Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr

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Sherrybaby Review


OK
It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an actress is an ability to cross class lines effortlessly and often. There are some great, versatile actresses -- Nicole Kidman, perhaps -- who nonetheless don't seem qualified to play someone like Sherry Swanson (Gyllenhaal), a young recovering drug addict just out of prison, longing with needy desperation to begin mothering her young daughter Alexis (Ryan Simpkins).

Yes, Charlize Theron uglied herself up for Monster and Halle Berry went working-class for Monster's Ball. But Sherrybaby isn't Monster Mommy; it's a quiet, painful little portrait with little of the inherent sympathy (or showier ugliness) of those other roles. More to the point, while Theron and Berry rocked the Oscar-friendly reverse-makeover, Gyllenhaal looks more or less as she usually does: moony face, sad eyes, feathery voice. The only physical transformation involves a blond dye-job, trashy heels, and a lot more screen time for her breasts.

Continue reading: Sherrybaby Review

Duane Hopwood Review


Grim
Call it the Leaving Las Vegas effect: Everybody wants to make a movie where they play a disgusting antihero who, even as he self-destructs, manages to find a way to redeem himself in the end, even if he's still a dangerous drunk and his personal growth is just minimal. That's well and good, but I'm not sure that David Schwimmer is the go-to guy for such a role. Obviously trying to break free from a decade of typecasting as a nervous geek, he's uncomfortably out of place here and the performance just doesn't work. Things turn out better for Jeneane Garofalo as our pal Duane's ex-wife, though her underwritten role meant that I barely recognized her before the end. Safe to skip. "Hopwood," incidentally, was the plaintiff in the famous "reverse discrimination" lawsuit that ended affirmative action in many arenas. When it's more entertaining to think about an old legal case than watch a movie it has nothing to do with, well... hmmmm.

Sherrybaby Review


OK
It struck me while watching Sherrybaby that one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's greatest strengths as an actress is an ability to cross class lines effortlessly and often. There are some great, versatile actresses -- Nicole Kidman, perhaps -- who nonetheless don't seem qualified to play someone like Sherry Swanson (Gyllenhaal), a young recovering drug addict just out of prison, longing with needy desperation to begin mothering her young daughter Alexis (Ryan Simpkins).

Yes, Charlize Theron uglied herself up for Monster and Halle Berry went working-class for Monster's Ball. But Sherrybaby isn't Monster Mommy; it's a quiet, painful little portrait with little of the inherent sympathy (or showier ugliness) of those other roles. More to the point, while Theron and Berry rocked the Oscar-friendly reverse-makeover, Gyllenhaal looks more or less as she usually does: moony face, sad eyes, feathery voice. The only physical transformation involves a blond dye-job, trashy heels, and a lot more screen time for her breasts.

Continue reading: Sherrybaby Review

The Ballad of Jack and Rose Review


Good
For some people isolation means happiness. Such is the case of Jack and Rose, father and daughter (Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle), living sparingly and deeply enjoying it on an island off the Pacific Northwest. In earlier days, it was the setting for a commune -- one that Jack built, led, and closed down as times and manias changed. Now, with the funds from a buyout in his bank account, his comforts are secure, and that's a bit of heaven for Rose who not only adores her father and cherishes her life, but will protect both with all her energy and life force.

A couple of problems threaten to spoil the remote idyll. Jack has a terminal heart condition and they both know his days are numbered. What each wants to do about it differs monumentally. For her part, Rose is devoted to the idea of committing suicide as soon as dad leaves his mortal coil, feeling she couldn't face life without him. In the wisdom of maturity and a wider scope of options, Jack would like to live out the remainder of his life with a companion who, at the same time, would become a replacement adult supervisor for teenager Rose when he's gone. Nice plan -- one that even a normal father might well dream up. And, since he's been dating Kathleen (Catherine Keener) during his rare visits to the mainland, and likes her, he asks her to come live with him and Rose.

Continue reading: The Ballad of Jack and Rose Review

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