Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which is a compliment. This film features an eclectic ensemble of A-listers coming together to play a hilariously neurotic Jewish New York family. The film is episodic and very entertaining as these people collide against each other. And their banter is wickedly funny, even when they're grappling with some very dark themes. It's also a rare chance to see Adam Sandler shine in a non-silly role.
He's at the centre of the story as Danny, who has just split from his wife and moved back in with his cantankerous father Harold (Dustin Hoffman) and his loveably goofy fourth wife Maureen (Emma Thompson). Everyone in this family has artistic tendencies, including Danny, his sister Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) and Danny's 18-year-old daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten), who is heading off to university to study film. And then there's younger half-brother Matthew (Ben Stiller), who abandoned art to become a wealthy businessman in Los Angeles. Danny and Jean have always felt ignored in Matthew's presence, and this comes out into the open when they all gather to help take care of Harold when he ends up in hospital.
Continue reading: The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) Review
Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman) is a celebrated New York artist, whose quick-temper and filter-less conversation has left him estranged from his entire family. But when an event comes up celebrating his work at the Museum of Modern Art, they return to enjoy the experience with him. Of course, he's a particularly embarrassing person to spend time with, given that he's never short of opinions or afraid to speak his mind and thus ends up coming across as the rudest person in the room at any public event.
Matthew Meyerowitz (Ben Stiller) is his diplomatic son, who has actually had a piece of Harold's art named after him, but there is also his less successful son Danny (Adam Sandler) and his awkward daughter Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), and all of them want to make the most out of their rare time with their father and his alcohol-loving wife Maureen (Emma Thompson).
It's particularly important for Danny to establish some kind of bond again, as his daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) is about to move away to college; he's proud, of course, because he was never able to get through college himself, but it's forcing him to release that the time he has left with his father is important.
A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a lot like a Woody Allen movie. Although writer-director Rebecca Miller keeps it rather cute and silly, avoiding the more pointed issues raised in her script. Still, the snaky, farcical story is very entertaining, and the witty performances from the terrific cast make it well worth a look.
Greta Gerwig plays Maggie, a woman who has given up on finding the perfect man, so she sets out to have a child using a donation from a pickle entrepreneur (Travis Fimmel). Then just after she has the fertilisation procedure, she falls for her fellow professor John (Ethan Hawke), who's looking for a reason to leave his haughty Danish wife Georgette (Julianne Moore). Three years later, Maggie and John are settled down with their toddler daughter. But Maggie is frustrated that John has become aimless, unable to finish his long-in-the-works novel. She's also somehow ended up raising his and Georgette's kids (Mina Sundwall and Jackson Frazer). So she hatches a plan to get Georgette to take him back.
The premise is ingenious, and Miller fills it in with colourful characters and lots of detail, plus several convenient twists and implausible turns of the plot. This keeps the film from ever becoming more than a bit of nutty fluff, but at least it's entertaining fluff. Gerwig and Hawke are superb as self-involved people whose relationship develops in surprisingly resonant ways. Both are sympathetic but not hugely likeable in the way they remain oblivious to everyone around them, and watching them interact is a lot of fun. But the entire film is stolen by Moore in a hilariously spiky turn as the high-maintenance Georgette, who peers imperiously through her riotous array of furs and scarves but can only barely hide the fragile person inside.
Continue reading: Maggie's Plan Review
Maggie's has always been practically minded and now that she's in her thirties and has decided that it's time to have a child, the small issue of not having a partner isn't going to stand in her way. She's never really experienced being head over heels in love so when she meets John Harding (an aspiring novelist) their instant connection comes as a shock to the sometimes bookish Maggie.
As Maggie and John's relationship becomes more and more serious, Maggie seeks advice from her best friends. Falling for John isn't just a usual case of starting a relationship, John has many other people to consider - namely his wife and kids. John has been married to a Danish academic for years but over recent times, the couple have become more and more distant.
Soon John realises that Maggie is a source of inspiration for him and he's ready to move on from his prior life. We fast-forward 2 years down the line and the couple have a child but Maggie isn't quite as head over heels in love with the man she thought John was. Maggie cannot bring herself to leave John and decides to come up a highly unconventional way to try and find a solution to her current predicament.
Rebecca Miller - The 66th annual International Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) - Maggie's Plan - Photo Call at Grand Hyatt hotel at The Grand Hyatt Hotel - Berlin, Germany - Monday 15th February 2016
Pippa (Wright) is married to the much-older Herb (Arkin), a publisher who hates that he's now retired. But it's Pippa whose world is starting to unravel, as she reaches the point where she needs more than being a trophy wife and mother to two now-grown kids (Kazan and McDonald). Her sleepwalking antics indicate that her subconscious has already figured this out, but it'll take a look at her childhood (played by Lively and youngster Madeline McNulty) to help her see what she needs to do next.
Continue reading: The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee Review
Reissued on DVD to take advantage of writer/director Rebecca Miller's new cachet courtesy of Personal Velocity, this inauspicious debt longs to be Heavenly Creatures -- or less explicably, Like Water for Chocolate, is the DVD case heralds. Too bad it's a third-rate indie, well photographed but ultimately not worth watching for either its precocious stars or its ham-fisted stars.
Continue reading: Angela Review
Reissued on DVD to take advantage of writer/director Rebecca Miller's new cachet courtesy of Personal Velocity, this inauspicious debt longs to be Heavenly Creatures -- or less explicably, Like Water for Chocolate, is the DVD case heralds. Too bad it's a third-rate indie, well photographed but ultimately not worth watching for its precocious stars or its ham-fisted stars.
Continue reading: Angela Review
First there's Delia (Kyra Sedgwick, consistently underrated for far too long), a tough cookie from hard knocks who must manage to break the cycle of family abuse without losing control in front of kids that have already seen Mommy cut down to size. Next is Greta (Parker Posey, fantastic in her most human role to date) who accidentally works her way up the corporate ladder, but also possibly out of a marriage that has lost all spark. Finally, Paula (Fairuza Balk, always interesting to watch) is living from one sign-from-above to the next after realizing she's pregnant.
Continue reading: Personal Velocity Review
Familiarity with Auburn's stage presentation may breed contempt for this version, which feels distinctly off-kilter from its first frames. Mysteries that held water longer in the theater instead land like Doc Marten's on a flimsy piece of plywood here. Director John Madden samples a chatty, analytical approach to his literal translation but gets swept up in stagy, awkward, and all-too-deliberate line readings. Much like last year's ill-conceived Phantom of the Opera, this movie has few cinematic qualities that elevate it above a tedious and emotionless play rehearsal shot on location.
Continue reading: Proof (2005) Review
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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