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Museum Of Moving Image Salutes Julianne Moore

Guests - Museum of Moving Image Salutes Julianne Moore at 583 Park Avenue - Arrivals at 583 Park Avenue, - New York, United States - Wednesday 21st January 2015


Still Alice Review


For a film about early onset Alzheimer's, this is a remarkably wry, honest and even hopeful drama, anchored by another staggeringly sensitive performance by Julianne Moore. Writing-directing team Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland are known for their observant depictions of human interaction (see Quinceañera), and they fill the screen with sharp dialogue and earthy emotions that make this much more than another movie about a disease. Instead, it's about how people can transcend what life throws at them, even if it knocks them down.

Moore stars as Alice, a New York linguistics professor who has just turned 50 when she starts noticing that she's forgetting words and getting lost. Her doctor gives her the tough diagnosis, and she uses her dry wit and sharp intellect to face the future with her steady husband John (Alec Baldwin) and their three grown children: married and pregnant Anna (Kate Bosworth), aspiring actress Lydia (Kristen Stewart) and free-spirit Tom (Hunter Parrish). The hardest thing to learn is that the disease is familial, and that she has passed it to at least one of her children. So while she can, Alice makes a contingency plan for the future as she watches her family members each react in a different way.

No, this isn't a light and breezy movie. But the filmmakers balance the moments of gut-wrenching emotion with smart humour ("Sorry, I forgot - I have Alzheimer's!") and bracing honesty ("I wish I had cancer!"). Moore is uncannily raw in the role, subtly revealing Alice's transformation in ways we barely notice until we're reminded what she used to be like. Even more powerful is her own awareness of what's happening. Opposite her, Baldwin has terrific camaraderie and an unexpected warmth, while both Bosworth and Stewart get a chance to dig much deeper as actors than they usually do. And what makes the film special is the way Alice's interaction with each character is uniquely individualistic.

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Savage Grace Review

Savage Grace, the new film from Swoon director Tom Kalin, attempts to dissect the early tremors of obsession and dependency in Antony Baekeland, the homosexual heir to a major plastics company, which overflowed when he snapped and murdered his would-be Hollywood starlet and erstwhile model mother Barbara Baekeland in their London home in November 1972. As his previous films and his involvement in the New Queer Cinema movement would have you guess, Kalin's study of the events leading up to the Baekeland stabbing is linked to a familial fear of homosexuality and confused sexual identity.

Kalin kicks things of in New York, not long after young Antony's birth and right in step with the early disintegration of the Baekeland marriage. Barbara (Julianne Moore) dotes on both her cold genius husband Brooks (Stephen Dillane), the grandson of the Bakelite plastics magnate Leo Baekeland, and little Antony with equal aplomb. By Antony's fourteenth birthday, the Baekelands are discovering naked teens in their son's bed and settling their disputes with carnal bouts in hotel rooms. By Antony's 21st, Brooks has left Barbara for Blanca (Elena Anaya), who's also been with Antony.

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Then She Found Me Review

"Don't be glib with me!" declares a character in Helen Hunt's ticking-biological-clock panic comedy Then She Found Me, and it's too bad Hunt didn't take her character's advice in the shaping of the film. For most of its running time, Then She Found Me stays safely within television sitcom glibness, the edges softened and motivations rigged into idiot-box coincidence and artificiality. It's Mad About You with home pregnancy test swabs.

Hunt is April Epner, a 39-year-old schoolteacher, married to Ben (Matthew Broderick), the puffy, neighborhood schlub. April is childless and longs for "a baby that is really hers." Being an adopted daughter in a close-knit Jewish family (she envies Ben Shenkman's Freddy, the biological family brother), she wants the biological connection of a birth child. As the film begins, her mother Trudy (Lynn Cohen) is in the hospital, her father has died, and April's comfortable world is about to explode. Things go awry from the get-go when April, obsessed with getting pregnant, greets Ben at home with a nightie under her coat, eager for a surprise tumble. But Ben tops her by announcing his decision to leave their months old marriage. Things continue falling apart -- April juggling the death of Trudy, having an affair with the embittered, divorced Frank (Colin Firth), and -- to top it all off -- the sudden appearance of April's biological mother, Bernice Graves, a brassy, unpretentious loudmouth and local talk-show hostess, played by Bette Midler (who else?).

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The Notorious Bettie Page Review


Whether she knew it or not, Bettie Page was breaking a lot of taboos when she started posing in bondage films and photos (maybe she knew but just decided to not care?). Current trends in modeling, including Dita Von Teese and Suicide Girls, often cite Page as an inspiration for their work. In Von Teese there is a certain comparison, but Suicide Girls, whether they like it or not, are not celebrating taboo. If anything, they are destroying taboo and making everything normal, even the strange and macabre. The trick with Page was that she didn't really see it as a bad thing; she never had it in her mind to exploit the idea of "the bad girl." Whether this was on director Mary Harron's mind when she opted to take on the life story of Bettie Page is up for debate.

Raised in Tennessee to a strict, religious family and a father with a fondness for bathing suit areas, Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) is set to become a teacher at college when she marries an army man and promptly leaves him when he hits her. After being sexually assaulted by a group of men, she makes her way to New York City to become an actress. The moment of fate comes when an off-duty police officer and amateur photog decides to take her picture. Soon enough, she's being sought out by famous photographers like Bunny Yeager (Sarah Paulson) and specialty photography siblings Irving and Paula Klaw (Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor, respectively). Her friends, mostly male, are astonished by her nonchalant attitude towards nudity and bondage. She just sees it as "silly pictures," but the Senate, led by Senator Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn, absolutely wasted), thinks it's warping the youth of America. Mostly, Bettie just wants to make a nice, God-fearing life for herself with a man who doesn't judge her.

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I'm Losing You Review

This multi-storied film centers around Langella, dying of cancer, and how his imminent death (and the death of others) impacts the rest of the cast. Throw in another three or four soon-to-be-six-feet-unders (the most memorable and surprising being Elizabeth Perkins as a woman slowly dying of AIDS) and you've got yourself one hell of a depressing movie. Even those who aren't dying are obsessed with it (McCarthy hawks "death futures" -- reselling life insurance policies for dying people). Even if you're perfectly healthy, you'll probably start checking for lumps after this one.

The Grey Zone Review

One of the most poignant moments in the grave Holocaust drama The Grey Zone comes as a group of Hungarian Jews known as the Sonderkommando try to save the life of a young girl who has come out of the death chamber alive. These Sonderkommando assisted the Nazis in the killing of fellow Jews in exchange for a four-month reprieve from their own death sentence. They received better food and more comfortable living quarters, but they knew all along that their time would eventually reach a similar, tragic end. "It makes no difference, we're dead anyway," one of the men coils. But for this one fleeting moment, their thoughts of death elude them as they rescue this seemingly inconsequential girl.

Many scenes, like the above, though thoroughly bleak and depressing, exemplify why The Grey Zone is such a beautiful film. Based on true events as told in the book Auschwitz: a Doctor's Eyewitness Account, the film chronicles the struggles faced by these Sonderkommando as they plan and eventually execute a fatal uprising that destroys two crematoriums inside the Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp.

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Crime Punishment In Suburbia Review

If you're seeking enlightenment on what you think would be a modern reverberation on the timeless Fyodor Dostoyevsky masterpiece, don't be misled by Crime + Punishment in Suburbia. While the film opens with a quotation from Crime and Punishment, which, I suppose, is intended to lead us to a new interpretation of the book, that's the only (tenuous) connection. In the novel, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, rebels against the morality imposed on him by a society and kills an innocent woman. He later discovers that the worst punishment for the murder was the one his guilty conscience made him to endure. And perhaps, if you concentrate hard enough, the suffering Raskolnikov could conceivably parallel that of a pudgy adolescent Roseanne (Monica Keena, ex of Dawson's Creek), one of the main characters in the movie.

Completed before American Beauty, this artificial little movie resembles it in every way possible, mainly because it examines the very same set of stereotypes about malfunctioning wealthy suburbanites. Vincent (Vincent Kartheiser), a sallow loner, follows Roseanne everywhere with his camera. Given the privilege to provide voice-over for most of the film, we hope that he is the voice of wisdom, or at least revelation in the story. Far from it: His philosophy is one of a self-possessed New Age spiritual guru who is convinced he can save Roseanne from hell she is living in. What Ricky was able to see with his lens in American Beauty revealed the hidden layers of human behavior. Vincent, by comparison, as well as the whole ensemble of characters in Crime + Punishment, goes through the plot's twists and turns without a single coherent thought in his head.

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Camp Review

If movies were the only thing we had to go on, nobody in their right mind would go to a summer camp. You either wind up with an axe in your back or spend two weeks with dim-witted counselors wearing ill-fitting shorts who Just Don't Understand Kids. There's oppressive heat, poison ivy, and lots of god-awful dialogue. So it's to Todd Graff's credit that he tried to make a summer-camp movie that gleefully tries to tweak the genre's conventions. Camp refers to its subject - a summer camp for teenaged would-be Broadway stars - as well as to the inherent silliness (i.e. campiness) of the summer-camp genre. In Camp, characters pointedly don't do the things they usually do in movies. But it's so over-earnest in its approach that the results aren't much fun.

Camp's story centers on three young performers attending Camp Ovation: The sincere but unconfident Ellen (Joanna Chilcoat), the cross-dressing Michael (Robin De Jesus) whose homosexuality ires his parents, and the charming yet arrogant hunk Vlad (Daniel Letterle). Vlad has a winning smile and a straight-boy bravado that everybody else at Camp Ovation lacks, which makes him the subject of a half-dozen crushes. But there's work to be done: The assembled kids have to put on a new production every two weeks, managed by Bert (Don Dixon), a washed-out alcoholic whose stage successes are years behind him.

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The Company Review

Thank you, Robert Altman. Coming fast on the heels of one of the worst moviegoing years of recent memory, The Company appears like a wondrous beacon of light. (It even trumps Altman protégé Alan Rudolph's clear-eyed ode to middle class challenges, The Secret Lives of Dentists.) Altman casts his gaze upon the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago: their days and nights, their strict regime and straight-ahead pursuit of artistic expression, and the grueling physical toll of stretching their bodies to the limit. Opening with a modern dance number with performers in skin-tight costumes racing across the stage with multi-colored banners, The Company is like a direct appeal to the heart and mind, to which I can only exclaim, "Wonderful!" and "Beautiful!" It's a reminder of what cinema can do, and the poetry of the dancer's movements is corresponded to with Altman's visual panache, his use of vivid colors, his vividly imaginative framing.

It shames flashy movies like The Matrix sequels, which adopt surface style and frenetic movement but lack sheer, sumptuous vision. Altman's movie isn't just a pretty sheen ("I hate pretty!" snaps Malcolm McDowell as the head of the ballet company), it's a full audio-visual experience. For all the limbs blown apart in Matrix Revolutions it's got nothing on the Company dancers bandaging their bruised heels and toes, or the horrifying moment when a tendon snaps during a rehearsal. It's something we can respond to, relate to. It's emotion pictures, corresponding to the vibrant, emotive images of the dance.

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Hedwig And The Angry Inch Review

Following the success of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Off-Broadway and in other major cities comes this colorfully energetic filmed adaptation. Written, directed by, and starring the original, ever-talented John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig delivers the guilty pleasure of entertainment through another's pain.

The brassy title derives from the fact that Hedwig, born Hansel, underwent an unsuccessful sex change operation when marrying an officer to flee an oppressive, still-halved Berlin. His childhood isn't a pretty picture, so it's easy enough to imagine the desperation strong enough to drive him towards accepting the drastic change. Hansel wouldn't have had a problem adapting to womanhood as he considered himself a "girly boy" anyway, but with a one-inch penis and no breasts, his difficulties increase.

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Women In Film Review

Phew! I looked at the title of Women in Film and, figuring this would be some snoozy documentary about Joan Crawford, et al., I almost tossed it into the transom pile of TV compilations and PBS documentaries that we never end up reviewing.

Would that I had. Women in Film is an actual film, a real movie-movie based on Bruce Wagner's novel I'm Losing You. The film follows the verbal memoirs of three women involved with the film trade -- a producer (Beverly D'Angelo), a casting director (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), and a masseuse (Portia de Rossi), talking to the camera and never with another character in the room. The movie flips around among the three, with no rhyme or reason for the switches, and no story having anything to do with the others.

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Office Killer Review

Satire updates any number of cheesy horror flicks and throws in a little Psycho just for kicks. Carol Kane is perfectly cast as the demure office rat who slowly offs her co-workers one by one. Extra points for liberal use of chicken innards as wholesale gore. Minus points for not being funny enough.

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Chelsea Walls Review

New York living is all about location. And where you live is often a sign of your lifestyle. If you live in Brooklyn, it is assumed you are more artistically inclined then, say, someone living in Queens (though this borough is making a comeback with its cheap rent). But the most notorious creative residence in all of New York has been the Chelsea Hotel, as far back as anyone can remember. Boasting such notable alumni as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Bob Dylan, there is still a laidback, comfortably scrappy atmosphere about the place when you walk by.

Ethan Hawke (Training Day) courageously attempts to capture the essence of what makes this landmark so addictive in his directorial debut, Chelsea Walls. A collage of character plotlines that only barely intersect, Chelsea is a unique and respectable experiment in its focus on an inanimate object as its central character. Backed by a score that appropriately feels as if it were written while observing the production, Hawke creates an environment easily accessible to both New Yorkers and the non-initiated.

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