's direction dare not go.Last call.

I'll Take You There Review


Good
It only takes a few minutes to see Hal Harley's influence on his frequent starlet Adrienne Shelly in this, her fourth outing as an indie writer/director. This quirky tale -- difficult to explain but easy to follow -- has Ally Sheedy kidnapping a lovelorn Reg Rogers while he tries to get to the girlfriend that just ran off with his best friend. Shelly appears to provide help (and self-help), and a nutty road trip through Sheedy's neo-psychotic past and present ensues. Interesting and sometimes hysterical, but the direction is rather pedestrian and the story, strangely enough, just doesn't come off as that original. Go figure.

Wrestling with Alligators Review


Terrible
Not to be confused with Swimming with Sharks.

Frankly, I saw this movie an hour ago and I've already forgotten the plot. Oh yeah, looking it up reveals that this was a movie about a runaway girl (Palladino), who in 1959 finds her life in tumult. Her roommate (Richardson) struggles with an unintended pregnancy. Landlady (Bloom, in a frightening return to the screen) is a faded and eccentric screen star. Audience struggles to maintain consciousness.

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Sudden Manhattan Review


OK
Hal Hartley darling Adrienne Shelly took a stab at writing and directing her own movie with 1997's Sudden Manhattan, an obvious homage to Woody Allen, about a kooky gal (Shelly) in a certain big city who feels her life coming apart after witnessing two murders. The film has its moments, but Shelly's quirky acting (and painful voice-overs) don't quite work here. She works better when a genius is telling her what to do, not so much when she's directing herself. And the last half hour makes no sense. None.

Revolution #9 Review


Good
Tim McCann's Revolution #9 is a muted freak-out, an exploration of the kind of slipping-down life from which it's impossible avert your gaze.

Michael Risley plays Jackson, a seemingly normal man who out of the blue becomes convinced he is being beseiged by secret messages in e-mail spam and a TV perfume ad. After confronting the nephew of his girlfriend (Adrienne Shelly) as being in on the conspiracy, Jackson's world becomes more and more bizarre, even hunting down the photographer (Spalding Gray, in a small but fun role) who shot the perfume commercial.

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Rock the Boat Review


Grim
Rather vapid corporate mystery has Amanda Donohoe investigating a little corruption, a little murder as she retakes control of the company she founded. Too bad none of the stories is very interesting.

The Unbelievable Truth Review


Excellent
Hal Hartley's first feature is widely hailed as one of his best, if not the best of his quirky oeuvre. The story is simple (unlike his recent work, which has ventured into the inexplicably complex), featuring a mysterious ex-con (Robert John Burke) who returns to his Long Island hometown after his release from prison, eventually falling for the daughter (Adrienne Shelly) of his new employer. Of course, it's not a straight romance -- it's a witty diatribe on social interaction, the threat of world war, and the penal system. All of it is punctuated with Hartley's strange dialogue cadences reminiscent of David Mamet. Recommended.

Searching for Debra Winger Review


OK
It's either sad or interesting or -- something -- when the only man in a movie is Roger Ebert. Rosanna Arquette, tired of hearing that old aphorism that there are no good parts for women in Hollywood, takes up a video camera and records interviews with some three dozen actresses at various ages. (The title invokes Debra Winger's recent retirement and reclusiveness -- though since this film she returned to the cinema.)

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Adrienne Shelly

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