Dorothy Berwin

Dorothy Berwin

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Donna Murphy, Tom Kirdahy, Dorothy Berwin, Terrence McNally and Bathsheba Doran - The First Berwin Lee Playwrights Award held at a private residence - New York City, NY, United States - Tuesday 30th April 2013

Donna Murphy, Tom Kirdahy, Dorothy Berwin, Terrence Mcnally and Bathsheba Doran
Mandy Greenfield and Donna Murphy
Donna Murphy

Bedrooms & Hallways Review


Bad
This limp comedy about sexual ambiguity among a group of British men who form a "men's group" together lost my interest inside of 10 minutes. It tries to be hip and clever, and on a few rare occasions it manages to actually be funny. But mostly -- as is commonly the case with would-be message movies like this -- it's blah blah blah for an hour and a half, with the audience longing for the credits to roll.

On A Clear Day Review


Very Good
Over here in America, it seems we just cannot get enough of the gentle shenanigans of average, everyday Brits. If they are slightly older and perhaps finding themselves financially strapped and driven to eyebrow-raising lengths by the hard times, well, so much the better. Into this proud lineage comes On a Clear Day a charming, if slight, bit of fluff from across the pond that has nothing whatsoever to do with the similarly-titled Barbra Streisand musical from the '70s.Peter Mullan plays Frank, a quiet, middle-aged Scot who is left floundering when he is laid off from his shipbuilding job. He embarks on a mission, seemingly on a lark, to swim the English Channel in an effort to give himself purpose and shed personal demons that have plagued him for years. Admittedly, this is quite thin, plotwise, but if we learned anything but a new dance routine from The Full Monty, it's that working-class British fellows made redundant can be remarkably entertaining in keeping themselves occupied.Though he staunchly refuses to tell his family anything about his intentions, Frank has a small clique of friends - former coworkers, mostly - serving as his motley training crew, headed by a put-upon Chinese fish-and-chips vendor (Benedict Wong) and given hyper energy by the cheerfully hapless Danny (Billy Boyd). They are caught up in Frank's determination to change his life, and predictably inspired to do something new with their own, and it is remarkably sweet and uplifting in a straightforward and non-saccharine way, a rarity these days.First-time feature director Gaby Dellal has crafted a dutifully small and endearing bit of fluff, only faltering briefly with some easily-forgiven flaws. She does fall victim to a hallmark of young directors - the need to be unnecessarily flashy - with her shooting of action via its reflection in a small domed mirror or her slow pans of an ordinary boat. Also, the film is not adept at offering fleshed-out logic. Why this unassuming Scottish man takes on a personal mission to swim the Channel, or what he hopes it will accomplish - and what it does ultimately accomplish - is left unaddressed and open to interpretation. But if you accept the pull of those crazy urges we get from time to time - the desire to do something stupid, and hard, and to revel in a feeling of true accomplishment - then that is probably sufficient in the way of movie logic.What gives the film layers and makes it so watchable is the extremely capable acting. Mullan (My Name is Joe, Young Adam) is an immensely likeable actor, and his Frank is an amiable and capable fellow, but he can also be profoundly frustrating. Being taciturn is one thing, but he often seems to outright ignore his wife (the adorably floopy Brenda Blethyn). And he is deeply scarred by the death of his son nearly 25 years ago, but he's so distant from his surviving son that it borders on rude. This persistent haze that surrounds poor Frank, and mires him into such melancholic inaction, is what prevents On a Clear Day from being a straight-up comedy. All of the characters are witty and quirky (though not aggressively so) and have their moments of amusing antics, but they are also each battling a very real sadness, and the film does well in striking a balance between the two.There is little about On a Clear Day that is especially profound or innovative, to be sure. The most effusive praise it will likely garner is that it is genuinely cute and sweet without becoming twee or simplistic. That said, there is certainly a place - and a market - for films like these. I certainly know what I'll be telling my Auntie to see the next time she tells me they don't make "nice movies" anymore.Nope, can't see forever.

Bedrooms & Hallways Review


Bad
This limp comedy about sexual ambiguity among a group of British men who form a "men's group" together lost my interest inside of 10 minutes. It tries to be hip and clever, and on a few rare occasions it manages to actually be funny. But mostly -- as is commonly the case with would-be message movies like this -- it's blah blah blah for an hour and a half, with the audience longing for the credits to roll.

The Safety Of Objects Review


OK
For all of Robert Altman's greatness, his lasting legacy to future filmmakers may be the wrongheaded assumption that anyone can successfully weave together sprawling, multi-character stories into a coherent thematic experience. With the exception of a scant few disciples (headed by the visionary Paul Thomas Anderson), these spiritual and technical descendents of Altman's films, too often hampered by schematic plotting and clumsy melodrama, routinely turn out to be wobbly facsimiles of Altman's operatic, multi-layered storytelling. The latest release that falls into said category is Rose Troche's The Safety of Objects, an uneven tale (based on the short stories of A.M. Homes) of intertwined suburban families dealing with grief and loss, and its failed bid for originality takes the form of an unreasonably high quirkiness quotient.

Despite an awful title that's perfectly suited for a hospital or construction site safety guide, the objects in question are not dirty syringes or rusty nails; rather, The Safety of Objects is brimming with narrative strands about people coping with life's most difficult and daunting elements (the loss of a loved one, sexual frustration, professional ennui) by focusing their quests for happiness on either their unsatisfying careers or mundane possessions such as dishwashers, guitars, and treadmills. Esther Gold (Glenn Close) fanatically dotes on her comatose songwriter son Paul (Joshua Jackson) in lieu of caring for her husband Howard (Robert Klein) and rebellious daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell). Neighbor Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson) is a single mother trying to take care of her two kids while waging a financial and personal battle with her ex-husband. Lawyer Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) can't see the forest from the trees because of his fixation with work, and his constant absence from his wife and kids has made him unaware of son Jake's (Alex House) creepy relationship with a Barbie-esque doll that speaks to him. And in a prime example of dysfunctional overload, we even get sexually frustrated, fanatically health conscious housewife Helen Christiansen (Mary Kay Place), as well as neighborhood gardener Randy (Timothy Olyphant), who's dealing with the death of his adolescent brother.

Continue reading: The Safety Of Objects Review

Dorothy Berwin

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Dorothy Berwin Movies

On a Clear Day Movie Review

On a Clear Day Movie Review

Over here in America, it seems we just cannot get enough of the gentle shenanigans...

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The Safety of Objects Movie Review

The Safety of Objects Movie Review

For all of Robert Altman's greatness, his lasting legacy to future filmmakers may be the...

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